Wings Over Atreia: Top 10 of '11

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Where in the Seraphim Lords did the year go? Daevas aren't the only ones who fly; time certainly has one powerful set of wings (though I haven't quite determined whether they are light or dark)! It's a bit hard for me to believe that a full year has come and gone. Yet even as I doubt, a cursory glance back over the past 12 months shows me I didn't Rip Van Winkle the time away.

In fact, much has transpired in Aion since 2011 rolled in. Between pining away for things to come and dreaming of things that may never be, chronicling the life and social scene of Atreia, offering guides and hints, and reporting on (sometimes surprise) announcements, Wings Over Atreia has covered a variety of topics over the past year. While each column is but one glimpse, together they show the evolution of our game.

Traipse past the break and down memory lane with me as we reminisce about Aion in the time-honored Massively tradition of top-10 lists.

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Initially, it was hard to narrow this list to just 10, as there were a number of features, announcements, and situations worth noting. Taking the volume of reader comments into account, this list would look surprisingly different -- talk of PvP swamped musings on "that other game," with a discussion on immersion ranking just a hair below that. However, I judge meaningfulness on more than just comment count. And since I have the luxury of expressing my own opinions in this column, the following are my picks:

10: RP, RP, wherefore art thou RP?

This year's list starts off with a plug for my favorite part of gaming! While I can't claim this article is my most poignant or earth-shattering, it delved into a topic that is important to me personally. See, despite how a game plays, I am really in it for the virtual world aspect. That doesn't mean I sit around and emote my time away; rather, I like to just immerse myself as I traverse the lands hunting, gathering, and exploring. And when faced with a world as visually stunning as Aion's, I just love to lose myself in it. Of course, I wish there were more tools available to roleplayers. *hint hint NCsoft*

Aion screenshot9: Rant, rant, baby!

I know some of you think I cannot say an unkind word to anyone about anything (heck, I even spent one whole article complimenting customer service), but this year I have proven you wrong! Not once but twice I have grumbled, growled, gritted my teeth, and let a rant spill forth. Yes, it is possible for even me to get irked at something, and my very first rant about selfishness is proof positive that I have a functioning, albeit underdeveloped, rant muscle. Perhaps 2012 may see it getting more of a workout!

8: A whole new year

While I was initially going to focus on just the release of Empyrean Calling here, I realized that what I wanted to trumpet was not just one major patch and its accompanying goodies but the many additional features that have been implemented throughout the year. Someone apparently finally got the message that offering content more frequently is a good thing because 2011 saw a number of smaller content updates in Aion. And that's a plus for the players.

7: Bringing down the house

While the instability of real estate market in the real world is nothing to celebrate, I find that same instability to be a blessing in Atreia. In a game of conquering fortresses, what fun is it to sit around and ho-hum the night away defending against... nobody? No, the point of sieges is taking part in epic battles! Even with the rush of successfully defending against a swarm of enemies, it is just that much more thrilling to swoop in and conquer against the odds! I know some still cry and moan anytime a fort is lost, but I personally like waffling ownership.

6: That's what trolls are for

Penning weekly articles about Aion is more than just reporting what new gizmos and gadgets are coming or offering factual guides. It's also about exploring every aspect of the game world and community and tackling issues. For those who keep up with this column, it is common knowledge that I am fascinated by social interactions and communities, even when watching said interactions is more akin to watching a train wreck. Such is the subject of trolls. Maybe it is the social worker in me coming out, but this article was all about acknowledging an issue and taking it head-on. Like any social malady, it won't go away if ignored, so facing it and accepting the challenge of rooting it out is the prescribed course of action.

Aion screenshot5: Celebrating my alter ego

As much as you can love your game of choice, there is something special about experiencing things for this first time. That's a major reason why my chronicles of life on the dark side of Atreia slips into its place as one of my favorite articles of the year. I absolutely love seeing new things, exploring new lands, and participating in new quests to experience another side to the lore of Aion. There is no feeling of "been there, done that" as I spread my black wings and soar.

4: Enter, stage right

Every year I have the "privilege" (read: horror) of witnessing and/or experiencing drama in Aion. Honestly, I am grateful for it, as it is the richest fodder for some of the most amusing articles! There is simply something inherently satisfying about sharing the insane antics of the Daevas of Our Lives cast. I am ever MORE grateful, however, when the experience is from a distance! As astonishing as it may seem, each and every one of those Atreian soap operas is a true account (though names have been changed to protect the guilty).

3: When the 'twain shall meet...

Where does real life end and gaming start? Sometimes, the line is blurred... if not erased altogether! Easily one of the most memorable and funnest articles highlight the many ways Aion infiltrated the rest of our lives. Nevermind the pure humor of it -- I love this article so much because it allowed me to showcase you, the readers. You make the game what it is and worth nose-diving into all the time. Have you played Aion too much lately?

2: Housing!

Sure bet you didn't see that coming, did you? Housing, of all things, relegated to number two... really? It is true. While the promise of housing is near the top of my list of exciting things expected to happen this year (and no, the free-to-play conversion does not rank as exciting to me), it didn't get the top spot. All of the tasty tidbits of information we have been teased with were marvelous! Perhaps when housing is actually implemented and I have a place to hang my wings, it will command the crown. Until then (and wardrobes), it will be runner-up.

And, the top pick of 2011 is... *drum roll*

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1: Songs from the heart

Now now, with all of the musical themes throughout my articles (and even here for those who caught them), is it any wonder that music would take the top spot? Without a doubt, this article was the most fun I have had writing all year. And if you want to talk about profoundly affecting -- both my children and I are still singing these tunes. When you can have this much fun at your job and get paid for it, life is gooood!

And that's all she wrote! Well, for this week anyways. But I want to hear your thoughts and opinions: Which articles or what news would you put in a top list? Share your picks in the comments below. And here's to an interesting and event-filled 2012! *toast*

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.