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Editor's Note

Jon Wood, the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, gives his opinions on news, games, and all things MMORPG.

Author: Stradden

The Age of Conan Beta Debate: Now With One More Theory

Posted by Stradden Wednesday April 30 2008 at 9:05AM
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When I wrote yesterday’s article, “Product Director Speaks on Fileplanet Open Beta”, I had no idea that it would prove to be so volatile, prompting 120 replies overnight. I, being the madman that I am, have waded through the entirety of it and I have found that people are still proposing alternate theories on why exactly Funcom chose to go with a  Fileplanet download.

I’m not one of those people. I may be in the minority, but I just wasn’t surprised by the initial decision from the company to go through Fileplanet for a beta.  It’s not the first time a company has chosen this route for open beta distribution. Heck, I remember back when I was working on Wish, we distributed our client through good ‘ol FP and that was back in 2005. I remember someone telling me back then that this would become the standard for MMO beta distribution and I still can‘t disagree.

I know that people are running up one side of Jorgen’s answers (from the article) and down the other, but I think that there are some people who are misinterpreting  some of what has been said, and I wanted to offer my two cents. I should premise this by saying that while I will admit that Age of Conan is one of the games that I am looking forward to, I’m not personally invested enough to make up stories on their behalf (as I will inevitably be accused of doing).

Issue

The first thing that I have noticed is that near the end of the 120 replies (and throughout), people are still talking about Funcom making a profit from the beta. People feel that it was a decision made in ordre to “grab a quick buck” before launch.

Jon’s theory:


Ok, here’s my theory on this… I don’t think that Funcom is getting any money from the FP beta. The cost involved is Fileplanet’s subscription fee. I’m pretty sure that Fileplanet is keeping that money themselves as it’s their business model. Sure, the AoC beta was a nice get for them, it will probably bring in some new blood and it gets their name out there, but I don’t think that the people at FP are saying, ‘ok, let’s give the money in secret back to Funcom. Shhhh”. It just doesn’t make any business sense on their end.

In the end, Fileplanet is a for-profit website that is meant to make IGN money. I’m not knocking that. Most high end video game websites are for-profit. I’m just saying that we don’t usually give companies their money back.

Also, what would Funcom really have to gain by doing this? Let’s say for a moment that there is some kind of kick back. Let’s assume that, for the sake of argument, that it’s half of the subscription cost. There are 50,000 keys. Let’s say again for the sake of argument that the Age of Conan beta draws in twice that number of new subscribers to FP (I suspect that number is inflated). That’s 100,000 sign-ups. If Funcom were getting $2.50 for each one, that’s $250,000. While that sounds like a lot of money to someone like me, it really isn’t much in the scope of a multi-million dollar game. Take into account that the average game developer is (according to a recent survey) paid $73,316. That works out to about 3.4 employees worth on money. Not insignificant, but certainly not worth destroying Funcom customer relations over. Remember, Funcom is a business and AoC, while it holds a lot of weight, isn’t the be all and end all of the company.

Now, I know that this is very basic math, but to me, it just makes sense.

Do I think that Funcom isn’t getting anything out of the deal? Of course not. Fileplanet is a high-profile site. The Funcom beta being there brings attention to the game. Drumming up interest and raising the profile of your game right before launch is a valuable thing. It just isn’t monetary kickback.

Issue

People are still seeing a conspiracy (or at least rip-off) over the level 13 cap on the Fileplanet beta.

Jon’s Theory


While I totally agree with people who say that the level 13 cap should probably have been mentioned somewhere in the promotions for the beta, I think that Jorgen’s answer about the choice makes sense. In the end, their game is story-driven. They want to save the discovery of the story until the game has launched.

The thing is that there were a couple of lingual missteps here. While Jorgen addressed one of them, in saying that they probably should have called it the Fileplanet beta rather than an open beta, I would go one step further and say that it probably should have been called the “Fileplanet beta preview”. In the end, that’s what it is. It’s a preview. The AoC General Beta is still alive and kicking and is separate from the FP “Open Beta”. I honestly think that Funcom heard their audience calling for some kind of an open beta preview (when people complain that there won’t be an OB, I would suggest that it’s because they want to test the game before buying). And rather than not providing players any chance to try the game pre-launch, I think that the AoC folks probably set up this deal with Fileplanet in an attempt to give players a bit of a preview.

If indeed this was intended as a preview rather than a beta, then the lvl 13 cap makes sense. Think of it like a pre-release demo. Those are always very limited in terms of how much of the game you can experience.

Issue
It would have been easy to just distribute a torrent.

Jon’s Theory


I want to preface this bit by saying that I’m not a network expert, and I don’t really know a whole lot about Torrents and how they work. I’ve used them before, but don’t know a lot beyond that. I’m just going to say a few things that seem like common sense to me.

First, wouldn’t releasing through a torrent still require a massive amount of organization on Funcom’s part? I don’t know about the technical stuff, but even the distribution of keys seems like it would be a chore that it might be best to farm out.

Second, wouldn’t distributing via torrent be less secure? I don’t know for sure, but it seems like it would be.

Third, wouldn’t distributing via torrent be less professional? I can’t remember the last time that a professional company asked me to download a torrent. Also, to lay people like me, the word torrent pushes the brain to thoughts of illegal downloading. I’m not saying that’s all they’re used for. It’s not, but there is a very powerful perception in the realm of people who don’t really use torrents (there are more out there than you may think).

I honestly don’t know about this one, but I suspect that even if it could have been done, it just wasn’t worth the headache.

Ok, this is getting long in the tooth for a blog entry, so I am going to cut it short.

My intention here is not to try to convince people to play Age of Conan. In the end, everyone’s MMO tastes are a little bit different. I suspect that AoC will make some people very happy, while for others, it won’t be their cup of tea. The reason I wrote this blog entry is to try to just propose some non-conspiratorial answers to the legitimate questions that have been raised about these issues. Do I claim to be right? No, I don’t. I do not know with 100% certainty that anything I said above is the case. But I wonder if these explanations are any less plausible than a lot of what I read in response to yesterday’s article.

fansede writes:

I knew you were on the take for FunCom! I just knew it!

J/k thanks for the insight.

Wed Apr 30 2008 9:15AM Report
Meltdown writes:

I think what Funcom did is fine. My theory is that they didn't want a cluster#$%^ of useless beta players, but instead have those who are sincerely interested in playing and testing. Not the people who play it for 10 seconds, say it sucks and begin to flame Funcom on forums until release... not that anyone here would do that...

Wed Apr 30 2008 9:16AM Report
MacroPlanet writes:

very well constructed blog.

 

I agree with about 100% of the stuff here.  I don't see it as Funcom trying to hide anything.  I see it as smart buisness moves.  The open beta is open for a reason.  To play and try out the game.  If you simply don't like what you play, then you know it's not for you.

 

I'm excited for tomorrow.

Wed Apr 30 2008 9:49AM Report
Xondar123 writes:

Torrents are not hard to set up or maintain at all. If they were, there wouldn't be thousands upon thousands of torrents and torrents sites out there. I'm not sure about key distribution however.

As far as illegality goes, sure torrents are mainly used for "illegal" downloads now (I would dispute calling them illegal in the first place.) But, the more legitimate, business driven torrents that exist, the less the stigma of "illegality" will stick to torrents in general

Third, there are legitimate businesses that use torrents. The largest MMO in the world, World of Warcraft, uses torrents to distribute patches and game videos and such. I'd say that over all, Blizzards use of torrents has been successful. The main hitch seems to be ISPs actively throttling and blocking torrent traffic as has recently come to light.

Wed Apr 30 2008 9:51AM Report
KaltesHerz writes:

Personally I'm tired of defending AoC to the crybabys that didn't get into the beta. It's a joke that they're getting this worked up over a freakin' game. Nothing illegal was done, nothing intentionally wrong was done or said.  ah well, cry on

Wed Apr 30 2008 10:04AM Report
DeciKaba writes: I doubt there's a percentage take by funcom on the signups as you are negating above. imho FP went to FC and said here's $x for the 'exclusive' on the 'open' beta. Wed Apr 30 2008 10:12AM Report
pixeldogmeat writes:

I personally think level 13 cap is to keep all players in a clustered area for some stress testing. If you give everyone too much freedom it would be hard to stress test with all characters in different areas of their AoC server cluster.

That's my theory.

Wed Apr 30 2008 10:31AM Report
Daedren writes:

Hi Jon,

Allow me to respond to a couple of your comments here. I am a network expert, so I hope I'll help. ;)

"First, wouldn’t releasing through a torrent still require a massive amount of organization on Funcom’s part? I don’t know about the technical stuff, but even the distribution of keys seems like it would be a chore that it might be best to farm out."

No, not at all. The beauty about torrenting is that it's extremely easy to use. Funcom would have to distribute the client to a select amount of individuals (preferably with high upload bandwidth) who would promise to seed the thing out. For example, even with only 20-30 seeds (complete files), distribution would be ok. The great thing about it is that it's viral - the more people that get the file (even incomplete) - the easier it gets to distribute.

Organization would be easy. I'm sure a lot of fans / fansites have a lot of bandwidth to use. Myself, I have something near 5 Terabytes I could use, and I would have donated. Also, Funcom would hopefully be seeding as well, using it to help stress the bandwidth of their server infrastructure. This could be capped easily if needed.

The worrying thing about this is they want to support a patch download of 400MB + at launch to 600,000 customers. They haven't tested their server infrastructure and this would have been an excellent way to do it.

Regarding less professional: I don't think so. Warcraft uses the Torrent system for their patching. It works fine. It's the greatest thing in shared media - why not use it? People would have understood, as it's the beta. Why not let people use their bandwidth to help out?

Torrenting might be considered mainly used for illegal software / media and such, but that's not entirely true. It's honestly the best and most efficient way to distribute files due to the integrity checking and bandwidth sharing that goes with the clients.

As I said before, though, I never had a problem with using Fileplanet to help - key word here is help - with distrubuting the Open Beta. Want your client faster? Well, buy a FP account. It's always been the exclusivity of the beta going to FP customers that has been the problem.

Lastly, I didn't like most of the responses in the interview. It dodged a huge question - a question that makes all of the arguments fail at a level of logic.

If bandwidth and distribution were really the main concern, why weren't prior beta testers - ones that already have the media - given Open Beta accounts?

In the end, it just has the air of sacrificing integrity for a chance at marketing a product, and it's hard to be inspired by a move like that.

 

 

 

Wed Apr 30 2008 10:50AM Report
Razrius writes:

Well as far as I know the very first 20 level is single player game on the island Tortuga. In that case in this preview you won't be able to test the MMO aspect of AoC at all rather and you only get a sneak peak into the game, and you can experience their combat system.

Wed Apr 30 2008 10:54AM Report
Daedren writes:

Commenting on some of the stuff from the article:

"The Product Director went on to say that “running the Age of Conan beta is and will remain an expense, as it should be for us as developers. The focus for us when running a beta is to get invaluable feedback from as many testers as needed, helping us to get ready for launch, not to make money on it”. He also outlined more on this “It is correct that Fileplanet requires you to be a paying member to get hold of the Conan beta, as well as many other things, but as far as I know they have far more members than the 50.000 keys we make available. For them, I would think that things like the Conan beta is an important stimulation for their members."

There is conflicting information here - on one hand, he's saying "Our main priority is to get feedback of the testers" - and - "Marketing or making money off this wasn't our goal" -- yet common sense would dictate otherwise, as you've asked a bunch of random Fileplanet subscribers - many who probably had no idea of the games existence prior to this - to test a game. How dumb do you think people are not to realize a marketing advantage? There is nothing wrong with promoting a game - just call a duck a duck and a frog a frog. Don't try to halfass around the question by saying you're not trying to market the game by going exclusive - key word here - exclusive to Fileplanet members. It's a bit insulting.

“focus on the game, the closed beta and the launch, and not on the infrastructure related to the Fileplanet Open beta.”

I have to agree with most forum posters that this comment is ridiculous. Infrastructure guys don't work on game mechanics last I checked. In fact, it should have been the exact opposite statement, like:

"As we're prepared to support 600,000 players at launch, we'd like to take this opportunity to test our infrastructure with the 50,000 Open Beta members."

And then we have the comment of:

”we are of course ready for much bigger numbers, both on the servers and for distribution. We already have infrastructure in place for serving around 600.000 players on launch day.”

Basically -- Infrastructure to Open Beta = the same Infrastructure for release. It's not like the beta servers are on the Moon or in a different country - they're using the same infrastructure that you just said is ready for launch in 20 days. So we have someone saying "The infrastructure is ready for launch" and then saying "the infrastructure is not ready to handle an Open Beta" which leads us to believe there is some conflicting information here. Is it ready, or isn't it? If it can't support 50,000 beta clients, how can it support 600,000?

If you're not focusing on it now, when will you?

Wed Apr 30 2008 11:15AM Report
Nicod3mus writes:

Blah blah cry cry.....Fileplanet is worth the $5 without the AOC beta and folks this  is business. I have been in development all of my adult life and for several different reasons the FP beta push is a great deal for everyone involved including the people that end up paying for the retail game. The majority of the people that won't pay $5 to try the game (or do not have an FP membership already) are beta hoppers that never play after retail release anyway....who cares whether or not they get keys.....certainly not me.

Wed Apr 30 2008 11:30AM Report
Raston writes:

I disagree about Failplanet being worth it.  There is nothing about failplanet (including this stress test beta) that is worth a penny, let alone $5-$7-$15 or what ever they've jacked the rates to now.

I, for one, am not upset I didn't get into the beta.  It was their right to do it, even if I think the methodology was less than I would of preferred, personally.

I simply refuse to pay failplanet a penny, regardless of what they offered as a one time 'offer'.

Wed Apr 30 2008 11:58AM Report
Alienovrlord writes:

'Preview' is a good term but I would called this a 'Fileplanet Exclusive Trial'.   Gamers are more used to game Trials that have limited content.    This whole thing is more about marketing than beta-testing IMO.  

Funcom must have already done all their real stress testing of the game since it's less than a month away from release.   What would it say about their planning if they were doing major testing only weeks before launch?

This is about PR and marketing not beta testing, calling it a beta was a faux pas.  With more players approaching betas as an excuse to play a game for free rather than doing actual TESTING, developers need to be more careful about these things. 

Wed Apr 30 2008 12:02PM Report
Fukkfase writes:

Great post Daedren. I think "There is nothing wrong with promoting a game - just call a duck a duck and a frog a frog" captures how a lot of reasonable people feel about this stuff.

Wed Apr 30 2008 12:06PM Report
zaxxon23 writes:

Fileplanet can be very worth it, although its use is limited to MMO gamers.  The real use of fileplanet is for FPS games, who rarely have the ability to distribute patches in a quality manner to their customers.  Fileplanet made my fps days much more enjoyable, and indeed saved my butt a few times when a patch was released on the same day we had a match.

The only reason I was introduced to world of warcraft was because of fileplanet and their stress test beta (not a MMO watcher on sites like these at that point).  This type of exclusive beta is far from new and makes very good sense for both companies involved.  I applaud the decision, despite the whiners here who cry for no other reason then to cry about something.

Wed Apr 30 2008 12:16PM Report
Valentina writes:

nice blog. i agree 100%

Wed Apr 30 2008 12:23PM Report
ahac writes:

The only reason I was introduced to world of warcraft was because of fileplanet and their stress test beta (not a MMO watcher on sites like these at that point).

The only reason I was introduced to WoW was the european open beta. I tried it, I loved it, I preordered it and I showed it to all my friends. WoW was sold out in my country! Not because of Fileplanet but because everyone could try it.

With AoC I won't even know how it runs on my PC, how it plays... I can't judge from movies and screenshots. I have to try before I buy.

I'm not anrgy that I didn't get into beta...but seeing how they lost me and my friends as potential custumers (at least until they can give me a proper trial) I think a real open beta would be a much better advertisement than fileplanet.

But even if they decided to go with fileplanet... wouldn't it be much more effective if every registered fileplanet user (even free) could play it?

So.. they way I see it is that they want me to buy the game without playing it first. Why? Isn't it good?

Wed Apr 30 2008 4:07PM Report
soulwynd writes:

Since the rest doesn't matter, I'm gonna poke at the torrent issue. AO is distributed via torrent and for even an wider acknowledgment of torrents in the mmorpg world, WoW's updates are all done via torrent. Those are not the only examples of 'professional' uses of torrents. There are a lot of companies using torrents and hopefully their use will only increase despise some ISPs giving torrent users a hard time. Also, torrents aren't hard to set up, it just seems like a huge excuse to me.

Just so you have an idea, I might skip on the $5 download and wait for the dvds to arrive, just because it's being done via direct download. I'd much rather download it using torrent.

Wed Apr 30 2008 4:10PM Report
Consensus writes:

I agree with the blog. But I also agree with the call a duck a duck and a frog a frog thing. it was wrong to call this open beta.

however, it really isn't that big a deal! get over it people! you only have to wait an extra month and then you can trial or play the whole bloody thing!

Wed Apr 30 2008 5:42PM Report
Joshyray writes:

Let me make a simple point. How many people got to try the new Grand Theft Auto? The game that is to be sooo ground breaking it is changing all the rules.... Now I'm preaty sure I dont hear people flappin their gums about not being able to try it before they buy it. Why are consol games any different? All this is showing us is that Computer gamers are spoiled little babies. I guess we can think all of thouse crappy F2P MMO's coming outa the east.

Wed Apr 30 2008 6:03PM Report
Bama1267 writes:

 I agree with the explanation given on the reason Funcom did it this way. But to call it an open beta .... it really isnt. 2 weeks before realease ...this game is next to done.

 However having a girly qq session on the forums because you dont have a FP account to try beta is uncalled for. More than likely though, people who have really wanted to get in and try it before release. probably people who have followed the game since it was anounced and almost expected to get in by open beta at the very least. So I can see the dissapointment .... just dont cry about it.

Wed Apr 30 2008 6:25PM Report
grimfall writes:

.... just dont cry about it.

Why not?

When Funcom was seeking funding for their game, do you think they didn't say to companies 'Hey', we've got 172,346 unique hits on our web site over the last 3 months'?  Sure, we'll screw over these people first chance we get, but give us the funding anyway, we'll recover it in initial launch.

I don't really think that was the thought process they went through, but it's quite clear that they did go through a thoughtless process when coming to a decision to ignore the people who would have williingly helped them test their game for free (which now that I think about it is probably illegal in the EU and the US) .

There are 10's of thousands of people out there who want this game and wanted to help make it a success who feel slightled by this 'open beta' process.  They all have spent many hour reseraching and discussing the game which even at minimum wage outweighs the juvenile 'pay your $6' argument.

It's very simple, and it's really amazing to me that 40% of the MMORPG posters and Funcom don't get it.  Rule #1 of any  business: Don't fuck over  you customers.

Wed Apr 30 2008 7:00PM Report
shoxy15 writes:

I think it would be nicer to get at least a level 20 cap but hey nothing we can do. This game is going to own anyways.

Wed Apr 30 2008 7:46PM Report
eric_w66 writes:

Torrents are a joke. There's a reason why WoW now puts their patches on FP as well as the normal BitTrickle technique.

Wed Apr 30 2008 10:23PM Report
Tron420 writes:

I agree with Stradden and can summarize his blog in one sentence fragment:

QQ more plz.

 

Here is my opinion about the matter -

A big reason I am excited about AoC and the rated 'M' thing is because I am hoping to ditch the cry baby emo dipsh1t teenager types you find in WoW. If a $5 beta can get some of those kind off of the AoC band wagon then, WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO! Beat it kooks! FunCom doesn't need to appologize to anyone. Maybe if the people b1tching had a real job they would understand a little bit about the business world. Screw 'em.

(in case you wanted to know how I really felt...)

Wed Apr 30 2008 11:43PM Report
jaxon1234 writes:

If people don't like Fileplanet, they can wait until release, or not purchase at all.  Those of us who want access to the beta will pay for Fileplanet if that's the method, or bloody carrier pigeon if necessary.  It's Funcom's game, it's their decision and those who are interested in the game can abide by Funcom's choice of distributor, marketer, retailer, and everything else.

I was already a Fileplanet subscriber, it's well worth it for all the other betas I've accessed through them, plus their other content.  If a toddler can't get their mommy's credit card to pay $5 a month, then AoC is way out of their league anyway.

Keep up the good work guys!

Thu May 01 2008 1:31AM Report
achesoma writes:

Very well put and agree 100%.  All the conspiracy nuts and whiners that keep threatening not to play simply make me laugh.  These are all the type of people I do not want to play with anyway!

Thu May 01 2008 1:58AM Report
Minsc writes:

Just for everyone's information. One major reason NOT to use torrents is that a lot of ISP's perform traffic shaping on torrent files, which results in EXTREMELY slow speeds or the inability to download the file at all. They have no way to distinguish legal torrents from illegal torrents and that alone is a major reason why providing the download through torrent doesn't make sense.

Thu May 01 2008 1:58AM Report
Psilocybine writes:

it matters not how its worded or how its distributed.

we know its 13 lvls and we know u have to be a FP subscriber...

so what who cares its been done before...

 

i am neither for or against the idea... im already a FP subscriber... so it makes no difference for me.

 

it is what it is. if u dont lick it fuck off... dont spend ur life bitching about it. ive never seen something more moaned about on a forum ever...

 

Thu May 01 2008 4:03AM Report
Psilocybine writes:

"if u dont lick it" lol slight spelling mistake... ofc i meant like =S

Thu May 01 2008 4:04AM Report
Polyjean writes:

> I can’t remember the last time that a professional company asked me to download a torrent.

which means that blizzard isnt a professional company?

 

i dont see any critical analysis in what you say, only repeating what funcom told us.

 

Thu May 01 2008 6:14AM Report
Amblin writes:

You shouldn't worry about the beta fiasco, you should be more interested that the probable reason you will have to pay for the 3 day head start is to cover the costs of adding in multiplayer to the initially single player section of the game. It is the only obvious reason as far as I can see to have done this as they never calcualted the addtional cost to cover this new feature in the levels 1-20 part of the game. of course this is only my opinion and not confirmed by fact.

the file planet beta is and always was a con, 50,000 keys and what? 500,000 wannabe's. fileplanet were guaranteed new take ups for subs. I doubt funcom got kick backs but I imagine they got free advertising.

funcom so far seem unable to do anything right, maybe it's just a language thing or maybe it's just typical of the shambolic drama that is to come.

We already have hacks in the game and it isn't released. nuff said.

 

Gonna be fun to watch, perhaps a re-run of GOA's DAOC release? I'll fetch the marshamellows for the fire =p

Thu May 01 2008 6:42AM Report
Amblin writes:

polygene, wow is a torrent rofl, or you can dl from fileplanet etc.

Thu May 01 2008 6:43AM Report
Melf_Himself writes:

Beta is not a privelege for gamers. It is a tool for Funcom to test their product. You're not supposed to be getting enjoyment out of it. The people still complaining are a bunch of free-loaders.

Thu May 01 2008 6:51AM Report
BadSpock writes:

Don't buy into the conspiracy theoriest.

Good work Stradden. Good work.

Thu May 01 2008 8:56AM Report
woalCE writes:

I don't understand how we encourage developers to offer free previews when they are rightly concerned about getting you in to buy the game at launch. In this case they capped the experience at 20k people on a subscription-based service and at level 13. If this is the kind of exposure that provides the useful data they need, we're never going to convince them it's a good idea to have a preview weekend where anyone who wants to play can give it a shot. The marketing genius that realized they could make you subscribe for faster downloads is not someone I appreciate as a human. In fact, by his own admission, this should have been called a fileplanet subscribers private demo due to the subscription base already in place. The real proof is that if you're not an mmorpg-geek you haven't heard of Age of Conan, and barring some magical WOW-like success, probably never will. Heck, my gamer friends don't even have the game on their radar. This game needs bodies in seats to keep it running, and limited preview weekends to a pittance of players isn't going to build the kind of buzz needed for launch. I also take issue with the folks all saying people who want previews are a bunch of freeloaders. If you can't offer me a weekend preview of your game that pulls me in to buy the game, you have some serious new player experience retooling ahead. Heck, I would love to hear anything good from an unbiased source about this game as the word on the street from nda-breakers is not good.

Thu May 01 2008 10:02AM Report
keneda writes:

Hi all ,

My opinion , I really dont care about the charge fee , I paid it and got my key , But what I really dont like is the fact that they did not mention the lvl 13 cap clearly before you paid.

This is not a Open Béta at all , its more like a tryout.......

It really feels like a Big scam to me , and Funcom should have told Fileplanet to be clear with their costomers , because now it all goes back to their face.

I really hope that the Game is good , because I really dont beliveve anybody on the Tryout béta can make a clear opinion on the game , we wont see much of it so how can we make a clear opinion ?

Thu May 01 2008 10:24AM Report
BlueMountain writes:

Right: Much though I would like to beta I would rather wait for release than open my system up to fileplanet again.

Better yet, I'll hope to find access to an alternate source, such as a direct FunCom download, should the stars in their constellations favor me.

Thu May 01 2008 11:20AM Report
Maximos writes:

I new it was level 13 cap when the FP signups began.  Not hard to tell if you checked the forums on official site.  And get over the Fileplanet thing people, its not the first game to do it, and it won't be the last.

Thu May 01 2008 2:00PM Report
shava writes:

Jon, you seem to be focused on them distributing their software on FP -- that isn't the issue at all.  If they distributed on FP, and if you weren't a FP member you got a slower download, no big deal.  But the issue is this:

Funcom cut a deal with FP to distribute open beta keys.

In order to get a chance for a key, you had to pay FP.

In order to get notice of when the keys were distributed, you needed to download Comrade, their xFire like app.

The ads were VERY MISLEADING on how easy it would be to get a key if you paid for FP membership.  LOTS of people paid for FP and got locked out of the open beta.

The anger you are seeing is people who felt they were tricked into a bait and switch.  There were people who paid for FP, never got a key, and would never have given FP a dime if they hadn't believed they were getting a key for their membership.

I have no idea why you can't suss this out from the reactions.  The issue is not the distrubution of software.  It's the distribution of keys.

Funcom seems disingenuous saying they went with FP for distribution of software, and that FP just understands how this all is supposed to work.  FP leveraged this into probably thousands and thousands in revenue for themselves, thousands and thousands of new members to inflate their registration base for Comrade and such, and mislead and frustrated...thousands and thousands of users.

How would this fail to sucK?

Fri May 02 2008 12:05PM Report
darkon writes:

I can tell you, the one big reason they probably did this is because they wanted another batch of Beta Players, a few levels of testers of all different calibers is very useful at this stage of the game, this close to launch.  I have beta tested a few games before and I did apply for the AoC Beta, sadly enough i never received a response but i figured i was either too late or they already had enough people in the bracket that my system specs match.

Anyway, I'm getting off point here.  What happens when you do a Beta, especially an "Open Beta"  The people who complain about a non open beta are mainly the people wanting to "try the game for free before they buy it".  This helps the end user, but it does not help the game developers out.

If you have lets say, 100,000 Beta testers and only 50,000 or less are actually really "testing" and reporting errors, its not justifying as a "solid Beta Test".  This can cause problems from things such as having the launch times pushed back, or even having a very buggy version of the game out.  Most of the FP subscribers are probably people who are usually experienced with these games, probably beta tested before, and have been looking forward to the game, as well as really being into the game to find the errors.

So case and point, as much as I don't like the fact that they call it an "Open Beta" and now I won't be able to Beta Test it before it launches, (I agree that they should have chosen the name differently though) However, I think they went about it just fine.  They are trying to be cautious and thorough, which for a game of this caliber, this much anticipation, and with the size of the shoes it has to fill, you wouldn't want them to do a half@#$ job now would you?  :)

Just my Two Cents

-Darkon

Sat May 03 2008 4:52AM Report
darkon writes:

This comment is in response to Shava's post:

I agree with you fully there...i completely forgot about that in my previous post.  I know how bad I wanted to get my hands on a Beta Key and i was willing to open up a FP account just to get it.  I was lucky enough to log on to their website to find that the beta was closed.  I was indeed willing to sign up for atleast a month, for a service i probably would never use, just to get a shot to Beta Test a game that I have been looking forward to for quite a while.  I can imagine how many people are probably mad because they were misled into making an FP account in hopes to Beta AoC.  

Had i been able to go through with it, I would probably also be amung the angered.  lol.

Sat May 03 2008 5:05AM Report
Dremac writes:

You say "in the end" a lot.  

Sat May 03 2008 5:48AM Report
Stradden writes:

Yeah, I tend to over0use it when I'm blogging. It's a strong term. When I'm writing a piece for "regualr publication", I have to go through and replace words.

Sat May 03 2008 8:02AM Report
bruse writes:

Meh... Going FP is easy and quick, I rather have them work on the game then anything else

Sun May 04 2008 5:56PM Report
phaylen writes:

@Bruse

... And work on the gamethey must. Unless months and months of improvement have taken place over the last couple of weeks, the game is a technological disaster. I am assuming they are only letting you guys get to level 13 because thats all they've managed to get functioning.

 I had anticipated this game for a long, long time, like many of you, so imagine my disappointment. Even on high end computers the lag is unforgivable, the animations are choppy and robotic, you run like you have a stick up your bum, bouncing more than anything, the amount of bugs that have yet to be fixed is glaring,

 It took a month and two delayed tech tests for the hundreds of tech tester to even have the capapbility of accessing the game because it it was a complete mess... in fact, after the second scheduled failure, most of the tech testers went into chaos on teh forums and many just left in the belief that this game would need at least another 6 months of work. There are, of course, three fanboys for every actual tester with an unbiased opinion on the state of the game, so the voice of reason usually gets drowned by the hopeful cries of Canan's loyal followers.

 Funcom seems to be pushing it out the door anyway in an effort to get a leg up on Warhammer and other large scale titles released this year.

 Optimistically it may not be all bad, it's better to start of shoddy and imporoved after release, then to start out on top of the game and decline in quality and performance into absolute ruin like SWG did.

Sun May 04 2008 10:31PM Report
NotNiceDino writes:

One thing I'm definately tired of hearing is WoW's autopatcher cited as a good example of how to distribute MMO content via torrent. Now, I haven't played WoW is several months, but for the 2+ years I did play, come patch day every WoW related forum was chocked full of people looking for direct-downloads because the auto-patcher either wasn't working, or was moving ridiculously slow. Services like Fileplanet owe a large part of their existance in recent years to people looking for an alternative to the WoW autopatcher so if that's your example of how torrents work for distributing MMO content, congratulations, you fail.

Tue May 06 2008 8:20AM Report
Lizante writes:

FunCom did do a much better job of "buying off" the MMO gaming media this time and spent a ton of money in promotion, hosting everyone with a press card in Norway, etc., hence having been treated so nicely, a lot of media people like Mr. Wood here, tend to "agree" with FunCom regarding the whole Age of Conan FilePlanet beta and the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Release.

The FilePlanet Beta (I don't call it open beta because it's not) is a disaster.  As for the game itself, as posted elsewhere, it will take 30 to 180 days beyond the May 20 release for Age of Conan to shake out the bugs.

Tue May 06 2008 2:32PM Report
Stradden writes:

Lizante - First of all, what you just said is both insulting and untrue. Yes, I have visited the Funcom offices in Norway. That's a part of my job - to travel to studios and check things out. This isn't a new development nor is it a unique experience for me. I have visited many studios and frankly things like that don't impress me, certainly not enough to justify giving favors for it. I don't call it an open beta either and I firmy believe that calling it that was a mistake on Funcom's part.

All I'm saying in this blog is that there are a lot of theories out there and I thought that I would add my voice to it. Having been in and around the industry for a few years now, I might offer a different perspective. I'm not even saying I'm right. You may have noticed that everything here was presented as a theory, not as fact.

I don't know if you are the type of person who is impressed enough by a long flight, a hotel and another long flight home that it would influence your professionalism, but that isn't me. I respectfully suggest that perhaps you should  look for a bit of context before slandering someone in such a way.

Tue May 06 2008 3:24PM Report
grimfall writes:

Uh  Stradden,

I realize this is your first day on the job and all, but ask some of your colleagues who have been around for more than a week and they can point out that you've been running AoC advertising for a while.  It's very altruistic of MMORPG.com to do this advertising for free, and I am sure that the Nobel people will be contacting you shortly to make arrangements for the 2008 Peace Prize ceremony.

Tue May 20 2008 4:52PM Report

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