Most players would agree that MMOs are mainly a waiting game now and days. With such complex features being added into MMOs to cater to the mass audience, it’s not hard to imagine why. However, gamers do have a breaking point. We can’t wait forever and as gaming studios struggle to keep us engaged through their development process, I ask the question. When is it enough? When should we cut our losses sort to speak and move on. I am joined here today with Squirrel, the admin for one of the largest “Unofficial” Discord for Ascent: Infinite Realm or “A:IR” to talk about the subject.
Squishy: So if I’m mistaken, A:IR was first announced in 2017 correct? 2 Years? And from all my sources, there has been zero mention of a Western release date. 2 Years is a long time to wait for a game, so why continue to wait for it?
Squirrel: When we first tested the game in Korea honestly it was mediocre at best. It had some fun elements but it wasn’t quite there to the point where it would ever become a main game for anyone. They took the feedback that was given to them and honestly made it a completely different game for the Thailand version of the game. It was much more fun, much more complete, and overall more fun experience. We could see it becoming something serious and playing it a while at that point. I have no doubt that when it comes to EU/NA it’s going to be an even more complete game and will actually be worth our time, making it well worth the wait.
Squishy: The MMO landscape today seems to show a significant decrease in Eastern MMOs. A lot of MMOs are being developed with a sandbox approach/Kingdom Builder/Non-Trinity system. Games such as Ashes of Creation, Chronicles of Elyria, and so forth. What are your thoughts on that trend? Is there a future for Korean-Style MMOs in 2019?
Squirrel: Honestly I think that there is a lot of hype around ‘Western’ MMOs these days, but historically the most popular games throughout the world for the longest period of times are Eastern. WoW was big sure, but games like Lineage have entire legacies around them. It may not be as prevalent to younger gamers in Western audiences but it’s massive in Eastern culture. There are entire genres of media based on Eastern MMOs, there are novels and movies and manga and shows based off of them. A popular example from more current day is Black Desert Online, it lasted for years and is still a huge game, even in the West. Ashes of Creation and Chronicles of Elyria have a lot of hype around them, but they still have to actually come through and prove what they have. So yes I believe there is a future for Eastern/Korean MMOs.
Squishy: And with these modern MMOs, leading guilds have changed significantly and has grown in complexity. More is being asked of guilds such as creating an economy, territory war, logistics, communication lines, and etc. What are your thoughts on this trend? Do you see guilds of the future having to act as “Gaming Corporations” or Large Multi-Gaming Communities to stay competitive?
Squirrel: If you’re playing to win you’re going to be doing everything in your power to achieve it. In MMOs that means you’re essentially running as a company would. I won’t go into all the details behind what you need to do, but the base of it is knowledge is power and having the ability to control a large number of people to accomplish your goals. On the flip side though if you’re just playing MMOs to have fun you don’t need that same level of seriousness, you can just tool around with a few buddies in a small guild and still be semi-relevant, but you’ll have to have a lot higher personal abilities if you want to be any kind of competitive.
Squishy: What should MMOs of tomorrow be focused on? Should they cater to endgame or competitive PvP or even the social aspect?
Squirrel: I’m a competitive person, and that means that my opinion is going to be biased here. I have the most fun competing versus other people, but to accomplish that you need to cater to all kinds of people to keep the game alive. Especially if you want some kind of economy in the game you need to have players who play casually and seriously. If you only cater to hardcore players you’re going to have a tiny player base that dies off pretty quick. If you cater to only casuals sure your game will live for a long time, but you aren’t going to have big spenders or large groups of serious players coming in and playing your game. It really depends on what the company wants to achieve with their game. In general, you need to mix it all together in a delicate balance if you want to achieve a game with longevity as well as competition.
Squishy: When is it time to say enough? You’ve waited 2 years for this game and still no word, when should players call it quits and move on?
Squirrel: I wouldn’t say there’s been no word, we’ve had 2 betas and massive progress between each of them. Sure the NA side of it is pretty mute but overall the game has had progression, and I’m happy with that. I can wait a bit more. It’s not like it’s Star Citizen or something
Squishy: So let’s talk about A:IR for a minute. Recently A:IR has concluded it’s beta in Thailand. There were mixed reviews on it. Based on your opinion, does A:IR have a chance to compete with the modern market.
Squirrel: Absolutely. They’ve made such huge strides to improve the game, I’m honestly looking forward to the future of the game.
Squishy: What’s the most interesting feature in A:IR so far? Why should we get hyped for it.
Squirrel: The most unique feature that A:IR has that I’ve seen is the different sky levels. I think it’s kind of awesome that they put basically layers of the world on top of each other and take advantage of that. There’s definitely more they could do with it, especially since it just basically becomes hunting grounds in the air, but I’m sure they’re looking to do more with it as well. I also love the open combat that comes into the map and being able to interact with the other faction. The housing and life skilling aspects of it are also enjoyable and a bit more laid back than the grinding required in other parts of the game. Overall I think it’s a game that has a ton of potential, and based on how well-received our feedback has been by the company and how they actively make changes I honestly believe it’s a game that could have a long lifespan if it’s well-executed.
Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview Squirrel.
My initial thoughts of A:IR post-Thai version is skeptical at best. A:IR is your typical eye-candy Korean MMO. It looks great, however, we have been through this road once or twice already with Bless-Online, Cabal 2, and etc. With scrutiny over micro-transactions in MMOs increasing, western audiences are growing wary over “Korean-MMOs”. Cash shops have always been a heated topic with some critics stating that it is a necessary evil that is required. Only time will tell if Bluehole takes a page out of Neowiz’s handbook and reduces the RNG of item upgrades, gated content, and other features that plague the Korean-MMO market.