In a much-hyped announcement a while back, NCsoft proclaimed that drop rates in Aion were being significantly increased in the 2.1 patch. The company even employed a certain wide-eyed Shugo named Victor to outline his experiments and prove that drops now rained from the skies.
For a while, there was much rejoicing in the lands of Atreia. *cue Monty Python soundtrack* Oh, there were some naysayers who cried that an end to the economy as we knew it was at hand (not totally incorrect), but for the most part, Elyos and Asmodians alike flocked back to Aion with the promise of more wealth and gold loot. I even found that my bags could not hold everything that dropped during Taloc's Hollow runs, forcing me to to delete items in order to pick more up.
Alas -- that was then, and this is now. The pendulum has quietly swung back the other way to the what-exactly-does-a-loot-drop-look-like side. From personal experience, I can attest that getting drops now is about like pulling Stormwing's teeth... with only your bare hands and maybe some dental floss. The change is obvious, so why all the hush-hush? Currently it feels like a classic bait and switch: Market an enticing feature loudly to get players then remove it with equal secrecy and stealth. And to top that off, there are murmurs that the devs plan to implement changes that put a halt to the popular selling of loot rights. Aw, don't kick us while we are down!
Make sure you aren't on cool-down and zone past the cut to explore this bane of many a Daeva's life (drop rates) as well as the practice of selling loot rights within Aion.
Solorius -- morning, with Daevas happily cavorting about, amassing more loot than their warehouses (and alts' warehouses) could handle. I, too, took part in the revelry and was afforded a few decent things during my journeys, even though (since the RNG gods hate me so) the goodies mostly went to my groupmates.
However, it wasn't long before there was a "gentle tweak" of the drop rates. Gentle as in a love-tap with a sledgehammer. Gentle like when that girl says "let's be friends." Yeah. Sure, maybe a small adjustment was needed so that gold items were not dropping like candy and crushing Daevas under the weight, but why such a significant nerfing of such a heralded feature? As it stands, now you can go multiple runs through instances without getting a single thing, fabled (gold) or eternal! Trust me: Our little group knows this first-hand. Right now, the most common catch-phrase in our circle is not faith and arms but rather blue shoulders. If you have ever run Beshmundir Temple, you know exactly what I am talking about!
Honestly, I am disappointed both that Aion has made the change and the manner in which it was made. Stealth nerfs aren't exactly going to be kept quiet; players are going to notice and figure things out. And sooner, rather than later. These tactics and fickle mood swings tend to stir up distrust, and the company loses credibility. Maybe one incident is not enough to inflame people into rioting and leaving, but each one adds up.
Loaded dice for the crap shoot
It never fails: Whenever randomness comes into play, lucky charms and personal superstitions crop up as people do whatever they can to (hopefully) increase their odds of winning. Recently, I heard the following: If you have the quest Lupukin's Request (which grants the special shulac ref iner used in upgrading Seil's weapons after collecting Balaur relics), NCsoft changes the drop table to lower the chance of weapons dropping. The rationale was that if you were getting a gold weapon at the end, why should you be allowed one as a drop? I was even informed that there are groups that will actively kick others out if they refuse to abandon this quest.
While this comes across as nothing more than an interesting myth, you have to admit that part of you is even now debating trying it. In fact, just because our drops have been so dismal, a number of my comrades did just that -- dropped the quest, that is, not kicked someone from group! Of course, nothing dropped, so our skepticism is still high. Do you have any good luck routine you practice for getting good drops? Please share in the comments below! At this point, we are almost ready to try anything. After all, we see LFG chat light up with offers to sell many items, so we know they do drop.
Which brings me to...
Hey bidder, bidder! Do I hear 10?
While there is no fast-talking announcer peddling the wares, Aion servers see their share of offering loot rights for sale. When NCsoft implemented the awesome feature of being able to trade no-trade items within the group (very nice in case you accidentally rolled instead of passed on something your groupmate needed), it unwittingly opened the door for loot rights sales. This apparently was not a desired feature, as rumor has it that the next update will be addressing this and prevent it from happening.
Now, you know me -- I am the uber-proponent of working for what you have. But when a group has gone for weeks through Beshmundir Temple -- on a nightly basis -- without ever seeing one eternal weapon or piece of armor drop, it's ludicrous. Victor Shugo claims he gathered 17 eternal items in 20 runs; in the same amount of runs, we have seen two. And what about fabled drops? If you discount the vorpal essence and occasional earring, we don't even get one per run in most cases. And there are six people in the group trying to gear up! If the loot drop rates are so horrific, there is practically no other way for people to obtain what they are working for.
Certainly, making it impossible to get the gear Daevas desire is going to lead to some intense frustration and finally even an end of the game for some. You can't make a carrot-chasing game then starve people -- they need a taste of that carrot to continue to motivate them. Give them a baby carrot then dangle one worthy of Bugs Bunny in front of their faces. Just don't treat us like poor Wile E. Coyote, who never obtains his objective, no matter how hard he tries (OK, I know he did technically did catch the Road Runner once -- my favorite episode -- but since he couldn't enjoy any fruits of all that labor and chow down, it doesn't count!).
You can't have it both ways, NCsoft! You can't make drops so rare again that people will witness the Second Coming before they get a piece of armor and remove the selling of loot rights! You can't make your players so disheartened and frustrated that they leave. When you put us in a Skinner box, you have to include the reward lever!
What do you think? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below. And while we are on the subject of comments...
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Email your funny, bizarre, interesting, or downright strange real-life experiences when Aion has seeped out of your hard drive and into your life to firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to highlight as many of you, the readers, as possible in a future feature.
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to email@example.com.