July Community Address: Open Letter from Lance Stites
Hello to all,
It's been a while since I've addressed the community, and with all that's happening, it's probably a good time to provide an update. Since Aion Producer Chris "Kinslon" Hager is out due to an unpreventable leave of absence, I'll be providing information to you. While we expect him back in the office within a couple of weeks, we didn't want to wait to provide you with information on our status.
We've had a busy summer already and have accomplished some positive things. Our release of 1.9 brought some nice improvements to the game. We were especially glad to release this update as it introduced many changes based on the feedback we collected from players in North America and Europe. We've also merged some of the servers to revitalize the server population. While no one looks forward to conducting a merge, we felt it was important to provide a vibrant social experience for the community. We had seen player concurrency dropping off some and had been diligent in removing RMT or bot accounts, so a server merge was a good way to bring the community back together.
Since then, we've been allowing free character transfers so as to resolve any character faction conflicts. However, we soon noticed a disturbing trend. Players were migrating in such a way that caused an unbalanced faction ratio in the servers, negating a primary reason for the recent merge. We had to make the hard decision to disable transfers and revisit our plan.
In plain terms, it is our duty and obligation to provide a fun and fair environment for players. I know this wasn't a popular decision, but the alternative would be servers with one faction totally dominating the other and a self-perpetuating situation of player discouragement and abandonment for the minority faction or no challenge at all for the dominating faction. Right now, all the associated Aion teams are working on a solution to allow character transfers to resume with appropriate limits in place to prevent radically unbalanced servers. In the interim, we will be selectively disabling new character creation for specific races on specific servers temporarily as another tool to help balance the factions in each server. For instance, if you're playing on a predominantly Elyos server, Asmodian creation will be the only race available for new characters. While we intend to enact this change only temporary, we hope that this limited selection process will have positive server balance effects in the long term.
We're particularly anxious to reach a resolution on this as we do have some great things we're working on. We've got a reactivation campaign rolling to invite players back to see the changes we've introduced with 1.9. On top of that, we've got the next major expansion, Aion®: Assault on Balaurea™, in the final stages of testing. We're showing our serious commitment to you, our players, by providing this as a free downloadable expansion for our current users, as well as offering an upgraded client at retail outlets.
I'm personally excited to see not only the new Aion: Assault on Balaurea instances and play mechanics coming, but also that the Aion development team has shown very creative thinking with the new pet system. It's pretty cool to see the usefulness of these creatures, which can carry items for you to effectively increase your inventory space, alert you when enemies are nearby, and even create items out of your otherwise unwanted drops. I'm also encouraged by the astute observations of our Game Analysis Team, which tracks potential issues received from the community or staff. This team tracks the data behind subjective feedback and provides metrics that indicate potential problem areas. Finally, we continue to strengthen our already strong relationship with the game development team, and I've seen some recent demonstrations of its members' support that are inspiring. I'm excitedly looking forward to what we have to offer even beyond our next update.
I'd like to thank all of you who are so committed to Aion and to let you know that I appreciate the fact that you're a critical component of the game. I'm honored to be working on a game with so many passionate fans, and I hope we can continue to provide you hours of fun and enjoyment.
Faith and Arms,
Executive Vice President, Game Operations and Production