AION 7.0 Developer Interview
AION 7.0 is now live on the EU servers, bringing a new class, new areas, and a ton of changes along with it. Many of these changes are quality of life improvements, which should be a huge welcome for anyone currently playing AION. Unfortunately, the NA players still have some time to wait, but at least we get a glimpse at what’s to come. Fortunately, I got a chance to sit down and chat with NCSoft regarding the update, I’m here to share with you what they shared with me, enjoy!
The new Painter class is a neat concept. I liked the idea of having a tether-focused attack, but I was heavily put off with the poor quality of the graphics. It really doesn’t match the quality of the game in my opinion. When asked if they were concerned that this would put players off, and whether or not they had any plans to change them for the better, they said they had no plans to change it at the moment.
NCSoft: We are excited to see how our players have welcomed the Painter class to AION, and the cool and creative ways that they utilize the new abilities. We really wanted the gameplay to feel fresh and unique, so it was important for us to come up with something fun and original.
Globs and streaks of paint are some of the defining visual traits that represent the Painter class and what makes them very different compared to other class effects. Creating this effect throughout Painter class abilities was one of the more difficult challenges we faced. As the current player community has shown a positive response to this new class, we do not have any plans to change it at the moment.
The Item Guide is a new feature that’s extremely helpful for both new and old players alike. This provides an easy way for players to find the best gear for their class. I asked why they included such a feature, because let’s be honest, not everyone will like it.
NCSoft: Gear is one of the most important elements for players to level up, and we thought that the order in which players get this gear may be a helpful guide of the content itself. We had already removed support content such as Powerbook, so we wanted to be able to provide our players with major information in-game.
I asked about the inspiration for the Dumaha Region. To me, it reminded me of old school Guild Wars in design. Alas, I was wrong.
NCSoft: We would like to explain Apsu first to build context for our decisions made during the development of the Dumaha region. As you know, Apsu was one of the five Dragon Lords known for having been slain by Tiamat. Dumaha was a very prosperous region when Apsu was alive. Tiamat thought that Apsu should be taken down, so she used the power of ‘earth’, which is her own power, to destroy Apsu’s land.
We designed Dumaha with this background and chose to name the field ‘Dumaha’ — which means silence, quiet darkness — so that it matches the doomed atmosphere.
Also, Stellar Industry is the main group in the Dumaha region. They have created improved steampunk technology, so the field is designed with a combination of the remains of the ancient Apsu civilization and steampunk elements. In terms of level design, Dumaha got inspiration from classic AION fields. The terrain has a lot of height so that players can experience it in various ways, and we designed it so that whatever is on the field can be used. We hope to see players take advantage of the diverse terrain found here.
I lead the questioning more towards the changes in the game for quality of life improvements. This is a huge area of concern for me, as it is with any game I play. We’re talking about a game released originally in 2008, that is currently Free-to-play. Typically, this means more cash shop options and few free options, so I was eager to find out more about these changes.
Looking at this patch, it appears that at the forefront, quality of life is the primary driving factor. With changes to various systems, including relaxing the daily entries on several dungeons, it’s truly becoming more player friendly. I asked if this trend was something they were committed to going forward and they appear to be fully committed and truly focused on improving the player
Generally, when you hear Quality of Life improvements, people think immediately of positives, not negatives. Not all QoL are intended to bring you new items or make things easier, some of them change aspects of the game to make it more rewarding in the long run. One such change is the Cubic System. You can no longer trade lower tiers for higher tiers, and Life Cubletes now only come from the Tower of Challenge. What’s more, you can expect roughly a 50% increase in stats from these Cubletes. So why did they change the system so much?
NCSoft: Cubics are high-value content that can raise a character’s stats permanently, but players could previously get them easily from dungeons and through higher tier trading. Since the Cubics are so valuable, we chose to exclude the reward from other dungeons and make it non-tradable in an effort to encourage players to challenge themselves and explore more of the content.
New grade Cubicles have been updated with T2 gear to balance the growth and are set as a high-value reward. It is a challenge for middle-light users, and high-ranking users will compete with each other to get more in order to increase their stats. The Life Cubicles, which come from Tower of Challenge, are an example of one of the adjustments to come with this update.
So, it looks like they’re trying to make it more rewarding for players than just giving it all away for basically nothing. That’s a good change in my book. Another improvement, which Dennis Schulz, AION Lead Project Manager at Gameforge has confirmed is the reduction in price for inventory expansions. Free-to-play games are notorious for charging high prices for inventory slots with in game currency in an effort to milk players for real money, so to see NCSoft lower the cost significantly is really great!
Dennis also shared with us their approach to QoL improvements:
“Quality of Life – or in short QoL – is not only very important to us this year, but has been for the last decade. Other companies have been using the term freely as some form of buzzword, but we take it increasingly seriously as we continue to grow the channels and different ways in which we communicate with our players.
We are listening to their feedback and we try to improve their experience in our games as much as we can. And yes – this trend will continue. One example is the transformation contracts, which we give out a lot more to the players than other regions, and even make them accessible to free users. Starting with 7.0, we are focused on more frequent content updates as well.”
Finally, I asked about new players jumping into the game and getting to 7.0 content. I was surprised to hear that its possible to go from level 1 to level 80 in under a day of play time. Yet at the same time they say 7.0 is special because most patches usually include end-level content, but with this one you can experience it right from the start. The key point of that comment being the new class.
It truly seems like NCSoft cares about their playerbase for AION. It’s evidence in the changes they’ve made and are currently making to the game. They’re striving to make the game more accessible to players of all types, and generally improving the game overall. It’s great to see a company take this stance on a game as old as AION, and clear to see why people still play it in 2019! I want to thank NCSoft and Dennis for sitting down to answer my questions! I do hope these were of some use to all of you, and truly hope you enjoy the latest patch!