This interview with Chris Hager, Associate Producer of Aion's Western division development team, was posted at tentonhammer.com a while back. Thought some people might like it so here you go;
True flight-based combat in an MMO seems like a huge draw for potential Aion fans.
Over the past few years, the Ten Ton Hammer team has been eagerly scooping up every piece of Aion: The Tower of Eternity development news that we could get our hands on. There hasn’t been much officially released for the US public, but we’ve done our best to give you the scoop on this epic game. But since the grand public unveiling of Aion to North American audiences at 2008’s Penny Arcade Expo, the US developers for NCsoft’s upcoming high fantasy MMO have gone relatively quiet. Thankfully, Ten Ton Hammer's Reuben "Sardu" Waters was able to nab a few answers to some nagging Aion questions from Associate Producer Chris Hager, and if you’re eagerly awaiting this beautiful MMO, make sure you check out this interview!
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Ten Ton Hammer: For such a visually stunning game, the system requirements for Aion seem fairly modest all things considered. I know this is one area that can make or break new MMOG launches, at least in terms how accessible the game is to a larger audience. Will the system specs remain pretty consistent for the North American launch when compared to the Korean open beta?
Chris Hager: The system specs will remain very similar to the Korean service. Each territory has different standards to determine their system specs so it might vary a bit. The important thing is that Aion was built from a stable engine, the CryTek engine, which has been through many revisions since its initial release. This gives Aion a solid foundation that allows the game to scale to many different machines.
Chris Hager, Associate Producer (no, really!)
Ten Ton Hammer: Aion's PvP sees players siding either with the Elyos or the Asmodians. Will players be able to create characters from both factions on the same server? If so, will there be a similar factional approach to WoW's where there's limits on cross-factional communication in place?
Chris Hager: Players will be limited to one faction per server. Communication between factions is also limited to your own. Players will be able to make characters on multiple servers so they can experience both of the factions in Aion.
Ten Ton Hammer: From screenshots I've seen of lower level characters, it looks as though you'll be starting out with some fairly nice looking equipment rather than the usual stumpy clubs and ratty leather armor. Will higher level characters still be easily distinguishable as they progress? For a lot of players this can be somewhat important - no one wants to look like a noob at the level cap after all!
Chris Hager: Yes! One of the major goals of Aion was to make sure that everyone looks good at any level and with any assortment of gear. High level armor will have some surprises as they transform when you enter combat. This can be anything from particle effects to actual transformation of the materials. New players that see veterans around town will certainly get the gimme’s for high end loot.
Even low level characters will have nice looking equipment.
Ten Ton Hammer: The archetype approach for character creation has been attempted before to mixed results, most notably with EverQuest 2. In that game the system ultimately didn't go over so well as it left players feeling a bit disconnected from the class they ultimately wanted to play, so was later dropped altogether. How has player reception been with the archetypes in Aion so far? Will there be a more seamless progression between archetype and main class that helps ease players into specific combat roles?
Chris Hager: Aion’s class system is designed to be intuitive. We want players to make an easy first decision and enter the world to learn about the story, the combat, the questing, and general game mechanics without having to worry about whether they picked the right class. By providing four general choices at the beginning a player can get in and learn the game before making game altering decisions. The second class choice you make is fairly early on, within the first 10 hours of gameplay. The classes to choose from are familiar to the player so that they do not need to log out and scour the web to look up some obscure word describing what is essentially a Ranger.
"The game's main form of movement is WASD!"
Ten Ton Hammer: Apart from the obviously major task of translating Aion for a western audience, will there be any other special considerations with your approach to localization? For example click-to-move may be popular in other regions, while here the standard tends to be a WASD control scheme.
Chris Hager: Absolutely! The work we are doing on Aion goes well beyond just translation and localization; Aion is being completely globalized for the Western market. We strongly believe that it is not enough for a particular quest or reference to be just be translated correctly—it must be culturally relevant for our audience. So it is up to us to make sure that we implement this culturalization into Aion and allow western players to be immersed in a world to which they can relate.
Aion was designed from the beginning to appeal to a global audience, and I think the development team has really succeeded in accomplishing this. As for specific game mechanics and additions, we are evaluating these both externally and internally to make sure that the game is tuned well for the western market, but does not lose the essence of the designers’ intention for Aion.
And yes the game’s main form of movement is WASD!
Ten Ton Hammer: It's becoming more common to see an increased focus on guilds by developers since they can really augment the social backbone of an MMOG. What type of special considerations can players expect to see for guilds in Aion? Will there be any kind of guild-centric content, event planning tools or even customization options such as cloaks or tabards?
Chris Hager: Aion’s guild system is referred to as Legions, as this is the military make up of the two factions at war. Legions can be leveled by accomplishing certain tasks or completing specific quests within the game. Rewards can range from the ability to create a custom cloaks to pet’s to aid in battles to entirely new abilities.
Flight in Aion keeps players on their toes.
Ten Ton Hammer: Flight is one of the more interesting mechanics players will be able to explore in Aion. This obviously has the potential to dramatically alter the combat dynamic in some significant ways. How would you characterize aerial combat in Aion? Will it be a more controlled experience ala City of Heroes, or is it a bit more action-oriented?
Chris Hager: Flight in Aion keeps you on your toes. You need to be aware of your surroundings in all directions, while at the same time managing your time left to fly. Aion treats flight time and flight speed as stats, so players will be able to choose armor, buffs, or enhancements to increase these two. Players will have to balance their combat stats and their flight stats to suit certain situations.
Aion’s combat is fast paced and movement / positioning are very key. How you move effects your stats in positive and negative ways. In addition to this you will possess skills that will throw your enemy in all directions. The old way of combat in MMOs, where players stand toe to toe and not move is not how Aion was built. It is much more strategic and engaging in terms of combat.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you can tell the Aion fans and Ten Ton Hammer readers?
Chris Hager: We think we have a great game in Aion that is going to really surprise some people. We have a huge beautiful world, with more than 1500 quests, a unique setting, and a development team dedicated to making Aion a global success.[urlnew=][/urlnew]
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