Questions by Rick Charbs (Jammart), Onrpg Journalist, and inspired by the Onrpg community.
Answered by AION Community Manager, Lani “Liv” Blazier.
Aion is set to be released for us English-speaking players sooner rather than later (here begins the anticipation…)! I was very pleased to have the opportunity to hold an interview with the Aion staff. This is a game totally axed on players’ abilities to fly. The unique concepts in Aion set it for record heights in the MMORPG market: “Flight is a key part of all aspects of gameplay: combat, collecting and exploring.”. Read on for more exclusive information on this highly anticipated title!
Onrpg: What renders Aion so unique?
Aerial combat and deep character/gameplay customization are the first things that come to mind when I think about Aion. Also, our unique PvPvE feature. We really wanted to marry the two types of gameplay (PvP & PvE), giving players a balanced version of the best of both worlds.
Onrpg: Customization is an important point of interest for the MMO community. What customization will be available, in terms of gameplay and character development?
If you’ve seen Aion’s character creator, you know just how powerful that system is – it’s just one example of how important it is to us that players feel a sense of ownership and connection to the character(s) they create. When it comes to gameplay and character development, we want the same thing. An example of gameplay customization would be Stigma Stones; basically they are the captured essence of ancient Daevas who have died beyond the reach of the resurrection power of the Obelisks. Each time the player is in town, they can create a “stigma deck”; by utilizing different combinations of Stigma stones, players can enhance and change their class so that they are unique. This comes in especially handy if you have a melee fighting character and you want them to go into battle with a few long range skills.
Players can equip themselves with Stigma stones at level 20, with a maximum of five as you increase in level. Stones can be obtained from various monsters and quests – some are easy to get, some are hard – totally depends on the value of the stone. They are not soul-bound, so they are tradable amongst players.
Onrpg: What new unique features will this game bring to the MMO market?
Flight! Our development team knew that flight would be a huge challenge in the MMO market, but knew that if they did it right, it could bring something very exciting and unique to the genre. It’s definitely a new experience but once you take to the skies it’s as natural as running. Flight is a key part of all aspects of gameplay: combat, collecting and exploring.
Onrpg: Will there be elements focusing on both casual gamers, as well as hardcore gamers?
Yes, the main design goal of PvPvE was exactly that! We wanted to make the PvP parts of the game more accessible and less intimidating to the casual gamer, while staying true to what veteran PvPers love the most. Hardcore players will love it for its unique challenges and casual gamers will find it accessible to participate on many different levels.
Onrpg: How will the flying feature work? Will there be a limit as to how long you can fly in an allocated period of time?
Everyone gains the ability to fly at level 10, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can leave your “running days” behind. Each character has a flight bar that displays the amount of time they can fly. Characters will gain more air time as they level up and there are plenty of gear, buffs and potions that can increase flight time.
It’s important to remember that flying is not just a way to travel – it is a strategic and integral part of gameplay. There are both PvP and PvE skills that affect flight duration and speed and some skills will even knock you down from the sky. Players will have to be very aware of what they can use in the air and how much time they have to do it. I’ve found myself asking, “Do I want to make an aerial attack or save some flight time for a quick retreat? Do I want to explore a dangerous area with the risk of knowing I may have nowhere to land?” Flight adds a whole new dynamic to MMORPGs, but more importantly, it’s just a lot of fun to do!
Onrpg: For all of the PvP lovers out there, what unique PvP features do you plan on releasing for the gaming community? Could you please briefly explain how they will function?
The Abyss (which, for the PvPer, will be the big toy on the playground) features a system that rewards players for both PvE and PvP. Because they are intertwined, players will be encouraged to participate in both and rewarded for both. Points earned can be put towards gear and consumables – points can also be deducted when you die. This constant gain and loss of points will keep players participating and not just sitting on rank or gear once they reach the top. As you gain rank you will gain certain Abyss skills that grow in power as you grow in rank.
Onrpg: Knowing most games on the market, many players seem reluctant to try a game with a large “grind” factor. How time consuming will advancing in the game be?
Aion is level-based advancement, but the main focus is on character development. We have multiple ways of growing their character, such as vanity items, Stigma stones, item collection, crafting, title collection and PvPvE rankings. The curve for getting to the max level is on par with most Western MMOGs.
Onrpg: How party oriented will the game be? Will it be more beneficial for players to solo, or gather in large groups?
The game can be played either way. We have systems in place to support legions and group raids, but soloing from levels 1-50 is also an option. Some of the higher level areas, like the Abyss, may be challenging to play alone but that’s the beauty of Aion, if a solo player wants in on some Abyss action, it should be easy for them to find a party from their faction that they can temporarily team up with.
Onrpg: What is your personal favourite aspect of the game?
Without a doubt, flight. I love it for the complex reasons: the edge it brings to combat, and I love it for the simple reasons: the ability to glide. There’s something very zen about finding a nice cliff to take a flying leap off of – though instead of falling to your death, you simply glide your way to the bottom.
The story is also one of my favourite aspects of the game. During our internal test I decided to play the faction that I knew I wasn’t going to play when the game went live. Now if you asked me to make the switch, I would say “no way”. You spend the first 10 levels learning about your faction, your history and yourself – you become connected to your character. I am now incredibly loyal to my faction and can’t see myself making the switch 😉
Onrpg: Do you have any approximate idea on how payment options are going to be upon release?
We haven’t made an official announcement on the payment options yet – those details should be coming very soon though.