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Aion

Choose My Adventure: The weather outside is frightful

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Aion, Guild Wars, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, MMOFPS, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, Choose My Adventure, Allods Online, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Defiance, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Choose My Adventure
December is here, which means it's about time to throw some logs on the fire, grab every blanket in the house, and collapse under the mantle in a freezing, sobbing heap. This week's arctic blast has left the United States feeling a lot like Northrend, but for those of us in certain parts of the country it's just the beginning of what's sure to be a long, hellish winter.

However cold it may be outside, there's always a warm, toasty inn waiting in our favorite games. MMOs also provide sunny vistas, hot deserts, and steamy swamps, all of which make great places to escape nasty real-life weather. Even when it's cold in an MMO, it's still warm at our desks. In this edition of Choose My Adventure, I'm depending on you to help me hide from the snow that's piling up outside of my window.

You don't have to send me somewhere warm, but I'd appreciate it if you send me somewhere fun.

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The Soapbox: Seriously, we have enough fantasy MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lineage, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, RIFT, World of Tanks, TERA, EverQuest Next, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, MOBA, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Aion
Let's play a game. I'm thinking of an MMO that features magic, monsters, humans, and a vast fantasy world full of steamy swamps, grassy plains, and deep, dark dungeons -- can you tell me which MMO it is? If you answered RIFT, you're right. You're also right if you answered TERA. Or World of Warcraft. Or Guild Wars 2. Or Neverwinter. Or... you get the idea.

We're people who play MMOs. Our hard drives are practically bulging with games featuring wizards and warriors. We've plunged our swords into millions of orcs and gnolls. We've looted more imaginary copper pieces than anyone could possible imagine. We've even slain so many dragons that you have to wonder why dragons even bother showing up anymore.

It's not the gameplay but the setting that can make the whole exercise so soul-crushingly boring.

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Wings Over Atreia: A guide to Aion's menagerie

Fantasy, Aion, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Guides

What does every Daeva need while jetting around Atreia besides a sturdy set of wings? Why, a Daeva's best friend, of course! And there is certainly quite an assortment of pets to choose from in Aion, from the standard pooch to the very non-standard heavy machinery. Introduced three expansions ago in Assault on Balaurea, pets have become a common sight as you travel about the world, whether you are chillaxing in town or hot on the trail of some XP. Pets are even commonplace in PvP; practically every contestant in the recent PvP tournament had a pet out. That's because not only are pets fun, but they are functional, too.

Just how many pets are there? Back when I first started this project, I had almost everything together in fairly short order. Then I blinked, and the pet population exploded! And every time I thought I had them all, more would pop up. So chances are NCsoft will throw another one into the mix by the time you read this, but we'll forge ahead anyhow; it's time to get this guide out there to help all those who wish to adopt the cute cuddliness of some little critter (just one look in those big puppy/panda/bulldozer eyes, and you know you're a goner) or even those who just want to know where that pet they just saw comes from. So regardless if whether you're in the market for one pet or just have the urge to collect them all, welcome to the Aion menagerie.

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The Stream Team: Killing things softly with Aion's Songweaver

Fantasy, Aion, Classes, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team

In Aion, music not only calms the savage beat, it also slays it! The Songweaver is an interesting class since it uses melodies to heal and to hurt both friends and foes (hopefully in that order!). And when have you known Massively's MJ to turn down playing an interesting healer class? This week she dusts off those jet-black Asmodian wings and sets out with her harp on her back to make Atreia a better place for all... OK, maybe not the Elyos. Join us live at 4:00 p.m. EST for more 4.0 adventures as she flies through levels.

Game: Aion
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Wings Over Atreia: Inspiration from Aion's latest PvP tourney

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), PvP, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Player-Generated Content

There's always room for improvement, right? No matter the subject, be it your personal skills, group tactics, or your favorite game in general, all things can be bettered. That's just a part of being in an imperfect world. Aion is no different. And through a recent convergence of events, I've come up with a couple of ways NCsoft can make this PvPvE game even better (and help with player retention, too!).

What precipitated my inspiration? The first thing was a comment from another player that really stuck with me; he lamented that Aion really comes into its own at the endgame. I say "lamented" here because this player was saddened that his friends couldn't make it through to the highest levels in order to experience what he considered the best aspects of the game with him. The second catalyst was Kahrun's 1v1 PvP tournament held yesterday, an event I was privileged to witness from a special vantage point. While watching the matches play out between various max-level toons, I realized exactly how Aion could capture that PvP experience and offer a taste of it to any player.

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Wings Over Atreia: Return of the Aion Easy Button, starring Sauro Supply Base and Steel Rose

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Aion, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Dungeons

Wings Over Atreia  Return of the Easy Button, starring Sauro Supply Base and Steel Rose
First there was Easy Button. Then came Easy Button Strikes Back. And now we have Return of the Easy Button. Yes Daevas, the next thrilling adventure of the easy button is on its way to an Aion dungeon near you! Well, two actually -- so it's a double feature. And we think you might just like this show. The stars of the show? Sauro Supply Base and Steel Rose, two of the new dungeons introduced in 4.0.

Unlike my previous reports on the easy button invasion that were post-production reviews, this one is a sneak preview. And joining us to reveal this new Aion blockbuster is Associate Product Manager Sean Orlikowski, who provided a coming soon trailer filled with highlights to help get you ready for the main attraction. Return of the Easy Button releases next Wednesday, November 6th, on a game client near you.

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The Stream Team: Braving Aion's Nightmare Circus

Fantasy, Aion, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

The Stream Team
The circus is in town, but it isn't all clowns and cotton candy; no, this one is definitely more sinister than that! Massively's MJ teams up with some friends to mount a rescue mission to save the Queen of Dreams in Aion's limited-time instance, the Nightmare Circus. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. and see if they can save the day!

Game: Aion
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, November 1st, 2013
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Aion opens Halloween-themed Nightmare Circus dungeon

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Aion opens Halloweenthemed Nighmare Circus dungeon
Did you enjoy the novelty and rewards of Aion's double run of Shugo Kingdom Adventures, the limited-time instance that offered some pretty nifty rewards to those who chose wisely? If so, you might be glad to hear that Aion has introduced a new version themed for the holiday: Nightmare Circus. As before, only special skills can be used within the instance and only Daevas level 30 and above can enter.

This time, however, instead of becoming a Shugo, players will be transformed into a bear-like Khum'gom. Even more power can be obtained if players transform into a Nightmare Circus Harlequin using an item available via quest and in the store. Also, anywhere from two to six players can participate. The instance consists of three stages, and rewards can include exclusive costumes and wings, dyes, consumables, manastones, and much more. For a full accounting of all the possible prizes and a breakdown of each stage, check out the official announcement. But if you want to get in on the event, you'd better hurry -- the Nightmare Circus is in town for only two weeks and packs up November 6th, 2013.

The Soapbox: Free-to-play wasn't our idea

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, MMORTS, Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Dota 2
Free-to-play is surging. In just a few short years, free-to-play has become the go-to mechanism through which studios broaden audiences, entice players, and build revenue. No other method of monetization has proven to be so lucrative and effective with such consistency, whether it be a monthly subscription fee, a one-time purchase price, or some combination of the two.

Free-to-play's growth has created a world in which non-free games are the exception, not the rule. Of the most popular MMOs and online games as of my typing these words, the vast majority are free-to-play. Games that are bold enough to buck the trend and launch with a sub fee are met with derision and suspicion from the online gaming community; the many thousands of words dedicated to ZeniMax Online's decision to require a subscription for The Elder Scrolls Online are likely the most recent and high-profile examples of this trend in action.

When players complain about a game launching with a subscription, their opinions are often countered by a self-appointed gaming elite who believe that things were better in the good old days, when games cost money and poor people didn't ruin everything by demanding free stuff. The argument summarized is something like, "I am sick and tired of lazy, entitled gamers wanting everything for free."

There's just one problem: Lazy, entitled gamers didn't invent free-to-play. Studios did.

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One Shots: Dusting crops with the boys

Screenshots, Aion, Culture, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous

One Shots Dusting crops with the boys
We're going to begin today's column with a very important announcement. It's so important that I'm breaking all the rules putting very important announcement in bold like that, but hopefully you're paying attention by now. We had a glitch with our email that pretty much blocked all submissions for One Shots since September 22nd, and so I never received them. I'm so sorry this has happened, but if you sent in a picture since then, I'd urge you to do it again. Thanks!

Meanwhile, Captain Matt paid a few thousand credits to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with Han and Chewie in Star Wars Galaxies. "Here's me going into lightspeed with the closest of friends!"

As Matt's living it up playing space chess with a Wookiee and getting his arms torn off, we've got many very important submissions to check out after the jump!

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Wings Over Atreia: Jumping on Aion's limited-time events and pumpkin-carving contest

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia

Wings Over Atreia  Jumping on Aion's limitedtime events and pumpkincarving contest
As much as I know you probably want an announcement about the release of Aion 4.5 and the long-awaited Aethertech class, I am afraid I can only offer a distraction. A few distractions, actually, in the form of various in-game events and a real-world contest. And these events are ending PDQ, so to take advantage of them, you need to jump in now.

First off, this weekend only level 65s get a little incentive to dive into the Sauro Supply Base and and Ophidan Bridge dungeons. For all Daevas over level 21, there's a Brax Cafe event (with free food and rewards) that closes up shop at maintenance on Wednesday the 23rd. And for any and all Aion fans out in the real world, NCsoft is holding a pumpkin-carving contest until Halloween with an in-game reward for winners. And I've got all the details right here!

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Choose My Adventure: Indecision 2013

Aion, Opinion, Hands-On, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, Choose My Adventure, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Neverwinter

Choose My Adventure Indecision 2013
My goodness, it's been a long time since I've done Choose My Adventure. I cannot wait to dive into it again. But first, I should probably break down the rules and let you know how my Choose My Adventure will likely differ from those who have come before me.

Besides the weekly column that comes out on Wednesday, I will also run a livestream whenever I play the game. Of course, Massively's livestream sessions are abbreviated, so I cannot stream on that channel for the number of hours that it will take me to accurately get a taste of what the game is like. So I will run the regular livestream on my channel, then take over Massively's stream when I can. That also means that some of the choices made during the course of this adventure will be made on the livestream and not in this column. However, I will attempt to let the readers of this column make the major choices.

So let's decide what game I'll be playing for you. After the break, I've listed five games that I am interested in revisiting or visiting for the first time. Read the descriptions, then at the end, vote on the game you'd like to see me play. I will have to close the voting on Fridays, so that I will have the weekend to actually implement the choices you make. Happy adventuring!

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Aethertech design contest winner chosen for Aion

Fantasy, Aion, Contests, Culture, Free-to-Play

Aethertech design contest winner chosen for Aion
With the Aethertech class on its way for Aion 4.5, NCsoft has revealed the winner of the "Leave Your Legacy: Aethertech" contest in which players could design one of the mechanized suits for future inclusion in the game. The top pick was the 5H-0G0 by EMPIREinWAR, which is based on the Shugo race.

The devs were quite taken with the design choice. "We can sum this up in one word: 'witty.' From the naming all the way to the Shugo character itself, this piece was really fun to look at, which is why this is the winner," said Head of the Aion Global Development Art Team Jinhwan Kim.

The 5H-0G0, like all of the Aethertechs, will use its magical mechanical mount to crush, shoot, flail, and probably cuddle its way through Atreia.

[Source: NCsoft press release]

Wings Over Atreia: Aion's Black Cloud Marketplace evolves to let you play more your way

Fantasy, Aion, Business Models, Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia

Wings Over Atreia  Aion's Black Cloud Marketplace evolves to let you play more your way
Those of you who know me a bit know that I am not really a fan of cash shops. In fact, I don't sit in the cheer section for free-to-play at all; I am a die-hard subscription gal. But I know free-to-play and cash shops are a very entrenched and popular part of our gaming culture now (though I do celebrate when F2P games turn to subs!) and as an avid gamer, I can't avoid them. However, I also feel that there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to do both F2P and cash shops. The former, Aion already nailed on the head with the Truly Free model where all content is actually free to all players. The latter... well, in my opinion the Black Cloud Marketplace had definite room for improvement.

As it turns out, some of those improvements are happening now. And according to Associate Product Manager Sean Orlikowski, those changes represent a permanent new direction for the Marketplace. We're going to delve into those improvements and how they might affect the grand scheme of Aion right here in this edition of Wings Over Atreia.

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Wings Over Atreia: Aion's anniversary marks four years

Fantasy, Aion, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Free-to-Play, Wings Over Atreia, Anniversaries

Wings Over Atreia  Aion's anniversary marks four years
Hmmm? What's that you say -- another year has passed? Well I'll be... you're right! If you are anything like me, a large chunk of Aion's fourth year crawled by at an agonizingly slow pace as you waited through all the newsbytes and teasing for the big 4.0 expansion and its new classes. Then, once Dark Betrayal finally arrived, the last quarter of the year just zipped by with hardly a notice. And quite frankly, it doesn't really feel as if four years have passed since Atreia first opened up and welcomed eager Daevas, but it really has. So happy fourth birthday, Aion!

As is customary here at Massively, on this auspicious anniversary day I'm going to dedicate this Wings Over Atreia to a reflection on the past year, looking at what has changed since our last stroll down memory lane and what has stayed the same. And you are cordially invited to join me for plenty of reminiscing... and of course, CAKE!

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