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Aion Shaping Up For US Launch 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the gives-you-wings dept.
One of the most promising MMORPGs in development these days is NCSoft's Aion, a fantasy-based offering built on CryEngine. It makes heavy use of flight as a gameplay mechanic, allowing aerial combat and easy travel around the visually stunning game world. There are four basic classes — Warrior, Priest, Mage, and Scout — each of which have two subclasses. For example, Warriors can be tank-like Templars, or berserker-like Gladiators, while Mages can turn into a scholarly Sorcerer or command the elements as a Spiritmaster. Early previews of Aion almost universally comment on how polished the game seems — this is partly due to the fact that it has been up and running since November in South Korea. "Being stable, scalable, reliable and fuss-free is far from a given in MMOs, but Aion is all those things, and can already stand alongside the genre's usability kings, EVE Online and World of Warcraft. Its expansive, zone-free open-world environments look terrific and run smoothly on a wide variety of systems. It just works." Since the game is already in a relatively complete state, NCSoft has been running closed beta "events," where a portion of the game is opened for testing. MMOGamer has a write-up from the latest such event. Aion is due out in September.
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Aion Shaping Up For US Launch

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:43PM (#28693607)

    Given the presence of a rootkit that makes SecuRom look like unicorn dander and faery farts, I'll pass, thanks.

    • by Selfbain (624722) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:49PM (#28693697)
      This is what he's referring to:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GameGuard [wikipedia.org]

      After reading that, there's no way I'd install Aion.
      • by mail2345 (1201389) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:00PM (#28693853)
        *Looks at the wikipedia entry*:
        Hides the process, monitors the memory for stuff, blocks calls to Direct X and the Windows API, places hooks into dlls , sometimes breaks in Win7, breaks Google Chrome, SpeedFan, Eclispe, various drivers, Steam, anti-rootkits(but that was expected). Oh, and a security problem to top it all off.
        The bright side is that Aion works on Win7.
        And I expected something this bad to come from EA first.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Tei (520358)

          I have AION, and none of these problems.

          Also, Botting is a social problem, not a tecnical one, so sould be stoped by Game Masters, not by a rootkit program. So I think this gameguard is stupid. But again... I have AION, and nothing has stoped to w|

        • *Looks at the wikipedia entry*:

          Hides the process, monitors the memory for stuff, blocks calls to Direct X and the Windows API, places hooks into dlls , sometimes breaks in Win7, breaks Google Chrome, SpeedFan, Eclispe, various drivers, Steam, anti-rootkits(but that was expected). Oh, and a security problem to top it all off.

          The bright side is that Aion works on Win7.

          And I expected something this bad to come from EA first.

          Confused-- why would they need DRM for an online subscription game?

          • by S77IM (1371931) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:53PM (#28694553)

            It's not DRM -- it's anti-cheating software. So if you are running some sort of scripting or bot program, this thing scans your memory, identifies that program, and kills it. It periodically downloads new identifications for new types of cheat programs.

            I understand their goals (nobody likes cheaters), but I don't see how this differs in substance from giving full control of your computer over to INCA Internet. I guess that's no different than handing over the keys to Microsoft, and to Nod32 or AVG or whoever does your antivirus -- except that an operating system and antivirus software are supposed to benefit you, while this thing...?

              -- 77IM

            • by 54mc (897170)

              It's not DRM -- it's anti-cheating software. So if you are running some sort of scripting or bot program, this thing scans your memory, identifies that program, and kills it. It periodically downloads new identifications for new types of cheat programs.

              -- 77IM

              Ya, but look at the other things it's blocking, including things that range of useful (xpadder) to downright necessary (the driver for my Razer)

        • by S77IM (1371931) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:47PM (#28694475)

          Holy crap, that shit should be illegal.

          I was going to try out Exteel and now I am glad I didn't. Slashvertisement Fail.

              -- 77IM

        • by Endo13 (1000782)

          Great. And I just recently downloaded and installed Chronicles of Spellborn. Wish I'd seen this a few weeks ago.

        • by WarlockD (623872)
          Yea GameGuard is crap. I am using Windows RC x64 and it HATES it. I had to download some cracked gamegard files so it could run update itself properly THEN it works. I am not agents anti-cheat measures, but if its not even working right on a clean install then how the heck are you going to keep up with the cheaters?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MWoody (222806)

          Well, thank you sir. That quite nicely explains why installing Aion brought my brothers' computer to its knees a week ago, forcing a reformat. We'd thought it an unrelated issue, but more research reveals the culprit is that shitty WoW clone, which he'd only installed to placate an online friend.

          If you can't handle botting or cheating on the server end - be it via technical or design means - then you fail. Don't shovel a watchdog off on the client because your design team are too lazy to plug holes.

      • Not that I am installing it either, but how is GameGuard really any different from PunkBuster, which sets itself up as a service and continues to run in auto mode even after a restart ? Granted there was an click to install window for punkbuster and it seems gameguard may go in the back door so to speak, but they both auto-update silently, and accomplish...or try to accomplish the same thing.

        • by Shads (4567)

          PunkBuster works... sometimes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by donaggie03 (769758)
          Because every game I've ever bought that had PunkBuster included gave me the OPTION of installing it.
        • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @05:10PM (#28696407)

          Because Punkbuster is still under your control, mostly. At least if you're not completely clueless. You can turn it off and on as you please (of course, programs using it require it).

          This thing installs itself not unlike the classic rootkit and getting rid of it is near impossible, not even talking about turning the processes off and on (or finding out whether or not they're running in the first place).

    • by Fozzyuw (950608)

      Huh, nProtect will terminate applications IT determines IT doesn't want to run on MY computer? WTF? I don't mind it blocking DirectX calls, I want things to go back to OpenGL. =P But seriously, this give me pause, and I'll have to reconsider playing this game.

      I hope that SWTOR doesn't do things this drastic, because I'm really looking forward to that game.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Given the presence of a rootkit that makes SecuRom look like unicorn dander and faery farts, I'll pass, thanks.

      Okay but I'm allergic to both those things (and many other fey creature emnations).

  • by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:48PM (#28693685)

    Since when is EVE a shining example of a MMO UI? EVO works (for some people) very much *despite* the cluttered, poorly laid out, typographically flawed UI.

    • by sporkmonger (922923) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:54PM (#28693761) Homepage
      I couldn't agree more. Eve is my MMO of choice, but I would kill to be able to extend/improve the UI.
    • by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:55PM (#28693785)
      I stare at a spreadsheet all day. Then I go home, boot up EVE and stare at a spreadsheet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rennt (582550)

      The EVE UI might not be to your taste, but you can't say it isn't complete.

      Considering the nature of the corporation-based gameplay, desktop metaphor works really well. It is actually configured very much the same way as I have my fluxbox install, so the whole thing is pretty seamless and feels very natural.

      Sure, it takes a month (or three) of use before you get the most out of it, but it really is user-friendly. (in the vi sense, not the notepad sense)

      Having said that, an open-source client would rock!

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Since when is EVE a shining example of a MMO UI? EVO works (for some people) very much *despite* the cluttered, poorly laid out, typographically flawed UI.

      You need a wide screen monitor with a resolution of 1650x1080 to really not feel cramped in EVE.

      But if you got one of those then its not too shabby.

      • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @03:11PM (#28694753)
        You need a wide screen monitor with a resolution of 1650x1080 to really not feel cramped in EVE.

        In some ways you're right but in other ways it really doesn't matter.

        The vast majority of what happens on "the screen" in EVE is simply eye candy.

        The concept of actually flying your ship over selecting targets on the objects list and being auto piloted there is pointless. The flight sim aspect of EVE is a waste. Sadly this is what made the space sim genre great in the first place (I recall nearly pissing myself the first time playing Elite on the C=64)

        Beyond that all you have is a bunch of text boxes. Seriously, what do you miss in the game outside of those boxes? The game is beautiful in terms of graphics but I've never seen a game with a GUI that uses it less. Once you step outside of the HUD data there's nothing to do but look around and admire some graphical artists work.

        And that's the suck thing about the patch that was done in the last month or two. I used to play on an old tablet but their new client made it unplayable because the graphics chipset didn't support pixel shader 2.0 (I believe it was 2.0). But why not? Why not leave a stripped down HUD version of the game? I know that maintaining multiple clients has to be a pain for them but come on... I can play the game just as well from nothing but the HUD data and not miss out on anything as far as the true core of the game play.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          My dream is that vega strike gets functional economies. It already has persistent servers. It's not "massive", but ~32 players would be dandy. Plus, it's free, Free, and highly moddable.

  • eve meets wow? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219)

    Blah, I mean can we at least pretend to come up with some original ideas?

    I guess original ideas don't make money these days.

    • Don't kid yourself. WoW isn't original at all. It is a copy of every previous MMO (all the way back through MUDs) and even pencil and paper D&D.

      • by Shads (4567)

        Nothing is original it can all be floated back to 7 basic stories (or is it 9? shrug) using that theory. *rolls eyes*

        WoW wasn't tremendously innovative, however it did implement some innovative ideas (at its release). What it really did was show a level of polish at release most game releases lacked. It had an interesting game world that a lot of people were familiar with and loved and easily recognisable class functions that weren't tremendously complex to play (unlike say eq1, uo, ac, or daoc by compar

        • I seem to remember issues, downtime, and unfinished content at WoW's release. I beleive what has made WoW work so well was not the release as much as having a large following (Millions of people owned Blizzard titles) and that they have allways been evolving the game to include more (New content, battlegrounds, arena's, etc). Sure, its far more complicated that that, but I beleive those two things have far more to do with their success then a smooth release.
          • WoW wasn't "polished", but it was way more stable and "finished" than many MMOs at release. There were downtimes, there were broken quests, there were balance issues, all like in many other MMOs. The difference was the degree, and Blizzard's reaction to it. Downtimes were compensated without lengthy battles with billing, and they didn't last for days. Quest bugs were rather rare (again, compared to many other MMOs), they weren't crippling, at least they tested the important ones (Warriors should look anothe

      • by bughunter (10093)

        WoW's innovation was to eliminate risk to the character as a requirement for level gain. This made it more accessible to mainstream players.

        I mean, I've played hardcore on past MMOs and MUDs where risks were greater - XP loss, equipment loss, even permadeath. But the average Joe Sixorc who has invested twelve months of game play collecting uber gear doesn't want to risk it being destroyed or stolen by a mob or another PC -- even if that kind of "danger" is what makes the game most exhilarating and rewardi

        • ...and at the same time, it ruined every single MMO out there for "hardcore" players, because every MMO maker and their dog is trying to copy the success of WoW by dumbing down their game as well. It can best be observed in EQ2.

          At release, EQ2 was hard. Really, really, REALLY hard. You didn't lose your equipment at death (ok, it wasn't as unforgiving as EQ was, granted), but not dying in the first place was a feat. Mobs your level were nearly unbeatable. Mobs below your level gave little, if any, xp. Leveli

          • by RedK (112790)
            And you wonder why EQ2 never got popular ? The problem with catering to hardcore players that love to suffer through leveling and even have the time to do such a thing is that they are very few and far between. That's if they can even afford to play at all, as a college education and a job get in the way of that thing called "playtime". No one is in the business of MMOs to please a few players, they are in it to make money.
    • What sets Eve apart is the single shard server and player made factions ... neither of these is in the game.

      It's more like WoW minus battlegrounds&arenas and a larger Lake Wintergrasp and less focus on end game raiding (although in the end they will put in PvE end game raiding anyway, just like Warhammer). I don't see anything Eve like in it.

      • by Knara (9377)
        I get the feeling its most like "Lineage, except you can fly."
      • What sets EvE apart is the metagame. This isn't an MMO. It's an experiment in group dynamics and a social engineering practice ground.

  • by WeekendKruzr (562383) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:58PM (#28693829)

    Most of these companies have the wrong idea. When I place an MMO, I'm usually using a visual angle that has me looking at a downward angle toward my character from above. Generally speaking, I miss all of the impressive scenic stuff. Occasionally yes, I do stop and admire the visuals or I may stop and look up if I'm searching for something. However I think most of these companies are wasting most of their talent on impressive visuals when in fact I would prefer these two things much more:
    1)A game that looks good on something less than a top of line GPU - I would prefer graphic efficiency to graphic splendor. When you have 10-15 guys running around a raid inside of a huge environment with 50 monsters and lots of trees and other stuff my FPS grind to a halt. This then leads me to turn down the detail defeating all the effort these guys put in to their product. My system is a dual core with a ATI 4870 GPU, it still stutters unless I turn down the details.
    2)Easy guild management tools for Guild Leaders - How about giving me some tools to manage my guild more effectively especially when I'm not online? Being able to assign a guild quest to somebody so they will go gather some resources fore the bank even when I'm not online would be nice. A lot of players will only do this when I'm online cajoling them in to it. How about using the quest journal like a PDA or a digital organizer?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pance (1374075)
      #2 seems like it would be a good idea for a WoW addon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nschubach (922175)

      That's why I'd kill for another well done first person MMO like EQ was (originally.) It was a pleasure to go to a new dungeon and they weren't afraid to make small passages because the camera would have a hard time seeing... I don't care if you couldn't see behind you all the time, a flick of the mouse and you could look around.

    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      Check out PlanetSide, an MFPS. Your machine should find it very easy.

    • by aafiske (243836)

      Actually Aion looks pretty impressive even on modest gpus, and that's with dozens and dozens of people running around. So I hear. :-"

    • Being able to assign a guild quest to somebody so they will go gather some resources fore the bank even when I'm not online would be nice. A lot of players will only do this when I'm online cajoling them in to it.

      So basically you want bots to do the dirty work that your guildies are unwilling to do? Seriously, how do you expect this to work in a real game environment?

      I guess this is a reason I was never into the who guild scene. I belonged to a very loose organization in EQ2 that was really nothing but a
      • I think he wants some web interface to yell "Hey, Bob, get off your lazy ass and gather the stuff for the potions we need tonight, pronto!" at a guildie pissing away time in the AH.

    • A web game interface for "off-game" use. Like, say, to browse the auctions, to hand info to guildies or read up important information (like, say, some guild did something in the world)... yes, would be nice.

      Didn't AO have something like that? I dimly remember a web based auction house.

  • meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There is nothing unique or wonderful about this game, it's "yet another rehash" of any of the dozen other games out there.

    I'm not saying its a bad game, it just offers nothing worthwhile other than a change of scenery and backstory.

    I think they need to start developing evolving worlds and quit developing games. Quests should be a one time occurrence.

    Goblins start raiding supply caravans from one city to the next. In the city over there is a shortage of x, y, z now... players can be recruited to make up th

  • The developper kind of disagree, as per the article on spirit master : Spirits persist, rather than being short-term and useful for only one fight. Once your character summons a spirit, it stays with your character until it dies, the spirit dies, you log out, or your character crosses into a new zone. It sound it will be as much zone free as other MMO are. Visually you can go from one place to the next seemlessly, but there are still zones.
    • by jandrese (485)
      I've never understood why MMO developers love to build pet classes, but then can't figure out how to make the pets persist when you switch to a different server (cross zones). This can't be that hard of a problem.
  • by harl (84412) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:21PM (#28694143)

    In some issues Windows XP users may have problems with GameGuard due to the fact that the same "Windows Product Key" is installed on two computers and on the same router.

    Both my machines have the same product key. Both are 100% fully legal. Both are on the same router.

    I am doing nothing wrong yet their DRM will prevent me from playing the game.

  • by rpillala (583965) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:23PM (#28694175)

    I've wondered for a long time why none of these MMO games from Asia (Lineage, Lineage II, Aion, Granado Espada, etc) have an art direction from mythology and fantasy of the region. It's all a baroque looking western fantasy setting. Finely decorated plate armors, massive double bladed swords and axes etc. Personally, I think samurai look great, katanas, japanese armor, martial arts inspired magic ala Avatar (I know, it's not magic, it's bending). I know that the east Asia has more cultural diversity than I'm describing.

    The only games I can remember that tried an art direction like that were Jade Empire, Throne of Darkness and, oddly, Summoner. I think Jade Empire did pretty well, but no word on a sequel from the company that gave us Neverwinter Nights 2, KOTOR 2, and is giving us Mass Effect 2.

    TOD and Summoner are both relatively old games, and even though Throne of Darkness was made by a lot of Blizzard vets, it didn't do that well at the store I don't think. Certainly not well enough for Click Entertainment [mobygames.com] to make more games or even exist anymore. Summoner got a sequel, but I don't know if they kept the art direction. I guess Red Alert 3 has some anime influence in one faction.

    If we expand into console games while we're on the subject of Summoner, there was Shenmue and I guess any fighting game.

    This is all just from memory so I'm happy to be shown as wrong and learn about some good games I might have missed or forgotten.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Perfect World and Silkroad Online are notable examples of Asia-themed games, if you want to look into those.

    • "I've wondered for a long time why none of these MMO games from Asia (Lineage, Lineage II, Aion, Granado Espada, etc) have an art direction from mythology and fantasy of the region"

      Because western aesthetic is more universal, game companies research this kind of thing they want the WIDEST market possible. Also over half of World of warcraft subscribes are asian, so it's obvious that certain aesthetics have universal appeal.

      • by rpillala (583965)

        Is there an article or study you can point me to? I'm not trying to be snarky I'm just interested in these kinds of things.

    • by Knara (9377)

      http://9dragons.acclaim.com/ [acclaim.com]

      Tried it, it was decent, but that was a couple years ago.

  • i'm in the beta (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AP31R0N (723649) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:36PM (#28694347)

    So far i can say, like Guild Wars (also by NC Soft)... it is gorgeous. It makes WoW look like a cat turd vomited by the dog. i didn't get far enough in to play with flight, but it's pretty fun. i'm looking forward to the next round.

    However comma it's still just like all the other fantasy MRPGs. Grinding, twinking, gold farming, inane quests for golden rat spleens that change nothing. WoW - Warhammer look + Guild Wars look + Flying. Adding flight and gorgeous graphics isn't enough to make it truly different than all the other life drains for me. i prolly wouldn't play it for more than a few hours a week for a month or two.

    i'm waiting for a replacement to PlanetSide. Something that involves... skill, teamwork, strategy, tactics, etc.

    GW used instancing beautifully to move your character *through* the story. In other games, no matter how many golden rats you kill, there are always more. The NPCs don't seem to notice, neither does the story.

    • by aafiske (243836)

      This metallic ape speaks the truth. It looks beautiful, and does so even on non-top-end machines. (So no AoC ridiculousness.) It has a few neat gimmicks (wings, somewhat less stupid pvp, amazing customization.)

      But it is, at root, the same game as WoW, EQ2, LOTRO, etc. It's a very polished, fun version, but don't expect it to change the game, shake up the boxes, or think outside any paradigmotrons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AP31R0N (723649)

        *sniff*

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apeiron_(cosmology) [wikipedia.org]

        Also, building characters is a blast, esp the females.

        i'd love to see a truly revolutionary MRPG. But it seems unlikely now that the formula for a cash machine is so clear.

        1) Draw in the obsessive by pushing back the upper limits, having one more thing to do
        2) Draw in the insecure by having a power curve that can make some characters many times more powerful than others.
        3) Make the game reward time in game more than skill/understanding.
        4) Allow player

        • Making an MMO skill-reliant is not easy without turning it basically in a FPS game (like, say, PlanetSide).

          But not impossible. Though I would really love to see a game not resort to twitch 'skills' yet manage to make the player's ability to play well make a difference. It's not as impossible to do and it's been done, in various ways, despite those games being "classic" MMOs.

          First, and easiest to do, it's been done many times before, is to make the player's ability to plan ahead and have a good awareness of

    • by Knara (9377)

      Jumpgate: Evolution will hopefully be in that sort of class.

      I'm hoping at least.

      • by AP31R0N (723649)

        i'm trying to get in that beta too!

        • by Knara (9377)

          Everyone is. They have probably over a million beta signups for that game.

          Have you seen some of the custom-built enclosures people have made for that game? It hasn't even released yet and people are nuts over it.

    • by Mex (191941)

      i'm waiting for a replacement to PlanetSide. Something that involves... skill, teamwork, strategy, tactics, etc.

      Team Fortress 2 is the closest thing to that, if you can find a good server (not the average pubbie ones). Try the http://stansloungetf2.com/ [stansloungetf2.com] TF2 ones!

  • NCSoft? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freedan (1382597) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @03:15PM (#28694811)
    Aka the developer that releases like 2 new and utterly generic MMOs every single year? Forgive me for not getting too excited.
    • ...and when they try to be genuinely inventive (like with, say, Tabula Rasa) they botch it so badly that they hold, afaik, the record for the fastest shutdown after release (about a year).

  • OK, ignoring the bullshit rootkit, what sets Aion apart from other MMOs?

    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      It has FLYING!! And PvPvE!!... ...or something like that. I swear I read it on the internets so I know it must be true.

      *Yawn*

    • Nothing. It's basically a blend of a standard fantasy MMO with standard JRPG graphics.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        *yawn* back to waiting for the KOTOR MMO, which I know WILL be innovative (Bioware usually doesn't let us down).

  • Usability Kings? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @03:44PM (#28695117)

    he genre's usability kings, EVE Online and World of Warcraft

    You've got to be shitting me. Surely you mean World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online, instead.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a bigger fan of EVE than World of Warcraft. But the EVE GUI has been shit since inception. And Customer UI suggestions go completely ignored for literally years [eve-online.com], and that's just one thread that was alive for years with no sign of improvement.

    EVE is wonderfully good at many things (nowhere else will you hear the term "pvp shakes"), and I've been in battles of over 1000 players with the game completely playable, but the UI?! That's their biggest failing.

  • Ever since I saw the ads in the technical trade rags that NcSoft did for Microsoft and their "truth" campaign I de-installed the three games I purchased from them and haven't reinstalled them yet. I'll stick with other game vendors, thank you.
  • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @04:02AM (#28700967)

    There's really nothing all that spectacular about the game in my opinion. So far from all the closed betas all comments about how the client works, how the controls work etc have been ignored (it doesn't have any camera options for example, and it will not let you map any mouse buttons). It really seems the game is fully in Korea's control, and the US distributor (NCSoft WEST) has little to no control over the actual game system.

    Every single quest - every single one was an incomprehensible request to collect x amount of rare drop, or y amount of monsters - no variety what-so-ever - and none of the quests actually have anything to do with lore until you reach level 10 and start working on your sub class quest, and even then the writing is atrocious.

    The combat system borrows from FFO where you have skill chain combo's, and who gets to loot the monster is purely based on who damages it more - prepare to be griefed a lot by DPS classes anyone who dares play a healer or a tank.

    Flight is incredibly lame. Not only is it on a timer (which means when you're "tired" you'll either glide down or fall to your death), but there are visblocks in places that you can't fly - not even WoW has this in places you are allowed to fly. The other thing - one of the core materials to collect Aether is only in the sky - one forum post commented it was "the mmo equivalent of cutting yourself".

    You'd think in 20 years of multiplayer rpg games there would be something more revolutionary come along, but no Aion isn't it.

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