Hi people, starting from today, I will be randomly posting my interviews with various game publishers regarding their new and upcoming MMORPGs. All the interviews will also be posted first at OnRPG’s website. To kick-start this series of regular interviews off, here’s an interview with publisher, Gpotato, on their upcoming PVP-heavy MMORPG, AIKA Online. Please feel free to leave any comments.
Official AIKA website – http://aika.gpotato.com/
Aika Online is the latest Free-To-Play MMORPG set to be published by Gpotato, which already has successful titles like the popular Fly For Fun (Flyff) and Luna Online. The game will enter Closed Beta 2 starting from the 24th of February until the 2nd of March 2010. The game tells the story of a world torn by war, where nations battle it out for domination while defending themselves from an emerging ancient evil. Players, aided by their Prans, will be tossed into all these conflicts and experience one of the most PvP-centric Free to Play MMORPG ever – Aika!
OnRPG: Hello, before getting to the main topic, can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Sure! I’m Christina, Community Manager at Gala-Net working on marketing, production, and community issues for Aika Online. I’ve been working on Aika since last year, and I’ve been involved in almost every step of bringing Aika to the Western audience. It was very exciting having so many players join us for CB1, and I’m very much looking forward to an even better CB2!
OnRPG: Why did Gpotato decided to stick with the original name, Aika?
We never really considered changing the name. Aika is already a huge game in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and even though those are separate audiences from our version of Aika, it wouldn’t have been a good idea to confuse the people who have been waiting in anticipation for this game to come to the West. The name Aika also very much reflects the lore of the game, so it was a natural choice.
Aika’s tutorial is brief and geared mostly towards familiarizing players with the most important aspects of the game’s interface before sending them off into the world of Arcan to do battle. New players should find that the gameplay is fairly intuitive, and the early quests and equipment are designed to allow the player to build a level of comfort with the combat system in preparation for the intense player-versus-player conflicts they will encounter later on. With the flexibility to learn skills/attacks in endless combinations, as well as the enchanting, reinforcement, and stat transfer features of the crafting system, veteran gamers will appreciate the way Aika’s depth of customizability allows them to build exactly the character they want. All of these aspects of Aika are very accessible and easy-to-learn, so players can focus on playing the game instead of running through tutorials.
OnRPG: Will any details be altered from the original Korean version, or even features unique to the English version?
We have attempted to reproduce the original version of the game as faithfully as possible, though players familiar with other versions will find some minor differences. The English version of Aika has new national identities, for example, and game text that is adapted for the English speaking audience. Additionally, our GM team will be developing all new events for our players to participate in, such as the wildly successful Domination tournament that ran at the end of the first closed beta test.
OnRPG: Let’s talk about the game’s features. The one feature which intrigues me is the Pran system. What actually sets this feature aside from the regular pet system players can find in almost any other MMOs?
The most distinctive feature of the Pran system is its level of interaction. You are given the duty to raise your Pran from when she is in her initial fairy form. As she matures, she develops a distinctive personality based on the way you treat her. The personality she grows into can be based on very simple decisions – for example, whether or not you feed her regularly – or even very silly decisions – for example, suggesting that she wears her hair tied up. We call her a “fairy familiar” instead of a pet, because she levels up and grows with the player instead of being a static NPC. Her magical powers are not always at the player’s beck and call, since she won’t buff him in battle if their interactions haven’t built a strong partnership.
Aika has five nations with distinctive personalities: Alethius, Lenaria, Vanov, Ostyrion, and Feonir. By personalities, I mean that we’ve described the citizens of these nations to have certain character traits: friendliness, a taste for treachery, nobility, tenacity, ruthlessness, etc. We hope that players can find the nation that would suit them the best so that they can have fun warring in Aika with like-minded people. These nations battle for special item known as relics, which give permanent buffs to every single member of the nation. These buffs are active for as long as the relics are secured at a Temple. Players have strong nationalism for their respective homelands and take pride in representing their nations. Teamwork is crucial; the nations are in constant combat over the relics and they switch hands often.
OnRPG: The Korean and Taiwan version of AIKA both boasts the game’s capability to host a 1000 VS 1000 players Nation War. How will having 2000 players on the same map at the same time affect those with a less powerful gaming rig or a slower Internet connection?
The game has been optimized in many areas to make the game run as smoothly as possible, which sometimes means having fewer customization options than in other games. This tradeoff was part of the planning behind the developer JoyImpact’s custom-built game engine in order to cut down on the amount of data the client needs to keep in memory. This feature keeps the game client size down and enables the game to support 1000 vs. 1000 PvP on machines and connections that might not be cutting edge without significant decline in performance.
OnRPG: Being a PvP-centric MMO, how will AIKA appeal to players who prefer PvE (Player Vs Environment)?
Players who prefer PvE gameplay can still find a great deal to enjoy in Aika. The Aika storyline presents a tale of epic proportions, guiding the player on a journey through the land of Lakia through over 1,000 interactive quests. The tale of the valiant Aitan and the battle against the evil Zereca is chock-full of suspense and excitement. Additionally, the Pran brings lighter entertainment to the table – she often serves as a comic relief that does not fail to amuse! In addition, the beautiful graphics and many zones of the game provide an immersive experience, and the advanced dungeon and raiding content offer plenty to engage players who aren’t as excited by PvP.
OnRPG: This is one question which affect most players of Free To Play games. To what extent will the Cash Shop (when released in Spring 2010) affect the gameplay of Aika?
Aika’s Item Shop will be an incredibly useful supplement to everything that is already available in the game. A large portion of the items will functionally relate to easier customization of your character. Everything that you need to optimize your character is already available in Aika, but our Item Shop will allow players to eliminate some of the randomness involved in creating the perfect PvP build. As we have said, Aika is a remarkably grind-light game, but since we expect many new players to want to catch up with their friends and jump right into the awesome PvP action, we are offering some experience-boosting items too. Aika’s Item Shop will also offer additional aesthetic customization options for those players who really want to stand out from the crowd. Ultimately, the Item Shop will provide convenience to our players. As far as whether or not the Item Shop will significantly affect the gameplay, the answer is, “Definitely not.” We don’t believe in offering purchasable items which give players who buy them enormous in-game advantages over those who choose not to use the Item Shop.
OnRPG: From a previous MMO which I played, the community manager said they will only release higher level content when a certain percentage of the players hit the top tier level range. How will the content updates for AIKA be delivered by Gpotato?
We will be watching the community very closely and add content appropriately based on the distribution of player levels. gPotato has a steady stream of new content planned to keep players excited and engaged in the world of Aika. We do, however, hope that our players share our excitement for the vastness of the user-generated content that the game has to offer. The community-centric Aika has so much to do from the start in the form of politics, alliances, and the ongoing Relic War that even after players hit the max level and are decked out in the best gear, Aika’s unique PvP system will reward players on relationship-building, organization, and strategy, making Aika’s user-generated content virtually endless.
OnRPG: What are some events players can look forward to as Aika heads towards its official release?
Players should definitely hop into CB2 to experience Castle Siege, a special PvP mode where guilds within each of the five nations will battle against each other for the right to act as that nation’s military government. It’s an event which will occur weekly at a certain scheduled time once the game is released, so essentially it’s a reoccurring national revolution, which is a really cool idea. The guildmaster of the ruling regime of each nation earns the title of Lord Marshal and has control over military spending, taxation, allocation of resources, and more, making this a game where players can aspire to wield power and affect other players’ in-game experiences more than I’ve seen in any MMORPG. We’ll have news about all of our great events on aika.gpotato.com, so people who are wondering about the game should definitely come and check out our news page and forums!
OnRPG: That’s all I have for you, and I am sure the readers now have a clearer view of what to expect. Thank you for your time!