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News & Features Discussion  » Age of Conan: Anatomy of a Launch - Part One

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57 posts found
  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  6/10/08 9:33:02 AM#1

New MMORPG.com writer Mathew Reuther pens this look back at the Age of Conan launch from his perspective.

Each new year sees a few high profile MMORPG releases. These game launches are something each early adopter of a new MMO eagerly anticipates yet dreads at the same time. The veterans of the massive online gaming battlefield can tell you some real horror stories. As new games come to market and eager gamers await the opening of the game servers, one of the most oft-repeated tales is that of Anarchy Online's 2001 launch.

The story of this launch is probably one of the most chilling MMO tales floating around the net, as when the game released it was nearly impossible for customers to actually play. The ambition of the game's creators to have one large world where every gamer who wanted to play would be able to interact with every other player was unheard of at the time. Even today only one game (EVE Online) has successfully achieved this goal in a large scale title. This ambition came at a high price as the in-game avatars actually generated so much stress on the game engine that a matter of walking fifty meters in the game world became an arduous journey that could take fifteen minutes or more. Though the game developers (Funcom, a minor development house based in Norway of all places) were quick to begin addressing the issues, the damage done by the initial problems is incalculable. Even post-fix efforts to woo customers back with offers of free playtime were not a resounding success. Though Anarchy Online remains profitable (albeit with an alternate revenue scheme) today, it is likely a shadow of what it could have become had the launch not been an abysmal failure.

Read the whole editorial here.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  mike470

General Correspondent

Joined: 2/11/08
Posts: 2429

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand" - Randy Pausch

6/10/08 9:48:21 AM#2

Very nicely written Mr. Reuther.

I look forward to part 2.

__________________________________________________
In memory of Laura "Taera" Genender. Passed away on Aug/13/08 - Rest In Peace; you will not be forgotten

  Artermis

Novice Member

Joined: 1/12/07
Posts: 174

6/10/08 10:16:12 AM#3

Although i like constructive critism, all of part one looks at 'issues' of the launch, and doesnt mention any good points. He thinks they did that bad? Personally, me and the rest of my wow guild got onto a server with 0 problems and have been playing hapily ever since.

Does he think double the amount of servers should of been opened on day 1 ? Hence having low population servers?

Is part 2 the same old bashing? and nothing good on funcoms behalf. In my opinion they have a massive task ahead of them for the first few months at least, and are doing a good job.

I have to head off home from work now or i would post more, but to me it seems to be just a bashing news post.

  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  6/10/08 10:24:04 AM#4
Originally posted by Artermis

Although i like constructive critism, all of part one looks at 'issues' of the launch, and doesnt mention any good points. He thinks they did that bad? Personally, me and the rest of my wow guild got onto a server with 0 problems and have been playing hapily ever since.

Does he think double the amount of servers should of been opened on day 1 ? Hence having low population servers?

Is part 2 the same old bashing? and nothing good on funcoms behalf. In my opinion they have a massive task ahead of them for the first few months at least, and are doing a good job.

I have to head off home from work now or i would post more, but to me it seems to be just a bashing news post.

Again, as the article says, this is his own look at the launch. The point of the article is to look at what went wrong.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  mike470

General Correspondent

Joined: 2/11/08
Posts: 2429

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand" - Randy Pausch

6/10/08 10:35:49 AM#5

 

Originally posted by Artermis

Although i like constructive critism, all of part one looks at 'issues' of the launch, and doesnt mention any good points. He thinks they did that bad? Personally, me and the rest of my wow guild got onto a server with 0 problems and have been playing hapily ever since.

Does he think double the amount of servers should of been opened on day 1 ? Hence having low population servers?

They get sales reports.  They *should* look at forums.  They should have been more prepared for the fact that their game had the possibilty to become a success.  While handling a launch of this calliber is not simple, it does not take away from the fact it was poorly done.

Is part 2 the same old bashing? and nothing good on funcoms behalf. In my opinion they have a massive task ahead of them for the first few months at least, and are doing a good job.

It should be the same old bashing.  Hopefully Part 2 will be about the bugs and how the game wasn't even complete at launch!!

I have to head off home from work now or i would post more, but to me it seems to be just a bashing news post.

I like this.  This is just saying what the fans have been complaining about.  The news writers here (I assume) are gamers just like us, and they are entitled to an opinion, just like us.  It is good that a news article is being put out about how [poorly] this launch was done, instead of just ignoring it and pretending like it never happened.  This is a gaming site, and opinionated news posts will be made gawd damnit!

There is nothing wrong with a news reporter voicing their opinion about this.  I, for one, look forward to more articles like this in the future.

 

 

__________________________________________________
In memory of Laura "Taera" Genender. Passed away on Aug/13/08 - Rest In Peace; you will not be forgotten

  Ben1778

Novice Member

Joined: 9/04/07
Posts: 33

6/10/08 10:49:19 AM#6

I don't usually try a new MMO until a couple months after release.  I do a lot of reading and research before investing my time and money into something like that.  It's been my experience that upon launch, most MMOs have a lot of issues and bugs that really interrupt smooth gameplay and the immersion factor.  For example it's hard to comment about how much you love some of the group PvP when one or more members of your group is disconnected once per 10 minutes.   It's hard to discuss the polish and fun of the game before they fix a couple big issues (overcrowding & queue times, DX10, etc).

 

Once those kind of issues are handled players will start to comment about how awesome the combat system is, or how they like the art or mecahnics of something.   You just have to get the big things out of the way and that often takes a little time.   I am a huge Robert E Howard fan and would be very excited if Funcom solved the gameplay issues quickly before the player base becomes a little too disgruntled.  I think they learned some valueable lessons from the AO launch mess. 

  boinged

Novice Member

Joined: 8/18/04
Posts: 160

6/10/08 11:24:53 AM#7

Did it go wrong? Many more copies of the game were sold than anticipated and yet most people on most servers had an ok time.

I remember the PotBS servers at launch not long ago, with just a fraction of the player base, and they were really laggy. I experienced very little lag and no queues on my server with AoC.

PS. The instancing technology that so many people complain about in AoC actually saved Funcom lots of hassle with this oversubscribed launch, and it means if numbers die down then the instances will merge rather than servers.

  galad2003

Novice Member

Joined: 11/13/05
Posts: 168

6/10/08 11:26:16 AM#8

So what he is saying is:

The game was vastly more popular than anyone imagined. Funcom was unprepared for the mass quantity of people who wanted to play the game thus, servers filled up quickly, early access keys ran out quickly, stores sold out and had problems getting enough to fill demand. In other words the game was a huge success. Yea FC way to screw up and make a game that so many people wanted to play that it overwhelmed you. Next time make a crappy game that no one wants to play so you have empty servers.

  silverreign

Hard Core Member

Joined: 6/09/08
Posts: 320

It is what it is

6/10/08 11:45:13 AM#9

exactly. aoc is a success whether people like it or not. no game is "polished" at launch. as far as being "finished" at launch, no mmo is EVER finished. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK UPDATES AND EXPANSIONS ARE?!  

  MindTrigger

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/19/07
Posts: 2628

6/10/08 11:51:40 AM#10

 

Originally posted by galad2003

So what he is saying is:

The game was vastly more popular than anyone imagined. Funcom was unprepared for the mass quantity of people who wanted to play the game thus, servers filled up quickly, early access keys ran out quickly, stores sold out and had problems getting enough to fill demand. In other words the game was a huge success. Yea FC way to screw up and make a game that so many people wanted to play that it overwhelmed you. Next time make a crappy game that no one wants to play so you have empty servers.

 

*Initial sales* were a success. Whether or not the game is a success as a subscription based MMO for the long haul is a whole other question. 

I personally walked away from the game even before my "free" 30 days was over for many, many reasons.  Lots of other people on multiple MMOs I am playing all tried Conan and left too citing the same issues I had with it. I sure would like my $50 back, but that's the risk you take when you buy any new game.

A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.

  Gorilla

Old School

Joined: 6/07/04
Posts: 2218

6/10/08 12:00:29 PM#11

Misses the real worse issue, whilst essentially they have enough servers it seems like they have no customer services staff what so ever. Well maybe one or two old guys from AO that they quickly got to fill in. Scandalous.

Of course the real promblems are showing now a couple of weeks in.

  JK-Kanosi

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/15/06
Posts: 1359

6/10/08 12:05:39 PM#12

Love the combat, love the graphics, love the FFA PvP, but Funcom didn't do their homework, so I am now playing Vanguard. I too am looking forwad to Part 2. It better be brutally honest.

MMORPG's w/ Max level characters: DAoC, SWG, & WoW

Currently Playing: WAR
Preferred Playstyle: Roleplay/adventurous, in a sandbox game.

  JK-Kanosi

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/15/06
Posts: 1359

6/10/08 12:13:44 PM#13
Originally posted by boinged

Did it go wrong? Many more copies of the game were sold than anticipated and yet most people on most servers had an ok time.

I remember the PotBS servers at launch not long ago, with just a fraction of the player base, and they were really laggy. I experienced very little lag and no queues on my server with AoC.

PS. The instancing technology that so many people complain about in AoC actually saved Funcom lots of hassle with this oversubscribed launch, and it means if numbers die down then the instances will merge rather than servers.


Do you have a quote from Funcom stating that they'd merge instances? While it may seem like common sense for Funcom to do that, I've played the game and seen how fast the mobs respawn and the amount of people in one instance and I honestly don't think that could happen without some changes. For one, the respawn timers would have to be increased if more people are added to an instance, because as of right now, they are too slow for the 5-8 people in the area. 5-8 people for Pete's sake in one instance making an area barren of mobs is piss poor design and isn't on par with traditional MMO standards of a massive multiplayer populated world.

MMORPG's w/ Max level characters: DAoC, SWG, & WoW

Currently Playing: WAR
Preferred Playstyle: Roleplay/adventurous, in a sandbox game.

  JK-Kanosi

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/15/06
Posts: 1359

6/10/08 12:18:42 PM#14

Originally posted by MindTrigger

 

Originally posted by galad2003

So what he is saying is:

The game was vastly more popular than anyone imagined. Funcom was unprepared for the mass quantity of people who wanted to play the game thus, servers filled up quickly, early access keys ran out quickly, stores sold out and had problems getting enough to fill demand. In other words the game was a huge success. Yea FC way to screw up and make a game that so many people wanted to play that it overwhelmed you. Next time make a crappy game that no one wants to play so you have empty servers.

 

*Initial sales* were a success. Whether or not the game is a success as a subscription based MMO for the long haul is a whole other question. 

I personally walked away from the game even before my "free" 30 days was over for many, many reasons.  Lots of other people on multiple MMOs I am playing all tried Conan and left too citing the same issues I had with it. I sure would like my $50 back, but that's the risk you take when you buy any new game.

I'm right there with you. There are things about AoC that I absolutely love, but there were gamebreaking things that aren't fixed that can and probably will be fixed eventually. Fanboi's need to understand that some of us that are heavily critical of the game actually loved a lot of things about it and want the game to get better, hence why we are criticizing it. What gamer in their right mind wants a game to fail, so they have a smaller pool of games to choose from? No, fanboi's we want AoC to get better and to succeed. The game is beautiful and the combat is fun and action packed. This game does have some serious issues needing addressed. I won't post them here, because they've been posted a hundred times already and Funcom already knows about them. Granted, not everyone has these issues, and I wish I was one of the lucky ones that didn't. But I do, so I will criticize. Sorry, but I had to cancel too.

MMORPG's w/ Max level characters: DAoC, SWG, & WoW

Currently Playing: WAR
Preferred Playstyle: Roleplay/adventurous, in a sandbox game.

  AikenDrum

Novice Member

Joined: 11/13/06
Posts: 125

6/10/08 12:32:34 PM#15

Originally posted by Artermis

Although i like constructive critism, all of part one looks at 'issues' of the launch, and doesnt mention any good points. He thinks they did that bad? Personally, me and the rest of my wow guild got onto a server with 0 problems and have been playing hapily ever since.

Does he think double the amount of servers should of been opened on day 1 ? Hence having low population servers?

Is part 2 the same old bashing? and nothing good on funcoms behalf. In my opinion they have a massive task ahead of them for the first few months at least, and are doing a good job.

I have to head off home from work now or i would post more, but to me it seems to be just a bashing news post.

The guild I am a member of had some issues all getting onto the same server.  Those of us with Early Access, were able to create our toons with no problems on the only RP-PVP server we could chose, Cimmeria.  By the time launch day rolled around however, it was very frequently full and our non-Early Access members had a hard time creating their toons and joining us.   It happened exactly as Mathew described it.  So I for one also welcome articles like this. 

  Myrathi

Novice Member

Joined: 12/16/07
Posts: 94

6/10/08 12:45:45 PM#16

 

Originally posted by silverreign

no game is "polished" at launch. 

They should be. No exceptions. Launch is supposed to be "we're out of beta, we've fixed all our bugs and the game works as we intend it to!". In the case of AoC, that's not the situation. It should be polished. It should be ready to play without the insane number of bugs that are still in it (even before end-game, not that that's the point).

That they've released "more polished than other companies have in the past" is entirely besides the point. It's not polished and it should be. Period.

 

Originally posted by silverreign

as far as being "finished" at launch, no mmo is EVER finished. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK UPDATES AND EXPANSIONS ARE?!  

This, at least, I agree with. Updates should always happen, to address issues that will, undoubtedly, crop up and bite you. Expansions are (almost *grin*) always something to look forward to.

However, until players start actively complaining about (and refusing to pay for) the release of beta-quality games, ass-backwards developers (or their tight-fisted distributors) will keep giving us this beta-quality rubbish. The next game to be released could be the WoW-breaking, most awesome, mind-destroyingly beautiful game to ever hit the market, with a crafting system to make even ex-SWG players cry tears of joy.... but if it's a buggy piece of crap, I'm still not going to play it. I don't pay to play beta; I pay to play release-quality games.

Now, don't get me wrong: personally, I love what AoC tries to be.
I want to play it! Really! I would happily give them my money each month for what AoC tries to be.

But.... (and it's a huge but...)

There are just way too many bugs and horridly thought-out mechanics and issues for me to play without grinding my teeth; crafting is waste of time and effort, the resource system is horrendous, itemization is beyond chronic (my necro has had two level 10 greens way past level 40 simply because nothing better has dropped or appeared on the Trader), player cities are horrendously buggy (no npcs meaning buildings are useless, falling through buildings' internals, etc), quests are buggy all over the place (even in some of the first zones you get to after leaving Tortage), you can lock yourself out of - or just utterly bug out - gathering and tradeskills if you have something as simple as a full quest log (known about since early access but nothing done about it)... the last being even worse because there's nothing you can do to drop or reset those tradeskills and GMs actively say "they can't help you because they're only allowed to help fix Destiny Quests". Yes. Really.

The combat system may rock and the lore may be great; the environments may be nothing short of jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring; those don't, however, make the sour taste in my mouth go away, when I run head-first into yet another bugged quest.

When they fix their slew of problems, I'll be one of the first to sign back up, again. I'm fairly sure that my few dozen friends who have also cancelled their accounts (after trying to play through these issues) will do the same.

We just refuse to pay to play a beta... and regardless of what the mindless fanbois attempt to tell you, it most definitely still is in beta and, at this rate, will still be for quite some time.

I wish FunCom the best of luck in their striving to get the game into a release state, though. I don't feel cheated (more than with any other MMO release)... just extremely disappointed.

I console myself with this thought: at least it wasn't another AO release. :P
One of those is enough to last me the rest of my gaming lifetime. Heh.

  kitsunegirl

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/09/07
Posts: 529

Priestess of the Church of the Painful Truth :3

6/10/08 12:50:07 PM#17

Maybe you will address the huge stink that was the RP-pve server debacle where they gave the Europeans one, but continuously ignored the Americans desire for one.

  Gorilla

Old School

Joined: 6/07/04
Posts: 2218

6/10/08 12:53:52 PM#18

Don't fret about having no items drop for you.....most of the stats do nothing anyway :)

  AOCtester

Novice Member

Joined: 4/22/08
Posts: 445

6/10/08 12:54:45 PM#19

A total disgrace of an article !!!  MMORPG.COM proves they are taking direct bribes from gaming developers instead of bringing out the TRUE issues of a new releaased MMORPG game.

Anatomy of a launch ?   How about talking about the PR job that promised alot of features that then are not in the game ?  How about talking about the total preventions of allowing testers to tell gamers about the true state of the game ?   How about pointing out that he "succsess" of launch is NOT based on the product - not based on the content and not based on the features.   Its based on something totally diffrent.  And MMORPG.COM finds that perfectly fine ? 

What kinda MMORPG gaming site is this ? 

Fool as many to spend their money ?   Is that what gaming is about ?   Is that good for the MMO gamers?  Or is that good for MMORPG.Com vallet ?  Not to mention the gaming developers ?  

  lupisenparis

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 188

To make a difference isnt right or wrong, it is rather to differ--me

6/10/08 12:55:00 PM#20

I'd have to disagree with the op, EQ1 was worse than AoC and EVERY expansion for it meant bugs, crashes and nerf batting.  Hands down EQ1 is the worst with every launch.

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