To start off, I am a college student and hold a job. During the summer I have more free time than usual which gives me freedom to explore new games and spend more time online; reading, blogging and chatting. However, once September hits, school begins and starts a whole new cycle of essay writing, studying and running around from A to B for classes and work schedule. Needless to say, it’s a very hectic lifestyle and time is at a premium. I intend to play 1, count it, 1 game in my spare time and still continue my writing in the MMO BLOG-O-SPHERE (insert echo machine here) for MMOCRUNCH.COM. Unfortunately, neither Aion or Champions Online will be in the running for #1.
During the summer I was lucky (not really lucky, I paid for it in a way) to get into the Aion Beta. But disappointingly enough, not the Champions Online closed beta, which brings me to one of my many motto’s: ”No beta, seeya later!” I never play a subscription based game off of launch because I feel the need to let other people be “guinea pigs” for my money is also at a premium. I need to be careful, I’ve been burned by a few games in the past.
I had both games on reserve and one was possibly going to be my one and only this coming fall. Now before the flaming and opinions begin, I’ll tell you my side of the story, it may help.
Aion in two words: Pretty Grind.
Aion is a beautiful, polished, well made and shallow game. I am just being honest about words that come to mind while I was rolling through Closed Beta IV. Paragus wrote a stellar article about Aion, both early stage and later stages of beta. For a full review of the game, see those. My opinion is that Aion doesn’t have the deep immersive lore that Lord of the Rings has. And doesn’t hold my interest when it came to leveling because one thing I can agree on with Paragus, that grinding in certain areas on specific mobs gave you more experience points than questing.
The whole setup for endgame was one big pvp area called the abyss. Aion says, “Ok, and now you will pvp”. Instead, just make battlefields then like (gasp) World of Warcraft. Wow, for lack of a better word, gave me pvp risks and excitement, sometimes by choice and often by force. I played on a hardcore PvP server named Dethecus, which earned its nickname: “Death 2 U cuz” completely. Aion was too scripted in a certain sense that it didn’t offer me the excitement of contested areas. I like the risk of a possible ganking and the occasional fighting off of the newbie rogue or two. I was a terrific “rogue” hunter, I would literally hunt rogues.
Enough of memory lane! I also tested the crafting of Aion, which I felt that the work order quest system was pretty innovative. It wasn’t the regular moneysink as other crafting systems I experienced in other games and gave you all choices of crafting classes. That was cool; I had my armor and weapon crafting over 100 in no time flat. I was working with titanium before I ended beta IV. However, the collection skills needed to gather for crafting was also a horrible grind.
Having to grind Aether to get enough skill points for level 100 Aether crystal that was needed for my 23+ armor was a severe timesink. To top it all off it had to be done between 10 seconds of flight time in flight zones which made it worse. As I first stated, I don’t have a lot of time coming to me in the future. Could I play Aion in the future, if I had the time to grind of course I would.
Aion: cancelled until further notice.
Onto my next order of business, I was super confused by…
Champions Online in two words: Cashshop Confusion.
To start, I am a Hellgate: London veteran and have had mixed feelings about Bill Roper being executive producer from the start. From my experience in HGL I can tell you that Mr. Roper is a terrific designer, powerful visionary with absolutely no business sense. And when my friend Ivan, who writes My 2 coppers worth found out about “Cryptic Bucks”, I started to get tense immediately.
The first thing that I did was going to the forums and makes a post asking what they were. I was met with silence until one lonely soul wrote on the mmorpg.com forums admitting that it was going to be for an in game cash shop. OK! Let me get this straight: I have to buy a box, pay a monthly subscription (that according to Amazon.com that are selling $30 two month playtime cards) of $15 dollars AND you are going to implement an Item (cash) shop into the game?
First off, honesty is the first law of business. If I cannot trust you, I am not doing business with you, it’s that simple. Second, to neither confirm nor deny something means you have something to hide. And I felt they had something to hide, I do realize that RMT is going to slowly but surely taking over the MMORPG market. With recent studies showing that 12% of Americans buy virtual goods and over half of them through virtual worlds tell you something. BUT SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE! Cash shop or subscribe, pick your poison please.
For your information: Game developers that design virtual worlds that are dependent on revenue from Real Money Trade design the game so you need to use the RMT somewhere, somehow. I have played too many to see otherwise, along the line you are forced into the cash shop or have a very uncomfortable playing experience. It is also one of my motto’s to: “Tip the house you’re in.” Meaning, I always spend some money while I am there, at least $10 – $15 a month, I’m not that much of a cheapo.
Once I buy a box, I am committed to the game, which is $50 – $60 for an experiment. If I was able to get into the beta and get hooked, or decide I that it wasn’t for me, I’d feel more comfortable plunking down that money come September 1st. Yes, they are having an open beta, and it’s going to be on a first come, first server basis for only 20,000 players. GameStop told me I was guaranteed access to the new beta, when you tell me I am guaranteed something, you better follow through. That was the one and only word I never used in my whole career as a stockbroker, you can never guarantee anything in life.
As I first stated, my time and money is at a premium. I cannot say I will never play Champions Online, but for now I am going to save my money and use the guinea pig system. If the game offered a FREE two week trial, even one week, I would try it with no commitment. If Cryptic Studios were going to embrace the RMT market totally and give away the client free and offer an item shop, I would definitely give it a go in some downtime.
Bottom line: No beta, Seeya later!
Champions Online: cancelled until further notice.
Like any good MMORPG addict I put my money in both games first day you could reserve them at GameStop; which is a whopping 3 blocks away from my house. On the other hand, like any shrewd investor I watch the company’s like a hawk. If I feel as if I will lose money or it simply is better spent elsewhere, I pull it out and keep it moving.
These are my honest feelings about why I pulled my reservations from both AAA rated and highly anticipated games. I feel that they will both create a big splash in the MMORPG market, but I will not be on the first ship leaving the shore, I will be on the shore cheering you on and telling you to have fun.
For now, I am enjoying the heck out of creeping around in lowsec space in EVE Online. I like the thrill of escaping the slow pirate and the passive skillset system. During the school year I don’t have to keep pushing W to advance and $15 a month for EVE is worth it for me. All I have to do is log on and switch some skills around in the queue … and maybe creep into some pvp or squeeze in a mission … or two.
As I might have mentioned I am a very good mmorpg addict.