Interview: Developers Of AION Classic EU Plan To Continue The Game’s Update Support For Coming Years

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AION Classic EU - via NCSOFT

AION Classic EU is an Action-Adventure MMORPG, that allows players to embark on a fantasy world filled with magic and challenging opponents. The game is filled with exhilarating combat and storytelling aspects that ensure replayability and a unique experience.

From a variety of quests, and resource management to four unique classes and PvP/PvE gameplay, AION Classic EU is a fresh breath of fantasy MMORPG that is rare to find in the existing community. At the same time, a well-designed story and expansive world make it a top contender in the genre. With all of these aspects in mind, we interviewed Lucas Bourguignon, Product Manager behind AION Classic EU. 

Combat of AION Classic EU
AION Classic EU – via NCSOFT

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role on AION Classic EU. 

Lucas: Hello, everyone, I’m Lucas Bourguignon. I have been an MMO player for almost two decades, and I serve as the Product Manager for AION Classic EU.

My role involves overseeing various aspects of the game on the publisher side, including planning and coordinating with our development partners at NCSoft, as well as directing other publishing aspects, including feature implementation, community engagement, customer support, marketing, localization, and ensuring the overall player experience aligns with our vision for the game. 

How did you approach balancing the nostalgic elements of AION Classic EU with the need to adapt to modern gaming standards and player expectations? 

Lucas: When approaching the balancing act between AION Classic EU‘s nostalgic elements and modern gaming standards, our team focused on preserving the feeling and sense of wonder that the original game provided while also addressing contemporary player expectations and taking into account years’ worth of insightful user data and feedback.

We carefully evaluated each gameplay feature and mechanic alongside our dev partners, making necessary adjustments to ensure the old-school charm was complemented with modern accessibility standards. 

AION Classic EU - via NCSOFT
AION Classic EU – via NCSOFT

Pay-to-win mechanics have been a point of contention in the MMORPG community. What measures have you taken to address concerns about pay-to-win elements in AION Classic EU?

Lucas: Ensuring a game’s success as a business endeavor while keeping it fair and enjoyable for all players is a fine balancing act, especially in the case of a free-to-play MMORPG. We have been looking for that magic formula for a long time, so with AION Classic EU, we have learned from our experiences and feedback from the community to develop a successful design. 

First, we have remained free-to-play thanks to a flexible subscription mechanic with Siel Energy, which allows everyone to try and enjoy the game for themselves before deciding if they want to commit to an actual subscription or not.

And thanks to the daily free Siel Energy that everyone gets, the more casual players who can’t dedicate as much time to gaming in general or just for a time can still enjoy the full benefits of the subscription without having to spend anything. 

Regarding the in-game shop, we have taken a very careful approach to ensure that there is no way to gain an advantage over other players by simply spending more money.

Our general philosophy for AIONC EU has been that any benefit obtainable from the shop is equally accessible through regular gameplay. This allows players who can’t spend much time playing the game to still enjoy it and keep up with their friends. 

I am very happy with the balance we have struck and very grateful to the community for purchasing subscriptions and cosmetics. Through their ongoing support, the players have allowed us to maintain a restrained approach, which I personally look for and appreciate in the games I play. 

The class system in AION Classic EU has been a defining aspect of the game. Can you share insights into how you approached the class design and balance, especially considering the return of the original classes and the addition of the Soldier class?

Lucas: In crafting the class system for AION Classic EU, we meticulously balanced the reintroduction of original classes with the addition of the Revenant class to ensure we offer a new and fresh gameplay experience while maintaining the balance that AION does so well.

Playtesting and feedback sessions were integral to fine-tuning each class’s abilities, prioritizing viability and enjoyment across various playstyles. When designing the Revenant, we focused on creating a distinct combat style emphasizing distance control and abnormal status infliction, fostering strategic depth while avoiding one-sided advantages.  

We meticulously consider each new class’s impact on combat dynamics, designing skills to maintain overall balance and avoid overly simplistic mechanics.

Furthermore, we emphasize the creation of unique class identities, such as the Revenant’s chained sword and signature red aura, to enhance player immersion and engagement while ensuring a captivating gameplay experience for all adventurers in AION Classic EU. 

AION Classic EU - via NCSOFT
AION Classic EU – via NCSOFT

With numerous MMORPGs available to play, how do you think AION Classic EU offers a unique experience while still keeping the nostalgic essence alive? 

Lucas: AION Classic EU offers a unique blend of immersive world-building, strategic PvP combat, and captivating storytelling within a visually striking world with vast customization options. While we embrace modern advancements in gaming, we remain committed to preserving the nostalgic essence that players cherish from the original AION experience.

From epic aerial battles to intricate faction warfare, AION Classic EU delivers a one-of-a-kind MMORPG experience that captures the hearts of both longtime fans and new adventurers alike. 

PvP has always been a cornerstone of AION's gameplay. How have you approached PvP balance and content in AION Classic EU to ensure engaging and fair gameplay for all participants? 

Lucas: PvP has indeed always been a central focus of AION’s gameplay, and in AION Classic EU, we’ve taken a meticulous approach to PvP balance and content to ensure engaging and fair gameplay for all participants. We have so many classes at this point, providing many ways to experience combat, even by changing specialization within each one.

The cohesion between different classes on the battlefield is also key to maintaining a balanced PvP setting and a rich and diverse experience. For example, a group leaning too heavily on a single class or a few classes will be disadvantaged. We are happy to see how positively the European community has responded to this Classic version’s look and feel. 

Additionally, regular balance adjustments, new battlegrounds, and PvP events are ongoing efforts in our collaboration with NCSoft. We strive to create dynamic and competitive PvP experiences that cater to both casual and hardcore players, who can enjoy the varied combat options the game offers in the skies or below. 

AION Classic EU - via NCSOFT
AION Classic EU – via NCSOFT

Looking to the future, what plans do you have for the ongoing development and support of AION Classic EU, and how do you intend to keep the game fresh and exciting for players in the long term?

Lucas: Looking ahead, together with our development partners at NCSoft, we have ambitious plans for the ongoing progression and support of AION Classic EU.

Our roadmap includes regular content updates, improvements, and community-driven events to keep the game fresh and exciting for years to come. We’re committed to fostering the thriving AION Classic EU community we continue to grow here in Europe and providing players with meaningful content that continues to evolve the game’s legacy.

Ideally, at a reasonable pace that keeps the game fresh and exciting for the more hardcore, but that can also be enjoyed by our more casual and new players. 

How do you perceive the significance of the improvements made in AION Classic EU compared to its previous versions? 

Lucas: The improvements made in AION Classic EU compared to its previous versions are especially significant in terms of enhancing the overall gameplay quality and in-game progression.

It is a much more streamlined experience compared to AION in its early days and much more rewarding for new players compared to the modern version; it is really the ideal balance, as proven by the high amount of players who have stuck with us since we launched over a year ago.

AION Classic EU - via NCSOFT
AION Classic EU – via NCSOFT

Could you discuss the challenges you faced in recreating the classic AION experience, considering technological changes, player preferences, and the gaming market since the original game's release? 

Lucas: The most significant challenge lay in the uncertainty of how the community would react to a Classic MMORPG experience, considering how much the landscape and standards have evolved in the last decade.

Of course, we worked to ensure the game was modernized and up-to-date with modern expectations, but still, this game does not take its players by the hand from start to finish; it can be challenging and asks more of them. I believe this is also what makes this old-school design philosophy so much more rewarding for those who are up for the challenge. 

Before launch last year, we did not know what to expect, and as with any new project, it was somewhat of a leap of faith, but I am happy to report that our community has responded in overwhelming numbers, and we are confident that Aion Classic EU has many more bright years ahead. 

Anything else you would like to share with the readers? 

Lucas: In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to the dedicated AION Classic EU community for their continued support and enthusiasm. Your passion drives us to deliver the best possible gaming experience, and we’re committed to upholding the legacy of AION Classic EU for many years to come.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to Atreia, we invite you to join us on an epic journey filled with adventure, camaraderie, and unforgettable memories in AION Classic EU. 

Thank you for your time, and may your adventures in Atreia be legendary! 

AION Classic EU is an Action-Adventure MMORPG, developed by NCSOFT and published by Gameforge 4D GmbH. The game was released on April 25, 2023 for PC.

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