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Age of Conan Servers To Merge, Funcom Sees Layoffs

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the bailing-water dept.

Role Playing (Games) 109

Two ominous signs have come recently for Age of Conan fans; developer Funcom went through a round of layoffs, and they announced plans to merge some of the game's servers in order to maintain a "healthy" population. Despite this, Funcom has maintained that development will continue for both the PC version and the upcoming Xbox 360 version of the game, confident that Age of Conan won't follow Tabula Rasa into oblivion. A writer at Vox ex Machina doesn't share that view, pointing to several of the game's flaws as reasons why it didn't maintain the popularity it enjoyed at launch.

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109 comments

Is anyone supprised? (4, Insightful)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987021)

Honestly? I mean, did they ever finally get the DX10 working?

The game was great on the island, after that it was a waste of time and money. Wish I could get my $60 back...

Re:Is anyone supprised? (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987073)

I'm not surprised.

It was advertised as an adult game. The only things truly adult about it was the blood. We've seen that before. The grafics sucked. The bugs sucked.

The only cool thing? There was an almost completely nude cutie in the artbook.

What prompted me to stop playing was the fact they would only accept Euro payments from a Swiss credit card. And that fee was about 30 to 50% higher. Rip-off.

Re:Is anyone supprised? (0, Troll)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987507)

The grafics sucked

ur spelling sux.

Re:Is anyone supprised? (4, Funny)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987811)

I'm Swiss, that's my excuse for macking a spelling mistake. What's yours for being an ass?

Re:Is anyone supprised? (1, Funny)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987817)

And compassionate as I am I even gave you some more reason to make an ass of yourself, how about that? ;)

Re:Is anyone supprised? (5, Funny)

Binestar (28861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988401)

I'm Swiss, that's my excuse for macking a spelling mistake. What's yours for being an ass?

He's French.

Re:Is anyone supprised? (5, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990041)

Hey, I'm french, you insensitive claude!

Re:Is anyone supprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26003963)

You forgot the exposed nipples and glistening wet ass cheeks (male or female, take yer pick).

Re:Is anyone supprised? (3, Insightful)

will_die (586523) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987181)

From what I have read DX10 is suppose to be coming to the test servers this month.

Re:Is anyone supprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25997377)

From what I have read DX10 is suppose to be coming to the test servers this month.

Yeah DX10. So it can look the same but get lower FPS?

Great on the isle? (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989403)

Did you actually go to the ruins? Where enemies kept get stuck in their fall animation, unattackable leaving no mobs for your quest? How about the insane bats whose AI and animation was so buggered you wondered how it often got out of alpha?

What about the invisible bits of landscaping you could get stuck on. The slow loading. The missing bank and auction house.

The game was a disaster. Really, some classes you started right from lvl 1 one shotting every enemy, others struggeled with enemies below their level. Nerfs happened all over changing entire classes. Balance must be done BEFORE release because if a class plays in a certain way you are just going to upset those who choose that class to play in a certain way.

Frankly, AoC was to old. It started development before WoW came out and to Goat seems to have been living in a cave ever since. The UI was a total disaster. Lotro is already bad with its non-customziable UI in this Post-WoW world but AoC set a new low. Not only was it ugly, it didn't even give players basic tools. Did you ever figure out what the equivelant of /inspect was in AoC? To lazy to look it up but even as a linux user a I balked at that commandline. That it has to be done from the commandline at all showed just how out of touch the developers were.

No, AoC is better left forgotten a bigger pile of shit then Anarchy Online or indeed Vanguard. Vanguard at least tried. AoC dev's just couldn't be bothered to make the game fun. The fast travel options were insane! Walk EVERYWHERE, one corner of the world to the other OR die and choose your own respawn point.

The only thing I worry that with Funcom in the situation it is in, The Secret World, the MMORPG by the team that made The Longest Journey might be axed as well. Lets not forget that this is a completely seperate team and the Goat has nothing to do with TSW yet it might suffer for this guys incompetence.

Re:Great on the isle? (1, Funny)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989887)

Post-WoW World? Who are you, Jon Katz?

Re:Great on the isle? (4, Insightful)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993555)

The LOTRO UI pretty much just works. I haven't felt a burning need to customize any of it. This is a Good Thing, because casual gamers are not going to customize - if the default UI sucks, then the game appears to suck.

Re:Great on the isle? (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 5 years ago | (#25996627)

Yes, this game was a total Cluster-F, but don't get too wound up over some things.

Class balancing SHOULD happen before launch, but most PvP games fail to do that.

Look at WoW, the holy grail of what all these game developers hope to accomplish. They created the paladin talents 2 weeks prior to launch. There was no way the class could be properly test balanced when the game was basically gold already. Beta players complained about the talents, but nothing changed until a few months after launch.

Any game that features PvP at either its core or its end-game management is always going to suffer from class balancing problems. Blizzard has had its fair share. Its fanbois just overlook them once they are fixed.

And yes, I play WoW now, though I did take a 3yr leave of the game due to outright boredom after hitting lvl 60 9 months after launch.

Re:Great on the isle? (1)

k-macjapan (1271084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25997693)

It's really too bad, but I honestly expected this coming from the company that made Anarchy Online...

Re:Is anyone supprised? (1)

sh33333p (1186531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25996853)

It's interesting how you think of the $60 because that is concrete dollar amount. I'm sure you lost far more than that in time, and if given the choice, would opt to get the time back instead.

The writer at Vox ex Machina never played the game (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25987087)

I wish he had mentioned this at the beginning of his article so I wouldn't have wasted my time reading it.

so? (4, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989595)

I wasn't at the Battle of Gettysburg but I can still write a reasonable essay on Lee's mistakes.

Re:so? (3, Funny)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25992375)

Yeah, Lee had had a buggy UI, and teh suck graphics.

Re:so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25992865)

Read the article. The author is clearly wrong in many of his statements and downright childish with others. If he had played the game at least the article might have been more accurate.

"and thatâ(TM)s when Funcom shouts âoeSucker!â in your face before running off laughing into the night with your money. They give you the finger the whole time."

"The remaining crewâ(TM)s attempts at repairing the game can be likened to dozens of monkeys eager to help out with an especially critical moment of brain surgery."

Does this sound like a reasonable essay on the nature of this game?

Re:so? (2, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25995963)

If you had played it, you would realize how spot on it actually is. I remember one patch they released to "improve performance" that was supposed to reduce the geometry of trees slightly. We all logged in and all the tree's had 2 branches, and no leaves. A few days later, they changed it back, but it illustrates the mans point quite well.

The game was just not ready, any way you look at it. Even worse, their attempts to fix it have been laughable.

Re:so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25993977)

Just picture Joe sitting at a junior high lunch table tomorrow telling his buds:

And I replied: "I wasn't at the Battle of Gettysburg..."

Joe the Lesser go the fuck away.

The Longest Journey (5, Interesting)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987183)

Honestly, I'm far more concerned with the fate of The Longest Journey, one of their other franchises.

The original was one of the greatest point-and-click adventure games of all time. The sequel was okay, but left too many unanswered questions. The original left the door open, of course, but it also told a complete story with a real ending.

I generally don't track most gaming news like a hawk, but I do recall reading at one point that the plan was to continue the series with something like Dreamfall: Chapters, or some such. A sort of episodic continuation. I hope these layoffs don't affect other projects at Funcom.

Still, given the time between when I first heard that bit of news and now, Funcom seems to be following the Valve method of episodic delivery rather than the much better Telltale method. Valve has been able to get away with it because they have a long and successful track record and a huge player base. The Longest Journey, as great as it was, does not have quite as big a following...

Don't blow it, Funcom!

Re:The Longest Journey (1)

GuJiaXian (455569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987743)

Dreamfall was quite the disappointment. TLJ, however, is the second-best video game of any genre I've ever played.

And yes, we really need to know what happened to April and Co. there at the end of Dreamfall. I am not a fan of cliffhanger endings for video games.

Re:The Longest Journey (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991165)

I enjoyed Dreamfall. When I got to the end, my biggest problem was the "to be continued" feel. Other than that, I thought that the gameplay mechanic of switching between characters was a good way to keep things flowing and interesting....and it didn't hurt to see Arcadia and Stark in nice 3d graphics!

Re:The Longest Journey (2, Insightful)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993379)

I quite liked Dreamfall. It was more along the lines of "interactive fiction" than a proper adventure game, but as long as you're okay with that there's a lot to like. It was very VERY well put together.

Re:The Longest Journey (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26002109)

Actually I liked Dreamfall, and I think a lot of people liked it. Sure they went away from the classical point and click adventure, but Dreamfall was an excellent game. And now that it has been ported over and over to various platforms I think it has sold a lot of boxes.

The biggest issue in its initial release was that the original game had such a broken copy protection that many players had to revert to the warezed version to even be able to play it. After that we saw funcom complaining that everyone was pirating the game (well the pirated one was the only version even playable for many people)
A friend of mine had this issue, he still has his copy lying around somewhere but played and finished the version he got from the net, because the original refused to run!

But Funcom seems to be a company which constantly shoots itself into the foot, they constantly try to get a hold on the MMRPG sector and constantly burn money that way, while they basically treat their biggest franchise TLJ like an unwanted stepchild!
Nobody really probably would care for the other Funcom games to bite the dust, but TLJ is probably what everyone is in sorrow about!

No surprise (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987201)

Age of Conan got as big an initial boost as it did because of it's timing and hype mostly. WoW had entered a period of nothing new for quite some time. Blizzard was busy working on The Wrath of the Lich King so little was happening in the game. Their previous expansion had been out for quite a while and some people were getting bored. So the WoW players that were looking for The Next Big Thing(tm) hopped on board with AoC.

Well, what they quickly found out was that AoC isn't a very well done game. WoW really is a slick game. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but polished and quite a bit of fun. This is why they have so many players.

So these WoW players who were used to such a good experience found that AoC lacked that. Once the newness wore off they got quickly fed up and migrated back to WoW. This has only been increased by the release of the Wrath of the Lich King which brings a ton of new content in to the game.

What many MMO companies don't seem to understand is that WoW has really raised the bar. Used to be that MMOs pretty much sucked in many ways. Thus when you released a new one, it could have a lot of problems and people would still be interested. Not anymore. WoW is solid and brings a lot to the table, and has a ton of subscribers because of it. If you are going to take WoW on, you need to be strong out of the gate. They days of Everquest are gone, where basically you could just release a game that didn't punish players and people would play it (EQ was notoriously hard on it's players). Now you have to compete with a game that is polished, customizable (via LUA scripts), easy to get started in and quite a bit of fun to many people.

To the extent lesser quality games can compete, it'll be in areas that WoW doesn't do. For example Warhammer Online may have a good chance since it focuses on PvP in a way and on a scale that WoW doesn't. However if you game is basically meant to be a direct target at WoW's market, as AoC seemed to be, well then you'd better be damn good, or you are likely to get swept aside.

I know a number of people who play WoW and try AoC. As of now over 90% of them have canceled their AoC accounts and the couple who haven't don't play it much, they just haven't decided to quit yet. None of them left WoW for AoC for good, or have even made AoC their primary game.

Re:No surprise (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25987361)

You've got a many, many good points there.

This is the most important one for game designers to absorb:

What many MMO companies don't seem to understand is that WoW has really raised the bar.

With these as a close seconds:

WoW really is a slick game. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but polished and quite a bit of fun.

Now you have to compete with a game that is polished ...

I think a lot of the companies know that WoW has raised the bar. I know that they haven't quite come to grasps with exactly how high that bar has been raised and how high customer expectations are, especially if customer is or was a WoW player.

I think they fail to understand the level of polish and functionality that experienced players have come to expect, especially regarding the user interface and related systems. If there is something in the user interface or related systems that is clunky and unwieldy to use the players will know it, and they'll let you know about it by complaining. You have to pay attention when they inform you of these shortcomings and address them.

Failure to address these sort of complaints will quickly snowball into great dissatisfaction, especially if there are many such things in the user interface that elicit such complaints.

Your gameplay can be great fun but no matter how fun it is if the user interface and related systems are as unwieldy as trying to type a novel while wearing mittens it will leave players frustrated, and frustrated players will eventually leave.

Any MMO hoping to succeed these days has to have a well thought out, well working, polished user interface (encompassing player controls, system and control configuration setup, chat system, and mail system if you have one) or it will immediately disappoint players who are used to better. Forget the actual gameplay itself. If your user interface falls far short of what is expected then your gameplay, no matter how fun, simply won't make up for it.

Turing word: inferior
In a sentence: If your user interface is inferior then your game is inferior.

Re:No surprise (1)

daemonhunter (968210) | more than 5 years ago | (#25999671)

People seem to be missing a key point:

When WoW came out, it sucked too. We look at WoW with these rose colored glasses, forgetting the 4- and 5-digit queues to enter servers, servers down for days at a time, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

And you know why we've forgotten them? BECAUSE THEY FIXED THE PROBLEM.

That's the real killer here. Tabula Rasa, AO, Vanguard, etc. failed and died because they couldn't, or wouldn't fix their mistakes. Age of Conan is heading down that same road, and in all honestly, they're too late at this point to redeem themselves. They could put out a patch next week that fixes every single problem in the game, and it wouldn't matter. They missed their window. If they'd fixed these bugs before Lich King hit, they'd still have a chance.

The MMO game has changed, yes. UI's MUST be customizable, quests MUST work, blah blah blah.

Developers MUST be able and willing to adapt to the needs and wants of their user base, or they won't have a user base.

HEY SOE READ THE ABOVE! (1)

Longwalker-MGO (816354) | more than 5 years ago | (#26002857)

Maybe you can pull your heads out of your butts! I am so glad you lost the rights to SWG!

Re:No surprise (1)

TheFlannelAvenger (870106) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019509)

"Your gameplay can be great fun but no matter how fun it is if the user interface and related systems are as unwieldy as trying to type a novel while wearing mittens it will leave players frustrated, and frustrated players will eventually leave." Exactly, I couldn't even make it through the starting area of Tabula Rasa because of the mitten factor. AoC was on my list to try, but the heavy system requirements would have meant an entirely new computer, so I passed on it.

Re:No surprise (2, Insightful)

Infernon (460398) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987443)

You make an excellent point. I am one of the WoW players you're talking about.

When I purchased AoC, installed it and started it for the very first time, I was really disappointed at what appeared to be a pay-to-play beta. I stuck with it for about two more weeks before canceling my subscription and heading back to WoW.

It should also be mentioned that the game runs horribly on high-end hardware and doesn't make use of SLI. The worst part about it was being a fan of the original books and waiting for this thing for about a year before it actually came out only to be let down...

Re:No surprise (1)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993615)

Can I humbly recommend LOTRO? Its very WOW-like, but prettier and somewhat slicker. My coworkers and I have all switched over, and are quite happy with a new world to explore.

Re:No surprise (2, Funny)

strudslev (1150171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987615)

Wow. You must not be an active WoW player, since you are not bashing the game or its developers. I completely agree with your though.

Re:No surprise (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989235)

I know that was sacrcasm, but I must way: WoTLK has surpassed my expectations in a major way. The Burning Crusade was just a joke compared to it. For the first time in a long, long time I've found myself actually interested in the story lines behind many of the quests. There are still a few of the "Kill 12 Super Snow Bears" quests around, but even a lot of those have some purpose behind them.

The whole issue with Malygos is great. The Worgen story in Grizzly Hills. Almost everything that happens in Dragonblight. The Death Knight starting quests. It's all just great. Heck I'm a few bars away from level 78 and have still only stepped foot into half the zones - I just don't want to leave any of them until I've done all the quests there are to do.

The the flip side it seems like all raiding has been "simplified", so I'm thinking a full clear of the content will be fairly trivial, so despite it being so much better out the gate, my interest in WoTLK will likely fade within 6-7 months. Still, this is certainly enjoyable for the time being.

Re:No surprise (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991611)

Yea. They have upgraded quests from, "collect 20 beaver testicles." to "101 ways collect 20 beaver testicles."

SPOILER ALERT: Also the whole, crapping in an outhouse quest then digging through your crap for the seeds was, umm, very comical. I play a GIRL character, you know Guy In Real Life, and man could she tear up that outhouse.

Re:No surprise (2, Informative)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25992153)

Wrath of the Lich King has some neat moments, but it's killed when you start to come across the same "Kill X of Y" quests of the last four years. The game is very imbalanced right now as well. Warlocks are nearly debilitated in damage and survivability, and elemental shamans are hurting. Retribution paladins and arcane mages are dominating the landscape because of their ridiculous burst damage.

In PvE, Blizzard created redundant buffs between classes so that there is no longer a special reason to bring a certain class. This hurts certain classes in specific encounters. For instance, you mention Malycgos--during the encounter, there is an area-of-effect vortex attack in which only instant heals can be cast. This screws restoration shamans and holy paladins because the priest spell Circle of Healing saves the group.

What's going to happens is a lot of people are going to hit level 80 and realize there's nothing to do but the same things they did in Burning Crusade--mindlessly grind a dungeon every night or stand around battlemasters waiting in a PvP queue. There isn't actually anything new here once you've played through the 10 levels of Northrend. Sure, you could grind achievements, but that brings me to Warhammer (which they were blatantly ripped off from).

Warhammer is still doing well and is coming out with a major content patch to include two of the previously cut classes for free. Contrast this to Blizzard who promised Death Knights (and other hero classes) over four years ago and just now got around to it. I have a feeling the WoW playerbase will get restless again in a few months when they've hit the level and content caps and figure out that it's still the same game with repetitive PvE and wildly imbalanced PvP that mostly takes place in little instanced duels. Warhammer is the most fun I've had in an MMO in years. Defending a keep for half an hour is a real rush. At least Mythic is quick to respond to feedback and make changes. Blizzard can take at least six months before addressing obvious class problems that everybody discusses on their official forums. Sometimes it takes years...

Before you mention Wintergrasp as an example of a new direction for WoW, it's on a two and a half hour timer, and the vehicles are buggy. It's essentially the Spirit Towers from Burning Crusade. Like I said, there's little that is actually new here.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25996081)

Well each to his/her own but I must say that WoTLK has pretty much hit my expections in the way that it's just more of the same.
Storylines behind quests may be nice but after all it's just a means to an end which is leveling your character. So you could just as well remove the story which is just fluff anyway. If I want to read a book I'll go read a book, if I want some interactive fiction or a RPG then I'll go play something similar to Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment where the emphasis isn't so much on leveling and acquiring new items but rather on the story. And I actually have some way to influence the story if even in just a minor way.

And before someone replies with "Oh you're just a powerleveler bla bla I really enjoy the content by actually paying attention to the story line bla bla" ... well good for you but then why play a MMORPG with so many other people instead of just a single player RPG? What's the point of having all those people in the game if all anyone can do is treading the same path?
I have higher expectations and EVE Online is much more in the direction of a simulated world rather than an amusement park which adds new rides every 1-2 years.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26000353)

Are you serious?

90% of quests are simply "kill X monsters" with some crappy story inserted around it to make it look better. I don't even read this, if I want good story I just read a book or play visual novel.
Entering new zone on 79 and finding quests like: kill 60 mobs, 15 rhinos, 15 tigers, 5 gazelles and some girffes made me hit Alt+F4 immediately.
Instances are great and well designed, but they get boring really fast. Endgame - going into same raid for weeks - so fun.
No one even mentions PvP, which is real endgame in every MMO, because it's a joke in WoW.

Re:No surprise (5, Insightful)

Cocoa Radix (983980) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987645)

Well, what they quickly found out was that AoC isn't a very well done game. WoW really is a slick game. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but polished and quite a bit of fun. This is why they have so many players.

While I don't play WoW right now, I have played a bit in the past (but only to the mid-thirties). I will agree with you wholeheartedly that it is not a perfect game (again, only made it to the mid-thirties), but that it is probably the single slickest game made that is also on such a grand scale.

I didn't realize this, however, until I played on some free servers in an attempt to accelerate my leveling just to see what some of the game's later areas were like. Maybe I was playing on a particularly bad "fast leveling" server, but I could tell that such an interruption to the game's delicate balance really wrecked everything.

I'd be at level one, with zero experience accumulated, and it'd be awesome to kill that first wolf or boar (or whatever woodland critter that I'd be fucking frightened to see in my backyard) and shoot up eight levels and collect sixty gold.

However, this immediately nullifies the usefulness of all quests in the area, so you're stuck with traveling already. And then as soon as you get to enemies who will shell out experience, you realize that all of your attacks are missing and you're getting pounded, because you skipped eight levels' worth of weapon/defense proficiency growth. Since you nullified the usefulness of all of your earlier quests, you're stuck grinding. Immediately.

Basically, I'm just trying to say that WoW's slickness comes from the developers' strict attention to balance -- even the player economy in WoW is a pretty beautiful thing.

I've been trying to find another MMORPG to play so that I don't have to be another "WoW junkie," but I don't know how successful I'll be. I haven't tried AoC, and after RTFAs, I won't. I'm currently playing Lord of the Rings Online, but I can't help but think that it's nothing more than WoW wrapped in Middle-Earth. And the player base is vastly smaller, so finding people to group with can be a chore.

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Guild Wars 2, however, because the original Guild Wars is such a phenomenal game...once you get past the fact that games with no monthly fee attract a lot of idiots, and idiots don't handle the character customization that GW gives you very well...

Re:No surprise (4, Insightful)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988811)

I play LOTRO and Eve. LOTRO is a bit more than WoW in Middle-Earth- I got bored in WoW & Guild Wars a lot faster- but then I have a good kinship, which is key to any game of that type and didn't hook up with as good a bunch in WoW. Still, I like the quests, deeds, crafting, etc better in LOTRO than WoW but I can see how WoW would appeal to some. Both WoW and LOTRO are primarily PVE games with uninteresting PVP, but the PVE is well flavored. I haven't picked up Moria yet, but I hear very good things from my kinship about it; the legendary weapons (weapons that can level) seem to be a hit. LOTRO is what I play if I want to just relax with no consequences to screwing up.

Eve is a totally different monster. Excellent in-game economy. High stakes PVP. Everything important is player driven. The PVE is not particularly developed. The game is very much what you make of it- and the reason it is a niche game is that these characteristics appeal to some and make others feel like they are doing something too much work to be a game- or they reduce their risk by finding a boring corner of the game and get bored there. If you make bad decisions you can lose a lot of stuff- that's the double-edged sword that gives PVP adrenaline and pain.

AoC buzz was like it was gonna be a PVP game. Instead, they didn't really finish it enough for me to tell what it could have been- at least based on the bit of time I tried it before going back to LOTRO and Eve.

Re:No surprise (1)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991037)

Eve is a totally different monster. Excellent in-game economy. High stakes PVP. Everything important is player driven. The PVE is not particularly developed. The game is very much what you make of it- and the reason it is a niche game is that these characteristics appeal to some and make others feel like they are doing something too much work to be a game- or they reduce their risk by finding a boring corner of the game and get bored there. If you make bad decisions you can lose a lot of stuff- that's the double-edged sword that gives PVP adrenaline and pain.

CCP really has a great business model with EVE, charge $20 for the client, downloadable from the website, and free expansions 2-3 times a year. The EVE universe is set up such that they will never need to make an EVE-2, they can simply keep updating the existing system. They have the intelligence to make the client download actually include all the updates, so you aren't stuck installing, downloading the expansion, installing, and the downloading the patch, and installing. I can have a fresh, fully up to date install of EVE running in 30 minutes, versus 3-4 hours for WoW on a slow connection.

Re:No surprise (1)

Cocoa Radix (983980) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993465)

I'm glad to hear from another LOTRO player. I'm only just now getting to the twenties, and I have no plans on stopping for at least a little while, so it's encouraging to hear that the upcoming thirty-plus levels have something good to offer.

I will agree that LOTRO's crafting is better than WoW's. Too many WoW players seems to pick herbalism and mining (or whatever they're called) as professions and just sell stuff to the people who are actually taking the time to craft useful items/weapons/armor. I like that LOTRO forces you to have to create useful items to make progress in your craft. And it's not like in WoW, where, as a low-level tailor, I'd be grinding out really crappy armor that nobody would ever wear -- I'm crafting armor that's as good as or better than stuff that I'm getting from quest rewards.

Re:No surprise (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993425)

Or, ya'know, just play WoW as you appear to have liked the experience. It's just a game.

Re:No surprise (3, Interesting)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987679)

What is surprising is how so few companies appear to "get it". You want to make an MMORPG that can survive in the Age of WoW? Simple. Do everything that WoW does first, then build on that (e.g. player built content, dynamic content, etc.).

We saw the same thing with the FPS genre where tons of games were released that actually moved the field *backward* (e.g. games with no AI players in multiplayer mode, games that featured no -- or restricted -- controller customization(!), etc.)

The state of the gaming industry is unbearable to watch nowadays. It's like everyone is rushing to push out garbage, relying on IP laws and Digital Restrictions Management software to secure income.

And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

Re:No surprise (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989847)

No, copying WoW might bring medium success, but if you want to beat WoW you'll need to raise the bar even higher, which might involve completely different tactics than WoW. Change is exciting, and if and when one comes along that is a wholly different game it may well usurp WoW. I doubt any clone with addons will.

Re:No surprise (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990747)

What is surprising is how so few companies appear to "get it". You want to make an MMORPG that can survive in the Age of WoW? Simple. Do everything that WoW does first, then build on that (e.g. player built content, dynamic content, etc.).

No. It makes more sense to build something that appeals to people who didn't like WoW. Do something different.

And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

Try Radiant Dawn on the Wii.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25990903)

And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

Option 1) Dawn of War for the DS or PSP. It's turn based. Or any of the Advance wars games on the DS (less squad based though).

Option 2) Dawn of War for PC, with liberal use of the pause button.

Re:No surprise (1, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25992199)

Please, no. Don't do what WoW does. WoW is seriously flawed. It's popular because of slick graphics and controls. It's the Myspace of MMOs.

In my opinion, Warhammer has already pushed things forward with innovations like Public Quests.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25992735)

And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

Amen brother! Speak the truth!

Laser Squad Nemesis (1)

whizzter (592586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25998715)

http://www.lasersquadnemesis.com/ [lasersquadnemesis.com] is made by the guys who made x-com, and with additional stuff like online play available.

Re:No surprise (1)

cluke (30394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26002121)

And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

Check out Valkyria Chronicles, if you have a PS3. It could be exactly what you want.

Re:No surprise (2, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988351)

I know a number of people who play WoW and try AoC. As of now over 90% of them have canceled their AoC accounts and the couple who haven't don't play it much, they just haven't decided to quit yet. None of them left WoW for AoC for good, or have even made AoC their primary game.

I'm the opposite: AoC is now (still) my primary game. I have tried numerious other MMORPGs, and liked quite a few of them (SWG and LOTRO come to mind), but every time I have tried to get into WoW, I hated it. For some reason that game just doesn't do it for me, though I am not sure why. I do much prefer the "low fantasy" and less cartooney setting of AoC. I think AoC had great potential, though if they have the cashflow and capability to realise that potential... I really don't know.

I agree about the initial success being due to fortuitous timing, but there was another big factor. The initial game lacked some features and the client had its problems, but it was definitely playable (and a lot of fun). Then subsequent patches made the client a lot more unstable, almost to the point of being unplayable. This situation carried on for months... it seems the dev team's original plan of releasing small nuggets of features and content LOTRO-style (PvP notoriety and Ymir's pass were planned for the summer IIRC) over the months following release, was ditched because of the effort required to fix critical bugs.

Re:No surprise (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990241)

I guess I'm some kind of mutant hybrid. I played WoW a few years back (I quit the month 1.7 was rolled out and my rogue was nerfed) for about 2 months. Only got to 58 and never cared. Got the bug again a year later, but went to guild wars instead.

I tried AoC. Hated that too. The fact that I could run around topless on a female toon was a poor substitute for actual gameplay. The combat system sucked, and after the third logout because I got inescapably stuck behind a laundry basket or something... yeah.

So AoC is bad, but for my money, imitating WoW isn't a solution...

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25994525)

Heck, even most of Funcom's own "volunteer" support staff play WoW.

Re:No surprise (1)

AutumnLeaf (50333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25997465)

I jumped into Warhammer Online (WAR) to check it out. There were many things I liked about the game. The greenskin starting zone was a riot - very comedic quest descriptions and characterizations. The Public Quests were brilliant ideas to me until I realized that I'd falling behind the leveling zerg rush and suddenly the zones were empty and I couldn't do them.

But what turned me off the most in the game were two polish issues.

1) When mobs "aggrod" on a player, they would engage their run animation and close on the player, but the run speed and the run animations didn't match up, so they looked like they were running in place while sliding along the ground. Unforgivable.

2) Swimming animation. I know it has nothing to do with playing the game, but when my super-sexy-witch-elf-assassin-from-hell jumped into the water for the first time and looked like that lovable loser from the 2004 Olympics who almost didn't finish his race, my jaw hit the ground. I mean seriously, did the person who animated that model even LOOK at what a correct swimming stroke looked like? WoW's animators did, and each race has it's own stroke and they are animated beautifully. I started running around water just to avoid that awful swim animation.

Call me shallow. (pun not intended). ;)

a nice try, but still not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25987211)

Tortage is what the game should have been like for the whole 80 levels.

Sadly, it wasn't.
I endured it for another 40 levels only to realize that the quests doable by one or two people were drying out much too fast, leaving only the boring group grind & bossmob quests.

I dislike WoW for its mistakes as much as anybody, but again I have to say that there has yet to be another game that tops WoW in regards to world design, motivation (to do anything) and rewards.

Kind of silly (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987329)

NCSoft was publically adamant that Tabula Rasa development would continue too, right up until they weren't. MMO companies are always like that, they need to maintain the illusion that everything is fine even while the ship sinks.

Funcom botched this in spectacular fashion. I can't wait for the day when they get DX10 in and can finally say "Age of Conan: now all the features listed on the box actually exist!" Only seven months later too!

Bottom line is that games that release in this poor a state deserve to fail. It's a good lesson for other game companies. Release crap every beta tester tells you isn't ready, and pay for it.

Re:Kind of silly (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987621)

I don't think DX10 was AoC's problem though. :p DX10 is just a technology, it doesn't even say anything about how it's used. Besides, I don't think the problem was even in the graphics. Just that it was boring. So, well, the only problem with missing DX10 was the one of less trust in the company. But I don't think that was why so many left the game either. Again, I think it was because the game was boring.

Re:Kind of silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989937)

I don't think DX10 was AoC's problem though. :p DX10 is just a technology, it doesn't even say anything about how it's used. Besides, I don't think the problem was even in the graphics. Just that it was boring. So, well, the only problem with missing DX10 was the one of less trust in the company. But I don't think that was why so many left the game either. Again, I think it was because the game was boring.

I totally agree. DX10 is nothing, in fact, I'd bet more than half the players don't even use Vista (and thus, don't have DX10). I played the game and enjoyed it for a few months. The first 20 levels were awesome, and you could play them 4 times for 4 different experiences.
And it didn't 'suck' immediately after that, it was still a great game for the next 20-25 levels. It was at about level 45 if I remember correctly that it all fell apart.
Still, I would recommend it to everybody, for a solid 2-3 month gaming experience. See, I don't agree that you should play an MMO for years to enjoy it. I take it as any other game, when I buy an RPG, I usually play it and finish it in 2-3 weeks, so right there AoC is a better investment.

Re:Kind of silly (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25989617)

Bottom line is that games that release in this poor a state deserve to fail. It's a good lesson for other game companies. Release crap every beta tester tells you isn't ready, and pay for it.

This is sad, but true. Part of the reason that WoW is so popular and well-received is because of Blizzard's approach to releasing games. They publicly say a game will be released "when it's done", never sooner. They've developed a great track record with their games and have the bar set pretty high when it comes to expansions or new versions (diablo III, starcraft 2, etc...).

I'm sure we'd see a lot more quality games if parent companies weren't so concerned about quantity over quality. Games are expensive to make, and it doesn't seem that the CEO's are concerned about making a few good, great selling games. They get a comparable revenue from making dozens of mediocre or crap games. If more companies behaved like Blizzard (aside from glider lawsuits and such) and sought to break new ground, or take an existing genre to a new level, games like AoC might have made it.

Re:Kind of silly (1)

Anonymous Conrad (600139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991017)

NCSoft was publically adamant that Tabula Rasa development would continue too, right up until they weren't. MMO companies are always like that, they need to maintain the illusion that everything is fine even while the ship sinks.

But they are still developing even though they've admitted the ship is sinking. They pushed a new release to the test server this week [rgtr.com] .

Re:Kind of silly (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991133)

Bottom line is that games that release in this poor a state deserve to fail. It's a good lesson for other game companies. Release crap every beta tester tells you isn't ready, and pay for it.

One they apparently are unwilling to learn, again, and again, and again.

I am done with MMORPGs. At least until WoW2 or World of Starcraft or Diablo Online.

If you are looking for some MMO entertainment without the endless class imbalances, boring raids, and repetitious treadmill; if you just want to blow stuff up, then I suggest an MMORTS. One I am currently playing is Beyond Protocol. Fresh out the gate and has a few kinks to work out, but infinitely more polished than any of the garbage MMORPG I have seen in years. And it is a lot more fun too.

A good game for us old fogies (3, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987363)

I played the game for less than a month at launch before quitting, but came back with my wife for a couple of months recently before cancelling once again. My wife and I had a really great time playing together, actually.

A huge part of our enjoyment was thanks to our awesome guild. The 18+ subscribership (due to the game being rated M) is a real boon. At 30 and 25 my wife and I were the youngest in our guild and were made very welcome as we participated in conversations about our guildies' jobs, children, and even grandchildren.

If you've got someone to play with I highly recommend checking this game out for at least a couple of months. The game is pretty stable (but not entirely) and is undoubtedly the most attractive MMO there's ever been. The scenery alone makes the world a true pleasure to inhabit; as a Canadian I felt especially at home in the tundra.

Why I quit again (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987395)

I forgot to mention why I quit again after 2 months. I got my new main up to lvl 72 and felt like I'd pretty much seen the whole game. There are two areas for lvls 70-80 and I'd scoured them pretty thoroughly. I didn't feel motivated to replay any of the areas I'd already mastered with this one character which left pretty much nothing in the entire world for me to discover anew.

I'll definitely check out an expansion pack but until then I'm done.

Re:Why I quit again (1)

strudslev (1150171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987649)

2 areas? There are 10 areas [wowhead.com] in Wrath of the Lich King.

Re:Why I quit again (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988065)

spyrochaete didn't say anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if he also played World of Warcraft and just burned out on it.

Maybe I have attention problems, but it's exceedingly rare for me to play any PC game for 20 hours before I am bored to tears. Playing WoW month after month never worked for me. So playing Age of Conan 1 month here and 2 months there might.

Re:Why I quit again (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993497)

When I couldn't stand my friends' nagging any longer I bought 3 months of WoW a couple of years ago. I played for about 5 weeks and uninstalled it. It's a fine game but it's not the game for me.

I enjoyed AoC much, much more - partly because my wife joined me, partly because the graphics are so much better, partly because the writing and tone of the game are much darker and more mature and primal, and partly because all players are 18+.

Re:Why I quit again (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993507)

To be fair, WotLK is an expansion pack with nothing but high level content. AoC is just the base game.

Re:Why I quit again (1)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988681)

I forgot to mention why I quit again after 2 months. I got my new main up to lvl 72 and felt like I'd pretty much seen the whole game. There are two areas for lvls 70-80 and I'd scoured them pretty thoroughly. I didn't feel motivated to replay any of the areas I'd already mastered with this one character which left pretty much nothing in the entire world for me to discover anew.

I'll definitely check out an expansion pack but until then I'm done.

Unfortunately, that's the reason that I quit as well. The game was a blast, and visually, the best MMO I've ever played, but after I got to level 80 there was nothing, I mean nothing to do. Keep sieges were so broken as to be completely unplayable, and the game mechanics pretty much ensured that nobody ever participated in them.

An MMO shouldn't just be "get to max level then retire, you're done." WoW has an amazing end-game. It is truly to the point where level 70 or 80 is just the beginning of your character's progress. If any MMO wants to capture a long-term audience like WoW has, they need to think of end game and what all of those players will do when they get to level 80 or whatever the max level is.

Having a few broken raid instances and a few epic pieces of gear and completely broken itemization is not acceptable any more, yet all of these new MMOs that are released seem to be exactly that (I'm looking at you, AoC and WARhammer).

Re:A good game for us old fogies (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25987403)

I agree. Our guild met up in real life and had key party. Can't do that with a bunch of 17 year old dudes. (Unless you're CmdrTaco :)

Just part of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25987503)

it's just half the story now isn't it?
funcom layoffs was only in the US and the US part of funcom is pretty much only customer service as far as i know and they are still hiring more devs at their office in norway.. mainly for upcoming games but also some conan positions

AND the writer at Vox ex Machina even states in one of his comments that he hasn't even played the game.. great article

I did predict the suckage. (1)

LullySing (164221) | more than 5 years ago | (#25987547)

I was an anarchy online player. I've seen how those dumbasses at funcom operate. LEt's not be coy here : AO was broken for a YEAR post release until they finally found most of the memory leaks. and i've seen the way they treated their customer base, how they fixed balance issues, and actually couldn't even be bothered to have a paid staff to do events in a MMORPG world, instead relying on free slave wage from incredible players who would become ARKS ( Player helpers ) and still had to fill petitions between trying to roleplay some kind of plot.

They are cheap bastards, used to shipping unfinished items to the market, and i really didn't think they would stop on this bullshit behavior for a new game. And while everyone was laughing at me then, look at them now. " Oh, wow just came out with an expansion, I'm going back". Yeah yeah, go kill six snow mooses now [penny-arcade.com] , go.

Re:I did predict the suckage. (1)

Des Herriott (6508) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988597)

Yeah, I played AO too, for all of a month before I gave up on it. What a train wreck.

I've heard AoC stands for "Anarchy Online Continued".

Re:I did predict the suckage. (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988707)

I'm not an MMO player by any means but I bought AoC because of Funcom's reputation with single player games. With this expectation I was, in part, extremely satisfied. I'd played The Longest Journey and Dreamfall prior to hearing about AoC, and I was not at all disappointed with the calibre of writing used to justify performing menial tasks in ordinary quests.

However, as you say, LullySing, the stability of the game and the absence of features promised on the box are what drove me away. I just wasn't willing to subscribe to a book where I had to endure instability during page flips.

Re:I did predict the suckage. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988791)

They are cheap bastards, used to shipping unfinished items to the market, and i really didn't think they would stop on this bullshit behavior for a new game. And while everyone was laughing at me then, look at them now. " Oh, wow just came out with an expansion, I'm going back". Yeah yeah, go kill six snow mooses now [penny-arcade.com], go.

please dont bullshit without having an idea on what you talk about, just like the jerk in the article.

im playing games since 1982, zx spectrum. i've seen c64 days, 486 days, golden age of gaming, mmos. i played swg, wow, aoc. and therefore im VERY hard to please.

and i can say that northrend is like nothing you speak of, its clearly a labor of love. the mere content in wyrmrest temple in dragonblight, which supposedly constitutes 1/4 of that SINGLE zone out of 10, is much more than the content in previous wow expansions. and quality too. there are many zones like that -> if you forced, you could make small expansions out of them.

again, dont bullshit like the article - dont talk about something you havent seen yet.

Re:I did predict the suckage. (1)

dcowart (13321) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989007)

I'm going to second that. Wrath is very nicely done. The graphics are visually arresting. The quests aren't just kill six snow moose, it's go kill 10 crazed dwarfs and crack open their skulls to see if their brains are rotten... and I'm all for the skull cracking.

Blizz learned a lot from the BC expansion and definitely made this one better. I am a fan of WoW and have been playing for three years now. I often take breaks from it to play steam games, but no other MMO has offered anything remotely like it in terms of ease of use, that is, it doesn't act like it hates the player. But this is an AoC article so I'll stop being a slavering fan-boy now.

Re:I did predict the suckage. (1)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991351)

One more agreement, Northrend has been excellent, especially quest triggered in game cinematics.

Re:I did predict the suckage. (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990237)

I remember when Anarchy Online came out, it was pretty obvious that FunCom had run out of development money, so they decided to release a beta product, and use the retail sales to fund the development work needed to get the game anywhere near a release standard.

For months, large numbers of items you would loot would show up in your inventory as "NoName", because they hadn't finished populating the item details into the database. Cities that had more than a handful people in them at a time would cause your client to either crash, or render so slow that you'd wish it would crash. Getting stuck in walls/floors/empty space was a regular, and accepted thing. Half the missions couldn't be completed, because something was broken in the instance.

Sounds like FunCom hasn't learned anything from their last attempt at an MMO release.

$126 Million a Year (0, Troll)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 5 years ago | (#25988347)

That's what 700k subscribers gets you, not counting the retail sale price and assuming a $15 a month fee. Consider the buy in (half of $50 at retail minus the first free month) and you are looking at another $7mil. So for around $138 mill, you are saying you can't make and administer a quality game?

Even with 400k left, that's still $72mil plus the $7mil buy in.

They ain't got 700k or 400k (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990057)

Your math is flawed. The game SOLD 700k boxes, but that includes a free month of gameplay. The game has been in development for 5 years or so. Those costs have to be payed first plus some extra because investors don't invest for the fun of it.

The people selling the boxes want to be payed too, and of course you tend to need to produce more boxes then you actually sell. Again, this has to be done with borrowed money essentially so box sales are not all that impressive.

The game has trouble right from the start. Once the first free month was over the servers started dying fast. MMO's tend to have rabid fanboys who live in their own fantasy world but the simply fact was that two weeks or so after launch the rot started to set in. Yes, new players were coming in but there were also a LOT of people who just didn't even bother completing their first month. After the first month ran out thing really went down hill. Entire guilds collapsed, not unusual but not all of these were ego tripping guilds with 1 leader who wants his own name on the guild.

It is very hard to judge just how many players AoC has left, but they faced a real problem. During beta and early launch they had to add servers to deal with the population, just a couple of weeks later they had servers turning into ghosts towns. Do you think their hardware vendor cared? Those servers had to be paid for and now they can try to sell them off second hand.

A small MMORPG can survive, if it keeps a stable population. But going from 700k to having to close servers... that means a LOT of money has been lost. They had huge trouble at launch with not enough customer support. They HAD to get more people in but as they got more employees the number of subscribers collapsed. Now they have to fire them again. That is a LOT of extra money over a small MMORPG who just has the same stable employee pool from the start.

No, Funcom is in trouble. They gambled and they lost mostly because they completely failed to understand basic MMORPG design. They just didn't get it. To list the games fault is easy, just list all its elements. Every single one of them was flawed.

For instance, its so called maturity. Naked boobs. True it had them, and that was it. But the game had no sex, there are several NPC's who hint at it, but nothing ever happens and the armours worn were totally non-sexy.

Its economy was out of whack, a horse, a staple of MMORPG design, was just to fucking expensive. So expensive that gold sellers just gave up because NOBODY was going pay to a 1000 euro's for a horse. For that matter the level requirement was WAY to high.

No fast travel options.

Its melee fighting system basically being nothing more then instead of WoW's 1 button mashing you mash 4 buttons. Whoo! Long live macro keyboards.

The list goes on. Sure there were some highprofile bugs, but basically, at its core, the game just wasn't any good. It was for a short while an intresting diversion from WoW and other fantasy MMORPG's but basically, it just wasn't a good game. A couple of nice ideas don't save a product if its core is flawed. When basic things like chat don't work as they need to, everything else is secondary. And lets face it, Guild Wars had boobs that jiggled, and weren't hidden after level 1 behind a brown leather slab.

Gave it a try, but... (2, Interesting)

Roogna (9643) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989365)

Back when it first launched, like so many others, my wife and I gave AoC a try. When we canceled our accounts about a week later we gave them a whole list of very simple technical issues that the game had that made it basically impossible to play. Things like, getting to close to a wall and your character would "hook" on the wall and get stuck. Or the complete inability to switch characters without logging all the way out.

All these companies trying to compete with Blizzard are missing the one thing Blizzard has done well. Refinements. Oh WoW as a game isn't perfect, but what it is, is imminently playable (in a UI perspective) from the moment you open it up.

Interesting Trend in Comments (2, Interesting)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989743)

First, I'm not surprised what happened to AoC. They decided to push out the game early because of WAR and WOW and paid the consequences. A lot of the stuff in game was half assed, just so they could have the checkbox ticked on their list. Other parts were amazing but overall a disappointment.

Second, in reading the comments I see all these comparisons to other MMOs as to why AoC failed but one is conspicuously missing: Warhammer Online.

Maybe its an anomaly, but most of the people I come into contact with that played AoC also had bought WAR. While its true many people seem to be playing WAR less due to the plethora of new games that just came out (WOW's expansion, Left4Dead, Fallout3, and FarCry2...) but I'm already people come back, even from WOW.

Some people have made comments on how hard it is to compete with WOW due to the polish. All I'll say is I'm surprised with Mythic. They're working their butts off to deliver new content and fix problems. The latest patch fixed a number of issues, all of them I know have been complained about.

Blizzard, SOE and Funcom raising the Titanic (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989929)

For different reasons.

Blizzard wants the gold from the safe.
SOE is interested in the technology.
Funcom wants the board orchestra that kept playing 'til the end.

I really wanted to like this game but... (2, Interesting)

Eviljay (764249) | more than 5 years ago | (#25989961)

It got really dull, really fast.

I also found that the entire world was just full of idiot gankers. People who found it hilarious to kill me after i've just worked my way through 20 minutes of fighting down a hallway to get to a specific person for a quest.

The most annoying thing is, at the time i quit, there was no incentive to kill anyone as there was no pvp reward system in place. PVP experience? Didn't exist. PVP Renown gear? Didn't exist.

But it was just a big massive free for all. You couldn't team with anyone because the moment you got close to a person they would attack you out of fear that you would attack them first.

It also didn't make any sense that you could attack people of your own race. That was just stupid. I would be speaking to an npc completing a quest and by the time my conversation was over i would be down to half health due to some joker stabbing me in the back constantly.

Eventually you couldn't go anywhere without a chaperone as you'd get killed by other players again and again and again even though there's no reward or incentive for them.

Even getting into a guild wasn't much fun. If you wanted to do a quest with your guild it would take you 15 minutes to run to the only travel path on the entire map. Then travel through several different maps to get to them. Consequently everyone is sat around for at least half an hour waiting for you.

There was no structure with this game. I had diabolically bad lag that eventually made it unplayable yet i was talking to a friend through skype with no issues at all.

So i quit, told Funcom why and moved onto Warhammer Online.

It's such a refreshing change. It's tight, the gfx are great and the Realm vs Realm is actually fun for a change with a real incentive to fight other players. Now if they can only sort out the tradeskills so you can make something worth using it would be excellent!

The usual reason: Premature launch (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990195)

TR and AoC fail for the same reason: Both were released before they were done.

Now, don't get me wrong, MMOs are hardly ever really "done". And publishers feel like they needn't be, because, hey, people have to be online anyway to play them, so you can finish them while people already pay for them. A publisher's dream: Actually getting paid for finishing the game.

Doesn't really work out that way, though. WoW succeeded for two very simple reasons: First and foremost, the IP was well known. Warcraft was a name in the computer games scene, Warcraft 3 still has a strong competitive player base, so even without hyping it too much (ok, it was hyped at least as much as any MMO) people flocked to WoW. People who knew the Warcraft world and who wanted to play a MMO in it. People loved how they met old friends and enemies again, how they could easily find into the world and how it worked simply because they already knew its makeup.

But that's only a starter, it's no sticker. People don't stay in a game just for the hype and because they know the world. AoC is a perfect example of it, as is WAR. WoW was also quite well done by the time it went live. No, it was not done. It had its buggy quests and it had its rough points, there was little endgame content (IIRC Onyxia was about the only thing left to do when you got to 60 and had gear), but most quests worked, there were no killer bugs that had you hit a wall because you couldn't finish a critical class/race quest that you couldn't just skip (Vanguard, I'm looking your way!), skills worked (ok, mostly, but no race/class defining skills were broken beyond usefulness) and at least it had SOME kind of endgame to keep the addicts interested while they add more.

Because that's critical, you have to be able to move your devs onto creating new content and not have them tied up hopelessly in bugfixing. Because else you'll face a Tabula Rasa: Your developers (as in, the few that you keep after it goes live) are drowning in bugs and have to spend all their time to keep the game that exists afloat, rework skills, maybe even redo skills from scratch, just to keep the game working so they cannot invest any time into creating more content. That is actually what causes most MMOs finally to fail. When you see a sharp decline in subscriber numbers after 3-6 months, this is most likely the case (aside of 3 and 6 month subs running out and people being bored and fed up with bugs leaving).

Release a game when it's done. Now, I don't expect anyone to release a game that has the same polish as WoW, right at release day. It's hardly possible. But face it, when you create a fantasy MMO, WoW will be what you have to compete with. Simply copying WoW will not allow you to succeed, quite the opposite. The general reaction will be "Why playing your game when I can play the same kind of game bug free (mostly) and finished?"

When you want to succeed in the MMO business, you have to offer something WoW does not offer. You can't compete on their grounds, people will not choose your game over WoW just because you're "new". People might take a look, enjoy the new car smell for a while, then cancel and return to WoW, simply because WoW has better polish and is simply "finished" while you're still working on it.

Re:The usual reason: Premature launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25992481)

Now, I don't expect anyone to release a game that has the same polish as WoW, right at release day. It's hardly possible.

If you don't try and believe that you can't, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone is able to make the excuse of "it's impossible, so that's why we didn't".

It requires attention to detail, a willingness to kill cherished ideas that are simply unworkable, and a core belief that polish/quality is a key goal.

Re:The usual reason: Premature launch (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993987)

There's no technical limitation. There's an economic one, though.

MMOs are already huge money and time sinks. Even before the players get to feel them as such, it's one for developers and financers. Cold feet aren't unusual. You see millions of your money sink into a game, you see the game be postponed on and on, you see technology develop past your game and you fear you will be outdated when you release.

You can of course postpone the release date until the game has everything you would possibly want to see in it. That would probably mean that WoW releases around last year. Now, tell me, would you have bought WoW if it was released last year? Or would you have picked up WAR or AoC, which have arguably better graphics and pretty much the same gameplay?

Of course, WoW would have been a lot more polished than the latter two games. But development costs would have been stunning to say the least. And even if WoW had the success it has, it would probably been unlikely to break even.

Now, Blizzard would certainly have survived. Smaller companies would probably have found themselves in a make-or-break situation. Few VCs are willing to wait it out. They are willing to take a risk, but they, too, are prone to getting cold feet.

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25990645)

what the fuck did you expect?

These are the same asshats who shipped the worst MMRPG ever. Anarchy Offline. The game so broken that even in this day and age has trouble running at any normal resolution without ridiculous bugs.

Did you somehow expect them to suddenly turn into iD and create something perfect?

Seriously.

I'm too lazy to bother digging up the plan entry where they talk about how fucking broken the game is.

Posting Anonymous because I don't care about your drama.

I gave the game a try (1)

arog (1132113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25990687)

I wanted to enjoy the game, but there were plenty of problems.
1. Gathering skills. You must get these impossibly rare drops from your gathering skills to continue to the next level of gathering. I gathered over 300 cotton looking for that rare drop. It never happened. I might have been able to justify it if I could have reasonably sold the cotton. The auction house system was too flawed to justify selling the cotton in this fashion.

2. Lack of choice. Once you hit level 50, you have one and only one zone to kill in on your own. Otherwise, you must group up and those groups just were not happening due to the lack of players. A person "should" be able to solo if they so choose.

3. PVP was not happening at lower levels. I do not know whether this was due to lack of player involvement or some game restriction.

I am glad I got out. The graphics were pretty good, but there were enough annoyances to make me run away and never look back.

Old Players == Scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25991737)

What is to be expected of a game that treats their older players like they are scum? Giving new players a mount that costs existing players 100g (1gold is approximately a week of game play at level 80, so it is bought from gold sellers, or never attained)

http://forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=176235&page=1

Changes. (2, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 5 years ago | (#25992347)

I wonder if all these cancellations are ever going to bring about an anti-MMO backlash. Every game out there seems to launch with a flood of issues, bugs, class imbalance and missing content. And to make things worse it really stinks to be stuck with a copy of a game that is completely unplayable when the servers have been shut down.

A looming threat I see to MMOs beyond WoW are the Chinese and Korean MMOs, like the one I currently see advertised on this site. They tend to all be somewhat generic, offer little more than intensive grind and don't quite have the production values of the big names. But they have two important distinctions; they offer an Asian perspective on the fantasy theme and, more importantly, they're practically free to play. To some extent, they've taken the Guild Wars model and have added micro-payments.

I think City of Heroes is a good example of what a successful MMO given the competition. They've been around for over 4 years now and they seem to have a fairly stable player base. They've got a unique theme, first of all. Additionally, instead of trying to do everything they focused on a core set of gameplay elements. I haven't played the game in a few years now, but I still think they had the most entertaining combat system of any MMO I've played, by far. It's the closest I've seen come to an action game where I feel like I'm actually engaged in the fight as opposed to just sitting there waiting for one of us to go down.

Developers need to stop trying to recreate World of Warcraft with only cosmetic differences. Secondly, they need to seriously consider whether or not it's actually worthwhile investing all that time and money into a game that will likely fail in the end. Of course they all have high hopes early in development, because of unrealistic expectations and overly ambitious goals. My hope is that we start seeing more single-player and limited multiplayer RPGs. And I'd also like to see a stronger shift away from the tired old fantasy theme.

Re:Changes. (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993643)

I think a huge problem with the MMO scene is that you only need one MMO on your gaming roster. They keep you entertained for a long time, much longer than most other genres/games. People see the success of Everquest or World of Warcraft and think "awesome, I've gotta make one", realising too late that their target audience is already enjoying their MMO of choice and has no reason to shift to the new one.

The only chance a new MMO has is to be better than what currently exists on the market, which becomes a lot harder if the current dominating MMO has had a lot of time to grow and perfect itself.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25993309)

lolconan

Why don't devs/publishers learn? (2, Informative)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25993559)

Every single game released before it was ready has underperformed or outright failed.

The best games ever released had a specific mandate of "don't release until it's ready", that's in terms of fun and sales performance, and has also increased the reputation of the developers/publishers as folks who make good games.

So why then, going on a decade since this simple formula was first proven, do execs still insist on rushing out unfinished impending failures?

Re:Why don't devs/publishers learn? (1)

TOGSolid (1412915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25995977)

"Developers need to stop trying to recreate World of Warcraft with only cosmetic differences." Absolutely, and that's why all these new MMOs keep crashing and burning. They're trying to cash in on WoW but when their target audience goes to check it out, they realize quickly that WoW is still better and go back to the same ole same ole.

WAR is a good case in point of this. Now, at first I was one of the WAR fanboys. The game really did seem to provide an alternate choice to WAR with more focus on PVP and epic combat. Instead, what I found was that the game's PVP was actually fairly half-assed, boring, and very repetitive. Everyone just runs scenarios because the open world pvp does not give the same level of xp/renown over time invested. There's also some very bizarre game mechanics at work in WAR that are turning people away in droves. Specifically the fact that when you join a zone you're given a random number that determines your contribution level. That's why people get such bizarre outcomes in public quest rewards and renown gain in PVP. Then of course there's also the terrible class imbalances (DPS classes unable to DPS at higher levels like the Shadow Warrior, or the Witch Elf raping absolutely everything in her way), and other bugs/glitches that just aren't getting worked out.

When people go and see that sort of crap, is it any wonder why they go running back to WOW? I've already canceled my WAR subscription and won't be going back until they fix the quickly stacking up list of problems with that game. Thankfully my old corp in Eve Online has welcomed me back and a lot of cool things have happened for them while I was gone.

If publishers/developers expect to break into the MMO market, they need to provide unique gameplay, a unique world, and not just clone WoW. There's a reason the same batch of MMOs just refuse to die. WoW/Eve/Guild Wars/CoH, they all give a unique experience.

3 words: (1)

KefkaZ (1393099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26002803)

Duke Nukem Forever

I enjoyed it for a while. Better combat at least. (1)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25997355)

I'm back to dabbling with Wrath of the Lich King, but I have to say WoW combat is still hugely boring after AoC combat. I enjoyed that a lot - didn't do PvP, so any imbalances weren't an issue. It was also very nice to have mature subject matter and dialogue (which means it's occasionally juvenile as well, but that's acceptable).

What killed it for me is pretty much as was said. Once you get off Tortage, content takes a giant plunge. Once you hit L60 or so there's far too much grinding (I didn't have to grind till then, just do quests). The fact that you couldn't get high level crafting without joining a guild was infuriating.

But what really did it was the final boss encounter, which was either ludicrously bugged, broken, or unbalanced for my class. I could excuse the lack of content to a point, but having the final boss encounter be so broken was like having the devs slap you repeatedly in the face while going "HAW HAW". And yes, I googled and found other people were having the same issues and resorting to ludicrous workarounds (while other people were going 'Worked for me first time!', as usual).

So now it's back to WoW, and while all the new content is good enough to make up for the boring combat, I sure miss that bit of AoC at times. I wish they hadn't blown it.

heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26016173)

Judging by the AoC comments it would seem that time stops completely in MMOs when you cancel your account. Not that I'm not busy with lich king and never going back, but it's kind of silly to complain about the problems it had at launch when it's moved miles since then.

It's also doing fairly well. It doesn't have 10 million subscribers, but their original goal which you can find in some of their early interviews was 150k subscribers, and they still maintain that.

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