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Teala's Wickedly Cool MMORPG.com Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

Dear Funcom; First impressions are everything....

Posted by Teala Friday June 27 2008 at 3:06PM
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I do not think game companies are understanding that this is not 1999 any more.   Back then we had no choice on the games we played.  We had UO, EQ, and AC.   Not any more.  They just don't get it.   It is over their heads.   Clearly many of the guys in charge of these companies think they can put anything on the market and gamers will play it when clearly that is not the case.   How do we know this?  Because we can look back at the numerous failed games produced by game companies throughout the MMORPG industry.

I mean where do I start this list of failed games?   Why did they fail?   Simple the companies either failed to deliver what they promised, like Turbine with AC2, or Sigil with Vanguard.   Look at the titles of so many others, Auto Assault, Matrix Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Tabula Rasa, Rysom, Dark and Light, Mourning, I can list a half dozen more...and yet the companies producing these games don't seem to learn from one another as they should be.

These games are failing because they are not finished.  They are full of bugs, broken game play mechanics, launched with missing features and poorly implemented ones.   Is it any wonder.   Ask yourself this.   I know this analogy has been tossed out before, but if you went into a car dealership and they wanted to sell you a car that was missing standard or had substandard features...would buy that car?   No you would not and that car company would be out of business really soon or would be hard pressed to get people to buy their product.

Same goes with these games.   I know WoW's launch was not perfect...in fact it is in my list as one of the worst launches in MMORPG history.   The difference is Blizzard stepped up to the plate and fixed there game in short order.   I might have had problems logging in and playing the first week that WoW launched, but I can tell you from my experience it was but one week that it was that way.   From then on it was pretty smooth sailing.   The game run very well and the game features worked as intended.  Like crafting, gathering resources, quest....etc, etc, etc....not the case in Age of Conan.

Yes....Funcom's launch of Age of Conan was pretty smooth for the most part.   For me it launched without a hitch despite the 1 hour or so delay that first day of early access.   However, the game we were promised from that point on was not there.

Sure the first 20 levels are great.   Repetitive...but great nevertheless.  However, things go downhill pretty quickly from there and once you hit level 40 the bad things in the Age of Conan become more and more apparent.    It starts to become a chore to log into what should be a fun game throughout.  

When basic features you advertise about the game and hyped on game websites using HD streaming web movies to show your game...you misled us - you lied in other words.   Where are the sieges you said we would be able to participate in?  Where is this economy driven buy players?  Where is all the different armors you marched in front of us in videos.   What about the PvP part of the game you advertised and still advertise on your box you sell the game in?

Makes you wonder how a company like Funcom who had such a terrible experience with their first entry into the MMORPG market could do it all over again?   Anyone remember Anarchy Online?  What a horrible launch that was.   Took Funcom months to recover from that fiasco.  They still have not fully recovered.   Because even given the game way they cannot pull in players.   Is Anarchy Online a good game? Yes...now it is....but...first impressions are everything and you burned to many players the first time around.  You were given a second chance and now instead of delivering a fun and enjoyable game this time around you're back to delivering a mediocre product that is half of what we were promised.

Gamers do not tolerate this kind of thing any more.  Sure you'll keep a few fans playing over the next month, but even the hardiest of die hard fans will eventually take off the rose colored glasses and realize that you failed them.  You failed to deliver the product you promised and lost to many players to make the game fun for those that remain.  Causing more to leave.   Then comes the server merges.   Like EQ2, Vanguard and so many others before...because you will be having a hard time getting new players and the original players may never return.  

Funcom should really be monitoring their own forums and the forums of gaming websites like MMORPG.com and Vault Network.   The number of people posting that they have cancelled their accounts after the first free month is staggering.  So much so that your own mods on your own official forums are hard pressed to keep up with deleting them all.  

Why so many cancellations after a stellar launch.   Because Funcom first impressions are everything.

Ny suggestion to Funcom.

Fix your game.  Stop breaking it.  Stop making it "unfun" to play.   People are fed up with the nerfs, the changes to basic game play like the "grey MoB's" and elite bosses being made stronger and stronger.   Giving players something and then taking it away, especially when the players were having fun with that part of the game is absolutely mind blowing.   It's a game Funcom...it is suppose to bring joy and fun to the people that play it.   Not anger, frustration, and contempt.    Right now that is what your game garners...anger, frustration, and contempt.    Thus the cancellations will continue as more and more people experience the game you like to refer to as a game.

Funny thing is we wish to play your game....we really do.  We want it to succeed just as much as you do, but if you keep breaking and and making it unfun to play - who is going to wish to play it?

Note:  It is a sad commentary that I have to write such things about these games we all love to play.    I really wished that Vanguard had been a better game.  I really had hopes for such games as Star Wars Galaxies and Everquest Online 2 and now Funcom's Age of Conan.   But as long as these game companies continue to make games that are broken, bug riddled and make them so aggravating and no longer fun to play...well then it leaves gamers like me having no choice but to write about games that had so much potential and were given a golden opportunity by many a gamer only to watch a game company like Funcom destroy there own game and suck the life right out of it.    As another side note.   Let's all hope and pray that future game companies learn something from games like Vanguard, Tabula Rasa and now Age of Conan.   Because for everyone of them that fails, it'll be harder and harder for new and better games to come to market.  Investors are not going to keep throwing away their money on such a risky venture.

If Funcom cares - here is a list of all the things that need fixed from your own Forums.

Players List of Game Concerns   <<<< From Funcoms own Forums

Players Patch Wish List  <<< Copied From the EU AoC forums on 6/26/2008

ManiaCCC writes: So true Fri Jun 27 2008 3:34PM Report
ProfRed writes:

If you aren't a AAA dev with millions then release a polished low bug project that lacks features if anything and add them as you go. 

Fri Jun 27 2008 3:39PM Report
doomrah writes:

i am thinking of going back to vanguard actually.

i will be leaving them all for 2 whole weeks at least though for WAR.  i think they will pull of a very clean launch.

i knew AoC would do a epic fail launch.  i really didn't understand the hype on it from the start.  i'm lvl 24 and already starting to yawn while playing.  plus 150pts to climb a stone ladder?  that is insane LOL

Fri Jun 27 2008 3:41PM Report
axlezero writes:

Vanguard was never ready to be released no denying that but.. the game has come along way since release.  I hate to say this but SoE actually might have saved the game.  I've recently started playing it again and its running a whole hell of a lot better, and its got some end game content with more to come.  They are turning Pantheon, one of my favorite dungeons into a level 50 raid dungeon.

You are right about burning the player base and most will probably never come back.  I beta tested conan and quite honestly wasn't that impressed, if the game would have been a little better then it is, I would never have gone back to vanguard, but I'm not about to go through another game not ready for release.

Fri Jun 27 2008 4:08PM Report
Kyleran writes:

The failures are quite easy to explain actually. They result for the most part because the games run out of funding and have to be pushed out the door unfinished? 

Now, why do they run out of funding? Again a simple answer really, they don't apply proper software development/project management practices.

They fail to properly define their requirements early in the project and fund it accordingly.  Trying to create the game of the century, that is everything to everyone and included all possible features at launch is not really possible.

Better to take the LoTRO approach (last decent launch) of releasing limited, but well functioning content during release time, and then quickly adding more content afterwards. Sure, they took some heat for the approach, but overall it worked pretty well.

Also, poor change management processes allow for scope creep, frequently the result of attempting to follow market trends rather than stick to the original vision.

Finally, stop trying to build WOW.  Even Blizzard can't build another WOW again, the market just isnt the same anymore.  WOW was the right game at the right time, we'll not soon see another of its like anytime soon.

Fri Jun 27 2008 4:34PM Report
miagisan writes:

well said Teala....well said indeed

Fri Jun 27 2008 4:55PM Report
NobleNerd writes:

I am one of those cancel'ors within the 1 month free trial. Only issue here is once again I gave into the hype that this site along with many other gaming sites and TV shows gave to this mmo! I don't just blame the dev of the game i blame the people testing out the games that let us buy into the hype on a game that clearly needed more time in Beta and Alpha testing before retail launch. I was burned by Vanguard and it's WoW killer claim and now by AoC! I will stick to playing WoW and LOTRO for now until a more polished game come out with the bells and whistles I am looking for. One game I am looking forward to right now is actually Mythos.

Fri Jun 27 2008 5:26PM Report
kitsunegirl writes:

Pretty pretty Teala... that is why AoC is known as Anarchy Online Continued... because Notfuncom is too dense to learn from their own mistakes and those of others.

Fri Jun 27 2008 6:24PM Report
fyerwall writes:

Thing is Funcom knew what they were doing from beta. They knew what the game was going to be like hence keeping the NDA through release and then going all iron curtain on the forums afterwards.

Sad thing is they know people are willing to forgive and forget. Its a sad reality of the players of this genre.

Fri Jun 27 2008 6:40PM Report
Gishgeron writes:

Amen brotha (or sista, more accurately).

AoC and its debacle aside....its time we all finally stand up and strike this kind of garbage down.  Its dragging this industry through the mud, and I do NOT want to see the millions of players brought into this market leave it because they become jaded by so many trash companies who are completely dishonest.

Worse, more than them, are the players who defend it.  My god...even if you love a thing, you do NOT defend its faults.  You admit its faults, and decide to deal with them.  Its just like a marriage, really.  We all know what our partners faults are, and most of us admit them.  We just choose to stick around anyway because their strengths are something we enjoy.  I could not imagine being dishonest in an effort to defend my choice to play something, nor could I imagine excusing it...because in the end, I want the faults to improve as well.

Fri Jun 27 2008 6:43PM Report
rigghawk writes:

I agree with most of your comments about game companies.  I havent played AOC because I did my research and I didnt like what I saw, even though I grew up a huge Robert E. Howard fan. I dont agree with all the games you lump into the failure category.  I dont know that tabula rosa or DDO have failed per se. They both launched fairly smoothly, continue to be a different types of games, but not  failures per se.  That is to say they continue to make money but have never been  huge successes.  I would especially agree that Funcom of all companies should have known better.  They have no excuse and its horrid that they are throwing this wonderful IP down the drain.  I feel the same about SWG, which was a game that was pretty enjoyable and was ruined later, go figure.  I think the biggest mistake with SWG and DDO was really the setting.  In both cases they avoided the settings the fans were familiar with for unknown settings where they would have more freedom.  A mistake I think in both cases.  But not the kind of mistake that funcom is making (broken mechanics).

AC2 combined these mistakes (a broken experience system), and a major change from the world / IP that was AC1.

As to correcting the bad behavior by game companies.  It's simple, gamers stop buying the game before release.  if gamers would simply wait for review and hold their money until a good product is delivered, then game companies would quickly wake up and smell the roses.  This scent of easy money, at the end, lures many a game company down the painful road of early release.

rigghawk

Fri Jun 27 2008 7:01PM Report
Loke666 writes:

I agree, almost all companies are releasing their games to early. You do seems to forget that Wow had 3 months of inlogging ques and some other issues but it was a while ago...

The game I wait for is Guildwars 2, Arenanet do have some of Blizzards best programmers who know works for them, the last game they made for Blizzard was Warcraft 3. They do not release anything to early.

Anyone else seems to be learning from microsofts windows releases. And the reason that WAR wasn't released this spring was that Games workshop refused mythic to release it in current condition because it would hurt their good name. The LOTRO/COH system isnt much better either.

MMO companies really need to change. And so does microsoft. 10 years ago stuff didn't need patching, now every game needs it even if it's just a solo game. The PC market needs to learn from the console market in this thing.

Fri Jun 27 2008 7:37PM Report
ProfRed writes:

Trying Vanguard out again tonight.. DL'ing right now.  If it runs on my laptop i'll be playing for the Summer.

Fri Jun 27 2008 7:46PM Report
thepatriot writes:

Maybe I'm just lucky but I have not encountered any game breaking bugs and my guild and I are having a blast playing AoC.  I love the new class concepts (yes, even the necro who's pets don't hold aggro, I don't need them to hold it) and I'm just having fun.

Fri Jun 27 2008 7:47PM Report
Kraenee writes:

Very, Very well said. Tired of paying to play beta and hoping someday it'll be retail. After 10 years I can say I'm pretty much done with these games. The only one I enjoyed was SWG pre jedi because it was unique

Fri Jun 27 2008 8:07PM Report
Niblix writes:

Good post, and I agree.

The trouble is with todays games companies is they seem to have their priorities completely messed up. They also think they can get away with murder....... not any more. People have started to think with their wallets now.

Fri Jun 27 2008 10:26PM Report
lpmasta writes:

You know I get asked day in and day out why I say I'm not going to try new MMOs, and stop playing WoW.  I get told it's not as great as everyone says, and that it's not as fun as it could be.  Now most WoW players would kill over this matter, but I agree it's not the best game I've ever played, and its not as fun as it could be, BUT it is the most functional, fun MMO i have found yet.  All others have disappointed me, and made me waste money, and the reasons why are all right here.  Blizzard delivers what's promised and then some whereas other company think just cause there isn't much choice in good MMOs other than WoW and a few others than we will all flock to them just for a change of pace. WRONG!  That's why my rich friend waste money on all these MMOs and are still coming back to Wow.  What did they gain? No fun, loss of money, and enough time to get 5 lvl 70s. Teala maybe someone of some important will read this blog entry and get hit with a good idea and actually deliver one it. Thanks

Fri Jun 27 2008 11:23PM Report
Vespers writes:

Yes, Vanguard is finally at the point that it should have been at when it Launched. Sigil pushed that game out the door WAY too early because that company was broke. Somehow Brad McQuaid convinced SOE to buy that unfinished game and it has taken them 18 months to finish it. IMO, Vanguard is the best PvE game on the market. Now, since Vanguard is working so well and people are flocking to it from a recently released game that seems to have failed, SOE might open up their coffers and start dumping their massive resources into that game to make it the game that soo many people hoped that it would be.

Sat Jun 28 2008 3:03AM Report
APRAurore writes:

I read Teala's posts on vnboards as well and I know what type of gamer she is. Though I don't always agree in taste with Teala, I agree with her in consistency and as such I always like to read what she has to say about games. I have not played AoC and won't  ever play it, but as an avid gamer I always like to follow what happens to games even if I never play them. What Teala has described are concerns I began to have very early on in AoC's development. I have played AO extensively and felt burnt by FC after a point. As one of the non-froobs, I was angry that legitimate issues were only addressed with paid expansions, and therefore us players having to pay for mistakes FC made. I felt that FC was deceptive and roguish with players' money. I wondered, when I heard about AoC in development, whether it would continue in the same vein. I began to wonder even more when I heard very little about the development process and what features AoC would have. On top of it, it seemed like the only information I was getting was 'it's going to have a lot of gore and boobies in it!!1!one!'. I thought to myself, 'uh oh... they're hiding something if they're going to market the game like that'. I mentioned my worries on the AoC vnboards, but got slapped down because I didn't believe in the hype. Now I am glad that I haven't spent ££ on this product. It seems that I was right. It's a shame. We need independant developers in the genre since more and more it seems like huge companies are muscling in and removing individuality and creativity piece-by-piece. However, we don't need *this* kind of independant developer. All I can say is, what a pity!

Sat Jun 28 2008 6:12AM Report
Equilibrium_JW writes:

Vanguard had a bumpy start, but it's not forgotten, we're getting tons of people a day now from AOC, and then Sony just started a free month a few days ago, and we're getting even more from that. I just went back myself, with my GUILD. So don't count Vanguard out, it's having a rebirth, and to top it off, it's getting the new trial island with engine enhancements in August, and new character models in Sept. Vanguard is actually pretty hot atm.

Sun Jun 29 2008 1:38AM Report
grimfall writes:

Clearly many of the guys in charge of these companies think they can put anything on the market and gamers will play it when clearly that is not the case.  

The thing is that given perfect information and limitless resources the suits at Funcom may have made the decision to push the launch date back, but they didn't have either.

At some point, normally about 8 weeks out, you've got to say 'OK, we are going to burn it in 3 weeks and ship in 8', and you have to trust that your team will work out the outstanding list of problems during those eight weeks. 

No one at Funcom said 'Lets release a game with severe technical and code errors on May 19th, 2008, no matter what'.  They did already push the release back (from March), so you can see that they do understand it's not a good idea to release a unfinished and bug ridden game, but the realities of the real world, in which they have to operate, probably forced them to release when they did.

I am not saying you have to like it, or buy the game, but sheesh, quit whining about it.  It's a very rare company that has the deep pockets (particuarly in today's market) who can say 'it's done when it's done' and push back development indefinetly.  Even Blizzard realeased WoW unfinished and with some very bad bugs.

Sun Jun 29 2008 8:17AM Report

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