Wings Over Atreia: As the Forts Turn

Today's episode is brought to you by the letter QQ.

The remnants of battle could be seen wafting in the currents of the Abyss -- feathers both dark and light tumbling about. The victors shouted, drunk on the energy of conquest. The defeated limped off the battlefield, returning home to mend their wounds. Meanwhile, safely back in town, eyes glance at the chat box...

"OMG!1! We lost our fort! The world is ending, there is nothing for me to live for --
I am canceling my subscription!" Speedylips throws herself to the floor, body convulsing with sobs as she cries out in utter agony at the unfairness, the pure torture of it all, while all around her others are kicking and screaming. "WAAHHHHHH!"*

Not to be confused with Warhammer Online's trademark cry of battle "Waaaaaaggghhh," this cry* is the sound of desperation among the Daevas of Aion. Or -- in truer words -- infantile tantrums. Yes, tantrums. What else would you call it when people bemoan the change of fort ownership with vicious verbal attacks on others, excessive blame-placing, and numerous announcements of quitting that scroll by in LFG so quickly your head spins trying to catch the actual snippets of relevant chat? Yet this is the common sight whenever one faction starts losing some Abyss real estate to the enemy. And to be perfectly honest, I don't get it. In a game that is built on the give and take of battle, why do people get so put out when they suffer a setback? This is exactly what Aion needs to thrive.

I will admit, I cheer when the opposing faction turns out and succeeds in conquering a fortress. Why? Before you brand me a traitor, cut a swath past the cut and I will explain.

So why should I be glad that the enemy has conquered a fort or two? The answer is, bluntly, for the longevity, health, and enjoyment of the game. Aion is a PvPvE game, with core features in the PvP direction, despite what a few might secretly hope for. Many players transformed themselves into Daevas for the sole purpose of taking part in a vibrant, large-scale PvP experience. If you diminish or take away this aspect, then you take away a key element of the game that drew people here to begin with. Ergo, people leave. And that is never a good thing.

Another one gone and another one gone...

Personally, I don't see why people whine about losing forts in the first place. While defending against a decently sized oncoming horde is exciting, attacking is actually more thrilling. This point was reinforced this last week as I was participating in a sweep of the Abyss, turning the tide of control from completely against us to for us in one fell swoop. Lag issues aside for some (which makes for much frustration), these battles were great fun. That is where the rush is!

Unfortunately, the period of time between the changes in ownership is too far apart to allow folks to experience the rush and keep them interested. Whenever one faction owns the Abyss for long periods of time, the other side invariably gets discouraged, pouts, and leaves. Sure, the owning faction gets to run unlimited fort instances -- in other words, hoard AP from PvE -- but even this gets boring after a while. The victors grow complacent, bored, and fall off of the radar. Frankly, I would rather see forts change hands often so that there is a steady alternation between defending and attacking. Give and take... ring a bell?

As it stands now, here is the typical cycle for forts: First, one faction rallies together and storms through the Abyss, routing the enemy. This faction celebrates, runs many instances, and gloats repeatedly while the losing faction whimpers, whines and complains, turns on itself, and storms off. Some ragequit. The victors then spend time defending, but there isn't much of an attacking force (if any) and apathy sets in, since standing around empty forts for an hour or two gets old really fast. Now, the victors get bored and whimper, whine, complain, turn on each other, and some quit from lack of PvP. After a length of time, the other faction manages to rally itself, and its members come through and rout the current occupants... and the cycle begins again.

Aye, there's the rub -- yes, the faction reconquers its lost forts, but taking undefended forts doesn't really offer the rush. Where is the glory in that? The real fun comes when a large force opposes another large force; the closer the odds, the more thrilling the time, win or lose. But to have numbers to achieve this, people need to stay interested and engaged in the game. We must break this heinous cycle. Instead of throwing a tantrum and quitting when you lose once, just use that as fuel to drive the next push. Make a loss motivation to come back stronger, not crawl away with your tail (or wings) between your legs.

Whine festival

Unlike the version where fermented grapes are involved, the whine festival delivers only the sour taste of witnessing the myriad tantrums thrown each time a faction loses forts in the Abyss. Granted, this time around, my faction was on the victorious end (and did I mention the battle was a lot of fun?), so we didn't witness the /3 chat tantrums of rage-quitting, whining, and complaining about the loss. Sadly, that doesn't mean there was no whining, complaining, and subsequent tantrums -- they were just directed at who was leading, who participated and who didn't, medals, and other such petty topics for bickering. But I could see in my mind's eye how global chat channels lit up on the opposing faction's side after its defeat (as I have seen the same thing on our side after a defeat). And the result? At the next battle, very few opponents showed up. That wasn't nearly as much fun. That quickly the cycle started again.

In a nutshell, the only way to break this cycle is for some people to just get a grip. Really. One loss within the confines of Aion does not trumpet your worthlessness nor does it destroy your life. Nor do two, three, or even more losses. The speed at which people throw their hands in the air and give up (very vocally) is astonishing -- and embarrassing. If you fall off the proverbial siege bike, get right back on and try again. When a large aspect of the game is focused on PvP battles, the teams have to have some balance to make it fun and enjoyable long-term. So whenever some cry and moan and semi-quit, it makes it worse for everyone else. Don't be a crybaby. Just jump back in for round two; there is no K.O. in Atreia. Don't turn Aion into merely a PvE game with rare, short bursts of siege PvP.

And for the love of the Seraphim Lords -- STOP WHINING!

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 mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.