Wings Over Atreia: Aion’s abolished trading, and other foolish moves

    
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So I really did not want to write a rant for Christmas week. No, I wanted — nay, I planned — a joyous column filled with happy stuff. But when do things go according to plan? Instead, I am mad. I am really mad. Mad and annoyed, and ready to chuck Aion right out the window. Here I was, willing to give the excessive and unappealing changes in Atreia a chance by starting over on the new server, and before I even got to making my new character on the new server I ran into a game-breaking change. It may not be a big deal to some, but this change happens to be a deal-breaker for me: What in the Abyss (oh sorry, there is no Abyss anymore) is up with abolishing trading?

Why are all the Asian games seeming to jump on this trend? Why would you strip an MMORPG of its MMORPG elements! That’s what is going on here. To me, it’s a stupid move, and I am honestly not sure how long I can make myself play. And that’s not even the only brain-dead decision of late. Oh no. There are more.

How to make MJ mad 101

Here’s how it all went down. I played Aion a whole lot back in the day, and I had a full roster of alts on my server. This prevented me from making a new one on the new server. OK, so I just need to ditch one of the lowest-level alts to free up a slot. Since she became basically a storage alt (I played her only with my son’s character), I just had to move any important items she had and her kinah over to my mains. This actually took a couple days because I kept being locked out of mailing items for “sending too many”; this was an old anti-RMT feature. Fine, I can live with this slower process (which is faster than trying to use the wimpy account warehouse that has too few slots and cannot be upgraded and logging back and forth, back and forth). Next, I sell off all unnecessary items for kinah to get ready to delete. Then I reach the point where I need to deliver the sizable stash of kinah to my main Cleric. And here’s where it goes downhill fast.

At this point it dawns on me that there is no longer a place to put coins in the mail to send it to the alt. Odd, since the mails you receive still have the kinah amount slots (and I’d been receiving quite a few mails to confirm). I check a few more mails, and yes, there is definitely still a slot on the mail you receive, but no way to send it. Well, OK then, maybe this is a new anti gold-seller measure to keep folks from sending money to others. I’m definitely not happy with that as it prevents me from helping others, including new folks, but for the time being at least I can get kinah moved between my alts at the account warehouse.

Except, I can’t. Back at my warehouse I discover that there are no slots for money there anymore, either. No, I distinctly remember having that. So now I can’t even move money between my own account?! You have got to be kidding me? No, no, NCsoft is not kidding. Kinah is literally locked to the character who acquires it. It turns out that there is only one possible way to “exchange” money with people — including yourself: the broker. You have to place an item up for sale at the price you want to exchange and the other person/alt has to jump in and buy it.

If that weren’t bad enough, the broker fees to list something are now astronomical! So if you dare want to move money on your own account or – heaven forbid – help someone out by giving him some kinah or some gear, you are going to take a huge financial hit. You’ve got to be kidding me! Already knowing in my heart the answer, I checked the last possible way to exchange goods outside of a Legion warehouse; I went ahead and tried to set up a private shop on my character (the one you could use to talk with the opposing faction a bit) that would be ideal for this kind of transaction. Yup, they are also abolished. This is the kind of garbage that keeps me from playing other games!

Isolating players

Why does this removal of trade frustrate me on such a fundamental level? Because I do not play MMORPGs to be a self-sufficient, isolated single player! To me, a major part of an MMORPG is working together with friends and guildmates to build up. Trading allows players to contribute to this by playing what they enjoy. One of the things I enjoy most is gathering and giving materials to friends so they can craft. I also enjoy sharing gear and items they can use that I come across or craft myself. I also just really love helping others, from friend to new players. Aion has effectively removed that. And why would I play that here if I won’t play that elsewhere? The biggest reason I cannot bear to play Black Desert Online is the lack of player trading in the game that isolates players. I can’t even give items that are assigned to me as loot to a groupmate who could use it (though I do hear you can do this for a limited time in dungeons later). Not that it matters; grouping is also now unnecessary.

That’s right: The inability to help others via trade isn’t the only isolation I found. I knew there was basically no chance I’d be happy with the removal of so many zones while leveling, but I was not prepared for how horribly streamlined and solo the experience was. You are now seriously railroaded through the beginner island with absolutely no risk. No risk! It was a bore. You could sleep through playing this content. As the squishiest healer class, I could one-shot nearly every mob — including dungeon bosses! Some might take two shots. There was certainly no reason to group up and interact with anyone else. If you did, you were separated for the dungeons anyways which turned solo. It was a quick, single-player experience that left a really bad taste in my mouth. One player remarked to me that it didn’t even start to get challenging until level 50. Level 50! Why even have levels 1-50 if they are a snoozefest?

I also found it quite distasteful how the rich lore of the world that you used to get to immerse yourself in as you adventured was gone. All side questing is gone. Oh, you can “read” a couple stories from books in the beginning, but you never get to come to care about anything going on in the world around you as you are just rushed through. So help me, if Poppy the porgus has been removed from the Elyos side… that hits me in the feels! Having a reason to feel something about the game makes it a draw, gives a reason to continue. The game and world feels so sterile and unimportant now. So why have it at all? Oh, for the PvP at max level? That, I guess, is the only thing that “matters” now. Too bad. Aion had an amazing journey that has been, so far as I have played, obliterated. So have my reasons to play it.

Other stupidity

While I can’t say that this next bit of stupidity is new, it is the first time I ran into it. And it added insult to injury at this point. Remember that alt I needed to delete? I couldn’t delete her because she was the Brigadier General of a legion. My legion. My legion of only one. The game refused to let me delete unless I gave the leader position to someone else… but there was no one else in this legion! The only one who used to be was my son, an account that NCsoft wiped because he was unavailable to migrate his account during a big change while on his mission, so that character didn’t even exist.

Fine, I can’t delete with a legion and I can’t pass it off, so I will go delete the legion. Except, guess what? No! You have a 24-hour penalty to wait before your legion can be disbanded. Even a legion of one. Seriously, whom on Earth am I harming by disbanding? If there is no one in legion, it should let me choose to disband instantly. And I should be able to delete my character (which I fully expected to have a deletion timer to allow for that opportunity to change my mind).

In all, my latest experiences with Aion have been a massive disappointment. I wanted to give it a fair shake to see how it would be with these major changes, but the game went too far for me. It didn’t just erase major amounts of content, it removed major social aspects. Without the ability to trade and with no need to play alongside others, why would I continue to log in?

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armorize
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armorize

I quit playing sometime back in 2013-2014 I think it was around 4.x or so still then. I’m amazed its lasted this long even after going F2P. I was glad I quit then since I know micro transactions really are the bane of F2Ps along with the damn gold sellers. Ive played FFXIV since I quit and haven’t regret bowing out when I did. Reading this rant was really an affirmation to me to not look back. Though I’ve been wanting to try another good quality mmo just for a change of pace, black desert isn’t coming to PS4 for another whole year (stupid on their part). Time to stop before I rant myself.

harbinger_kyleran
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harbinger_kyleran

All the changes to simplify almost seem as if they were preparing to convert Aion to a mobile game.

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nobleeinherjar

I used to love Aion so much. I was really hoping 6.0 might be a renaissance for the game. Instead, it just meant hacking away every reason I had to give it another shot.

Veldan
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Veldan

Aion’s been dead to me for quite some time. It was once my dream game, pretty much, and I played it so much. But, like any MMO, it changed a lot over its lifespan, and what there is now is so different that I have zero interest in it.

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Nosy Gamer

I think the main reason for all the eastern MMOs removing trading is that companies are trying to avoid accusations of allowing gambling. One of the popular definitions about gambling right now is the ability to turn virtual items (including currency) into real world money.

Some jurisdictions (I believe Belgium is one, with the UK making reference to it in a white paper) hold to the view even if RMT is against the terms of service of games. In an analysis of the UK Gambling Commission’s white paper, the only reason loot boxes in Overwatch wouldn’t be considered gambling is that you cannot trade items to other players. Here’s the link to the analysis.

Esports Developers Are Playing A Dangerous Game On Gambling, According To UK Regulators

I don’t know what the laws are in South Korea and China, but I hear they are toughening up.

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Castagere Shaikura

Man, I remember the launch of Aion. My MMO friends were all hyped and begged me to play with them. It was a fun game. All MMO’s are fun games when you play with real-life friends. That was so many years ago it seems. Todays MMO’s are going in wrong directions so badly now. It just makes me wonder why this is happening. Does it have something to do with today’s MMO player base.

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ting

I think a lot can be blamed on WOW and it’s casual friendly nature. Nobody wants to spend the time and effort to build communities anymore, they just want to log on get free stuff and log out to play something else.

All is not lost However, a lot of indie developers have the tools today to build old school MMOs. Legends of Aria is one good example of a indie studio bringing back the old school UO experience.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Just say no to blaming a changing world on ordinary players. Without the ordinary players, most MMOs would not exist. Every one of the games that are going old school will have a minuscule player base. When given a choice, players choose easy over hard, fun over demanding and casual over raider.

Hopefully, I do not have to enumerate the major differences between our society/culture today versus 20 years ago. What people expect has changed dramatically. What they are willing to put up with has changed dramatically. How they spend their free time has changed dramatically. Their options for entertainment have changed dramatically. The type of game that represents Old School Gaming went out of style. It happens. Now it’s coming back around. If people want to play it, they will.

But let’s not make the same mistake about Old School Gaming that a certain group of people made about raiding when they designed Wildstar.

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Jack Kerras

I feel like this is oversimplifying a lot; when it comes down to it, the difference between ‘OG MMORPG nerds’ and ‘new MMORPG nerds’ is that the originals way back in the UO/Everquest days were a tiny slice of an unpopular, frowned-upon leisure activity.

With more people comes profit. With profit drive comes corruption and dissolution, not to mention the requirement for low-effort players who pay a lot of money when compared against the amount of server resource they consume.

Folks don’t design games that are foremost going to be fun and interesting to play, and they -certainly- don’t design games intended to give players lots of agency. Agency is dangerous, agency allows people to play a game for the joy of it instead of grinding for more and more and more, always more hours, always another quest, until you’re out of dailies and weeklies and are functionally forced offline for the day/week so that frustration and one-more-levelism can drive you back online once your quest tickets/energy/crystal points/etc. are refreshed.

This is purely down to profit drive, not casuals. It’s chasing casuals, for sure, but the de-powering of MMO players and the deemphasis of player impact on the development of new AAA MMOs isn’t -just- about keeping civic managers from cranking out planet-spanning metropoles shaped like swastikas, Pepes, 88s, or good old-fashioned dicks (but it’s definitely a little about that, too). It’s about keeping people grinding, which they’re honestly pretty poor at, since frustration tactics (by far the most popular) are really bad for your playerbase in the long term.

That doesn’t matter a lot, though; what matters is that the game sells enough to make back what it spent and pay its investors as soon as possible, and the Day-1 user spike is enormously good for paying back the investors.

It’s rare that any developer is permitted to plant trees rather than slash-and-burn, since short-term profits universally trump long-term sustainability in modern business ‘ethos’, never mind that running a profitable online game (and therefore fostering its community) for 15 years represents a far vaster accomplishment than making 15 increasingly-costly mobile games that continue to pay for themselves all the time but create no community and command no loyalty.

Blizzard’s headed down Path 2 despite having singlehandedly defined and championed Path 1, and look how much good it’s doing them!

In any case: no, it’s not WoW’s fault, except inasmuch as WoW brought The Great Unwashed to the shores of MMO Island, which was summarily strip-mined and is now little more than corporate nightmare-borehole than a player-driven ocean paradise.

miol
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miol
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Sarah Cushaway

I hate the trend of MMOs becoming single-player only hub games where you just auto-path to everything and never interact with anyone else… what’s the point?

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Just sounds awful. Can’t even imagine what problems they are trying to solve. You summed it up perfectly, MJ: Stupidity

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PanagiotisLial1

Seen similar things a few times, turning a game you liked with certain updates that didnt add much but removed a lot to a completely different game – one that is no longer meant for you