November 30, 2009

Create Custom Map Markers via Texteditor

After writing about how to copy the rift locations into your ingame memopad back then, i started to wonder how the map ID code for other custom map links would be. Since this way you could communicate ingame map markers with friends and legion mates by email or forum. Recently i took the time to figure out how to do this and wanted to share it with you...

The code for a map marker looks like this:
[pos:text/linkname;zone/mapID x-coords y-coords z-coords mapsubzone]

[pos:alchemist;120010000 1187 1521 0 -1]
(This would be the alchemist in the crafting district in Pandaemonium)

Explanation how to build the code:
The start always has to be [pos: followed by the text/linkname; (the semicolon is important) you choose the ingame link will have and it ends with a ]. The linkname can be longer, but the marker on the map will only display up to 10 characters on a mouse-over.

Zone & Map IDs
Next is the ID number for the zone/map. Those are the corresponding numbers:

120010000 = Pandaemonium
220010000 = Ishalgen
220030000 = Altgard
220020000 = Morheim
220040000 = Beluslan
220050000 = Brusthonin

110010000 = Sanctum
210010000 = Poeta
210030000 = Verteron
210020000 = Eltnen
210040000 = Heiron
210060000 = Theobomos

400010000 = Abyss / Reshanta (see explanation about mapsubzones below)

X/Y/Z coordinates
Next follows the coords for the correct placement on the map. Keep in mind that the zones have different sizes, so the coordinates will be different for different maps. To get the right location you can use the ingame command /loc which will print your current coordinates into your chatwindow. Since maps only have two dimensions, the z-axis will alyways be 0 (zero) for your custom links. If you use /loc you will see that often the coords will be printed as eg. 1522.36 - you can use the exact location with the dot for the link if you wish, but the custom marks are not *that* exact. So usually you'll be fine just using the first couple of digits.

This one took me a while to figure it out. The mapsubzone will always be -1 or 0 (both works) for your links for the normal zones. BUT the Abyss is different. Here the mapsubzone corresponds to the abyss layer you want to mark:

1 = Lower Abyss
2 = Core
3 = Upper Abyss

Example for an upper Abyss link would be:
[pos:Vindachinerk;400010000 2691 593 0 3]

How to use this properly?
For one you can exchange ingame links with friends in your forum, etc. which makes creating some guides much easier. In addition you could use as their map markers also display coords if you mouse-over them. Therefore you could look up NPCs and create the markers in your texteditor to place them into your memopad for later reference.

Use the comments if you have any questions...

November 26, 2009

Shortcut to Draupnir Cave

Since i explored again in areas i should not run around in with my level *grin* I figured i post something useful from todays travels. The Draupnir Cave (instance for lvl ~43-50) entrance is in the middle of an elite area. If you want to go there fighting your way through can be quite annoying. To speed things up you can use a small shortcut. Since i traveled there today anyway i took a few screenshots to make it easier for those that have not been there.

You'll want to move to position 1 first. Run up the slope as shown on the left picture. From up there you'll glide over to the other side as seen on the right picture.

Over on the other side you need to climb the mountain as shown in the left picture. This part is pretty easy to find your way up. On top of the mountain you will glide over towards the area of the Beluslan Observatory as shown on the right picture.

At the Beluslan Observatory you'll want to jump off at position 2, the broken bridge part shown on the picture to the right, and aim to glide to the area at position 3. Now you are very close to the bridge leading towards the cave area. This shortcut should save you and your group members some time.

While many know this shortcut, there is another way you can use as well: North of the Fang Troll Encampment is a Balaur Teleport Stone Statue, position is marked on the initial map. Using this statue will teleport you up the mountain above the statue location. From there you can climb the mountain to the left and glide towards position 3 as well. You'll not make it in one glide but can land close to the mountain and sneak through the elites from there without hassle. I did not time each way, so no idea which one is faster. It will probably depend from where you are traveling. Tho if you come from Red Mane, the statue might be slightly faster IMO.

Tip of the Day: You can also use the first shortcut to reach the Beluslan Observatory. Since you can solo the campaign quest Restoring Beluslan Observatory, that's easy 3.5 million XP at level 39.

November 25, 2009

NCsoft and the Dilemma with Support, Bots & Goldsellers

I wanted to write this post since quite a while now. After the cool "future Aion" trailer i figured we should not forget the current issues. Initially i waited some weeks to write this post since i asked Ayase weeks ago a few questions towards the topic, but never got an answer back. So much for Community Management, but maybe blogs are not considered "serious business" by NCsoft. Another reason i waited was that i thought "this is so annoying and people complain about it all over the net, they will have to fix it fast". Did they yet? No. Players started to get tired about complaining since nothing happened. I fail to understand how NCsoft can neglect some issues so culpable. Overall i still enjoy my time in Aion despite it gets tedious some times. But there are a few things that bug me, as a customer paying for a MMO, big time and i know others feel the same...

The NCsoft Support
Aion's monthly fee is in line with all the other pay-to-play MMOs out there. BUT the Aion Game Master support "ingame" is only available during normal office hours and not 24/7. WTF? We pay the same amount of money to a company that does not offer the same level of support then all the other MMOs out there? This fact really does twist my head. If you got a serious character bug or some other issue you have to wait forever until you get a response. I also remember reading in some forum that the German CM mentioned it might be better to use the NCsoft website support formular since they can deal with all issues and the system ingame can't. In addition those support systems are not linked - at least weren't when i read about it. So basicly NCsoft is earning more money with Aion then other MMOs due to them not paying as much for support as other companies do? This point really feels like a customer rip-off to me.

Service Announcements
The server maintenance times are not communicated very well by NCsoft, sometimes you don't know about them until the yellow info text appears ingame. I know, there can be the need for emergency downtime, but if the game runs stable those occasions should only be few. No one can tell me NCsoft decides a few hours before maintenance "Hey, let's take the servers down today!". How about two days notice in advance? Also better info ingame would be nice. At the moment you get a blurry info warning that tells you "shortly", which can be anywhere between 2-30min. and then a 60 seconds cooldown. In addition, why don't we have the patch notes up to read already while the servers are being offline? Oh wait, at least the official EU website has some database flaw and we can't even read the official news while the servers are down. We have to check the US website to be able to access them. Service announcements and upcoming downtimes need to be communicated far better by NCsoft. And why are there so many downtimes we get zero info about what was fixed? The patch notes we get from NCsoft are never complete as well. Did you for example know that you can meanwhile re-arrange/sort the skill-chains?

In addition while not directly related, patch 1.5 did not reduce the grind like it was announced. Only few quests had their reward upgraded and still around level 35+ most quests are just not worth your time and you are better of just grinding mobs instead.

Gold Sellers & Bots
Due to the lack of GM presence on the servers and the short ingame support hours plus the very cumbersome report interface (did you know you can't even use the autoreport feature on a goldseller with a private store in the capitol?) the gold sellers spam the chat channels all day long. In addition you have goldsellers with private stores advertising their website for days. Not hours... days! I mean c'mon... police the servers and add some fast/easy ways for players to click & report the goldseller, then you just need personnel going through the reports and check logs. I have never played any MMO where the advertising could go on for such a long time without support interference. The quick-block feature was a right step, but did not change the amount of spam. NCsoft could have just used it to flag accounts for manual review: If a player gets blocked my many people in a short timeframe, something should be wrong. The last maintenance disabled the block feature again btw. WTF? Let's hope todays maintenance will enable it again. Edit: It might be that the block list is just full and you just get zero notice about it, have to test that later. In addition: If you block someone on one of your characters, you CAN NOT block him on another. you get the message that character is already blocked, but you still get spammed by that person. Major flaw in the interface, needs fixing. The ongoing goldseller spam gives people the impression NCsoft doesn't care at all what's going on, which also results in more people behaving like jerks then as if people think there is some form of server-police. Meanwhile players even use auto-fill-form browser addons to send in website tickets, as the ingame reports do nothing. Patching the game so players below level 10 don't have access to certain ingame features does nothing but annoy/alienate low level players and had no effect on goldsellers whatsoever IMO.

Bots... they are everywhere. There are several areas continously flooded with them. At a first glance you think the /AutoReportHunting command offers a nice way to report them. The next day the same bots are still there and keep on grinding - if you are unlucky taking all your quest mobs. Since you can only report 10 players per day, i use that amount up if i only enter one area where bots are... yes, that many hang around. It's very discouraging to see them day after day, despite multiple reports. I know many players just gave up reporting them, since it seems to have no effect. The problem might be within the /AutoReportHunting system itself. I always had the impression this would report the player to a GM, who would investigate the case. Tho reading this post it seems to be just an automated system that will in the end result in the character not getting any loot/XP. Apperently this feature will fade away over time, which might explain some bots disappearing for a while and then surfacing again. If it truely works like that, it does not suprise me there are still so many bots around.

Another problem with all the kinah the gold sellers own meanwhile: On some servers they simply own the market. During the two months they could roam free they massed large amounts of kinah and use it to disturb the market. In the meantime the gold prices went as low as approx. 3$ for one million kinah, while it has been around 60$ in the beginning. This gives us at least a small indicator what an insane amount of kinah the goldseller amassed meanwhile.

Today i heard that supposedly NCsoft hired more support people in the US and they started to ban goldsellers during a few hours and not days. Let's hope this trend will also come to the EU. Tho two months after release it still leaves a really bad aftertaste and we'll have to see when/if they can fix this problem properly.

NCsoft announced they recently banned 16.000 accounts due to them violating the terms of service. This might be a first step, but i still see goldsellers and bots around... so they only catched some. In addition there are many players that claim they were banned innocent and blame NCsoft "automated banning filter" for that, while NCsoft claims they investigate multiple incidents before a ban.

Paying for a non-existent support is a major dealbreaker for me and i know I'll have less patience with Aion - should i get bored - then i had with other MMOs, if NCsoft won't fix the support issues in a proper timeframe.

Tip of the Day: If you have trouble reaching aionsource with Firefox since monday, like i did, clean your browser cache and all should work fine again.

November 24, 2009

New Aion Vision Trailer

NCsoft posted a trailer with things in their pipeline. From the looks its just a concept trailer, but the stuff looks really nice. If they only manage to implement half of it, people will be happy. That is, if NCsoft can finally battle the bots, gold sellers and implement a real customer support ingame. The trailer shows a lot of things and besides those hints that Aion will be upgraded to a new version of the CryEngine (at least version 2, possibly version 3) in the future. The graphics look really stunning.

Aside from the new engine, from what i saw the trailer shows:
- swimming & diving (underwater areas)
- new really large creatures to fight (including a big ass dragon)
- seasons in all areas including capitols
- player housing (including custom furniture) next to capitols
- some kind of black-board system
- new travel system via boat (water & air), probably addition to flight master
- player mounts with option to carry another player with you as well
- feature to knockdown/tame wild animals and ride those
- new weapons/spells
- crossbows
- a Templar transforming his shield into a grappling-hook-hand
- Spiritmaster fighting on the back of a raptor
- the summoning of a huuuge mountain like giant
- a large battle between Elyos & Asmodians inside the asmo player housing area

Truely some cool stuff. Anything else you spotted, that i did miss?

Edit: You can download a HD version (448MB) of the trailer in .flv from NC korea here.

November 06, 2009

What's in the Pipeline...

Just a quick post to let you guys know what to expect in upcoming posts... Thinking of posting about some questlines you can do for good gear upgrades (blues). Also toying around with some ideas to write about Steel Rake or Dark Poeta instances, maybe posting maps for those. I also still have to upgrade my Abyss post with the most recent data. In addition i want to write more about gameplay as a Templar. One of the next longer posts will be a looong complain about NCsoft customer service and how we pay for nearly non-existent game support, also touching the gold spammer & bot topic there. Just have to write the last paragraph and look over it again. So stay tuned... new stuff coming up around the corner.

On a sidenote i switched the tooltip syndication to since their tooltips and UI in general are much better then from aionarmory. Only thing thats missing are the helpful comments like at the armory, else it feels more accurate and up to date as well. No idea what's going on at aionarmory, but feels like they did not work on it for ages.

Question of the Day: Does anyone know 100% for sure how the Expand Cube Ticket will affect the max. number of usable cube rows? I know the quests you can do to expand the cube have no effect on the number of rows you can buy, but what about the ticket? Is it the same?

November 04, 2009

Got me a new shield... with a Bullhead

Readers of my blog will be happy to hear: I'll have a bit more time on my hands in the upcoming weeks, so expect more frequent posts again. My game notes for upcoming blog posts became quite many, so i really have to write more. ;) I recently got myself a new shield crafted by a legion mate of mine and *happyface* it critted on the first craft into an Expert Noble Adamantium Shield. Pretty sweet! The shield model itself is a bit different then the other bullhead looking shields: When you wear it on the back it folds together a bit and when you take it out, the shield extends with a little animation. Overall I'm not impressed with the amount of different item models used in Aion. Basicly every level range uses the same models, even less variety for headgear. The one thing NCsoft did pretty well is the difference for very rare items, which really do stick out, be it through different model or even with animated textures on some of the golden ones. I also like the amount of fluff items you can get, some weird headgear like Zifbaum's Cooking Hat or the fun weapons like Liuron's Aquarium Fish. Nontheless it feels like there should be some more different models when it comes to armor and especially helmets. I really dig the remodel item feature tho, where you can donate an item model to give the looks to another one. This will at least enable you to prevent looking like a clown, which i always hated in some MMOs.

Tip of the Day: Did you realize while flying the left-button mouselook features does not work properly? It seems like the mouselook changes while flying for some weird feature that is eluding me. There is a possibility to look around properly while flying tho: Hold the middle-mousebutton pressed to freely look around while flying into some other direction. I started to just use the middle-mousebutton to look around to get used to it. Once you realized its possible, its a lot less annoying to fly and look around for enemies or certain mobs. When you click the middle button once, your view turns around 180 degrees (if you have this feature switched on), which can be useful to look behind you if you are being chased.