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Blogging: The art of Procrastination

The wonderful thing about blogging is you can do it whenever you want, about whatever topic you feel like. The perfect way to vent apart from smashing a hole in your door, which lets be honest is only satisfying if you break your hand in the process.

Author: confusedgoat

Age of Conan and FunComs flaws.

Posted by confusedgoat Thursday July 3 2008 at 2:20PM
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EDIT - Heavy wall of text imminent. I advise continuing only if you have alot of time on your hands or if you want a serious breakdown of the games flaws and the issues with FunComs service.

 

I actually just deleted about 2000 words of writing, because I got totally side tracked onto the topic of where MMOs were going in this day and age and the problems that developers and gamers alike faced when deciding, developing and playing an MMO post-WoW.

 

If I find more time I might actually dive into the above topic, however for now, an AoC rant is required for my personal sanity to remain in tact.

 

Age of Conan was possibly one of the most perfectly marketed games. It kept an incredibly tight grip on what information could be released from the closed beta and showed very small aspects of the game that looked new and innovative in order to sell pre-orders to the masses.

 

Once the pre-orders were in, the confessions and realities started showing. I'll use this space to give a detailed breakdown of promised content that is not in the game, and the errors in FunCom's thinking process.

 

The first is possibly the most obvious. Siege Warfare. Siege warfare was promised to be huge battles with up to 500 players laying waste to a siege. While the realist always knew this was impossible, we still all saw the video of the demonstration, where siege warfare did infact look immensely possible. The sad reality leaked out a few days before release, that Siege Warfare would sadly only be 48v48 man. At the time I remember being thrilled about this announcement, it left way for an affordable TS / Vent server and also meant that smaller more organised contingents of players would be able to stick it to the Zerg Guilds. The sad fact of siege warfare is that it was, as were most things, bugged and clearly hadn't been play tested. Many siege walls could be bypassed or avoided, some bugged on animation changes and simply allowed players to walk through them. Siege weapons didn't work. The merc system didn't work either, so players had to guild hop in order to support alliances. Players could find themself spawn camped if they died or even ported out of th zone completely as it was not locked. The actual method of deciding the victory was also heavily flawed. Whether or not the keep was torn down didn't decide victory, it was based off points scored, which made no sense.

 

My next bone to pick was the "Combo" system. While originally the Combo system sounded like an amazingly innovative system, it ended up being nothing more than a horrendous implementation of a mini-game of Dance Dance Revolution to activate a skill. By combo myself, and many others, were expecting experimenting with attack directions and learning the results, giving us a much more full bodied character-learning experience. However what we got was, as stated, a little mini-game of DDR before every skill activation. More to our dismay learning these combo directions also didn't help. The swiftness and accuracy of combos often didn't matter, rather you had to enter the swings at a certain (slow) pace or button mash them to register. Deft fingers and quickness of mind didn't help, and rather hindered you.

 

Next was the "mounted combat". Mounted combat promised to be so much, it promised to be something that previously had never been tapped. I had never previously experienced mounted combat in an MMO before. And similarly, I wish i never had. The promises of speed effecting your mounted damage turned out ot be myths. Mounted combat itselft was often simply swinging of the sword. The promise of being able to do a hit and run attack was a myth for all classes (unless you're a rogue with quick-dismount). The dream of heroic cavalry charges or rapid flanks and ambushes were dashed.

 

The crafting system was incredibly frustrating. Even if you ignore all of the bugs that surrounded it, FunCom had missed the point of crafting. Crafting progression could only essentially reach it's full potential (or at least it's useful potential) if you were in a guild that had a T3 City. Crafting has often been the love of the more casual gamer, who simply fancies making a name for themselves with a bit of farming and making fine weapons for adventurers with more time than themselves to use. They don't need to make their class their passion, simply their craft. FunCom failed to tap into this and rather ended up with a crafting system that neglects those who are unable to get into a guild that has the players, time or resources to farm a T3 city, and also neglects players up to level 40.

 

The PvP itself was undesirable. Other than the pleasure of ganking some prat you've seen in OOC chat, there was little reward. If someone ganked you, you either raged and got revenge, or decided it was useful and used it as a free lift to the nearest zone spot. Mini-games were included without there being any rewards for partaking in such small and pointless tasks. Yes, you received guild points, but in all honesty most of the servers are no longer left with a player base large enough for 900 players sieging, so your guild is normally guaranteed a spot any way if you choose to lay siege. This may all change with the upcoming PvP patch, but even so PvP was promised to be a new and immersive blood thirsty experience. All it looks like to me is a mash up of WoW's PvP system and Guild Wars combat mechanics with fatalities included.

 

The levelling, was possibly the most decieving part of AoC.  Tortage was possibly one of the most immersive and exciting starting zones I've ever experienced. Yes there is only one start zone, which is dissappointing. But it was beautiful and had unequalled design. There were quests that had you fighting a demon bat atop the Acheronian Ruins, leaving you to see the full extent of the games beauty (and leaving you to fall hundreds of feet through the ruins to the ground below should you be careless in the fight itself). After that you are once again followed by immersive and exciting zones. I never appreciated the Wildlands, but Conalls Valley and Kopshef both gave off a great impression and immersed the player into both the are and it's culture. Kopshef admittedly had bugged instances, but it could be forgiven. After this however things started turning sour. The imagination and magic died out when you reached Noble District and Field of the Dead. The quests become dull and you noticed the grind while doing them. You noticed your hard earned blue gear rapidly being replaced by shoddy greens. Your character development started feeling less and less worth while. By the time you hit 50-60 grinding became common place to level up during holes in th questing experience. 65-70 was also pretty much a solid grind, as was 74-80. The worst part around the levelling experience is that it doesn't feel like FunCom ran out of time, rather it leaves the player feeling like the developers ran out of passion. It feels as though the developers lost the love for their work, and it reflects in the content that was left post 40.

 

The customer support provided by FunCom was dire to say the least. Petitions could take hours if not days to recieve a response, and due to the time it took to get a response you'd often find yourself missing your turn in the queue because you were offline when a GM finally got to you. There is no phone support as far as i know, me and a friend managed to find a contact number somewhere on the box / in the manual, but the number was not in use. The hoards of complaints and bugs that went without response was disheartening to say the least.

 

The bugs, and the methods that the devs went about fixing them. Classes seem to get broken worse and worse before they are deemed as "fixed". The most agitating example is FunComs most recent "fix". The epic loot is near on useless. Bear shaman loot with 1handed blunt damage and Herald of Xotli loot with 2h blunt damage. Simple mistakes in stats, however these small mistakes led players to seek alternative equipment in order to gear their character for endgame. This came in the form of crafted armour. There was a bug with crafted armour where Defense ratings were higher than they were supposed to be. The "fix" caused the gem slots of the gear to vanished. Players had farmed for days on end to get the correct gems for their gear, and not only did the gem slots vanish, the farmed gems along with them. The only response was an apology, with a joke (in poor taste may i add), from the developers that said the gem slots were not meant to vanish, however they will be restored as soon as possible. The gems the slots held though, recieved no comment or response from the developers. Something I also couldn't believe is that within the first month of launch, one of the senior developers (and the only developer that apparently represented the English Euro forums) went on a holiday. This may be seen as petty and selfish, however it sent off the wrong message to a large portion of the community.

 

The endgame encounters themselves are far from challenging, and get broken / fixed on a regular basis. I won't say much on this topic as I don't want to include spoilers. I'll simply say every T1 boss is dull, and doesn't offer a sense of accomplishment.

 

I could go on, but I'm running out of steam now. Things such as the cencorship, the broken promises (even the ones listed on the back of the box), the travel system, the untapped potential, the method by which instanced zones are managed, the horrendous guild management system and similarly the somewhat pathetic raid management system. There's plent I haven't mentioned, I simply don't have the time (nor the energy) to continue listing the flaws with this game.

 

There are strengths, do not get me wrong. FunCom has brought some wonderful potential to the industry, and I still believe that given time (and from a more critical view a re-assessment of it's employees) it may emerge as one of the ground breaking MMOs out there. However when it comes to choosing an MMO it comes down to enjoyment, and your commitment towards the game in question often comes down to how heavily the pros of playing outweigh the cons.

 

I came into this game with a pre-made guild of 39 friends, all of the founding members of which are real-life friends of mine. I'm now left with 4/5 active players from the original 39, and we had to resort to abandoning the guild to merge with another.

 

That to me is the largest problem with this game, and you may blame it on whatever reasons you see fit. However, when you log on to a game and the friends you've come to enjoy sharing your online experiences with are no longer active and haven't logged on for days, it leaves little insentive to play.

 

Apologies for this being quite long, I'm impressed if you've read this far. I'm not really sure whether I've left many topics open for discussion as this is mainly a run down of the games flaws, however feel free to post your own personal opinion, or elaborate on any of my mentioned/unmentioned topics.

 

Robbie - 77 Guardian

Beved - 80 Bear Shaman

Wildsoul PvP-EN Server.

 

chilliking writes:

This was fun reading! :D

Thu Jul 03 2008 2:45PM Report
Mhaug writes:

Goes along with what I've heard. I'm one of the luckier ones who didn't buy into the hype. Can't say I did the same for DnL though. 8(

Thu Jul 03 2008 4:02PM Report
eekwong writes:

Nice post, I think the only missing thing is the so-called class balancing that Funcom has been playing. One patch, they could make necro be a god and then another patch made necro totally worthless ...

Thu Jul 03 2008 4:44PM Report
bufford writes:

Good blog! Try and post something like this...the truth.....on the AOC forums and you get nothing but flamed heavily by fanbois that can't for the life of them come up with anything to dispute the facts. Hopefully between this blog, the AOC forums and some common sense any new players thinking about getting AOC will hold off and spend their money on something more usefull like insoles or wallpaper.

Thu Jul 03 2008 8:19PM Report
Tetsunami writes:

indeed it was a good read and I agree with every point you made I have played age of conan till level 64 and my subscription is about to run out... I will not be renewing.

Fri Jul 04 2008 1:02AM Report
Calasto writes:

so many promises yet so many people end up disappointed

well, worst than disappointed even some f2p games keep my interest way longer the AoC.

I don't know, the game is not right and maybe the endless patch could fix it but the hype is dying as more and more people get hit very hard by the truth (watch their money thrown out the window)

Fri Jul 04 2008 3:22AM Report
confusedgoat writes:

Thankyou for the positive feedback, everyone loves a bit of praise and I'm certainly no exception. I tried posting something similar to this somewhere on the AoC forum (foolish I know), and within the first hour it had been spammed, flamed, trolled and locked.

Thankyou for all the feedback, I do read it all.

Fri Jul 04 2008 4:50AM Report
talismen351 writes:

Great read! I enjoyed AoC myself. But the futher I got into the game the more I became bored/disappointed. And no I didn't powerlvl threw things...took my time.

Not complaining too much about the money it costed to get the CE of AoC...but I can tell ya...AoC has ensured I will never pre-order another CE of any other game...=P

Fri Jul 04 2008 9:53AM Report
Nainci writes:

I will admit I was tempted to buy into the hype but had heard that  perhaps the game had been released too early.  Thanks for the info and will keep my money in my pocket!

Fri Jul 04 2008 10:02AM Report
confusedgoat writes:

If you are interested in the game Nainci I'd still recommend following it, 6 months down the line it may actually be one of the most enjoyable MMOs on the market. In it's current state though I can't advise it as a purchase.

Fri Jul 04 2008 10:07AM Report
caemsg writes:

well i was lucky and borrowed the game from a friend after she decided it was crap i played to about LVL 64 1/3 and got board and i encountered all the problems you have pointed out plus plus plus

is it just me or is it getting sickening to see all the unfinished games hitting the shelves i have seen companies go bust for doing this to their coustomors when its for GPS systems or targeting software for the jets i fly but why does it not happen to game publishers

Fri Jul 04 2008 11:31AM Report
daltanious writes:

I admit, never been interested on PvP or raids. I only PvE, mainly solo, I group on per need basis. I prefer challenge to try alone. But I like to help others on chat or on quests.

I have purchased new graphics card for about 190€ for only purpose to play AoC on high res. I wanted so badly to play it. I think this tells a lot. I love Conan lore. But, imo, if you can not play AoC on high settings, better not to play. You will miss best part of AoC.

All in all, I'm not sorry for money I have spent. If not for other, then now there is no game in the world that would not run on my computer if it can »swallow« AoC. :-)

And – again - all in all, I'm also not sorry for money I have spent so far for new graphics card + game + 1 additional month of gameplay. For some time I even had concurrent opened subsciption to WoW, Lotro and AoC. Ok, I work and have enough of my own money, but not everybody can afford this. And must be much more carefull where to "invest" money.

However I agree with all your post, all you have said and I have read it all.

So far, after leveling all classes to 70 or close in WoW what I needed was change. As I love AoC realistic graphics, same I love »cartoon« style WoW graphics. In past half year have tried many (really many) MMORPG out there, mainly where trial was available, few even purchased.

However despite I agree with you, while waiting Lich King, AoC is still best fun for me for now. But there are many hyped MMORPG coming out in the following months. Then we will see how much will be these games able to eat from AoC cake. AoC im sure will survive. But surviving today is not enough. You need quality in life.

On positive side is that imo they are fixing things pretty fast; ok, making some new mistakes. But from this perspective, they are doing great. So great, that one is wondering, what they have been doing then for past 5 years?

 

 

But what disturbs me a lot, for which I know will never play so long as I have played i.e.WoW (and barely waiting Lich King), are flaws by design, which can not be changed. »Genetic« problems with game.

 

On the top of this gathering and crafting system. Are they kidding? Having to wait for lv. 20 to be able to gather (which per se takes a life time to level)? And even worst, waiting to lv. 40 to be able to craft??? Which also completely sucks. Crafted armor without special benefit? Wtf!

 

Then same starting area, through I really love Tortage. And different classes have slightly different destiny quest line. But after leveled 15 alts to lv. 20 and beyond ...

 

Races. All races are the same. No bonuses, no better statistics, ... Only that if you want to be i.e. demonologist or necromancer, you must choose being Stygian. But this is all.

 

And than that limit of 8 alts. Ok, not everybody likes to experiment, but great fun for me (and not only me) is to level all classes. So I would aspect to have possibility for as many alts as there are classes.

 

Economy system plainly sucks! Sucks to an incredible degree! I'm not using ah at all, nor bank, nor post office. While I have spent a good deal of gameplay in WoW exactly there. And made enough money for mounts for all my alts. No gold buying! I really hate this! Denies gaming itself. Because of benefits, because of being fun, .... Here in AoC there is no honest way to get mount at lv. 40. Unless you are masochist to try to use ah, gathering, ….

 

 

At the end, as I have mentioned many times WoW. There are at least two areas, where AoC shines compared to WoW and makes me fill bad now when I go back to wow.

 

First is downtime after fights. This is great in AoC. No downtime! You can actually play. In WoW, I guess, 25% of gameplay was actually: sit down and drink/eat.

 

Moving. I think in WoW even with mount everything is terribly slow. In AoC running is pretty fast, you can use shift from time to time to speed up a lot. Ok, there is problem with travel when you can not travel directly to past known paths, ... but all in all is very fast compared to WoW.

 

Sat Jul 05 2008 7:14AM Report
fattygone writes:

i just got an email , from funcom begging me back to come and play and my graphics sux so i never played a day :/ as for wow , ive played the beta, and its petty good , but the gothic feel u get isnt to gothic rather its like god smoked a big blunt that never stoped. lol anyway

Sat Jul 05 2008 9:38AM Report
Psymyn writes:

Oh wow, whats new! you should probably read that most of this is already been fixed, or has been notified and is in the works. Some of the major problems were that there were promises of certain features, and yes it was a let down, but seriously its only a matter of time before these features are revitalized, repaired and renditioned. Come on how many more rants about Funcom and AoC blogs are there going to be?? Just because you didnt get fucked in the ass as hard as you wished they had, doesnt mean that these issues wont get fixed sooner than you think!

Sat Jul 05 2008 12:06PM Report
Equilibrium_JW writes:

It's funny that these Conan eunichs are the ones saying "Give it time, Give it time." Yet everyone from AOC has left to Vanguard, which has had a resurgence, and they say "That game's been out a year, you can't compare" Well, we gave it time with Vanguard. So people are supposed to give AOC time and not Vanguard? Sorry, Funcom screwed the pooch, and Vanguard is owning you now. That's why GU6, new character models, the new mount, the new raid zone, and Isle of Dawn are ALL coming out at the same time for Vanguard. You gave the team more devs with your mass fallout, Funcom. Thanks!

 

Sat Jul 05 2008 2:34PM Report

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