Monday, November 30, 2009

Age of Conan Decisions

Ok, as of today, my first day back home, I am sitting here and thinking to myself "What to do?".

As I stated previously, my account for Age of Conan has expired. I have been using time cards every 60 days, and I even have some time cards here now from the massive markdown sale at Gamestop about a month back.

But, I am thinking of letting it sit in protest of the way they are handling the game.

As I predicted, the new patch 1.06 has still made no move to Testlive, thus Funcom has no confidence in it's playability yet. It may go this week, but this is almost 4 months now since 1.05 went to live.

Content updates are moving slower than molasses, and with multiple 80's, and raiding being a difficult thing to do (time wise, and population wise...finding a group to join...), I just do not want to level another character.

So, now I am debating on what to do. I like Dragon Age and have been playing that game here and there...but, whenever I start, the time allotment gets out of hand, and I play way too it is more of a weekend game. MMO's always allowed me to hop in, accomplish something and go back to real life.

So, what game to look into or go back to? I will be looking at games like Aion (if I can find a great deal on a copy, I may just give it a 30 day go), DDO for a while maybe? Continue trialing Warhammer and their free 10 levels?

The debate is on.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Almost home....

And so my long trip is almost at an end.

I have driven from North Carolina to Michigan, to Rhode Island then back to NC.

Truly a difficult time.

I have done all I can for my Mother, and have helped my Step Dad with his billing questions and concerns. Now, to try and get my life back to normal and hope that my Mom recovers is all I can do.

While away, I received the email that my Age of Conan account expired. Now, I am in limbo of what I wish to do there. I heard no news of patch 1.06 going to TL yet, and I guess I just need to let my wallet talk there for a while. I see many others are doing the same.

I will play some Dragon Age, watch the AoC forums, and see where this goes...

Good luck Funcom.

Anyways...more blogging later in the week.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Funcom - Silence is golden

Or maybe this is what Funcom believes, and they think gold will pour out of their a** if they continue to not update Age of Conan and just sit silently as their financials show progress is downward.

Didn't anyone say to them "Hey guys, you want profits to go up or at least stabilize."

The fact that Funcom is siphoning off Cash on Hand, this bodes ill for their continued efforts.

Now , of course, the Montreal move is a good measure and will save cash, and a note in the financials about saving on fees for servers and bandwidth down the road (I smell a server merge here) could help.

But, when you bleed subs, and you make no move to advance the game in any manner, shape or form, the horrible feeling you know, that one down in your tummy of gut wrenching horror..sets in on the future of the company and game.

So far, discussion has circulated on the 1.06 update. A doozy for sure...with guild renown, new PvP content and some other changes (like Tier know, raid content that has not been updated for months and months), is AWOL on the Testlive servers months after the release of 1.05.

Maybe to some this is normal. Hard to say. But, when people start complaining of all the multiple 80's they have and no new content to do, except the last update which added a total of 2-4 hours of stuff ...that becomes a problem, at least to me.

Funcom decides to offer a free return to old players. Why do this when there is nothing major new to do? And then sit on your laurels as you hope they will stick it out for the 1.06 update.
Maybe giving away stuff will help them in this endeavor. Beta invites, free expansion, XP potions...the lot.

How do you make money doing this exactly?

Well, I think Funcom is following the Golden Rule I stated, and think that the money will keep pouring in as they enter "Status Quo".

But, guess what...I think Judas Priest said it best..."You've got another thing coming..."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Hiatus

There sure has been a lot going on in Funcom world. But, as you may guess, things have changed in my life for now.

My Mother has become very ill, thus I have not been able to be focused on the Funcom issues.

I do some rare updates in Twitter thanks to the speed I can do them, and in small bits, so please follow me there if you wish (openedge1 is my user name).

But, as we all know, the new financials have hit and Funcom really needs to start thinking of it's overall strategy as it was mighty ugly for them this round. Losses (even though I actually see fanboys spinning a 69% loss over a year as ...gulp...healthy!)

I hope to return once my mind is clearer, and I can accept what is happening with my Mother.

Don't remove me from your readers yet...

Cheers and be well to all! (PS: if you are a heavy drinker or eat a ton of fat, may I caution you of how a simple thing like Pancreatitis can become OVERNIGHT a truly deadly killer)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is the "Never Give Up" strategy working?

If any company can use this motto more today than is Funcom.

From Anarchy Online to Age of Conan, this company has had a strategy that follows a specific pattern.

Mess up, break it some more, fix it up some, add some more breaks, and it goes on.

But, during all this time, the company still struggles, still survives, and holds on for dear life. Is this admirable to you the player? Or is it a sign of a company that just tries to "get by".

In todays work ethic, the "getting by" is a road to disaster in my opinion. Yet, Funcom still survives and holds out for the next financials report.

For example, I can note that each time a financial report is almost due, Funcom takes it upon themselves to scrabble and release an update, do a trial, add new content...something. It is almost like Funcom is working on the "get it in at the last minute" strategy actually.
What do these last minute fixes and changes do? Fix their bottom line and help make those financials look good.

This time around, the 3rd quarter financials are due November 12th of 2009. Luckily Funcom came through and patched Age of Conan. But, they also made the mistake of introducing a multitude of bugs. Then again, they recently lowered the monthly subs for multiple month, could this help that bottom line at the end of the day?

The other issue that always seems to be making the rounds of discussion when it comes to choices.
As of late, their decisions on changes to the game seem to be questioned in all manner and form.
No new raid content for close to a year, another 6 man dungeon when so many exist. Changes to classes making one play style more prevalent over the other..
I am sure any MMO developer is guilty of this. Just for Funcom, at this time, these choices are not the best means to build back up a dwindling population.

So, where do we stand here. The "Never Give Up" strategy looks to be a good call, and makes the company look like they are trying...just waiting to the last minute to make changes, and as well, make some choices that do not vibe well with the community is questionable.

Is Funcom "Not giving up" or are they just "Getting by"?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Age of Conan - Who else worries about AoC?

Looks like Gamestop and Barnes and Noble are worried about Age of Conans longevity as well as me.

60 Day Game cards, normally 30 bucks, now going for $12.99

Gamestop drops price of AoC time cards


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 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, if you wish to count quests that can be completed in 1-2

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 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!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I am BACK!!!

And ready to rant my ass off.

Basically, as you can probably tell by the title of my blog that this is going to get ugly.

I have a few remarks I would like to make about a game I love to play, and the company who is out to destroy it.

For now...I will let it sit and fester and grow into it's seething rant...waiting to happen!