Archive for the ‘Aion’ Category

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Battle Bards Episode 16: Aion

November 26, 2013

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up for your listening pleasure!

This week’s theme? Aion, baby! Another one of those games with a massive and incredibly varied soundtrack, I really can’t decide what’s more beautiful, the game or its music. Join me, Syp and Syl this week as we discuss these gorgeous tunes.

LISTEN NOW

Aion

Episode 16 show notes
  • Introduction (including “The Still, Sad World” and “Solid State Battle”)
  • “Utopia 3.0 main theme”
  • “Tower of Eternity”
  • “Song of Katalam / 4.0 login”
  • “Fortress of Gods”
  • “Death Waltz”
  • “Steel Rake”
  • “Canyon”
  • Which one is our favorite?
  • Mailbag
  • Outro (“Marks of Dark Wound”)

 

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Not My Style

July 11, 2012

Note: This post has actually been sitting in my drafts for a while, but then thanks to The Secret World I’ve been waylaid by fighting zombies and solving mysteries for the past couple weeks.

When it comes to MMO characters, I think we can all agree that your avatar’s appearance matters; pretty much every discussion anyone has ever had about games and character customization is a testament to that. But there are also important things that go beyond things like face type, hairdos, and make up — what my character wears. Like, I don’t even want to talk about how much in-game pax I’ve spent on new outfits in TSW.

In a completely different way, another game that really underscored that for me was TERA Online. By the way, this was a game I held off on getting for a long time, but finally caved when it went on sale for 50% off last month. You’d be amazed at how quickly my willpower crumbles when faced with a new game at half-price.

Well, I must say the game itself is very fun. I discovered my affinity for the combat mechanics and controls, which surprised me. Getting used to them was what I initially thought would be the biggest obstacle preventing me from getting into TERA. Alas, it was not.

What really distracted me at the beginning, and continues to do so even now, are the character and costume designs. Don’t get me wrong, I mean I think they’re gorgeous, and just about everything in the game is too. But every time I look at my character, I just think UGGHHHHWEJJSAGAG.

UGGHHHHWEJJSAGAG.

This discussion isn’t just about the hyper-sexualized clothing in the game (though it certainly doesn’t help) as plenty of people have already voiced their complaints about it (and they’d all be right). If only it were just that. No, when it comes down to it, this is about me not wanting to run around the world looking like a fashion crime and not having enough choices.

I’m talking about the general style of the models and gear, which obviously has a huge cultural component. Ironically, I spent most of my life growing up in Asia being bombarded with this highly caricatural art style often featuring a pastel palette, elaborate hairdos and ostentatious outfits on animated characters, but I must say it’s never really rubbed off on me.

Anyway, leaving aside the fact they’re completely impractical for adventuring and monster slaying, the clothes in TERA look ludicrous! I can’t even look at my character or some of the NPCs both male and female and think this is someone I can take seriously, rather than that they belong in some early 80’s glam rock band. By the time I got around to looking like a fool in my third pair of “half-pants”, I’d just about had it; I didn’t think I could look at one more person running in five-inch stiletto heels (a personal pet peeve of mine) or yet another exposed shiny male-elf navel while keeping a straight face.

This is the sort of stuff that falls into the same category as my dislike for the over-large and cumbersome shoulder pieces in World of Warcraft, or the fact I like to hide my helm on my SWTOR Jedi Consular so I don’t look like a BDSM enthusiast or a milkmaid. You might think, “Geez GeeCee, they’re just clothes in a game, as long as you’re wearing some, what’s the problem?”

Well, the problem isn’t as trivial to me as I thought. Maybe, there’s just too much of the old RP’er in me? I tend to like to do things like name my characters in accordance to the game world’s conventions, and likewise customize their appearance to fit the personalities I give them.

I’m sure you can argue that clothing items like half-pants and weird abs-revealing-armored-jackets are considered “normal” in the world of TERA, but still, is it too much to ask for the things I wear to look good but also make sense, i.e. like I actually dressed myself this morning without being under the influence of LSD? Not that other MMOs don’t have their fair share of incongruities like armored thongs or ridiculously over-sized weaponry, but out of all the games I’ve played recently, I think TERA takes the cake. I mean, freakin’ half-pants.

In the case of TERA, I understand the art style is culturally influenced and may come down to a simple matter of taste. And I’m just sorry to say it’s not for me. To a lesser extent, I think I also felt the same way when I played Aion, which could be another explanation as to why that game never stuck.

It’s a shame, because the dynamic, kinetic combat in TERA is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO in ages. I also find the creature designs unique and amazingly detailed, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is not to be beating down on yet another wolf or common bandit in a fantasy game. Like I said, the graphics are incredible too, and I am awed each time I log in to survey my surroundings.

I never thought something as superficial as art style or the clothes my character is made to don would affect my enjoyment, and in a way that galls me about myself. But then again, people have left MMOs for much less.

I can’t deny that I’m torn. I like the gameplay of TERA very much, am glad I gave it a chance and want to keep playing, but at the same time the art style frequently becomes too distracting. At times, my brain also cannot handle the dissonance created when one moment I’m looking at my boobs practically popping out of my chestpiece and the next I’m staring at something so sickly sweet and cuddly like a Popori or Elin. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve never truly understood the appeal of kawaii.

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Never Too Late For Some Spring Cleaning

June 2, 2010

Nope, never too late, not even when we’re on the verge of summer (I can’t believe it’s June already), especially when it comes to organizing my game list and computer hard drive.

Sadly, last night I canceled my Star Trek Online sub before it can charge me again for the next billing cycle. Here’s where Raptr came in handy in helping me make my decision. The tracker shows I’ve only been on STO for a total of five hours in the last month. I just can’t justify the subscription cost anymore.

It’s not that I don’t have time to play STO, it’s just at this point I have to surrender to the fact that the game content has not been motivating me enough to log in. After finishing up my dailies grinding to replace my weapon slots with high quality “purple” gear, I was hoping to rely on the changes to Memory Alpha to keep me going. Well, my plans didn’t really pan out there, even though the changes were a good start for Cryptic.

What I’ll miss  most is playing with the people and my fleet that I’ve met over the last few months. Never let it be said that STO fails at providing players with avenues to foster community and be social. When doing fleet actions or other group activities, I must say the amount of teamwork and cooperation required is astounding. Those battles were the most fun I’ve ever had in this game.

I wish I didn’t have to cancel completely, because I think STO is an awesome “weekend MMO”, a game you can log in to on a Friday night to engage in some light combat or teamwork with friends. Here’s where more pricing options would have come in handy, since maintaining a sub is no longer viable and I’m not very partial to the idea of shelling out $200+ for a lifetime subscription.

Space combat is also way too awesome to give up completely though, so I’m probably just going to let my account lie dormant until the next big content patch (at the end of the summer/beginning of fall, maybe?) Hopefully, there will still be opportunities to do Special Task Forces in the future.

Live long and prosper, T'Andy.

Out with the old…

Cleaning up also involved going through my hard drive and uninstalling games that I probably won’t be playing for the next little while. These included some trials and F2P titles, as well as Aion.

I’m all about going back to MMOs even after I’ve canceled — sometimes it’s because drastic improvements have been made, other times simply because the timing’s right. I’ve never really stopped following Aion news, but so far, nothing I’ve read has really enticed me to go back. That isn’t to say I’ll never go back (never say never, I say, heh) but I don’t see myself flying over Atreia again anytime soon. Might as well uninstall it and make room for something else.

No thanks, for now.

In with the new?

Speaking of making room for something else, I may have uninstalled Aion but I didn’t get rid of the NCsoft launcher.

The reason is, I’ve been tempted to give Guild Wars a try. How can anyone not, with the torrential downpour of Guild Wars 2 news coming to us as of late? GW2 went from an upcoming game I’ve only barely acknowledged to something I’m actually quite excited for. I blame the bloggers I read who have been hyping it up too, you know who you are.

Anyway, I think my interest in its predecessor is only natural. It doesn’t require a monthly fee to play either, just purchase of the game and the subsequent campaigns if I so choose. Hmm, what do you think? I’m going to have to mull this over a little more and maybe do some more research.

She beckons.

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Try New Things

May 28, 2010

As I’ve reiterated so many times before on this blog, I’ve just started playing World of Warcraft again after a long period of being away. But I realized I never really explained why I took my break. Yes, I was a little tired of the raiding, the heroics, the dailies, the treadmill and all that jazz, but the ultimate reason was much more than just plain old burnout. You see, back then I was mostly just playing WoW. Meanwhile, as the market expanded, new games were popping up left and right. All of a sudden, I felt like I was missing out on these other great titles because I was too focused on just one game.

I also want to take this opportunity to talk about a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing. Certain segments of the MMO community seem to treat WoW like a disease, don’t you think? That’s nothing new; people can say what they want about a game and it doesn’t bother me. No, instead, what really irks me these days is the ostracizing and belittling of all the game’s players like they’re mentally handicapped or that their opinions don’t count or matter if they “only play WoW”.

Well, I think dismissing people solely based on their game of choice is a bit elitist and unfair. But then I’m also going to play devil’s advocate here and say that if you look past the insults and attitude there’s a smidgen of logic there, even if it’s just barely. If your only focus is on one game, whether it’s WoW or some other MMO, you’re limited to a very narrow view of the genre.

So with this post, I want to talk about the matter of playing one game versus many games, and the notion of branching out and trying new things. Now, I don’t think it’s a bad thing if a player only sticks to just one game, because what it really comes down to what you enjoy. In the end, you should play the games you want to play, not because of what anyone else thinks. Yes, I used to only play WoW…and am currently playing it again along with a few other MMOs. Its critics can crap on the game all they want and I don’t care; they’re entitled to their opinion and the only thing that matters to me is whether or not I’m having fun. Sometime last year, however, I made the decision to experience more MMOs and broaden my horizons. It was my own personal choice, and it had nothing to do with anyone or anything else.

For me, my hiatus from WoW availed me to try many other MMOs out there and I don’t regret any of them at all. Especially now that I have this blog, I find it easier these days to engage in meaningful discourse with other gamers like the ones on my blogroll. Whether or not I agree with a certain point of view, I feel more informed and thus more comfortable now with piping up on many MMO topics than I ever did before. It’s wonderful when I find that I actually “get it” when I read about someone’s unique take on things, or their thoughts on certain playing styles. Even when they talk about a game I’ve never played before, at least I feel I can add to the discussion by drawing parallels or giving examples.

My time away from WoW has also taught me a lot about my own gaming habits. I look at the games I’ve played over the last couple of years, and see all these titles I’ve tried (EvE Online, Champions Online, etc.), subscribed to and dropped for good (Warhammer, Aion, etc.), or canceled only to be picked up again (Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.) Regardless of the result, I think each game was a valuable experience. It made me realize what I liked, or what I didn’t like.

For example, while it’s arguably one of the most polished MMOs on the market, WoW isn’t perfect. I knew that before, of course, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly why. But now that I’ve seen some of what’s out there, I am more aware of the various mechanics, features, systems and other things related to gameplay. I think to myself, I love this from Game X or that from Game Y, or I think such-and-such in game Z isn’t as well executed compared to Game A, B, or C, etc.

Playing more MMOs has also given me a new perspective on how their developers operate. Obviously, not every company has the resources Blizzard has,  and it’s interesting to see how different teams tackle the same challenges. I’ve come to recognize that while a certain solution might work for one game, it doesn’t automatically mean it can work for others. Instead of making me go, “Well, Blizzard can do it, so why can’t they?” it’s actually made me a lot more open-minded and sympathetic.

So speaking of which, if I seem overly positive in some of my articles, it might also be due to the fact that many things are still so new and fresh to me. After all, I’ve only been playing MMOs for about four years, and for more than half that time I was only playing WoW. So admittedly I’m a noob compared to some of the MMO veterans out there, but just give me another ten or so years and a few dozen more MMOs! Who knows, you may make a cynical and jaded gamer out of me yet!

All joking aside though, I thought I knew what things were like until I took a break to try new things. Some MMOs have pleasantly surprised me, others have lead to disappointment. Regardless, I’m still having fun and my eyes have been opened ever since I started giving more games a chance.

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DAW: My Dev Appreciation Post

March 24, 2010

A toast...to game devs everywhere!

Following in the footsteps of others, I’ve decided to participate in Developer Appreciation Week with my own post to honor the people behind the games we love. DAW is originally the brainchild of Scarybooster, who is showing his thanks by spotlighting a developer for every day of this week. It’s a nice breath of fresh air to see something positive like this, and I loved the idea as soon as I saw it. Game developers get dumped on too much these days; instead of complaining, it’s time to turn that around and tell these hardworking folks that you appreciate them and everything they’ve accomplished. Blue Kae and others have already done it, now I’m going to do it too! It’s not too late to join in the fun, simply pick a day to post and share your gratitude for something great you feel a developer has done.

For myself, I have a lot to be thankful for from a lot of developers. Some bloggers are showcasing individuals, but it’s hard enough for me to pick just one creative team, let alone a single person! It’s been a great year of gaming, after all. However, I really liked the format Scarybooster used in an earlier post, so I think I’m going to adopt it for my own use here. This way, I can also thank the entire crew for bringing me the games I have enjoyed over the last twelve months.

So, here we go!

1. Aion team: You guys have one of the most beautiful looking games out there, and while I don’t play anymore, my mind is still filled with many wonderful memories from the two months that I did. You guys gave me a chance to soar over Atreia, and I thank you.

2. Funcom team: Wow, you guys are awesome! Thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into Age of Conan since launch, it really shows. I recently resubbed after more than a year of being away, and I have to say I’m impressed with all the improvements. Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys can come up with in The Secret World.

3. Allods Online team: You guys were my first free-to-play experience and I still remember being completely floored by the excellent quality of your game. Thank you for the fun times and I’m definitely keeping the game around because I just know I’ll be back very soon.

4. Cryptic team: I want to show you guys some extra love because it seems like all you get is hate these days, and not all of it is deserved. Yes, you’ve made some harebrained decisions in the past but you guys are always quick to own up to your mistakes, which is becoming more of a rarity in this day and age. I want to thank you first for Champions Online, which was a great game that I think I would have kept playing if my computer hadn’t had stability issues. I also want to thank you for Star Trek Online, which I am still thoroughly enjoying. I want to give credit where it’s due, so let me just say this: space combat — you guys got it right. Considering the constraints, I’m willing to overlook the trivial flaws and enjoy it for the elaborate and entertaining system that it is. It’s obvious you guys work hard, so keep listening to your fans and improving your games, and I wish you all the best!

5. EVE Online team: You guys aren’t afraid to make the game you want to make, and kudos for that. In the end, EVE just wasn’t for me, but I appreciate the time I had with it all the same. Thank you for your unique vision and innovative ideas. You have given thousands of gamers a MMO they can call home.

6. Lord of the Rings Online team: I’ve always wondered what J.R.R. Tolkien would think of your game if he was alive to play it today. And you know what? I think he would be damn proud. Turbine, you guys have brought Middle Earth to life and I thank you for it. I might not be playing LOTRO now, but I’ll be back one day! You guys haven’t seen the last of me!

7. Blizzard team: I can’t thank you guys enough for World of Warcraft. It has given me years of enjoyment, and while I’m taking a break from it now, my reasons for it have nothing to do with the state of the game. I just really wanted to broaden my MMO horizons and see what other games were out there. See you again when Cataclysm hits!

8. Bioware team: Would it be terribly clichéd of me to say something like, “You had me at ‘hello'”? I’ve been a fan since Baldur’s Gate, and while you guys haven’t made an MMO yet, I’m liking what I see when it comes to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Thank you for making excellent RPGs. You guys pour your heart and soul into your games, that’s how I know SWTOR will kick ass.

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If You Could Date Your MMOs…

February 11, 2010

Well, Valentine’s Day is coming up and I figure a post like this is appropriate. It was inspired, after all, by a conversation with a friend of mine, to whom I asked, “So, got any plans for Sunday night?” She replied, “Me? Hell, no. Just a date with World of Warcraft.”

This got me thinking…what if we could date our MMOs? What kind of relationships would they be?

Before I go on, let me just preface this post with a disclaimer. The following comparisons are based loosely on my real life and personal experience with these games, as well as some of the more general/popular opinions that you can find out there in the MMO community. While there are some aspects I agree with and some that I don’t, the thing to remember is that this post was written purely for fun. It is certainly not meant to offend, so if you play any of the following games, please don’t get your feelings hurt. On a similar note, if you happen to be one of my ex-boyfriends reading this and find that some of it sounds a little familiar, I assure you these accounts are completely fictional and any similarities are purely coincidental…but should you still find yourself offended, well, in that case, I frankly don’t care.

Aion is the super hot foreign guy who roars into town wearing expensive designer clothes and driving a fancy sports car. You jump at the opportunity to go out with him because he’s just drop-dead-gorgeous, and you figure dating him would be a nice and refreshing change. Things are fantastic for the first month or so until it finally hits you: the two of you have absolutely nothing in common. Sure, he’s still very nice to look at, but a pretty face only takes a relationship so far. You begin to find it more and more difficult to establish a connection to him, even when the two of you get together to share stories about your lives. Whenever he talks, you find yourself doing a lot more nodding and smiling, rather than actually paying attention to the things he says. On top of that, you find out he’s a commitment-phobe. You begin to work overtime trying and get through to him, but the guy is stubborn and progress is nerve-wrackingly slow. Finally, you wake up one day, realize you’re not getting anywhere, call up him up on the phone and say, “Listen, we have to talk…”

Champions Online is the guy who catches your eye from across the room, the one who cuts a great figure and says all the right things. So when he finally asks you out, you readily agree. What could go wrong? Dinner on the first date is a pleasant experience until the cheque comes and he pats his breast pocket and goes, “Oh crap, I think I forgot my wallet. Damn, this is so embarrassing, but can you spot me just this once?” Fighting the urge to let your jaw drop to the ground, you think, okay, just this once. It’s not often you get to meet a decent guy like this, after all. So you give him another chance for now, especially since he assures you that the next date will be entirely on him. But when that night comes, you find yourself shelling out for popcorn at the movies and think, what gives? It gets worse until the day finally comes when he asks you to help him with his car payments, and that’s when you snap your checkbook shut and say, “It’s over.” (Apologies to Cryptic, even though I’m thoroughly enjoying Star Trek Online right now, I just couldn’t resist!)

Age of Conan is your overeager and somewhat awkward high school sweetheart. Your first couple weeks together are a little shaky, thanks to the unstable nature of teenage relationships (“I call and he never picks up! Why doesn’t he ever pick up?”) but the two of you manage to overcome the awkwardness to share your first kiss. In your naivete, you convince yourself that what you’re feeling now has got to be true love! And certainly, things are fresh and fun for the most part immediately after that. A few months later, however, the two of you are sitting restlessly on the couch at his place trying to decide just what else there is to do besides making out like the couple of horny teenagers you are. You turn to him and go, “Dude, you need a car.” Chances are, the rest of the world will likely open up once he gets his license, but until that happens the two of you are stuck watching the same movies and playing the same video games in front of the TV in his basement.

World of Warcraft is the popular motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket-wearing bad boy that you meet at the local nightclub. The two of you fall madly, head-over-heels in love with each other and the dates you go on are hot, heavy unrestrained nights of wild abandon. Despite its whirlwind start, you are delighted to see the relationship solidifying into something more stable and long-term. Things are getting really serious, and one day he tells you he’s decided to work on settling down a little. Good idea, you think to yourself. After all, we all have to grow up sometime. The thing is, he ends up mellowing out a little too well. One day, you look across the table at him in his khaki slacks and pastel sweater vest and you can’t help but wonder, “What the hell happened to the man I fell in love with?” On the bright side, everyone including your parents loves him now.

Star Wars Galaxies would be the sweet, down to earth guy you’ve been happily and steadily dating for years…up until the alien abduction that changes his entire personality. Enough said.

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