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Aion Servers To Merge, XP Grind Softened 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-only-takes-one-and-a-half-eternal-souls dept.
Massively reports that NCSoft's fantasy MMO Aion will soon be getting a round of server mergers to balance player populations and shore up in-game economies. A newsletter from Aion producer Chris Hager also brought word that character transfers will be an option starting in June, and NCSoft will be "offering them to all of our players for free for a limited time." This is happening in the lead-up to the game's 1.9 patch, due on June 2, which contains a number of measures to make the XP grind a bit less harsh (among other things; patch notes). They're creating more quests, increasing XP rewards from existing quests, and implementing a system that "grants you experience bonuses as you continue to play."
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Aion Servers To Merge, XP Grind Softened

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  • Re:Asian MMOs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:05AM (#32275430) Homepage Journal

    >>It's why I've avoided aion entirely and will most likely continue to do so.

    I beta tested it, and that was more than enough to get me to avoid the game.

    They'd have to cut grinding by about 75% to make the game playable in my book.

  • Re:Asian MMOs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kitkoan (1719118) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:09AM (#32275462)
    Thats why I prefer playing Guild Wars. No real grind (maybe cash if you really wanted), and a story you can follow. Its combat is more focused on making skill combos then grinding and stats (though stats do help somewhat).
  • Re:Asian MMOs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:14AM (#32275480) Homepage

    I avoid all MMO's, even though I've trialed well over a dozen of them and would really love to find one I actually enjoy playing.
    I understand the need of MMO companies to keep people paying subscription money for as long as possible, but I wonder if those companies are aware of the large number of people that don't even START subscribing due to the grind.

  • enjoy the journey (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PortaDiFerro (1719902) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:43AM (#32275622)
    I played Aion some, but didn't continue after the free period, it just didn't manage to hook me and there's also time constraints these days. Grind is really not the issue though, don't really understand what is everybodys rush to the max level. They should just make the journey there enjoyable. I guess the problem there is that to be effective in PVP you have to be max level. I remember back in the original EQ the leveling was nightmare compared to modern MMOs, but who cared, you played for fun, not to reach top level!
  • by fractoid (1076465) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:44AM (#32275630) Homepage
    Exp. boosting weekends? Making the game easier? These things sound good on the surface but they're ultimately MMO suicide. This is because MMOs live and die by the perceived value of in-game achievements and items, and that perceived value is dictated by two major factors: how difficult they are to achieve in game, and how valuable you perceive in-game achievement to be to other people. This is fundamental to why people play MMOs at all: Players play MMOs to feel powerful and special.

    Firstly, nerfing 'the grind'. Players bitch and moan about it but in the end, if there's no grind and no other challenge, then levelling up becomes meaningless. If the best items are trivial to obtain, then why would players care about getting them? Players only value what took time and effort to acquire.

    Secondly, server mergers are THE death knell of any MMO. Why? Because no matter how it's presented, a server merger is always interpreted by the players as "lots of people are leaving the game". The main reason you play an MMO is that everyone else is playing it. If everyone leaves, who is going to admire your shiny epic gear? Players only value things that set them apart from others. If there're no others to admire their achievements, why bother?
  • I had the same thought... didn't Tabula Rasa (another NCSoft game) go through these same measures a short time before they closed up shop? Server mergers, more moves to bring people in... free periods of time... collapsing down to only a handful of servers, then close.

    It's sad that we lose portions of the gaming world, some storylines that have the potential of being interesting, when online gaming servers close. I know TR had the initial potential of being interesting from the intro vid... yes, gameplay was a little poor, but the storyline had some potential. I think though this is possibly the start of the end, whether long (a few years) or short (maybe half year) of Aion.

  • Re:Asian MMOs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:35AM (#32275848)

    To be fair, I don't think that's true.

    As someone who played Dark Age of Camelot from it's early days, and got GM cartography on UO when it was hard. I never played EQ, but I had friends who wasted years grinding away in that too, I'd say that all MMOs nowadays, Asian or not require less grinding than Western MMOs have done in the past.

    I didn't play Aion for that long admittedly, but for the time I did play it I didn't find Aion any worse for grinding than say, Warhammer online either.

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:40AM (#32275874) Homepage
    Actually, WoW has exactly the same amount of 'grind' now as it had in Vanilla. My first ever character hit 60 in around 12 days of play time. My rogue (who I started levelling late in Burning Crusade) took around 12 days to hit 70. My paladin (who hit 70 a couple of weeks before Wrath was released) took roughly that amount of time as well. Blizzard has simply disguised the levelling grind with a huge network of quests. The timesink is still there, it's just that instead of kill 500 boars, you have to do 50 quests, each of which involves killing 10 boars. It's less monotonous but it's still there.

    As for server merges - when has WoW ever had a server merge? They've used an ongoing series of free transfers to try and balance out realm populations, but I don't recall servers ever merging or being shut down even when this would have been the sensible technical solution. As long as you maintain the illusion of a stable population, the population is likely to stay stable, but any hint of a sudden population drop can easily trigger a wave of fickle players to quit, making the rumoured ghost town a reality.
  • by zwei2stein (782480) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @04:43AM (#32276386) Homepage

    Why don't they then just quit? I mean, you can hunt carrot only for so long before realizing that, yep, i am hunting carrot and i will always be hunting carrot because that is how company turns profit.

    I find it amazing that people are taking it so well: First round of quests in first wow expansion basically undone all precious work players did in vanilla by giving up "kill 10 boars" quest rewards beter than stuff that took months to grind. Knowing that once developers release new content, you will be kicked down to average joe level should feel pretty shitty.

    ---

    Anyhow, you can theoretically play Guild Wars as single player, but but us not really average MMO, which coincidentally peaks character power about ~ 10% into game storyline, making it a bit more dependant on "having fun" than "boosting ego"

  • Re:Asian MMOs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TriezGamer (861238) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @05:10AM (#32276506)

    Lord of the Rings Online is about on-par with WoW in terms of 'grindyness'. A friend of mine who was a WoW veteran joined LotRO and capped a character faster than he did with his newer WoW characters, and didn't have the knowledge to draw from as he did with his WoW characters. That's just one anecdote, but based on his experience, LotRO actually is easier than WoW.

    I would also not call FFXI a grindy game. There was a time that it was, but changes to the game over the last 2 1/2 years have drastically altered both the methods and efficiency of levelling. A friend who recently got back into the game is now 5 levels away from the cap with two fully-levelled subjobs, and has been playing for 5 weeks. I levelled a new job from 1 to 65 in 2 weeks (4-6 hours a day), ten levels away from the cap, and could have done it faster (I missed 2 days). Parties gaining 10k+ EXP / hour are common as early as level 18 now, and even level 74 to level 75 is only 42000 EXP -- End-game parties exceed 20k / hour.

    In the near future (next month) the level cap will rise for the first time in nearly 7 years. It might become a grindy game again, time will tell -- but for right now, I don't think it's a good example.

    That aside, I completely agree with all your other examples.

    To address your question about the mad rush to level: Different people have different motivations. Some just want to be the best they can be, and playing the content does less for their character's development than simply rushing out to gain more levels. Others have already levelled 4-6 characters and don't WANT to do the content again, they just want to get the new character to endgame (because their guild needs more X job, or they just want to play X job, but never got around to it, etc). And, sadly, from an end-game perspective, content that is not end-game is irrelevant. Gear will become outdated, and usually the auxiliary rewards are not sufficient enough to justify coordinating a group (if a group is needed) over simply grinding out some quests solo. The older a game gets, the more prevalent these things become.

    Moreover, different games have different levels of content. FFXI is VERY top-heavy with it's content, with extremely limited content pre-30 and very little to do until 50 at a bare minimum. I would say 65 is where the real meat of the game opens up. Conversely, World of Warcraft has a wide spread of content that's fairly evenly spaced. I enjoyed taking my time to level in WoW. Not so much in FFXI.

  • Those haven't been killers for WoW, but that may be because WoW got it "reasonably" right to begin with.

    Aion, on the other hand, had a brutal grind initially, driving away all but the most hardcore. Releasing a broken MMO and fixing it later doesn't work - see the epic failure of Dark Age of Camelot's Trials of Atlantis expansion. ToA destroyed the game, and by the time Mythic accepted that fact and fixed the problems, their subscriber base had already been decimated.

    Too many MMO developers are reactive "we're losing subscribers, fix it!" rather than proactive "WoW is clearly successful - how can we compete with them without being a clone?". Once you're already losing subscribers, it is too late.

    I find it amusing that Aion planned to fail from the beginning - They refused to provision enough servers initially because they planned for their populations to drop like a rock, citing Warhammer as an example of "overprovisioning" when in reality, underprovisioning gives your game a perception of being laggy/buggy/badly executed and refusing to address it makes you look like an asshole to your customers, both of which are a killer to MMOs, and Warhammer was underprovisioned initially and just had a shitty game that couldn't retain a subscriber base. The reality is that at least 50%+ of MMO subscribers try a new game because their friends are trying it - If their friends have a bad experience, others won't even give the game a chance. As frustrated as I was with the grind, I was going to continue giving Aion a chance until two of my hardcore gaming friends quit - with them gone, there's no real reason for me to grind.

    It says much about the sad state of MMOs these days that said hardcore friends have taken up, of all things, Mafia Wars...

  • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @08:50AM (#32278332) Journal
    "Actually, WoW has exactly the same amount of 'grind' now as it had in Vanilla. My first ever character hit 60 in around 12 days of play time. My rogue (who I started levelling late in Burning Crusade) took around 12 days to hit 70. My paladin (who hit 70 a couple of weeks before Wrath was released) took roughly that amount of time as well. Blizzard has simply disguised the levelling grind with a huge network of quests."

    That's not exactly what they're doing, what they're doing is providing a fixed amount of effort required to get to the level cap where the majority of players congregate. The biggest reason to play an MMO is the social aspect (raiding, pvp, even role playing for some people). The 'grind' gives you something to do, as a backdrop to supporting the social aspect. "Bill, do you want to come kill this dragon with us?" "Yeah, i'd love to, need to go get my widgets first though". The 'grind' is there to reinforce commitment to your character, and give you a sense of accomplishment that you share with other players.

    Threadcapping MMOs is easy. A GM can give you "Sword of Awesome + 1million" with a few keystrokes, but it would be meaningless. The joy comes from participating in a shared environment, with a common set of rules, that emphasizes social interaction. You don't 'win' Wow or Aion, you go there to have fun.

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