Going into Aion one of my biggest concerns was always the company that was making it. I had heard the horror stories about NCSoft, I had seen the debacle that was Tabula Rasa and I had talked to a few friends who had played Lineage 2. Going in I was very, very skeptical that NCSoft would allow any input from Western players and I was very hesitant to trust them
So, what has changed my mind? Simple. Their track record so far when it comes to Aion. Let’s take a look at what NCSoft has done thus far with Aion in the West, starting with beta.
The first major concern that everyone had after beta started was the issues with Gameguard. Every time beta went up the beta boards were inundated with anti-Gameguard posts and with good reason. It caused players to crash, blocked legitimate programs and was an all-around nuisance. NCSoft listened and upon release we found Gameguard removed from the client. NCSoft has said that it may come back but only after it is in a state where it does it’s job with a minimum hassle for legitimate players.
Score 1 for NCSoft.
The other problems that players had in beta were mostly about the User Interface. We tend to control MMOs differently here than in the East. We use WASD, they use click-to-move and that sort of thing. A couple of days before the release we were introduced to a patch that added the much asked for features of inverse mouse and left button camera control. NCSoft listened and added that functionality to the game.
Score 2 for NCSoft.
The release came and we found a stable game that we couldn’t play because of queues. Much gnashing of teeth ensued on the forums and on blogs. Bloggers who didn’t like Aion made a point to make fun of the situation and used the queues to “prove” that NCSoft was a bad company and couldn’t manage a game in the West. More rational bloggers and players pointed out that the hard population controls and less servers were a pain in the short term but would pay dividends in the long term. NCSoft stuck to their plan, despite the griping, moaning and threats of doom, and we now have 14 servers with balanced population. No server has more than a 2% population difference between Asmo and Elyos. No server is dead. Contrast that with WAR. One month into WAR and the population imbalances were already a detriment to the game. Now a year later WAR is still struggling to keep a balanced pop and will probably always have that problem.
Score 3 for NCSoft.
The next issue we came across in Live was the s0-called grind. Quests, some say, seemed to disappear at later levels and players were forced to grind mobs. Many said that quests didn’t give enough experience. Again NCSoft listened. They are now testing a patch that ups quest experience by as much as 500% in some places.
Score 4 for NCSoft.
Gold spammers and bots were always my biggest worry going into Aion. Lineage was infested with them and so was the chinese Aion servers. Sure enough they came in droves. My block list was full in a matter of days. The LFG channel was useless because of all the spam. It was bad. Then came a mass banning and it was alleviated for awhile but did not go away. However, in the latest patch NCSoft introduced a chat filter and 95% of the spam is gone. I see a couple of spams every hour or so but nothing more than what I saw in WoW.
Score 5 for NCSoft.
So far NCSoft has been very quick to answer and address our problems. There are a few outstanding issues that NCSoft needs to address. The bot situation is ridiculous. The Crytek.dll error is getting bad for alot of people. Things are not 100% rosy in game. But I have faith in NCSoft. They have addressed nearly every issue the player base has brought up and they have done so in a timely fashion.
Contrast this response to WAR. Mythic took months to even acknowledge some of the issues players had with WAR. Server balance has never been addressed. The AoE issues took forever for them to acknowledge and address. Players griped about a lack of RvR and Mythic introduced the Land of the Dead which brought more PvE…
Not everything is perfect in Aion but NCSoft has made sure to address the issues as quickly as possible. They have turned a skeptic into a believer. I have faith in NCSoft.