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.