Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aion - Really?

As one twitterer proclaims "Aion is the best MMO EVAH", I cannot help but shake my head.

Bear with me, as I take a moment to discuss this game.

As we can probably see based on Xfire, box and digital sales and the god awful queue systems, Aion is a hit.

Period.

Why?

As I played the beta and saw what to me looked to be an un-cartoony WoW (ok...somewhat...I mean...what is up with those mobs in the starting zones?), I tried to find this most awesome game...

Polished? yep. Runs well when logged in? yep. Streamlined quest system and directions system? check. Great character models and ooo..wings? You got it.

Yet, here I was whacking away at mobs for almost a minute to kill just one. Get two or three on me, and I would start to suffer. As I went from one kill 10x quests to the next, I wanted to rip my hair out. As I ran down the path and other players ran right through me, I would cringe.
Why are people paying NCSoft for a game that just denotes that we as players do not want any change to the WoW systems.

Want unique gameplay? NOT HERE.

I think Tipa made a remark once that it is "familiarity" that is key to Aion's sales...and she is right. It is 100% familiar to me, and may be why I just do not want to be there.

All I have to say though is..."Thanks sheeples" as you have made it possible for NCSoft to now finish up Guild Wars 2 and really put some polish in. I can go back to Age of Conan and enjoy just a little more in regards to unique gameplay. And eventually we will see players go back to WoW...but for now, and the forseeable future, we do have another MMO hit....

It just happens to be the same as the old one.

22 comments:

laurenmichele63 said...

You may be missing the fact that we don't necessarily want anything different than WOW, people are just tired of that particular environment. I know I am. If WOW could re-invent itself to be new again, people would stay with WOW. why? Because it was fun enough to hook millions of players for years. I'm just tired of those particular classes, that story and setting. I'm sure I'm not alone. :-)

jeff said...

For me its not having to bug test an MMO for once. And finding out that all the pre-launch hype about what gameplay would be like was either a total lie ("this feature will be patched in later") or not at all working as a released product should - I'm looking at you WAR and AoC.

A guildmate put it best with these words:

"but yeah why *not* play Aion -

you are a gamer - it's a game
you play and like mmos - it's a mmo
it's been out for a long time so it's mostly bug free and balanced
it's new and pretty and, i hear, mostly lag free

if you are saying don't play it because it's similar to other games that are good... I don't get that.. I mean yeah it's not groundbreakingly new - but nothing really is after your first MMO"

laurenmichele63 said...

P.S.

I can't remember who it was but I debated with someone on their blog that players at large, are looking for new and innovation. I do not believe that is a prerequisite for the average gamer. I think it is for the more sophisticated audience - bloggers among them. Again, for me, innovation doesn't factor into the decision at all. A diverse, engaging, interesting fantasy environment with good PVE, optional PVP and a crafting, all wrapped in quality package with a pleasing bow, is enough. It's just entertainment. Liken it to movies. I like the genre I like and as long as it's a good movie and not exactly what I've seen before, it doesn't have to be astoundingly unique. Re-makes are also hits for a reason. Familiar but updated to be fresh. :-)

Tempest of News said...

If you are a player of FPS's, and lets say your game is Halo..(you own all copies even...1,2,3, ODST...etc)

Now, along comes a game, has the same looking mobs or close to it. Walks you through the same story (Alien race takes over the world), and even the guns are similar.

I mean...why pay another 50 bucks, when you already own 3-4 games just like it.

I have no issue if a game has similarities. I DO have an issue if they then do nothing else to differentiate themselves.

We are talking the McDonalds of MMO's here. The slight difference may be that they cooked the fries in a different fat.
This is fully regurgitated food, with a flavor you enjoy, but I mean...would you eat McDonalds every day?

Maybe once in a while I want some pizza!

But, as I said, I am glad everyone bought the game so we can get a BETTER game down the road.

I just hope they do not see everyone still wants the "WoW" formula over and over, and does that to GW2.

We may have made it's grave to look like every other grave in the MMO cemetery.

laurenmichele63 said...

@Tempest - Using your analogy, people would only eat McDs, never BK, Hardees or any other hamburger joint. I think we know that's not the case. The same people eat McD, BK, etc. depending on what you're in the mood for on a certain day. It's still a hamburger with most of the same dressings (cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) but there is a subtle enough different in flavors that you will eat them both, depending on your mood.

Tempest of News said...

@laurenmichele63

And based on your analogy, we would be FAT. (lol)

But, actually, the ones who are Fat...are the developers. Little effort and copycat design equals bigger paychecks for non-ingenuity.

This is my main concern.

WoW is already fighting back, and people will lose interest once they reach the higher levels in Aion, and hit the normal grind mechanics and PvP end game.

Just too bad that all we got was this WoW/L2 clone with prettier graphics.

Longasc said...

I still like to differentiate ArenaNet, the makers of Guild Wars, from NCsoft. Sure, they are basically owned by NCsoft. But they are the successful innovators in the house NCsoft.

I mean, just take a look at Aion's launch chaos, this is unacceptable. I would fire them all for this mess.

I say if Aion will be a success... is determined in 2-3 months, when people realize "ooops... Asia grinder much?"

I read this guy on Twitter, too. He loved Lineage II - the prototypical example of an asia grinder that makes baby Jesus and most westerners cry havoc!

Still - I am enjoying Aion very much at the moment. But... the key feature of a subscription based MMORPG is longevity, lasting appeal.

Funnily, the only game that really enticed me for YEARS was not subscription based. It's called Guild Wars. And I am still playing it occasionally. :)

laurenmichele63 said...

People are fat. LOL Haven't you heard that more than 1/3 of the population is officially obese? No joke so, yes, people can and will consume similar MMOs, much like they do similar eat establishments.

I'm not afraid of a grind or the same sort of end-game. I think you're underestimating people just being tired of that particular treadmill. The top of which, doesn't change even after an xpac in WOW, which is why I didn't go back for WOTLK, along with other people I know.

Tempest of News said...

@longasc

Also, do not forget...NCSoft will STILL pump money into Arenanet if they need it. And with NCSoft getting such a large infusion of cash from mediocre titles...they will have the funds to do it.

I also agree with you that this will be a flash in the pan...but will still keep a good audience, as just like the Twitterer we speak of...people still like these Asian Grinders for some reason..

I prefer Italian grinders myself (mmm...meatball sub!)

(PS: I personally have lost 13 lbs. So, maybe if more people would get off their ass and try to be creative, they may also not be so fat.,...LOL)

Scott said...

As Longasc said, the only two "real" studios at NCSoft were ArenaNet and Cryptic. Cryptic managed to fly the coop and escape. It's unfortunate ArenaNet doesn't seem to be able to (or want to? I guess they can't publicly say things like that.) escape the clutches of their Korean overlords. All it will take is one misstep and they'll arrange to "Garriott" the guys at ArenaNet then appropriate their code and IP...

Much as bloggers and forum posters cry "innovate plz!" I don't think that's a reality. In the MMO space alone, EVE is the only one to succeed on their own terms. Everything else had *better* be DIKU, it had *better* be totally familiar, or it will "fail."

We complain about the EA's and the Activisions pumping out annual versions of IPs like Madden, NHL, Tiger Woods, Call of Duty, etc. but for all the complaining, those are what sell the most. Each one of them is the "same game as last time, but with (on average) TWO new features." That's it. Look at ODST which was very sneakily re-marketed as a FULL PRICE game rather than what it is: a fairly short expansion. Look at all the whining over L4D2. Care to take bets on how long it will take the whiners to rush out and buy the game once it's actually released?

Tempest of News said...

You know...I am not upset that Aion is doing well. I am quite happy for them.

What I disagree with is all in the first line of my blog post.

Best MMO EVAH?

No...sorry. Just a retread. Glad you like it and all that...but, there is nothing new or even remotely unique here...and all it would have taken is something simple (Combat, Quests, Classes....ANYTHING)

But ...it is an EXACT DUPLICATE (Classes, Combat, Quests)

Nice try at being lazy is what I saw when I played Aion.

laurenmichele63 said...

It's exactly the same as what other game? I'm really curious. If you take away the IPs and payment models, what distinguishes the other AAA fantasy MMOs? EQ2, GW, WOW, AOC, etc? PVP in some cases. Minor twists in combat. Other than that, seriously, what is so unique about these other games, that Aion failed to provide as differentiators?

I guess we won't agree because there isn't much difference between them. But it's the slight nuances that make people favor one over the other. However, it's the similarities that account for the fact that many players are playing 1 or more of the titles I just mentioned, either simultaneously or sequentially. When they out grow one, they move to the other for a slight different variance of the same fantasy experience.

Jayedub said...

I don't think it's the best MMO ever, but I do think it's a very good game that will be familiar enough to players.

I would agree that Aion is an exact duplicate of multiple games, which seems to be what NCSoft was going for, and it will probably work.

Scott said...

You know...I am not upset that Aion is doing well. I am quite happy for them.

Define "doing well." AoC's first month was incredible too. Same with WAR. Same with, oh let's see... every single MMO released since 2004.

It's next month, but more importantly, three months down the road, where we'll see how "well" Aion (or anything else) is truly doing.

LaurenMichele brings up a great point, that really all the DIKU-based games are nearly identical under the hood, but it's the little details that sway us to one or the other for our personal preferences. You chose AoC, but in the end I'm still pressing Tab to lock onto a target and clicking hotbar skills just like every other DikuMMO. The difference is the faster, more visceral speed of the combat combined with a very specific and unique look, sound, and "feel" to the game that is unlike any other.

All through the Aion beta I kept seeing bloggers write these "omg this is so cool, watch this video I made, the combat is awesome!!1!" So I watched the videos. And it looked just like every other MMO, and honestly, quite boring. The difference? It had flashy moves. In a Western game you click the Sword Strike and your character makes a fairly plain strike, some numbers appear to show you did damage, rinse, repeat. Aion and the Eastern games you click Sword Strike and your character does a flashy anime-esque spinning lunge -- with the appropriate kaleidoscopic effects, naturally -- to strike the enemy, numbers appear to show you did damage, rinse, repeat. Same boring combat but I suppose much like the old "if I have to stare at a pixel butt all day, it may as well be good looking" with regard to men rolling female characters, Aion's combat could be seen as "if I have to perform boring Diku combat all day, I may as well have cool moves doing it."

Scott said...

Just to clarify: by "every single MMO released since 2004" I mean big-budget AAA titles, not indie ones or F2P crap.

Thought I'd get that in there before Edge called me on it! HA

laurenmichele63 said...

Enjoying this conversation so I'll add some more ... :-)

I would like "different" - I think but I couldn't tell you what that means. I think that has turned me to a more forgiving player since I certainly can't expect someone to build that which I can't even articulate. If I were put to the knife to define my vision of a perfect MMO quite frankly it would borrow from my favorite games:

1. Compelling IP like WOW & WAR
2. 100% player driven economy like EVE
3. Leveling experience that is diverse, fun and solo-friendly like WOW
4. Instanced raid dungeons like WOW
5. Optional daily quest system like ROM
6. Dual class system like ROM
7. Straight rip off of EQ2 crafting
8. Straight rip off of EQ2 housing implementation
9. Open world PVP like WAR
10. Character customization like Aion
12. Beautiful graphics and art direction like AOC
13. Performance and stability like Aion

I could go on but really, if you took my favorite MMOs and munged the best part of them together in a new fantasy setting/IP, I'm gonna be happy, as would many gamers I believe. The minute someone does this, I will be ready to pony-up for the ride.

jeff said...

^^^^^
Agreed with everything on that list!

AoC is a diku style MMO with KTR quests, instanced dungeons, and character advancement thru levelling - not unlike EQ or WOW. But you may point out a particularity that sets it apart that you appreciate. And I would do the same with my diku style MMO. And neither of us would be wrong. So what makes you less of a sheeple then me?

laurenmichele63 said...

I did forget to add
14. Multi-mob fast paced combat like AOC minus the directional keys. I really did enjoy the feel of combat in AOC. The Bear Shaman was da BOMB!

15. Personal destiny-style solo quest series. I loved this too. Quite frankly, if they hadn't added the level requirement cock-block, I would have continued at least until I finished that.

I'm not contesting the "sheepingly" part. I'm saying minus the IPs they're all the same anyway, with slight nuances that tip the scales of personal preferences. And no, innovation wouldn't make me a buyer. If you just gave me my list, done well and pretty _ I'm a chick so it must be pretty, I'd be on it like... :-) I'd happily subscribe for a very long time.

br3ntbr0 said...

You pretty much nailed it. This was my guess as to why the "sheeples" are all about Aion right now.

Tempest of News said...

Wow...great conversations here...let me see how I can answer each one...

"Doing Well" - The fact Aion has cracked the top 5 on XFire, that sales are still strong even after weeks of being on top (D2D and Steam charts), and it will continue to climb...as I said, due to the familiarity..
And it has something the other games you mention did not...
Stability and familiarity.
AoC and WAR were just a little too different, and people just did not have patience for something being unique.

As to the "All" Diku based discussions...that is not the case actually. If I use AoC as our example here, it strayed from many of the norms...

1. No gear reliance...I can fight still in basic armor, as long as my skills are good at shields, movement, blocking...etc.
Also, my gear does not look like it came from another dimension named Disney.

2. No ELVES or DWARVES or any other "High Fantasy" made up race. Tabula Rasa, Matrix and others did this...but then fell into the other issues of Diku or were not well done (Gear reliance, kill 10x)

3. Kill 10 x for XP or Rewards? A ton of quests move beyond the kill 10x system in AoC (even though they exist...and content is always needed it seems...)...but, the need to grind this type of killing for XP is minimal, and I usually am not deluged by the thought that I will need to go kill 10, then 20, then 30..OF THE SAME MOB as the main quest. When Aion told me I can go kill the same mob 99 times for a quest of killing 10 of that same mob, I was like WTF?
At least in AoC, I am either burning down a building, retrieving goods, etc. Variety here (and thanks to the fine cutaway quest system, I feel more in tune with what is going on in the world)

4. Combat - No matter how much you would like to state it is the "same"...it is not. Not even close. If you played it the same, then that was your own fault.
For example, tab targeting is so passe...soft targets for melee for example (spin and allow the system to target, keeping you moving), blocking, shield placement...
And then the fact that if I am in a fight, I will not be there ...standing smacking the mob over and over by pressing one, two, etc...the fights are quick...and if two more of their buddies show up, I don't have to run, but may have a chance to win.

Aion has the following issues to me

1. I have seen all of these characters in my Final Fantasy games (or in Perfect World, or name any Korean grinder and I have seen Aion's characters)

2. The stand and fight syndrome - Movement is worthless, as it offers no major bonus...unless you pull off some stunt tap...but, why do that, when the combat is so slow and takes almost a minute for each mob you hit...and if you get caught by two or three mobs...better run.

3. The endless kill 10 x - Even though a rare quest pops in...99% of all the quests are just killing the same looking mobs over and over.

4. PvP that can go on for ages - A personal preference maybe, but if I am fighting PvP..why do I want to stand around for 10 or so minutes doing it with ONE character...

Otherwise, the whole "flying" mechanic that is simply silly (in Perfect World I can fly for hours and hours if I wish)...makes a cool feature seem tedious.

As to the final bit here...the comment on "they are all relatively the same" I disagree. DDO, though not fun to me, IS different than most of these MMO's. Puzzles, traps, real time combat with some skills thrown in for good measure.
Guild Wars allowing you to bypass the grind and get to the PvP? genius. Also, the missions system in PvE for GW totally took the cake for something missing in Aion (or that is not even worth mentioning as it is superflous)...STORY!
Same in AoC...story is helpful to making you forget some of the DIKU.

But, these are my opinions, and if people honestly think Aion has some redeeming feature...well, awesome.

But, like I said in the beginning...why pay for something I already have when it gives me nothing new?

laurenmichele63 said...

Uh don't know, AOC has it's share of kill 10x, go fetch, go talk to, go find, go harvest etc. The % of each varies from game to game but AOC is using the same sort of quests as all the other games.

High fantasy is a genre, not having elves or dwarves isn't unique or new, it's called not high fantasy so games that don't have those races don't get points for it as they are of a different genre.

Puzzles and traps have been done too. They were in Myst URU Online. While obscure and not successfully, it was done already even if DDO did it better.

The only thing truly unique in AOC was the combat and the DS system. No one can deny that part was truly their own. However, it should be apparent from the number of subscribers that it was NOT enough keep the players that initially bought the box and subscribed, myself included. It wasn't the bugs that drove me away. It was the grind coupled with failings in other areas for my tastes. You happen not to consider that questing system grind but that is purely subject.

So again I say, the average player isn't looking for new or even unique. And you can publish a game that delivers those two things and still not survive in this market. It's NOT enough. People will play similar games is they are fun. Like we play similar board games, card games, watch similar shows, movies, etc. This isn't anything new. I am surprised that you think people only partake in exclusive activities - only do things that are unlike everything else. But to each his own I suppose.

Adrian said...

Apparently everything is a "WoW Clone" now adays. I think my favorite thing that I heard in Aion General chat was:

"If Aion is a WoW Clone then WoW is an Ultima Online Clone"

"Well if Wow is an Ultima Online Clone than Ultima Online is a DnD Clone"

"But if Ultima Online is a DnD Clone then DnD is a Pong Clone"

So when do games actually stop being "clones" or stop "copying" off each other? Personally Aion has been the most fun game I've played since Ultima Online and I beta'd WoW and played till Aion came out. I even met my husband on WoW! I've played the EQs, Lineages, WAR, AoC, EVE, and the list goes on, but I still can't think of more fun than I've had playing Aion for the past month.

Feel free to follow my blog at: Ashlique's Aion Adventure