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Age of Conan: Unchained Editorial: Most Anticipated Games: Where Are They Now?

By Jon Wood on May 20, 2009

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Every year, usually sometime between Christmas and New Year, video game sites hand out their hardware. Every site does it different, and we at MMORPG.com has traditionally held two levels of awards. Our editorial awards are chosen by the staff, while the Reader's Choice awards are based on popular vote. More recently, we moved to solely Reader's Choice awards, with our own nominations.

Since 2005, MMORPG.com has given out a number of awards in many different categories. While most of those categories reflect on the year that was, one category consistently looks forward: The Most Anticipated Game.

A number of different games have taken home MMORPG.com's Most Anticipated award, but today we take a look back to see what became of those games when they stopped being anticipated and move into the "launched" category?

2005

Reader's Choice Awards: In 2005, the Reader's Choice awards allowed users to choose from any game that was officially listed at the time as being "in development," some of which even today have yet to be released.

When all of the votes were finally cast, less than 3% separated the top five vote-getters. The four runners up were: Vanguard, RF Online, Star Trek Online and Pirates of the Burning Sea. As interesting as they may be, however, their stories are for another article.

The 2005 Reader's Choice Award for Most Anticipated Game went to Turbine's Dungeons and Dragons Online.

Launched on February 28th of 2006, DDO attempted to adapt the Dungeons and Dragons franchise, much-loved by pen and paper player worldwide, into an MMO.

Draped in the still shiny new coating of the franchise's newest setting, Eberron, Turbine's original vision of the game attempted to re-create the Dungeon aspects of the beloved intellectual property (IP) by encouraging groups of players to come together to make their way through many different instanced dungeons by solving puzzles. Notably, the game employed a twitch combat system to advance to the game's level cap of 10. Lending credence to the game were the voice talents of the late, great creators of the original Dungeons and Dragons IP Dave Arenson and Gary Gygax who served appropriately in the role of the game's Dungeon Master.

The Result

While interest in the game was high leading up to its launch, it wasn't the hit game that voters had predicted. Players were put off by the game's heavy use of instanced dungeons, the virtual inability to progress through the game without a group, and the lack of open, explorable gameplay areas.

Seeing a problem, the Turbine team dedicated to DDO moved quickly to address player concerns, adding in a solo level of difficulty, explorable areas and more so that the game available today is quite different from the original launch product.

Since DDO's launch, Turbine's developers have added eight, soon to be nine modules (major updates) free of charge to their audience as well as a number of updates. Changes to the game include, but are not limited to: improvements to the solo game, the addition of a new playable race (the Drow), level cap increase, an explorable open world, PvP elements, an auction house, Dragonmarks, a customizable interface, a crafting system, a new class (Monk), DirectX 10 support and more.

Editorial Awards Awards: In 2005, the opinions of the MMORPG.com editorial staff differed from those of their readers as the journalists behind the site awarded the Most Anticipated Game honors to Funcom's Age of Conan.

Conan Screenshots

The reason for the choice, according to the article's author was that Age of Conan had finally solved the tedium of the first few levels of an MMO by couching it inside of a single player experience. This, the editors thought, would allow players to, "take part in a story where you are the hero, build a character, develop an attachment and then enter the real world. It is not unlike growing-up, which is precisely what you're character is doing."

The one thing that the editors pointed out as a mark against the upcoming game was the fact that Funcom might not meet its 2006 launch date. Funcom launched Age of Conan on May 20th of 2008.

Conan, of course, would go on to win again later.

Interesting Fact:

In the short history of MMORPG.com awards, neither the Reader's Choice nor Editorial award winners for Most Anticipated Game has ever gone on to win a Game of the Year, Best Game, Best New Game or Favorite Game award in the next year.

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