We've been fortunate enough to conduct an interview with NCsoft Europe's Aion Community Team Lead. He shares a lot of interesting information, as always, with a game still in development -- you cannot expect to get clear answers on everything.
What is your real name and what is your official position at NCsoft?
Loïc Claveau, with two dots on the I! I’m the Aion Community Team Lead.
What does your job entail, what do you do at NCsoft, specifically?
It’s a double job as I’m in charge with the French community, relaying the info from NCsoft to the players and sending their feedbacks back to the Aion Dev Studio, and I’m also in charge of the Team, composed of Ayase and Amboss.
I’m working on an Aion demo script, so we record a demo and make live presentation when needed.
How and when did you get hired by NCsoft? Any specific reason for Aion and NCsoft?
I’ve got hired by NCsoft 3 years ago to work on City of Heroes. Then I moved to Guildwars but right from the start I joined NCsoft because I loved Lineage II and the way Koreans deal with PvP. It’s really competitive and that’s why I wanted to work on a Korean developed game. Aion came in very handy, and I really liked the background and this endless war where there are no bad or good guys. It makes everything ways more interesting.
Have you worked long within the gaming industry? What did you do before working at NCsoft and with Aion?
I have been in the industry for 12 years now. In a short version, I started in Cryo (French developers who made games like Dune, L’arche du Capitaine Blood, etc.). I was a game tester. Then I took my pen and decided to write about games. I became a video game journalist for a famous French magazine (Gen4). When Meridian 59 / Ultima Online came out, I specialized in myself in the MMO because I felt it would be the future. Then I worked for a French Tv Channel called GAMEONE, then back to Gen4, then I moved to another magazine PC Jeux and then I switched completely and became the French Community manager for EQ II. Right after that, my NCsoft adventure started.
The contact with players, definitely. It’s always nice to be able to share a passion with people.
Let's talk work days, how's a typical workday for you?
There are no typical workday for me. Especially, since our game is not launched. I’m preparing a lot of stuff, attending meetings, bringing my knowledge of the game to other internal departments, etc.
What's your favorite currently available MMO?
Unfortunately, I have none. I’ve tested pretty much every big title for few months but got bored in the long run. My really competitive PvP side is dying to try Darkfall Online, though I’ve been following their development since the start.
What is your favorite other video game genre/specific game/publisher/studio?
Right now, I am spending my time on Project Reality, an amazing mod for BF2. It’s so hardcore and realistic, it’s awesome.
Reading, watching series and movies and playing games. And going out once in a while in the weekend, especially to see movies.
How far along is Aion's localization process? Did you hire experienced voice actors for the cut scenes and more?
It’s ways too early to talk about voice actors, etc. We are still a lot of things to decide ;)
Could you expand a little bit on the beta and release plans? We realise, they can change again, but what's the current plans?
Lots of details are still worked on but bearing a catastrophe, it should start this year.
For Aion fans, what features in the pipeline do you truly think will make people want to stick around?
The Abyss and the PvP, obviously. Aion is a PvP oriented game, and we still haven’t revealed much about it.
Nothing I can really share with players, unfortunately.
There are many concerns and complaints with regards to how bad the communication is with NCsoft Korea to NCsoft Europe and US when it comes to Aion. Are you working on improving this, so we get further information in English in a timely fashion?
It’s not the communication that is bad, really. It’s that a synchronization between three countries spread all over the word is a huge challenge. Austin is 6 hours behind us when Korea is 8 hours ahead of us. Basically, when Austin comes to work, Korea is going to bed. The good news is, that as soon as we’ll get our beta running, then we’ll be able to have our own schedule.
How are the plans with regards to advertisement for Aion within Europe and US? Anything interesting you could share?
You should ask the marketing and PR department, I have already enough on my plate ;)
Let's talk about servers, will there be US and EU specific servers and a requirement to have a US Aion account to access the US servers and a EU Aion account to access the EU servers? Alternatively, can you access any server with a "global" Aion account?
Nothing is definitive for now, but we are leaning towards having separated servers, yeah. Our goal is to provide the best possible experience for our customers. Hum! That sounded very much like a marketing line…However, that’s the truth.
None that I heard of! A good point actually, I’ll try and fetch some news about this.
If you look back from the first day you started at NCsoft Europe and where you are now, how's your overall thoughts on how things have progressed and changed? A lot of people find it fascinating to hear about how things have developed in this specific way and not just hear about how a game evolves. Having information about how NCsoft Europe is growing and evolving and the plans surrounding Aion on a more administrative level is something we'd love to hear more about.
Well, everything has been pretty good so far for NCsoft Europe. Furthermore, on a personal level, I went from CC to Team leader, so I won’t complain either. And Brighton is a very nice city, it almost feels like vacation (that is when it’s not raining)
When you get your final class (at level 10), you can get, depending on your class, a new weapon specialization opened to you.
Thanks to Loic and NCsoft Europe for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope the interview was interesting and gave you further insight into how Aion will be like. What are your thoughts on Aion? Are you going to give it a try when it gets released? To me, Aion is the next big MMO, and I will absolutely give it a chance.