NCsoft Interviews Senior Game Designer, Kyoung Won Choi
December 5, 2007
AION: THE TOWER OF ETERNITY
Interview with Senior Game Designer, Kyoung Won Choi
1. How extensive will Aion character customization be?
In the game client, which was being showed at the Games Convention Leipzig ‘07, the player had the ability to choose between several different hairstyles, colours, shapes of their face, skin colours, character height and voice. It is also possible to alter eye colours and to add tattoos to the character face. A character build feature is currently being planned, which will affect the size of the character, ranging from skinny to big.
2. "Tradable wings" have been mentioned. Exactly what does it mean?
It was most likely a misunderstanding. Wings are not bought in Aion, but changed by other factors such as a rising PvP-rank.
3. What will you do in order for Aion to appeal to casual players?
We want to have short-term goals in the game, such as quests fitting within shorter timeframes. There will also be appropriate rewards for completing those. Very powerful game items (weapons and armours) will be attainable in different ways, making it easier for casual players to gradually work towards them.
4. Are the Asmodians significantly different from the Elyos?
It is possible to see that the Asmodians and Elyos come from the same origin. They have the same, fundamental humanoid shapes. An analogy would be to compare elves with dark elves.
5. Will there be player housing?
Not at launch, but definitely as soon as possible. It is likely to be in the first expansion.
6. Will there be mounts in Aion?
No. There are currently no plans to implement regular mounts in Aion. Transport will be done by foot or by flying. There will also be a long-range teleport system and short-range travel-services in which you let the game control the flight to your destination.
7. Will flying timer and cool-down change with character level?
No, probably not. There will, however, be items and skills which can enhance these abilities. In practice, this could mean that as the character progresses to higher levels – it also gains access to these skills and items.
8. How do sieges work in Aion? Are there any guild-specific advantages to controlling a castle?
The main PvP area in Aion is the Abyss. There are several castles in Aion, all which can be captured by player guilds on behalf of their faction. A siege is in its very fundament a raid. Initially, each castle is controlled by the Balaur, who will not gladly give it up. A guild leader would gather his or her troops and initiate an attack on the castle and its defenders. After defeating the NPC defenders, the castle changes ownership. Since the battles take place in the Abyss, it’s always possible that the other PC faction might interfere to either defend or attack. Once the castle has a new owner, there are a few hours during which no PvP can take place on the island. After this period, however, the castle is again open to attacks from the opposing faction.
There are many benefits to be gained from controlling a castle. The castle will have NPCs who vend unique items, whose sales the controlling guild may put taxes on in order to gain a bit of extra income. Guilds will also have direct access to the hunting grounds and resources surrounding the castle.
9. Will Aion battles and sieges be as massive and monumental as in Lineage II?
The Abyss is an open area with many strategic points. There are no set times for sieges or battles, but instead something that the players themselves may decide. It was one of our goals to not require the vast amounts of players as sieges in Lineage II did. While there are no technical limitations and a charismatic leader could well gather hundreds of players for a siege, 2 or 3 groups should be enough too, if circumstances are right.
10. What role does PvP have in Aion?
PvP is very important in Aion. To get out most of the game, one should definitely participate in PvP at some point. We want to gradually introduce even non-PvPers to the PvP.
It is, however, not necessary to participate in PvP. One can go from level 1 to 50 without participating in a single PvP-battle. It will take a little bit longer, though, as the most rewarding hunting grounds often are those found in the Abyss.
A feature that is currently on a planning stage is to randomly open teleportation portals in the Elyos and Asmodian lands. This would allow for very random, occasional battles where even lower level players get a chance to experience PvP, without it being a constant threat and presence.
11. What are the rewards and encouragements for PvPvE?
The basic reward in PvPvE is the same as in all other combat, experience. You will gain experience from killing both mobs and PC opponents in the Abyss. By collecting "PvP-points", players can also gain access to very good high-end items, which otherwise can only be crafted.
There are also indirect benefits, since PvPvE in a way is a method to gain control of castles which come with a wide array of benefits themselves.
12. Will there be potions in Aion? If so, how will they work?
There will be health and mana recovery potions with instant effect. They will, however, have a re-use timer to prevent an excessive usage. There will also be foods with different effects on your character. Food will practically work as a buff, of which only one can be active at the same time.
13. How will larger game updates be implemented?
There will be big, regular expansions once or twice a year. How they are to be distributed depends on the area.
14. Will weather be affecting game play?
This feature has unfortunately been dropped. Weather will however affect some NPCs and monster spawns.
15. In terms of content, what will be done to prevent Aion from being "just another grinder"?
The problem with Asian games, we believe, have been a design which is not overly complicated - very basic. With the exception of Japan, RPG’s have until recently not been a mainstream game type at all in Asia. In order to introduce players to the genre, games were deliberately made rather simple in their design. At the time, it was probably the right decision, as it introduced many new players to the genre. The demands on a game and its amount of content have, however, risen substantially lately in Asia. To survive on the market today, a very high amount of content is required. Due to this, it’s not an option to make "just another grinder". Players need other things to keep them occupied while developing their characters. We have approached this issue partly by putting more focus on quests, allowing people to pursue professions and gather resources, and by incorporating an advanced combat system.
16. What will be done for Role-players?
Except from the extensive character customization, Aion will have a wide array of emotes to be used in various situations. We also plan to put some fun and cute "items" in there that don’t have much actual value except for role-playing. Other activities that could appeal to the role-players out there are resource gathering, crafting and of course cooking.
17. Will there be specific Role-play servers?
Not in the Asian market, but if this is deemed a good addition in a specific area, it’s up to the service provider in that area.
18. Will there be specific quests for guilds?
Yes, it is being considered.
19. Will there be statistics available online, outside the game?
We are still working on what information will be available for others to see. Character stats, guild status and castle/guild hall control are some of the things that probably will be available to see online. There might also be some sort of "score board", with player scores reflecting many different game aspects.
Although not entirely related, we are also working on a "Hero" system. Becoming a hero will require a lot of work. Heroes will act as human boss mobs, much more difficult for enemies to kill than ordinary players. People will know when a hero enters an area.