WarCry is pleased to present the first in a three-part series of articles surrounding the new PvP-centric MMO, Aika Online, from publishing powerhouse Gala-Net. We had a chance to sit down with Community Manager Christina Kelly. Keep reading!
Please introduce yourself and give us your development background, position at Gala-Net.
My name is Christina and I'm the Community Manager for Aika Online. I joined Gala-Net last year, and when I'm not working on marketing, production, or community management for Aika, you can find me in the break room playing Smash with my co-workers.
Gala-Net is publishing Aika Online. What studio developed the game?
Aika Online was developed by JoyImpact, the studio behind Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent, which is being published in the US by Atlus Online. Aika was initially published by HanbitSoft, JoyImpact's parent company and one of the leading game development and publishing companies in Asia.
For those unfamiliar with Aika Online, what can you tell us about the game overall?
When introducing people to Aika I generally start off with describing the incredible PvP system and the nation system. There are three major PvP modes-Battlegrounds, Castle Siege, and Relic War-which provide large scale, comprehensive ways for players to experience the thrill of virtual conflict. The five nations of Aika provide the building blocks for two out of three of these modes (Castle Siege and Relic War), as they allow players to organize themselves in large scale groups to accomplish goals that can have a significant impact on the world of the game. In Castle Sieges, for example, guilds within a single nation can ally and storm the nation's ultimate seat of power to overthrow the ruling regime. The new leaders then have a great deal of control over the workings of the entire nation, including its taxation, law enforcement, and its relationship to other nations. If international relations turn sour, well, then you might see the "1000 vs. 1000" warfare which sets Aika apart from other PvP-focused MMORPGs.
This is not to say that the single player experience is lacking in any way, though. There are over 1,000 quests which detail an immersive storyline in a beautifully realized world, six character classes with customizable skills, a highly accessible crafting system, and, of course, the Pran, an NPC fairy familiar who accompanies and aids the player in his or her various adventures. The game is fully PvE featured-hundreds of monsters, challenging raids, and instance dungeons where players can select one of four difficulty levels. Aika really is the complete package.
Has Aika Online been released elsewhere? If so, how has it been received?
Aika Online has already been released in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong. Players everywhere have been extremely enthusiastic about the game, not only because of its unique gameplay features but also because it's a high quality game which doesn't require cutting-edge hardware to run. The client is under 500MB and can be run on an older desktop or a laptop without major issues. Aika has won major recognition in South Korea, including the prestigious Best of Show: Prime Minister's Award, Player's Choice: Best Online Game, and Best Game Design & Scenario, which were all awarded by the Korea Game Industry Agency (KoGIA) at the 2009 Korean Game Awards. HanbitSoft further notes that the media reaction in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong has been very positive.
Does Aika Online have an active fan base? How much player input is solicited?
Currently we have a pretty active fanbase on the Aika forums at http://aika.gpotato.com , which is especially impressive considering we haven't even started Closed Beta. I actually want to give a shoutout to the people on the Aika forums, since some of them have been waiting patiently from the middle of last year to last week when we officially announced CB1. It's really inspiring to have such enduring player support and enthusiasm for this game. (Ed Note: Aika Online started closed beta testing on February 3rd)
Needless to say, this level of dedication from Aika fans is going to be very important in the upcoming weeks as we prepare the game for its Open Beta debut. We're counting on our Closed Beta players to help us make the game as fun, polished, and memorable as it can be, so we'll definitely be asking for input on ways to enhance the Aika experience.
What is the background and setting of the name "Aika Online"?
The name "Aika Online" refers to the supreme deity of the world of the game: the Great Goddess Aika, who plays a large role in many aspects of the story and gameplay. In summary, Aika created the world and then created several races of sentient beings, one of which--the Zereca--began to prey upon another--the Humans--and endanger its existence. To protect the Humans, Aika gathered them all upon one continent called Lakia and raised the entire continent up into the sky. Players enter this world as Aitan, sworn protectors of the Human race who must deal with the dire threat of the Zereca as they grow powerful enough to approach Lakia.
How important is the overarching story to Aika Online?
For players who intend to explore the game's single player quest-based plot, the story is very important. In the PvP modes, the story plays less of a role but is still significant, as Aika is the entity who grants certain powers to those who would rise to positions where they can affect the intricate political system of the game, and curses upon those who do not protect the special mystical relics provided for each nation's well being.
What classes and races are to be included in Aika Online?
There are six classes of characters players can choose from to experience Aika, and all are of the Human race. These classes include the Warrior, the Paladin, the Rifleman, the Dual Gunner, the Warlock, and the Cleric. The classes are gender-locked, with three male (Warrior, Rifleman, Warlock) and three female (Paladin, Dual Gunner, Cleric). Those who are familiar with MMORPGs will recognize certain characteristics, special skills, and natural roles that these classes demonstrate or fill in group-based play. However, there are also interesting twists to each class which players can explore based on customization of skill sets, appearances, and equippable items. The Pran represents a sort of "seventh class" of semi-controllable NPC who aids the player's character in battle, interacts with the player, and evolves as the player's character advances within the world of Aika. Certain quests can only be fulfilled with the help of your Pran, and as each Pran can have one of several different personalities and elemental types, she certainly adds to the uniqueness of an individual Aika experience.
Which of the above is your personal favorite and why?
My personal favorite is the Dual Gunner. She's an agile, sexy, powerful class with a ton of firepower and interesting attacks. She wields two pistols (hence the name) with a no-holds-barred, Wild West gunslinger kind of attitude. I can imagine her taking down a whole room full of monsters by herself in a blaze of gunfire, and also working well within a balanced party to provide fast, mid-range attacks with a poisonous bite.
Are there to be any mounts in Aika Online? If so, what are they?
Yes, there will be mounts available to players level 40 and above. They're a fantastic feature of the game--I think they're incredibly fun and beautifully conceptualized. Each class has its own mount, and they range across the spectrum of fantasy and science fiction from the Dual Gunner's hoverbike to the Warlock's dragon and the Warrior's armored gerbil. We won't have them for CB1, unfortunately, as the level cap is 30, but they're a feature I'm very much looking forward to players exploring in the future. The developers have also let us know that there will eventually be multiple mounts for each class, which is very exciting.
Be sure to see what you think of Aika Online by snagging one of WarCry's beta keys for yourself.
WarCry thanks Christina and the Gala-Net team for this terrific interview! Stay tuned for Friday's Part II installment!