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Age of Conan Dev Talks Problems, Future Plans 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the polishing-is-an-endless-task dept.
Jørgen Tharaldsen, Funcom's product director, recently spoke about some of the problems with Age of Conan and how they are planning to make the game better. "I think it's okay to say that we simply didn't deliver as good as we should have on all the launch features." He goes on to talk about how they're working on improvements to the PvP system, tradeskills, and class balance. Tharaldsen also spoke with Strategy Informer about the development of the Xbox 360 version of the game, which he said was "not our key priority as there are a massive amount of PC gamers already playing the game, and we rightly have the focus on them."
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Age of Conan Dev Talks Problems, Future Plans

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  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:05PM (#25304813) Journal

    Unfortunately, for my money, AoC suffers the exact same problem that FFXI did (I played them both very briefly before encountering said problem).

    Very pretty, no fun. And definitely not work 35 GB.

  • by TheLuggage2008 (1199251) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:16PM (#25304933)

    "...there are a massive amount of PC gamers already playing the game, and we rightly have the focus on them".

    As stated, Funcom is choosing to work on improving the product already delivered to PC gamers, people he notes are already playing the game, rather than dropping what they admit is a less than perfect product simply to whore out a console port to be a large, mediocre fish in a small pond. Any company willing to improve the lot of their existing customer base over turning a quick buck at the same customer's expense is to be applauded in my opinion. Frankly, I'm surprised that you could be so snide about a company taking action that speaks to values other than devotion to the all-mighty dollar.

  • by utahraptor (703433) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:18PM (#25304967) Homepage
    Funcom lies like the truth tastes bad. If you purchase the game it says it features DirectX 10 and 64 bit enhancements and in game drunken brawling as well as dual core optimizations. All of those features are missing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:20PM (#25304985)

    With the PC version, you get to compete with hundreds of other MMO's, including World of Warcarft. With a 360 version, all you would have to compete with would be a crappy Final Fantasy MMO.

    Thats exactly the problem. Console MMOs end up being a watered down crap attempt at making some console game into an MMO so you're competing with every other console MMO out there.

    There are a lot of different PC MMOs out there. They're generally much better and not just some watered down crappy console game made into an MMO. They're also not all the same. World of Warcraft doesn't compete with Eve Online or a lot of the other MMOs out there. They're very different games from different genres targeting people with different needs & interests.

    Also, the Xbox 360 has sold 20 million units? of those, how many are connected to the internet? A tiny number compared to how many hundreds of millions of PCs are on the internet. The PC has been helping people communicate with one another online for years. Theres enough PC users around for AoC to becomes 10 times the size of WoW.

  • by AioKits (1235070) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:25PM (#25305061)
    I'm going to agree with you here, sarcasm or not as I'm a bad judge of this. If they admit they've problems with the PC version, why go ahead with an admittedly already less than stellar version of the game port to the 360? Downloading patches hurts, no matter where they come from, but only in the sense they cause a delay in me getting my fix.

    I kind of want to address the FFO part of your post. Have you played the FF MMO on the 360 (or PC)? This game is so niche it's not even funny (opinion here folks, don't kill me). I like to tinker with the MMO but a long install followed by a testicle imploding game update from the FFO mothership was enough to make me not want to play the game five minutes in cause my attention (short as it is) was already taken by something else. Yay, a few hours and I'm in game! I feel that if another MMO made an honest attempt to be console friendly in its controls and provide a wide user base using the existing PC user base, it would give FFO that kick to the nuts it has needed. All they need to do is smooth out it's wrinkles (large as some may be) before they port it over. The stories and especially the use of camera angle during NPC conversations make you feel more of a 'world shaping' part of the game. It could still be better though.

    Visually, Conan is a very stunning MMO. It would make a very beautiful game on the 360. I hope if they push it to the 360 they let the players on different consoles/PC mingle. What will probably happen is it will get lost in a sea of competitors like you say, and be another FFO game where Conan fans can come to get their fix. On the PvP front however, I still give that title to Warhammer (yes, bias).

    Whatever you play, make sure you find it fun.
  • AoC early bugs lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by myowntrueself (607117) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:26PM (#25305071)

    My personal favorite was a patch note to the effect that:


    Coins taken from the bank will now be added to the coins in your inventory instead of replacing them.

    I mean even with drunken, meth-addict monkeys doing testing how does THAT make it into the live game????

    I gave up.

    He, funcom? You want to know how to get people back into the game? Everyone who actually went out and bought the game, give them 2 free months. I'll come back if you do that and not before.

  • one word.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:35PM (#25305195)
    keyboard.

    What's the point of being in a fantasy world with millions of other people if you can't communicate effectively with any of them?

    And yes, I know there are keyboard attachments of various kinds for the consoles, but have any of them ever really taken off? They defeat the purpose of the console.
  • by bugnuts (94678) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:40PM (#25305253) Journal

    ... and any new MMORPG is wearing milk-bone underwear.

    It takes 2-3 years to get a product designed, written, art and models done, network code debugged, levels and scripting designed, UI and plugin code writtent, infrastructure installed, and anti-cheat security implemented. It's a lot of crap, and takes a LOT of money.

    The competition has 3+ years of polish and debugging.

    Is your new game really going to justify all the expense above? Is your new game going to be polished? Because a fanboi can claim "oh, it's a new game, of course there are bugs." So... uh, why play it when you can play an older, polished one without as many bugs?

    New games have to deliver polished, bug-free code, and it has to be fun to play.

    AoC did not deliver those things... Instead they got a lot of the requirements right such as cool models and art for the 1-20 range, but dropped the ball heavily on content, bugs, and "fun factor".

    If there was no competition, they would've done fine (like they did with a horrible Anarchy Online launch with tons of bugs, unplayable lag, etc). They do not have the same privilege to screw the pooch like they did with AO.

    I'm not sure AoC can recover, but they do have many parts of a potentially excellent game.

    Consumers rightfully should not buy craptastic ship-now-patch-sometime online games. Yes, you can patch it as you go, but AoC demonstrates that shipping crap and trying to patch it into something good doesn't get rid of the consumer disillusionment of opening a shiny new box of crap.

  • R.I.P. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by archen (447353) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @03:59PM (#25305469)

    Age of Conan is a dead man walking. World of Warcraft is solid and polished, although getting a bit... drab if you've been playing it for a while. While I haven't played it; most people I've talked to thought Lord of the Rings Online is a pretty good game. Aside from that you still have EQ2, Eve, and FF Online. So what exactly is this game going to give us that these other games don't? Alright... boobies.

    Anyway, it's easy to see that you're going to have to go for some sort of niche and as it just so happens World of Warcraft is dropping the ball big time in PvP. Warhammer is all over this, and I think this is why that game will survive. Age of Conan? Just having a game online isn't going to cut it anymore. You've got to offer something better or different, and Age of Conan offers neither.

  • by MarkovianChained (1143957) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @04:00PM (#25305477)
    I had a hard time getting engaged in the game past the first month (though I might go back now that they've fixed a lot of issues), but it was at least fun taking in a new world and playstyle, even for just a month.

    I'd be less worried about the 35 GB (which is worth about $5 today, and is returned upon installation) than the $50 spent on the game -- but then again, I've paid more for less before, so I don't really count it for loss.
  • by Aereus (1042228) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @04:32PM (#25305869)

    I think the major baffling thing to this is Funcom did it AGAIN. You think they would have learned from Anarchy Online, that you just can't release a buggy and/or content-lacking game and hope to "patch it in later".

    First impressions matter in games just like with people. Releasing a game missing content or with major mechanics like banks, mail, and stats not working is virtual suicide.

  • by Hausenwulf (956554) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @04:38PM (#25305951)

    You really only get one chance to impress gamers. If you lose that initial wave of players, it's almost impossible to get them back. Reports indicate AoC has lost nearly half their initial players.

    So, no matter what they do to the game, it's like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It's still going down.

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @04:51PM (#25306123) Homepage

    I was looking forward to trying this game out, but almost immediately after getting it set up and patched I decided I would never end up playing it - simply because everything was instanced, and nothing destroys the suspension of disbelief better for me than having to wait to load into an instance, or being aware that I am in an instance and the world around me is only so many yards square in size.

    There were other elements that bugged me, but the continuous instancing combined with new-game lag did it in for me.

    Now playing WAR, which while it does have instances is at least a fun game.

    I long for someone to make a true sandbox like game, a la the original Star Wars Galaxies again, but I doubt it will happen, simply because if WOW doesn't do it, no one will gain support for attempting it again. sigh.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:12PM (#25306405) Journal

    The game needed another year or two to bake in the oven, some good professional therapy, and a clear direction.

    1. I know you're probably trying to be funny about "some good professional therapy", but they did exactly that for Anarchy Online. After it lost 2/3 of the initial (pitifully low) peak of players, and fast, and their first attempts at fixing it didn't do anything to stop the exodus... they actually hired some external consultants to tell them what's wrong with the game and how to fix it.

    Those external guys actually managed to double the number of players, but it was still at 1/10 of the number, say, EQ had. And it went downhill from there again. I guess even pros can only do so much to polish a turd.

    Still, just saying, they literally got some professional therapy for their game. 'Cause their own designers weren't up to the task.

    2. What amuses me even more, though, is that someone actually gave them a big franchise and a big budget to make... their _third_ failure. Because apparently the turd that was AO, plus one failed and canceled MMO project, counted as being the guys with experience in making MMOs.

    They're not even the only ones in that aspect. It seems a disturbingly common thread that some guys fuck up a MMO and then someone gives them a big bag o' money to make another one, 'cause, you know, they now have experience.

    It's like asking Michael D. Brown to lead another disaster relief after fucking up Katrina (he was FEMA director back then), on account that he's got the experience now.

    I mean... Hello? Doesn't having royally fucked up, and lack of any actual success or of having demonstrated any skill, count for anything?

    Heh. Just mark my words. I predict that they'll claim that AOC was an award-winning, critically-acclaimed, genre-defining success. (Why not? They did claim exactly that with AO, when the number of paying subscribers had dived to 12,000.) And someone will give them another big budget, because now they have experience with working on _three_ MMOs.

    Maybe it's some publishers that need a good professional therapy, really.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:05AM (#25312353) Journal

    I am a player who still longs for Star Wars Galaxies pre-'doc buff', tried Everquest 2, a bit of WoW, varioues Free-to-Play and is currently a lifer in Lord of the Rings Online. I tried AoC for 3 months, or rather, I bought 3 months, tried it for two.

    The game was started BEFORE WoW came out. Remember that WoW by now is a very old game indeed. MMORPG's ain't all that old to begin with and AoC was pretty much started in the early days.

    The best explenation I have come up with for AoC is that the dev's locked themselves up five years ago and never came out. The game just didn't learn from the developments that happened. Not from WoW, but also not from the SWG NGE, Dark&Light, SOE's constant misses, Lotro smooth launch etc etc, Vanguards dismall failure.

    AoC launched with almost year 2000 like values. The screenshots look pretty but the interface is... well crap. Crap tastic. So crap that crap doesn't even begin to describe it. It doesn't do anything for game, it ain't just ugle, is unwieldy, makes the game hard to control and doesn't give the players the options they have come to expect.

    The odd thing is that the map display is very useful, precisly indicating where each quest area is. Clearly someone at AoC went into the development dungeon 5 years ago having looked at the MMO's and their pisspoor maps of that age and came up with a clearly superior solution. But with no outside contact for all those years, they didn't learn that uses would expect a better UI in all areas in 2008.

    Other problems like the famous female attack speed, (females attack slower because their animation is longer) show that the game really had no testing. Did NO dev notice that female toons needed longer to kill enemies?

    While the game is pretty, most dungeons looked like the first amateur levels designed for the first Doom game. Nothing but HUGE square corridors filled with enemies, all the same. No setup, no scripts, settings, no atmosphere.

    And then the real killer. The game was bugged, resource hungry, memory leaking, with a lousy interface but hey, that never stopped an MMO before.

    No, what killed the game was Funcom. They denied all problems. Female attack speed quickly identified? If you mean two months after launch, yeah sure, that is quick. NOT.

    Problems were ignored, things that didn't need fixing nerfed and solutions introduced that just took all the fun out of the game. The "grey elite" has to be one of most ill advised nerfs in the history of gaming. To stop gold sellers (Funcom came up with a far better way to kill them, no more players and all in game items being WAY to expensive in real money, 1500 euro for a horse) they made enemies below your level HIT HARDER. They also made every enemy in group content an elite. This meant that a game that is OUTSIDE about you slaughtering waves of enemies suddenly becomes a 6 players on 1 enemy type game. No fun. The messy finishing moves disappeared and every dungeon just became a long boring crawl. Because of the way healing works in the game none of the elites was a challenge, just of staying awake.

    And now, the server merges. So much for all the fanboys claiming that there are still plenty of players and nobody has left. Server merges are the death of any MMORPG. If you number slightly decrease people just move on their own, you only need to merge servers if their is an exodus and you can no longer afford to keep redundant servers running. It is basically saying, the people left and we ain't going to get them back.

    No, AoC is the third failure of Funcom and this makes me sad, because The Longest Journey developer is working on his own MMORPG and it is also being done by Funcom. Luckily not by the goat who has been shown the door but still. Funcom has had its three strikes (they had a cancelled MMO between Anarchy Online and AoC) a fourth is hardly likely to be different is it?

    Hint to anyone working on a MMORPG. PLAY OTHER MMORPG's and LEARN FROM THEM! You don't have to make a WoW clone, but understand WHY people play WoW.

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