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The Complexities Of Launching Aion
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The Complexities Of Launching Aion

October 1, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

I'm not super familiar with Korean developers, but I know that Japanese developers have an obsession with text. Is that something that you find with Korean developers? Is their natural instinct to really go text heavy?

BK: Well, it's always shorter because the language is shorter. The way the translation comes through... we end up, in our rewriting process, going down about 30 percent from what's translated. How much of that is actually based on the Korean text versus just the way it was translated, I couldn't really tell you, but chopping 30 percent of anything is quite a bit.

Something we're learning as a medium is trying to find a balance. I find that people right now are really trying to find a real balance of how much story is satisfying, and how much is too much, and how much is too little. I've seen a lot of swing and miss in both too much and too little lately.

BK: Right. If you don't give the user a purpose or a reason for being there, then you've missed. But if you just give them so much that they're overwhelmed or they just to ignore it, then you've missed as well. It is definitely a happy medium that you have to find.

As I've been talking to developers of MMOs, and I think that as you observe some of the trends that have gone in the past couple of years, shaky launches aren't really acceptable in the way they used to be.

BK: No. Or betas. From the very beginning, when we started planning our betas, I was like, "It's not going to be like other betas. We can't do that." Betas are pretty much launch. It's like putting out your demo on Xbox 360. Everybody is going to judge you on that.

You're not going to be going into beta and everybody going, "Oh, it's okay you've got bugs." or "It's not complete." You have got to put one of your best feet forward with betas. A lot of our planning around beta was to show some progression, but at the same show something that's a very solid product.

Is the Korean audience more forgiving to games that aren't as complete at launch?

BK: I don't think so. It's funny, their players complain just as much as our players. They complain about a little different things. Like I said, it's making sure that the pieces for that market are in place so that their stuff is in place. There was a lot more emphasis on PVP in the Korean market, so we made sure that our PVP system was through and through sound. Whereas our market tends to have a little more interest in PVE, with instances and quests, so we wanted to make sure that was sound before it launched here.

I had a friend who used to work at NCsoft, and he worked as a GM on Lineage II. And hearing him talk about the behavior of the Korean audience versus the behavior of the North America audience was interesting. Lineage II had something of a really hardcore audience in North America.

BK: Yes. They're very passionate.

Hearing about the behavioral differences and the idea of trying to get the Korean developers to understand the Western audience's behavior, which was not the same as the very wide, general audience that Lineage II had in Korea, was interesting. Did you learn from that whole Lineage II process, and flow that into Aion?

BK: Certainly. I was actually on Lineage II... I actually overlapped products for a little while. There was a lot of good learning from Lineage II. I think we had a very solid game that we didn't put enough focus on localization, in my opinion, which is something that we adapted, obviously, for Aion.

It's just making sure, like I said, that it's ready for your market. If we would have held off on Lineage II for maybe a couple updates, it might've been in a little different state, and things might have been different. We also ran the betas a lot different with Lineage II. We were very open. I believe we had -- I want to say unlimited signups for open beta for Lineage II. That caused issues later on. There were a lot of mistakes along the way with Lineage II that we corrected.

But there were also some things that we did good. I think we've done a good job of keeping Lineage II up to date. And I think we're working hard to make sure that Aion is even more up to date. That delta between the Korean launch and our launch, while it's long this time, it's better for both community and players and development team to be as close as possible. If you're familiar with game development -- obviously you are -- supporting two different branches of code becomes a huge pain in the ass. So, you want to keep that as short as possible, that window of time where you're different.

Are patches going to be global and simultaneous once the game is out in both territories?

BK: We're going to get them as close as possible. I think that everyone will be a little different in terms of the timing. If a patch is maybe heavy on some sort of content that maybe doesn't require as much localization work as another patch, than maybe that one will be a little bit smaller, as far as the delta. There might be an instance where it's best for all of us to launch all at once. I think we're just going to take it on a case-by-case basis. It's definitely our goal to stay within one to two months, as far as up-to-date.

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