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Aion: Associate Producer Interview

Tags : Aion™ has quite a bit of positive hype surrounding it. Is there any concern that, as has happened to other recent MMO launches, the hype will get too high for the game and that players will be disappointed when the game finally launches?
Lani Blazier: I think we've done a good job at managing expectations about Aion, especially since the game has already launched in Korea and China. Players know that we're delivering them a polished, top quality game with server stability, interesting content, social features on the web, and future updates. Yes, the pressure is definitely on for us, though! We want to make sure Aion delivers the best MMO experience possible for gamers. It's a goal we're committed to. How do the Aion developers plan to prevent the mass exodus of players after the first month that has plagued so many other recent MMO launches?
Lani Blazier: The MMO gaming space has many terrific games it, and we realize players have options when it comes to MMOs. That's why the best thing our team can do right now is focus on making Aion the best MMORPG we possibly can. We're launching an extremely polished game with a ton of content, and we're committed to listening to our player feedback and providing our players with the updates to prove it. For example, Aion launched in South Korea in November 2008, and since then, there have already been three large content updates to the game.

Overall, we are very happy with the game, and we are convinced that players will see Aion's uniqueness, its breadth, and its intriguing and lasting gameplay. What, in your opinion, sets Aion apart from other recent MMOs both in specific game mechanics and in overall approach?
Lani Blazier: I've been asked this question a lot, and it's a really good one. As I mentioned above, we know players have choices, so it's important to us that we offer them game mechanics and experiences that they're not necessarily going to find in any other MMO. In Aion, we've added tactical flight, which introduces three-dimensional combat and is going to change the way players and Legions think about combat strategies. We've combined PvP and PvE so players no longer have to commit to one or the other; PvPvE allows them to play both while also giving them the option to focus on one over the other. NCsoft has also always been known for its robust character creator systems (City of Heroes, Guild Wars), and we've definitely taken character creation to the next level with Aion. Not only can players create a truly unique character look, but they can also customize the way they play the game with that character. An example of gameplay customization is the use of Stigma stones. By using different combinations of Stigma stones, players can enhance and change their character's class so that the character is distinctive. What, if anything, is being done to appeal to Sandbox style players who are looking for something beyond a simple, handholding, guided experience?
Lani Blazier: Aion does an excellent job of introducing players to the wide variety of activities and systems in game, and the game encourages players to explore these features fully without handholding. The beginning zones in Aion do a good job of teaching players the game while at the same time not throwing new players more than they can handle. In the higher level zones, the game is a more open experience for players. The maps have fog of war, which encourages exploration, as well as a gathering-dependent crafting system that challenges players to go find rare materials and hunt specific monsters for items that they need. The storylines of the game have side quests separate from the game's main campaign quests. Players can have fun unearthing and completing these additional stories that enrich the depth of the game world. We also have a very active broker system if playing economies is more to your liking. Aion is so detailed in so many different systems that the game has no single, linear, shallow way to play. What does Aion do to appeal to the gamers who want more to their MMO design than simple leveling mechanics?
Lani Blazier: Leveling in Aion is a way to venture through all the content and provide a means of introducing the different game mechanics. At level 10, players are introduced to the crafting and collection system so that they can explore all six different professions. At level 20, players then explore the Stigma system, which allows them to tinker with different class builds. Throughout the game, you can modify and enhance armor in a multitude of ways to get the exact look and stats you want for your character. All of these systems will continue to expand as your character levels up. The game lets you grow your character both in breadth as well as power.