Five years eh? Has it really been that long? Well yesterday technically, but I didn’t get a chance to post. Oh by the way: I haven’t gone dormant, just extremely busy.
Ignore the frequent theme changes. I’m playing again and am too lazy at the moment to use the dev site.
I better post this entry before I get busy again. Delayed is better than never! I compulsively bought Aion off of Steam a few weeks after it was released to scratch a PC game itch that had been festering all summer. It was my downtime project for a bit, the idea being to reach mid-game so that I could do a review after experiencing some of the meatier content in the Abyss. Sadly though, I only made it to the mid-teens before I set it down permanently (real life business happened).
It’s hard to discuss MMO’s fairly without soaking a significant amount of time into them. You see, they are like people: some are pretty and sweet things on the first date, but transform into an overbearing bitch a few months into the relationship. Some on teh other hand are diamonds in the rough; They just need some time. Okay okay, that was a really bad metaphor (it’s late). TL;DR: Take this post with a grain of salt, I is noob.
Aion is a visually stunning game. The zones are beautifully designed, spell animations are shiny and fluid, the textures and water look very very nice and the character models are detailed nicely. I know that everything looks good when it’s new, but I really do like the way Aion looks; it is pretty. This game by the way, despite having only two playable races, is the holy grain of character customization. No seriously: There are not only a ludicrous amount of facial modifiers and hairstyles, but there are also sliders and options for body type in height. I think I spent an hour playing with this…
If you have played WoW or any other PC based MMO, you should be able to jump into Aion without any problems, since it more-or-less follows control and mechanics standards to a letter (a good thing). The newbie tutorials are also somewhat better than what WoW has to offer (until 3.3 at least). It’s a very polished MMO, though nothing that I would really consider ‘new’. It is however, different enough from WoW to be a fun side project but not innovative enough to make me want to play it past the free trial. Initially at least. As mentioned above, I don’t know what the end game content is like because none of that is introduced until you hit level 25.
The problem is that until you hit that point, the game is a fetch and kill quest grind. Quest progression in general is very linear. From what I’ve seen, there doesn’t seem to be even the option of being able to level grind in another zone. Being linear is not necessarily bad; The zones and quests flow together smoothly into a clear progression path. And yes, it is a grind whether it is disguised as a quest or not. I was a bit disappointed by the quests themselves. Though well written, there aren’t enough of them to level to the cap (I can’t find the link, but someone actually bothered to add up the total experience from every quest in the game compared to how much experience you need). The quests themselves are unimaginative and rarely diverge from fetching, killing X of Y or running across the zone to click on something.
The questing interface is rock solid and dare I say, a bit better than WoW. Actually, the interface in general is extremely polished. I am trying to think of a gripe, but I honestly do not think that I have one. I really like the in-game database. The quest text contains hyperlinks that when clicked, will open a pop-up window containing a description and a generally location of the NPC or item.
So the big thing in the game as well, advertised on the box and everything is the ability to fly. You actually obtain this ability fairly early on in the game at level 10, but it’s restricted to only a few small areas. I know that it plays an important part in later game elements, but so far it seems pretty gimmicky given that I can only fly in like one area for 60 seconds. The flight controls were also a little cludgy and awkward, but I guess I was just expecting it to function like WoW a bit too much.
Gameplay is fun but nothing too new. In WoW, every class has a pretty standard spell rotation consisting of a series of buttons that you press in a certain order to maximize damage output over a specific period of time (well or collision prioritized FCFS for retribution paladins). In Aion every class has a pretty standard spell chain consisting of a series of buttons that you press in a certain order to maximize damage over a specific period of time. Fun? Sure. Different? A little bit. Groundbreaking? Not really.
The content distribution seems a bit uneven. No dungeons or instances until level 25, so until then it’s rote questing and grinding. That is so vanilla WoW! Aion isn’t the holy WoW killer, but It was actually fun. If you are looking for a side squeeze to try out, give this one a shot.
New computer building time. So, this is what I will likely order within the next week or so. I could probably save cash by just cannibalizing one of the media harddrive and PSU (it’s nice and fairly new) out of my current system, but I want it to remain functional for future use. Actually, there’s one thing that I will likely cannibalize out of my old machine: the sound card. Onboard sound is pretty good nowadays, but I like my X-Fi. Well okay, I like the knobs and shit on the front panel…
|CPU||Intel Core i7-860||$289.99|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156||$169.99|
|Memory||G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333||$89.99|
|Graphics||DIAMOND 5870PE51G Radeon HD 5870||$399.99|
|Storage||Primary: WD VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS 300GB 10000 RPM||$229.99|
|Data: WD Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM||$109.99|
|Optical: SAMSUNG SH-S223B||$30.99|
|PSU||CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W||$99.99|
|Cooling||CPU: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212||$29.98|
|Fans: Scythe SY1225SL12L 120mm x3||$26.97 ($8.99×3)|
I know that the i5-750 is the current supposed sweet spot in terms of performance vs price. But, for not really that much more, the i7-860 offers a good boost in performance with hyperthreading, a faster turbo boost, etc.
Still a bit torn on whether or not I really want to go SSD for my primary HDD. The speed would be nice for the OS and WoW, but I still don’t think that it justifies the extra cost. so instead, I’ll probably just go with a 300GB Western Digital VeliciRaptor for the primary drive and a 1TB Cavalier for my data.
My UI goals this time around were more-or-less the same as any of my UI incarnations. First and foremost, I wanted to keep the center of my screen clear of all clutter, windows and bars. Other than the scrolling combat text on either side of the central box, there shouldn’t be a single thing obscuring my vision of the game. Per usual, any unused elements should automatically vanish or be hide-able when not in use. I strongly dislike layouts with the giant black bar of death across the entire lower third of the screen. It is not only a huge waste of space, but looks really weird when nothing is happening on screen.
4 sets of 12 buttons (48) is what I deemed minimally necessary to remain functional. I love my buttons and can’t really reduce it any further (previous UI versions had 6 sets). 3 of the bars are keybound to my n52te, the 4th being mostly used for random macros and stuff like that. There are two sets of 6 AutoBar buttons on either side of the Dominos bars. I didn’t like the little circular buttons in my previous setup so I moved them to the sides, making use of the wider screen.
- Left set: Blessings, Auras, BoP, Raid Wall Macro, DI, LoH.
- Right Set: Health Potions, Mana Potions, Healthstones, Crafting, Food Buffs, Water/Mage Food.
I’ve just conceded to the fact that my UI is probably never going to ever be clean and pretty looking mid-encounter no matter how hard I try. So this layout is as minimalistic as I could get it without sacrificing my precious windows and what have you. Actually, all I really did was shuffle a few mods around. It’s a necessary evil I guess, given that I am the raid leader and frequently a tank (I swear that some classes and roles have like, a total of 3 buttons on their screen and little else). Other than the focus frame and any pop-up range warning window from DBM, I think that this is probably the maximum level of crap that I would ever need to have on my screen at any given time.
I went back to the old school thick raid frames versus the skinny perfectraid style bars. Instead of being placed on the left edge of the screen, I have them shoved into the spot to the right of Dominos where Recount and Omen used to be. I am quite happy with this change; the 5 raid groups dock nicely into that spot, leaving the middle almost completely clear. I also moved the party and party target frames to this location.
Omen was moved front and center while recount was shoved in the corner. I wanted to do two things with this interface: one, make use of the gap between the player and target unitframes and two, drag Omen out of the corner into a more prominent position. So this takes care of both. And as far as recount goes, it’s happy over in the upper left corner. There’s really no reason, other than meterwhoring, why I need to or should have to stare at it during an active encounter. I’ve caught myself being a naughty retadin and Recount rubbernecking when I should have been looking for giant flaming balls of poo at my feet or something.
I went with Dominos (successor to Bongos) instead of Bartender 4 to move all of the interface elements around. It’s a lot easier to keybind and configure, though feature wise I’m not sure if I see much of a difference. But then again, my bar interface needs aren’t really all that exotic. Fubar was replaced with ChocolateBar since it is no longer being updated. I also extended it to cover the entire length of the screen instead of being limited to the small box in my previous UI incarnation. eePanels2 was replaced with kgPanels for the same reason.
Oh: I finally jumped on the Deadly Boss Mods train. There was a point when BigWigs was nicer because of the now defunct WoW Ace Updater compatibility as well as several other things that I don’t remember. I think Big Wigs is still updated more often, but I find the DBM indicators and bars more useful. It’s also seems to be more up to date and complete for newer encounters. It has built in shield monitors for the twins as well as timers for Ony and several other things that were missing from Big Wigs.
I am not completely happy with how the combat text is layed out. All of the special warnings for all mods dump right into the center, turning it into a clusterfuck whenever something important happens. Visibility isn’t necessarily a bad thing I guess. Being in the center makes them easier to see so that I can react faster, but I could do without the redundancy.
I am also not satisfied with the buff/debuff appearance. I like having the square icons with the timers below them in the upper right hand corner (Elkano style mods bug me), but they are too large and need to extend further leftwards towards the center of the screen. I also need to filter the buffs; Anything that appears on ClassTimer doesn’t need to be up top. Blizzard is changing the default buff interface in 3.3 though so, I’ll see how that goes before searching for yet another addon.
- PitBull Unit Frames 4.0: PitBull 4 is quite a bit nicer than 3. It’s not too different in terms of features available, but the setup is much much nicer. Basically, it allows you to create layout templates to apply to different unit frames, versus having to individually chance the player frame then the target frame then the raid frames, etc.Dominos + ButtonFacade: Out of all the bar mods that I have tried, Dominos was the easiest to setup and keybind. Though really, either Dominos or Bartender will suffice. ButtonFacade skins your buttons (works with autobar and dominos).
- Autobar: Automatically sorts specific buttons. Eliminates the tedium of repeatedly dragging healthstones and mage water to your action bars. Also works for class stances, blessings, auras and stuff like that.
- Omen Threat Meter: I’m winning at threat!
- ClassTimer: I use this to track short term buffs, certain abilities and stuff like that.
- Deadly Boss Mods: Boss mod of my choice. Nicer in my opinion than BigWigs.
- oRA2: It’s like CTRA, but not ass (and has no raid frames). Facilitates tank frames, item checks, zone checks and stuff like that.
- Recount: Performance meter. If you go to the deaths screen and click on a name, it will tell you what happened to them. Fairly useful in evaluating performance and diagnosing problems (and epeen stroking. Stroke stroke stroke).
- PallyPower: The de facto mod for tracking paladin buffs. Makes blessing assignments a hundred times easier. ARGH, Jesus if you are a paladin just install it so that I don’t have to get up in your junk about what buffs you will do.
- SexyMap: Makes the map really swank. But more importantly, it will hide minimap icons. I hate having an excess of minimap icons.
Visible addons that aren’t numbered in the raid screenshot.
- kgPanels: The black panel behind Dominos.
- Prat 3.0: Chat box mod. Class hilighting, logging, timestamping, etc.Chocolate Bar and Friends: It’s a Fubar/Titan replacement. FuBar2Broker will allow you to use your old Fubar plugins with this mod.
- ChocolateBar Broker Display
- Broker_CPU Memory
- MikScrollingBattleText: Scrolling combat text. It’s a bit lighter in weight than the other scrolling text mods. There was a very specific reason why I chose MSBT over Parrot, but I don’t recall what that reason was…
- TipTac: Displays a crapton of stuff on the tooltips
- Nameplates modifier: I like seeing percentage values on my nameplate health bars.
- OmniCC: Adds cooldown text to all of your buttons.