It seems NCsoft has no doubt that their Aion will succeed on the western market. NCsoft maintained a fairly low profile with Open Beta Test of Aion in South Korea. It is greatly at odds with other publishers' previous attitudes. Developed in South Korea, Aion has a distinctly Eastern look to it, as well as lore, history, and culture, but those are also some of the things that are being tweaked in order to capture the North American audience. The Western hemisphere is used to being first on the list for release of big named titles, but this time they will have to wait. Does it mean that NCsoft haven't prepared the test for Aion or launching it into European/NA MMO Market? Recently, a game magazine Massive Game interviewed Aion's producer Brian Knox. And we may get more details about that. Q: Korea is geared up for Open Beta for Aion. Can the West anticipate a release closely following the launch on the other side of the world? Will there be any beta testing for the U.S. or Europe? Knox: Our goal has always been to be as globally-synced as possible. Aion is in the process of being localized into English, French, and German. This means millions of words are localized, which of course will take some extra time, but our goal is still a 2009 launch. As for beta testing, the market is changing and betas aren't what they used to be. For better or worse, players judge your game based on your beta. We want to make sure that even during our internal beta testing that players are amazed by the level of polish in Aion. This high standard of quality is something we feel is very important and we intend on proving to the world when we launch our Exclusive Preview events in 2009 as a way of showcasing Aion as well as soliciting feedback. Q: The news section on the web site mentions that NCsoft is in the "process of localizing and culturalizing the game for the western market in order to reach the same level of quality that the game provides." What does that entail exactly? Knox: Although Aion's game play mechanics and design have been tailored for global appeal, the game's original language is Korean. By language I don't just mean words, but also their stories, their culture, their fables, and even their inside cultural jokes. To us, localizing goes way beyond just translating text - it truly is "a culturization" process. So we spend a tremendous amount of time localizing these instances into something meaningful to Western audiences, making sure we provide a sense of familiarity to the user. It is very important to adhere to the original designer's intent, but that doesn't mean it has to be written poorly or be a straight translation. By adding high quality writing and culturalizing the game, we have localization that is on the same level of quality as the game containing it. Q: There seems to be a lot of customization for players - a lot of freedom to play how they want. But one thing that sticks out are the Stigma stones. How do they work? Knox: You are right that Aion offers a tremendous amount of customization for players in multiple and different parts of the game. Stigma stones are particularly cool; essentially they are the captured essences of ancient Daevas who have died beyond the reach of the resurrection power of the Obelisks. By utilizing different combinations of Stigma stones, players will actually be able to enhance and change their class so that they are unique. Some stones will enhance existing skills, and some will give brand new ones. The choice is up to the player, and what fits their style of play. Players will go on a quest at level 20 to obtain the ability to equip the stones. You can equip two Stigma stones at level 20, with a maximum of five as you increase in level. Stones can be collected from various quests or monsters from around the world. They are tradable amongst players and can be easy to find or very hard to find depending on the stone.