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On Transitioning To an Asian-Style MMO, Such As Aion 256

A. Harvey writes "Ten Ton Hammer has an interesting article about the transition to Asian-style MMO games, specifically Aion. 'In many ways, the West is catching up to the East in terms of gaming. Per capita gaming ... and broadband proliferation is markedly higher in Asian markets. Gaming is much more social in the East as well; many players gather together in internet cafes to spend their game time with each other. Another surprising difference in most Asian-based games is that most functions of game control are mouse based.' I think the author hit the nail on the head that Aion will be a big success in North America and will introduce a lot of players to games with an Eastern feel."
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On Transitioning To an Asian-Style MMO, Such As Aion

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  • Aion will Flop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:35PM (#29061591)
    Aion will go the way of every other non-WoW MMO, because it can't compete with the dumptruckloads of development money and years of lead time that game has had. It is just a poor copy of The One MMO that yet again tries to outdo it with the graphics, while the developers continue to ignore the fact that part of WoW's mass market appeal is that it will run on any piece-of-crap computer with some sort of 3D accelerator in it.

    Aion will have a couple hundred thousand subscribers if it's lucky, and those will churn out in a few months, the numbers will stabilize somewhere around 80K, and NCsoft will still be scratching their heads wondering why they can't publish a GOOD MMO.

    Age of Conan had BOOBIES and awesome graphics and some new game mechanics, but it was poorly balanced and the highly polished tutorial was just a facade. Once you went to the mainland the game got dull and boring with a quickness. Plus, low-level male characters looked like gay pirates and the sexiest female clothes you'd see were the ones a character started with. And Age of Conan flopped.

    Warhammer Online was accessible, with graphics comparable to WoW's; it had fun gameplay comparable to some of WoW's more recent additions, and it still flopped. Why? Because it was TOO MUCH of a WoW clone on the surface, and many of its systems were not polished or balanced and relied too much on social interactions where "alone together" is king.

    For what it's worth, I think Bioware's KOTOR Online thing will have huge box sales and big initial numbers, and it will be a great Bioware RPG, but static content does not make for MMO subscriber retention. They'll have huge initial numbers and huge churn. But they at least have a little bit of a chance, if only because it's not more cookie-cutter mythical fantasy; It's STAR WARS.

    The MMOs that are succeeding these days are not MMORPGs. They are MMO-strategy like lighter-fare Web/social network games. To make a new MMORPG be massively successful, it's going to take a re-invention of the genre. EVE Online has carved out a nice niche for itself and is clearly a shining star. The current MMORPG monoculture sucks and it's time for more experimental and different kinds of MMO games.
  • Warhammer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gearloos ( 816828 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:42PM (#29061655)
    What? Warhammer Onlines dead? oh dam.. and I just hit rr70! Well, there is a couple servers still cranking along with good population.. but only a couple.
  • by Roman Mamedov ( 793802 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:15AM (#29061863) Homepage
    Lineage II seems to have nowhere near WoW's popularity in the US. Given that Aion is done by the same company and is viewed by many as a LA2's "more/bigger/better", would it see the same fate?
  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:17AM (#29061877)

    How about the Closed Beta?

    Yes, I have. As far as I've seen, it's just more of the same. Same kind of quests, same kind of combat mechanics, same character class-and-level mechanics. Same old grind, same old tedium. Players will get bored with it. Everyone declaring they will quit WoW to play Aion will find something they miss about WoW that is lacking there, get frustrated, and will go back.

    Sure, WoW will die eventually, but that day is clearly a long way off. I'd say it's more likely to become antiquated than be abandonded by its playerbase.

  • by brogdon ( 65526 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:18AM (#29061887) Homepage

    As in many other things relating to computers, Japan already has the lead in sexless, marginally employed men who live with their parents and play on the internet. They call them "herbivores."

    http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE56Q0C220090727?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=10522 [reuters.com]

  • by obi ( 118631 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:20AM (#29061901)
    I think there just isn't a lot of room on the market for subscription-based games. I suspect most people will have a budget for one or so, and they will have invested quite a bit of time in it - so there's very little incentive to switch.

    I think the Guild Wars model is much better: you pay for the game, you play for free. If you decide to stop for a few months, and pick it up later - no problem. If you decide you like the game and want access to more content, you buy the expansion packs.
  • Re:"Asian Style"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Impeesa ( 763920 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:32AM (#29061973)
    The distinguishing characteristics, as I understand it, are typically A) free to play, supported by micropayments for vanity stuff, and B) monotonous grindfests.
  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:00AM (#29062381)
    ....whom then leave within a couple days. This is the problem I had playing WoW: There were really no guilds for me to join on my server that didn't have a bunch of people who have been playing for massive amounts of time. I couldn't find people who didn't play, so every time I asked a question, snyde response. I had no reason to stick to the game, just because there was nothing special about it, and (at least on the servers I tried) found 0 people to talk to regularly. MMO's are really, really shitty games. Wash, rinse, repeat times 80 million. Once you have the best formula, there is no improving on DPS. You can improve on CC, but once you're used to using a fear and a restraint and a stun on 3 different guys, you're done. Healing is just waiting for bars to go down and avoiding aggro. If I can describe exactly how to play a type of character in a (long) sentence, that's really not deep gameplay I can do for hours on end myself with nobody to talk to.
  • by Electros ( 1166421 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:39AM (#29062521)
    So I wanted to correct a few assumptions people are making with this post, I'm biased but will try to stick to facts =p 1. Aion is a grindfest ~ Untrue, aions leveling is a little bit easier than WoWs. I can't comment on raiding and crafting but early crafting is easier than WoW also. 2. Aions graphics are too good to beat WoW in the casual segment with older computers ~ Also untrue, Aion runs much more smoothly than WoW for me on my rig. I have a nice rig but I get 70-100 fps in Aion, I'm lucky to hit 30 in WoW. 3. WoW has been out for many years and is very polished, New mmos are buggy and will fail like age of Conan and warhammer did. ~ Aion has been out for a year in asia, and is very effecient. I haven't noticed any bugs in the game. I played age of conan and the comparison is apples and oranges. Aion may not be the runaway success people are making it out to be, it may not beat WoW either. There's no question in my mind that the game is better than WoW, but Asian mmo's seem to carry a large stigma and its hard to get people to switch mmo's either way. Also there remains the question of the dev team and how they deal with hackers//bots//exploits that can't be answered yet for obvious reasons but from its history in asia they have pushed out huge content patches relatively fast and bug free.
  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xalorous ( 883991 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:45AM (#29062545) Journal

    Regarding SW:TOR. It is a fully realized MMO, not just a RPG. Bioware's first. LucasArts is fully behind the project. The graphics look gorgeous, and they're claiming that it will be "fully voiced". They have a really deep background universe to draw on including the movies, novels and prior games (MMO and RPG and action and FPS and flight sims, etc.) Plus they have probably the (most, second most, top 3 most) rabid group of fans in the sci-fi world, and probably the largest.

    If Bioware/LucasArts can pull off what they've started to the level of quality and polish that matches what they've released so far, this could be the one that competes with WoW.

  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @02:46AM (#29062547)
    This is true. Warcraft is a tough game for a new subscriber to start, now. Not the game itself; that's fine. But the culture, the MMO part of the RPG, is not at all friendly. It's great, I assume, if you've been playing for years and know all the lingo and social conventions.

    I never played. I watched my son try for a few weeks. He ended up canceling because nobody wanted anything to do with somebody who didn't already know all the proper etiquette on how to do multiplayer raids or whatnot. He was accused of pretending to be new; one guy said something like "You just started playing Warcraft NOW? You're lying."

    And without the promised extensive social interaction, Warcraft looked like a pretty mediocre RPG. I'm sure he could have stuck it out, eventually wormed his way into some guild or another, but why would he WANT to? That sounded about as thrilling as repeating your freshman year of high school. The startup of a new MMORPG would be far more attractive.
  • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:31AM (#29064095) Journal
    Or you can try the LOTRO "lifetime subscription" option. Pay your $199/$299 (depending on sale) up front, -you still have to buy the game and any expansion packs like Moria, but you don't have any more subscription fees. Most of the serious players I know are lifers.
  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:37AM (#29064149) Homepage

    ) Why should anyone who sunk 4+ years into WoW abandon it, there's no need. The game is still offering what it always offered, the people are still around, they managed to avoid pretty much everything that fu..ed up other MMOs in the past, why switch?

    Because they're bored.. because the game has changed significantly in the last few years - it's now heavily PvP based whereas that was barely a factor 4 years ago. Because the graphics engine is a good 5 years out of date and performs like crap on a modern graphics card.. because half the playerbase is now level 80 and just sits around waiting for the next expansion..

    2) Why should anyone who went away from WoW in disgust play a game that is way too similar to WoW?

    That's sort of true. No game should be replicating WoW, just taking some of the best elements and coming up with something new. The ones released so far seem to have taken the *worst* elements.

  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:30AM (#29065355)

    That's why I kinda like AOs approach to the problem: There is something to do for you (you can run solo missions from the mission term), but you level faster and get better stuff if you find a group to play with. At any level.

    With WoW, there's currently zero reason to get a group for anything but endgame raids. Leveling in a group? Forget it. You will spend those first 2 weeks/2 months (depending on whether you have a high level friend or not) alone, solo, without anyone near you (that is, you hope nobody is near you because the only thing any other player around will ever do is "stealing" the mobs you need for some quests). You will not do the group quests. If you're smart, that is. Because the xp you could get from them simply ain't worth the time investment, and neither is the loot.

    Now please tell me how to explain to someone new to MMOs how MMOs are a great MULTIplayer experience when the only thing he'll see for the first month of his existance is solo grinding/questing, with other players essentially serving as nuisances (if they happen to need the same mobs for their leveling) or as customers for their ore/cloth?

  • by Feyshtey ( 1523799 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:27PM (#29067083)
    And how do you match them?

    Level: Fails because two characters at equal level can have vastly different goals, gear, experience, and motivations.

    Gear: Fails because even if the gear two characters are in roughly equal gear, one player can be vastly more skilled, and is just at a lower end of the progression curve for his playstyle. Again, goals, experience and motivations can vastly differ.

    Player-defined: You rarely have 2 people agree on definitions of 'Casual', or 'Raider', or 'Hard-Core', or 'Core'. And even if you did, you're still looking at different games. Not just different groups of people playing. A server composed entirely of 'Casual' players is not likely to often have organized 40 person raids that can cohesively overcome the most challenging of encounters. It would be counterproductive to scale those encounters according to the populace because doing so would encourage the instant gratification raiders to just sign up for the casual servers instead. If you mean to group people under the above definitions and not actually seperate them among gameworlds ... that's essentially what exists now. If you are very casual, you're most likely to be using the LFG tool (which could be more widely advertised as an option for those who are unaware). If you're a bit toward the more intense playstyle on the scale, you probably already have the social networking to do the things you're interested in doing. And like any classifications of people, nothing is concrete. There's overlap. And in that overlap are the oppurtunities to learn about others and what is required to find your niche. The overlap, the lack of clarity in classifying people and who they should or should not group with, is the gaurantee in eventually finding your best-suited groupmates.
  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:30PM (#29067123)

    Explain to me why I should pay 15 bucks a month to play a solo game... snip... I'm all for games offering some sort of solo activity, so you can remain busy and active even when your friends aren't around or your class is currently not in demand,

    You answered your own question. I played Everquest for years, and it was excruciating to solo, so you sat around for extended periods of time begging for a group. WoW gives you the option to play the way YOU want to play... in a group to taking on tougher encounters, or solo if you can't find a group, or just don't feel like being social.

    One of the many strengths of WoW is that it does NOT "force" you to play any particular way. You love to explore on your own? No problem. Like to pvp? Check. Want to run thru a dungeon for an hour or two? Yep. Really want the bigger raid encounters that require a team to learn how to work together? Got that too.

    And it's all done really, really, really well. Blizzard doesn't do stuff that isn't thought out completely. THAT is why they have the 12 million players. It's not like they started out with some huge advantage. They earned a huge base by doing the hard work.

  • Re:Aion will Flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by donweel ( 304991 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:37PM (#29067245)

    I have a similar experience. I kind of enjoyed the game casually leveling, and met some people along the way, but I really wanted to do raids. I got asked into a guild while questing in one of the newer areas of the Burning Crusade Expansion. Then things got interesting, it was a mature guild and the chat was ok but I didn't understand a lot of the chat and had to look up abbreviations in Wowwiki all the time. The Lich King expansion was just coming out and I ground like crazy to hit the level cap by release date. So I started raiding with the guild, I made some dumb mistakes and did ok at other times. Then the guild fell apart, so now I am almost geared for final Raids but not quite. I enjoyed raiding but don't want it to be a full time job. It seems like all the guilds around are either super elite, or quite lame. Hard to find a middle path. So I tried Warhammer Mac Beta, It has some nice graphics and some pretty good features, but it was pretty laggy for me. I thought the public quest idea was great where you just walk into an area and everyone that wanders in becomes grouped and can share in the loot which is rolled for automatically with extra chance for more participation. This game has potential. I also am involved in the Dungeons and Dragons Online beta test for their new expansion. This game is going free to play with an online store where you buy expansions, enhancements, and potions. Points for the store are also earned in some quests. Having played pen and paper D&D i clicked with the Dungeon Crawling experience right away. And found the chat to be usually mature and help-full. No hint of any lag, and the combat system is nice once you get used to it, as a rogue I could tumble away jump behind strike, and oh there is collision detection which makes combat more realistic. You aren't walking through a tank. The social interface works well which sucks in WoW, and you can find a group quickly. Once you are in there is a built in voice chat that you won't use much, cause as a group you move quickly through the instance and at the lower levels I was it with a group it was over quick where solo was a real problem. DDO is not as polished as WoW there is no search function in the auction house and it lacks some of the features of WoW but i think the core game has it where it counts in the combat system and full d&d rules. Free to play can't go wrong, have to run boot-camp for a while but I can fix that later with Codeweavers Crossover Games. Not sure if I will fully retire WoW I still enjoy the battle grounds and they are always expanding but I am going to see where DDO takes me. And as far as the Oriental Games go I was in Guild Wars beta it was fun as beta but when the actually game came out I became bored quickly, it was pretty, but the game play was not there.

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