Bah! Humbug! Aion!

Epic_Movie_2007_012Some of the readers of Bio Break have wondered why I grouse in the direction of Aion, especially since I don’t play it.  Partially, I enjoy tweaking the nose of other gamers who hold their favored pet up as nigh-perfect, because if they’re going to be so critical of games I play and oblivious to anything faulty of their own, then they’re asking for it.

But that’s not it, not really.  You see, if you’re having fun, enjoying Aion, then I am pretty happy for you.  Truly.  I think that bottom-line, we all just want to find a game or games where what we need is laid out for us, and another successful, popular MMO can only help the genre.  Plus, as my mom once told me, you don’t make a lot of friends by trashing what other people like.  Aion is not for me, personally, because I don’t like the look, there’s absolutely nothing new that’s attracting me to the game, and I have quite a lot of other things to keep me occupied.  But that’s me, not you.

What worries me, and why I couldn’t let this go, is that Aion’s launch and rise to fame seems indicative of our current MMO culture that seems to prize familiarity over all else.  That we are more willing to reward developers with our subscription dollars for returning to well-trod territory than to take risks, to try something new and different, to add more variety and challenge.  Of course, I bagged on Darkfall earlier this year for almost the exact opposite reasons, so maybe I’m a cantankerous old man who just needs a punching bag now and then (and let’s face it, it is darkly gleeful to not like the “in” thing now and then).

I think the telling point will be, as it always is, about six months from now, once the shiny gloss has worn away and players determine whether they’re trying to resurrect their WoW career in another game, or if they’re still thriving on Aion for what it is.  I still don’t think that NCSoft should get a free pass for its server queue snafu (it really irked me that people were willing to let this slide if it didn’t affect them, even though there was tons of evidence that queues were incredibly out of control for lots of others), but that will indeed settle down with time.

So I guess I’m just going to put this out there and say that I’m going to let whatever misgivings and Scrooge-like feelings against this title drop, barring any notable news, because it’s in bad form to close out a month of great new releases by trying to pick a fight where none is to be had.  Aion players, enjoy your ride, and never stop demanding the best.

19 thoughts on “Bah! Humbug! Aion!

  1. Yet some people still paid for a lifetime sub to Champions Online, which is far inferior. However I play neither so I shall remain silent 🙂

    I think CO will die off faster (is dying off faster). Hey I used to be a fan, but slop is slop no matter how you dress you up.

  2. @ Hudson – I won’t argue that Cryptic’s got a lot of work ahead of them (and I’m working on an article about Champions’ missteps as we speak), but I don’t think it’s dying at all. They really did increase the quality of the game in late August, and many people I talk to are just having a good ol’ time, bugs and all.

  3. I just think nobody understands how you can dig a flawed game like Champions Online so much while picking on the flaws of a game that a lot of people believe to be much much better. While not even having tested it at all.

    I agree with you on the people that were talking the queues nice, though.

  4. @ Longasc – I’ve been really open about Champions flaws, but a flawed Champions still seems more appealing and enjoyable than Aion. Aion might be more polished, but nobody has given me any other reason to indicate that it is “better”. Polish is important, but it is not the be-all, end-all of MMO standards.

  5. The thing is the comparison to WoW is initially strong but pretty shallow.

    Sure, the 1-25 is pretty standard kill 10 foozles stuff. The end game is very different from WoW, so I don’t think the wow clone charges stick.

    Right now a lot of people are in ironically hip mode. They don’t want to get taken in by another AoC or WaR, so they carp at a game that has for the most part launched really well, has great graphics, its technically solid, and presents the kind of gameplay that MMO players actually like (which is different from what they say they like).

    The thing with the serve ques is that I had one server que about 3 hours after headstart launched. Not a second of waiting since. Which tells me that the NA people bitching about ques just need to pick a different server. I’m sure that is a PITA for many people, but this isn’t some WoW PVE server where it just doesn’t matter; balance is very important. There are servers they could go to and not have to wait. So that sucks, but eh. They are making their choice to wait.

    A lot of MMO gamers claim to want novelty, but when a Fallen Earth or Darkfall comes along… well, let’s just say they are running Uldar and cheering the remodeling of Onyxia instead of actually playing new games. Actions speak louder than words.

  6. I laugh at the people who compare Aion to WoW. It borrows good ideas from all the other games (just like everybody else), but the difference is this: NCSOFT did it WELL and they are continuing to do it well (obvious from patches from 1.0 to 1.5 and localization). Open Beta was full of WoW players.. now there’s minimum talk of it (it comes up here and there, and you can tell quite a few players used to play it, based on references). Play to L25 and tell me what is so similar between WoW and Aion. The game is actually unique in its own way, although the differences may not be apparent at first. That’s why I encourage you to truly learn about the game, rather than play for an hour and put it down.

  7. I’ve got all three – CO, Aion and FE. I would have skipped Aion but I was stuck buying it because I couldn’t cancel my preorder. Then I decided I may as well install it and get a character at least to the Abyss to see what it’s like (since that’s what everyone is saying is the real Aion) and so that I can say that I’ve ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. Thing is though, getting up to 25 is such a drag. I’m so bored with the game already and I’m only level 13. Also, I don’t know if other servers are any different, but the community on my server is shocking. General chat is like the WoW forums in real-time. I swear, I have to turn the chat off or in ten minutes I’d start screaming and I’m not sure if I’d ever stop >_<

    Oh, and it may be just me, but watching people run by with names like "Toughnuts", "Sexybitch" and "Ipwnyou" makes me want to claw my eyes out. Honestly, is it THAT difficult to come up with a decent name?

  8. I don’t get why server ques are considered such a flaw. If the ques are regularly too long for you, ROLL ON ANOTHER F**KING SERVER!

    The magic fairy developers can’t make the servers run well past a certain number of people. It’s the physics behind computers, not a flaw from NCSoft.

    Granted Aion, brings very little new to the table and I don’t mind if people rag about that. But server ques… sheesh!

  9. What’s pretty funny is that there seem to be not one, but two familiarity camps in MMO gaming:

    1. try and recreate Wow
    2. try to recreate Ultima Online.

    If you bag on Aion, to be fair you ought to bag on a few other games trying to avoid risk by going back even further, imo.

  10. It seems like theres lots of Bloggers being very vocal about games they havent played. Im still undecided about aion but i thought i best try it first to then form an opinion. Maybe thats just a bad way to do things. Second hand info is the way to go!

    Syncaine is doing the same stuff its getting a bit silly. He said something about wow phasing just for the trolls to come 🙂

    When eurogamer didnt play darkfall and made a review/opinion that was heresy. Bloggers on the other hand can just make stuff off with he/said she/said info. Thats just awesome. You guys rock 🙂

  11. Anyhooo… Aion, hmm, yeah its not my cup of tea or indeed coffee but if folks like it then fair enough. I’m still going to get my digs in when I can though, simply because I want to 🙂

    We fly spitfires has an interesting article concerning ‘is it cool to hate WoW’ and WoW seems to take alot of stick so Im sure as hell gonna lay some smack down on the competitors to my MMO of choice….. its fun and usually creates some heated and interested debate.

    The dribble of some peoples blog about the server queues being a great thing was comedy gold but alas you always get fanboi’s who dont want to admit their s**t does indeed stink.

    Anyway stick to your guns and continue to slag off Aion, not only is it fun but it also makes for good conversations from various sides as i found out here

    http://killthatcheerleader.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/so-apparently-aion-is-the-new-wow-killer/

  12. @ Blue Kae,

    I can appreciate that you don’t want to move away from your guild. I’m in a big multi-game guild myself and wouldn’t play Aion without them.

    What I don’t understand how this is all somehow NCSoft’s fault. What are you asking that they do about it, beyond letting more people onto the server which will decrease the quality of gameplay for everyone?

  13. ‘What I don’t understand how this is all somehow NCSoft’s fault. What are you asking that they do about it, beyond letting more people onto the server which will decrease the quality of gameplay for everyone?’

    Well aint it there fault that the product which they are selling is not properly prepared at launch? Whilst trivial to others this kind of thing can and does put people off subscribing further and rightly so. Why pay for something and not expect it to work from the off? In this day and age with technology advancement Im sure they could have worked things out better.

    A player trying to log onto the same realm as his guild/friends isnt going to be bothered about faction balance and nor should he expect to be, for it to affect his gameplay is wrong whichever way you look at it.

  14. I’ve been playing Aion now since the head start in Sept 20th or so, and I felt that it was a pretty smooth launch. The queue times may have been bad or is bad for certain servers, but on the one I play there is no queue.

    The race lockouts are there for server balance. There’s no more than a 4-6% faction population disparity because of it on any server. In a game where the number of people matter this is rather important I feel. (remember WAR, and people complaining about huge population disparities). If you’re experiencing a queue or lockout just roll the other faction, or server. We don’t want ghost towns like in Warhammer.

    The game is pretty polished, and I much enjoy the crafting system/pvp system. It has quite a bit of risk reward, so that when you actually gain something (crit on a craft item or kill that rank 3 player without losing abyss points) you are relieved/happy at the same time.

    In WAR RvR was nice, but there was no penalty. In Aion if you die, you lose points, and you can’t buy gear. That’s a good incentive to play well/smart/downright dirty.

    The other really great thing I feel about Abyss pvp is the fact that its always happening. Primetime people are pinging non-stop where the other faction is, and late night its not hard to find decent small scale skirmishes.

    Oh and fortress sieges? They have truly been epic so far. Nothing like the keep flips in Warhammer. There’s pvp in this game that WoW can’t compete with.

  15. Well, I for one have been looking for the “next EQ” since I left that game after playing it for 4 years. I’ve played just about all the popular ones and have always come away disappointed for some reason or another. With AION I am heartened because while some folks detest the “grind”, I embrace it. No, I’m not sadistic or anything, but I just hate those other games that just hand everything to you on a platter. Where’s the fun in that? Hell, I remember camping the damned froglok who dropped Ghoulbane for over a week. Now THAT’s a grind! Now everyone can have everything and if they can’t, they whine. The result? The “dumbification” of just about every MMO out there to cater to all the WoW players who got used to an easy go of it.

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