Thursday, November 5, 2009

Age of Conan - Truth or Dare?

The Dare...
Play a game that is fun to you, even though the company does not care about it's product and then watch as servers dwindle and die as said company continues to degrade the client..

The Truth?
Funcom has a lack of skill and intelligence to truly run a full fledged AAA MMO product without degrading the performance, playability and add content on a timely manner...that it makes it truly unbearable to give the company another red cent.

Lets take a step back in time, and see where this all started for Age of Conan's downfall.

In June of this year a new content patch was applied. Also known as the gear revamp, this patch changed the systems of how gear related to attacks, magic, etc. In so many words, the gear mattered now.
Before the gear had an issue of using numbers that were less than intuitive. But, this also led to a system that skill was more important over the numbers, that people could actually wear basic armor pieces and be good at combat and actually survive combat.
People were torn over this update, but it did make a difference in how the gear looked in relation to stats. They made sense. A new gear reliance game was born.
At this time new content was introduced. New dungeons, a new zone. Life was looking up.

Funcom then introduced the return trial for launch players. The servers loaded up. New stuff to do. Quest progression versus leveling was well done now. People were pleased with the changes taking place.
Age of Conan went to the upper 20's on Xfire. Life was looking up.

Then began the balancing act.

From July and on, Funcom started a MAJOR revamp of the classes in Age of Conan. Melee took some hits as their capabilities were diminished. Casters were spiked to be more powerful and even sometimes harder to kill.
A disconnect took place over the issue of Stamina versus Mana (Stamina runs out for Melee for running AND combat, yet only running for Casters...and as well, the amount of Mana used is less to a degree than the relation of stamina for a melee class...it is complicated to say the least), and people started to complain. The game had a new name by many ... "Age of Casters".

This is normal for most MMO's though. Some class becomes favorited and it sees a balance shift...but not a whole STYLE of gameplay.

But, then time went on in the revamps, and nothing was done for classes (Assassins receive no revamp) and certain classes were gimped even more (Barbarians...the mainstay of Conan).

Then the issues started.

Each patch would break something for no reason. Guild cities now had a bug where if you entered and stayed for a bit, goodbye ALL sound in the game, forcing a relog.
Bizarre issues like hair changing color while zoning, turning the players body gray after certain knockdowns in certain zones...the list goes on and on.
And each patch got worse. Life was looking...down.

The worst part is during this whole time...ZERO content was added. Thus endgame suffered, and nothing was taking place to create things to do. It took almost 4 months before anything new would be added.

What would we get with that new update? They add a 6 man dungeon. That is all. (They did add a Halloween event, which will be removed within the next two weeks...so, if you wish to count quests that can be completed in 1-2 hours...cool).

But, with the content patch, we get NEW bugs. Blocked quests, mitigation in raid issues, new memory leaks, the return of the dreaded RED BAR lag spike that had been missing since the beginning of patch 1.05...the list goes on AGAIN.

Thus, this is where we are at. Two hot fixes are in and yet, some of the issues still exist...as well as old issues that have not been fixed.

The client degrades and Funcom sees the outcome (at least I can as many others do). Xfire has a dip into the low 60's and over the weekend bombed into the 70's. The first time ever.
Raids are taking a decline in how many are taking place. Grouping takes hours to get together. The Trader suffers as certain products become over priced and others take a dive as the player cannot get rid of it. Certain items flooding the market coming from people running the same content over and over.

Emptying servers overall is Funcom's reward.

So...Truth or Dare: Would you play a game where the company who runs the game continues to ruin the experience, creates a dwindling population with empty servers and hits a long running game with bugs that creates a game environment where you are more scared to run the client and log in than just load up another game title instead..

You decide!

12 comments:

Ryan said...

Maybe you need to get over Age of Conan and move on. Like everyone else. I don't think blogging about it is going to do a damn thing. Hell they didn't change when thousands of people left their game 3 months after the game was release.

Not to be a troll, but I really think there is no point to these posts. Its just bickering about a company that's obviously a failure. I did buy AoC and I'm never buying another game from Funcom again.

Openedge1 said...

Welcome to my blog.

I appreciate your sentiment, but blogs are a unique beast. We discuss things that are on our minds.
That is why they are almost like diaries...because it is a place for us to ruminate, speculate, rant and discuss.

For now, my main goal is to discuss a company who sucks.
You do not have to visit, and if you do, please go ahead and leave your comment...

But, I think I am happy discussing what I am discussing...and will not move on for now.

Thank you for your concern.

Sente said...

It seems to be partly an urge to make things "perfect", probably by some people who were not part of or understand the original design intentions and/or trying reach a theorectical view of How Things Should Be.

The other part may be that they may have lost some good managers that were holding the release management together and/or they have brought in some junior developers and moved the more experienced ones to The Secret World.

Riknas Sarn said...

Edge, you're forever a hero to me for sticking with this game for so long. When the guild I was apart of crashed into pieces over relationship struggles as guild leaders grew horribly weary of being ganked in the RP-PVP server. With the RP community driven underground, I realized I had to go.

This constantly hangs me up, and it turns me into a broken record that I quite frankly don't understand what's going on in Funcom, and how frantic (or dead) the game must appear to be. The core community still appears to be there, obviously you are, but two games under their belt, and two more along the way, where are they getting money, can we even hope to see a case of cult classic, or too little too late? That's what happened with Anarchy Online after all, they hammered at it until it was fixed, but its times like these I still wonder whats going through the minds of devs as they work these games.

Are they spread too thin? Are they still learning? Is someone just pissing on the desks and smashing keyboards? Hrmm. Your blog makes me think far too much.

Slith said...

well its like reading my own blog, only its better put together and with no typos and grammar errors.

I can't quite put my finger on it: how come Funcom performs soooo badly?

But I guess I am in for one hell of a bumpy ride because I have found out that there is no other mmo for me. Damn you Conan!

Jayedub said...

I say just play a bit casually for now and give yourself more time to play Dragon Age instead. Who knows maybe things will look up in a month or so.

Openedge1 said...

@Jayedub

Nail on the head. Just FINALLY got into a raid tonight with my family, and we were able to stay in (son almost red barred out)...

But, the raid was at least fixed, and we won it...so all was well.

But, tomorrow, instead of logging into AoC to get resources and quest, I will be in Dragon Age. I also am watching Divinity II which also looks great.

If it was NOT for my wife and son, I would be outta there now.

Just hope Funcom can take this time to regroup and focus...because they continually kill this game when they patch it.
They need to look the code over and quit trying to add stuff, and fix what is there or else watch it crash and burn.

Openedge1 said...

@Slith

I saw you came back...welcome to my hell.

Nothing else pleases me like AoC does when I am in the moment...

Maybe it is when I am OUT of the moments that I see all the faults.

Maybe we just need to take it easy on the game, and hope it makes a return to the pre-1.05 days.

Openedge1 said...

@Sente

My hope is you are right. I really would prefer to see The Secret World go through, as it would be one of the more unique MMO's to exist...and could reverse the trend of "sameyness" MMO's.

Also, lets hope they figure out how to use the AoC engine more efficiently as each patch kills AoC (learning experience of the code by way of mistake?) and make TSW more stable on release.

Seeing how everyone is really happy with Borderlands and Dragon Age, maybe the days of the MMO are coming to a head, and changing ...hopefully for the better.

Verrence said...

I have played AoC since Early Access (our Guild had about 15 EA players at the time who all logged in and raced to level 20), but my wife and I have basically quit AoC for now apart from our Tuesday Night Guild.

Like you Edge, we love playing the game, but the constant addition of new bugs has mad eus question whether our hard-earned is going to keep going to Funcom after our subscriptions end next month.

For now, we have gone back to WoW which, while not so pretty and very simplistic, is highly polished and mostly bug free...

V.

VatecD said...

*shrug*

I said 1.05 was a mistake before it even went live. I put my money where my mouth was and cancelled.

If they'd taken all the effort they wasted on revamping gear and spent it on CONTENT, the game might have pulled out of its nosedive. Fact is, the people who wanted a gear-centric game had already left long before 1.05; Funcom should have put more effort into keeping the players who were relatively happy ... happy. Instead, they pursued the dream of getting cancelled accounts to resub and drawing in new players.

Rule number one of Marketing: it's cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to bring in a new one.

And, BTW, I'm very, very sorry to see that I was right. I really enjoyed Age of Conan before 1.05 completed the metamorphosis to MAGE of Conan....

Tax Section said...

At least it is higher than WAR on XFire...