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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Aion's Issues

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday October 29 2009 at 1:49PM
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Aion's Issues

This will probably be my last write up regarding Aion.  If you have been following my previous articles, I have detailed my play experience with the game by focusing on the 1-10 experience, 10-25 early Abyss, and the 25 and beyond.  This will be my last word on Aion for the time being because some of the game's issues have forced most of my guild to step back from the game.

Now I am not one to make "I quit" posts typically, but all thing considered, I believe my assessment of the game in previous articles has be pretty fair and objective.  So what I would like to do here today is talk about some of the aspects of Aion that ultimately ended up turning us sour in a constructive and informative way.


The Grind

It seems you can't read anywhere about Aion without reading about the grind, and this blog has been no exception to that.  That being said, it has to be mentioned because this is probably the first of several pitfalls that is going to be cause people to throw in the towel.

This is a graph that fairly accurately plots the experience points curve in Aion at each level that was made by a member of the community here.  As you can see by the graph, right around level 35 the amount of exp needed literally makes the graph look literally like a wall.  Often times when you read on various forums about people saying the grind is fine, make sure you put it into the context of what level they have made it to. Now to be fair, the amount of exp needed by itself is not necessarily the problem as you start to enter your 40's, but the way in which questing starts to play far less of a role.

When I hit level 42, I quickly completed all of the new quests and looked down at my 60 million exp bar to see only about 10-15% of it had been filled, leaving the remaining 50 million to be obtained by pure mob grind.  Now I am well aware of an upcoming patch slated to increase the quest exp and mob exp, but I think the problem goes a bit deeper than that.  There is a real lack of quest content that becomes painfully obvious at the higher levels.  Quest content is very good at masking grind in other games, so the lack of it in Aion at this level range really only adds to the pain and tedium.

The best comparison I can make is for those who played Age of Conan at release and hit the wall around level 50 where the quest content dried up almost instantly forcing people into grinding cannibal caves for levels to get through the gap.  This problem only gets compounded more however as the exp needed to level continues to grow exponentially, but the amount of content does not.  This only helps feed the bot epidemic and will undoubted crush the will of non-hardcore players as they reach the higher levels.

One final note on the grind that really bothers me is that Aion seems to punish grouping.  As a ranger, I found in most cases I was able to solo grind far more efficiently than in a group killing elites a few levels higher than me.  I would highly recommend adjusting the experience modifier for grouping to make it more appealing to group.  So with all the above factored in, players struggling with the progression in the game are going to start to ask if it's worth enduring for the sake of PvP.  Let's take a look...

 

PvP

I like to break the PvP elements in Aion into pretty much 3 different categories.  First you have your rift PvP into enemy territory, then the fortress fights, and finally your small scale encounters that occur in the Abyss.

 

1) Rift PvP

A week or so ago, my guild got a group together to through a rift into the Asmodian level 30+ area to go cause some trouble.  I think it was a real telling moment to me personally when it became glaringly clear that at least half of the people we were killing in this zone were bots.  When attacked, bots would simply stand there or continue to attack their mob, and when killed they would run the same exact route back to the same spot literally upwards of 10 times.  Each time they would take the same exact route, to the same exact spot, and not even stopping or deviating when getting attacked.  Granted killing the bots was a good source of Abyss points, but the fun of the PvP leaves something to be desired when a PvE mob offers more resistance.  Again in all fairness, there were probably 50% real people mixed in who had guilds, who would react to being attacked, and change tactics after being killed or spotting us.

In this regard, I really have to say that NCSoft's bot detection team or tools, or whatever they are spinning as is either completely worthless, or they think their customers are stupid.  Who the hell is in charge of the bot spotting team, Stevie Wonder?  Anyone with a working pair of eyes can see dozens of bots infesting the level 30+ area on both sides.  They are so blatantly operating out in the open that there is no way possible anyone could NOT see them.  Frankly when I read NCSoft press releases about how they have tools in place, it's insulting to my intelligence.

 

2) Fortress Battles

I think most people can agree that the fortress fights make up one of the key elements of the PvP aspect of Aion.  In my last article, I touched on the fact that crashing seemed to be somewhat of an issue during some of the sieges.  Since then, I have had the chance to participate in many more sieges to see how much of an issue the crashing really is.  I can say with all honesty in almost every siege I have been in since then, the game crashed at some point during the sieges, except for one where the Asmos never showed up to defend and I had all of the character models turned off (Shift + F12).

This is a major problem for me on so many levels.  First of all my PC is pretty serious, and judging by all the posts on forums and conversations with most of my guild, people having this issue are a pretty sizable portion of the playerbase.  This is pretty much game-breaking because the fortress battles are the only way to get medals, and medals are needed to get the top PvP reward gear, so crashing during sieges pretty much makes is close to impossible for you to get the medals needed to pursue the endgame gear.  With the game being out so long overseas, and 4-5 rounds of betas in NA, I am somewhat confused how the game went live without anyone knowing about this being picked up, let alone not being hotfixed.  It's even sillier when someone in the community posts a fix on the forums before your professional coders can do it.

Another issue is a flaw in the overall fortress system in general that also Warhammer Online suffered from, a lack of incentive to defend a fortress.  Medals are not given for a successful defense, and enemy fortress guards are actually a better source of Abyss points than most other mobs and players.  Killing a handful of guards seems to net more AP than running the instance you get access to for holding the fort.  So when you think about it, you are somewhat better off not defending because you will be granted a better source of AP, and a chance to earn medals when you go after it again later (assuming you don't crash).

 

3) Small Scale PvP

Small scale PvP overall remains one of the game stronger suits to me personally.  The only zerging that really goes from what I have seen so far is during the fortress fights, which is completely understandable.  The rest of the time people tend to roam around solo or in small groups making for some pretty fun encounters.  A smaller group of players who play smart is capable of beating a larger group if the right tactics are used along with the right crowd control.

I think if there is anything I would change, I would make other players worth more experience points.  Although it wasn't in the game originally, the amount of exp given for killing a player is so small that they pretty much may as well not give you any at all.  One other aspect is the fact that low level players give virtually no AP, but at the same time your enemy's level is hidden.  This can be annoying when you opt to chase someone for quite a long distance only to be rewarded with 1 AP.  Had you known the person's level you may have been inclined to not even bother chasing them extensively.  I also understand the benefit though of hiding levels, so it's a double-edged sword I suppose.


Summary

The way I see it is that players will need to start asking themselves this question: Is it worth enduring a steep and tedious grind that becomes exceedingly light in content for PvP that has 2 of out 3 aspects not meeting expectations?

The prospect of increasing exp sounds good in theory, but there is no mention of any much needed quest content.  NCsoft's word is losing a tremendous amount of value to players due to their inability to find the bots that every player with a pair of working eyes can see on a daily basis.  I can understand that many players may be willing to hang in there a bit longer given the game's polish and small scale PvP, but at this point I have to say the answer to that question is "no" from me personally, but to each their own.

 

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.com

 

avalon1000 writes:

I am leaving AION soon  to return to LOTRO. I will never play another Korean game ever.

Thu Oct 29 2009 2:08PM Report
seabeast writes:

Love the write up, ty

Thu Oct 29 2009 2:30PM Report
xpiher writes:

To all the people who said that the grind in Aion wouldn't be worse than DFO.... I TOLD YOU SO!

Thu Oct 29 2009 7:47PM Report
Wizardry writes:

I have to comment in a sort of Q/A fashion.

First of all i played FFXI and there is no such thing as questing for xp/levels.I have to say numbers alone don't tell me a whole lot,it depends hpow much xp you get from your quests or in FFXI's case from killing mobs.

However what i have to ask is this...

Is it nothing of a grind if the game is fun to play?I mean you are there to play the game not worry about how fast you level are you not?I mean what is the sense of a game putting in levels if all people want to do is bypass them?

Ok as to the botting,well this one is not so amazing i have mentioned how horrible NCSOFT handles botting tons of times.Heck i have more issues with NCSOFT than i do with the game.The ONLY tools they have in place are auto spam ,meaning anyone spamming sales is auto ban.The real sad part about GM work is that 99% of games do not have active GM's ,they are contracted outside of the game.Now the difference here is that an NCSOFT subsidiary actually runs the GM service called Gamania.However these guys will only show up as per contracted witch may be once a day for 1 hour or 1 every 3 days ,i  don't really know how they have it in place in Aion.

One thing for 100% sure,is you can NEVER trust NCSOFT when comes to botting.

As for game crashes,that again i would not so much expect but i would expect some sort of problems from large scale battles,machines cannot handle it.However if you crash every time,it would be a problem that takes away fun for sure.Using FFXI as an example in serious large scale encounters ,such as the Besieged battle my PC comes to a crawl at times ,i end up spamming my macros and really have no clue if i died yet or if i am actually still attacking the mob lol,so yes it gets annoying.

Another factor when comes to large scale is that you most likely will not see most of the action,your PC will not be able to render the draws fast enough.

On a whole i would say your concerns are reasonable,the botting is an issue i quit L2 for, i could not stand to support a developer that does not care about it's player base or the game.It takes a very short time for botting to already ruin a game and it's economy,they wait too long and it is too late.Square Enix did a great job with bots in the end ,but they also waited FAR too long before doing anything,the same goes for SOE in EQ2,they waited too long.

 

Thu Oct 29 2009 9:22PM Report
Raltar writes:

An Asian game with a grind? Who would have guessed!?

Thu Oct 29 2009 11:31PM Report
Gscully writes:

I'm playing more CO now, it's more fun. For me the real pain is the constant crashing in the abyss or Panda. The grind isn't to bad at 27 but the money grind will suck big time.

Fri Oct 30 2009 2:00PM Report
Evasia writes:

Lol xhiper how can you comepare Darkfall with with Aion there both totally different games and at least in DFO when you grind you gain all kinds of skills up points and stats gain.

Aion is just another asian themepark grinder with limited after thought pve/pvp with no risk.

Grafhics but no subtsance mmo lol.

Sat Oct 31 2009 11:48AM Report
tensspotting writes:

 I told you guys that Aion sucked monkey balls on the Inquisition forums.

 

Back to Darkfall we go

Sat Oct 31 2009 2:16PM Report
jayfly95 writes:

Quitting Aion myself, will probably go back to an mmo ive already played vs going through this kinda of crap again.

 

Sat Oct 31 2009 11:10PM Report
Stormbow writes:

Jesus Christ, man!  I hope no one paid you for that garbage.  Your summary is in dire need of an english speaking editor.

I'm not remotely suprised to see that you didn't (as it seems no others have) comment on the fact that everyone starting around level 18 and higher has to suffer being ganked by level 30+ people while they try to level, solo.

The game is crap.  I recommend it to no one.  And I am PROUD to say I am not participating in this terrible game any longer.

Mon Nov 02 2009 6:27PM Report
Acidon writes:

Great post.  I appreciate the time you take to do these.  The only thing I love about Aion is heading over to the opposing faction and killing people while they're killing mobs or harvesting.  Interrupting a harvest with a big ol' polearm is tons of fun.

Acidon

Tue Nov 03 2009 5:20PM Report
pauljr94132 writes:

lmao at all yall haters go back playing yalls wow the cartoony game or even runescape

Wed Nov 04 2009 5:28AM Report
Lathander81 writes:

Oh look this thread again?  It never ceases to amazing me how people can harp on one subject for so long.  I'm glad you to the time out to do all this math and write this long spill.  But why? Why beat a dead horse i you don't like the grind move on to another game. why waste your energy on dumb post like this?  Here are some facts  this game has some grind to it.  But there are ways that you can reduce the grind.  Lay off for a day once you hit 20 you get a bonus to your xp depending on how long its been since you last logged in to gain xp.  I made an alt and I am always in the bonus.  Then there are dungeons that give a ton of xp.  Campaign quests gives tons of xp.  There are tons of quests and anyone who says there is no content is either lazy or a liar.   So really if you are just running around killing mobs to level you are an  are not very bright.  Also not to hate on WOW but I felt a grind in that game way more than this one.  Sometimes you have to grind rep and not even get xp for it. 

In closing I just want to say its easy for people to talk trash about a game, and its developers when all you do is sit on your ass and complain on forums.  I sure that no game wants bots and spammers but to act like the problem is magically supposed to disappear is so childish.  Wake up and look at the big picture, no game wants bots yet they all have them. Some worst then other but then again we notice them more now because there are so many new games coming out.  I have no problem with people not liking the game but at least be adult enough to make a good decision based on facts.

Wed Nov 04 2009 9:04PM Report
Paragus1 writes:

lol, full rested exp bonus in the 40's might net you maybe 5% of a level...maybe.  Rolling an alt or building up rested exp does not change the fact that there is virtually no quest content in the 40s, save for maybe 3-5 quests a level.  Rolling an alt or logging off the game for 2 days to get rested exp is not content, and should not be justification for the lack of it.  I did every single campaign quest in the game except the final Heiron one, and it wasn't even close to to filling the gaps.  I'd love to know what level you are.

In terms of bots, this game has the worst bot infestation of any MMo i have ever seen, and that's saying a lot given I have been playing MMOs since EQ1's launch (granted I did not play Lineage 2, but I think we know what these both have in common). 

Maybe you should be the one to take a look at the big picture.  NCSoft is doing nothing about the bots.    They are everywhere in plain sight and have the balls to tell us about super secret bot tools, while guys are running around with the name ffgfgfgfgfggffgf auto attacking mobs 8 levels under them for days at a time.

I'm sorry you aren't mature enough to handle walking into a blog and finding my opinion (which I back up every point with proof) offensive because you are too insecure about your MMO to handle constructive criticism.

Thu Nov 05 2009 8:02AM Report
DiSpLiFF writes:

 good write up very constructive criticism, i'm sure a lot of people will agree aside from the die hards. NCsoft did a good job masking the 30+ with their betas, as the game isn't that bad till about 37 (for me anyways). 

For me the deal breaker was how easy it is to run away in the game from pvp, and how many different ways you can exploit not losing ap in the abyss (falling to your death instead of being killed). 

Thu Nov 05 2009 12:29PM Report
dirtyklingon writes:

Aion has all of lineage 2's failings, with none of it's graces.

 

F2P games release with more content and less bugs these days.

Thu Nov 05 2009 7:01PM Report
jvxmtg writes:

You make grinding sounds bad. When you reach the level cap, what do you do then?

Before WoW increased the exp/level and before they gave a low level mounts, that game was no different. Besides, Aion is a new game and you cannot use other game's player data to make changes to your game. If Aion developer will do it right, they should make changes based on the player data they have gathered from players playing Aion, not WoW or LotRO, but Aion.

But I'm not one of those who are willing to endure a grind. Grind is ok with me, but if I login everyday into the same area for a couple of weeks, I do not renew my subscription. This tells me that the game is a scam -- that the main goal is to lengthen your play time with no added content. But Aion do not feel like this so far, in fact I kinda love the classes compare to the game's classes that I'm killing mobs just to test my skills.

One thing starts to annoy me, though. I get my wings at level 9, yet I still need a taxi :/

I personally don't see myself playing this game for more than 6 months, unless Aion devs makes it possible to fly anywhere, not only glide.

Thu Nov 05 2009 10:59PM Report
Kyleran writes:

Good write up as always, but what game is your guild going to play now? Thinking of heading back to DF for Round 2?

Sat Nov 07 2009 12:29AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

Right now we are sort of in an MMO limbo Kyleran.  A lot of us are playing Call of Duty 5, Borderlands, DA:O etc.   There are 1 or 2 of my guys who stuck it out in DF who are lobbying very hard to get us to come back, but I think like many people, we want to see how the next expansion looks before putting it back on the table.

Sat Nov 07 2009 12:17PM Report
Omiko writes:

 Decent writeup but I think you're quitting a bit early based on some of the facts you cited. First off you're correct it's a problem to have no reason to defend Fortresses as of right now. But they've also stated in the new patch upcoming this month they will add medals as a reward for defense. So that right there eliminates one problem you picked out.

Secondly you pointed out to much grind as a problem. I semi agree with this. I think 40+ the 'grind' as you call it becomes dungeons and not questing. What you should be doing 40+ is running Steel Rake, grinding elites in between. This is still partly grind but once you get past that you unlock more and more dungeons. Now I am 48 and I have 3 different dungeons I can run at any given time and the Dredgion to jump into for a Battleground-esque battlefield. This to me is alot of content to explore.. not to mention going into the Core or Upper Abyss to kill guards for AP is very worthwhile.

I do agree that in some ways it's not AS lucrative as it should be but I also think thats partly because the core base of the game is not caught up to where the people who can devote alot of time are. If you're 40+ at this point you've put in the amount of hours to be considered pretty hardcore. So yea you're talking about maybe 5-10% of the populace. Of course you won't find tons of people your level running about at 1 month in? Use a little sense..

The only thing I find myself in agreement with you on is Fortress lag issues. This is indeed a problem and one that should have been expected. Why the crashing is occuring I dont know, personally I dont crash, and on the majority in our raid only 5-8 people crash, while rest don't. I can see how this is incredibly frustrating to the other who do crash and it does need to be addressed. I'm not sure if this was a problem in Korea or not so I'm trying to be patient about it. I'd say so far judging from this upcoming patch they are listening to their players quite alot however as many of the changes being implemented are things we've asked for.

Only other thing is the bots. Yeah every game has them. I killed them all day long in WoW. I killed them all day long in Lineage 2. Fact of life is bots will exist, gold spammers will contact you, and gold will be sold. It sucks but this is life of MMOs now. One thing I can applaud NCSOFT highly for is the amount of gold spam has dropped 90% already. So that's one blow to their schemes, now they only need to make better tools of the bots. Hopefully these come very soon but again.. a month in. 

So in closing with that I'd like to say again anyone who agrees with your post and are quitting are giving up a bit early. Yes it takes a tad longer to gain levels in this game but I think that just weeds out the bad players like in WoW where it hadn othing to do with quality for raiding just throwing bodies into the raid with some sort of half competent raid leader. Small scale PVP is incredibly balanced and Fortresses while a bit flawed are alot of fun and require alot of thought and planning not just ZERG THE DOOR like Warhammer. 

Sun Nov 08 2009 6:27AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

The upcoming patch only rewards the legion who owns the fortress for defending it, not the general population.   Nobody will defend a fortress under the new rules except for the guild who owns it.   This will turn out to be an exercise in futility because no one legion has enough people to stand against the entire horde of an entire faction.

Sun Nov 08 2009 1:31PM Report
Morite writes:

I think after playing Darkfall it is hard to go back to tab click MMORPGs.

Mon Nov 09 2009 3:04AM Report
Omiko writes:

 I agree it's not the best method to go about it but it's not that unreasonable either. You can make it work. Lineage 2 was same way.. no one guild can hold multiple forts so you had to divide them up. Well if you're forming an alliance (as you most likely have to) with other guilds then you have to share. People again like to just give up.

Mon Nov 09 2009 3:55AM Report
wolfdm3 writes:

One thing I noticed in your blog was your graph. It is very accurate in the changes in experience needed per level. It definately shows that a change could be made in the experience table from 35+, although a lot of instanced content opens at those levels. Hopefully, the new patch will make that a completely invalid statement, in terms of grind table fixing.

Tue Nov 10 2009 9:38PM Report
Muspilli writes:

 This next patch will make or break Aion for the western audience. Guilds are bleeding members.

Fri Nov 13 2009 9:57AM Report
Suraknar writes:

Thanks for the Writte up this seals my decision!

I was very skeptical about AION when everyone around was Hyped about it, I resisted the temptation adn never bought it, you see I played Lineage II, the game that made me swear to never play an NCSOFt game again.

And I was not about to fall for the nice Graphics again, NCSOFt fooled me once..not anymore.

L2, was 50% played by Adena Farmers had a Huge Korean grind Curve and very nice looking graphics, it failed in NA...sounds familiar?

Well, leaving it at that I thank you for the confirmation of my skepticism.

Cheers!

Tue Nov 17 2009 12:14AM Report
BelegStrongbow writes:

All I can say is I quit Aion immediatly when I realized it was a tab click mmo.  I cannot play Tab click after DFO.  DFO is a whole other world in MMO's that people really need to consider.   I also come from Tabula Rasa (RIP) and Shadowbane which also attempted to make combat a focus.  Please come back to DFO Para!!  

Wed Nov 18 2009 12:05PM Report
Rohn writes:

I think NCSoft borrowed Aventurine's "Hacker and Macroer Detection Team" to detect bots in Aion.

Wed Nov 25 2009 10:24AM Report
LordGracy writes:

I quit before I even got to do PVP. Game is terrible.

Thu Dec 03 2009 10:09AM Report
Qazz writes:

Nice write up.  It's alot to consider for sure.  My highest toon is a level 26 chanter (also a 21 glad, 21 ranger and 22 templar).  I haven't experienced the 'wall' yet.  I think with any mmo you just play until you lose the urge to log in.  You sit down at your computer...log in...and go...."meh, I think I'll do something else."

I play mmo's like Tiger Woods plays women.  I just go for whatever I'm in the mood for.   For now, it's Aion...maybe I'll play Hello Kitty next year...

Thu Dec 10 2009 8:13PM Report
codemaster0 writes:

 Everyone needs to just stop noticing the bad things about this game, IT HASNT EVEN BEEN OUT THAT LONG!!!
Can anyone name a single game thats been perfect right as it came out???                    

Probably NOT!

 

Sat Dec 12 2009 2:38PM Report
Tob7 writes:

I Play Both Aion and Lotro (90% of my Gameplay time goes to LOTRO)   Aion Graph looks awsome, but there is a big lack of content compared to Lotro.

Wed Feb 10 2010 12:34PM Report

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