As always, send in your Aion-related questions or observations to jef AT massively DOT com, and let us know of anything we missed.
Aion producer Chris Hager finally let the cat out of the bag with regards to the 1.9 patch release date in a lengthy letter over at the official site. Unfortunately, he also brought up the topic of server merges, but did manage to put a positive spin on the situation. "I don't relish the idea of mergers," Hager wrote. "However, once it is complete you should notice improvements in each of the new server economies, an abundance of players to group and run instances with, a number of great Legions to join or people to form new ones with, and a more tightly knit community. When all is said and done, Aion will be a better game because of the server merge. We're in the planning stages, and will have more information on the timing and execution in the coming weeks."
Speaking of Chris Hager, Massively managed to snag not one but two exclusive interviews with the intrepid producer, and he talks about everything from 1.9, to 2.0, to NCsoft West's relationship with NCsoft Korea. "We are slowly but steadily opening the communication channels between NCsoft West and Seoul. The latest round of 1.9 and 2.0 patch notes are a testament to our commitment and efforts to provide free-flowing communication. We've also got several cross-territory initiatives being planned that would let all of us release more information at the same time globally," Hager says.
Check out the 1.9-centric interview and the 2.0 interview.
Official Eye on Community
I'm not sure who came up with the Eye on Community title (get it Eye On, Aion, haha), but they get a gold star (or is it a hot heart of magic) for wince-inducing cleverness. This week's edition is full of the usual player accolades and news recaps, but it also features a nifty tidbit from the community team regarding a long-standing thorn in the side of the game's playerbase, namely the huge amounts of frustration generated by the Miragent pants quest.
"This is a topic we've heard reverberating within the Aion community for some time now. Crafting a Hot Heart of Magic is no small feat -- unless you're insanely lucky, that is. Thankfully, we've made these quests much less painful with the 1.9 update," says the community team. "For starters, the amount of Boiling Balaur Blood Stains required for an attempt at the Hot Heart of Magic has been reduced to 100 instead of 125. This is complemented by the fact that Boiling Balaur Blood Stains now drop off normal and elite mobs of levels 43–50. We expect that this will reduce the price of these components found on the Broker and make finishing the quest much more accessible. Will the quest still be difficult? Of course, it will. Our goal was to adjust the previous gameplay experience that had undoubtedly led to an increase in broken keyboards, mice, and in some instances, walls."
Good news indeed.
What you didn't see in the 2.0 patch notes
An Aion Source forum member by the name of Rukia started a pretty interesting thread filled with screenshots from the Korean test servers, all apparently unmentioned in the recently released American version of the 2.0 patch notes. I'm not the only one who finds the thread interesting either, as it clocks in at 17 pages and a whopping 327 replies as of press time. The epic discussion meanders around everything from new bosses to changes to the game's expert recipes, to the usual sparring over whether Aion should be focused on PvP or PvE.
Level handicaps and ganking in 1.9
A user by the name Taerynthia on Aion's official forums has started another interesting discussion regarding the upcoming changes to level handicaps as they relate to PvP. In a nutshell, levels and gear account for almost all of your ability to PvP against another player in the current game build. 1.9 proposes to adjust statistics so that groups of lower-level players will have a higher chance to compete with a single high level rifter, many of whom farm players who have no realistic way of fighting back.
As you might imagine, the discussion gets fairly heated, but there are constructive ideas to be found, including screenshots and anecdotal testing data.
New dev podcast and two videos
Official videos have been flying out of the Aion offices of late, including a new podcast centering on 1.9, a teaser video for Assault on Balaria, and the third in the anti-RMT The More You MMO series. The podcast marks the return of fan favorite Lani Blazier, who talks about a few of the player-friendly changes coming your way in next week's 1.9 patch. "We have drastically reduced the prices of soul healing, soul binding, and transportation, and I think players are going to find it's a big win. I know we do internally because it is really expensive to heal your soul, bind to a location, and fly places," she says.
That's all we have time for this week, so we'll see you on the far side of 1.9. Until then, keep the blue side up.
Look! Up in the air! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a snarky Daeva! Join Jef Reahard every Monday for news and views from the world of Aion. Whether he's soaring over the battlefield or hunkered down in the trenches, Jef is your combat correspondent in the world of Atreia.