Aion: Post Mortem

October 14, 2009 at 6:32 am | Posted in Aion | 6 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

I’ve always felt that if a game took longer than a couple of weeks to really grab me, then it’s probably never going to grab me.
Aion has not grabbed me.  But why?

It looks gorgeous.  I am not alone in saying it.  In fact, just as everyone who plays Fallen Earth calls it “Niche”, everyone who plays Aion says it looks gorgeous.  But a game needs to be more than just gorgeous; look at Age of Conan.

In no particular order, let’s see what’s stopping me from loving Aion;
Gold Spam.  Did you know that my first received whisper in game was from a gold seller?  It wasn’t long after I started.  I think I had enough time for most of the first level before his happy little message popped up on screen.  For a while, that little chap was my only company through the early levels.  I normally shut off public channels because player spam is quite off-putting enough for me, but there is a lot of gold spam, and unlike the queues there’s no sign of them abating.  Despite official announcements to the contrary.  I didn’t think there’d be any game to rival World of Warcraft for gold spam, but here is me holding up my hand and saying I was wrong.  I was wrong.

The Queues.  I don’t mind the queues.  I do my chores whilst queueing.  My lovely lady loves that.  Makes me look good too.  My Xbox loves all the attention that Mass Effect is getting.  But there’s the thing; I should be antsy to play, and I’m not.  That makes me think my sub-conscious is telling me that this game is not singing to me.  Yes, I enjoy it when I get on, but there are other games I enjoy, that I don’t have to pay a subscription for.

The PvP.  Where is it?  It’s at level 25?  One of things that Warhammer Online got spot-on right was the ability to jump into PvP at level 1.  Fantastic.  So for a game that’s marketed at the PvP market, it seems daft that the only PvP I get to do before level 25 is dueling people on my own side.  That gets a somewhat sarcastic little “yay”.  I’m not sure I can wait for level 25; I don’t get that much time to play, so every hour I spend levelling to level 25 is another hour of me thinking I could (should) be levelling Minstrel Hawley, or finding a PUG for Shaman Herewerd.  The PvE experience just isn’t that challenging, or even exciting;  Aion needs PvP a lot sooner than it gives it out.

The Alt situation.  I like my alts.  I usually start off two or three characters when I first get a game, and level the alts when I fancy a bit of a rest from levelling the main.  And Aion is no different, but this time I’m spending time in other games rather than levelling an alt.  This is possibly because of the nature of the game; there’s not much for me apart from more killing.  And whilst I’ve no problem whatsoever with a target-rich environment and carte-blanche to murderlise as much indigenous life-forms as I want, the regions are very close and channelled.  Either I’m messing up completely, or I’m doing a lot of running around through long-cut channels to get to where I need to, because the zone won’t let me go in a short-cut straight line.  I hate pointless running.  In real or fake worlds.  So doing it more than once is a painful thought.

Kinah.  What a name.  If we’re going to rename Shiny Gold Coins, can we call them “Feeeelthy Lucre”?  Please?  Because Kinah’s…  kinah rubbish.  Especially for a game that is so cash based.  I have to pay to bind.  I have to pay to recover lost xp when I die.  And then I have to pay for all the other things that you pay for in MMOs; crafting, items, skills.  If World of Warcraft is obsessed with equipment, Aion is obsessed with cash.  You don’t even get equipment falling from monsties, or from quest rewards all that often; just more…  Kinah.
There are good points to the game (more than documented elsewhere), but nothing that is outstanding.  Yes, it has those looks, but they’re skin-deep, and let’s face it honey, they’re not fulfilling my emotional needs…  Ahem.

Aion isn’t broken.  It’s very nice.  And I can’t find anything to actively hate.  And for once I’m finding it difficult to put this into words; It just doesn’t sing to me.  That little siren song that calls to me, that makes me want to see what’s over the next hill, that makes me want to see more is missing.  And without that, it’s hard for me to be fully enthused.

If friends asked me about Aion, I’d tell them to try it out and see if it’s for them.  The legion I joined is lovely, and I’d recommend Vaatyrium to anyone looking for a semi-casual guild to join.  But Aion isn’t for me.  And I think that the worst thing about it is that, for me, the game is just…  bland.
Shame.
Cheers,
Hawley.

Fiscal Sobriety broke my Shaman

October 10, 2009 at 3:45 am | Posted in Aion, General, LotRO, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Syp’s crusade at Bio Break on behalf of Fallen Earth is to be commended.  I’ve gone from a passing interest to really wanting to know more.

But it’s also making me realise that it’s time I sorted out my gaming subscriptions.

I currently have 5 active subscriptions.

Lord of the Rings Online
World of Warcraft
Aion
Warhammer Online
Age of Conan

Why the realisation, followed by rationalisation?  Well, I have a wedding to save for, and I need to take a leaf out of Minstrel Hawley’s new fiscal policy if I’m going to have any meaningful savings.  I’d rather not have a wedding paid for with plastic.  Doesn’t that sound responsible?  Yeah, I know I’m going to spend it on Star Wars Lego too, but I’m doing my best here.

Currently I’m paying for four games, and two of them I don’t play that much.  Poor Warhammer Online has suffered since the loss of Warrior Priest Hawley into the chaos between servers, and Age of Conan is fun, but only in short bursts.  If I’m being brutally honest, neither is getting the amount of playtime to warrant the money I’m spending on them.  Despite the fact that Warhammer Online makes my tummy all warm, and for so many reasons, it has to go.  Age of Conan can follow it.

World of Warcraft is in a strange place since leaving my raiding group.  I’ve been levelling my alts in odd moments, but it’s mainly just going on, using up rested allowance, then leaving them.  There’s no real hold there, more a sense of just marking time before Cataclysm.  Maybe that’s my own version of millennial fever.  Maybe I should get raiding again, to reignite that interest.

Lord of the Rings Online is free from danger, because I have a lifetime subscription for it.  Besides, it’s the biggie.  Whilst I love all my MMO children equally, I love Minstrel Hawley more equally than all the others.  So for two reasons, Lord of the Rings Online is thoroughly safe.

This leaves Aion.

Aion is new.  I’ve been playing it for the last week or so.  Could I really kill it before gets the chance to shine?

Well, I did that with Everquest 2.  I took its Old Yeller self behind the barn and blew the poor sucker away without a second thought.  And it didn’t even get the chance to become Old.  Whilst I have some curiousity at times, I’ve never regretted that decision.

But I want to see how the first couple of months go with Aion, so it can stay.  To use common parlance, it gets a free ride into the next round.

So the big question is World of Warcraft.  Both Warhammer Online and Age of Conan are already going back into the box, to be taken out again when my financial situation improves and when I feel the urge to give them the time they deserve.

World of Warcraft may well be joining them.  I can get it out again when Cataclysm is released, after all.  I think I’ll cancel, but with the option to continue if I find my interest is renewed in some way.

By the time you read this, I shall have cancelled subscriptions and all but Aion (and Lord of the Rings Online, of course) should be on their countdown timer.  And from next month, I should be able to save another small chunk of cash.  Then I shall really, really hope that Fallen Earth doesn’t get a full European release.  There’s too much temptation there already.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Addendum:  I have been informed that Champions Online also has a lifetime subscription cost.  This is surprisingly attractive at the moment, so I might have to see if the word on the street improves.

Aion: Day… Umm… Whatever?

October 9, 2009 at 3:42 am | Posted in Aion | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I suppose I’m beginning to settle into Aion.  I’m levelling slowly, but surely.

I’ve joined a Legion (I’m now getting Beau Geste thoughts whenever I or someone else mentions “Legion”), and it’s a good, friendly place to be.  It’s called Vaatyrium, and I’ve no cause to regret my decision to apply.

I’ve also been acclimatising myself to non-RP servers.  Having spent the last few games on servers with the RP tag, it’s somewhat of a rude reminder as to what life was like before they started appearing.

And with it comes the realisation that me continuing to play Aion is largely dependant upon how well I acclimatise to a non-RP server culture.

The common conception is that RP-tagged servers attract a more mature player base.  I’d not necessarily agree with that, but I would say that the various naming restrictions, added to the various connotations of playing on a role-playing server does mean that you’re less likely to associate with people who can’t find a name for their character.

I have issues with stupid names in online gaming.  I’ve no real idea where this came from, and I’ll always have time for someone who manages to craft a clever, witty name that makes me smile.  Likewise, some people tend to use forum names or email addresses of long standing for their character’s names.  I have no problem with this either.

But some names annoy the pants off me.  And this makes me sad, because it means that I’m not going to be able to respect them, because every time I try my monitor will show me, hanging above their head, the fact that they wished to be known to the server at large as “Lolzboi”.  Or some similar.

I think there’s also the casual indifference to the typed form of the English language.  In the middle of high combat it’s hard to type a hurried warning whilst still obeying the rules of syntax and grammar, but when it’s quiet I don’t want to have to try and decode a message that doesn’t have the requisite number of vowels.  Or consonants.  Or pronouns.  The English language is a beautiful thing, and should be celebrated.

I would like to continue playing; whilst nothing new, Aion has many fine touches that really make it fun to play.  I’m just hoping that my own bigotry and intolerance don’t ruin it for me.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Aion: Guilding the Lily?

October 7, 2009 at 3:36 am | Posted in Aion, Guilds | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

One of the fun things about playing a new game is finding a guild.  I say “fun”, but what I really mean is:

Funny, bewildering, annoying, and at times just plain terrifying.

Let’s find out why…

I like to think I’m a vague optimist.  Realistic enough to know that not everything will go to plan, but still naïve enough to still mean it when I ask rhetorically; “What’s the worst that could happen?”

People who know me well, however, will point out that I’m just a grumpy slacker.

Which is just a shortcut for me saying that I hate looking for a guild.  I’d much rather someone else did; I’ll follow after.  I don’t mind signing up, or following application rules.  I don’t mind trial periods.  After all, they’re there for me to find out if I like a guild as much as finding out if the guild likes me.  I don’t have problems getting involved in a new guild, but finding one annoys me.

However, this time I decided I would not follow, but would find a guild by myself.  I would use the internet for its secondary purpose.  Yes, that of finding information!

One brief search using my search engine of choice (other search engines are available, supposedly.  I wouldn’t know.  I don’t use them) later and I find a listing of guilds on a forum site.

I diligently searched through the various postings, with a stringent set of criteria:

1)    Must have an initial post that didn’t make me giggle at the grandiose claims
2)    Must not be a multi-game guild
3)    Must have a website/forum
4)    Must not be really, really up their own “hardcore” bums
5)    Must not have a name that would make me cringe

Now comes a disclaimer.  I will not be naming names here, because it’s not my intention to cause any kind of insult to anyone who chooses to play online games in a way that I do not.  I love the fact that we’re all different.  I really, really do.

But I must admit to laughing muchly at some of the posts I saw.  So much so that I had to check out their websites, find out about their application process, and check out some of their applications.

I’ve seen them in the past.  All the grand statements, ripe with World of Warcraft raiding hyperbole.  Server First.  Top 10 Guild.  Cutting Edge.  Bleeding Edge.  24/7.

They were serious!  Bless their cotton socks!  And I wish them so much luck.

Unlike many, I’m a child of Everquest.  That doesn’t make me any more or less special than someone who started playing MMOs with World of Warcraft, but I do realise it colours the way I see things.  Yes, I’m an achiever.  But it seems that when a new game comes out, so many players seem to need to hold themselves up against everyone else using so many Warcraft-isms.  But I do take a certain vicarious pleasure when I see them writ large on forums and guild websites.

I’m also comfortable enough in my own skin to know that I am very happy in the way I play.  I know I’m a skilful player.  I know I’m good, and better than most.  I’ve killed balrogs, me.  And I looked fabulous doing it.

So, stepping carefully around any grand claims, I found that I had to make my stringent set of criteria… more a set of guidelines, really.  Very loose guidelines.

What do I look for in a guild?  Well, I want a community.  I want to be able to group up when it’s possible, or solo when it’s not.  I want to be able to drop everything if real life intrudes, but also just mooch about and smell the roses when I want to.  I want people who type using real words and everything, who are on the same mental level as I am.  I want a community that plays with skill, style and panache, and has fun doing it.  Oh, and I want the moon on a stick.

I whittled it down to one.  I then contacted the guild leader in game, and asked a few questions.

Whilst the guild leader was busy in the Abyss, PvPing.  Ah bless, it’s good to know my timing is still just as vicious as it always has been.  Just as they’re settling in blasting not-demons to bits, some grumpy slacker starts pestering them about the guild they run.

But well done to Shuyan*!  Not only did I not get treated like a loon, but I got my questions answered fairly, and politely.  With real words and everything.  That gets a lot of mileage in the Grumpy Slacker Likes You stakes.

Guild application going in.  We’ll see if they’ll take me…

Cheers,
Hawley.

*So I lied.  I named someone.  I bad.  But it wasn’t for anything negative.  It was a well done!

Aion: Day Three

October 6, 2009 at 3:35 am | Posted in Aion, Grouping, Guilds | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Day 2 doesn’t deserve its own post, because I didn’t get to play much.  Gained a level or so, and was happy at that.  I then promptly put on my encounter suit, and headed off for an evening in the real world.  Fun.

Day 3 saw me get to level 10, and go through the Ascension set of quests.  Now, I must remember that these are Devas, and neither angel nor demon.  Hmm.  Isn’t Deva another name for… And isn’t “Ascension” a moment where…

Moving swiftly on.  My gameplay in Days 1 to 3 has mainly consisted of what I term “guerrilla healing”.

Now that may or may not conjure up images of wide hats and crossed bandoliers filled with bandages and plasters.  If it has, that’s ok. You are not alone.

It’s me, running around doing whatever I’m doing (usually questing, brutally slaughtering things, or both), and throwing out buffs and heals to those that need it.  Now, I don’t do it because I’m desperately looking for friends, or a group, or anything like that.  I don’t even do it because I’m lonely.

No, I’m not lonely.  The nice gold seller would kindly send me a tell every so often, because he likes me, and because he wants to peddle his evil gold at me.

I do it because I have the skills to do it.  It costs me a moment to target and a moment to cast.  And it gains me a bit more experience in buffing and healing, in a nice and easy way that might (or might not) make someone’s game a bit easier.

I’ve still not been in a group, but then again all of the content up to level 10 was easily soloable, so no real need to group up.  I’m also wondering if everyone is attempting to level up quickly, and too quickly to want to group up at low levels.  Who knows?

I also had a pleasant exchanges with some of the individuals I guerrilla healed.  You know, the MMO equivalent of the cheery wave and a smile you give when you’re putting the bins out and see a neighbour.  They emote, I emote in return.  Nice and polite.

Of course, it’s not an all-you can buff buffet at Chez Hawley.  Oh no.  I might be giving it out for free (oo-er missus) but I do have my grumpy side to placate.  And that means people will daft, stoopid or just plain not-names get ignored.  Sorry, but you’re just not on my radar.

Yes, if there was a role-playing server I’d want to be on it.

Plan for the next few days?  Find a guild.  Or, as they are called in Aion, a “Legion”.  Although that term does have some unfortunate connotations thanks to a certain Emperor boasting about having an “entire legion” of Stormtroopers.  If I recall correctly, that boasting took place shortly before they all got shivved up by some angry ewoks, and their pet wookie.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Aion: Day One

September 30, 2009 at 4:36 am | Posted in Aion, Priest | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Not the game’s Day One, but my Day One.  Thanks to the vagaries of Amazon’s delivery policies, I got the game on Monday.

First there is my own little montage of installing and patching after coming home from work, followed by creating an account.   Interlaced with scenes of me sorting out the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, doing a little light tidying, and making a brew.

Then, onwards to game! I created a Priest, and whilst the character creation options are less in-depth than some games, there’s more than enough options for me.  Gone are the days when being thoroughly visually unique was important to me.  I chose basic options.  Got me a funky hairdo though.   Not as crazy as some, and not the ‘fro (any game that offers a ‘fro as a hairdo can’t be evil), but still funky.

Then I think I clicked in the wrong place, and joined the Dreaded Queue.  Which meant I could do some more light chores, and even play some Mass Effect on the Xbox.  The queue initially said 5-odd hours, but I was only queueing for 45 minutes give-or-take, so that meant getting to play a game I enjoy, but rarely have time for, and grinding even *more* Fiancee Rep.  I don’t know about you, but for me that’s classed as a win.

After aforementioned Dreaded Queue (which I don’t mind. I’ve no rush to get on, and the only reason I keep mentioning it is because I like typing the word “Queue”. Queue. Queue. Heheh) newly minted Priest Hawley got to see the world.

And it is pretty.  Really pretty.  I’m an anime fan, and Aion has all of the looks of some of the newer, cooler, cgi’d stuff.  I even recognised some of the hairdos, and they must use the same tailors.  Same goes for the mobs; I’ve never brutally murdered such good looking, well-realised monsties.

Yes, the quests were generic.  Go here, kill x whatevers, collect x thingies.  Talk to Jim.  I got to level 6, which didn’t feel like a chore, and then created a couple of alts.  The important part for me was finding out whether or not it was fun.  And it was.  It was lovely seeing a new game, and a new world.  So it’s nothing new? So what.   It’s an atmospheric world, and it might be more style than substance, but at least it’s good style.

There’s no new healing mechanic, and I didn’t get into any groups (admittedly I wasn’t looking for any hot group action, but wouldn’t have refused it) but I did get to wander ’round buffing people at random.  Now that’s something I’ve not been able to do since Everquest, so that was a wonderfully nostalgic thing to do.

Will I play again?  Yes.  I’d like to see where it goes.  I suppose I’ll need to find a legion at some point, because it’s the people that make MMOs special.  But I can take my time doing that.

Will it have the same long term draw of other games I’ve played?   No idea.  Yet.

Cheers,

Hawley.

Fighting the Good(?) Fight

September 28, 2009 at 6:00 am | Posted in Aion | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Pretty soon I shall be playing Aion. Or maybe that should be Aion: The Queue For Eternity…

Now, seeing as I’m a heal-freak the only real investigation I’ve done (apart from is it worth shelling out for?) is what sort of healers are in the game. So I know little about the background world of Aion, apart from the fact that it’s hosting a war between the Elyos and the Asmodians.

Which are most certainly NOT angels and demons. No.

Just like Loremasters aren’t wizards. And Rune-Keepers aren’t wizards. No. No. We’re fine here, all fine…

Personally, I’m only vaguely religious, so I couldn’t care less what a game uses to visualise its “Them and Us” mechanic. I’m also not a 12 year old with angry parents who think a game is going to be just the first step in my route to sexual perversity and satanism. I like to think that I’m smart and savvy enough to separate fantasy from reality. Others might differ. Diversity of thought is a wonderful thing.

Why the waffling preamble?

Well, I need to choose a side. I am a subversive Special Snowflake. Many players might want to choose the cool side, so they can be one of the cool kids. I like the dork side. I want to be the online equivalent of the nerdy kid with the braces and the pocket protectors.

Why?

Easy. I’ve spent so many years being fashionable I couldn’t be fashionable if I tried. The only times I *am* fashionable are when I accidentally tap into the fashion zeitgeist, at which point I feel a bit stupid and self-conscious for a while.

So I tend to overreact and deny fashion. But there’s more to it than that. It’s easier to rise to the top if you don’t have much competition, and I am a lazy slacker. If I’m competing against the hordes of cool kids, I’d have to work at it.

Now for some excessive sweeping statements and injudicious pop-psychology. Sorry.

Spinks is correct in a lot of her statements regarding choosing sides in PvP games.

Players want to be on the badass side, and kicking arse is a bad guy schtick. However. Many World of Warcraft players I know created their first character on a PvE server, and chose Alliance. They then created a second character on a PvP server, and chose Horde. The main reason stated was that they wanted to “see the other side”, but they could have done that on one of the many other PvE servers…

Maybe it’s because when we choose our first character, we choose how we want to be seen. So we choose a “good” guy, a stylised representation of who and how we want to be seen. And for when we want to go and pick on other people, we choose a “bad” guy because we can then divorce our actions from who we are:

“I’m not griefing you because I’m a bad person. I’m griefing you because that’s what undead rogues do”.

I’ve never had a problem with divorcing my in-game actions from who I am. I’ve been role-playing on table top and rubber-swording it for decades now. I’ve played saints and sinners, liberators and tyrants, angels and demons. And all the grey goo in-between.

I think things are beginning to change. Part of it may well be a reaction to the massive imbalance between Horde and Alliance on PvE servers, but I also think that as MMO players are maturing, they’re hitting the rebellious teenage years. Which means dressing in black, unwholesome flirtations with black makeup (most of the blokes I know have no concept of the terms “Cleanse”, “Tone”, and “Moisturise”), and listening to angry music in their room.

I’m pretty sure that this means that the Asmodians will be popular. Heck, all that black spiky armour, the black feathered wings, the smouldering looks from dark glowing eyes; even I’m getting moist.

But. And this is an important but. I shall be choosing Elyos. Playing “bad” is easy. It’s far, far harder to be a genuinely good person than it is to be anything else. It’s easy to pretend to be good but be evil underneath (“I’m doing it for their own good” is almost as good an excuse as “I was only following orders”), and it’s really easy just to be casually evil due to acting in a selfish manner.

But being genuinely good means analysing every possible action and every motive for action, before choosing a course of action. It also means (usually) not looking as cool as the cool kids, because let’s face it, bad is cool.

Popular culture also helps. Fantasy authors are deconstructing your dad’s Good Versus Evil tropes, and giving us a darker, more gritty modernity. George R R Martin and Joe Abercrombie (other authors are available) are taking “real” people, and putting them in moral situations where they won’t necessarily choose good. Heck, The Blade Itself numbers mass murderers and torturers as part of its ensemble cast of anti-heroes.

Personally, if I want evil, I want unremitting evil. I hate the wishy-washy post-modern bad guys that have to be empathised with. I hate the “but loves cats” sort of bad guy. This extends to the backgrounds of the “bad” guys. I can see why games designers want to put a better spin on their evil playable races, but if I’m going to play “bad”, I want honest evil, the sort that can only exist in fantasy, rather than the reality we see around us. If a fantasy bad guy wants to destroy the world, I don’t want it to be a metaphor. I want world destruction.

And I want to play my part in it! So, there we have it. I don’t want to pose as bad. And I don’t want to hang around with the cool kids. In any game. I’d prefer to be dorky but honest, and be a good guy.

Cheers,

Hawley.

The Seekrit Post

September 22, 2009 at 7:58 am | Posted in Aion, General, The Secret World | 8 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Last night I decided to have a look at a couple of games heading to a server near me soon, and ended up joining The Templars.

Well, I was just having a look, really.

My curiosity had been piqued by Ysharros’s adventures in Tha Seekrit Wurld; it’s always fun looking at games, and daydreaming about all the possibilities that they offer. And I’m finding it really hard to call it The Secret World since Ysharros made me giggle muchly.

I’d had a look at Aion, and was mildly interested. The concept of combat in flight is nice, but I’m just wondering if it’s going to be hovering in place blasting spells off, as opposed to standing on the ground blasting spells off. I’m also somewhat wary of NCSoft’s fantasy offerings since I had a brief look at Lineage 2.

I didn’t play Lineage 2 for long. I chalk up my negative experiences in Lineage 2 to a small number of annoying players, rather than a bad game, but it was still enough to put me off playing the game for any appreciable length of time. I shall see what the reviews of Aion are like, and if any of my friends are intending to play it before I decide to part with moneys. Yes, I’m far too experience-biased. It’s one of the reasons I don’t play SOE games any more. And cry every time a good looking game gets tagged by them. Looking at you, Pirates of the Burning Sea.

Then I had a look at Tha Seekrit Wurld (heheh. Heheheh). I went on their website and took the Which Flavour Do You Like? test, and ended up with Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie: In your face, and not too subtle. Or “The Templars”, as the site called it.

One thing it did do was make me sit up and wonder about the various groups that are at the core of the PvP mechanic. Previously I’d just seen marketing artwork and dismissed the various uniforms and outfits. Well done Funcom, credit where it’s due.

I must admit to a certain amount of over-analysis when it comes to choosing a side. Like so many, I love the sure Special Snowflakeyness of choosing the least popular side. So I shall investigate the differing factions a little more. Probably in another post. Too much rambling here already.

I also like putting on my ANGRY face when doing these sorts of tests. I think it’s because I am, on the whole (and as mentioned previously) a humanist. I *like* playing the humans, so when I see a game background that talks about fighting squacky monsties bent on eating people’s faces off, my protective gene wakes up and starts looking for a shotgun. It makes me want to boot down doors, aim for the face, and laugh maniacally as I save humanity from such squamous and rugose terrors. No, the ends do not justify the means…

That makes me a Templar, it seems.

So at the very least, Ysharros, you’ll have someone to beat up.

None of this is hiding the fact that I really, really hope Funcom get this one right. I enjoyed playing Age of Conan (the bits that worked, that is) and whilst it had its major flaws, I felt that there was more to it than some pretty pictures and some awful gender politics (and a bucket-load of bugs, flaws and mistakes). Target-less healing was one of the lovely things I saw. Cones are cool, and for more than just ice-cream or roadworks.

Here’s hoping that Funcom’s attempts to change the way we look at, and play games, works this time. I’m really hoping that the class-less system works; the last time I saw that was in Star Wars Galaxies (can you see why I don’t play SOE games any more?), and I’d love to see another game where character progression is not tied to killing monsters (Oh look, having just killed this Nastypainydeathosaur[1], I’ve now learned how to make +2 Chainmail Hoodies and Plum-Cola!).

There is a large part of me that wonders if this classless concept tied to PvP will lead to cookie-cutter builds with a flavour-of-the-month feel, but I’m not too worried about that. For a start, it will mean I really stand out with my focus on healing stuff. Furthermore, those builds tend towards the solo, whereas it doesn’t matter how good your build is if:

a) You can’t play that well, and

b) I have 20 mates pounding you into the dirt.

Because I’m rubbish at looking for new games (being the instant-gratification sort, I hate waiting for that whole alpha/beta/open beta cycle to finish, yet really appreciate it when a game is not released early), I’m wondering if it’s worth checking out reviews for Aion, and possibly ordering it for Friday’s release.

I shall ponder. Tea shall be required for this one.

Cheers,

Hawley.

[1] The Nastypainydeathosaur was discovered near Preston, Lancashire in 1924, by a small child who was out walking what was soon to be a very disappointed dog.

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