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The running back and forth to talk to NPCs game

QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,370
While this game launched more than five years ago, I had originally ignored it for two reasons.  First, Aeria has quite a nasty reputation for pay to win.  Second, it harshly limits your character slots in a game with a lot of classes.  Today, I gave the game a chance.

Aura Kingdom recently launched its sixteenth character class.  For comparison, you get three character slots for free on an account, with the option to buy up to five more.  That adds up to a lot fewer than sixteen, even if you're buying slots, and that sort of developer sloppiness is usually a sign that the game will be broken in a lot of other ways.  And in the case of this particular game, the character slot restriction makes some degree of sense, as it basically doesn't matter which class you pick, for reasons that I'll come back to later.

The UI is broken in all sorts of ways that would be unacceptable for the start of an alpha test.  This first reared its head in character creation.  When creating a character, you pick which eidolon (basically, combat pet) your character will get at level 10, and it has a box with some text about the eidolon.  The game also has a box that you can click to launch a browser and take you to the game's discord.  And it put the latter box partially on top of the former and made it so that neither box can be moved.  Thus, you get to choose an eidolon based on a description that you can't read very much of.  Meanwhile, most of the screen is unused space at that stage.  That is just the first of many places where text is cut off in the UI.

The most egregious problem with the UI is that it's too small.  Now, I play games at a high resolution, so a lot of games have a UI that looks too small.  Like some other games, Aura Kingdom has a UI scaling feature.  Unfortunately, it's more like Guild Wars 2's UI scaling feature than the games where it actually works right, as the options basically scale from way too small to something considerably smaller than way too small.  The UI seems to be designed for something around 1366x768, and at max size, would probably still feel too small even at 1920x1080.

But being too small is hardly the only problem with the UI.  You know how a lot of games have a chat box, commonly in the lower left corner?  One person says something, another person says something, a system message about having acquired items shows up, and so forth.  Most games put all those messages on separate lines, and space them consistently so that one is above the next by some fixed margin.  Aura Kingdom doesn't do that, but spaces them irregularly, and often puts multiple messages on top of each other.  The tiny text is still generally readable, but the best comparison that comes to mind is a captcha.

Even the parts of the UI that aren't obviously broken still tend to be badly designed.  You try to use some mechanic and it looks like nothing happens.  You try several more times, and finally realize that it's making some tiny window do something off in the corner of the screen and it's barely noticeable before it vanishes.  That's partly a problem of everything being too small, but even at a better scale, it would still be a mess.

So what about gameplay itself?  I really didn't get very far before concluding that it was awful.  But I read up on games quite a bit before playing them, and try to play for long enough to give the game a fair chance.  So even after concluding that it was awful, I stayed with it for quite a bit to see if it would get better.  It didn't.  I did make it to level 15, and completed 51 quests before quitting.

Like a lot of other MMORPGs, Aura Kingdom is heavily quest-based leveling.  Unlike a lot of other such MMORPGs, where that quest-based leveling is a whole lot of kill ten rats quests or whatever, in Aura Kingdom, it's mostly auto-pathing to go talk to NPCs.  Even a prototypical kill 10 rats quest is auto-path to the area where the rats are, then kill the mobs very quickly, then auto-path back to an NPC to turn it in.  Most of the time spent on the quest is either talking to the NPC or waiting for your character to run to or from the area where you fight the mobs.  And a lot of quests don't involve combat at all, but just talking to NPCs.

Now, this is hardly the only game with auto-pathing, where you click a link on your quest log to run to the area for the quest.  Unlike a lot of other games, you just about have to use it here.  In many quests, the quest text won't tell you where to go, nor will the mini-map have a label.  You could, in principle, run around the zone at random until you stumbled across the right mobs or the right NPC, but that's the alternative to using the auto-pathing mechanic.  The game doesn't even have an autorun hotkey (i.e., run forward until you say to stop) because the developers assumed that you'd use auto-pathing to run to the proper area automatically.  Auto-pathing isn't just for quests, but you can also use it to run to arbitrary NPCs or mob spawn areas.

The combat itself is completely stupid.  Mobs die in about 2 or 3 hits.  They do damage, and if you have no healing, they'll kill you in about a hundred hits or so if they're the same level as you.  Oh, and you do have healing, so you could last much longer than that.  When combat is that trivial, it scarcely matters if you're melee or ranged, or which type of damage you're doing, or what particular skills you have on your bar.  That's why I said above that your class doesn't actually matter.

That sort of trivial combat is fine for the very first mob you fight, as you don't want someone brand new to the game to die while trying to figure out the UI.  Maybe you can even justify having a few quests as part of a tutorial where it's that trivial.  But if it's still that trivial several dozen quests into the game, something is seriously wrong with the game.

If this game is representative, then Aeria's reputation for pay to win is thoroughly deserved.  Maybe "pay to win" isn't quite right, as you'll win without regard to whether you pay until you're far into the game.  It's likely that that changes at some point, and it turns into pay to advance.  But it's certainly pay for advantage.

Eidolons are perhaps the headline feature of the game.  You get your choice of four at character creation, even if you don't actually get the eidolon you chose until level 10.  And then there are several that you can buy in the item mall for $5 each.  And if you page through it further, there are more for $20 each.  And then more for $50.  And it keeps going up until it tops out at $250.  Oh, and that's the price per key, but if you want to max out the eidolon, you'll need four keys.  Apparently eidolon keys do drop from some raids, but I'm skeptical that the drop rate is high enough to make the item mall superfluous.

On a recent news story about Astellia, someone replied asking why play that game over Aura Kingdom.  Whatever your game preferences are, the two games aren't at all similar to each other.  In another era, Astellia would have been called a "WoW clone", but that epithet really doesn't fit Aura Kingdom.  Aura Kingdom doesn't quite play itself for you, but it comes a lot closer to it than I'd expect from an MMORPG, and not that far shy of what you'd expect from a visual novel.  Ultimately, the game feels like a broken PC port of a bad mobile game.  That's not a good thing.

Comments

  • AlbatroesAlbatroes Member LegendaryPosts: 7,343
    edited November 2019
    I'm honestly not quite sure what you were expecting given that Aeria is owned by Gamigo.

    That said, since you like to go full circle with Astellia, that's perfectly fine. Even Riders of Icarus  had/has a niche audience and did stick around for a couple of years until it shut down and rebooted. Hell even bless almost made a year before it shut down on pc.

    The point is, just because its around, doesn't mean its "good" by the standards of others. There's also nothing wrong if you like it. The problems with no name companies like this popping up with their f2p Asian stuff that is lost in the eastern market and try to capitalize on a thirsty western market. Even though Bless failed, it just proved that there's still a thirst market over here. This is also why Gamigo tried to push out AA:U as fast as they could even though its still a complete mess as it was over years now.

    Before investing in something, just take the time to research and ask yourself with all the info you have if its worth it. It was f2p in the east, is it really worth b2p in the west? Just because you have the money to spend doesn't always justify it since there are those that want to collect as much of it as they can. Pretty much why we have the quality of gaming we have now. "Its only this price, so its whatever."
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,370
    The business model isn't my primary problem with the game.  The game itself was bad enough for me to not care what was in the item mall, as I wouldn't keep playing it even if they gave away absolutely everything for free.

    Besides, a good enough game that is flagrantly pay to win could still be worth playing even if it is still fun to play without spending too much money on it.  Netmarble actively tried to make Uncharted Waters Online flagrantly pay to win (and mostly failed at it), but it was still a great game anyway.

    Astellia and Riders of Icarus are both decent games.  Neither has game-breaking problems that you run into almost immediately the way that Aura Kingdom does.  To me, the biggest problem with Riders of Icarus is that far too much of the challenging content came down to how well you could kite, which broke class balance and meant not enough variety in combat tactics.  With Astellia, the biggest problem is that it's currently unfinished, in the sense that if you take a good novel and remove the last quarter of the book, the new "ending" won't make any sense, even if each particular chapter that remains is fine in itself.  Those are both relatively subtle problems, while the issues with Aura Kingdom that I describe above are not.
  • HarikenHariken Member EpicPosts: 2,524
    The OP review of the game is just so he can praise Astellia. Astellia is a rip off of Aura Kingdom. And his complaints were really weak. The combat is better than most Anima MMO's and is why those that play it like it. The UI can be adjusted if you want to spend the time to figure it out. And the same goes for the chat windows. You can get rid of the system window if you want to. The mobs in the world can be a pushover but that is not how they are in dungeons. You will die if you just stand there in the red circles. And no matter how much healing you do will help you. 

    I find it funny how people like the OP will complain about Aeria Games but give a pass to other game companies that do the same thing. They are all in it to make money. I have characters in the Aura kingdom in the high levels and I have not had to spend a dime to get there. They give you a ton of loyalty points for just playing the game or logging in. Most everything in the cash shop can be found in the loyalty shop. If the OP like Astellia that's fine. To me, this was like a hit piece On the game it stole from. 
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,370
    Hariken said:
    The OP review of the game is just so he can praise Astellia. Astellia is a rip off of Aura Kingdom. And his complaints were really weak. The combat is better than most Anima MMO's and is why those that play it like it. The UI can be adjusted if you want to spend the time to figure it out. And the same goes for the chat windows. You can get rid of the system window if you want to. The mobs in the world can be a pushover but that is not how they are in dungeons. You will die if you just stand there in the red circles. And no matter how much healing you do will help you. 

    I find it funny how people like the OP will complain about Aeria Games but give a pass to other game companies that do the same thing. They are all in it to make money. I have characters in the Aura kingdom in the high levels and I have not had to spend a dime to get there. They give you a ton of loyalty points for just playing the game or logging in. Most everything in the cash shop can be found in the loyalty shop. If the OP like Astellia that's fine. To me, this was like a hit piece On the game it stole from. 
    The problems aren't primarily about Aeria, unless Aeria is the one that designed the UI or balanced the combat.  I generally expect such programming issues to be handled by a game's developer, not its publisher.  I've never "given a pass" to a game (whether MMORPG or otherwise) with a UI as bad as Aura Kingdom, in part because there aren't many such games.  Just two days ago, I blasted Vindictus for scaling its combat to be way too easy, even though it has a lesser version of that problem that Aura Kingdom does:

    https://forums.mmorpg.com/discussion/485522/the-game-is-rather-pathetic

    While I do mention Astellia in passing near the end, I wouldn't say that I praise it in the original post.  At least not unless "WoW clone" passes for praise these days.

    I did adjust the UI to the extent that I could find how to in-game.  I didn't try to figure out how to tinker with .ini files in a text editor or stuff like that.  If that's what you have to do in order to fix the UI, then I think it's justified to say that it's quite terrible.

    But there are a ton of things that are just weirdly broken about the UI.  For example, like a lot of MMORPGs, Aura Kingdom has a quest log in a right sidebar.  Also like a lot of MMORPGs, the size of that right sidebar adjusts for how much text there is to display.  Unlike any other game that I've ever seen, if you have few enough quests that all the text could easily be displayed on the screen at once, they make the sidebar slightly too small to show it in both the horizontal and vertical directions, so that you have to scroll it in both directions to see all of the text.  I can't recall seeing any other MMORPG that would even offer a horizontal scroll bar for a quest text sidebar, as usually, they just make the text take however many lines it needs to in order to fit.

    How did someone think it was a good idea to design it that way?  How did someone think it was a good idea to even make it an option to be automatically resized that way?  There's no conceivable reason why anyone would want that.  Now, I probably know the answer to those questions.  A developer tested it at the settings he used on his own computer, and it worked.  And then he didn't try adjusting those settings to see that it was broken at other settings before deciding it was done and moving on to the next thing to implement.

    As for the combat, how far into the game do you have to get before it's not completely trivial?  Does it flip to "and now the mobs will fight back" at level 20 or 30 or 40 or something, and before that is just a lengthy tutorial?  Or are you making the usual "get to endgame first" argument that almost an entire game is awful except for some tiny sliver of endgame content that may or may not also be awful?
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,370
    Hariken, I am actually serious about wanting to know how to fix the game.  How do you fix the chat box so that it doesn't do stuff like this:



    And how do you fix the quest log so that it doesn't do stuff like this:



    Yes, you can make the scroll bar go to the left, and cut off the text on the right edge instead of the left edge.  I scrolled it to the right for the screenshot to make the problem more obvious.  But why does that horizontal scroll bar even exist?  How did someone think that was a good idea?  It barely takes any space on the screen.

    It would also be nice to be able to scale up the UI to something larger.  I found where the setting is stored in the client.ini file and modified that file, but launching the game reset it.  You said that the UI is fixable.  Well, how?

    As for the challenge, you say that dungeons are harder.  I gather from other sources that dungeons start with Alabastren Temple at level 28.  Is the game mostly dungeons from that point on?  Or is it still mostly running back and forth to talk to NPCs with only the occasional dungeon?

    Also, is there any semblance of a challenge when doing dungeons as intended?  Or is soloing dungeons built for parties the way that you propose to make combat non-trivial?
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