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Aion Interview: Loving Beauty No Borders!

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Aion developed by NCsoft has won various awards in all kinds of international game grand ceremonies since it was born. And the first beta test for EU/NA players has been announced to start on June 5th. In this special moment, MMOsite made an wonderful interview with Lani Blazier, Associate Producer on Aion, to tell you a more authentic Aion.

MMOsite: First, thank you for taking our interview. To start off, would you please briefly introduce yourself and your team to our readers? And how do you prepare for the western launch?

Lani Blazier: Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed. My name is Lani Blazier and I am the Associate Producer on Aion. A lot goes into bringing a game over to the West, especially if you want to do it right, that why one of our greatest efforts has been in the localization/culturalization process. We aren't simply doing a direct translation from Korean to English, French and German - it goes much deeper than that. We have a team of published fantasy writers who are spending a tremendous amount of time reworking the lore and dialogue so that it is culturally relevant to the Western market and making sure we provide a sense of familiarity to the user. Gameplay and all core mechanics will remain the same - it's important to us that the game stays true to the original designer's intent.

MMOsite: What about Aion's performance in the territories like South Korea and China? Do they meet your expectations?

Lani Blazier: I think we can easily say that Aion has met our expectations in Korea and China. Within days of its release, Aion rapidly became the most popular MMO in Korea, a high-competitive and MMO-fanatical market, with hundreds of thousands of concurrent Aion users every day. And in China, our partner Shanda announced over a million paying Aion customers within the first week. In just a short period, Aion has become one of the most popular MMOs in the world, and continues to grow. So yes, Aion has met our expectations!

MMOsite: According to our experience, highly anticipated MMOGs will usually first be tested and published in the western market, but Aion is an exception. What's the reason behind?

Lani Blazier: The game was developed in Korea so it seemed natural to release it there first. We also didn't want to rush its release in the West. It was important to us that enough time was allocated to the localization process.

MMOsite: During the development process, did you draw any inspiration from other games?


Lani Blazier: NCsoft gave a mandate to the Aion team to design an mmo that would appeal to a global audience. With this goal in mind the designers spent lot of time researching the different types of game mechanics that were popular in different parts of the world . They used this information and also the concept of flight to create a truly unique type of mmorpg.

MMOsite: WoW allows players to add UI plug-in, which is one of the reasons for hardcore players to stay. Will Aion also allow user-created UI?

Lani Blazier: We feel that the Aion dev team has done a fantastic job of taking popular options from other games and putting them in Aion. With our quest system, we have dictionary terms that will describe for you places, people and creatures that are needed for the quest. In many cases in this dictionary entry, you can click the ‘locate' button in the UI that puts a waypoint on your map and mini-radar that indicates where you need to go. There are many examples of additions like this that are built right into Aion so all players have access to it without having to hunt and install plug-ins.

MMOsite: PvP battle is an important aspect of Aion. How much emphasis will you lay on race balance issue? And how will you balance the races on the game server? And what is abyss point? How does it work?

Lani Blazier: We have internal tools in place to keep the servers balanced. It's an important priority for us and it is something we'll be consistently monitoring.

Abyss points are gained while PvPing. You gain PvP ranks as you collect Abyss Points and with these points you are able to buy Abyss items.

MMOsite: It is really a good idea to use the neutral Balaur to help the balance of the PvP aspect of the game. But some players say, this NPC race does not play an active role. Do you have any plan to make some adjustments? For example, enhance Balaur's AI system?

Lani Blazier: The Balaur are controlled by an advanced AI on the server, and constantly makes play decisions based on various Abyss criteria. We are constantly analyzing and improving Aion, both in game content as well as behind the scene game mechanics.

MMOsite: Just like Lineage 2's siege war, Aion's PvP battle is fantastic and spectacular. But some players are worried that the large-scale combat will cause serious lag problem. What will you say?

Lani Blazier: The Abyss and the fortress sieges within will definitely be fantastic. The development team has built the code from the beginning with the vision of having these sieges with a large amount of players, and as a result they have created a very solid code base.

MMOsite: When talking about the game's graphics, we can say Aion has distinctive oriental features. Do you think the western gamers will accept and like this type of style?

Lani Blazier: I think Aion has a distinct visual feeling to it. The character creation allows for players to make a wide range of characters that don't pull too strongly to any one type. Additionally, I think the world shares that same wide range, in that every region has elements that areas across the world. We feel players will identify with Aion's overall visual identity as fantasy, with areas that can have a distinctive cultural flare from all over the world.

MMOsite: I have to admit that the flying system in Aion is awesome. But it seems there are not many places we can fly to, and the flying time is short. How do you comment?

Lani Blazier: Flight was never designed to be used as a form of main transportation. We wanted it to have a strong purpose and reason to be there. The thought behind flight was, if it's going to be in game, it needs to be strategic and an integral element of game play. Flying in combat is obviously a big focus and there are many potions and items that players can use to buff their flight time and speed. Players will have to make quick decisions on best to utilize their flight time. They'll be asking themselves, "Do I want to use it to fly in and attack from above? Or do I want to save it in case I need to make a quick getaway." Another thing worth mentioning - players have the ability to glide anywhere in Atreia. So even if they're in a no-fly zone they can jump off a cliff and glide down safely.