Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Age of Conan - Modesty and taking it on the chin

On the MTV game blog of all places (interesting how AoC is turning up in strange places...)an interview with Jørgen Tharaldsen was posted. The name of the interview is "Funcom defends Age of Conan", and needless to say, there is some interesting information there....

Needless to say, there are some tough questions about everything from the "Female Attack Speed" issues (where it was found out the animations for women made the female avatars attack slower), to fan disappointment with missing features.
On the features, he had this to say..
"Sometimes when you take an idea from concept and plans on paper to balance in the game it just doesn’t fit, or causes too many other issues. In those cases, it’s actually better that we cut them; those were informed decisions in the best interests of the overall player experience — formation combat was probably the major thing here. In practice it just didn’t work anywhere near as well as it sounded like it should on paper. We are glad we didn’t try and force something through there for the sake of it!"

This is understood. I think what irked people the most is that it seems too much was taken out at either the last minute or things were not as described with no explanation from Funcom.
Looking forward, Jørgen stated..
"eventually, when the time is right, we will naturally invite those who left us for a new swing, for free, and I guess that the “proof will be in the pudding” when that time comes. That second return is about trust and adding enough new content, and this is naturally one of our key challenges going into 2009."

Which I think will be important immediately. If they can make those changes and let those who bought the game come back and at least try them, it could help.
I read a lot of forum posters who were like myself and left, not due to the game, but how Funcom was driving the game into the ground.

Letting Gaute go was a major step in that direction to me.

Finally, this statement really hits home on how Funcom is looked at in the light of MMO development
"I also think the question is symptomatic of some of the word of mouth issues we have. There is no denying that we launched “Age of Conan” with initial issues, but the memory and word of mouth of what we once were compared to what we have done to the game since launch, and where we are going, doesn’t necessarily match up. As work continues on making Conan better and better, I do however think that this will change!"

And this may be their toughest battle. SWG and Vanguard can prove that no matter what you do, what WAS done will always haunt the developers. The player is a cruel mister/mistress. They require a specific form of polish now, and if there is any straying from this, be prepared to feel their wrath.
I have said it before that if anything Age of Conan has a good core. The mechanics try to be different than MMO's we have played before. Visually the game is the best looking graphics on the market (and since patch 2.0, the game actually runs with these graphics with no crashes and slowdowns..), and underneath all of this is an excellent PvE game, even though it's core is PvP. Story, and emotes are there, they just need the other social tools like clothing, itemization and busy type of mini games (like the bar brawls will be a big step).
It is interesting the avenues Funcom is following to discuss their game right now, with the TV showing and MTV interviews.
Now, they need to convince the MMO player hardcore, those who love MMO's. And based on MMORPG.coms ratings and the hatred spewed in those forums, they have a lot of work on on their hands.


Oakstout said...

The game was released way to soon and they just need to admit it. Some of the bugs, like the AH being down for a week after launch or the lack of PvP rewards in a PvP centric game aren't just over sights, they are evidence of an unfinished product.

A game has to work and deliver, not just look pretty. True, there are bugs in WAR, issues like getting stuck in terrain or graphic models not looking right but nothing, IMHO, game breaking and those that are, like CTD and black screens got dealt with immediately. I waited a full month for them to fix the demonologist so it was fun to play, and that never happened.

I didn't even get out of the city because I didn't have faith in them to provide a full fun gaming experience. NO PvP rewards at start, when everyone is chopping each others heads off for what? People spending hours griefing others? That to me just doesn't sound fun.

I think Funcom's announcement might get a few people to try it for free when a trial comes out, but they won't get near the numbers they had at launch.

Fool me once, shame on me...fool me twice...Shame on you!

Openedge1 said...

I agree...totally.
It does seem a little too late, but they have not given up.

But, I also will not be easy on them.

This morning I dealt with 3 ping spikes. Those MUST go. They should not still be there, and the fact Funcom is asking people for information on their systems and ISP tries to make it the players fault, when it is not.

As to WAR, yes, it is a smoother game, and had a better overall launch and "fix it" period.
But, the game is not that complicated compared to AoC.
Graphically and mechanically there is more going on in AoC that really shows why Funcom is having issues.
A more complicated code (double the size of WAR), more complicated information for combat data (which it sounds like they are reworking)
Voice overs, cinematics...
WAR just does not compete when it comes to how much more forward looking the overall base code is in AoC.
This is why I feel WAR may be fun now, but does not have the systems in place to make the game fun when it comes to longevity.
Already complaints of no players in lower tiers, issues with empty zones..
This is the reason I support AoC moreso than WAR.
AoC's engine is future proofed. It has more to offer in the long run.

But, like we have may be too late.
Time will tell.

Oakstout said...

Honestly, no one can say what the future will bring. WAR might do what WoW has done and upgrade the game and code as it progresses over time. Adding new and exciting features might bring WAR into its own down the line, but who is to say.

WoW is currently in the process of copying WAR's PvP greatness by adding similar features to their game in an upcomming patch or expansion, so WAR must be doing something right if the big dog is looking over its shoulder and stealing from the new comer.

But as I have always said when people blast WoW, why does easy have to be a bad word. Because WAR isn't leaps in code or game mechanics doesn't make it a bad game nor a boring one. But the main thing is, just as your article mentioned, no telling what Aoc will do in the future to get customers back, nor what WAR will do to keep the ones they have once the free month is over.

It's a MMO crap shoot.

Openedge1 said...

We agree again Oakstout.

I do not think WAR is a bad game at all, just not what I wanted.
AoC was not a bad game, but was mismanaged, and also over hyped. As well, Funcom said the game would do more than it did, and THAT was it's mistake.
I always said AoC was 40 levels too many.
If the game would have had endgame at level 40, there would have been ZERO complaints about content.
If they would have held back FFA PvP til AFTER launch, it would have been polished, and ready.

But, we now have that MMO crap shoot...and we can only hope each game has what it takes to survive...
WAR definitely has the edge in this respect thanks to Funcom's muck up launch..

Oakstout said...

Well, there are always the old standards one can alway hop back too, like CoH, Lotro, EQ2 or WoW.

True they have been over hyped and over done, but they do, at times, provide a modest amount of entertainment.

Its really all subjective. Me, I change my mind about games every other day. One minute I like the game leading me around by the nose showing me where to quest, kill mobs or how to grind up, the next I feel they have too much control over my fun for the same reasons.

Am I playing the game or is the game playing me?

As long as your having fun it really doesn't matter.

Besides, DCUO, Free Realms, The Agency and Champions will be out soon enough and the debate will start all over again.