The Complexities Of Launching Aion
October 1, 2009 Page 2 of 5
When you're talking about working with the team in terms of the story, what was the process for that? Did you guys just brainstorm in North America, come up with some sort of documentation, and ship it over? Were there video conferences? How did that process work?
BK: It was a little bit of sharing. They would write something, and then we would write something, and then Europe would write something. The European office, which is a lot of our writers, actually had a lot of input into the story. We had some really talented writers -- still do, actually. It's one of those "share the assets around, see what everybody thinks, see where we can go with this" type of thing.
When you say you would write something, did you start with a core concept that was the basis? How simple was it?
BK: I think it was more developing the histories of the world. We had this core concept of how we wanted to have these three factions. All that was fairly set just based on our design of the game and the story.
In terms of like their personalities, how did they get to where they are? Here's the whole of the story, what actually happened here. Maybe somebody in Korea would read it and everything sounds fun to them, but maybe someone in Europe would notice a hole here, or in North America notices a hole here, and so they would say, "What if this caused this?" And they said, "Would that fit with everything else?" "Yes." So that idea would be integrated in.
I'm assuming the European office was producing text in English as well. But obviously the developers in South Korea were reading your translated text, and their text was being translated for you.
BK: Yeah, it wasn't without hardship. It's not an easy thing when you speak different languages and sometimes three different languages -- French or German. There were some difficulties. There were times where we'd go back and forth and then finally realize we were talking about the same thing, and it was just coming out a little differently.
I think part of being a global company is going over those hurdles and move forward. If we all love Aion, we want the best for it. I think there is a difference, and we always try to figure out, "Is this a communication issue? Or is this an actual difference of opinion?" I think that's one thing you always got to look at right away when you're dealing with someone who speaks a different language than yourself.
Yeah, absolutely. I think the mentality has got to be key. I think what you're talking about, about the fact that you had a common goal and that everybody was sort of aware of what that common goal was, was probably what made it possible.
BK: We had a lot of very, very passionate people in the office at Seattle, and all of our locations. That made it all worthwhile in the end.
You talked about the difference between the communication breakdowns versus a difference in opinion. Were there a lot of differences in opinion, or was it more of an open collaboration?
BK: I would say it was a collaboration with openness. Aion has a certain feel of it -- you alluded to some of the art, but also in the story. I think everyone involved had that same sense of feeling, so we all knew when something fit or when something didn't. It was more filling in the holes of certain storylines, certain areas, or just clarifying certain points to maybe some audiences.
One thing was removing the reference, talking about Aion the god and Aion the tower being the same. In the lore, they are, they're one in the same, but to our audience, it didn't resonate as well as the Eastern audiences. That doesn't make it false in our market. It's just something that maybe we don't highlight or touch on. I think that's a lot of what Aion's about.
Everybody keeps asking us, "What are you changing for the Western market?" And a lot of it is not about changing but giving people the choice, and the way we present that. So, in the story, we won't present certain areas that are foreign-feeling to our audience. And then Korea will commit things to the audience, and then Japan will commit things to their audience.
I think that's very obvious just in our marketing versus the web site, all those type of things. You know, it's a different audience, so you highlight different areas. The key was making sure that Aion had enough for everybody to go around.
You emphasize what is appealing about the game, but you don't actually modify the game. You just call it to the fore.
BK: Yeah. And I think that goes into some of the design and changes. We're talking a lot about our latest version that we're going to have at launch, the 1.5 version. This version is kind of a culmination of a lot of our feedback, but it's also the culmination of what we think finally has everything that's needed to be offered in the Western market.
When the game was launched in Korea in November, that was a decision because we felt the game, what it had, and what it was offering was ready for that market. We had the opportunity to launch this game maybe sooner, but we didn't feel wit necessarily had everything it needed in our market. So, we wanted to make sure through and through that this game was ready for the Western market.
Unfortunately, we're battling against a really bad stereotype of a lot of games that were brought over really poorly from the East that most people are kind of attaching us to. We're trying to really say, "You know, this is different. We're not one of these millions of clones that are just trying to translate and push out."
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