The Queue

This is a queue

This is a queue

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…

And waited…

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

Aion's queue was a lot like Wally-World

Aion's queue was a lot like Wally-World

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.

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20 Responses

  1. I also had a three hour wait. When the server disconnected I was back at the end of a four hour que. Maybe I will be able to log in this evening…

  2. Very true Mr. Naamah! Very true indeed.

  3. Queues are frustrating, sure, but entirely expected on a launch day. Anyone who thought there wouldn’t be queues likely has never played on launch day in an MMO.

    Your analogy of an amusement park line is very good. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a movie premier lineup or even a good restaurant lineup. I somehow get the feeling that people who complain about queues (I saw one idiot saying “Let’s file a class action lawsuit!”) have never made a financial transaction before. Their complains are so superfluous and lack experience, usually along the lines of, “I’ve paid for this, I deserve it NOW”. Heh, I paid for new window coverings for my house 3 weeks ago, they should be arriving this week. Try that for a queue!

    In the end, excellent launch, and I LOVE the automatic server balancing. I’ve always been a huge Blizzard fan, so I was there on WoW launch day as well, Lightbringer. We turned out to be one of the most unbalanced realms in the game, eventually when the numbers came out we had a 7:1 Alliance to Horde ratio. You can imagine what that did for the server when the Honor system was released, and Battlegrounds were brutal – for every 1 Horde that had some raiding gear, the opposite team had 7 of the very same.

    Anyhow, just so happens that I rolled on Elyos on Lumiel as well – see you online!

  4. I got to sit in the queue for about two hours to Azphel. I got in at first, with many of my guildies, but my computer blue-screened shortly after I reached Adelle Village. By the time I got back in, I was right behind your friend in line.

    It took me a while to realize why Aion had done what it did. You’re exactly right: they up the server population cap as people progress, to avoid too much congestion in any one area. Still I was surprised that the cap was so tight for the starting areas: only 10 instances? they could’ve repurposed their end-game serverspace for another 10 instances of the starting space until the initial wave passed. But then, that wouldn’t really solve the problem: more people would be jamming into the second quest country, and the spare servers would have to jump again…

    So queues were good – I ended up logging off before people who didn’t have the two-hour wait, and was only a level or so behind at that time. I am just amused at people’s general inability to estimate. How much server space did Aion need at pre-release to avoid queues? Probably double what they set up. Sucks a bit for those of us who had to wait, but the Internet itself is even worse. “How many websites will we need? 2^32 should be way more than enough, right?” And now they’re jumping to 2^128 with the next-gen protocol…

  5. Great analogy! 🙂

  6. And that is why you don’t roll on the overpopulated servers. Entire guilds left for lower pop servers yesterday. And that may just be the real reason for queues, rebalanced server populations. I logged in during primetime and played without any queue on Kaisinel no problems whatsoever.

  7. […] Justification-point. […]

  8. Crazy…
    Im playing on Nezekan, as Im oceanic….no queues for us.

  9. […] him off, welcome to four hours in the queue. Naamah got in, but his friend had to wait three hours. It’s a good thing, though. I think he kinda has to be positive about the whole thing, though. AT&T and NCsoft conspired […]

  10. I see the point for the queues. Getting disconnected every five minutes can be a pain though. The servers will probably be slammed today. Guess I should wait a few days to allow the dust to settle….

  11. What I wish NCSoft had done was what we see in Champions Online.

    Unified Server, Instance the zones.

    A lot of people hate zone instancing, and I understand it’s a problem to some, but it helps resolve one of the greatest problems we have with these games. How do I make sure I play with my friends all the time.

    If the game was instanced, then all my guildies could log in, and then agree on an instance to join together and play. If an instance becomes too crowded, the game spawns a new one.

    Of course, players don’t like the idea of instance PvP zones. Namely, Instance Abyss sounds strange and doesn’t jive well with many. Of course, NCSoft would have redesigned the game better to deal with instancing for the Abyss, but it would also mean we wouldn’t have those lag-fests we see in Warhammer where 200 vs 200 show up at a Keep take and our computers are lagging so hard our computers look like they are in screensaver mode.

    Instance content means everyone gets a fair share, and we get to play with exactly who we want, when they all show up. I’m up for that!

    And Aion does have instance starter zones, but it’s not enough, because there should never be queues. Ever.

    • Instancing is fine for PvE games. It would be horrible for a PvP game, especially one as wide-open as Aion. Give me the occasional queue if I can have a more wide open world.

      The instancing in CO is one of the many reasons why I dislike it.

  12. […] is here and AIon has officially launched, bringing the head start period to a close.  While many people are reporting 4+ hour queues to log in, and poor Keen almost completely missed out on the head start, I had very few troubles getting some […]

  13. […] This Blog The Queue Aionic Thoughts He hit the nail on the board with everything he […]

  14. You would think they would have learned from WOW,AOC and WAR’s mistakes and made the game where there was not any queues. When you buy a game for a console do you expect to wait 3 hours beforeyou can play it? Your being too easy on them. I almost canceled my account the third day. I have very limitied time to play and this just is not right.

    • Queues were inevitable. They were in a catch-22 here, either open up too many servers and risk unbalanced factions and dead servers after the launch blitz ends or too few and have a queue. In the short term it sucks but in the long term it really will be better for the game.

      By the way, they are opening another server by the weekend.

      • Last night was day 5 for me with a 2+ hour que. Which really equates to a 3+ hour que cause the estimate is never accurate. It’s frustrating to be going through this after day 5. I understand why they are doing it and I appericate them wanting balance but at the same time I can’t play with my friends and my only option at this point is to either wait it out or roll on a different server without my friends. I can not see how opening one additional server for each time zone is going to help.

  15. […] AionicThoughts 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. […]

  16. […] can use all of the roller coaster analogies that you want, the fact is, an MMO is nothing like a roller coaster ride.  We have not paid for a […]

  17. […] Aionic Thoughts has a great post about the queues. […]

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