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Aion is NCSoft's MMO With a Pretty Face 89

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the going-for-the-shiny-factor dept.
Eurogamer has an interesting review of a game that you might not have even heard about amidst all the hype for other games coming out in the near future. NCSoft's Aion is taking a stab at dispelling the myth that MMOs can be either beautiful or gameplay-rich, but not both. "Best of all, most of Aion's splendor is achieved through rich color and fine art, rather than particle effects and polygons, meaning it shouldn't be as expensive to run as it looks. NCsoft appears to have thought of everything. That's just as well - if it's going to bridge the abyss between the Eastern and Western MMO, it will need to. The big question is whether Aion can be all things to all MMO players, and still retain a soul of its own. We'll find out when it's released early next year."
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Aion is NCSoft's MMO With a Pretty Face

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  • Dispelling the myth? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheSambassador (1134253) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:30PM (#24481687)

    NCSoft's Aion is taking a stab at dispelling the myth that MMOs can be either beautiful or gameplay-rich, but not both.

    Who ever thought that? I thought WoW was a very beautiful game (though not everybody liked the cartoony style) and the gameplay was very "rich." Where did this "myth" come from?

    • by SBacks (1286786)

      Yeah, I've never really heard of this "myth"

      the abyss between the Eastern and Western MMO

      And, I wasn't aware there was an abyss Eastern and Western MMOs. I was under the impression that WoW was incredibly popular in the far east as well as in Europe and the US. Do they play an uglier/prettier version in China?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by AioKits (1235070)

        And, I wasn't aware there was an abyss Eastern and Western MMOs. I was under the impression that WoW was incredibly popular in the far east as well as in Europe and the US. Do they play an uglier/prettier version in China?

        Na, I'm told the graphics in the Chinese version are...golden. *HIDE*

      • by TriezGamer (861238) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:42PM (#24481947)

        It's popular in East Asia, but not as popular as Eastern-created MMORPGs, which are similarly not as popular here as Western MMORPGs.

      • I think they mean something more along the lines of "between MMOs designed in the West and those designed in the East", rather than what people play there.

        Probably the players are still... players, in all corners of the world. But there seem to be certain assumptions that some major designers make, which are culture related. And are as often wrong in the East as they are in the West.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KDR_11k (778916)

        I think it's about the other direction, many asian-made MMORPGs just fall flat in the west, possibly because they tend to be too damn grindy.

        • What KDR said.

          An "eastern" MMO is one e.g., Lineage 2 that is based entirely on immense amounts of grinding both to advance your character and get items in order to get ANYWHERE in the game.

          Yes, WOW involves grinding later on in the game, but a lot of advancement can be had via questing and instances. Lineage 2, last time i checked, had you frequently sitting in a field killing the same things by the hundred for in game currency or items.

    • by Knara (9377)

      Seems more like someone made up a false dichotomy in order to advertise their new game for free on slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TriezGamer (861238)

      Have you honestly played many MMORPGs? Eastern and Western? WoW is hardly a bad looking game, but I wouldn't place it in the category of 'most beautiful looking MMORPGs'. In fact, many Eastern MMORPGs (though not all) blow the average Western MMORPG out of the water, visually speaking. It just so happens that those games ... well, suck. Very pretty to look at, not really that fun to play.

      I believe that is what TFA (or at least summary) is trying to hint at.

      tl;dr -- WoW isn't a bad looking game, but it'

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM (157947)

      WoW is kind of meh in graphics. My fiancee wouldn't play it because she thought it was ugly.

      AoC... now that's a pretty game. If you can get it to run at over 10fps, that is.

      • AoC has more technically proficient graphics, yes. But WoW's artists have more artistic talent in their little fingers than AoC's artists have in their entire bodies. Excellent rendering means nothing if your art is mediocre.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          OK, but AoC has boobies, so of course it wins for visual appeal. There's no basis for argument against boobies!

      • by HoppQ (29469)

        AoC is technically nice, as long as you have the hardware to run it. Artistically they could have taken a hint from the recent Diablo 3 article [slashdot.org] where the Blizzard designer blasted the fan mockups of D3 screenshots for lacking variance in colour etc. AoC is a prime example of how a dreary lack-of-colour world can really make you feel uninterested in a short time.

        Two thirds of AoC gameworld is shades of grey and brown, one third is lush green. The lush green isn't all bad (since it's rarer), but the rest you

    • Be original (Score:4, Insightful)

      by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:20PM (#24482639)

      I agree, the screenshots to this game look slightly better, but only slightly so, and that's the ones they've handpicked. Maybe they spent some more time on the design of things than usual, but I wasn't like "Wow, this is so much better looking than WOW or guild wars." I think what they actually mean is that it looks like final fantasy but plays like wow. It's never good when a new game tries to beat a dominant game at it's own game. All the "halo killers" turned out to suck (Resistance 1, looking right at you.) Zelda killers did too (dark cloud one). Why not make up something totally new? Worried you'll fall flat on your face? Guess what, you're going to do that anyway if you try to make another WOW.

      I think a bigger myth that needs to be busted is that in order to make a successful MMO, it needs to be the same type of RPG as WOW. I haven't done an in-depth study, but it seems like developers either spend a lot of time and money on something that is a WOW clone, like this seems to be (a bit premature to call that, I realize) or they half ass it and it, predictably, goes nowhere. Gunz, a free over the shoulder shooting MMORPG seemed really interesting to me, then I find out it's basically broken, no one does anything but exploit gliches. You get what you pay for of course, but even the subscription based MMORPGs seem to either be WOW, WOW clones, or not worth your time.

      • by donatzsky (91033)

        I'm not saying that you aren't right, because basically you are, but there's at least three games, that I can think of right now, that does not conform to the cookie cutter formula:

        Air Rivals. http://www.airrivals.net/ [airrivals.net]
        Pretty fun, skill intensive, flying MMO. The graphics sucks some major balls, but the gameplay is ace.

        Tabula Rasa.
        Only tried the beta, but my impression was that if you only care about PvE then TR should be on your short-list of MMOs to try.
        It has a really nice combat system and the general fe

    • by Kamokazi (1080091)
      WoW looks pretty good (fantastic if you consider the poly counts and limited shaders) and is very entertaining. Beautiful and rich are not words most people would use to describe the game, however.
    • I don't like WoW's aesthetics all that much. Character customization is boring when all the armor looks so dull. Guild Wars has really good looking player characters.

  • Left-Click Doom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AioKits (1235070) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:32PM (#24481723)
    One of the main differences I have noticed between 'eastern' and 'western' MMOs is the control scheme. Many eastern ones feel as if they have the taboo that if you're using more than one hand to do EVERYTHING in the game, you're going to hell. However, western ones sometimes get the opposite problem in that every possible action is somehow mapped to a key on the keyboard... Lineage 2, fun as it is, drives me NUTS at times with all the clicking and few (if any) shortcut keys. Other games, like EQ2, you can have up to 3 action bars key mapped (1, Alt-1, Shift-1, I think) for any of them. While useful, if I change the bar layout for any reason, such as a new ability, I gotta rememorize where everything goes.

    I want to try Aion, but I do not get much out of a game with a control scheme similar to Lineage 2's. While it does make smoking easier, the constant mouse movement makes playing more than 30 minutes painful. Does anyone know what type of control scheme Aion is looking at? I really loved the videos and want to love this game.
    • by aerton (748473)

      Lineage 2, fun as it is, drives me NUTS at times with all the clicking and few (if any) shortcut keys. Other games, like EQ2, you can have up to 3 action bars key mapped (1, Alt-1, Shift-1, I think)

      Lineage 2 allows you to use 8 (or 10?) bars this way. Actually, you really need to left-click only for movement and target selection.

      This scheme has an advantage that while you use functional keys for actions, you still have digits and alphabet for uninterrupted typing. If I need to cast a spell while having entered half of a phrase, I just do it, without discarding the text or sending an incomplete chat line. If functional keys aren't enough, the game could still use alphabet with ALT or CTRL for action

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)

      While it does make smoking easier, the constant mouse movement makes playing more than 30 minutes painful.

      Actually, you hit the nail on something. I was under the impression that in Asia, that gamers in Asia tend to be multi-tasking when playing MMO's (eating, drinking, and smoking) because they are usually gaming in a cafe which offers such products.

      But I agree on the Western MMO problems... Makes me want to buy a foot pedal sometimes.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A Path To Western Online Games Success in Asia [gamasutra.com]

        The author of this article, Tim Allison, mentions this very thing with regard to control schemes...

        "In Asia the gamers want to have their right hand free to answer the mobile phone, smoke or drink while playing."

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      The reason for this is that eastern players often play the game to relax as much as anything. Book or food in one hand, or just relaxing and mindlessly one-hand-clicking away at the monsters. For that reason eastern MMOs are often not that hard either.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      Constant mouse movement? When I played the beta it was like one movement per minute, hardly constant (or interesting).

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:33PM (#24481759) Homepage Journal
    From what I've seen, a bridge between Eastern and Western MMOs is going to be difficult. Eastern MMOs tend to reward hard work and perseverance, whereas western players tend to dislike excessive grind. Even the business models differ, with a lot of eastern MMOs being "free to play" but having a lot of in-game items that need to be purchased with real money. Western MMOs tend to have monthly fees, but discourage or outright ban using actual money in a way that influences gameplay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Knara (9377)

      "Hard work and perseverance" are *not* synonymous with trendmilling/grinding. "Eastern" MMOs (for whatever value that definition even has) tend to focus doing a small range of things over and over again in order to advance in the game.

      While this is pretty much the order of the day for the majority of MMOs, "eastern" MMOs (the term makes me wonder each time if its even accurate -- given that there's plenty of MMOs that aren't even in English) take it to excessive lengths.

      • by jandrese (485)
        If doing the small range of things over and over again to advance the game isn't "grind", then I'm not sure what that word means. Granted, all MMOs suffer from that to one degree or another, it's inherent in the system because it takes far longer to create new content than it does to play through it, the only way to extend game play is to make the players repeat the content several times. The difference is in the variety of tasks you can ask them to perform, how long they have to work on one task before t
        • by aerton (748473)

          I'm sure people in Europe or the Middle East have created some too, but I can't think of any off of the top of my head.

          EVE Online or Age of Conan do not ring a bell?

        • by Knara (9377)

          Doing a small range of actions over and over again is indeed grind. However, my point is that "hard work" (such as it is in a game) is not synonymous with grinding. It's just that grinding is, as you say, the very easiest way to get people set into a carrot-stick mindset and extend their participation in your revenue stream.

          And I second the other guy who pointed out EVE as a very significant European game.

      • by Clovis42 (1229086)
        You know, I really like memes and neologisms, but they do sometimes cause problems. Shouldn't I be able to immediately recognise "trendmilling" as a typo for "treadmilling"? But, I can't. I checked the Wiki for "trendmilling", but there were no results. It sounds like it could mean something. I'm guessing it is a typo. I'm filled with doubt though. I might sound like a complete idiot for not being familiar with "trendmilling". I can't take this pressure...

        I might end up in an asylum from this... rocking
        • by Knara (9377)

          Heh. Gotta say that I didn't notice the typo that has caused your mental breakdown.

          (yes, it is a typo)

          (OR IS IT?????)

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Eastern MMOs tend to reward hard work and perseverance, whereas western players tend to dislike excessive grind.

      These two things are mutually-exclusive... how?

      WOW has lots of quests that take "hard work and perseverance" but have nothing to do with grind. For example, the quests to get Epic Flying Form for a level 70 druid are really challenging and rewarding if you solo them, but they aren't grind at all.

      • by jandrese (485)
        But I've heard plenty of Koreans scoff at how WoW just hands you everything on a silver platter. Even the epic mount quest can easily be done in a single session. You're not persevering unless it requires a solid week of farming to unlock something. This does tend to come from the Lineage and Lineage II crowd though, who I fear may have warped perceptions.
        • This is exactly the parent's point. Westerns gamers do not like to waste time with a repetitive gaming experience. This is why all the Korean MMOs have failed when they've come here (RF: Online).

          We like challenge without repetition. Eastern games are pure repetition focused usually on selfish resource grabbing (resource loot). Western games are group challenges focused on direct rewarding (item loot).

  • if I could fly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aerton (748473)
    The only thing I dislike is that flight seems to be heavily limited, the ether system sounds to be designed to keep you on the ground. I just hope there still will be enough so you don't hold on it for rare short bursts.

    After all, it appears to be the most distinguishable feature of the game. Class selection, combat, crafting and even visuals do not seem to stand out of other MMORPGs that much.
  • by ReverendLoki (663861) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:12PM (#24482521)

    Best of all, most of Aion's splendor is achieved through rich color and fine art, rather than particle effects and polygons, meaning it shouldn't be as expensive to run as it looks.

    Seems to me, this is alot like the art direction that Guild Wars [wikipedia.org] took. It relied on artwork for a lot of it's beauty, keeping the poly count fairly low. It certainly allowed it to run on a wide variety of PCs.

    Of course, NCSoft was only the publisher of that game; Arenanet was the developing company. I wonder if this announcement might effect development of Guild Wars 2...

    • NCSoft is developing Aion as well as publishing it (second to last paragraph in the article). Which is good, because ArenaNet, over the last year and a half or so, has shown an unrelenting ability to run Guild Wars straight into the ground.

    • by Verteiron (224042)

      Well Aion's been no secret, it was announced at least 2 years ago; I'm sure that GW2 has been developed with that in mind. My fear is that NCSoft has decided that Anet's play-for-free model just doesn't make them enough money and is working to capture Guild Wars's already-dwindling fanbase. That would secure more pay-per-month customers for NCSoft, at the expense of Arenanet. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it sure seems like NCSoft is targeting would-be GW2 players with Aion.

    • The stated approach of "use fine art instead of high poly count" for visual beauty is perfectly true, as you can see in Guild Wars.

      I run GW on a modern Core2Duo with 8600GT on a lovely 24" 1920x1200 screen at 80 FPS, and the hi-def beauty is really gorgeous. Yet, the same game runs on my crappy old P4 with 5200 PCI graphics at lower res but still good frame rate, just because the environment and characters are not heavy on polygons but instead are drawn beautifully and quite realistically. ArenaNet know h

    • by Soulslayer (21435)

      ArenaNet is (and was) a wholly owned subsidiary of NCsoft. It is as much an independent developer as E&G (the guys that did L2) were. The Aion team is no more or less an independent entity than ArenaNet.

  • Seriously, people, was there anyting really worth discussing in that article?

  • by TitusC3v5 (608284) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:26PM (#24482723) Homepage
    Aion looks fabulous, so far. Flight looks amazing, and the world seems very polished. However, I've yet to play an Asian MMO that didn't bore me to tears through the use of grind, grind, and more grind. If what they mean by combining the East and West is that it avoids this mind-numbing grind that Asian MMOs seem to adore, I may give it a shot.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:39PM (#24482967) Homepage

    It would be nice if they could make the female avatars look good without resorting to the usual skimpy outfits as they seem to have done. At least the eastern ones usually let you have cutsie avatars as well as overtly sexual ones, or even just normal looking ones.

  • All MMO's are dead to me except one [1up.com]

  • by garylian (870843) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:19PM (#24484681)

    This will be the most interesting thing to see if they can overcome.

    Eastern/Asian MMOs are, as a general rule, all similar. It's all about how many potions you can carry, what kind of timers they have, and how much range damage you can produce. Melee combat is a major afterthought, as they tend to serve no purpose in groups. And they often are the "free to play, with an item mall!" model. Ugh! The graphics are often very well done, though the female models all start to look the same after a while. Everyone and their brother has a merchant booth set up in the middle of town or in the pathways in/out of town. Dungeons tend to be few, so grouping is not necessary, except to power level through a zone.

    Western MMOs tend to focus more on grouping, though solo play is supported. Potions are more of an afterthought, though some games like WoW have healing potions, just with much longer timers to keep it from being a potion-based healing system. Classes are more varied, and there are generally accepted rolls to fulfil. (Healer, tank, DPS, crowd control, etc.)

    Personally, I can't stand most Eastern/Asian MMOs. There seems to be so little skill involved in most of them. It's all about carrying a lot of potions, and attacking the mob from range. I've never needed to group in any of the ones I've played, and I find item malls insulting. I'd rather see players earn stuff, and not just buy it. Ebay toons are bad enough, but at least they generally cost a lot more than buying some great weapon/armor piece with cash for a lot less. They all just feel like they are the same game, with slighly different land masses to run over until your bags are full or you run out of potions, then sell, and repeat.

    NCSoft is not having the greatest of luck with its Eastern model MMOs, with Lineage II being the only possible exception here in North America. (CoH/V was done seperately, I believe.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Draeven (166561)

      As much as I hate to promote Nexon NA, I really think you should give Mabinogi a try.

      The combat system in Mabinogi is quite different and unique. It takes some time to get used to the click to move system, but you'll soon find it necesarry so that your other hand is free to use skills with proper timing.

      In Mabinogi, a person could make a brand new character, and have trouble completing even the beginner quests. Another person who is skilled at the game could create a brand new character, and be able to ta

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      (CoH/V was done seperately, I believe.)

      It was initially made by a separate company (Cryptic) with NCSoft as the publisher, but now that company is working on Champions Online while most of the developers who worked on CoH/V work directly for NCSoft, which bought the CoH/V property.

      Not many who plays CoH/V has much faith in Champions Online being any good though, the developers who left to work on that were some of the worst that worked on CoH/V, while the best developers stayed with NCSoft to continue working on it and improved the game a lot si

  • by LordKazan (558383) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:20PM (#24484707) Homepage Journal

    Vanguard is better than this - even in it's state now (it's a lot more playable than at launch, but still not what it could be.. lots of art assets in that 17GB not being used - new player models for better looks and better performance on the way).

    Was the OP paid to submit this? Because those screenshots don't look as good as vanguard.

    • by Barny (103770)

      Mod parent +1 funny please :)

      • by LordKazan (558383)

        have you played the game? at launch maybe

        did you use your free trial month to play some more?

        here are my screenshots from live - all since launch. The good ones start around page 3 when i got a new video card.
        http://derekmeek.com/Pictures/phpgraphy/?dir=Game_Screenshots%2FVanguard%2Flive [derekmeek.com]

        • i'm sorry but i prefer high fantasy, and I like the screenshots from this game better. But as my previous reaction post suggests, looks aren't everything.

          • by LordKazan (558383)

            try playing it - if you tried it at launch and quit because of bugs, performance issues, etc renew your account and play again - they've made huge performance improvements, released more content, tweaked classes, etc - they continue to do so. New player models are coming out end of this month, early next month that should look and perform better. The second raid zone comes out with them. The Trial Island comes out with them.

            I've been playing Vanguard since Beta4 - it's come a long way since launch. Peop

  • Aion, taken as finnish, means "I intend [something]".

    Not nearly as funny as Orkut though.

  • I think it's a big mistake centering their game on pvp like this.

    they can call it "pvpve" all they want, but the entire game depends on pvp to control the resources necessary for gear, and with it, raid progression.

    Additionally, everyone I met who likes their fantasy games "ornate" tends to avoid pvp like the plague.

    I personally cannot stand it in WoW, and i'm looking at pretty much the same class system from wow transplanted into this game.

    The screenshots are very encouraging. Listening to the description

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