WC: Please introduce yourselves and give readers a bit of information about the development team.
My name is Charles ‘kieron’ Dane and I am Aion‘s Community Relations Manager. Also supplying answers is Brian ‘Xaen’ Knox, Aion‘s Associate Producer. We are two of many members of the international Aion Development team dedicated to the release of a great game with global appeal.
WC: What, in a nutshell, is Aion and what sets it apart from other MMOs?
Aion is a visually and aurally stunning fantasy MMO with broad market appeal due to the integration of the features and gameplay considered to be the best in the industry, as well as innovative features such as the Player versus Player versus Environment, class customization via the Stigma system and full freedom flight. Players can participate in Player versus Player and Faction versus Faction combat as well as simply enjoy the rich mission content.
WC: Aion has had the ‘another MMO developed in Korea’ label slapped on it by ‘western’ MMO purists. How do you respond to that? What sort of gamer is Aion attempting to attract?
We would recommend they take a look at the feedback from the recently completed third Closed Beta Test and at message boards of fan sites such as Aion Source before forming an opinion based on preconceptions. Aion is being developed with the intention of appealing to a global market and an international community, not just focused on a particular player demographic.
WC: How do you answer the thought that Aion is “just another grind fest”?
That is another misconception based on where the development team is creating the game. Aion players will be able to participate in a number of activities to advance their characters and not just killing NPC after NPC in a mind-numbing fashion. The missions and quests available are more than sufficient to keep players engaged and leveling up without resorting to repeats or grinding endless mobs for experience.
WC: Please give an overview of the unique flying combat system in Aion.
In the Abyss and faction-based zones, players will be able to experience full freedom flight. Movement is in 360° and controlled by keyboard or keyboard and mouse look. Newly added is the ability to Glide in many areas where flight is not available. Both of these flight features will introduce a new tactical element to all aspects of combat; be it PvP, PvE or the new PvPvE system.
WC: What about factions? What are they and how do they affect the game?
There are three primary factions in Aion; the playable Asmodians and Elyos, as well as the draconic NPC Balaur. While at lower levels the two factions may appear to be similar, at higher levels the differences between the two factions become more apparent. Based on community feedback, there are new features being added during the development process to further differentiate between the two factions.
WC: Give a thumbnail sketch of the strengths and weaknesses of each racial group and class.
Living in the remnants of the upper half of Atreia are the Asmodians. Having pale-skin, talons and manes, this faction has adapted to the lack of sunlight and warmth resulting from the cataclysm that split their home world and separated them from the Elyos.
The lower half of Atreia receives more light and warmth; its denizens, the Elyos, have evolved to reflect this. Tanned and with tastes favoring the brighter or more colorful, they appear to be the friendlier of the two factions. However, there is no difference in the hatred the two races hold for one another.
As for the classes, there are four starting classes each one with two specializations you must choose between around level ten.
Travelers on the path of Arms start as a Warrior before reaching their crossroads and choosing between the Gladiator- Master of Weapons and Armor, or the Templar- a Warrior-minded melding of Arms and Healing. Weapon and movement speed are the trade-offs for being able to absorb high amounts of damage.
The path of the Arcane begins with that of learning the skills of the Mage. Once the character has ascended, the player must choose between walking the path of the Sorcerer or the Spiritmaster. The former develops the power to case high damage and Area of Effect spells, while the Spiritmaster is the summoner of Spirits. While powerful, both specializations fare better with someone else soaking up damage.
The Shadow path of the Scout emphasizes the ability to sneak close, strike from hiding, and fade back into the shadows. Rangers favor the bow and the paired daggers; Assassins can use nearly any weapon to great effect as long as they strike from stealth. Much like the Mage, Scouts are vulnerable when they are not working in their forte.
The final path is that of the Divine. Ministering to the needs of their party, the Priest can cause and cure damage with weapon and spell. Clerics travel further down the road of the Priest with access to further healing and attack spells. While not as powerful in the healing arts, the Chanter can strengthen his party, weaken his foes yet still provide some offensive ability. As healers and enhancers/debilitators, Priests are the jack of offense, defense and survivability, but the master of none.
WC: Can players multi-class their characters? If not, why not?
While players cannot multi-class their characters in the classic sense, the new Stigma system will allow players to “socket” individual skills from other classes. This will give, for example, a Spiritmaster the ability to swing a sword and run faster or a Gladiator to move invisibly and cast fire-based spells. As with any situation where proficiency is gained artificially and not naturally learned, Stigma skills will not be as effective as skills used by a member of the appropriate class.
WC: You list PvPvE on the site. What exactly does this mean? Do PvP and PvE battles occur simultaneously in the same areas of the world?
PvPvE is an acronym for Player versus Player versus Environment and the definition is just what the name implies. Imagine you are an Asmodian Ranger battling against an Elyos Chanter. A wandering group of NPC Asmodians pass through the area and “see” the battle. Depending on how the battle is progressing, there is a high likelihood the NPCs will join you in battle against the common faction foe. If the wandering group is composed of Balaur, there is the potential they will engage both parties. Battles of this sort can take place at any time in the zones where PvP combat can occur.
WC: The new website (http://www.aiononline.com) has been utterly revamped. What other components will you be adding? Will there be a forum that developers will regularly visit?
The US site has been redesigned and will see loads of improvements in coming months.
The decision of whether to host forums on the official site or to recognize a fan site as hosting Aion‘s official message boards has not been reached yet. Until that decision has been made, US and EU Community staff have been known to frequent a number of fan site forums and media portal message boards.
WC: Please add anything else you wish the community to know.
If you are at all interested in taking a look at Aion this year, do whatever you can to attend the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle from 29 through 31 August. It’s going to be a big event and we hope to see you there.