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r1ft Gaming Blog

A mirror of my gaming blog at The jaded game designer turned corporate lackey. Feedback is always welcome.

Author: Daedren

The Incredible Conan and its Sharp Weapons

Posted by Daedren Monday May 19 2008 at 4:48AM
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The Early Access program for Age of Conan launched this weekend. So, how'd Funcom do here?

The Saturday launch was kicked off 3-4 hours after it's scheduled time. Servers came up between 8-9PM GMT, which gave us EU players only a few precious hours to dive in before keyboard facing on a load screen in the early hours of the morning.

Funcom kept the users somewhat updated - the official forums were not operational, but they at least updated the patch message to tell people what was going on. They gave us the following "Welcome to Hyboria" message:

By Crom! By Mitra! By Set! They day is here! I bid you Welcome to Hyboria!

For 5 years, we, the galley slaves of Funcom, have toiled on the oar for your future pleasure. For 5 years we have felt the merry whip inscribe the letters “Conan” on our backs, mixing sweat with blood, reminding us to pull harder. Now we have at last reached the shore. The barge now transformed into a luxury ship and we bid you welcome on board. Not as slaves, naturally, but as captains, esteemed passengers or pilots.

The point is - from now on, Hyboria is yours as much as ours. We will build this world with you. We hope you will fall as much in love with it, as we have. Know though, that we might experience a bit of rough sea the first days. This is the nature launches… Let me take this moment to apologize for any bumpiness. Smoother waters are sighted ahead!

Welcome to Hyboria, welcome home!

Yours truly,

Gaute Godager
Game Director, Age of Conan

I don't really get the whole "luxury ship" analogy. So, we're pilots and captains and passengers? How many people can steer a ship? I envision some sort of sausage-fest party near the ship's steering wheel as 50,000 geeks battle to be pilot/captain of said ship. The whole "slave whipping" thing is a bit odd to. Anyway, this is probably one of the weirdest welcome or official messages I've seen for any game. Anyway, moving on.

Shortly after server launch, Funcom updated the patch message to tell us:

Due to the incredibly high demand, we will be launching two more PVP servers in the North America and English-EU regions.

Cool beans. At least they had a couple spare servers lying around to use for this. Weird thing was - this was predicted, especially by forums users, a few days before the launch. I guess Funcom didn't believe us. What is a bit amusing (or sad) is that they seemed to not care about the RP-PVP server in North America being horrifically overloaded. Cimmeria, the only NA RP-PVP server, was so crowded that people are even still experiencing bad lag problems and overcrowding issues. I know there is supposed to be more servers at launch, but that won't solve any problems as almost everyone playing AoC has friends they are going to join on one of the Early Access servers.

Server stability at launch was pretty good. Once the servers were up, there were very little latency problems that I saw. Also, the release client is about a million times more stable than the Open/Closed Beta client. It's not perfect, by any means, and there are still quite a few bugs (some game breaking) that you can experience early in the game. If you're lucky, like me, you'll dodge these bullets and be able to glide through and get the hell out of Tortage, which should be any sane person's goal.

Back to the launch: One thing to note about this "3-4 hour delay" is Funcom's patch server welcome message. After explaining that they are ironing out the servers, and there will be a 3 hour delay, they nicely told us to go "sharpen our weapons" one more time before we plunge into the world of Hyboria. At first, I didn't think much of this. It's cute that the Funcom Community guys (or whoever writes these messages) come up with witty little antidotes like this.

However, the next day (Sunday), during server maintenance, we had the following message (in regards to a bit more downtime for maintenance):

... and just when you thought. There is one more little tweak that needs a tad bit more testing. But Hyboria will open the gates in just a few more minutes. The servers will come up in about 30 minutes from now. Just enough time to sharpen your weapon of choice.

Ok, this is just weird. Does Tarib and the other Funcom guys picture gamers sitting near their desk, waiting for the servers to come back up, with some sort of medieval weapon-of-choice in our hands, grinding away on a sharpening stone? It was cute the first time, but if this is an ongoing theme, I think the CM's might need to have a bit of an in-house psych check or something.

So, Funcom, keep this in mind: Sharpening our weapons in a gaming sense really means practicing the actual game. We need the servers up to do that. I don't think you want to encourage MMO geeks to have sharp object lying around near their gaming PC and to be sharpening it constantly. Hey, I'm just trying to save you a lawsuit here, you know?

Anyway, Early Access launch went pretty smooth overall. The game, in it's current status, looks quite playable. A few bugs need to be ironed out and the server crowding issue needs to be solved (allowing free character transfers might do it). Other than that, a pretty smooth launch from Funcom.

Whesky writes:

I got too annoyed to actually read this all.

Why bash the welcome messages...I mean, sure the first bash was all right. But you're second bash, on the downtime message, was just stupid... Do YOU really think THEY picture you sitting infront of your PC sharpening your weapon?

Maybe you were just being funny about it...but one bash was enough.

Mon May 19 2008 6:57AM Report
Daedren writes:

I'll finish reading your comment in about 15 minutes, when I'm done sharpening my weapon of choice.

Mon May 19 2008 7:10AM Report
triste writes:

Daedren... hahah... i thought the exact same thing when i saw the patch message! and yeah the welcome message was a bit odd. Quirky, i guess. i dont mind it too much.

oh and the "incredible" thing, I saw it 2-3 times in their first patch messages, i started to think of "inconceivable!" and Princess Bride. haha.

Mon May 19 2008 7:16AM Report
jindra81 writes:

Launch went pretty well I thought. One thing, though, it seems that they are catering to the US crowd (server downtimes at 6PM GMT... ouch!) so lets hope they change that

Mon May 19 2008 7:36AM Report
craynlon writes:

im playing ea on the european rp-pvp server

imho they should have made a serverlist with big blinking letters:

99% of the people i met there had no clue that it was a ROLEPLAYING server spamming shouts about server downtimes directx10 and other infernal blabberings

the only in character conversation i had the whole day i played was a gm that unstuck me but actually talked in character doing his magic.

i wonder why, if theres 20 regular pvp servers to choose from ganking counterstrike kids have to flood a server labeled ROLEPLAYING server ?

Mon May 19 2008 7:58AM Report
burmese writes:

They were expecting 500,000 on launch week (20/23), they had server capacity for 600,000 and today announced it looks like 700,000 will log in this week.

Mon May 19 2008 7:59AM Report
craynlon writes:

the rest was a cool launch experience:
i was in panic for half a day waiting for my package from amazon and then finding out i didnt have an option to buy early access but they fixed that after some hours and the game absolutely roxx

Mon May 19 2008 8:01AM Report
Daedren writes:

craynlon: I'm on the same server with my friends. Karma's my guild. ;)

Keep in mind that, at launch, it's hard to foster a "roleplaying" environment just because of everything going on.

I always play on RP-PVP servers because of a more mature community and the RP policy.

So far the community seems good. I agree there is a lot of OOC chatter in OOC and such. People, in general, seem to be nice and rather friendly.

Anyway, look me up if you want to. I play at nights. Daedren, Dark Templar.

Mon May 19 2008 8:19AM Report
craynlon writes:

ont want nice and friendly, i dont care for a helpfull community even

this is conan afterall and its a pvp server
so i dont mind if the *grin* or *wave* is replaced by *spit on your corpse* but all the ooc chatter really brought me down.

i have to admit this is my 1st rp server experience since so far i play(ed) only lineage2 and they dont have rp servers.

my original point of criticism was that the serverlist isnt that explanatory so i think that a lot of people that just bought the box have a mild understanding of the difference between pvp and pve but hardly any idea what the rp-pvp stands for.

i heared the pvp servers filled up very fast and it may be that a lot of ppl just chose the server as yet another pvp server wich could have been avoided if funcome made some info screen pop up explaining the ruleset of each server on server selection.

Mon May 19 2008 9:05AM Report
Daedren writes:

I agree. I still haven't seen and don't even know if there is a RP rule list anywhere. If it's out there, it's not easily accessible.

Let's hope they have one up by live launch.

Mon May 19 2008 9:24AM Report
Daedren writes:

Oh, one more thing craynlon: the OOC chat is happening in the OOC channel. You can turn that off.

I think it's a good place for people to get help regarding the game, mechanics, etc. If you don't like OOC you can just turn the channel off. ;)

Mon May 19 2008 10:02AM Report
chillsan writes:

I would turn OOC off but I'm busy sharpening my weapons. Damn I just poked a hole in my lcd...

Mon May 19 2008 8:06PM Report
Hordequester8 writes:

Doesn't OOC = Out of Character?

The purpose of that channel is to talk without being in your Roleplaying mode.

It seems beyond a little silly to complain about people not roleplaying in the channel specifically made to not roleplay.

Fri Jun 13 2008 6:39PM Report writes:
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