As the free-to-play game Aika
approaches launch one thing stands out about the game moreso than its
other aspects. It's not just that Aika
is PvP centric; there are a lot of games that claim that. The unique
feature here comes from its political system. Five nations are governed
by a monarchy and players themselves rule the nations. The potential
implications for such a political game are huge, so we had to catch up
with gPotato's Community Manager, Christina Kelly, to find out more.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Can you explain the political system in
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Aika style="font-weight: bold;">?

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alt="Alethius Alliance Window"
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Alethius Alliance game window

Christina Kelly: The
political system in Aika
is pretty complex, so I’ll try to take things step by step. 
The key units of organization when it comes to style="font-style: italic;">Aika’s political
system are guilds and nations.

The five nations are large-scale player factions as well as different
instances of the world of the game – sort of like separate countries
with the same geographic features but with different populations and
governmental leaders.  Players acquire citizenship in a
particular nation via a quest starting at level 10, and only upon
attaining citizenship are they allowed to participate in the political
system and the core PvP modes.  Once a player has citizenship,
he is able to join or create a guild, which is the next step in rising
to ultimate political power in Aika.

The idea of a guild is probably pretty familiar to anyone who’s played
an MMORPG.  Guilds are important to the community in any
MMORPG, since they give players an organized, social way to enjoy their
game.  In Aika,
guilds fill this role and have an additional goal to aspire to:
becoming the ruling regime for their nation.  Each nation is
ruled by a Lord Marshal, which is a very powerful position (similar to
a king) granted to the guildmaster of the nation’s ruling
guild.  How is this ruling guild determined?  Well,
every week each of the five nations holds a special event called a
Castle Siege where up to 16 guilds in one Siege can fight each other
and the incumbent regime for the privilege of reigning over the nation
for the next week.  

Guilds may form alliances with each other (up to 4 per alliance), which
gives them the edge in numbers for the Castle Siege, and also affects
the structure of the government.  In a guild alliance, the
guild that initially invited the others to the alliance is the leading
guild, and that guild’s guildmaster is the one that would become the
Lord Marshal.  The guildmasters of the allied guilds become
Archons, which gives them special powers and abilities that allow them
to assist the Lord Marshal in his or her efforts to lead the
nation.  All of the members in the guilds of a ruling guild
alliance receive strong buffs, which make them instrumental in leading
the nation’s military activities, be they offensive or defensive.

To become Lord Marshal is to reach the pinnacle of style="font-style: italic;">Aika’s political
system.  The Lord Marshal exercises a tremendous amount of
control over key functions of the nation, particularly those related to
the treasury and national defense.  He also possesses the
ability to broadcast messages to all citizens of the nation at will
(and can tap an Archon to use this power as well), which is extremely
useful for coordinating military maneuvers, and is also the nation’s
leader for diplomatic relations.  Only Lord Marshals can
create or break alliances between nations, and as national alliances
are arrangements which bestow great benefits on citizens of both
nations involved (only 2 nations can be party to an alliance), this is
a power that can dramatically affect the in-game experience of many

Ten Ton Hammer: 
You're right. That is pretty complex, and highly intriguing. What makes
this sort of system different from anything else we've seen in MMOGs?

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Mass PvP in Aika

Christina: The
extensive influence of the Lord Marshal over his nation’s success and
the importance of personal leadership qualities to the effectiveness of
national governments make Aika’s
political system pretty unusual.  Then, considering that all
of this is combined with the sheer scale of the populations involved,
it’s clear that this system is unique for an MMOG.  In style="font-style: italic;">Aika, players have
the opportunity to reach a position of in-game power where they can
become the architect of collective power – a true leader of thousands,
with “behind the scenes” abilities like withdrawing money from the
national treasury or brokering national alliances.  However,
access to this much control over higher level functions of the game
doesn’t come just by leveling.  Successful Lord Marshals need
to have political savvy and charisma to reach the top and have a
celebrated tenure.  Each nation counts on its Lord Marshal to
be adept at keeping the nation’s administrative issues under control
while communicating to citizens in an inspirational and motivational
way.  Leading your nation to glory in style="font-style: italic;">Aika isn’t about
beating the hardest dungeons or having the best gear (although these
achievements can help your cause) – it’s a test of social skills,
creativity, organization, and dedication.  If you think
leading a single guild is a challenge, try earning the loyalty and
trust of other large and small guilds plus players who might not be
familiar with Aika’s
PvP systems plus the leaders of a nation you might want to ally
with.  I think we’ll see some very interesting people rise to
the rank of Lord Marshal and Archon, and there will definitely be some
trial and error along the way as players figure out how the system

Ten Ton Hammer: How many
servers will be available at launch? Will we see different servers have
different outcomes?

Christina: We’re
in Open Beta right now and have one server, or “world,” which houses
the five nations.  We’ll be keeping an eye on game conditions
to determine when we should add another one.  We won’t be
stopping the game and starting over for official release, so there
won’t be any major server configuration changes at launch.

Ton Hammer: And with
the monarchy and alliances, no two nations will be the same?

Christina: No
two nations are exactly the same, since they each have different
populations, guilds, and Lord Marshal/Archon regimes. 
However, as mentioned before, the nations are similar in that they are
each full instances of the entire game – zones, dungeons, NPCs, and
quests are all consistent across nations.  In other words, the
environment is the same in each nation, so that a citizen of Alethius
will have the same PvE experience available to him as a citizen of
Vanov.  Player-controlled variables such as taxes or
number/kind of national relics may be different in each nation, however.

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Tabazra Temple

Ten Ton Hammer: How will
nations be balanced in terms of the amount of players? Are there any
artificial limits imposed to protect balance?

Christina: We
don’t currently have any specific mechanisms for balancing nation
populations – right now we want to see how the nations evolve as
individual entities and in relation to each other, and how the various
PvP and political mechanics affect population levels.  Right
now there’s a small imbalance between the three more popular nations
and two less popular ones, but in the long run these discrepancies will
even out.

Ten Ton Hammer: What can
players do if they're unhappy with the current leaders?

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alt="Relic Buffs"
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Relic Buffs

Christina: Get
involved!  They can contact their leaders (who are, after all,
fellow players), or join a guild in the ruling alliance and agitate for
change from the inside, or create their own guilds themselves to
challenge the incumbents.  Castle Siege occurs every week, so
there is plenty of opportunity to overthrow a disagreeable
regime.  As a last resort, players can leave their nation’s
citizenry by using a special item called an Exile Warrant which is
available in our Item Shop.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will GMs
ever step in if things get out of hand, and if so, what would
constitute getting "out of hand?"

Christina: Although
with GM powers it’s tempting to step in and adjust things from time to
time, we trust in the game’s inherent checks and balances enough to
stay mostly on the sidelines when it comes to nation
politics.  Aika
is a persistent world, and like many other persistent worlds (including
the one all of us live in) it will have times of great triumph for some
and failure for others, good leaders and corrupt ones, setbacks and
boom times.  If a glitch causes major game issues – say, a bug
prevents a Lord Marshal from using his nation chat powers – then we
will most likely step in.  The same goes for issues caused by
hacking or other illegal player activities.  By and large,
though, we want Aika to be a politically realistic world with rivalries
and sedition and uprisings – that’s a large part of what makes the game

Ten Ton Hammer: What sort
of player-organized events do you predict? Do you think one group will
continually dominate a server, or do you expect a lot of
rebellion and changing of the monarchy?

Christina: We’ve
already been seeing many player-organized events in style="font-style: italic;">Aika, chiefly
nation vs. nation raids.  Most of these seem to be fairly
impromptu, although since the GMs aren’t privy to all of the military
planning in each nation, it’s impossible to know for sure.  In
these raids, groups of anywhere from ten to several hundred citizens of
a nation gather and teleport together into a different nation via a
special geographic feature called The Rift.  They then attack
structures called Temples in the foreign land in order to steal
precious relics which bestow permanent buffs to everyone in the nation
which possesses them.  The nation being invaded, in turn, must
somehow drum up a defense to repel the invaders and protect their
relics.  Aika’s
PvP relies heavily on player initiative and self-organization to be
fun, so I’d predict that we’ll keep seeing a ton of these raids as well
as other group PvP events like matches set up using our scenario-based
Battlegrounds system.   I also predict there will be
player-organized non-PvP events, including relic upgrade (a national
event mechanic that must be initiated and coordinated by players) as
well as screenshot contests or other initiatives which boost national
pride.  Again, national leaders will be the primary
instigators for many of these efforts, since they have the
organizational tools, public visibility, and access to in-game
resources (i.e. national treasury funds) to create compelling events.

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The Vanov Government

It’s difficult to predict the patterns we might see in national
leadership.  On the one hand, since Castle Siege occurs every
week, the opportunity for frequent changing of the guard does
exist.  If regimes did turn over that often, it’d be exciting
and indicate a high level of interest in the political system, but it
also might not be good for the nation as a whole.  On the
other hand, having one guild or guild alliance continuously in charge
of a nation would be pretty boring after a while, even if there would
be benefits for national stability and efficient organization, and
there will hopefully always be ambitious players who think they can do
a better job running a nation than the incumbent regime.  As
the game community matures, there may be fewer rebellions if the
leading guilds can communicate well and work together, and/or also if
the ruling regime maintains its military fitness so that it won’t be
usurped during Castle Siege.  Then again, guilds might find
that the responsibility of leading an entire nation to be too much,
leaving the door open for others better suited to that amount of power
and control.  There are many factors that will affect power
balance in the nations between different guilds and guild alliances,
and we’re looking forward to seeing all of the ways players’
interactions with each other and game mechanics influence the
leadership of all five nations.

Ten Ton Hammer: It seems
to be a pretty large scale social experiment. How do you see this sort
of involvement affecting future games?

Christina: I
think it sets the bar higher for the depth and scale of gameplay
players can expect from MMORPGs, particularly free to play
ones.  The high level of interest we’ve already seen in the
nation system and the massive PvP it motivates proves that this is a
concept which PvP-oriented MMORPGs should consider
implementing.  One of the key points of MMORPGs as a genre is
that they can mimic the large-scale activities of groups and societies
in the real world, since people with different backgrounds and
perspectives come together and interact via avatars they control in a
common world whose rules apply to all.  style="font-style: italic;">Aika takes
advantage of this situation by simulating compelling real world
phenomena – nations, political systems, massive factional warfare – to
allow players to experience something they’re interested in but can’t
be a part of in the real world because of potential negative
consequences.  This is a capability which many MMORPGs aim to
offer to players, and if it proves to have lasting appeal in style="font-style: italic;">Aika, then I think
in the future we’ll be seeing more MMORPGs out there with political PvP
systems similar to ours.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Aika Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016