Aion Character Transfers

Lance Stites Talks About the State of Aion Today on the Aion Website discusses the ups and downs of the launch of Aion, NCsoft's MMORPG (thanks IncGamers). The good news according to the NCsoft West executive producer is the fact that the game is "polished and incredibly fun," and the bad news is the server queues where players are spending too much of their time. He explains how they so badly miscalculated demand for the game, and what they are doing to cut down on waiting time going forward:
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “That’s all fine-but how does that help me get in and play the game? What is NCsoft doing for me?” Fair question. First, we have already and will continue to increase server capacity to ensure that we have server space for every user. The reality of the situation is that some servers quickly become very popular servers, with lines queued up to enter, but other servers have plenty of space to accommodate players. Obviously, adding servers won’t help in this case. If you’re waiting to enter a full server, 100 extra servers won’t help.

So the next question may be “What about my character I’ve already spent time on?” Another good question. I’m excited to confirm that we are currently working on implementing a server transfer service beginning next month. Specifically, we will offer every player a free one-time server transfer for a limited time to select servers. You can rest assured that addressing the demand for Aion is our biggest priority. And I know a big question is “Why did you not deploy more servers?” Most of you are savvy enough to realize that a healthy MMO server needs a robust population. We have to calculate our reasonable concurrency numbers in a week and in a month and beyond. The last thing we want to do to our players is spread them out so that the “massively” in “massively multiplayer” gets lost..
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1.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 10:25
1.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 10:25
Oct 5, 2009, 10:25
 
"Badly miscalculated the demand for the game."?

I doubt that. They were smart enough not to spend an exorbitant amount of money on server space that they would probably only need for 3 months. If demand is still high after 3-6 months and they need the expanded capacity, then hooray for everyone involved and they then know they have the capital to cover it.
2.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 10:43
2.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 10:43
Oct 5, 2009, 10:43
 
What I'd like to understand, is why they built their server infrastructure like this? Wouldn't it have made more sense to have scalable servers? Obviously this is easier, but why not just have a few massive servers?
3.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 11:25
3.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 11:25
Oct 5, 2009, 11:25
 
Too bad its already getting full of botters like Lineage II
4.
 
Re: Metal Gear Solid: Rising on PC
Oct 5, 2009, 11:36
4.
Re: Metal Gear Solid: Rising on PC Oct 5, 2009, 11:36
Oct 5, 2009, 11:36
 
sounds like he's saying:

"we dont expect our game to retain as many people as we currently have and also we dont expect to be getting any more subscribers, so.. we dont want to waste money on new servers"

Blizzards approach when WoW servers were queued was, gasp! MORE SERVERS. Worked perfectly for them and completely blows this guys logic out of the water. Which is why I think my logic above is the true reason they dont open more servers.
5.
 
Re: Metal Gear Solid: Rising on PC
Oct 5, 2009, 11:51
5.
Re: Metal Gear Solid: Rising on PC Oct 5, 2009, 11:51
Oct 5, 2009, 11:51
 
Blizzards approach when WoW servers were queued was, gasp! MORE SERVERS. Worked perfectly for them and completely blows this guys logic out of the water. Which is why I think my logic above is the true reason they dont open more servers.

Let's not forget that Blizzard vastly underestimated the load on their servers at launch as well. WoW also had server issues for many weeks after release. And to date, it's probably the only MMO where throwing more and more servers at it paid off, considering that it's success is... you know... unprecedented?

Not that NCSoft didn't mess up with this launch. They should have had an idea about their load from the preorder figures that they had, but they still chose to keep capacity below that. At least now they have been adding more and more servers every few days. I guess they could maybe offer a few subscription free days to affected users as a gesture too.

This comment was edited on Oct 5, 2009, 11:52.
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6.
 
Re: Metal Gear Solid: Rising on PC
Oct 5, 2009, 12:13
6.
Re: Metal Gear Solid: Rising on PC Oct 5, 2009, 12:13
Oct 5, 2009, 12:13
 
The queues are mostly if not all gone now from what I've seen the last 2 - 3 days(I'm on the second busiest server). People complaining about it at this point are being fairly stupid.

I'd rather have full servers and a 20 minute queue then empty ones, then in 3 months if/when the game does decline I'm not left transferring to a new server every 3 weeks in order to find people to play with.
7.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 12:42
7.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 12:42
Oct 5, 2009, 12:42
 
WoW still has server problems - why do you think they have to reset the machines every week.
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Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 12:49
Fion
 
8.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 12:49
Oct 5, 2009, 12:49
 Fion
 
Yes and more and more and more servers where you get to a point where some servers are simply dead and there are so many servers with only a few thousand players each, and so many servers its virtually impossible to get all your friends on the same server.

I think I'd rather have 1/15th the number of servers but each server capable of holding 15k or so players and enough servers that it is easy to coordinate with everyone to arrive on the same server to play together.

This comment was edited on Oct 5, 2009, 12:51.
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9.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:10
Verno
 
9.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:10
Oct 5, 2009, 13:10
 Verno
 
WoW still has server problems - why do you think they have to reset the machines every week.

While there are definitely software issues to solve, you have to understand the majority of the maintenance windows for WoW are used to conduct hardware repairs. They have literally thousands of servers and god knows what kind of NAS setup to maintain. Hard drives die, motherboards need to be replaced, disk controllers fail, etc. That happens every day but it rarely affects most of us on a regular basis because our scale of ownership is far lower than an operation like WoW. This is to say nothing for expanding on that hardware solution, network infrastructure and etc. For such a huge operation that requires nearly 24/7 uptime, I'm surprised WoW doesn't have MORE downtime.

And I am not a fan of WoW for the record, just saying it's perfectly understandable from a tech perspective.
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10.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:14
10.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:14
Oct 5, 2009, 13:14
 
I don't know which I'd prefer as I've only played 2 MMOGs more than a week: CoH/CoV and Champions Online

Both handle them differently, and honestly I don't know which one I like more.

CoX has what I guess is the more traditional method. Upon creating a character you would select from maybe a dozen servers and that server would be your home. But then you're not really meeting people from the other servers so if you choose poorly you're SOL. Though they eventually let you migrate your toon.

Champions has what I guess are best called as shards? For each map (or zone) there are umpteen versions currently handling up to 100 players a piece.

So when you want to zone to Millenium City it will either
  • Prompt you which instance you want, showing you a list which labels which one has team membes and friends
  • If you disabled that option it will automatically send you to the "best" one. Either the one with your current team or the one with the most free space.

For Champions, you can change instances on-the-fly, and there are various valid reasons to do so. But then your coordinates are reset to the zone's entry/edit point. It's useful if you want to meet a friend on another instance or the open mission you want hasn't spawned yet and you want to try elsewhere.

ALSO, it makes zone-traveling a breeze. You're on one side of Millenum City and you want to go to Canada? Instead of flying across MC for a couple of minutes to the exit point just change instances, which sets you at the entrance/exit point. Then take the exit point to Canada :-)



I don't know which I prefer. I don't minding the Champions method even with the current 100-cap. I'm not running into THAT many players unless I'm in a major area like the entrance/exit, mission contact, while in CoX I would always be running into players. Both scenarios were good and bad. Too many players meant better teaming but a lot of competition for open missions (kill x helions) while too few means harder teaming but little competition.

This comment was edited on Oct 5, 2009, 13:35.
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurama
11.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:34
11.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:34
Oct 5, 2009, 13:34
 
This happens with just about every MMO, and the reason is quite simple:

These companies simply don't have or do not want to spend the money on getting the amount oif servers they need. Therefore, they hold off on buying them until the first month subscription checks start rolling in and then use that newly made money to buy them.

They just go and release a statement to the forums that claim they "didn't properly gauge demand for the game".

Happens all the time.
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12.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:35
12.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:35
Oct 5, 2009, 13:35
 
The flip side of that is that the "server" is a big part of community for an MMO, and not having those homes make it difficult to bring disparate people together into a larger communal group.

Many CoH players fiercely identify and bond with their servers and server-mates. Even people with wildly different game playing styles (PvP, PvE, etc) will still somewhat get along because they're at least part of the same server.
13.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:37
13.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:37
Oct 5, 2009, 13:37
 

They just go and release a statement to the forums that claim they "didn't properly gauge demand for the game".

And doing that makes them look good.

OMG, the game is so popular! The demand has caught us all by surprise so we have to expand ASAP!

It makes Joe Sixpack (both the gamer and investor) think the game is god's gift.
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurama
14.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:40
14.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:40
Oct 5, 2009, 13:40
 
Many CoH players fiercely identify and bond with their servers and server-mates. Even people with wildly different game playing styles (PvP, PvE, etc) will still somewhat get along because they're at least part of the same server.

True.

I recall CoH had an unofficial RP server.

Plus I guess Champions has the disadvantage that European players can't all congregate somewhere? So German players and such have a hard time finding people that understand them.

I recall seeing a lot of foreign-language Zone-casts, not so much lately so maybe the set something up?
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurama
15.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 13:54
15.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 13:54
Oct 5, 2009, 13:54
 
Not that I give a fucking crap, but how do you badly miscalculate demand for this game, when the pre-orders have been #1 and #2 on Steam and Direct2Drive for the past month?

It sounds far more like "We didn't really want to invest money in server hardware, and we don't really give a shit about you waiting in line, since you're PAYING to wait in line! Woohooo! KA-CHING!"

Why people will still pay for new MMORPGS, only to be fucked up the ass with a beta client is beyond me.

Creston
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16.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 14:07
NKD
16.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 14:07
Oct 5, 2009, 14:07
NKD
 
Not that I give a fucking crap, but how do you badly miscalculate demand for this game, when the pre-orders have been #1 and #2 on Steam and Direct2Drive for the past month?

It sounds far more like "We didn't really want to invest money in server hardware, and we don't really give a shit about you waiting in line, since you're PAYING to wait in line! Woohooo! KA-CHING!"

Why people will still pay for new MMORPGS, only to be fucked up the ass with a beta client is beyond me.

Creston

They are trying to save money because in a few months they will be down to 10% of their current population and will be merging servers anyway.
Thou art an artless, greasy tallow-catch.
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17.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 14:30
Verno
 
17.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 14:30
Oct 5, 2009, 14:30
 Verno
 
NCsoft has some decent customer retention in their more popular non-niche MMOs like this one actually.
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18.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 14:47
18.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 14:47
Oct 5, 2009, 14:47
 
They are trying to save money because in a few months they will be down to 10% of their current population and will be merging servers anyway.

Yeah, since Age of Conan and WAR both (in the last year or so) ran into this problem. Especially in games where PvP is a notable part, low pop servers are terrible.

Also, keep in mind that if you have 1000 players and 10 servers, you might not end up with 100 people on each server. New servers won't help if too many people choose to play on the overloaded servers.

The server stuff will clean up in a few weeks anyway. The real issue is how well they can keep bots and spammers under control.
19.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 14:52
NKD
19.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 14:52
Oct 5, 2009, 14:52
NKD
 
The real issue is how well they can keep bots and spammers under control.

They won't.

NCSoft has never taken those seriously, ever. They'll let it run rampant.

This comment was edited on Oct 5, 2009, 14:52.
Thou art an artless, greasy tallow-catch.
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20.
 
Re: Aion Character Transfers
Oct 5, 2009, 15:42
20.
Re: Aion Character Transfers Oct 5, 2009, 15:42
Oct 5, 2009, 15:42
 
This simply isn't true. They're just very careful about protecting paying customers, and it's very difficult to separate spam-bots from paying customers in an automated way. It has to be automated, because like spam email, the volume is simply too high when pitting hundreds, thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of dedicated RMTers against the finite resources available to NCSoft. And when it comes down to do the GMs spend their time helping players out with bugs, being stuck, corrupted characters, etc. or spending their time deleting "asdfasdfa" and "fdsdfs"...I'd rather they didn't.

I've witnessed other MMOs attempts to curtail RMT in games, very often to the detriment of the game itself. Yes, placing limits on chat or restrictions on trial accounts does hinder them a bit, but it has a much larger impact on legitimate players or the community as a whole. I found Aion's restriction from using the global channels until level 5 pretty frustrating as a player. I'm sure the RMTers don't bat an eye at it. They can pop out a new serial code with a keygen, and have a random spam-bot leveled up to 5 in a matter of hours. All part of business as usual for them.

Personally, I've found it very easy to just right-click on the name of someone spamming a channel or whispering me and add them to my block list. I do that 2 or 3 times a night and the problem becomes pretty non-existent for me. In fact, I see much more spam from players complaining about the spam (that I no longer see) than actual spam. The only thing I would want NCSoft to do would be add a "block as spammer" option, that would at least automatically generate a list of potential spammers for them to take action on.

Ultimately, there's as much chance of stopping gold spammers as stopping email spam or pop-up ads. The only way I could see it every stopped would be to undercut the market and sell it directly themselves. It would be difficult for a RMTer to sell 1mil gold for $15-$20. But legitimizing RMT would really throw the fragile economies of these games into utter havoc.

It's not the simple problem/solution that you make it out to be.

This comment was edited on Oct 5, 2009, 15:44.
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