Monday, July 27, 2009

Abyss Siege HD Videos

Up to now, my enthusiasm for Aion Online has been based on theorycraft. I've read all the information and I've experienced a bit of the low-level content first-hand. I've noted the game engine's superior handling of the number of people needed for mass PVP. I projected this onto what I knew about The Abyss and speculated that epic fights could be had. I just didn't know until these videos exactly how epic they would be.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This is my Gauss Rifle

It seems there is a celebration going on to commemorate the 6th anniversary of Planetside. Anyone who has ever had a paid account was given 45 free days and a whole host of new features were unveiled...including upping the BR cap from 25 to 40. The bad news was, their email notification service failed to notify me about it. Fortunately, I got wind of it in plenty of time to partake in the festivities.

I had played Planetside recently with the fine folks at Rock, Paper, Shotgun when they had their contest against two other gaming sites. But I noted back then that my inability to remember which of my accounts held my old PS character resulted in applying the RPS code to the wrong account. So basically, I had to level a character up from scratch. While fun in its own right, I couldn't help but wish I was able to access my BR20 CR5 toon of old.

So what was it like logging on to a character I hadn't played in about 5 years? Pretty strange. The first thing I noticed was triggering all sorts of new certs that proclaimed my tenure. I got a total of 6; one for every year of service. Ironic that I hadn't played the game in most of that time. Digging around the UI looking to see exactly which term of service cert I had, I noticed Planetside now had an achievement system which also allowed you to display the earned badges on your uniform like medals. Pretty neat.

The next thing I noticed was some old stuff was still saved server side. Opening up my locker and looking at the stuff I had stored away like a packrat brought back some fond memories. There were miscellaneous items like captured enemy weapons brought home as trophies of war. I also noted some macros I had made and put on my hotbar were still there even though some of their functionality were not anymore.

It's good to be back. Time to head on out to the war.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fourth and Inches

Aion Online's CB4 comes to a close and I thought I'd post my thoughts on it. I really wanted to level up my Cleric to 25 in order to gate through to the PvPvE content in The Abyss but I wasn't really willing to kill myself over it. I figured I'd see how things developed naturally instead of forcing myself to do stuff I didn't really enjoy.

I got as far as level 23 this weekend. I absolutely could've dinged 25 with a little more effort and with the help of a good guild maybe. But since I was soloing, 23 was as far as I was willing to go. No regrets as I was able to accomplish everything else I wanted to do including doing some more crafting and raising both my gathering skills up over 100.

Level 22 proved to be a watershed level for the Cleric as I spent almost 100k kinah on what must've been 10 new skill books. One of those was a 30 minute self-rez buff further reinforcing the similarity between this class and the WoW Shaman. There was also a great skill called Divine Touch that chained off a basic move which provided some much-needed DPS.

I can't wait for future Beta Events and finally being able to step foot in The Abyss.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aion Eye Candy HD Videos

Thanks to Mithoron for pointing these pair of videos out to us in this AionSource thread. Taken during the CB2 and CB3 events, some great looking shots of both the Elyos and Asmodean zones. Pump up the HD option for maximum enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

They Call Me Tim

So what's in a name? If you're one that bases class choice on the name rather than doing some actual research, it can be a lot. Case in point my desire to play a Paladin/Warrior Priest type class in Aion. Since there were only two healing subclasses, my choice was obviously limited to Cleric and Enchanter. From just the names alone, the Cleric sounded like what I wanted. Based on knowledge of Cleric classes from previous MMO's, this would obviously be a front-line fighter who could also heal. An Enchanter sounded like some finger-waggling, cantankerous, staff user who would hang out in the back and do whatever it is they do back there.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

The revelation started when I grouped with an Enchanter who had a penchant for pulling mobs and meleeing in the front lines even though we had Templars and Gladiators in the group as well. This guy had a shield equipped so I just figured maybe my UI was just giving me the wrong class info. Further research proved my UI and the guy playing his class was working as intended. It turns out Enchanters were designed to be the Paladin/Warrior Priest class and Clerics were the back row finger-wagglers. Enchanters have auras designed to augment the melee abilities of those around them which definitely cements their place in the front lines. They make credible off-tanks in the absence of a Warrior subclass.

I have a feeling that I'll still go with a plate-wearing class in retail but I'll probably roll an Enchanter alt. I think I shall name him Tim.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Aion Online Screenshots

As promised, you can go here to see my meager collection of screenshots taken during CB2 and CB3. Believe me when I say that there were quite a few more screenshot-worthy events that I failed in capturing. I'm surprised I even took this many, to be honest, as I'm really not on first-name terms with my Print Scrn button.

Included in the limited play I did of the 20+ zones was a little PVP which was quite unexpected and a nice change of pace. Let's just say if you're trying to run away from the enemy, you better hope there isn't a Priest class nearby. I love having a root on my Cleric.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Third on the Fourth

The third Beta Event for Aion Online is still going on as I post this title. But as I am currently at work and the event will be done by the time I get home, it is effectively over for me. So here are some thoughts about the event which transpired over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in the US.

I had previously planned on trying to level up my gaggle of level 10's to the level cap of 20 imposed by this beta round. But this turned out to be highly optimistic when confronted with the increased leveling curve of 10-20. Even with the additional day added to the usual time frame of these beta events, I was only able to get just my Cleric to 20 in that time. I chose to use the time left after that to grind up my crafting and gathering skills as well as repeatable coin quests which awarded some kick ass weapons and an unexpected bonus later on.

Still undecided on what my main's class will be in retail and the experience in CB3 only added more uncertainty not less. Cleric turned out not to be as Paladin-like as I had hoped but more like a pre-TBC WoW Shaman. I should've picked up on the similarities with the chain-wearing, shield-equipping, healing class that relied on melee for its DPS but had some nukes as well. But it took learning a spell, Summon: Divine Energy I, which gave me a non-mobile pet with a limited duration which spat out some holy fire to augment my DPS. Hmmmm...that sure does look like a totem, all right.

Remember those repeatable coin quests I mentioned earlier? In the Impetusium region of the Altgard zone, there is a repeatable quest that has you killing 22 mobs in order to get 1 coin reward. You can turn in either 2 or 4 of these coins at once to either of two NPC's which gave out random rewards for melee or magic classes. I opted to turn in 4 coins for my first try to the magic guy as that was what my Cleric was classified as. He rewarded me with a mace I could equip right off the bat, the Mace of Asmodian Army Soldier Level 9 (I really hope they localize the item names a bit more come release). Eager to repeat my fortune, I ground up another 4 coins but was awarded with a spellbook I couldn't equip so I threw that on the auction house for a fair price. I guess I was just lucky the first time and random really is pretty random.

So the unexpected bonus came as I ran to Pandemonium, the capital city, for some errand or other and there was a guy with a quest waiting for me. His first words were that he noticed by my Mace of Asmodian Army Soldier Level 9 that I was ready for this quest. Now I had read something about there being some quests that could only be triggered by wearing a particular set piece somewhere; most likely the loading screen tips. But I had no idea they could lead to important quests like this turned out to be. It was the quest to gain the ability to equip Stigma Stones, which are the equivalent of WoW talents for character customization.

I once again totally failed to take screenshots as usual but I will post my meager collection from the beta events later.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Waiting For AO

With apologies to Samuel Beckett for the post title. Today is the start of another Beta Event for Aion Online. This time the focus will be on the Elyos and Asmodean levels 1-20. Can't wait to get started as I am starting to second-guess (or was that triple-guess) my decision to roll Warrender as a Cleric. I'm a sucker for plate armor and Aion has some end-game designs that would make me regret my choice to roll a Chain-wearing class. Fortunately, I have both a Gladiator and Cleric at 10 that I can level to 20 which should provide more insight into which class would be the right fit for me. Also looking forward to playing more with the Assassin and Spiritmaster as well.

Doing some crafting in LoTRO last night and so glad to get back to a game which has a craft all button. No offense to those who enjoy the crafting in EQ2 but the minigame is really not my cup of tea. I wasn't a big fan of it either in Free Realms. I suppose those who just craft exclusively in EQ2 might appreciate the added involvement but it did nothing for me aside from the initial "well, this is different" moment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Having and Eating Your Cake

NCSoft proved that it is possible to have your cake and eat it too with the announcement yesterday that the US and EU release of Aion Online would be at version 1.5. There isn't a single MMO that has shipped that couldn't have used additional development time for bug fixes and additional content. Even the venerable World of Warcraft. Think WoW at release was pretty good? How about if it released with the stuff that got patched in a year later?

Unfortunately, the real world often dictates that MMO's ship before they are ready for prime time. Companies don't have the luxury of waiting a whole year without a revenue stream just because a product isn't fully polished yet. Look at the recent releases of AoC and WAR, for example. I daresay their user retention rate would've been higher if they had released a year later with the fixes and content that they have now.

Ncsoft got around this problem with the staggered releases. They originally released Aion Online in Korea November of last year and plan to release the US/EU version this September. While staggered releases are nothing new, what is novel about this one is the order and understanding of the different market expectations in the different regions. Rather than release the western version a short time later, they opted to wait until there was enough additional content to satisfy western palates. Pretty crafty there, NCsoft.