Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
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
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
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 announced...one 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
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.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
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 request...lol, 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
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
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
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 city..now 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
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
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 Ixobelle.com.
"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"...is 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)
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.
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
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
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 maturity..at 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, maybe...like 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
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?
Warranty Disclaimer.THE GAME AND THE SERVICE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND BLIZZARD DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE GAME OR THE SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE GAME OR THE SERVICE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS. BLIZZARD EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.
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 forum...MMORPG.com, 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 was...so 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
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
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 system...my 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.
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
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 house...lol).
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.
If you play Age of Conan, this is an indispensable tool. Make sure to check it out.
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. Ok...so, 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..
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..
So, now my culprit is the ATI card and the LCD together...so 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.
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.
As you can see, I dangled a carrot.
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.
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..
So far no answer. But, the cards have been laid out, so lets see how this progresses.
More as our adventure continues.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009