Sunday, May 31, 2009

Vanguard offers free time

And tells no one about it.

I just read that Shamutanti at letsnothaveabreakdown has been playing his "free" time. I decide to login to my account mgmt. and see "Oh time".

Well, have a party and invite no one I guess.

How did HE know though?

Guess it is for the best as this game has constantly been junk when I have played. Probably should just forget about it and play on in my game.

Yep...for the best.

(Lets call this "Vanguards last Hurrah"...who does not see THIS as foreshadowing?)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Age of Conan - Level 65-75 = Difficult..

...Yet, level 76 opens up a whole new ball of wax.

WoW, I am only 3 bars away from level 77 thanks to the massive number of new quests that open, including "grind" groups that show up in what is called DMC (Death Master Camps).

Here groups of players gather to do quests in the camp and grind XP. Basically a group will grab a major DPS to center the team, and other tanks run out and grab gatherings of mobs to bring center, and blast away.
XP Bars fill up fast in this respect. And if you grab the contracts, this also earns a bit o' cash as well.
Also, an area that had become closed off (due to low levels quests and no XP) now has open questing and dungeons as well. Atzels is now playable again!
Still no solo work per se, but the number of groups forming is excellent.

Groups fill up quickly and more are always available.

Looks like I made it over that hump for now, and I could get to 80 quicker than I imagined.
I have been excited about trying a couple of raids on the weekends, and I may just finally get my wish. to play some more...trying for 77 today!


Friday, May 29, 2009

Age of Conan - So, about that grind...

Logged in to Age of Conan to finish some contract work, and got a random invite. A group of level 70+ all doing a specific quest area that requires a group ( It tried to do solo once, but, pulls full groups of mobs...was not possible)...

Needless to say...just like that, I hit 76, which opens up new quest lines for me.

Guess, that grind is gone thanks to random PUG goodness...

Thanks mysterious strangers.

(Now, 4 levels to go!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Age of Conan - Grinding for 2 hours a day

Is a horribly difficult thing to do.

At the level I am at, I am basically stuck in a rut as I attempt to reach max level. What has become most trying during this period is that fact that I am not able to put more than 2 hours a day into playtime. This puts me into a category of not being able to get into groups, and I am then relegated to specific quests.

I had, up until I reached level 75, 3 zones to play in. But, now one of those zones has become low level quests with minimal to no XP. The other two have been pushed into "Kill 10 x" quests of regurgitated contracts. The dungeons are off limits to me due to no solo capability (as the mobs need 3-4 players to combat just ONE mob), and any interesting quests are out of my level range.

I am about 5 bars away from level 76 that opens new quests in new areas of one zone I am in, Keshatta. But, to get there, OMG...I have already played 4 days to get to that point. I could grind another 3-4 days before I reach 76...that is with only 2 hours a day.

My lifestyle at this point is not open to doing those longs hours of MMO playtime I use to do when I started. I enjoy more family time, work has become more demanding (thank goodness too, as what I am doing now really rocks), and I am unsure if I could push myself to sit down one or two days in the evening and crank out some hours to get some dungeons going.

I have debated about jumping games, and getting a break for a bit, so I do not tire of that grind. I loaded up Guild Wars today for example, and I also have DDO waiting for me to trial for 30 days. In two weeks Prototype for the 360 will be released, and that will get me a single player game to goof off in here and there...

But, I use time cards for AoC, and time ticks away as I play something else.

Do you guys have some suggestions, as I do not want to give up hitting max in AoC. I am so close. But, I need to figure out a way to mix up that time I have available, or let go for a few days...or SOMETHING (before I rip more of my hair out grinding away).


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Age of Conan - Launch Day Blues - Redux

As has been noted over the last week, an issue has arisen in the ranks of the "Customer vs Company" forums that is Age of Conan's community.

This all started due to an issue that took place with an event planned for this past weekend. The event, noted as a gathering in a specific zone and location in the game was to take place at a specific time. I will not go over the details, as I have already touched on it in a previous post here (OMG ..What did I miss..?)

The event did not go off as scheduled. This then turned into a blame game, of Funcom stating that the "customer" misunderstood (wait, isn't the customer always right?), and that this was to be a player driven event...but technical difficulties ensued (huh?), and the voice of the players said "Funcommed again!"

The forum wars began. Players were infuriated (especially the ones who stood there for 3 HOURS waiting for something to happen), the threads started to fill up with flames, discussion, and rhetoric...and the ban hammer fell. Threads mysteriously disappeared, posts fell into "oblivion" (as Famine likes to call it).

This then led to another event being announced. But, of interest, this was a "quit the game, and cruise websites" game. The player could win prizes going on a scavenger hunt of various websites that either discussed AoC or were news outlets with a lot of pull (IGN for example). After the last failed event, this just did not go well.

Players were upset that they had to quit their games to crusie websites for prizes. Some of the websites also happened to be in foreign languages to other players (Spanish, German, Italian), and this of course led to Forum Wars Two. Why run an event outside the game (again, player driven) and then have some of the hidden gems on sites that some may not understand?

Now ...of interest... any mention of these events in any light of opposition led to more post deletions and thread removals (I was a victim of a post removal for mentioning that I "thought" one of my posts had been

And all I could think today is...Launch Day all over again. You would think they would learn...

But, to no avail, as this seems to just keep going downhill. Conspiracy has been mentioned (and deleted) that events cannot take place in game as a license deal may prevent these events.
Adding insult to injury is the patch 1.05 situation. Being mentioned as a major overhaul of the game, one of the big deals about the patch was a discussion of gear changes. Yet, there is NO CHANGE to loot tables, and Craig noted "It was not a high priority" in so many words.
So, if gear is to matter, but gear still looks the same, and the god awful loot tables (with a massive amount of raid loot rot happening) do not rectify is a player to care about these changes in the first place? (this also does not mention the 1.05 patch making Tier 1 raids near impossible due to needing Tier 1 gear to run the raid in the first place...that is another story)

I start to think the company wishes their games to fail due to some tax law that gets cash in Funcoms pocket, the same way Uwe Bolls films were crap, and a loophole in German Tax laws helped him recover from these flops.

Funcom is the Uwe Boll of MMO's. Not a great place to be.

Windows 7 installed

Makes Vista look like Windows ME!

I have yet had an issue running anything. AoC runs a 100 times better, in DX10 with my ATI 4870 card (which seems to perform better overall in Windows 7 than my Nvidia 260GTX), and does not crash on exit anymore.
The system just feels peppier, and things run faster to my naked eye (sorry, I will cover it up now..).

Looks like when this is released, it is a BUY!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Age of Conan - Funcom screws up...yet..

Most players do not care.

How funny.

Now of course, new customers may view this differently.
Haters of Funcom sure have taken this to new heights (the love the haters have for ammunition to throw around forums is quite amusing.), but players who are already in game?...could give a sh**.

I decided to play for a bit yesterday and started asking how people felt in Guild Chat and Global about the issue. How do they feel about the company.

They still think they are getting their moneys worth, and most chalk it up to mistaken wording. As well, they were not hurt over the fact that Funcom did try to make it look like the players fault (this, I felt was the most egregious of issues on Funcoms part, because no matter how you slice it, an event is an event, and not the players concern to create an event YOU the company invite them to, unless you specifically state "Player driven").

It does present a PR nightmare though when people discuss it down the road on websites and blogs (wha? who me?), and then to see another event that has players traveling around other websites to find clues to (i.e: not an "in-game" event) complete a quest of sorts. Just seems slightly cheap again.

Of course, I played my game, had fun, and thought nothing of how stupid Funcom really is...but, being niche like this will not garner better profits, and the game will slowly whither away..

I did see a discussion though from Craig on Twitter about patch 1.05 (one I feel I can get behind now since some recent changes), and I do have some stuff I have gathered about their guild changes that look good.
All Funcom needs to do is get this one off the ground without all of the issues..

But, we know how this always goes.

(Think...Good Karma will win...Think HAPPY thoughts...)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Age of Conan - OMG, what did I miss?

Only their biggest debacle since launch.

Another foot / mouth / gun / foot scenario for Funcom.

Seems a mis-worded (according to Funcom) event fell to pieces while I was away. I do not know how it totally went down, but I can guess based on the many discussions on the EU forums it was not pretty.

Worded like so...

"People of Hyboria, King Conan, beloved ruler of Aquilonia, celebrates another year of his reign over the Jewel of the West. To honor this event, you all are invited to take part in the small festivities happening in the Tarantia Noble District outside of King Conan's castle tomorrow,Saturday 23rd May starting 3pm EDT."

What is of interest, is there is some wording about bringing your fireworks they gave all the players free for the year (yep, super lame gift), and to use them (of course not discussing how you can only fire them once every 8 hours...super lame) at this perfect time.

Now, when I read this, I imagine something is going to happen when we gather. Would YOU not assume the same? Isn't that what an event created by a company is?

Seems Funcom is stating this was misunderstood by the players. It should have been a player driven event...WHA???

"players expected the event to be more than it actually was planned to be. The actual idea was to provide players with a possibility to have player run activities in one spot for the anniversary"

Riiigghhhttt. I did not see that in the original message. Nothing in the original message meant for players to drive the event to me anyways...

Then they stated...

"In additon there were also technical difficulties that lead to the event not running correctly on the servers."

Wait a minute. How can a "player run" event have "technical difficulties".
I am confused.
Is it the fact the server cannot handle more players in a zone on one server? This makes no sense, and just seems to be a company discombobulated over their true meaning of the event.

In so many words, we planned an event, it was screwed, so now lets blame the player base for misunderstanding.

I guess you can figure out how the player community feels. A nice long thread exists here

The company had made so much progress in the customers eyes of this game, then this happens. How can a company survive with such an incompetent level of ineptitude.
I started to think the game could survive the long haul. But, now doubts set in again.

But, what did we expect of a company that did the same thing a year ago.

Truly disappointed to come home to this. Can't even play right now, I am so upset.

Ah well, long weekend anyways. Better get some rest instead.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Age of Conan - Before I leave... know that issue with Age of Conan, DX10 and an LCD TV..that the mouse does not work, and certain resolutions are broken if you use just one cable for display?
(The only way it would work is if you had two cables hooked up to the same LCD TV)

Did you know that on Windows 7, this issue does NOT exist? Also, the issue where AoC will crash sometimes when exiting from a DX10 session? GONE!!

When I return from my hiatus, Vista is going Bye, Bye...a Memorial Day Project if I ever saw one!!

Say Hello to Windows 7 (and...anyone using Vista should do the same!!)


Anniversary Hiatus

I am celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary this weekend.

I head out to "Hotlanta", GA. for 3 days, as I plan to wine and dine my lovely wife and then take her to some strip clubs (and no that was HER, and PS:...not where "Guys" dance...hehe).

Will take a break, but may Twit from my new laptop, but THAT's IT...

So, can I get a little privacy please?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Age of Conan - Likes Windows 7...

And I was impressed at how it ran.

Start up was immediate. Recognized my unique resolutions, and DX10 was working out of the box (well...almost...some people complained about this, but all you need to do is download the DXwebsetup file and make sure DX9 is also installed which updates DX10 as well).

I installed on a test system, which also has the ATI 4870, which does not play nice with the mouse in DX10. It worked immediately, so this is a good sign.
I will try the system on my LCD TV and see if that works also.

Besides Conan, W7 also liked my major programs (like Vista Codecs which allows Xvid and DVD playback without an alternate encoder and Seesmic desktop, as well as Xfire)

I plan to continue installing and see if I am ready to replace my main OS (so far, based on ease of install and performance, I think it will be a definitive yes)

Also, just a quick mention on "Year One" for AoC, and the celebratory gifts Funcom has showered us with..


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Age of Conan - Social clothing preview

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I have ran into some of the changes that are to be taking place through some random sites.

Today, I have a quick show of some of the ideas behind the social clothing (I have no news on an Appearance Tab, but, the clothing is great for those who heavy RP in town).
The developers are opening up ALL lower end clothing (cloth) to be available to all classes, thus we get access to some of these types of looks..

Click any image to enlarge to get a close up detail of the clothing models.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Age of Conan - The little things...

A new letter from game director Craig Morrison, has been released on the Age of Conan forums.
The letter is a little nostalgia for Craig, and of course discusses how close they are to releasing patch 1.05...(soon!!)

I have seen some new info out and about for some of the changes coming that are little tweaks that add a lot to a game. Conveniences, new ways to do and see things..I kind of like those types of changes (for example, new UI fonts are being implemented to make damage flying while in combat easier to read.)
I will touch on some others I have read later. For now, I will share what Craig has mentioned....These look great.

New Provisioners – These new vendors can be found in several places selling crates of certain potions and food so you don’t need to buy them one by one anymore. (The stack sizes of potions and food have been increased as well!) (nothing like click the up arrow to add 50 items 50 times...ugh)

City Life – Players will find their guild cities get a little more populated with NPC visitors, guests and residents. The guild cities should be a little livelier now! (I found some posts on this, and will share more later. Basically they have given a better reason for players to go to Guild Cities than just to siege)

'Path of Comrades' – A new recall ability (that shares it refresh timer with the path of Asura) obtained from your guild city allows you to return to your guild city. (Now, we will have two avenues of travel as needed)

More travel options – New NPCs in the guild cities will offer passage to several locations. (Since when you are in your Guild City, you are forced to travel multiple zones to reach a no need to path out!)

New Social Pets – Check out new vendors in the guild city for some new faithful companions! (New PETS...everyone loves collectible pets, and this will be quite fun to play with)

Improved Guards – The guards across Hyboria should behave better around PVP and react against the correct targets. When you are tagged as the ‘aggressor’ in a fight will also now be visible in your GUI. (This is huge as it has been the MAIN complaint, and of course, when someone finds a loophole they will of course use it to their advantage. This should improve PvP 100 fold)

There was more, like some new social clothing (no social appearance tab though...yet)...

But, this gives an idea of how much of a change is going into patch 1.05. This is the biggest yet, and since I have tested the latest combat changes on Testlive...I do not hate it anymore.

So, here is in hopes of continued success for Funcom. Age of Conan has really been the game I have wanted. These changes just solidify the games future to me.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Age of Conan - Financials By Mitra!

Today was the quarterly report from Funcom on their financial's for their various games, including Age of Conan.

The outlook is actually pretty good.

Thanks to the new trial, and advancement on the game in stability and content, everything from addition of new customers to customer retention seem to be higher.

The report can be read here in PDF format.

A few standout lines are pretty good to see.

"The positive indications on subscriber retention from January 2009 has
been reinforced and strengthened in the following months for the Age of
Conan game. This combined with an increase in new customers in Q1
2009 has led to a stable and solid subscriber base for the Game."


"The average customer acquisition cost through marketing for Age of
Conan has been lower than the estimated customer value, and the
Company will increase marketing spend in the next months to test if it
can grow the game profitably."

Awesome news. Also, a translated report made on a Norway website has some great discussion on the game...noted here.

"We have significantly more customers in the first quarter than we had in the fourth quarter of 2008. Activity among the players is significantly higher and longer subscription times. I can disprove speculation in the press that we lose customers. Customer Loyalty and the subscription period is more stable."

Seems he had to go on the defensive there a bit. But there is no doubt that Funcom operated at a profit this go round, and the game is actually picking up.

An item of note in the reports and the translated article makes it sound like they may be looking to enable the old players accounts for a period of time to allow return players to test out the new changes. This will most likely be after the launch of Patch 1.05.

Also from earlier I saw Craig made a comment on his Twitter, that he is in some more testing of Patch 1.05 and it is getting close...

Could it be their anniversary next week will be the launch of this patch? It may be too soon...but, I have had some change of heart regarding the patch and could see this actually happen pretty soon.

A recent update took place on the Testlive servers which made the mobs damage more in line with the changes for characters, thus making it easier to survive multiple mob combat, the one feature I feel saves AoC from being like most MMO's. It feels more Diablo/Guild Wars like in that respect, where you are not in danger if your're facing more than one mob at a time.

Massive combat action, makes for a less dull combat experience...thats for sure.

I plan to get back and put some time into this new patch on TL and see how I am feeling about the new changes. I hope it really makes a difference.

For now, it looks like the doom and gloom crew who spelled the end of Conan by now, will have to sit on those premonitions a bit longer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Age of Conan - Shocking quote

Perusing my blogs I read, I stepped over to MMORog today.

He had this to say about a current title some people may recognize.."Free Realms".

"My first impressions of Free Realms aren't likely to lead to second impressions.

Have you ever walked past a Lush or a perfume counter and the sheer assault on your nose makes you blanch? The word fragrance lacks the weight of pure evil that is unleashed upon the world (or at least the immediate area) from these high dosage overloads. That's what Free Realms feels like to me: an affront on my senses from the sounds and visuals."

I am afraid I agree with this as well. If I was younger, or still playing Nintendo or Wii or Playstation 2, I would enjoy the visuals and gameplay. I even believe the visuals closely match WoW so much as to feel like a graphical clone. They are not awful, but definitely childish.

I have moved beyond that style of graphics now.

But, then I saw this in comments for this post. A unusual statement from Ixobelle who blogs at

"The world itself is very polished, and has a distinct art STYLE to it. To this day, I can be found praising WoW's art direction, not because it's OMGWOW and I'm a sheeple, but because the art team at blizzard had a creative vision, and frigging nailed it. WoW has style. Age of Conan is just ugly."

WTF? Age of Conan????...UGLY?


So, I thought I would share why I feel Ixobelle needs glasses. I understand enjoying "Distinct graphics", but to believe the most gorgeous MMO available right now is "Ugly" ludicrous.

So, enjoy this little video as the celebration for Age of Conan's 1 year anniversary gets underway. (Make sure to also click the video and watch this in HD...amazing)

Age of Conan - Progress is good

Having hit level 73 this weekend, I am making some headway in my goal of reaching max level.

Right now things are a bit difficult as I am relegated to some areas due to content being a bit thin in the 70's. Patch 1.05 is to introduce some new areas within Aquilonia to quest...but for now I am in Stygia mostly.

Keshatta is rife with various critters. From Scorpions, Hyenas and of course humanoids of various sorts...mainly bandits who lay in wait as you pass to attack.

If I wish, I can take a break from this region and head to Atzels Approach, where Atzels Fortress, a higher level raid zone exists. I have not entered that area yet, so I am unsure if it is a 6 man or 24 man dungeon.
Snow covered peaks line this region. I have found quite a few various mobs here, from Undead, to Snow Apes (a creature that I remember from Conan comics I had read in the past), small Ice Lizards, Wooly Mammoth and more. As I said...quite varied. Makes for some fun fighting within this area.

There are some group zones I have not been able to enter due to my schedule, and my hope is to maybe get some weekend time soon and try those out. Thunder River for example has a really cool Prison Colony atop a mountain range. You must ride a mountain trolley (or whatever those are called. A car that travels on wires from one location to the next..across large gaps of mountains) to get from the main island to this mountain zone. Also, several dungeons in Keshatta and Atzels.

Content is pretty good, and overall even though I have been in the one zone mostly, the fights have been great fun, so, I am having a blast.

Anyways, gotta get ready for work, hope everyone has a good day..


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Age of Conan - Retrospect

Downtime this morning has me sitting back and thinking about what Age of Conan has been doing for the last year.

Thats right, it has been a year (May 20th is actually the anniversary) of Funcoms niche MMO title, that has struggled along after a horrifying launch.

Everyone believed Funcom maybe could have learned their lesson. Anarchy Online, their previous game, was considered one of the worst launches in MMO history. Maybe Age of Conan with the really cool tutorial area and some of the best graphics, and a new style of combat could be the next "WoW" (oh how that title got overused last year...).

Instead, decisions by Gaute Godager on the actual gameplay having little to no reliance on gear, the client was quite unstable, and the priorities of Gautes team leading to more failures as the game progressed, netted the game a huge loss of population.

But, Gaute was let go (of his own accord...sure..), many changes took place in Funcom (many important players left) and the game was taken over by Craig Morrison, who has cited as the one who made Anarchy Online playable.

Trials are now underway, DX10 (which was to have launched when the game did, but took almost 6 -8 months) is on the main servers. New content galore to fill out the level based questing, to make an excellent PvE game..stability has been key, and the game has become a fun ride...yet..

Where does the game stand? Dedicated players like myself are sticking it out, as we see something unique here not available in the other games. But, worries of patch 1.05 still has many rumbling. It could fix the game even further, or destroy it as well. The loot will become more important, leveling will be pulled back to take longer (the game does have a very easy level curve right now), and many changes to PvP which could change the way everyone plays...almost makes the game a whole new experience as well.

On May 15th the quarterlies will come out which should give us an idea of where the game stands financially (did it finally make a profit?..probably not), and speculation is that May 20th will see 1.05 hit live (though I doubt that).

My question is...can Age of Conan get another year?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SUWT and the gang wear their bunny ears

It seems we disappointed a blogger out there in regards to how we handled our recent podcast on the issues of the "Bunny Ear" debacle in WoW.

What started as a statement by Tobold, became a disagreement on Raph Koster's website.

We took it upon ourselves to discuss how we felt about avatars on SUWT this past weekend, and it may even have come off that we thought it had something to do with least this is what Anjin at Bullet Points wrote..

"Dismissing points of view as immature because they differ from yours is counterproductive and potentially dangerous."

First, I do wish to state, that as bloggers, podcasters, gamers...this is what we do all the time anyways. Have different viewpoints. I do not believe we pushed off those beliefs as immature. But, maybe as we have aged and played these games, we have moved beyond these feelings of the avatar being more than a playing piece. We just may not have the time to delve into it (at least I do not anymore...).

I had stated how I wished we could get beyond "stereotypes" though and just play the game for the game. Maybe we RP sometimes, and want more from those characters..but we cannot expect the developers to want the same.

Before MMO's, were we ever worried in our single player games what our character did or looked like or was represented? Stereotypes were quite rampant at those times, and as we have progressed in our world, so have the games.

But, here we are with Blizzard offering an achievement that may "objectify" women (if they feel this is what it does to them. My wife for example finds it "awesome" and wants a pair)..thus, should the game be allowed to even do this.

We can go back to my previous post about support though and see it in writing on the wall, plain as day "Warranty is implied as such..."

You as a player give up all rights to those avatars as soon as you log into that game. The warranty states as much. Blizzard is allowed to do what they wish, whenever they wish.

If they wish to objectify women? They do not care. Cut off Gay and Lesbians from advertising their guilds? GONE!...

Stereotypes are rampant in the MMO world. Look at Age of Conan as a fine example. (but I digress, there are ugly people in that game as well as beautiful people..). But guess what? Our rights are thrown out the window upon the first step into that world.

This is what it boils down to. No matter how much we want the avatar to mean something more, the developers stop that all from happening due to THEIR control, their DICTATORSHIP of these games.

Heck we can't even get good support, yet we are worried our avatars are being treated unfairly? Gee, our human selves are being treated worse.

In all honesty, I wish it was a place that we had more control of...but we do not. We pay to access those game servers, and the developer controls the rest of that world. No shouting or screaming will fix it either (well, in my case with the support issues in Conan).

But, let me say this. Do we not play these games to enter another reality, to leave our real world behind? Should we be dragging real world rules into those games? Should we be jailed every time we kill those small creatures of those worlds? Every time we use "herbs" should we be under suspicion from the guards?

Just some food for thought...

Monday, May 11, 2009

MMO support - Get what you pay for?

Since my issues over the past several months in using DX10 and Age of Conan, I started to think real hard on what our MMO publishers offer us for that 15 bucks a month.

What do some of the original archaic systems as offered by the big name MMO's like WoW, EQ2, Lineage 2, DAoC, AoC, LOTRO offer for that monthly fee.

What are their terms of service? Lets see what we can find...

First off, has anyone opened their game and found anything that says "This is what you get for 15 bucks"? I keep trying to think back, and as far as I can remember, I do not know of anything like a normal monthly service that shows what you receive.

Think of paying for Cable or Satellite TV, or phone service? When we pay we receive guidelines of what a company can or will not offer service wise.

But, is it that when we pay that monthly fee for an MMO, we ONLY get access to their servers?

Lets start with WoW, due to their size. They must cover their bases. If we read their Terms of Use (found through Google), we get this nice little bit o' text.

Warranty Disclaimer.


In so many words, hey bud you paid for this, and don't expect anything in return...WHA? Boy do they ever cover those bases, and add padlocks even.

"Does not warrant..."Uninterrupted or Error-Free" "Does not warrant...that defects will be corrected"

So, for WoW, what you are paying for is to be allowed to login to their servers, and they do not need to do anything for you as a customer. At least this is the way I read it.
This does not mean they will not try and help, but hey, if you cannot login, it is not like they will care in the end if they cannot fix it. At least this is how I read it.

Trying to find these same "warranties" for LOTRO and Age of Conan was next to impossible. I was able to find a "Terms of Service" for SOE from their EQ2 page, but it seemed to be about the use of their website, and not the games.

So, why is it these are not easily accesible. Why is it that WE as customers just allow the games to take our money and not question our rights or question what service we are given for those costs?

What should we expect for our hard earned cash while playing on their servers? When anyone discusses what we ARE paying for when we pay a monthly fee, support is always thrown in with the cost to access the server, like it is what we should be paying for...but do we really get it?

When I dealt with my issue for Conan, I decided to use their forums first. A quick access to answers, and a way for the devs to troll what issues others are experiencing. A good "one stop" shop for problems.
But, it seems Funcom does not troll their forums. Unless it is for negative comments about the game, or if you state "I will quit", this instantly gets deleted. (for example, my comment after months of frustration was "Do you guys not want my money?"...instant delete).
Thus I took that argument to a more public, and there they cannot delete, and what do you know, I got some results.

But, why would I, as a customer, try to make it easy for the company taking my money? Why did I try the forum first? Why have many people been conditioned to try this route first?

Would you try a forum first?

Now, even though I was finally asked, and catered to in the support dept., I still ended up having to figure out the issue on my own. This proved not to be the company's fault, even though it does affect their product in a way that down the road, it could lead to more issues. But, overall they were clueless. And it was an odd enough issue that I hold no grudge.

What was problematic was why it took so long, and why I had to scream and shout to get the support in the first place.

Something I always wonder is why is a tracking system not used for issues. NCSoft is great at this, because your questions go into a wide open database and as the issue is being resolved, all the discussion goes into that database (better than a forum, but like the forum in regards to openness).
And in regards to the forum discussions, Turbine has been really good to get involved. But, they run the same gambit, that if the issue is something they do not want to discuss, the thread will be closed (for example, the 6000 response thread on "hitching" from the launch of the game, that was finally closed as they just kept lieing and getting caught in the thread along with being quite rude as well...).

Finally, I can go all the way back to the issue I was having with Age of Conan, and in the forum thread I created, the devs did state "It is a known issue". Hmmm...yet the support group had no idea what the problem who knew. And if they did know, why did they not offer some type of input instead of closing the thread?

I know a lot of games are starting to switch to the Free with bonuses for fee offerings, and this really does not include those. But, imagine if as a player, you could pay for ticketed services? Would this increase the support response times? Would support improve?
So, if we play a game for free, then pay a monthly, we get "support" as part of the bundle? Would that alleviate certain problems?

So far, support for MMO's has really been a hit or miss issue. In game help for quests and what not seems to work well, but for issues with game client support like graphics, memory issues, it is almost like they do not care.
I can already see those with spittle upon their lips, screaming "But, not all computers are the same..."
No, they are not, but, there are a lot of ways to support generic issues, and get the ball rolling on support for those with problems.

And maybe one day in "Utopia"- Land of Milk and Honey, all computers will run a specific way, and make calls to code a specific way that issues can be handled properly..

Until then I expect some help for my 15 a month...don't you?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Age of Conan - DX10 Goodness

Well, after my hard work troubleshooting these past weeks, it really paid off.

DX10 is working, and after some finagling, I have some decent framerates in Age of Conan, and have been playing quite a bit this weekend.

The video card I got (the Nvidia GTX260) overclocks nicely as well, and has really ramped up my performance (not to mention fixing a few issues with video playback that the ATI cards are experiencing due to a driver flub on their part).

Here are some nice little images to whet the appetite showing some of the cool DX10 effects..enjoy!

Fatalities look really cool now thanks to the motion blur effect..

Distance soft focus..

Glistening snow

Soft glow on attacks with power

And just awesome vistas!!

Lovely stuff. Well, I hope all you "Muthers" are having a good day
(get it?...huh, huh?)

As Samuel L. Jackson once said "Look at all these Muther Freaking Muthers on this Muther Freaking Plane..."

Ok, he really didn't, but man, Muther jokes are hard on this day? Geez...tough crowd.

I better go before I wear out my welcome...cheers!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

SUWT podcast live tweeted


Just finished recording the new first LIVE performance..woohoo..

Anyways, that should be available Monday. 

I did a live Tweet off as we recorded to play around with that a bit...was great fun. Check my Twitter logs to see how we rolled. 

Some really good topics, including the Eurogamer/Darkfall/Tasos standoff and also the infamous Avatar discussion on Raph's website about the "Bunny Ears" in WoW. for now..later all!

Age of Conan - Trick up my sleeve

Check out this image.

Whatcha think?

That, my friends is Age of Conan....RUNNING IN DX10 on my LCD TV.

Thats right...and working. How is this possible?

Let me explain....

As I had stated before, the only system that had worked on my LCD TV was my new laptop. But, as I thought on that, something occured to me.

When it was working, the display was on both the laptop AND the TV.

Oddity indeed.

But, this originally started to fester when I decided to try alternate cables to see if my problem had to do with using HDMI vs RGB.

Having run through some various posts out there on DX10 and HDTV's, I saw quite a bit on the issue on mouse center being off on the Hi-Def displays in DX10 games.
But, this only seems to be an issue for DX10, not DX9...and not all games.
What kept coming up was how the TV display had issues running 1920x1080. Seems sometimes the games would switch the display to 1080i, yet the TV still thought it was in 1080P, thus causing this mouse issue. The center was lost so to say..
The other point always made was the game running over HDMI..

So, rummaging through my cables, I went to work, and found an old RGB cable. I hooked this up to the TV's VGA port and pulled the HDMI cable.

But, when I tried Conan in DX10 with the RGB, I had no luck. I then thought of something else. Why not switch to the res I wanted the game to play in...i.e: Make my desktop a 1360x768 display, and play the game, if 1080P was the issue.

Still no luck.


That is when I finally thought of the laptop, and decided to hook up both cables.

I booted up Conan, and TADA...working DX10 for Age of Conan.

Now, of course, ask me to explain this, and I can definitely say "No clue". Also, is it worth it to keep both cables hooked up? I found my solution, and that was my main goal. DX10 in Conan has some cool features, but there is no doubt, performance wise, it leaves a little to be desired. The FPS can range between 30-80, which just is too large of a hit. But, really cool features, like waving grass, attack effects, and some other visuals really lend to a gorgeous game.

Guess, I will play around some more, and see how I feel. All I do know is solving this issue makes me feel..POWERFUL...mwuahahahaha (ok, ok, humbled by my TV, but that little bit of pride still feels good.)

Maybe I shall post more musings as I think on this...Success just feels good is all.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Age of Conan - Nvidia GTX260 Verdict..

Age of Conan, DX10, and LCD TV's = FAIL!!

Wow, this really sucks. What confuses me the most is why my laptop worked in DX10 on the LCD TV, but no other video card in a straight up system, will not.

I still have some experimenting to do, and a few ideas. But, now I know it is not just ATI, but ALL video cards fail in DX10 and AoC on an LCD TV.

I have an install of Windows 7 downloaded (the new RC version), and will try that...who knows...may just be Vista.

More as it happens

(PS: Finally got another email from Funcom after 3 days, saying they had no new ideas...sad really)

Age of Conan - Two more months

Ordered my new time card, and commited myself to two more months.

Looks like Age of Conan will be the FIRST game that I ever MAX leveled in, AND may beat Guild Wars for time played.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

General bloggery


Been down and out since Wednesday afternoon. I had more of my dental work done (been working on it for the last couple of months)

Drunk Drivers sucks is all I can say.

One smacked me good, and damaged my mouth about 4 years ago. At the time, I had basic work done, but overall nerve damage had taken place, along with a really cool pirate scar on my lower lip and chin..

Seems the damage was deeper than I thought when I started getting headaches, and what not. I did not think anything of it...except for high blood pressure which I was diagnosed with last year..

Well, never ignore your teeth. Seems some of my teeth had been smacked in so hard that I had some sitting on nerves causing my headaches. Needless to say, the work was mighty extensive, and required a bit o' cash as well..

I am on the last leg now, but this has been the most diffiicult, complete with some implant work, and good ole pain along with that. But, one more trip and it will be done...hooray.

Anyways, the good news is tomorrow is the scheduled arrival of my new Nvidia GTX260, which is being tested to see how it performs with the problem with Age of Conan and my 42" LCD 1080p TV.
So far, I have found the issue discussed before (where the mouse actually freaks out if you use an LCD TV...weird) will actually happen with different types of ATI cards (a 4870 and a 3870 both exhibit the same behavior)...yet my Nvidia based laptop did not.

Thus, a GTX 260 goes on the LCD TV, and my son can get the 4870 for some killer gaming on his setup.

Everyone is happy.

Anyways, I will post on my results as soon as they happen. Me? I am off to bed, as Vicoden seems to REALLY kick you in the butt..

Cheers and weird dreams!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Age of Conan - Final test until Friday

So, I decided to run one final test this morning on Age of Conan and the ATI, DX10, LCD debacle!

As I previously posted, I had found out that my ATI system plugged into an LCD running DX10 in Age of Conan (mind you, no other DX10 game presents with this issue) causes the mouse to not work properly (slamming the camera at the sky, and not giving you control to rotate the view and no resolutions below 1680x1050)

This morning I continued trouble shooting this issue and had moved the install to another son's..which has a totally different mouse, an ATI 3870 (lower style model of ATI) an a Visio LCD (mine is an Insignia made with LG Electronic parts).

The verdict? Another ATI hooked up to an LCD TV and no mouse or resolution control.

Color me unimpressed.

I ordered an Nvidia card today, as I have been wanting one anyways...a GTX 260 which has been shown to run AoC at the same rate, and some games run better on this card.

Got a good deal on this, with a quick 15 bucks off, no shipping costs and 20 buck rebate.
About 100 bucks less than my ATI 4870 as well.

Guess this will tell the tale in the end if ATI is an issue or not.

Just remember to stay tuned, as the support nightmare is almost over...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Age of Conan - Yellow Gremlin is Awesome

This site is not discussed to much, but I think any player of Age of Conan should have this site bookmarked.

Called the "Age of Conan Yellow Gremlin Database", basically this site offers services to players outside of the game.
Like Everquest 2 as an example, with EQ2Players, this service offers various databases for the game, including Character Sheets, Auction Houses and more.

Located at AOC.YG.COM, you can dip into the sites many features.

Here are a few at a glance...

A good way to look up other characters as well as your own sheets. It has listings for items worn, level of the player and more.

This has just been added for one server but is expanding. Basically it is a searchable offline database of items placed for bid, and how long they will up for grabs. You can search by color and type of items, level ranges and more (it actually works as a searchable database BETTER than the built in auction

Finally another new item added today

Even though the game already has a well featured Quest and Mapping system, this goes one step further by offering quest rewards, and also allows players to add notes for any issues or ways to beat the quests.

Awesome setup.

If you play Age of Conan, this is an indispensable tool. Make sure to check it out.

Age of Conan - Bizarre Support Twist

After reading through the last response from Funcom support, one piece kept nagging at me, but it just did not make sense.

Instead, I started today's troubleshooting blaming a core piece of my system...the motherboard.

I had noted sometimes that the USB would make the sound noting something had disconnected...yet everything continued working. Mouse, controller, keyboard...all fine.

But, I setup another system in my back office with my video card, but a different motherboard.

When I loaded up Age of Conan, DX10 worked., this seems odd. Now, just for the heck of it, lets take this system to the living room...and that is when it hit me..

"Another question--what kind of monitor are you using? Are you doing
anything unusual there, such as using a TV display instead?"

Actually, I am.

I use a 42" LCD in the living room, and sit back on the couch to enjoy my gaming time.
It is fully HD compliant, and supports various resolutions. But, what would a TV have to do with my mouse?

But, I hooked it up, I started Age of Conan...
Mouse broke again.

No rotation without the camera pointing at the sky.

Could it really be a TV that causes the mouse to mess up? How stupid is that?

Then I got more creative. I hooked up my laptop to the TV.. WORKS!!!

So, now my culprit is the ATI card and the LCD far.

So, now what? Do I spend 300 bucks on an Nvidia card in the hopes that it WILL work on the LCD? Do I relegate myself to the office to play Age of Conan and disappoint my wife?

A truly horrible issue to deal with. But, it looks like my issue is resolved. Mainly by myself, but thanks to a single comment by Funcom.

The team made the effort to fix my issue, and for that I am pleased. Also for that, I will continue my sub to Age of Conan.


Age of Conan - By Crom!! Support 2

As part of my continued investigation into MMO support using Age of Conan and Funcom as my testsbed, here is the latest on the Support Quest System.

Kill 10 x emails is my assignment.
Can I get a good feeling of support within 10 emails?

This quest is tough.

I have received an email after the VERY long weekend. So, let me share.

Hello again,

All right. I've reviewed the stuff you've already tried. The first
couple of questions that come to mind:

1) Are you using any unusual or intensive protective software? Very
often customers turn out to be running something I've never heard of
that turns out to be causing a problem with the game. Beyond
antivirus/firewall, things like ad-blockers that may use proxy settings
(Privoxy), parental control software, 'punkbuster', etc?

2) Any other graphics-tweaking programs like Powerstrip?

3) Do you use Vista's "UAC" (User Account Control)?

Also, I know you say you've tried other input peripherals, but have you
also tried disabling whatever control/macro programs they may leave
running in your system tray?

You can probably tell I am just throwing things out at this point, but
it'll give us a starting point. :)

This is some pretty good "canned" material. And it makes sense. We need to make sure these problems do not exist and we can get down (hopefully) to some good core troubleshooting.

I replied, and threw a monkey wrench in... are throwing things...but, here goes.

#1. I do NOT use antivirus, and instead use an online tool to scan,
thus not bogging down my system with junk. I use Trend Micro for
scanning each day. No Firewall or anti spyware in place. I use Xfire,
but this issue also existed without it running. I use Xpadder for my
360 controller, but had uninstalled and disabled for testing.

As I stated before, I have already done a clean wipe of my OS and did
a basic driver install, and clean AoC install from scratch to
eliminate oddities.

#2. No graphics tweaking.
#3. UAC has been on and off...neither did anything.

The only thing I wish to point out is I purchased a laptop this
weekend, which has only one thing that is different...and that is an
Nvidia video card, while my main system has an ATI.

The laptop DOES work with the left/right mouse button rotation.

But, why would the video card cause issues with the mouse? I could see
it being the problem with my resolutions issue though (as the one
resolution I want on my main system, 1366x768 DOES work on the laptop
and not the Main system)

If I had an extra 300 bucks lying around, I would of course switch to
an Nvidia card. But, I do not, thus I need to find a way to get DX10
working with my ATI 4870.


As you can see, I dangled a carrot.

The laptop.

As I previously wrote, I purchased a laptop and DX10 works 100% with no resolution or mouse issues. This is a good test to see if the support team would like to just instead give up on my issue, as I have a system in house that works.
I do not want to use the laptop specifically to play, as it is not as powerful as my main system.

I sure did get a quick reply.


I'm not too surprised the laptop is working; for the most part we are
just not receiving any other tickets on this despite a large number of
players using the DX10 client (on both ATI and NVIDIA hardware). We also
have ATI hardware being tested in-house under DX10 and cannot reproduce
this problem. This is the reason I don't have a lot to offer you aside
from going through some general troubleshooting steps.

In other words, I don't think this is just about the combination of your
card and DX10--if it was not possible to use this combo we would be
getting absolutely flooded with tickets and posts, and we're not.

Sorry, I missed that you tried it without the mouse drivers. Have you by
any chance tried with a wired mouse rather than wireless? (No, I don't
really think this is related--just trying to make sure nothing gets

Another question--what kind of monitor are you using? Are you doing
anything unusual there, such as using a TV display instead?

I'm assuming you haven't done any tweaks to the in-game settings other
than trying to switch to DX10.

He did latch onto the fact the laptop works. And that is fine. What we need to decide though is what is the cause of my main systems issues. And he did throw some more questions in there at least.
I answered back with this..

Yea. When I bought the laptop, I somehow KNEW it was going to work,
thus my reason for wondering why my main system is not working. I have
been working on computers for 20 years myself, and run a really clean
install when I load up my system.

But, the laptop is not meant to game on anyways, but can in travel
mode (like if I leave on a trip and need my Conan fix)

As to a "wired" mouse, I have not. The reason being I do not have any
left in my

I have tried multiple brands though, and NEVER load their software.
Use the Windows Vista built in drivers.
I have used Logitech, Microsoft and IOGear mice and used Laser and
Optical. As I also stated, I use a 360 controller...which is my main
mode of control for AoC (I like how it does the combos more
efficiently than keyboard)...but, I have pulled that to make sure it
was not interfering, and it had no effect.

Tonight I will also load the 360 controller on the laptop and that
software to make sure it is not causing issues and leaving some code
behind...but I doubt that.

As to monitor, I use a 1080P 42" LCD. It has a native 1080p
resolution, which I could see causing the 1366x768 resolution issues.
But, DX9 DOES work in that resolution, and works natively (meaning no
scaling needs to take place for it to work), why would DX9 be fine,
but DX10 not be able to scale properly? Plus, would that really effect
the mouse?

This is truly an oddity, and I do not want to give up yet, so any
other hints or ides would help.


So far no answer. But, the cards have been laid out, so lets see how this progresses.

BTW, I have tried my 360 controller on the laptop with no issue. I will try a wireless mouse also, just to eliminate those items as issues.
I have loaded Conan to an alternate system in the house and will transfer my video card to that unit for testing later.

More as our adventure continues.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Age of Conan - New laptop and DX10..


How odd.

I plan to try some messing around with this, but there is no doubt that I may be whittling down the major issue with my main system and DX10.

There is some sort of client issue, but what specifically does the client not like about my computer?

Nice little system

The one difference is that this unit has an Nvidia card and my system has an ATI. But, really, not too much variation otherwise.

I plan to load up my software for the 360 controller on the laptop, and mess around some more and see what is happening. I may plan to install the game on a couple of other systems here as well (I think I have 4 or 5 Some variations of hardware all around.

So, depending on what happens, I will keep a report going..

News as it happens!

Age of Conan - So about that support...

I also want to warn you in advance response times will
slow down further over the weekend--please don't feel like your ticket
has fallen through the cracks if that happens.

Per Funcom.

Interpretation: ZERO support and ZERO contact.

How many days will this last?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Age of Conan - Did I mention...

3 day weekends...crazy...thus support is slim to none for Age of Conan.

More days missed in my final deadline to have my issue resolved. Stupid!!

Anways, hit level 71 today. Awesome. Lots to do yet as well in the new zone, plus I have one area that is 100% grouping, and plan to tackle that soon.

Anyways, enjoy these awesome screenshots of Keshatta..

14 days left.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Age of Conan - Support Odyssey


The support queue for Age of Conan is still in effect, as I work through an issue in regards to their DX10 implementation.
As part of this diary, I have been tracking the responses and back and forth with the team.

I received this email yesterday..


I just wanted to let you know I did receive your info, I just don't have
anything intelligent to suggest yet. ;) I apologize for any delay in
response on this, I'm just trying to make sure we haven't overlooked
anything obvious. I also want to warn you in advance response times will
slow down further over the weekend--please don't feel like your ticket
has fallen through the cracks if that happens.

This was sent on Thursday and he is already stating less response time for the weekend. (I knew I should have moved to Norway...those 3 day weekends look great).

I still took it upon myself to work through the issue on my own as well.
I remade my Test server install to have a fresh load of the game to try a test again.

It of course failed.

I really have no idea how this issue can exist.

For those who may not remember, I have a two fold issue of resolutions below 1680x1050 widescreen NOT working (square resolutions do, like 1280x1024). And the other issue is once you use the right or left mouse button to rotate the camera it goes haywire, points at the sky, and will not go behind the character anymore.

Only in DX10. The DX9 client works seamlessly.

I would like to show you the list of things I have done as well that I sent to the support team at Funcom...

1. Clean install of Age of Conan
2. Clean install of Vista x64
3. Clean drivers install with latest drivers (from clean OS)
3. Deleted prefs folder (config)
4. Tried two different brands of mice, and an Xbox 360 controller (my
normal form of control)
5. Two different programs for my 360 controller
6. Unplugged controller and uninstalled controller software
7. Downgraded ATI drivers

Quite a bit here. I have been working with computers since I was 18, so over 20 years, and troubleshooting is something I live for.
But, this is a stumper...especially in the fact that the DX9 client works, which still points at the DX10 implementation being half assed. Something in the client itself (even though Funcom has assured me my issue is unique, thus a system issue).

Well, as we move forward, I hope this gets resolved. A lot rides on how the issue is handled and Funcoms responses. My sub expires on May 16th, and I have stated I do not want to renew due to Funcoms support.
If I see a commitment to getting this fixed though, it could change my mind.

I am debating about ordering some new hardware I like to try and keep PC spare parts in stock. I may start doing this as this issue progresses and test some varied hardware while doing it (Nvidia card, etc.). I am looking at the new I7 Core for Intel, so this may just be the time to do it.

More as this progresses.