Post from PD - November 2015

Server Merges & Steam














Hail, Daevas!
This is the first piece in our new "Post from PD" segment. This should serve in future as another channel on my side for giving you information directly alongside the #AskAion videos. I'd like to use it primarily when there are important topics and I don't want to wait for the next episode of #AskAion. To start with, I'll always write a brief summary and then go into the whole thing in more detail after. This way everyone can extract the right amount of info for them. In any case, I want to make it really transparent how we work and why - really open and honest without sugar-coating anything or beating about the bush
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- Nic


Summary

Absences on the team and hardware problems on the test system mean the server merges have been pushed back to December, which also means the Steam release planned for December is no longer possible. Since we estimate a December Steam release would be significantly more successful than in January, we're making this a priority and are moving the server merges to January 2016.

Background

The work on the server merges is progressing well. In terms of potential conflicts on the target servers for the merges, we've found what we consider to be the best possible solution for each of these individual conflicts and have already worked these out. Korea has so far approved our approach. The design for the character transfer in the account area for conflict resolution has also been accepted and is currently being implemented.

There are still a few difficulties with the technical implementation and corresponding tests, however. We've had a few outages here that have set us back. Additionally, one of our test environments has also had some hardware problems. Unlike the live infrastructure, outages on the test systems are not so quickly fixed (since this option is expensive), so it took our sysadmins a few days to get everything up and running in perfect order again.
This means that our already tight schedule has been set back a little bit further and the Christmas events are already taking up a lot of preparation time.

It would still be possible to start the merges at the end of November/start of December but it would be really tight. And since lots of unplanned stuff always crops up in the run-up to Christmas, the actual merge could slip even further into December.
These facts mean we won't be able to implement both the merges AND the Steam release in December. This means we have two options:

1) Merges in December, Steam in January/February

Upside: The servers with the lowest population will get their "salvation" in December and the gaming fun will be significantly increased. That brings the topic to a close and all the positive aspects of the merge have an effect much earlier on. And just by the by: Nobody can accuse me of not having (roughly) kept my word (after I announced the merge for October/November in the fourth #AskAion) :P.

Downside: We lose the time slot for a Steam release when the most players are online. The aim is to use the Steam release to bring as many new players as possible to the world of AION. That's why December is the most exciting month for this..

2) Steam in December, merges in January/February

Upside: We're going to enjoy the flood of users on Steam in December and take the best opportunity to welcome new players to Atreia. Even though I think the probability is low: If the servers with a low population receive a sufficient number of new users, we can rethink the server distribution prior to the merges. But I think that's unlikely –– I'm assuming a smaller growth in new active players.
A further advantage is the fact that we'll have more time for clean testing, and not have to implement the merge in spite of any Christmas stress (the Steam release is significantly less complex).

Downside: The merges continue to be delayed. This means we'll lose potential players that would have stayed due to the merges on AION. But at the moment I think this point is only of limited relevance since December generally always sees the highest numbers of users online and every server always feel "fuller" at this time anyway.
Additional downside: A not insignificant number of you will complain since we announced the merges for October/November. In principle, we always try everything we can to stick to our schedule. But also only if it really makes sense taking into account the circumstances at the time.

All together we have decided to put all focus on the Steam release in December and then take care of the server merges in January/February. Please cross your fingers with us in the hopes that Steam gives us their blessing without the all-to needed further touch ups to the client and that the release can then take place in December as planned.

January/February is mentioned above for the merges as the process will stretch across two to four weeks. Here is an overview of the process:




















First we'll ask you to solve the biggest conflicts so you yourselves have freedom of choice. For this, we'll offer you a free character transfer for the account where the merge causes a conflict (since you can't have Elyos and Asmodian character on a server at the same time). This whole thing will be supported by an intuitive interface to make the process quick and simple. If you don't use the opportunity before and during the first time after the merge, we will carry out a forced transfer three weeks after the merge in the second phase in order to resolve the conflict. Then as you can see in the diagram, it will only be possible to have both Elyos and Asmodian characters on the same server in the first phase after the merge. If you're not happy with the results of the forced transfer, we'll provide you with a free transfer option to resolve the issue.

At this point in time we're also considering whether to test the merge with a pair of servers first and then only merge the other servers a week later. This will let us see whether all is well with the merge under live conditions. Of course we test everything thoroughly in advance, but there's no such thing as a 100% guarantee. So as you can see, the whole thing will take place over a specific time period. That's why I don't want to commit to January and then end up having to discuss the scheduled date yet again.

So that's the merge and the timelines done and dusted. I hope you can reach a decision with this information to hand. And in case a few of you do get angry, we've planned an awful lot of stuff for Christmas that should benefit you (no, no pay-to-win :-P) and hopefully make you forget that anger in a flash.

Two more bits of information

Steam release: You can carry on using your existing accounts and won't be tied to a specific AION account.

FPS fix: We're happy to see that our fix has helped a lot of players. Side note: Russia may have loaded the patch in advance, but the fix was created with our input, which we've gathered working together with you. The Russian publisher received the fix at the same time we did and took it live right away. Past experience has taught us to always test patches like these extremely thoroughly before we do anything so it took us a week longer.

English