Wings Over Atreia: Happy Newb Year!

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Oh, that feeling when a game is new and everything is an adventure! Say what you will, but I cherish those moments of still being a newb and getting to experience things for the first time while exploring a new world (mind you, that is newb as in "new person," not n00b meaning "hopelessly moronic"). The problem is, once you have been in a game for a while, that whole aura dissipates and you lose that feeling of wonder. I envy those just now coming to Aion, as those of us who have been here for the past two plus years have lost that initial excitement. And when you've lost that newbie feeling, then it's gone, gone, gone, whoa whoa whoa...

Or is it?

When you have played the game for a long period of time, you tend to settle into a rut that is hard to break out of. Log in, do dailies, do arenas, do dredge. Toss in a siege. Rinse and repeat. In the past, Wings Over Atreia has delved into some of the reasons to stay in game when things become a bit monotonous and we sludge through some of the more difficult times. But why should we sludge? Why not find ways to make Aion more interesting when you hit that plateau?

Some players have done just that. A little creativity (and sometimes some really insane friends) can really make a difference and bring back that newbie feeling -- or at least make things interesting while adding some variety to gaming.

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Join Altaholics Anonymous

It's simple: If you want to experience something new, do something new, right? Making an alt of a class or faction you don't normally play is one easy way to toss some variety into your gaming. This is precisely what I did when I donned black wings and took off for adventures in Asmodae. This foray into the other side of Atreia incorporated both a new faction and a new class, stretching me beyond my comfort zone. By going to a new faction (ergo a new server), not only did I have the chance to experience new content, but I had no special gear to twink myself out, and I didn't even know anyone except for one friend who took pity on me and joined me for some adventures. It really was a new and different experience. And honestly, when looking at fun per time spent, I enjoyed playing that Asmodian more than my well-geared, higher-level Elyos, not because it was better to play but because I was doing something different.

If starting over like a total newb with no access to a shared warehouse is a bit too much for you, you can actually just pick a new class to play. And not just any class -- pick something very different from your usual playstyle. Now, I know some gamers can just run the gamut of every class without blinking, but I personally stick with one archetype with an occasional -- but very rare -- sally into a second. I am a healer in almost every game I play, though I do rarely slip into the role of a rogue. Recently, I decided to stretch myself even more by rolling up a tank class. Talk about different! Even the Spirit Master I run as an Asmo is slightly akin to the healer class with its casting, but standing and taking the brunt of all hits while slowly whittling down the health of a mob was a totally unique experience for me.

When the daily grind of gearing my mains gets to be too much, it's easy enough to slip off for a little alt therapy.

Aion screenshotDrunken Besh

*Disclaimer: This option is only available for people of a legal drinking age! Inclusion here is not an endorsement of said activity.*

OK, with that disclaimer out of the way, let me explain: I know of a group of players who found that they were getting bored with their almost nightly Besmundir Temple dungeon runs to help people get the gear they needed. It wasn't that anyone wanted to stop helping; it was that doing the same thing every day was starting to burn people out. At some point, someone in this group (not naming any names!) got a whim to set one night aside to be less serious in their efforts and just have fun. The group then proceeded to take on hard mode while enjoying having drinks and socializing in Ventrilo. Trust me, it was definitely a change of pace. Luckily, participating in the actual drinking part was optional (since I personally don't drink). The added bonus of being the sober one? Remembering all that was said and done during the group! The scariest part? When the Cleric admitted he thought he healed better while drunk than sober!

Strip Udas

First of all, no web cams are involved, so just get your mind back on the game! Sheesh! Following along the lines of the previous themed dungeon run, this alternative to the ordinary is something that anyone can participate in -- regardless of age or level -- and can be in any dungeon, not just Udas. The catch here is that anytime a certain level of loot is picked up (it works best set on green) that player needs to remove one piece of equipped gear. Want to make things a challenge? Fight the bosses gear-less and with secondary weapons. Try this with players close to the same level instead of with mentors. If you have to use mentors, make them remove two pieces of gear per turn!

You can also do variations like everyone must remove a piece of gear every time someone uses the term n00b, your mom, or mentions Chuck Norris in LFG chat. Get creative, set your own rules and dive in!

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Roleplay

Roleplayers already have an edge when it comes to staving off monotony and boredom in game; they really don't have to wait for content to be added because they just jump in and create their own. Whether it is through personal stories, small group exchanges, legion excursions, or even server-wide events, roleplayers are adept at making their game more interesting and vibrant. And best of all, they throw in elements of the unknown! In fact, the more people involved in the stories, the less likely any single player will know an outcome.

Willing to give roleplaying a try but feel lost and out of your element? Don't worry -- getting into roleplay can be as simple as just joining in with some that is already going on. Not many roleplayers are award-winning actors or novelists, after all; they are just people who want to experience fun in their gaming. And there is no reason for anyone to think he isn't capable. This quote from a Cleric on Israphel sums it up best: "If Mortred can roleplay, anyone can."

Aion screenshotAlternate rules

Although I have not participated in many personal rulesets outside of roleplay (such as keeping my actions/choices within my character boundaries), I have seen how it gives more purpose to those who do practice them. What are some of these rulesets? I know gamers who add challenge to their game by practicing permadeath -- if the character dies, it is gone, even deleted. Will this make you think more carefully about your actions? You bet! For those who think permadeath is too extreme, a forced recovery time-frame during which they must recuperate and cannot adventure is chosen. There are also alternatives like only adventuring during the game day and resting/sleeping at night, avoiding instant travel when possible so that you must traverse the world on foot (or wings), and choosing a specific mob type to revere -- meaning you cannot kill it no matter what. You can also refuse to adventure and just level within your own safe lands and live the life of an exile by rifting only. These are just a few examples; with a bit of creativity, there are countless other options that can be added in for temporary or permanent gameplay variety.

Variety really is the spice of life, and part of life is gaming! Sure, sometimes people just wander from game to game trying to recapture that newbie spark, but in doing so they lose out on many different features and experiences available in games. Personally, I prefer to settle in a game and stick it out. If the same-old, same-old is getting to me, then I find some way to shake things up. A little creativity can go a long way! These are but a few ideas on how to beat the doldrums, and there are certainly many others. What tricks have you used to rekindle interest in game when things seem a bit dull? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments below.

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.