Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Age of Conan - Directors Letter answers "some" questions

A letter from the new Director of Conan was posted on the forums yesterday.
It lays out the progress of the game and gives a heads up to what is coming down the road...

The letter is not the usual Funcom with some huge promises and statements of success, and even lays out some problems they see with the game...

"One of the issues we have been working on in that regards is the limited budgets that were originally assigned to the in-game items. It was always the intention that Age of Conan would not be a game where items would be the deciding factor in encounters. This meant though that the statistics available for items, and their actual effect on your character, was simply too slim. The items do scale within very limited ranges and have quite a limited effect on your characters abilities, and this I feel we need to do something about. When we sat down and analyzed the way this worked and the impact it had on players actual sense of progression through the game we came to the hard choice that something had to change. "

Here is where the problem lies..

"Moving on to some things a little further out I mentioned"

Prefaces the first statement. What this means is anyone's guess.
A month, a year?
With this being one of Conan's largest issues, they may want to move this up.

Due to the games almost hectic and Action RPG like playstyle, you spend a lot of time fighting, and as such, you expect maybe some loot that is fun to play with.
This is not the case though.
Items like armor and weapons are rare, and ones which are fun (has stats that are worthwhile per se) is few and far between.

This statement receives the brunt of this feeling of limited loot with a ton of responses in that same thread PLEADING with Funcom to get some new armor styles into the game.

Also mentioned in the same letter...

"Another aspect which has popped up in the forums recently is whether we are going to do a server merge or not, and I can today confirm that we are actively working on an approach to merge servers, both in Europe and North America. It’s important for us to ensure the best gameplay experience for you all, and more healthy populations on each and every server will make sure we maintain healthy communities for the game in the future. Still, there are many complexities involved in this, and we want to ensure that everything happens as fair and streamlined as possible. That work has now started, and we are naturally making sure that guilds and players can get to new servers in the best possible way. We will come back with more info on this, but I hope that this will serve as a positive injection to the social scene in the game."

Not something you wish to see within the first 6 months. But, Funcom brought this upon themselves as well.
They got zerged on launch. The amount of people who bought and logged in was quite huge. And to compensate, Funcom opened 10 NEW servers, which I felt was way too many.
They could have made queues and seen if the population held.
And not having fixed the game beyond Tortage also hurt them, and the bleeding of customers at the beginning due to shallow content also damaged these servers populations.

Instead, after 6 months, they are announcing merges, which so many see as a death wish if anything.
And what is funny is quite a few servers have become the noted login servers (Set and Cimmeria to name a couple for PvE and PvP respectively) which actually have rather large pops right now.

So, right now, Age of Conan has a new Director who is commited and willing to make the changes needed to make a successful game (he was the one who took over Anarchy Online and many credit with fixing that game).
And as has been seen by a dedicated set of gamers, that the game appeals to a specific type of player.
Could AoC find a niche like EQ2 and LOTRO?

Or, is it too little too late?

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