Mark Jacobs leaves Mythic.

Salutations,

as the Mythic Herald stated:

“Today we have important news to share with the community. EA is restructuring its RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic and BioWare. This newly formed team will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Ray becomes Group General Manager of the new  RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Ray. BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Ray.

Mark Jacobs, current General Manager of Mythic will leave EA on June 23, 2009. We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward. Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR.

Mythic retains a strong team led by Rob who co-founded Mythic in 1995. Rob played a critical role in the development of Dark Age of Camelot. In his previous role as COO, he was responsible for all day-to-day management of the studio including all development, operations and support.

Please join us in celebrating the union of these two award-winning studios.”

Which answered one of the questions of many bloggers of war “Where is Mark Jacobs?”

And apparently he had decided to leave Mythic. (or got fired?) In any case, now Mythic and Bioware is going to be working together it sounds, and with Bioware’s strength, maybe WAR will become quite a game!

But of cause they have to fixed the problems first.

what is your thought on this?

S.T. out.

Aion Exclusive blog announced!

Salutations,

With the growing interest in Aion, S.T. had decided to start a new blog that will focus on Aion.

So if you are interested in Aion. Head over there! or click here!

S.T. out.

WAR vs. Aion (the first 10 levels)

Salutations

Today, we will be comparing WAR and Aion, the anticipated NCSoft MMORPG.

I had been playing the beta version of Aion, and after trying out a few classes, and its mechanic, I am deeply drawn into its PvE content and its PvP content (for PvP content, I have only seen discussions about it didn’t really play it, but it seems that I will be able to test that out in a month or so.)

So here is the comparison of WAR and Aion, S.T. style! We will be looking at several categories, and here we go!

IP:

WAR IP: Well, we all know that WAR’s IP come from Games Workshop, whom had developed the Warhammer table top games, and stories. The WAR IP is just hard to beat, It has a long history and is well developed. No complains about WAR’s IP, its very good indeed!

Aion IP: Aion’s IP is created by the studio (or Team?). Its a very young IP, and it needs to be polished a little bit, although it has its own unique story settings, it is also lacking a lot of history.

WINNER: WAR

There is no way the Aion could beat WAR’s IP, considered the completeness of WAR’s unbeatable background story. WAR has a very deep story where as Aion doesn’t have that much of a story, even though Aion has the potential to grow their IP, at this point, WAR is the clear winner.

Graphics:

War Graphics: War’s graphic is o.k., compare to most F2P games, WAR clearly have a upper hand, but it has its problems, most notably, the lack of Anti-alias in WAR, even though WAR had developed a very unique art-style, but a lot of time its concept art got lost in the transition phase, and I have to say, WAR is not that great looking, plus it has a lot of animation bugs that really really needs to be fixed, I am sure people are sick of how its so easy to get stuck in a certain animation phase of a skill. Of cause WAR had delivered some pretty cool landscape and skill animations, but still they need to keep working on it. I mean, even GW (guild wars) looks better than WAR, and consider GW came out almost 3 years before WAR. Its pretty clear the WAR need to work on their graphics.

Aion Graphics: Aion is beautiful, I am quit surprised by its beautiful landscapes. You can almost take a screen shot at every corner and feels the beauty within! Aion also created beautiful animations for its characters and skills, but I have to say, the skill animations are pretty standard looking for a low level character (but from what I have seen with high level skill animations, they look really cool!) I haven’t seen any bugs for animations yet, but you do get stuck at weired places, and sometimes it lags a little (for like 1 second which is not a big deal) The wings are something that one really should look at, when a character had their wings at lv10 its just darn cool! One thing about Aion’s graphics that annoys me are the monsters, for some reason, some of them looks ugly and very plastic looking, but some of them are quite beautiful (frightening or maybe cute!).

WINNER: AION

There really is no comparison between the two, Aion has a very good graphics out there, I think its the best looking MMORPG out there todate! (Well, I haven’t seen Champions Online’s graphics so I can’t really tell) WAR is a little ugly compare to Aion, but then WAR has some pretty unique take on the skill animations where as Aion might not have. Over all, Aion beat WAR on this one.

Sound and Music:

WAR’s Sound and Music: WAR has a very good voice over for the characters and the NPCs, it is always fun to listen to the goblins, and sometimes it gets annoying to listen to the High Elves, but nonetheless, WAR have created a very lively world with the voice overs. As for its sound effects, I have to say its o.k., it doesn’t kill me and it doesn’t make me want to kill myself or anything, its just… o.k. As for the music, WAR doesn’t have that many different back ground music, that is the reason why I listens to Pandora every time I play WAR ( I guess that also made it hard for me to hear any back ground music) but I dont’ think there is anything remarkable about WAR’s music.

Aion’s Sound and Music: Aion is still in beta, and the localizations for the west is not done yet, so I can’t really talk about its voice over, since we haven’t been able to hear them yet. But it is a bit boring though, because they kind of sound the same (I think we will be able to choose different voices for the characters). Sound effects are o.k. too, I don’t think I have been impressed by any games’ sound effects yet (MMORPG wise). Aion’s music is quite good, The intro music if quite phenomenon, the choirs are beautiful, and the orchestras are quite grand. The back ground music isn’t too bad, they changes in each different areas to fit the mood of the landscape or to fit your characters action (in combat or not in combat).

WINNER: TIE

At this point, I will give them a tie, since WAR have excellent Voice overs, but not so good background music, and Aion has no Voice over (still in production) and excellent Background Musics.

Starting Areas:

WAR starting areas: War excels with its starting areas, its T1 is just something to play and something to experience, with its 6 different races in the game, they easily had created one of the great starting areas of all MMORPGs (the other being WoW, which has 8 different starting areas, i think?) Each starting area has its own style, and the landscape look very distinct from each other, also, the quests that WAR introduced in its starting area are different for each Race, which means that its very much a new experience every time you pick a different race. The starting areas of WAR is very thoughtful, it introduced you to its mechanic, and provide you the chance to participate in the PQ system right away, the SCs experience, and the oRvR experience all in one, and you can participate in all of them within a few minutes!

Aion starting areas: Aion has two different races, and they have their own distinct look to their own starting areas, with its IP, it is very easy to tell the differences between the two races, the Elyos lives in a tropical heaven looking environment, and the Asmodians lives in a very dark places (dark as an no sun and no tropical looking stuffs) The looks of the two races is also different, where the Elyos looks like a normal human race, and the Asmodians look more like a mix of WoW’s Night Elves and Draenei. But with its powerful customizations, you could make your character looks very different from the default ones. Aion’s starting area provides a very casual feeling, and you can quests your way up to lv 10 in less than 6 to 8 hours. One thing to note is that the quests that are provided in the two different starting areas, are almost exactly the same, or should we say they are basically the same its just with the twists of the Elyos characters or the Asmodians characters (this applies to the very early quests, for example the first 10 standard quests). There are a few types of quests, the most notable is the Campaign Quests, and the standard quests. The Campaign Quests are story driven, and are fun to play, they have their own in-game cut-scenes too! As of the standard quests, they are the grinding quests, but they are not as grindy as you think, but they are not as story driven as the Campaign Quests.

WINNER: WAR

With its 2 similar starting areas, Aion is no match to WAR, whom have 6 different starting areas, with quests that is tailored to the races you play, and it is fun to play the T1 of WAR, there is no argument there.

Customizations

War Customizations: War has little customizations when it comes to character creations, there are different races, and each races have a few dozen different pre-made faces, hairs, and a few little things that can be changed. The armors are very much the same, when if first launched it is very easy to see your evil twins, or sometimes triplets! The armors are almost the same, there are specific armors for each tiers, and a special set for the first three tiers, ones you hit T4 you will be able to get the high end gears that finally have distinction between each characters, but even then, its still possible to run into your evil twin. The trophy system does add a little fun to your character, but eventually they are the same.

Aion Customizations: Aion has a very customizable character creation process, you can almost make your own characters, and it is impossible to find your evil twin, of cause unless you use the premade settings, (it seems that every game after Aion emphasizes on the customizations, like Champions Online, and APB) As for armors, I can’t really tell you much about it because at this point, very ones armor look the same, but I have to say the Asmodians’ armor looks better than the Elyos, (for my tastes anyways.)

WINNER: Aion

Aion’s character customizations is just fun to play, it might take you a while to get your characters ready. As for WAR, it takes about 5 minutes to pick your characters, and other than the pre-made options, there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Combat Systems

WAR’s combat system: WAR have 24 different careers, and each of them have their own set of skills and mechanic, WAR have successfully created some great mechanics in each careers that made it pretty fun to play different careers and to experience the “mini-game within a game” moments. Even though its hard to say if each mechanic is as good as the other, but there are some innovation in these different careers.

Aion’s combat system: Aion has 4 classes and 8 sub-classes that you can choose after you have reached lv 10. Each sub-classes have its unique look and fell, but they still fall into the same old MMORPG frame works. But there is a few very interesting things about the combat system, especially for the melee classes, where your movement will slightly effect your stats, for example, if you charge forward, your attack will gain some buffs, and if you charge left or right, your chances of evading enemy attacks increases. Its a small little thing that makes Aions combat a little different, but for the long range DPS classes, those mechanic really doesn’t do anything for them. Another little mechanic that Aion have is the skill chain system, where you are able to chain more than two skills, and its very easy to do so, once you have learned the two skills that you can chain together, all you need to do is push the hot key for the first skill, and then you can either use your mouse to click on the icon for the second skill right next to your character, or you can simply push the same hot key for your second skill. The only problem is that you will have to manually click on the same skill with your  mouse, if you don’t want to chain your attacks. The flight system is also something that is very much emphasized in Aion, but since I have not experienced it I will not talk about it that much.

WINNER: TIE

Both WAR and Aion have its own unique way of creating their combat systems, WAR have many different inovative mechanics for each careers, and the numbers of careers that are in WAR is just incredible, even though there are flaws in each careers and sometimes the mechanics favor one career better than the other. Aion have a few little innovative designs, but these designs are not strong enough to really make your game play experience incredible (at least for the first 10 levels)

Conclution:

Both WAR and Aion had been out in the market for about a year now, (Aion was launched in Korea since last October or so). They both had gone through the phases of fixing bugs and fixing the balances of each classes. Many of you might wonder why I am comparing WAR and Aion, isn’t Aion just another Korea MMORPG clone? WAR is very much a game about PvP, why am I comparing them? The fact is, Aion has its own PvP system in the end game, even though one might not participate in PvP activities till later levels in Aion where as one can dive right into PvP game play in WAR, but Aion’s flight system and its PvPvE system had been praised as the next step to the PvP of the new MMORPG. The flight system created a new way to fight, and the PvPvE provides balance among the two factions. Plus NCsoft is trying its best to localize Aion, and its noticeable in the beta, the translation of the quests texts are pretty well done, even though they are not perfect, nor is it as good as WAR, but remember, WAR has a very deep IP where as Aion’s IP is starting from scratch.

Is Aion a grind fest just like most of the Korean MMORPG? I have to say no, its leveling curve is kind of like WoW, where you can lv up to lv10 with just doing quests, and the rumor is that one can level up to Lv50 with just doing quests. I think the Aion team is trying its best to make a Korean MMORPG as friendly to the western customers as possible, and I have to say they have done a pretty good job. As for WAR, I have to say, WAR needs to step it up, Aion doesn’t have a lot of bugs, and its class balance is pretty even, and the game play is pretty pleasant. But WAR still have a lot of issues, yes, WAR have a more complicated system, and its scope is huge compare to Aion, but when players are more likely to play a game that is more polished than the other, WAR still have a way to go before it will be able to catch up with Aion. And again I have to stress that Aion has the advantage of being a new IP and a lot simpler than WAR, but it doesn’t give WAR any excuse not to fix its problems ASAP!

Just like other on-line gamers, I am looking forward to new games, and so far, Aion had gave me a reason to give it a try when it launch this coming September, and WAR had not live up to its name yet for me to keep playing.

A shout out to MYTHIC: hurry up! and try your best to fix the problems that is in WAR, otherwise, you might not survive this coming September.

S.T. out.

the drama of unbalance in WAR

Salutations!

As I am writing this post, one thing you should know that Dark Craig is totally out of balance with Order dominating Destruction (as this moment, IC had been bashed to a one star city, which I had not seen since launch). With Land of the Dead live later today, I am wondering, what are the destruction players going to do on Dark Craig? It seemed that they had given up defending the city, or should we say they are sick of the Order dominance over them?

Mythic had always been saying that they will be closely monitoring the balance between the two realms in every server, but what is going on here? Dark Craig’s balanced had long been broken at least 4 months ago, but I haven’t seen anything being done! Didn’t they say they would provide an experience bonus to the losing realm? Where is the bonus?

Yes, I play Order on Dark Craig, and yes, I am happy that Order is winning a lot, but at the same time, I am sick of it, (can one be sick of being a winner all the time?) since the way that I level my characters are through SCs, its a bit boring when all the zones are locked and there is no more SCs running but at the same time my level is not high enough to participate in City Sieges. So I usually just log out and play other toons. And Order is constantly raiding IC. which means that I play on other Tiers a lot more than T4.

T4 end game seems quite boring at the moment. yes, land of the Dead is coming very soon. But will that fix the problem? or will it worsen the situation?

Let’s not just look at the population unbalance in servers, we should also look at other unbalances in WAR that I had found after playing WAR since launched.

AoE vs. Single Target

This is one of the unbalance that players feels the most in WAR let it be SCs or not, the AoE skills are just to effective comparing to the Single Target skills. We know that Mythic is trying to solve this problem, but will it be fixed in time?

Bright Wizard vs. Sorceress

Another unbalance that is quite noticeable. The skills that these two careers are suppose to be similar, but after playing both a BW and a Sorceress to lv33 I have to say, BW have way more advantages than a Sorceress. Sure, Sorceress have some pretty nasty skills, but they can not be learned till they reached a higher level, even if they have acquired that skill, BW has something even better! For example, BW have a skill where they can restore Action Points while hurting themselves (the damage is minimal) but Sorceress doesn’t (at level 33, I am not sure if they have it later, if they do let me know), which is a bit unfair because that means BWs have unlimited Action Points (I know that Black Guards have a similar skill, but they are tanks and I am not sure if IB gets them, but that’s beside the point) while Sorceress have to abide with the regular AP restore rules. That one skill a long, makes BWs a lot more powerful, because they can build combustion right after they used “escaped”! Where as Sorceress have to wait for 10 seconds plus another 5 seconds to build dark magic.

SC Population balance

Another unbalance I want to stress about is the population balances in SCs, I am not sure what is the line for unbalanced SCs, but it seems to be a bit weired, I understand that one realm have a plus 2 over the other is fine, that is not out of balanced yet, but when a plus 4 happens, that should be unbalanced right away, no matter what! Today, I had played an SC with a population of 7 vs 11 happened, and the unbalance check did not show up at all! Mythic? is the population unbalance checks broken in SCs? What is going on? Or at least tell us the rules for an unbalanced SC!

Well these are the ones that I found, did you find anything else that is unbalanced in WAR? Let me know!

S.T. out.

1.3.0 is going to be downsized.

Salutations,

In-case you didn’t know. Mythic has decided to take out the  Career balance patch from the 1.3.0 patch. Which means that the AoE problems have to wait a little.

I am not sure about how I feel about it. I have to say it might be a good thing, since a lot of people who had tried out the PTS said that the career balance doesn’t make sense.

There are a lot of heated debates over at the WAR forum.

Personally, I do agree with some of them where they suggested that Mythic should only address the Careers individually, and not just trying to fix the problem.

And what is the problem? AoE being too effective is what people had been complaining about, and the way Mythic is trying to fix is by reducing the AoE skills value from all AoE skills, without dealing with each career individually.

So what can be done?

Well, as a healer player I understand the roles of each different Careers in WAR, there is the Pure long range  healer (Rune Priest and Zealot). The long range healer with debuffs (Arcmage and Shaman) Last but not least, the Close ranged front line healers (WP and DoK).

From this point of view, it is understandable why WP and DoK’s Group heal is only 1 sec. cast and with a short cool downs. When they are in the battle front, there is no way they will be able to cast the group heal if it is 3 secs casts (trust me, if the enemy is ganking you, even a 1 sec. cast time is impossible).

Because of this a lot of people’s strategy playing WP and DoK is to stay in the back and spam the Group Heal as many time as possible. I understand that, and I do that too! So what is the problem? Its actually making it a bit boring playing a WP and DoK if all you do is spam AoE heals, but that is the most efficient way to heal.

Maybe instead of increasing the cast time for WP and DoK and decrease the value of healing, maybe its time for mythic to look into skill changes. They are doing some experiment with the AM and Shaman. So why not try it on the WP and DoK?

You are probably confused as to what I am saying. But hear me out.

Instead of shutting down all AoE skills, why not deal with all AoE skills individually?

For example,

WP and DoK’s AoE heal, instead of making it a longer cast time skill, and to decrease the value of heal, why not let it have its cast time and maybe let the cool down a bit longer? Maybe they could some how changed it where they can only heal people behind them? Or maybe they could make it an AoE HoT type of thing, but only to people around them (say like 10 to 15 feet?).

If Mythic wants to fix it so that the WP and DoK players will do what they are intended to do (heal at the front of the line). Give them the tools and the reason!

Don’t punish all other healer’s AoE heal just because WP and DoK were able to do it a lot more efficient. If you know what I mean.

The same applies to the problem with the AoE damage skills. Don’t just punish them, change the function of the skills if its too powerful.

GW was one of the game that I know that does this type of skill changes the best. They are not afraid to change the FUNCTIONALITY of a skill to keep the balance between each career.

To me, I think the problem with the skill sets of the careers in WAR is this: The planning of these skills are not long enough.

If I remembered right, Mythic didn’t really started to think about the Mastery system after they started CB. Which I have to say, means that they didn’t really put that much thoughts into the mastery system, and they just kind of came out with a system. Yes the Mastery system is something that is needed, but I think its o.k. for them to change things if they want. If its for the sake of the game. They would do it.

What is your thoughts on this issue?

S.T. out.

S.T. is still here!

Salutations!

A little update, S.T. is still here and this little blog is still alive, I haven’t been posting because I wanted to wait for Patch 1.3.0, I have been writing a few guides about being a healer, but since patch 1.3.0 is going to change the landscape of group healing, I wanted to wait to see how things goes with 1.3.0 (yes, I know I can test it on the PTS but atm I am trying to get a few of my toons level up)

I have started a Zealot, and I have to say I am falling in-love with WAR again! Zealot has always been the career that I wanted to play since WAR launched, but I kind of got derailed and joined the side of Order.

Anyways, so after all this time, I am finally back to Zealot, and I have to say I am enjoying it!

So, I will posts more in the future, and this blog is not dead yet!

S.T. out.

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