Thursday, July 9, 2009

Waiting for the WoW Patch and Contemplating the Aionic Endgame

I really don't have much to say about WoW right now. I haven't been raiding because wedding planning is getting intense now that we're 9 days out, so I've just been doing the same 'ole dailies. I usually just log in, kill 15 scourge in Icecrown (on each toon), then PvP a bit. There really isn't a whole lot to say about that, now is there? I'm ready for a patch, new BGs, and new dailies... it's that simple. Plus you know how I hate to pontificate on PTR things that may (read: likely will) change before they go live.

Thus, the best WoW content I can offer is to reiterate how awesome chillblains + howling blast + glyph of HB is in PvP. An AoE slow down is just pure fun in so many cases. Got people following you while you're carrying a flag? HB. Got people trying to harass your squad-mates demolisher? HB. Wanted to piss off a whole group of the opposing faction? HB. There are just so many fun uses to make you uber elusive (or allow you to catch up).

So, in lieu of WoW content today, I'll offer a tidbit of Aion coverage.

I've avoided jumping full bore on the topic of Aion, mostly because I don't want to overhype an already hyped game before it's even released yet. This is akin to my aversion for discussion PTR stuff; there's so much that can change between now and release that I just don't want to get into specifics. I have, however, been following several of the blooming Aion blogs out there, which brings me to the source of today's topic: Aionic Thoughts.

Concerning the question of "why will Aion succeed where WAR has *failed* in large scale PvP?" Naamah writes:
Whereas WAR (I think) made a huge mistake in only having two realms, Aion has three. Yes, one is AI controlled but it will help to balance things immensely. The Balaur are unpredictable at the best of times but talking to friends on the Chinese and Korean server they seem to be especially ruthless towards the winning Realm, thus allowing the losing realm a chance to get back in the fight. Friends have described Balaur attacking while the two Realms are fighting and complete chaos ensuing as each side tries to decide whether they should continue attacking each other, help the Balaur against the opposing faction or just run as both sides come after them. Neither side can get too far ahead of the other side because the Balaur will not allow it. Its a wonderful mechanic and one that NCSoft is going to expand and improve upon as time goes on.

Here, I completely agree with Naamah about the importance of this mechanic. It seems like such a "no duh" addition to me in retrospect. I mean, balancing anything where multitudes of humans congregate and make intelligent (or non-intelligent, depending on your level of elitism) decisions with any sort of frequency is just going to be a night mare for any game designer. Look at all the changes that are needed in WoW on a monthly basis. The devs are constantly adjusting things and tweaking things here and there because some random player figured out a way to do something that they didn't intend to have happen.

Usually this results in an uneven playing field which, in essence, "breaks" the game. After all, once people would figure out the slant, they're going to only choose what gives them the advantage. Thus, you may have the case where one class is dominant over the other, one realm is dominant over another, or one part of the game lords over the rest. This creates an environment where few people choose to stay and play. It's just not fun like that.

PvP, by it's very nature, is completely uncontrollable by the developer. It's player versus player; not environment, not developer, not game mechanic... player. It's the old watchmaker analogy in action here: the devs make all the pieces, put them into play, then sit back and watch the chaos. In that sort of environment, the only way possible to balance the game is to stick your hand back in and remake a few things.

With the addition of a third, non-playable race, we see an elegant solution to a complex problem. It won't fix everything (such as class issues), but it certainly provides a convenient avenue by which the devs can nudge things this way or that to keep the game interesting... all without having to rely on patches and expansions to make their changes. We're talking the possibility of "real-time" adjustments here. One side dominating the other? Oh wait, here come the Balaur to turn the tide. What a neat concept, and one that will keep even the best PvP player guessing.

Obviously, we still need to wait and see how effective this move actually is and how well NCSoft uses it. However, it is a great idea that shows a lot of promise in making a large scaled, endgame PvPvE environment a working reality in Aion. I, for one, am excited about the possibilities.


  1. I just read that article before I popped over here. As soon as I found out what they meant by "PvPvE" while researching the game I went "Wow. Nobody thought of that before?"

  2. I just read that post today too... right after Sam... (I said hai!) :P

    Anywhoo, that part of the post got my attention the most. Like, enough for me to read it outloud to Sideshow. That's how interesting and awesome I thought the idea of a 3rd realm/faction is.

  3. Yeah, it's totally a crazy idea. Let's see how it plays out for them, Cotton.

  4. omg.. are we on the Ocho?


  5. We do have the latest issue of Obscure Sport Quarterly :)

  6. Win.

    These comments are full of it.

  7. Excellent information. This sounds exactly like what I've been looking for.

  8. Thanks for the thoughts on my post. I truly can not wait to see what they can do with this. The possibilities are endless. Real time adjustments will have to be balanced carefully and made to seem "invisible" and without bias to work, but if they pull it off it will be simply amazing!

  9. Thanks for the coverage. The Aion blog community is still pretty fledgling right now, so it's good to find what we can :-).