|5 posts found|
Age of Conan: Editorial: Anatomy of a Launch - Part 2
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
6/14/08 5:48:56 AM
Crashing repeatedly is normal in a new game of any type. Compared to other games, MMOs included, the stability issues which affected AoC at launch were average. For you it may seem to be worse than other titles, but for others it seems better. It averages out in the end to being a wash.
Age of Conan: Editorial: Anatomy of a Launch - Part 2
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
6/13/08 10:59:46 AM
Originally posted by Dento
In about 2 minutes you could google me and find out. No, I don't work for Funcom. I have no desire to calm the mob. I'm part of the mob.
Age of Conan: Anatomy of a Launch Q&A
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
6/13/08 8:20:37 AM
This is the last long chunk of replies I'm making. The other two are in te discussion threads for part 1 and2 of the article if you missed them. I'll do my best to keep my replies orderly.
Here they are:
@BlueCadwal - Journalists are expected to be objective and seek the truth. It is becoming rarer that we encounter such reporters in this day and age. Often the economic realities of the situation dictate that you listen to your editor when he tells you the sponsors won't like what you have to say. Stradden published my work without editing me. That speaks of his integrity as Managing Editor. The fact that you find me biased is odd considering I wrote a piece which is backed up by fact. Hard to be biased when you foundations are documented. While you may disagree with my right to comment on answers given, you need to remember that analysis of company statements is not outside the purview of a writer. In addition, the entire article was written prior to the answering o those three questions. In context it made more sense to address them within the Q&A. As I stated elsewhere I would be more than happy to cover every MMO launch with a similar piece. The decision to do so lies with Stradden, however.
As to why I don't go in-depth into other launches in this article I can only restate what others said to you: it's outside my scope. I don't have to point out the obvious (that pretty much every launch suffers from issues) when I am evaluating AoC's release. The reason AO as chosen to b included in th article is also obvious. It is Funcom's other game, and it had a horrible release. I would have thought it obvious from my writing, but AoC is portrayed as being the better of the two launches by far.
Your assertion that Funcom deserves slack because they are a small company does not bear much relevance. Funcom has run an MMO for years, is a traded company, and has been able to finance the development of AoC themselves. In terms of MMO development houses they're not small at all. Not to mention that deciding to step into the boxing ring means people will throw punches. Funcom is tough enough to take them.
@AOCtester - I don't think questions phrased like yours are likely to be answered with even as much relevance as mine received, if they were to be answered at all.
@jusomdude - Unfortunately both the EA PvP servers in the EU were filled pretty quickly. Even the one with the dumb name (Wildsoul) had problems. :)
@Shelil - I don't miss much. Feature cuts happen in MMOs, to be sure. My article does not discuss this aspect of AoC because my article is about the launch.
@MightyJudge - I think they failed to do their homework at Funcom, yes. More importantly, I think they failed to communicate when they were having troubles. Gamers prefer to know what is going on. Leaving us in the dark messes with that pseudo-democratic feeling we all think is ours to cherish. ;)
@davvin - If you prefer for the worst you can only be pleasantly surprised. You were prepared to face those disconnects and crashes. Funcom wasn't prepared to fact as many players as arrived. I won't deny that the launch could have been worse. Which doesn't mean there weren't any hitches . . . there were plenty.
@thamighty213 - Nothing at all lackluster about shipping a million units. I think maybe if you were to do a bit more research you might have a lot more respect for that accomplishment. It is something to be proud of.
@Artermis - So if I'm not impressed when a Dev answers my questions, is that a crime? Everyone poops. My comments on his responses do not indicate a lack of respect any more than his spin doctoring does. He's doing his job and I'm doing mine.
@Ragemore - Wouldn't be much of a read if I'd written: "The servers opened for Early Access and a lot of us got to play. It was super cool how my Guardian killed things in the Jungle for hours while my friends and I BSed on TeamSpeak. Thanks for launching the servers. Bye!" Every single thing I addressed in my article occurred. These are my experiences as well as those of guildmates and community members. I am sorry if you believe that I should have focused on the "positive" but "Billy was able to log in and play for two hous with no problem" is pretty mundane, not to mention doesn't help anyone improve future game launches. I fail to see "the other side" of a launch. It launched. People played. Some had issues, I detailed some of those issues. Seems fairly straight forward to me.
@Ozmodan - I'm past 50, as I mentioned previously. I am still enjoying the game. EQI veterans tend to care less about lack of quests, we're just happy we don't have to type "what orcs", "which orcs", "where orcs", etc. just to pick up the one quest in a whole zone. :D
@neonaka - Thanks for the comments. I don't expect every single question to get a clear answer when I ask something in an interview. I do have to admit I'd hoped for a bit more, but we work with what we're given, right?
Thanks once more for the comments you've all given. It's good to see so many people invested in discussing AoC. Please let me know if you've got anything to add. I'll try to keep checking back. :D
Age of Conan: Editorial: Anatomy of a Launch - Part 2
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
6/13/08 7:40:43 AM
>>> TO BE CLEAR: I AM THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE <<<
This continues my attempt to address the comments you have all been so kind as to leave. As with my first set (found in the discussion thread for part 1 of the article) I have tried to keep my replies orderly and segregated by user name. Please let me know if anything I mention below is unclear. I'm glad to clarify at any time.
Here are my responses to your comments:
@drarkanex - While there is certainly tension in the piece it reflects the combined experiences of many gamers during the launch period. I drew from the experiences of those I play with and members of the community as well as my own when penning the article. While it may be written from a perspective outside of the US, the issues are not by any means exclusive to one region.
@puffmouse - There have been other games which have successfully charged premium fees for enhanced service and options. I think that there are any number of ways in which games could integrate this in the future. Either that or simply raise the base fee to enable the company to provide adequate service at all times. Sometimes you eat at a fast food joint, but I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed that more than a classy restaurant. ;)
@araczynski - I do place the blame on Funcom for all the issues encountered with the launch with the exception of obvious failures within the reseller or postal systems. Funcom made all the decisions which led up to the shortages and shipping delays. While it is noble of you to want to "let them off the hook" I don't think gaming companies deserve to be given more consideration than any other sort of company. Good to hear you've been enjoying the game. It's a lot of fun to be sure.
@impulsebooks - Thanks for the comments. While we do see blue names, I find too many of them belong to the volunteer moderators. It is a shame that the Community Relations staff seem to be unable to respond quickly enough. Even more disappointing is that when an actual dev chooses to comment it usually means that they are simply explaining away another stealthy adjustment, while not responding to the issues being raised by the playerbase. Communication has improved since launch but it is still lacking.
@Asherett - There was, and it caused a lot of issues during the launch phase. As I said in my other comment post (part 1) there are delays to publication so the opening of the forums did not happen until after I last touched this piece. The major problem was the initial separation, and within the scope of this article it is extremely relevant.
@BogSvarog - Glad you've had positive experiences. I hope they continue to enhance the later game so you can enjoy it even more.
@AOCtester - You are of course entitled to your opinions, but I'm going to have to continue to hope Funcom comes out on top after they've dug in and fixed the pile of glaring issues still siting in the inbox. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things the company has done a good job. While this piece highlights a lot of issues with the launch I believe that the game itself is in a fairly decent state. Having played as many MMOs as I have there is a sliding scale in my head. AoC comes out above average for a released product. And yes, that is a sad commentary on this genre, and I believe it can and should be improved upon. The largest problem we face is the fact that unlike a movie (they are also expensive) the ROI for an MMO is long term. A movie will enter production, shoot, go through editing and post production, and then release within the span of two or three years. Almost no MMO will manage that tight of a time schedule. It will also take more time to recover the initial investment money, as a movie runs for a few months in theaters while an MMO is expected to keep people engaged for years. Because of this economic reality we are forced to deal with people who have (usually) very little understanding of the genre making the decision to launch. On one hand if AoC does well it encourages the premature release of software. On the other, it reassures investors that putting out a better quality product increases your chances of seeing a good return. I'll keep rooting for developers who manage to make it to release, because failed products do nobody any good . . . except perhaps as a cautionary tale most people would rather forget about.
I have two characters that are higher than your arbitrary level of 40+ at this time. My article has nothing to do with issues outside of the launch itself, so it is relatively unimportant how high a level I was when it was written (I wasn't that far off 40) since I avoided talking too much about gameplay. As it stands I am still (in my 50's) enjoying the game and will continue to pay for it after the initial 30 days. I agree that there are serious issues which need to be addressed, particularly in terms of class bugfixing (as opposed to nerfing) and the addition of content. However as the veteran of far too many MMOs I can't say that I didn't expect this issue, and I can't say that I've not encountered it in any other game. It is, sadly, an inherent part of the industry because we are so hungry for the new worlds that we tolerate a bit too much. I'd like to see quality rise in released products, but as I've said elsewhere in my comments, economic factors are hard to fight as a game developer. Maybe an MMO gamer will win a massive lotery jackpot and finance a game that does get the rights to stay in Beta as long as it needs to. I've got my fingers crossed. (And my resume in an open window, so let me know if it happens, ok?)
@JK-Kanosi - Sometimes it takes a long time to get the winds of change blowing. I think that by expressing dissatisfaction we continue to send messages to companies which may eventually get through. Believe me when I say that those game developers love the product they are working on and would like nothing better than to give us perfection. The realities of economy dictate that they are fighting against the tide of money in order to keep the game from releasing too soon. Keep speaking out against the problems you see in released games. Fight the good fight, so to speak. :)
@Ozmodan - Since I covered the launch there are of course more issues with the game than what I wrote about. As to your assertion that most people will not continue past 30 days I can only say that I don't think you're right. What actually happens remains to be seen, of course.
@Stikato - Yes, I'm serious. I still play and will continue to do so after the first 30 days. Many of the launch pains have been resolved and Funcom has regularly updated the game in the past weeks. More importantly: I'm having fun. If you have to choose between eating and buying AoC, eat. But if you have the disposable income it won't hurt you to take a look.
As to your assertion that I reviewed the game, it's inaccurate as Stradden pointed out. If I reviewed anything it was the launch. I did not touch on the gameplay or content in any meaningful way in this article. As a result if you are looking for an actual game breakdown you'll need to look somewhere else.
@galad2003 - I did not experience all of the issues that I illustrated in the article. I had my own subset of problems during the launch period. Other issues were experienced by my guildmates or other members of the AoC community. The article is by no means a laundry list of my personal grievances. I believe it is vital to note that the largest resellers available were having issues with the game during early access (code problems) through release. Choosing to believe that by selecting a "superior" reseller you would somehow become immune to launch issues is simply the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand. The faulty handling of the launch in the distribution and resale arena all comes back to Funcom eventually. If multiple people who ordered the game from different reputable sources have an issue your entire premise becomes null and void. I am sorry you feel the piece was so poor.
@Leucent - Considering I gave a factual account of what happened during the release I don't believe it is possible for me to have been biased. The piece relates the experiences of myself and other players during the launch period. Unless people believe that I have actually lied about what occurred it is simply a recounting of historical fact. Aside from that, I am an AoC customer still, and if I were trying to rip the game up I'd have done a much better job. ;)
@ajax7 - No, this was a recouting of events during the launch of AoC. I never made any assertion as to the the quality of this launch as compared to any launch aside from that of Funcom's last game. How each individual feels the launch went is up to them.
@mike470 - The article has a focus on the launch. It would be inapprorpiate to run too far off on a wild tangent to address issues outside of that specific subject matter. As a result some thing you and other readers may have wished to see in the piece were not included. The ability to stay focused on the task at hand is important, and is often what differentiates a professional piece from amateurish ramblings. I a glad you liked the article, despite it not going further into the game itself.
I too appreciate Stradden's decision to run my piece. The original article received exactly one rewrite by myself. The only things I changed were ones I believed needed adjustment or explanation. As result I added some small bits to the whole (perhaps 10% more words in total) but the soul of the piece remained a critical look at the launch itself. This article was shopped to MMORPG.com because I believe the site is capable of taking a critical look at issues in the industry. My beliefs have ben sustained by the publication of this piece, which is not an attack on Funcom, but an evaluaton of what went wrong when AoC launched.
@neonaka - Thanks for the positive feedback. While I personally am enjoying playing AoC, I think it is only fair to look at the flows within a game (in this case the game's launch) and see if there isn't a lesson to be learned. If one game company can do a better job of launching a MMO as a result of MMO players speaking out about how AoC hit the streets it will make our beloved industry that much better.
@Wakygreek - The quality of F2P MMOs is lacking. Mark Jacobs (From EA Mythic) had a good take on the F2P market in a recent article over on Gamasutra. He asked the F2P developers to "show me the money" . . . because you don't engage in years of backbreaking work without hope of making a profit. He also pointed out that it is far easier to provide service to a smaller number of paying cstomers than a larg number of users, of which only some are subscribers. In F2P games you often (in almost every case actually) have inferior service when compared to P2P. While you may not wish to pay more for an MMO, I personally have no problem paying for a steak instead of a hamburger. To each their own. ;)
@woalCE - I was trying to steer clear of too many in game examples of issues. The article was already long enough, after all. It was certainly a big negative to have the traders turned off for an extended period of time. On that we agree. :)
@tinywulf - I'm on them enough. As far as a release game goes it has been relatively stable, yes. Par for the course I think. ;)
@denshing - There is really only one reason o cancel your account to any game. You're not going to play. That can be for any reason you feel appropriate, but it remains simple. If you play subscribe, and if you don't . . . don't. :)
@Ragemore - So because it is possible for two different game companies to make the same mistakes my recount of the AoC launch is meaningless? We should, instead, simply ignore the fact that it happened? Or are you simply offended that I didn't write an article for every single launch in the past decade? The article could have been written about any title. The point is evaluating what happened. The rest is simply factual information used to populate the piece. Had WAR launched and AoC delayed you would have very likely seen a piece on that game instead.
@BlueCadwal - I'm flattered you gave me so much credit. I must have written some very influential words to have you believe I am capable of hurting a title which has shipped over a million copies. :) By your own admission you can't dispute the factual account I've given of the AoC launch. You appear to be upset simply because I had the audacity to write candidly about these issues. Further you expect Stradden to state the obvious: that this piece is written by a single author, and as a result other writers here at MMORPG.com may feel differently. Why should he bother? Finally, Amsterdam and Oslo aren't anywhere near each other. I don't work for Funcom nor have I applied to them for a position at any time, though if you'd actually done your homework you'd be able to see who I did work for. (My name, by the way, is Mathew, so shortening it and using a "t" too many isn't really something I appreciate.)
@jonaylward - So you believe that Coke Zero is a genderless product? That Sex in the City's target audience is the same as The Sopranos? That Band of Brothers and Roots are equivalent pieces of television? All products have an audience. I am at peace with the differences between men and women. I can accept that I am more likely to be interested in technology than the average woman. I am also able to accept that there are plenty of women out there who know more than I do about beer, football (soccer for you in North America), and cars. The fact that my own wife sits next to me playing Age of Conan does not negate the fact that compared to other games in the genre AoC is less female-oriented.
@craynlon - My point is that many people will gladly pay more to get more. It's the reason we have hundreds of different choices when it comes to cars. While not everyone may buy a BMW or Audi, many of those people are happy they aren't stuck with a KIA. In the past higher levels of service have been available to those who paid a premium. Think of it like an extended service contract on a new laptop. You may not need it, but it's there when you do. Some people will buy it and use it a lot while others may not end up using it much at all. Those who choose to go with standard service simply pay for the basics and receive the standard level of customer care as a result.
@Gondis - I didn't review the game. I evaluated the launch. I gave a balanced look at the issues involved in releasing AoC to market. Hard to say anything glowing about something that either works or it doesn't. As a result I pretty much found myself limited (by the self-imposed scope of the article at least) to addressing the issues which cropped up. Perhaps even more importantly, you agree with me in many ways. Hardly cause to think I've written a bad article. :D
@voodookhan - EverQuest, Everquest II, World of Warcraft, EvE Online, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online . . . need I go on? The majority of MMORPGs are going to be more friendly to female gamers for many different reasons. Skimpy Clothes are not female unfriendly. I know alot of women who like them. But the general atmosphere of those games is one of equality. In AoC the first woman you meet is a whore who has been chained up by a scavenging pirate.
@Lizante - I'm also one of those gamers with no patience. I have to play a game as soon as I think I want to. Because of this I see no reason not to wait out the initial growing pains. SOME people should definitely not buy the game at this time. I agree 100% that it is better for folks to wait if they can't handle the flux of a newly launched MMO. With the number of titles out on the market I am sure you can find a way to kill a few months. :D
@Elikal - The lack of complete patch notes is a nightmare from all directions. In many cases someone at Funcom has simply failed to properly document, and in others they have made a mistake and merged changed code into the patch tree when they did not intend to. I believe it is unlikely that too many stealth changes are meant to be hidden from the players. But the sad fact is they ARE being hidden. I agree with you that it needs to stop. I'd rather seen ten pages of relatively mundane notes as long as it included that one change vital to my class.
@mindmeld - 100% agreement. They vastly improved on the AO launch. :)
@Dento - To be fair I think that Sigil employees cared very much. The economic realities (which I've touched on already) are what doomed Vanguard. Well, that and a couple of key decision points which went wrong. :( I hope you're able to come back and play AoC when it is in a better state.
@markt50 - I don't buy tat we need to accept that bad things are going t happen and stick our heads in the ground to avoid having to deal with them. I can guarantee you that any game company worth a damn has meetings to come up with reports telling them what went wrong after major events like game launches. Pieces like this article are critiques, so of course the will be negative in nature. But we need to not be afraid to stand up and say something when we think there are improvements to be made. The gaming industry is young and tis genre even younger. There will be painful experiences as advancements are made and the processes mature.
Thanks again for all your comments. Please reply if you have anything further to discuss. I'll do my best to watch the threads.
Age of Conan: Anatomy of a Launch - Part One
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
6/12/08 5:06:41 PM
I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to share their comments on this article. I'll address each comment thread separately in order to try and keep a bit of continuity flowing within the threads. I will do my best to be orderly as I do so. Please forgive me if I introduce any confusing elements, as that is not my intent. If you want clarification on anything, simply ask. You took th time to write, so you deserve my time in return. (People with multiple posts are actually replied to in separate sections under their names.)
Without further ado, my responses to your comments:
@Artermis - As the article is roughly chronologically based and was boken into two parts, the initial article contained what could be considered nothing but negativity. In part two and in the Q&A I have a few more positive things to say. That said, I don't believe that it is my task to artificially inject sunshine into a piece. I wrote what I did because it was appropriate given my experiences, and the experiences of others around me.
It seems rather pointless to state that you didn't bother to read something and then render commentary . . . but since you bothered to type something, you get something back. The first "m" in MMORPG stands fo MASSIVE. Any company releasing a game in the market needs to accept the fact that it is possible for massive to mean "really really really huge" and to prepare accordingly. The fact that Funcom in act failed to be adequately prepared is te entire point of the piece. It is a post-mortem of a game launch, and is (probably) very close to what the company has admitted to internally. If Mythic had released WAR and Funcom had delayed AoC you might very well be reading a similar article about what Mythic did during the launch of that title. It has nothing at all to do with a specific company, and I would welcome the opportunity to cover every single launch from here on out with a similar article here on MMORPG.com if Stradden wants me to. I believe the developers are tough enough to handle the criticism. After all, they managed to stick out the five year journey to get to the release, and that's taken some serious fortitude.
The fact hat you personally have had a pleasant experience is great. I'm happy for you. I too have had numerous issues solved in game, but I don't find the amount of time it has taken support to do so at all satisfactory for a game in any stage. Gamebreakers that hold you up over 24 hours due to insufficient support personnel are unacceptable to most gamers. If any of the same had happened to you or to your friends I suspect you would not be so quick to condemn me as biased. It is inaccurate to suggest that Funcom support is excellent and the game does not have issues. Funcom support is overwhelmed (and hiring if anyone needs a job) and the game as numerous issues which affect a given percentage of players. I could have said the same thing about the majority of MMORPG launches and been correct.
@mike470 - I do recognize the challenge of having success hit you in the face and then have difficulty dealing with it. I certainly do wish to impart empathy, while maintaining my point: things could have been handled better. I hope that in the future we can be candid about the things that go wrong because I believe that it is the best way to improve the industry as a whole. Accountability starts with accepting your role in what has functioned poorly. That goes for the MMORPG development companies, the investors, the distributors, the resellers, the players, and the press.
@Ben1778 - I certainly hope that lessons have been learned, and not just by Funcom. To be honest the other MMORPG development companies should be paying attention to these events. As should distributors and resellers. Things went wrong in many different parts of he chain. I'm with you in hoping that things improve from here.
@boinged - Things went wrong without any shadow of a doubt. The launch was not perfect. The reasons things went wrong are very important, but in the end it is the result which matters. The end result was a game launch which left a large number of players dissatisfied. While there may have been little Funcom could have done during the launch phase to remedy some isues, as I pointed out, there are others they simply failed to competently handle.
@galad2003 - While amusing, you are of course aware that your summary of my writing is wholly inaccurate. No points awarded. The interesting thing about an MMO launch is that you can actually "brace for impact" by spending more money (on a short term basis) to ensure that should you run into an aberration in your launch numbers, you are able to absorb the issues quickly and with little noticable impact. The downside of this is that it requires a larger outlay of money the more protection you decide to build in. It is evident that the built in protection was insufficient in this case.
@silverreign - The amount of polish present in a game is irrelevant to the ability of the developers to keep the servers open for paying customers. The amount of content present in a game means nothing if customers are unable to register an account key. I am not writing based upon the presence of DX10 or the inclusion of Battlekeeps. I am simply detailing facts as they relate to the opening of the game, and the ability of the customers to play it. Polish and content will come in time, and are immaterial to the subject matter of this article.
@MindTrigger - It remains to be see what the impact of this launch will have on the number of people willing to continue paying for the product. With the lack of major releases in recent history (Tabula Rasa being the last fairly major title to hit shelves late in 2007) and the fact that no major titles will arrive on scene until late 2008, we may be seeing more a hope or desire for something new and worthy than an actual belief that AoC is that worthy title. Time, as they say, will tell. Hopefully the game will be improved to address the issues many trialists (those not renewing after 30 days) have faced.
@Gorilla - I'd assume that you've seen by now that part 2 addresses the lack of Customer Support staff in and out of game.
I can agree that the firs part of the game is very much worth playing. In fact a good strategy for those who find themselves enjoying the game might be to restart a new alt every time one of their characters reaches a point at which it becomes less fun to advance. Giving Funcom some time to add in content at certain levels may be a good idea and help people enjoy AoC more.
@JK-Kanosi - There are some serious issues with mob respawn rates in some select areas, for sure. Not unusual in a new (or even old) MMO of course. Due to the dependence upon specific spawns and drops for the completion of content (quests) it does seem at times as if the content was designed from the perspective of adventuring in an area with just one person or one group. On the FFA servers this leads to some rather serious fighting over spawns. That could be considered "added content" but for many people is simply frustrating. I am sorry to hear that your ssues have prevented you from enjoying the game enough. I hope Funcom can resolve some of them quickly so you can rejoin the game soon.
@AikenDrum - Hopefully in the meantime your guildmates have all been able to join you. It took a good deal of time but my guild is now able to adventure together and while we do face queue times some evenings it has smoothed out a bit in the interim.
@Myrathi - I can aree that games should be polished further than they are at his time. We've been in a cycle for a long time with computer gaming where too many bugs are allowed through because "we can patch the game later" . . . something which does players no good. In fact a lot of games have released and never patched the issues present. MMOs generally clean up their mess fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things, but the number of open issues found in a standard MMO release happen to be far too high in my opinion as well. The issues you point out with itemization are indeed glaring. The gear question is compounded by he fact that statistics do not function, or item characteristics are too nebulous to be understood. I suspect a number of fixes will hit the game in the not-too-distant future and some of them should hopefully bring the game up to a more enjoyable level for you. Keep checking back in any case!
@kitsunegirl - I think that a US RP-PvE server should have been created with the caveat that it would be merged with a standard PvE server (or two) if the population were ever to be too low. This is in spite of the fact that I too believe Conan wants RPers to crush their enemies.
@AOCtester - Had my article been titled "The Norwegiant Snowjob: How Funcom Fooled Gamers Everywhere" you might have a leg to stand on calling it tripe if it did not blow the lid off the conspiracy you percieve to exist. However my piece is about the launch itself and the issues experienced by myself and others. The fact that AoC does not have many planned features is of course a disappointment to many, myself included. But any serious MMO gamer knows that unless you see a feature in a released game, it simply doesn't exist. The industry is filled with games that promised functionality upon release or before the first expansion only to never incorporate the features in any way. Your anger at Funcom is better directed at them.
I was honest about the launch issues. If you wanted me to comment on Spellweaving being a bit off for certain classes or DX10 being withheld until later this year I am sorry. I was having a hard time reading your mind. Can you take off the tinfoil hat please? :D
@lupisenparis - I played EQI upon release and can remember being given free game time due to the massive server issues which plagued it. The difference between EQI and AO (which I assume you meant because I never said AoC was even close to the worst launch in MMO history), was that it was possible to actually play EQI, while AO was literally impossible. As for the quality of EQI expansion launches I can only assume you did not agree with the direction the developers took the game. I agree with that assessment personally, and as a result I only sporadically played after the second expansion.
@BlueCadwal - I presented a factual account of the launch. If you believe it was designed to take down AoC I am sorry, but I can't change what actually happened. Nor have I even once suggested that AoC was alone in having launch issues. Do I lose credibility because I did not cover the Lord of the Rings launch with a similar article? Should I have made sure to include my analysis of Vanguard? Of course not. This addresses one series of events and does not make any comparisons except to Funcom's own prior launch of AO. I think it is pretty clear AoC's launch is the superior of those two events.
@seryth - I think it is pretty evident that I am not being paid by anyone to produce a PR-spin on AoC. If that were the case it would have been a better idea to fictionalize or go for more emphasis on feel than fact and actual experience. Sadly though nobody has thousands of € to throw at me to write glowing things about their product. ;)
@checkthis500 - I do agree that despite claiming to be very open that Funcom failed to be in this case. I am not willing to assign that to a nefarious wish to hoodwink gamers, but I will say that it was not at all the way in which I would have handled the situation. Being transparent is a very dangerous thing, which is why MMO companies aren't as transparent as we'd like. The dangers involved make investors wet their beds, so I think we're going to have to deal with a lack of openness for now and always. What I do believe needs to begin to happen is that MMO companies need to be held accountable for being honest about the state of the product, and the features they are launching with.
@Erolis - I think that the motives of companies are in many cases a lot purer than you attribute to them. In point of fact the AoC performance issues have in a great many cases been resolved. That said, we have ourselves to thank for accepting substandard products. The problem is we're so hungry for new adventures that we are often willing to accept the problems just for that little rush of adrenaline as we defeat the next villain or rescue the fair maiden.
@Elikal - And without criticism there is no impetus to improve. Which is the very reason all MMO companies should read articles like this, as well as many of the good solid critical posts in blogs and on forums which highlight issues with all different MMOs. That is how the industry will continue to evolve and improve.
@HumbleHobo - My attitude towards MMOs may be a bit cavalier, which is why I see no reason not to grab AoC immediately and see how it strikes you. For some people it'll be love, some hate, and others will simply have some reservations. Waiting has virtues of course, but I've never been a very patient guy. ;)
@MightyJudge - It is not unusual for buddy keys to be turned of for a brief period after game launch. Granted, not every MMO has that policy, but not all of them even give you a buddy key! If the keys are still not active soon I do believe there is a serious issue, but I think a month of leeway is pretty reasonable. Of course I too know all about the major issues affecting people playing (or trying to play) the game. It is far outside the scope of this article to touch on all of them, but it is worth remembering: AoC is still very young, and you may have serious issues. If history holds true many of these issues will be resolved in the near future. Here's to keeping those fingers crossed!
@junglebeast - It's not an AoC issue as much as it is an MMO issue. In general most games release too early. As a result the first players often feel as if they are in a Beta test.
@Durthu - The game is not going to be sold. To be fair AoC is vastly superior to Vanguard at launch. I really do mean vastly. That said, it is wise to adopt an attitude of wait-and-see if you feel that in the past yo have been too badly burned. If a pattern emerges that shows MMO developers that it is wise to hold off those last critical months because your retention and first impression scores will be that much higher we may start to see better products.
@Rhianne - I'm not even going to begin to pretend to be able to judge the best MMO launch ever. There have been so many done in so many different ways that I believe it is impossible to judge. My point is not even simply to "nail" Funcom for making mistakes with the AoC launch. It is to highlight the problems and examine them, and that is something which can help all future game launches.
@graill - My gender does give e the advantage in tat department. ;) I am glad you saw this as an attempt to "tell it like it is" because that is exactly what it was intended to be. Hope you have a great game to come play after you've sat out a couple of months.
@scottec1425 - The article was written while the forums were locked down. You have to realize that time to press is an issue on a site like MMORPG.com (otherwise you might have 6 articles one day and none for two after that) and as a result what you read may not always be true anymore. It was very much accurate when I typed the words originally, as well as after my last rewrite of the piece. I am very happy for you that you were one of the people who was able to get in and enjoy the game without any hitches. There were plenty of folks who had nothing but good experiences. Unfortunately a lot of folks had some pretty abysmal ones as well. In being objective about the launch I of course have to point out the things that went wrong.
@Reanim - Game developers pay MMORPG.com to host advertising, much like your local newspaper carries ads for grocery stores, lawyers, and car lots. That does not mean that MMORPG.com is inherently corrupt. If that were true my article would have never been posted on this site, because I wrote it before consulting anyone on the site, and only rewrote parts of it that I personally believed needed more work. My initial content and message remain intact. I still have my journalistic integrity.
@tormunda - I'd be happy to engage in a dscussion should you reply with more than a one-line post which doesn't tell anyone why the article is so poor. (After all, maybe you were upset that the section formatting was off . . .) Discourse is healthy and enhances the intellect.
@Jupp - I appreciate the compliments and am glad you enjoyed reading the article. I'm working on something quite a bit different for my next piece. Not sure when it comes out, but I hope you'll give it a read when it does.
@Wellkie - I never once mentioned another MMO. This is not about comparing apples to oranges or WoW to AoC. This is about outlining issues that AoC has had during the launch phase, and at no time have I condemned the job that Funcom has done, nor stated that "suchandusch" game was far superior. I am sorry you are operating under this misconception. I am glad you've been having fun in AoC So have I.
@Reverb22 - Hope to see your predicitions about the future of AoC come true. Sure would be nice if it could be a success for Funcom.
@ajax7 - I think you might be slightly off with your assertion that 95% of the people have no problems. Just judging from my guild roster it's a bit closer to being the exact opposite. While the majority of us have had problems which were resolved relatively quickly, there have ben a few (more than 5%) with lasting issues that remain unresolved. I'm happy you've enjoyed the launch of the game and I hope you continue to do so. I also suspect people who buy the game will as a general rule have a good time, which would be why I suggest doing so in part 2.
@Smilex0311 - Crafting does have some major issues including crash bugs and incomplete components. The other major issue is of course the number of journal spaces the resource and crafting quests take up. At level 50 I had more than 4 quests in my book, however the fact is that the higher up you get the more grinding is required. Since I'm an old MMO gamer it isn't too much of an issue for me, but I do hope they continue to follow up on the announced plans to flesh out high level content.
@Ozmodan - While AoC has some issues at this time I don't think it is appropriate to say the situation is hopeless. The launch was tough in some respects and a resounding success in others. WHat remains to be seen is where the game goes from here. I have no comment on LotR as it is outside the scope of this article. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
A long read, for sure, but hopefully I've managed to address your comments adequately. I'll move on to the comments in Part 2 tomorrow. I'm a bit wiped out from a mini-break in Dublin this week so I'm of to bed. Thanks once again for your comments!