December 14, 2009

Looking for Group

Posted in Aion, Rant tagged , , , at 8:11 pm by Middea

For being a group oriented game in both PvE and PvP aspects, it seems to be surprisingly difficult to actually find a group already. In the early leveling days, groups were everywhere, but as everyone’s levels have gotten more spread out from 30-50, groups that are pugging seem to be very rare. Most people seem to have a set group they run with, as did I for awhile. A set group is pretty wonderful as I’m sure we’re all aware, you know what to expect from everyone, what folks are capable of, and pulls are a fluid and continuous chain, you trust each other.

But what happens when you get behind in levels to your group due to whatever circumstances and are no longer within 2-3 levels of them and you are abandoned? You are forced to resign to wading through the spam that is the LFG channel in the desperate hopes that someone, somewhere, needs you. Even if not for the instance you need/want. And heaven help you if you want to go to the middle deck of SR – the red headed step child deck that almost no one anywhere wants to touch with a ten foot pole.

Levels 42 and up are a plethora of group quests but not many solo quests, I have literally 27 group quests in my quest log at the moment at 43. Grinding solo is a dangerous activity with all the Elyos gank squads running through Beluslan. So what’s a cleric to do? Suck it up and grind alone, running to new grind spots each time the 4+ Elyos wreck you whilst locking you down? Troll LFG while crafting? I have tried many combos of these basic ways of passing the time in game, and it’s been over a week since I have found a group to run anything at all, from Fortress guard grinding, Steel Rake, Alquima, to anything at all. Heck, I’d even go to Mist Mane again if anyone would take me.

What’s to happen with the alts in the future, or players late to the game… If it’s already this difficult to find a pug group, and grouping is pretty much needed to effectively level at certain levels due to a lack of solo questing options, at least for players like me who refuse to grind for hours on faceless mobs, what’s a solo player to do?

Panhandler Cleric
I feel like a panhandler. Instead of beer, I just want exp.

Anyone else having issues finding a group to go anywhere?

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November 18, 2009

A Casual Approach to Aion (Part 2)

Posted in Aion, Guide tagged , , , at 8:23 am by Fedoldinn

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1 of this article here.

Last week I briefly discussed the variable factors in terms of in game goals and play time, including profession leveling, gathering and questing. I’d like to start out by discussing the latter two of these in a bit more detail considering they will make up the bulk of my in game time and affect the planning stages the most for those of us who have limited availability and are more casual players overall.

The main factors in my decision making process for questing versus gathering were the size of the quest hub I was currently working on and the current state of my gathering skill in comparison to the nodes in the areas nearby. If I felt like I was behind on gathering skill, or knew that I needed to level it up before I moved into a new area, I would focus more on gathering and less on questing. Although the two are not mutually exclusive, sometimes it became apparent that ignoring the quests for a short time and hunting nodes to gather would be more beneficial than focusing on the quest goals. During these periods of time, I would simply farm the nearby mobs for XP gains while waiting for nodes to respawn.

For the most part however, questing is generally better suited to longer gaming sessions and gathering / grinding is better suited to shorter ones. The exception here would be the smaller quest hubs that are restricted to a fairly limited area as they can usually be completed in shorter time frames. Always remember that you can skip a quest hub and save the larger ones for another day when you do have the time to go complete them.

Looking back on my experience, I leveled from 1-16 solo for the most part. It is entirely feasible to level up further solo as well. There were a few times when I found myself killing mobs several levels ahead of myself. As a sorcerer, the main thing I had to keep in mind was that since I’m fairly squishy, playing carefully in situations like these was of utmost importance. Dying is both a costly and time consuming mistake (and one that I’ve made many times). Making sure to take my time and think strategically, I was able to work through them with little to no problems at all. The last few levels in this range become the hardest, just be sure to play carefully and not to rush, and you will be able to work through them alone.

When you hit roughly level 18, you’ll want to work on the quests relating to the Mau and the Black Claw area. For this, you will need to find a group (and it is most likely your first major group experience in Aion). It also means you will want to be sure to set aside a larger chunk of time to play. The area isn’t too large, but the elites are tough and the quests take some time to work through. I had a ton of fun here in the beta, and can say its well worth the effort if you can plan for the time to head over to the area with a group to check it out.

At this point, I’ll have to admit that the next few levels really tested my patience with this game. Going from roughly level 20 to 25 was very rough in my experience, and involved a lot of solo grinding that I wasn’t initially prepared for. Looking back on it I could have probably done it better by strategically choosing mobs that yield the highest XP possible and focusing my efforts, but my haphazard method at the time made it more painful that it had to be. Needless to say, I’m much more used to grinding in Aion and far more focused now, but for those of you who may still be in this range fear not; once you finally hit level 25 the process becomes easier for a while and much more enjoyable when you get to enter the Abyss!

I have a few more tips for casual and hardcore players alike:

  • Leveling professions is both costly and time consuming. I recommend doing it in short bursts and make sure you do the first free work order repeatedly, as Middea has already mentioned in another post.
  • Make sure you focus on gathering as you go if it is important to you. Going back to do this later on can be extremely annoying!
  • Off peak times are excellent for farmed quests, waiting on spawns, drop rates and other tasks that are difficult to accomplish during peak hours. If you can and have the time, leave these for those times when there are fewer players around to compete with.

Overall, my main strategy was to know in advance how much time I had available for the day so that I would have a plan of attack before I even logged on. This helped immensely considering I tend to get sidetracked quite easily and can become distracted with legion chat, browsing the broker or selling items, or just randomly wandering the world around me. It isn’t exactly uncommon for me to spend hours in a game and not feel like I’ve accomplished much if anything at all, so being prepared and organized is crucial to keeping my focus while playing an MMO casually. Of course, this strategy is only really important if you are trying to level in an efficient manner. If you simply wish to enjoy the game at your own pace, feel free to do so.

November 7, 2009

A Casual Approach to Aion (Part 1)

Posted in Aion, Guide tagged , , , at 6:51 pm by Fedoldinn

A few weeks ago I wrote about my debate as to whether or not Aion would be worth the purchase and monthly subscription fee considering my limited availability to play. This is a follow-up post outlining my time in game and hopefully providing some tips on how to plan and maximize your own game experience. As always, any feedback is appreciated and we would like to hear about your own experience with Aion so far!

So, what has changed after my initial debate? Well, after a little thought and some discussion, it became clear to me that I did actually want to play the game. Speaking with Middea about the upcoming release, the latest news, and everything else surrounding it only made me that much more excited to check it out. On top of this, there were a few factors that convinced me that it was actually worth my money to purchase the game and pay the $14.99 US ( approximately $16.36 Canadian currently) monthly subscription fee. Middea’s breakdown of the cost of entertainment, as well as our decision to play casually and make sure we enjoy ourselves instead of rushing to the end game both weighed fairly heavily in the final decision.

And so I promptly pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition and have been playing since the head start fairly often, although somewhat sporadically. Some days I play for a few hours, other days I can log on for an hour maximum, and sometimes (fairly often recently) I can’t even play at all. Even with these limitations, and the initially long queues, I’m confident I’ve been maximizing my time in game in order to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself, and most importantly, I’ve been able to have fun while doing so.

So, what’s the secret to playing an MMO casually? Well, there are three main points to keep in mind while reading this:

  1. Be patient. MMO’s are designed and developed as a time sink, just like any good role-playing game.
  2. Plan your play time. I’ve come up with a few points that hopefully will help you with this.
  3. Have fun! After all, that is the entire point of playing, right?

It would seem that the first point should stand fairly well on its own without the need to further clarify. However, thinking back on the role-playing games (RPGs) I’ve played, sometimes its not so obvious that the games were intended to provide hundreds of hours of entertainment. In the case of MMORPGs, this usually is extended to thousands of hours. I know for a fact that I played WoW for well over 200 days… Just keep that in mind when you approach Aion and understand that there’s no reason to experience everything immediately. The game will be around for years to come and you will have time to work your way through it. The important thing here is to remember to start off with an idea of what you want to accomplish in game early on, and set the rest aside for later.

Once you know what is important to you, you can easily start to plan your time spent in game. For me, there were a few things that I had on my list from playing in a couple of the beta events. First, I wanted to make sure my gathering skills were kept up to the appropriate level with the content I was working on. This was important for a few quests, and I knew that it would help out later on with the professions I had chosen to focus on. For professions, I decided that Alchemy and Cooking would be important to me, but the former was the most important for my class and general interest. So, part of my plan was to level Alchemy immediately as I leveled my character, and set Cooking aside until later on considering the general expense, both in terms of time and kinah, to level a profession. Finally, the leveling process itself was important to an extent (as it always is), so I made sure I had an idea of how I wanted to approach questing and grinding at my casual pace.

Considering those three goals, there were a few things that became immediately apparent to me. My profession leveling could be done at any time, and didn’t have a time constraint on it. This made it an ideal choice for shorter periods of game time. I also knew that the gathering goal could potentially set me back a bit in terms of time spent questing, which was something to consider, but essentially a variable factor dependent on node spawns, general activity level in game, and other factors that were out of my control. The questing and leveling process itself is fairly variable as well, but can be controlled to a certain extent with a bit of thought put into it.

To be continued…

Be sure to check out A Casual Approach to Aion (Part 2) for more information on time management and planning while leveling. In the meantime, make sure you’re having fun!