Category Archives: Aion

I’m flying!

Lowering your ping

Watch the road!

Living in Australia is great, aside of course from having to dodge Kangaroos on the way to work (joke … kind of … I actually nearly hit one the other week, but not in town or on the way to work). Not everything about living Down Under is great however.  Ping for one thing.  The servers in the US are a whole lot of ocean away from here.  Rubber banding is just one of the artefacts that you learn to live with.  You move ahead 100m and the server decides, nope, you didn’t actually do that, and puts you back from whence you came.  Sometimes this can happen several times in a row.  Now I’m a carebear, so it’s a generally annoying thing, but not too critical, but what if I was into PvP?  Now the game becomes pretty much unplayable.  Some games are better than others, but Aion and LOTRO happen to be two games where the effects are felt the most.  So what to do about it?

Just because we play games doesn’t mean we’re technical, some of us are, but many of us aren’t.  There are a gazillion bits of advice that offer various registry setting changes.  There are programs to block all traffic except that associated with your game.  There are hints to do with hardware.  But honestly, I think these make a difference more if you’re geographically close to the game server.  Most of the problems we face here are simply due to the routing of traffic to a far away location, and no amount of registry changing is going to improve that too much (feel free to prove me wrong, I’m not in the technically competent category :P).

In Australia (and presumably other countries also affected), there are services that, for a fee, offer you a significantly lower ping.  You load up their program, choose a server from their list of many (some US based, some EU based) and then simply start your game and off you go.  I tried one out last night out of frustration and it made a huge difference, cutting my in-game ping in half!  In LOTRO it went from over 500ms to around 250ms and I saw pretty much the same change in Aion.  Now the difference this makes in-game is huge, no rubber banding, skills go off when you want them to, etc.  The service makes use of proxy servers and various network tweaks and basically channels your data in a more direct manner to the game server.  Setting it up was dead simple, and most companies I found offered a trial account, you can see the benefits before buying, but until you pay something you get kicked off after half an hour or so.  Enough time to see whether it works or not :)

 

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It’s all about the people

I was going to write a post about manastones in Aion.  Those annoying, bag filling items that improve your weapon and armour stats, if, that is, you can manage to successfully socket them.  But the more I looked into them, the more boring and annoying they became, certainly not worth devoting a whole post to.

Instead, I fired up LOTRO, spent a while patching (it’s been at least 4 months since I played), and jumped on my warden.  I’d forgotten how far I’d actually travelled through the LOTRO world, certainly not max level (embarrassingly, I’ve only ever reached max level in Wow), but only 10 levels off.  I found myself as a level 65, out of Moria (phew), and close enough to the finish to actually see a light at the end of the levelling tunnel.  My /played enquiry told me that I’d been playing my little hobbit for 2 weeks, 1 day and a bit more. Despite the fact that I missed the beautiful colours and scenery of Aion, and that I nearly killed myself more than once by trying to glide off a cliff (I will miss that in every game from now on I think), I played for several hours.  Not being a Korean MMO, LOTRO didn’t even warn me about taking breaks :D

So why did I stay playing? And why did I wake up this morning wanting to play more?  Simple, the people.   Despite the fact that I haven’t played in months, my kinship hadn’t kicked me out (they never do :D), and welcomed me back (for however short this stay will be) with open arms.  Food was offered, assistance and advice was forthcoming, and next thing I knew I had someone by my side chatting and running around with me.  This is what makes an MMO great.  I’m all for being able to solo to the end of an MMO, no matter how hard, but given the length of time you spend playing in your favourite online world, having a wonderful group of people around you makes the journey seem far less overwhelming.  This is also why I’m excited about Guild Wars 2, I know lots of people that will be playing (who doesn’t), and that in itself makes the game far more appealing.  Yes you still need good gameplay, and fluff and something ‘different’ to want to play, but with a good group of friends you can be a bit more forgiving also.

A big bear and a little hobbit

LOTRO holds a special place in my MMO list.  I bought it the day it came out and bought the lifetime sub on the second offering.  And … on my second start (new guild, new server about a year after release), I met my husband while playing LOTRO :D  The game has great atmosphere so the fun wasn’t just in the questing.  As well as questing we’d pick somewhere to visit, like the Bilbo’s stone trolls, and sit and chat for a while talking about life, the universe and everything.  I also remember having a lot of fun running around his house rearranging every stick of furniture and fish on the wall.  Being the kind of guy he is, he’d spend many a minute putting everything back in it’s place when he found it in such a mess … some things are no different in real life :D.

I also spent a bit of time reading Spinksville this morning and added an RSS feed to my blog.  There’s a lot to learn to when you’re starting out!

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Bits and Pieces

I have a week off work next week which is causing my mind to go into butterfly plus mode.  I don’t want to waste the week wandering through different games, but I can’t choose one to focus on.  I just wish Secret World or GW2 were out for my time off!

I hit 31 in Aion, but it’s slow going, been playing a bit of Lineage II, trying to get a wolf pet.  I’ve failed my ‘exam’ (how to raise a wolf) 3 times so far, and it’s not as easy as just repeating it, you have to go to three different towns and re-listen to advice that just doesn’t quite match the questions at all times.  It’s like being back at school (except I didn’t fail this much back then :P).

Lineage II seems to have an amazing amount of people still playing.  This shot is from a server that at login says ‘light’, and it’s taken in a newbie town at that.  I don’t know why I’m drawn back to play, it’s not an easy game, but the journey to 40 is supposed to be very fast so I guess I want to see what the ‘real’ game is like after that.  My wolf pet journey is just a side track, I’m a sucker for pets.

A crowded town

There’s a new game on my radar too, currently in Beta (although all the Beta slots are gone).  It’s called Salem, a sandbox permadeath crafting MMO, being published by Paradox (due Q3 2012).  Not my type of game normally at all, but it’s crafting looks excellent, and the graphics are cute and the game has witches, broomsticks and uses attributes such as ‘phlegm’ (yucko!).  Very appealing, a hardcore game with a cutesy wrapping.  Just one more for the future list :D.

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Ding – 30 – Half way there! (not)

Finally got to 30, and I have a couple of new and exciting quests, new wings perhaps?!  I wonder how far level 30 really is into the game (with 60 as the current max level), 1/10th of the way perhaps? Guess I’ll find out if I continue on this adventure.

I might well be mistaken, but does this mean new wings?

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A new week and a new game

This is how gaming butterflies roll, despite all good intentions to the contrary.   That doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped playing Aion, just that I’m peeking at something else.

I did aim to reach 30 in Aion by the end of the weekend but despite many hours of play and throwing back XP potions I only managed to get to 29 1/2.  The quests are becoming more and more group based and crafting is starting to feel a bit grindy.  Those work orders are pretty boring to do hour after hour.   I’m trying to keep all my crafting up so that I can make useful items, but this take a significant (understatement) amount of time.    Money (kinah) is coming in at a nice rapid rate with questing, but kinah can’t buy time I’m afraid.  Maybe I burnt myself out with the effort to level, but by the end of the day my mind was drifting to other (not necessarily greener) pastures.

If I keep playing I’m definitely going to have to find myself an Oceanic Legion to join.  It’s mandatory to finish the story quests and some of them are seriously hard, without fellow travellers it will be very difficult indeed. Plus I always enjoy the background chatter of a guild.

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The dwarf that will have unfulfilled ambitions as an archer

One game that I’ve never looked at, never contemplated, never researched, is Lineage II, despite the fact that it shows up every day on my NCSoft launcher.  I still wouldn’t have contemplated it except for looking at the blog of one of my commenter’s (Shards of Imagination), plus it has the same free-to-play model as Aion (or close).  Having a quick read of forums etc it seems to be very PvP oriented, however some people (like my commenter) are carebears like me, so I’m interested in taking a peak.  After a couple of hours of playing last night however, I don’t know if I’ll last any longer than a week, we’ll see :P.

Very early thoughts in no particular order:

  • Click to move – I researched WASD etc (mouse would be even better), but all posts strongly recommended just getting used to the standard movement, it actually wasn’t so bad once I got used to it.
  • Ding, ding, ding, ding.  It made me laugh, for a lengthy, grindy game, the newbie area is the fastest levelling I’ve seen in anything, ever. Every quest hand-in … ding! I got to level 20 in under 2 hours.
  • No going back.  At level 20 or so, my fighter female dwarf got to choose one of two classes directions, Scavenger or Artisan.  Having done no research and having no idea, I chose Scavenger, thinking it would tell me a bit about my choice and ask me to confirm.  Oh no, none of that in THIS game.  Before I roll my next character (which will likely happen this evening), I’m going to have to do some reading.
  • Classes are race specific, I guess even Wow is / was to a small extent, but this is very strict.  Hence I rolled a dwarf (she was cute), thinking I could end up being a archer, but after some reading, nope (hence the pending re-roll). Unless someone tells me otherwise of course.
  • Be prepared.  At what I’m guessing was the final ‘newbie’ quest, I realised that I’d run out of soulshots (pill shaped things that increase your damage and are used every time you attack if you so choose).  So I went back to town, bought some more.  Ooops, I thought you would use 1 per attack, but my 200 soulshots ran out very very quickly (the first lot of them were a gift so I hadn’t been counting).  Back to town … again … to buy 500.  This time I only used them right at the end of the series of rooms I was working my way through.  I also stocked up on arrows, just in case.  Newer MMO’s have made us lazy, and I haven’t decided whether this is a good or bad thing, but it was kinda nice to realise I had to put my thinking cap on.  Of course ‘kinda nice’, might turn into ‘pain in the ass’ very quickly.
  • A shiny line to show the way.  This is similar to EQ2 however the EQ2 one is clever … and doesn’t go through walls … and has curves in it.
  • Lots and lots and lots of things to learn.  I expected this, it’s an older game, before streamlining become fashionable, which, in truth, is some of it’s appeal to me.
  • Mentors after level 40.  Do you need to find a mentor? Are they easy to find? Do you play alongside your mentor or is just ‘having’ a mentor what it’s all about? I will have to do lots of reading on this also.
  • If I re-roll should I be picking a particular server? I just went with the one at the top of the list (GMT +2?), which was closest to Oceanic – not that 8 hours away is at all close.

EDIT: I just noticed that I’m on Chronos (GMT -2), so you couldn’t get further away in time if you tried. Not sure if it matters at all of course.

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Immersion

Sometimes the smallest things are the most important to immersion

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Aion’s free-to-play model and the Abyss

More and more MMO’s are advertising themselves as free-to-play, most of them after I’ve already bought the box and subbed for a while (this will include TERA down the track no doubt)!  But … there are catches.  EQ2 is ‘free’, but if you want to make full use of the auction house, get a decent amount of bag space, try out more than the basic classes, get to max level etc, you have to purchase expansions and get yourself a subscription.  Fallen Earth, LotRo and many more have some kind of subscription or purchase required to open up the game fully.

This is where Aion is different, even if you wanted to sub, there’s no option to do so.  All quests are accessible, all areas open, all  classes available, it really is free-to-play.  The clear attraction of this means that the game is really alive, there are tonnes of people playing in the first and second areas (I’ve yet to level further than that).  It’s a AAA MMORPG that you can fully play for free.

Plenty of people in-game

So where do they make their money? Fluff (clearly they’re going to get their sub’s worth of money from me :P).  The Aion shop is filled with things like pets (although you can still easily get a wide variety of pets in-game), mounts (again, you can get mounts in-game), housing items, scrolls, clothing dyes etc.  It’s great, if you don’t want to / can’t afford to pay, you can still enjoy the game in it’s entirety.

Of course there is a small but constant reminder that you can still spend your hard earned cash

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Leelew, my stealthy, dagger wielding assassin has now reached 26.  In Aion there are two different types of quests, Campaign and standard. The Campaign quests are like story quests and teach you about lore and introduce you to new aspects of the game.  My latest set of Campaign quests are setting me up for PvP (not something I’m all that into, but I want to do the quests just to see the Abyss).   The Abyss is basically a void between the two factional worlds, Elysea and Asmodae, so it stands to reason that PvP is going to be rife (although there is some PvE there too).  Within the Abyss you can fly anywhere, even over to the opposing world,  but the usual limits to flight time still apply. It’s all about capturing key locations, and undertaking quests … and fighting other players of course.

So that’s where the enemy live!

I can’t see myself participating much in the Abyss, but it’s nice to take a peek.  I’m going to finish up my Abyss campaign quests and then head back to the safety of PvE :).  I want to craft some more things for my empty little cottage and see if I can get to 30 by the end of the weekend.

 

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A fresh look at Aion

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I bought TERA.  It’s a beautiful game, no doubt, with great combat and … and …

The trouble with new games (and I fully realise that companies have to draw the line somewhere) is that there’s no fluff.  I love my fluff.  TERA was fun and exciting for the week or so I played it until I realised that all I’m going to be doing is questing.  I love questing, but when I’m sick of it, I like to be able to take an in-game break and do other things.  Crafting needs serious attention, there are no non-combat pets, no housing, no fishing, no random items lying around to find.  It’s these little extras that draw me into the world, make me wake up wanting to advance my character.  I’ll come back to TERA because it has a lot of potential, but I’ll come back when it’s matured.

While I was playing TERA though, I was reminded of Aion and decided to take a peek and see what the game is like now.  I remember a visually pretty but grindy game.  The fact that it’s now free-to-play also helped, it doesn’t even have to count as an addition to my purchased games if that’s the case :D (see, I use ALL forms of justification).

Aion has come a long way.  Although it’s not graphically up-to-par with TERA and doesn’t run as smoothly, it has a bundle of fluff.  And by a bundle, I mean shit loads.

The MMO with the best housing was always Everquest 2 for me. To my surprise, Aion’s housing is just as good and you get your first little place for free. You can place your furniture wherever you want.  You have plants (not sure if there are other things yet) that give you presents every day, plants that are there for friends to nurture, items that you can make for your house with crafting (that you can also use for storage) etc etc etc.  I believe that you can display trophies, although I’m only level 24 so far, so I haven’t been able to try that out myself yet.  Oh yes, you even have a butler, who offers you a daily quest and will greet your guests with whatever message you want.

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I love the non-combat pets in Aion.  There are loads of them, they are all interactive to some extent and dig coins out of the ground for you on occasion.  Some can carry extra loads for you (like the vehicles in Fallen Earth), some can alert you to the presence of enemies.  They are just generally good company :)

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Crafting is pretty much the same, although they now have construction to make bits and pieces for your house, and something called Morphing which I haven’t really delved into yet.  Crafting makes use of work orders to help you level so that you don’t have to use all your precious gathered items.  I’m finding I’m levelling up with work orders and then just making the recipes that I find useful out of my gathered items.  I do love the way the crafting stations are all animated.

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Aion now has mounts, although I’m not big enough to use them yet (this reminds me of Vanilla Wow and the feeling of achievement I got when I FINALLY reached 40 and had saved up enough money for my mount).  The quests are varied, the combat challenging (although not too much, particularly if you’re playing with a friend), and the world pretty. There’s a tonne to do, and still so much to discover.  Oh, I nearly forgot flying, flying is awesome, and it will be fun to try it in PvP which I haven’t quite reached yet (I need to get to the Abyss).  Loving it all so far :).

I’ve been playing Aion again for a whole week now … let’s see how long I last.  If Guild Wars 2 holds off (pre-purchased), and I don’t buy Secret World, and I’m not tempted to roll a Panda I should be right for a couple of months … maybe.

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