The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

Folk cramming themselves into Aion like spawning salmon, they realise they’re floundering towards a huge faction-imbalanced end game, yes?

As I mentioned in the above quote from Twitter, I’ll be interested to see how the end game for Aion pans out. At the moment I see a lot of frustrated people wanting to roll Asmodians but being blocked by general server queues or the balancing mechanics that NCSoft have in place; therefore these people are rolling Elyos instead, just to get into the game, because, as we all know, joining up with a faction that you don’t really empathise or connect with is always a strong foundation for a long and distinguished PvP career. It works for mercenary groups because they are rewarded handsomely to do so, I’m not so sure that there’s such an incentive in Aion.

And I have to question, on a sanity level, whether it was a sound idea to aim an MMO with an end game focus of PvP at a Western audience when one side looks like the offspring of Disney’s Fairies and a candy floss machine, and the other side looks like the resultant spawn of a blood-bathed orgy between The Crow, Edward Scissor Hands, Marilyn Manson and a Balrog of Morgoth.

They’d have been better off calling the game Care Bears vs PvP Nutjobs Online.

10 thoughts on “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

  1. unwize

    Ah, surely you’ve heard of the classic Stanford Prison experiment?

    Arbitrarily assigning someone to a particular group has the tendency to ensure identification with that group. I’m guessing that those that are coerced into joining the Elyos will probably end up preferring that faction.

    Also, as my PvP inclined kinmate said, “Lets play the fairies so we can make spotty 14 year old boys cry”.

  2. painghoul

    I remember with Warhammer online Mythic promised a realm balancing mechanic; close to launch they abandonned this and allowed people to go as they please.
    This did not work out well for WAR and I think NCSoft having seen that have decided having a system in place to prevent one side outnumbering the other 5:1 at every engagement for the opening few months is a good idea.
    It took a good quarter for WAR to have the numbers fall to 2:1, with most of those who quit complaining about not having enough opponents.

  3. Adam

    So having played Warhammer Online where there actually was a similar thing going?

    It might not play out the way you think.

    Order looked pretty sedate and Destruction was all heavy metal badass…

    Playing as Order… we beat Destruction so badly they still cry about it.

    I like killing stoners so I play Order ;)

  4. Chris (Game by Night)

    They’re opening up more slots for both sides. Think of it this way, is it better to force balance or get to the endgame and find it always slanted one way or the other? For the future of the game, this is the only smart decision. Besides, the people who can’t make their Asmodian/Elyos (yes, some servers are capping the “Disney” side) they can still experience what the game has to offer until they roll their main. Try and try again.

    I understand people wanting to be in “now, now, now” but if people’s impatience proves anything it’s that they don’t care about the future but only instant gratification.

  5. Tesh

    Ah, but Chris, making players reroll “their main” is the sort of stupid grind that devs really should be getting away from, not embracing and enforcing.

  6. Tesh

    …which is to say, it’s not about instant gratification, it’s about being able to have fun with a game out of the box, and not needing to play for months (paying monthly) before you start doing the stuff you want to do.

  7. Melmoth Post author

    @unwize: Stanford Prison kind of proves my point though, in the fact that many of the prisoners were actually traumatised and had to be removed from the experiment. Just watch those Elyos numbers fall off as people get fed up with having their arses handed to them by the ‘cool kids’, when they wanted to be a cool kid in the first place but were forced to choose otherwise.

    @Hirvox: It certainly is a sight to behold! Alas, comparing the number of pink-pigtailed gnome Rogues to the number of undead ones is probably all the proof we need in this instance.

    @painghoul: They would have had the same problem, but in a different form, the form that Aion has now. Mythic spent too much time pimping Destruction as the cool kids. Far too much time. If they’d forced people to roll Order when they wanted to play Destruction in order to maintain balance, then they would have bled those players even quicker when the lacklustre PvP end game was reached. Thus there would have been a massive imbalance anyway, only there’d be no way easy way to correct it at that point other than to force every new play to roll Order.

    @Adam: On your server perhaps; I’ve experience both sides of the coin having played on several servers. Warhammer doesn’t really compare to Aion in this case because Mythic didn’t force people to choose Order, instead they opened an overly ambitious number of servers, spread people too thin and never had the issue that Aion is having now. In fact, Warhammer is one end of the scale – too many servers with no restriction on population, with incentives and coercion after the fact in an attempt to balance things – whereas Aion is at the opposite end – too few servers with a very strict server balance policy. Somewhere in the middle of those two should be a happy balance. Perhaps we should be looking to Darkfall and EVE as approaches that work.

    @Chris: Try and try again. Doesn’t happen that often these days, in my experience, a large proportion of the player base will just quit for the next shiny MMO. And let’s assume that all those players do re-roll and start all over again, what happens to the server balance when they do so?

    @Tesh: Indeed so.

  8. unwize

    Maybe the Stanford experiment wasn’t the best example, but there are many other studies involving identification with arbitrary groups where there is no explicit difference in status.

    Take 20 random people, assign 10 to the Blue Team and 10 in the Red Team, and then give them a limited resource to compete over. You’ll very soon see identification with the group and denigration of ‘the other’.

    But yeah, the capacity for betrayal is also very much present in human nature!

  9. Melmoth Post author

    I certainly see where you’re coming from, and I believe it’s what others are arguing here too, but my point is that I believe Aion is an edge case and that’s what will cause the problems.

    To take your example again, in this instance what you have is twenty people who like the colour blue and hate the colour red, but ten are forced to play red in order to balance things. That’s the difference, there is an initial bias towards one side, and despite the fact that the red players may eventually come to identify with their side, it is my belief that it will take much longer for it to come into effect. In the meantime the not-so-happy red players will be fighting over limited resources against the perfectly happy blue players. Therefore, in all likelihood the blue players will win more often because they have the morale advantage. This increases their morale whilst further reducing those of the red players. Eventually the red players will either a) leave or b) switch sides when given the chance. Either way, the enforced balance is lost to the further detriment of the red side, and now there is an association with them as being “the side that ‘never’ wins”.

    I’m not saying that this is a mathematical certainty, but it is my belief that it will happen. As I said at the start of the original post, I’ll be interested to see how it pans out.

Comments are closed.