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Age of Conan: Impressions

Posted by JK-Kanosi Sunday February 22 2009 at 11:25AM
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Hello forum goers. I plan to create blogs that follow my journey into the world of Hyboria. Hopefully, through me, you will receive a truthful and unbiased idea of how the game is today.

The last time I played AoC was on release. I played it for 2 weeks before I got slammed with the 10k latency bug that was hitting many people at the time. Other than the technical difficulties it had, I liked what I saw in the game, but if asked if I could accurately describe the game a year ago, I couldn't. I felt it was time to give AoC another shot.

About the Author

My prior MMO experience ranges back to 2002, when I began DAoC. Since then, I've played practically every MMO that's hit retail since. I'm not a person who rushes to end game or forgets to smell the roses along the way. I'm not a crafter, so a review on that should be sought elsewhere. I value both solo and group play. I also value PvE and PvP. I'm not a fanboy of any style of play per se, I just want an entertaining experience and even though $15/mo is nothing these days, I want value for my money. I recognize that there's competition for my $15/mo and I choose to spend it on games I think are worth it. With that said, I'll move on to my first blog on AoC.


The first impression a person receives concerning a MMORPG is the Account Management section and the downloader and patcher. The Account Management page was easy to locate and I was able to input my information without any trouble. In other words, it served its purpose without putting up road blocks to make it difficult.

The patcher was another story. I'm a PC Gamer who has gained most of his computer working knowledge from other MMO gamers. Because of them, I can practically build my own computer now, and know the lingo associated with it. I've also taken around 1 years worth of college level IT courses. In other words, I'm not an expert, but I'm not a newb either. I knew to keep my Direct X drivers up-to-date and etc. However, the game gave an error saying my DX wasn't up-to-date, requiring me to do so. My friend, who also resubbed with me had the same problem. So that's one glitch with the downloader already.

Take or leave the following for what it is, but the patch was around 4 GB. That's about as big as some older MMORPG's, so I wasn't happy about this, but a week from now, the largeness of the patch and the issue with DX will be a forgotten memory, so let's not focus on those negatives. I just through them in here so you, the user, know to expect it.

Now I do have a nice system. It's a Intel Pentium 2 Core Duo 2.66 ghz, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 8800 GT 512mb graphics card. The nice screenshots on this forum is what prompted me to try the game again, even though I'm not a graphics whore. I set the graphics to maximum, and I do mean maximum.

I want to remind those who've played before that the CG cinematics are outstanding. They did a real good job with the intro movie and the character creation process. The character creation process lets you choose between 3 races of Human. It has a great deal of customization, and the graphics in this game takes a realistic approach, instead of a cartoonish approach. You can have tattoo's practically anywhere and can customize your size and features a great deal. You have a choice of 12 classes.

You begin your journey in Tortage, which is a seperate experience from the rest of the game. The tutorial area covers your first 20 levels and all the quests are done with voice overs. The quests have your garden variety of menial tasks, but with the voice overs and story behind them, they don't seem tedious at all to do, and that's coming from a person who loathes MMORPG questing.

I say this without wanting any argument, whether you agree with me or not. I believe WoW is overall the best MMORPG out there, pound for pound. It doesn't excell at all things, but overall, it's better than other games for a number of reasons. So I will compare a lot of stuff with that game, since it has set the standard on what to expect as far as quality of gameplay is concerned.

With that said, AoC has many gameplay elements that I found to be better than WoW. The combat experience, flow of movements, and animation is on par with WoW. That's a good thing, because WoW has a really fluid combat system and animations. The sound in AoC is astounding; it's no wonder the musical score won an award. The graphics take on a realistic feel and I'd say it's one of AoC's strengths. It does a good job of making the world feel lived in, alive, and dangerous. The graphics are phenominal. Definitely deserving of being called a modern day game.

Bcause of the instancing, the performance on max settings is pretty good. I receive around 30 FPS in populated areas, which is not really a noticable difference from 60 FPS. The only noticalbe difference is when the games fps spikes low, which is like a 10 fps drop. But there's plenty that can be done to lower the video settings, without sacrficing a lot of video quality to get better FPS.

In summary, Hyboria has done what no other MMORPG has done in years. It succeeded in drawing me into the game, making me want to play more. Now, this is where I call my experience as a player to bear. I realize that I could have rose colored glasses on, but in rebuttal, where were those rose colored glasses in the other new games I've tried? The game actually delivers in what I've spoken about so far. I also realize that Tortage is a different game that the rest and that my opinion and experience may change once I get there. I will cover those experiences objectively when I come to them.

This was meant as a first impression review, not a full review, and not a comparison of the game then and the game now. I am judging this game on its own merits, occasionaly referencing a well known game that is known for its quality to quantify meaning when I describe AoC.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for future blogs. Except the next blog a week from now to give me more to talk about.


MMORPG's: Their Purpose?

Posted by JK-Kanosi Friday February 13 2009 at 12:13AM
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I've played MMORPG's since 2002 beginning with DAoC. The pride I felt for my realm gave me the purpose to defend it. Nowadays I find myself in other games asking myself, "why am I here?"

What's the purpose of the game you're playing right now? Now the thoughtless answer without any self analyzation would be, "I play it, because it's fun." But WHY it it fun? I wonder how much your MMORPG of choice will hold up once you put it to the WHY test.

Now, we need to assume that MMORPG's do serve some purpose, otherwise we can just WHY ourselves right out of the genre and even out of our own existence. But let's assume the purpose of MMORPG's is to offer us a measure of gameplay that we cannot find in any other genre. This measure of gameplay, what makes MMORPG's unique, is the purpose and what MMORPG players find fun. Any other feature, while nice, can be found in another genre in a better form. For example, quests is a feature that single player games have excelled at for decades now, because the single player environment can change as the player completes quests to add depth (ie. Oblivion). Now, quests in MMORPG's serve purely as a method of granting xp, coin, and loot so you can advance in level to rinse and repeat the process again. The quests serve no real purpose in the game. Completing them changes nothing, so while it's a nice feature, it isn't genre defining enough to be THE feature that attracts people. So what is it then?

Well, my theory, and it's not a new theory, is that the unique feature that the MMORPG genre offers is the ability to live a life you cannot live in the real world for any number of reasons, that you can in the virtual world. The more you take out of the virtual world, the less believable the world is and the more of a game the world feels like, which starts to beg the question: "Can I find better in another genre?"

So we're back to our first question: Why do you play the game you do? Does anything serve a real purpose in your game, or is it a big waste of time, even for game standards?

I just unsubbed from WoW after beating 25man Naxx to death for the umpteenth time and starting asking myself WHY. I thought about alternative games, and asked myself WHY again. The truth is that any game that does offer a true purpose is on life support and any game that MIGHT offer a purpose is yet to come.