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Recently MMORPG.com's Garrett Fuller had the chance to sit down with Aion associate producer Sean Neil and community manager Andrew Beegle. They spent time talking about Assault on Balaurea, the first Aion expansion that was released yesterday with topics ranging from the new pet system, flight and challenges thrown at players in Balaurea. Check it out!
Interviews By Garrett Fuller on September 08, 2010MMORPG.com: The pet system is changing drastically with Assault on Balaurea, what was the biggest challenge in enhancing the system as developers?
Sean: The biggest challenge every design team has is creating something familiar to players, but with a unique spin on it. Pets usually serve one of two purposes in most games: combat or vanity. Combat pets are an extension of the characters ability to fight and a weapon in their own right. Vanity pets serve no purpose other than making their owners look special. We needed to find functional uses that the players would actually need, without breaking the immersion of the game. They needed to look very different, and provide “services” to players that would make exploring more fun than normal. I think we took the time and did it right and the crowds around the Pet Minder in game seem to agree.
MMORPG.com: What part of the new pet system are you most excited about as a player of Aion, not just a developer?
Sean: In essence, I just love the idea of usable non-combat pets. But in particular, I’m really looking forward to using the “Signal” Pets, which will alert you when an enemy player is lurking about. There’s few things more defeating than getting ganked while you’re trying to level your Essencetapping skills on some plants. It’s also awesome that we get to switch out pets on the fly, so there’s no having to go through some long process of weighing out which pet is best for a particular situation. Just summon the guy you think you need, and change them out as necessary!
MMORPG.com: Having flying in an MMO is always a challenge, yet Aion has tackled it perfectly. When you decided to add in new mechanics where did you start?
Sean: Flight needs three components to work in a game. It needs to be a form of travel and movement around the game, allowing access to areas you can’t do on an X/Y plane (and making areas like the Abyss possible). It also has to be tactically relevant to the gameplay and combat, allowing for advantages and disadvantages for those willing to use it. But there’s one more intangible element that is essential. Simply put, it needs to be awe-inspiring. When you hop into a Windstream in game, we want you sit back and enjoy the ride. If you need to get up a cliff that would take precious time to run around and find a path to climb, we want you to feel like the master of the terrain by using the geysers to launch you closer to your target. To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, “You’ll believe a man can fly.”
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