I am going to start off my impressions of the first day of Aion with a look at the biggest controversy of the day…the server queue. For many people the queue was insanely long, upwards of 3-4 hours for some. Many people were frustrated for a lot of the day because of this reason.
One of my good friends was one of those folks caught in the queue for an extended amount of time. He had actually come over to my house with his laptop to play, brought a bunch of snacks and drinks and we settled in for a day of Aion. When the servers opened up we both logged in and got in immediately. However, this was the first time he had played Aion on that laptop and he had to reboot it to change some settings. By the time he got back he found himself in a queue approaching 2000 people. I was already in, so I stayed in. I didn’t want to level without him so I ran around and gathered Azpha and waited…
He finally got in after nearly 3 hours. It was pretty frustrating and the wait would have been longer if they had not increased the server cap when he was half-way through the queue. Many people were in the same boat and I saw quite a few heated forum posts because of it.
But you know what? NCSoft again did the smart thing. It didn’t
seem like it at first but in hindsight what they did was nearly genius. You probably are yelling at you computer monitor now but hear me out and let me explain.
Now you are probably wondering why I chose a picture of National Lampoon’s Vacation and Wally-World. The reason is because the queue today reminded me of an amusement park. It’s the best analogy I can think of, that represented exactly why I think what NCSoft did was pretty damn smart.
When you go to an amusement park and head toward the roller coaster, you will inevitably find yourself in a line. The line sucks, it’s hot and you want to ride the damn coaster already. But they don’t let everyone on the ride at once. It’s dangerous, someone would get hurt and no one would have any fun. The same theory applied to Aion today. The queue caused people to log into the game in smaller size groups. This had the effect of groups of people logging in, starting quests and moving forward. By the time they got to the second quest hub, another group of players had made it in and started their quests. They made it to the second quest hub and another group had started. It kept problems to a minimum.
I was there when WoW launched. I can remember standing in a nearly hour long line to kill a slow spawning named mob for a quest. I can remember waiting for almost an hour to kill Vagash in Dun Morogh. I remember chaos reigning in the Wendigo cavern while everyone fought for mobs.
I was there in WAR launched. I can remember the horrible lag and the horrible framerate while hundreds upon hundreds of people ran around in the starting areas. I can remember waiting in line to kill squigs because they were all dead from all the players.
There was some of that in Aion today, I waited for 20 minutes to finish the “Ribbit” quest on the Asmodian side and I stood in line for a short period of time to get the map on the pirate ship. But it was nothing like what I went through in WoW and WAR. Framerate was solid, quests moved quickly and lag was non-existent after the first 10 minutes or so. The launch was smooth. By far the smoothest launch day I have ever been through and I have been through a lot.
Much of that smoothness is owed to the queue. Letting people in in small groups instead of one big flood allowed people who were in the game to have fun and not become frustrated over a laggy mess. It sucked for those in the queue but once they were in it was amazingly smooth. It was like a roller coaster with the required number of people on it and no more.
In hindsight, it was the right thing to do, though they should have warned people. Really, I think NCSoft has done a number of things with this launch that, in hindsight, worked out remarkably well. Go to Aion’s server page and look at the servers. The hated server caps from a few days ago, the ones that only allowed X number of Asmodians in and would cap them if they got too much higher than the Elyos…yeah they worked. The servers are now amazingly balanced. My server, Lumiel, has 1% more Asmodians than Elyos on it. ONE PERCENT!! Even the most heavily skewed server only has 5% more Asmodians than Elyos.
Contrast that to WAR, which had horribly unbalanced servers at launch. Destruction dominated servers, some people reported Destruction up by a two to one margin on some servers. None of that in Aion. They are as balanced as they can be.
In the short-term these methods they used sucked. The side caps sucked. The queues sucked. But there was a method to the madness and it looks like it’s working. We suffered a bit for the short term so that the long term prognosis could look better. In hindsight it was worth it.
Welcome to the roller-coaster.