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'Aion' Developer Q&A

by Rainier on Nov. 3, 2006 @ 4:45 a.m. PST

Aion is the ultimate MMORPG with strengthened interaction between players. Aion’s world consists of 3 realms - the heavens, the devildom and the dragon realm. Players will experience dynamic communications with the world of Aion as they conduct strategic battles. Producer Ju-hyun Jang tells us more about Aion: The Tower of Eternity.

In Aion, players are divided between those that are "The Chosen” and those that are “The Fallen.” The Tower of Eternity exists as a gateway into the Abyss, and acts as a portal between dimensions. When a great evil opens the gateways, it awakens the Dragons imprisoned within the Abyss, who seek revenge on both worlds. It is here that an epic conflict begins, as you take your first steps on a journey to bring salvation to the world.

Aion is the most visually beautiful MMORPG ever made. In this ethereal world, you will have the power to direct dynamic relationships between angels, demons and dragons to control the fate of the world. You will evolve Aion's storylines through social, economic and cultural experiences that are both interactive and cinematic.

Experience an exciting change in the way players can interact with their environment within a massively multiplayer world. With the power of the Crytec game engine, you will be able to climb sheer cliffs and fly through moving clouds. From weather effects to heat waves to foaming shorelines, the level of detail you will experience will simply amaze you.

This game will transform the way you experience new content. The actions of every player on each individual server will push storylines toward new directions. As these actions accumulate, they will eventually trigger which will then further change the game’s economies and alliances. Players will create their own distinct history and will have their names forever recorded in fame or infamy.
Aion is a game that knows no cultural boundaries, and will provide an art style, story and game will last through the ages and be appreciated by a global audience.

Q: Tell us about the free-flying function in Aion. How is it being designed?

JJ: Though I cannot discuss any specifics at this time, I can tell you we are trying to design this feature so that it has a unique feel to it.

Free-flying will be one of the most important skills players will learn in Aion. However, you won’t have to spend an extensive amount of time in the game to be able to learn this skill.

Q: There seems to have been a lot of interest in the character designs since E3. Can you also tell us something about character customisation?

JJ: A lot of people have remarked that our E3 demo characters were somewhat Western-style. This was deliberate; we built the E3 demo intentionally for overseas markets.

However, we're still committed to an art style that's globally acceptable. We've been refining the character designs, and we'll be unveiling characters soon in Korea that will be different from the E3 versions, but will still reflect that global art style.

In terms of character customisation, we will provide a very powerful character customisation tool – perhaps more powerful than anything else you’ve seen.

Characters in Aion can be very individual, right from the game's beginning. Each of the in-game professions will look quite different, but also there will be many options to change your appearance based on the equipment, armour and clothing a character wears.

Q: There seems to be a preconception about the worlds of the 'Chun' and 'Ma'. The world of the 'Chun' feels good, and the world of the 'Ma' feels evil. Is it this simplistic?

JJ: No, it's not that simple; it's not black and white, more shades of grey. A lot of users are thinking the world of Chun = good, the world of Ma = evil. But it’s not a simple concept of good and evil, or heaven and hell. The world of Chun is more alive, vibrant; the world of Ma is more somber... darker.

This is partially because of our current thinking about Aion's global environment. Right now, light streams down from outside the hollow globe to illuminate the Chun's world, but as the world of Ma is higher, it's mostly in shadow, as less light reaches it. This may change before release, but it's our current thinking.

Q: Tell us about the Yong.

JJ: The Yong are a server-controlled NPC faction, so players cannot choose to play them.

However, just because they are controlled by the server doesn't mean they are stupid; they can make choices, and players will never quite know what they are going to do.

For example, imagine a castle siege-style scenario, where one of the player factions, the Ma, is attacking the Chun faction's castle. In the middle of this siege, the Yong may appear.

When they arrive, no-one will know what they are going to do. They may have previously helped the Ma, but that doesn't matter; in the siege, they might betray them and help the Chun. Or they might help the Ma to siege the Chun's castle. Or... they might try and take the castle for themselves, fighting against both the Chun and the Ma.

The important thing to realise is that the Yong are not typical NPCs. They are the third faction in the game, and they have free will, which makes them very unpredictable.

Q: The Yong are just part of Aion's interactive gameplay systems; could you tell us more about them?

JJ: As mentioned at E3 2006, what we mean by 'interactive systems' is that the players and game world influence each other.

For instance, perhaps the Ma players on one server are generally more active in collecting minerals than the Chun players. As more Ma players dig for minerals, then they might discover a new variety of mineral. This mineral could be stronger than any mineral seen before, and could be used for the creation of various, unique items. This would be something happening on just that server.

On the other hand, what if the Chun players are more interested in hunting? They might be hunting in a location where baby dragons are appearing a lot, then suddenly find that no more baby dragons will appear - but stronger mother dragons will come out! And of course when new monster classes appear, they bring new item drops with them. There are many, many examples of how player's behaviour can trigger interesting events - all on individual servers.

These are small examples of our interactive systems of gameplay, which together will make up the unique experience of playing Aion. Every server can be different, and every player's experience can be different too.

Q: A frequent criticism of certain MMORPGs is that there can be too much 'grinding' in the game - the repeating of certain tasks for experience. Is that the case for Aion?

JJ: During development we've focused on not adding ‘grinding based on numbers’ to arbitrarily extend the lifecycle of the game.

In Aion, you won't have to repeat one quest 100 times or kill 1,000 monsters just to gain experience.

Q: Are you considering expansion packs?

JJ: Of course. For instance there might be an expansion pack making the third faction, the Yong, playable.

Q: Kinihiko Ryo is doing the music for Aion. Is the music finished?

JJ: We have received all our music from Kinihiko Ryo, and we're very happy with it. The 'Chun-theme' was in the E3 version of the game, and since we've received the 'Ma-theme'. Both themes are really perfect for the game, they strike just the right mood for both factions.

Ryo is a very passionate person. While making the music, he asked for lot of documents and information about Aion, because he believed that he has to know the game if he's going to make the music. I sometimes thought “Does he really need that kind of information?” He was that detailed!

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