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Age of Conan Servers To Merge, Funcom Sees Layoffs 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the bailing-water dept.
Two ominous signs have come recently for Age of Conan fans; developer Funcom went through a round of layoffs, and they announced plans to merge some of the game's servers in order to maintain a "healthy" population. Despite this, Funcom has maintained that development will continue for both the PC version and the upcoming Xbox 360 version of the game, confident that Age of Conan won't follow Tabula Rasa into oblivion. A writer at Vox ex Machina doesn't share that view, pointing to several of the game's flaws as reasons why it didn't maintain the popularity it enjoyed at launch.
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Age of Conan Servers To Merge, Funcom Sees Layoffs

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  • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonserNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:55AM (#25987021)

    Honestly? I mean, did they ever finally get the DX10 working?

    The game was great on the island, after that it was a waste of time and money. Wish I could get my $60 back...

    • by Kokuyo (549451)

      I'm not surprised.

      It was advertised as an adult game. The only things truly adult about it was the blood. We've seen that before. The grafics sucked. The bugs sucked.

      The only cool thing? There was an almost completely nude cutie in the artbook.

      What prompted me to stop playing was the fact they would only accept Euro payments from a Swiss credit card. And that fee was about 30 to 50% higher. Rip-off.

    • by will_die (586523) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:36AM (#25987181) Homepage
      From what I have read DX10 is suppose to be coming to the test servers this month.
    • Great on the isle? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:48AM (#25989403) Journal

      Did you actually go to the ruins? Where enemies kept get stuck in their fall animation, unattackable leaving no mobs for your quest? How about the insane bats whose AI and animation was so buggered you wondered how it often got out of alpha?

      What about the invisible bits of landscaping you could get stuck on. The slow loading. The missing bank and auction house.

      The game was a disaster. Really, some classes you started right from lvl 1 one shotting every enemy, others struggeled with enemies below their level. Nerfs happened all over changing entire classes. Balance must be done BEFORE release because if a class plays in a certain way you are just going to upset those who choose that class to play in a certain way.

      Frankly, AoC was to old. It started development before WoW came out and to Goat seems to have been living in a cave ever since. The UI was a total disaster. Lotro is already bad with its non-customziable UI in this Post-WoW world but AoC set a new low. Not only was it ugly, it didn't even give players basic tools. Did you ever figure out what the equivelant of /inspect was in AoC? To lazy to look it up but even as a linux user a I balked at that commandline. That it has to be done from the commandline at all showed just how out of touch the developers were.

      No, AoC is better left forgotten a bigger pile of shit then Anarchy Online or indeed Vanguard. Vanguard at least tried. AoC dev's just couldn't be bothered to make the game fun. The fast travel options were insane! Walk EVERYWHERE, one corner of the world to the other OR die and choose your own respawn point.

      The only thing I worry that with Funcom in the situation it is in, The Secret World, the MMORPG by the team that made The Longest Journey might be axed as well. Lets not forget that this is a completely seperate team and the Goat has nothing to do with TSW yet it might suffer for this guys incompetence.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by TheRealFixer (552803)
        Post-WoW World? Who are you, Jon Katz?
      • by JebusIsLord (566856) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:06PM (#25993555) Homepage

        The LOTRO UI pretty much just works. I haven't felt a burning need to customize any of it. This is a Good Thing, because casual gamers are not going to customize - if the default UI sucks, then the game appears to suck.

        • by TitusC3v5 (608284)
          Indeed. Unlike WoW, it doesn't have or need an assload of addons to make it functional. Every piece of the UI is resizable, movable, and skinnable. I quite enjoy not having to redownload a dozen addons whenever a new patch is released.
      • by garylian (870843)

        Yes, this game was a total Cluster-F, but don't get too wound up over some things.

        Class balancing SHOULD happen before launch, but most PvP games fail to do that.

        Look at WoW, the holy grail of what all these game developers hope to accomplish. They created the paladin talents 2 weeks prior to launch. There was no way the class could be properly test balanced when the game was basically gold already. Beta players complained about the talents, but nothing changed until a few months after launch.

        Any game th

      • It's really too bad, but I honestly expected this coming from the company that made Anarchy Online...

    • by sh33333p (1186531)
      It's interesting how you think of the $60 because that is concrete dollar amount. I'm sure you lost far more than that in time, and if given the choice, would opt to get the time back instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:12AM (#25987087)

    I wish he had mentioned this at the beginning of his article so I wouldn't have wasted my time reading it.

    • so? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:59AM (#25989595) Homepage Journal

      I wasn't at the Battle of Gettysburg but I can still write a reasonable essay on Lee's mistakes.

      • Re:so? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Mike Buddha (10734) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @02:47PM (#25992375)

        Yeah, Lee had had a buggy UI, and teh suck graphics.

  • The Longest Journey (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) <JetpackJohn@gmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:37AM (#25987183) Homepage

    Honestly, I'm far more concerned with the fate of The Longest Journey, one of their other franchises.

    The original was one of the greatest point-and-click adventure games of all time. The sequel was okay, but left too many unanswered questions. The original left the door open, of course, but it also told a complete story with a real ending.

    I generally don't track most gaming news like a hawk, but I do recall reading at one point that the plan was to continue the series with something like Dreamfall: Chapters, or some such. A sort of episodic continuation. I hope these layoffs don't affect other projects at Funcom.

    Still, given the time between when I first heard that bit of news and now, Funcom seems to be following the Valve method of episodic delivery rather than the much better Telltale method. Valve has been able to get away with it because they have a long and successful track record and a huge player base. The Longest Journey, as great as it was, does not have quite as big a following...

    Don't blow it, Funcom!

    • by GuJiaXian (455569)

      Dreamfall was quite the disappointment. TLJ, however, is the second-best video game of any genre I've ever played.

      And yes, we really need to know what happened to April and Co. there at the end of Dreamfall. I am not a fan of cliffhanger endings for video games.

      • I enjoyed Dreamfall. When I got to the end, my biggest problem was the "to be continued" feel. Other than that, I thought that the gameplay mechanic of switching between characters was a good way to keep things flowing and interesting....and it didn't hurt to see Arcadia and Stark in nice 3d graphics!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by immcintosh (1089551)
        I quite liked Dreamfall. It was more along the lines of "interactive fiction" than a proper adventure game, but as long as you're okay with that there's a lot to like. It was very VERY well put together.
      • Actually I liked Dreamfall, and I think a lot of people liked it. Sure they went away from the classical point and click adventure, but Dreamfall was an excellent game. And now that it has been ported over and over to various platforms I think it has sold a lot of boxes.

        The biggest issue in its initial release was that the original game had such a broken copy protection that many players had to revert to the warezed version to even be able to play it. After that we saw funcom complaining that everyone was p

  • No surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:41AM (#25987201)

    Age of Conan got as big an initial boost as it did because of it's timing and hype mostly. WoW had entered a period of nothing new for quite some time. Blizzard was busy working on The Wrath of the Lich King so little was happening in the game. Their previous expansion had been out for quite a while and some people were getting bored. So the WoW players that were looking for The Next Big Thing(tm) hopped on board with AoC.

    Well, what they quickly found out was that AoC isn't a very well done game. WoW really is a slick game. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but polished and quite a bit of fun. This is why they have so many players.

    So these WoW players who were used to such a good experience found that AoC lacked that. Once the newness wore off they got quickly fed up and migrated back to WoW. This has only been increased by the release of the Wrath of the Lich King which brings a ton of new content in to the game.

    What many MMO companies don't seem to understand is that WoW has really raised the bar. Used to be that MMOs pretty much sucked in many ways. Thus when you released a new one, it could have a lot of problems and people would still be interested. Not anymore. WoW is solid and brings a lot to the table, and has a ton of subscribers because of it. If you are going to take WoW on, you need to be strong out of the gate. They days of Everquest are gone, where basically you could just release a game that didn't punish players and people would play it (EQ was notoriously hard on it's players). Now you have to compete with a game that is polished, customizable (via LUA scripts), easy to get started in and quite a bit of fun to many people.

    To the extent lesser quality games can compete, it'll be in areas that WoW doesn't do. For example Warhammer Online may have a good chance since it focuses on PvP in a way and on a scale that WoW doesn't. However if you game is basically meant to be a direct target at WoW's market, as AoC seemed to be, well then you'd better be damn good, or you are likely to get swept aside.

    I know a number of people who play WoW and try AoC. As of now over 90% of them have canceled their AoC accounts and the couple who haven't don't play it much, they just haven't decided to quit yet. None of them left WoW for AoC for good, or have even made AoC their primary game.

    • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:15AM (#25987361)

      You've got a many, many good points there.

      This is the most important one for game designers to absorb:

      What many MMO companies don't seem to understand is that WoW has really raised the bar.

      With these as a close seconds:

      WoW really is a slick game. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but polished and quite a bit of fun.

      Now you have to compete with a game that is polished ...

      I think a lot of the companies know that WoW has raised the bar. I know that they haven't quite come to grasps with exactly how high that bar has been raised and how high customer expectations are, especially if customer is or was a WoW player.

      I think they fail to understand the level of polish and functionality that experienced players have come to expect, especially regarding the user interface and related systems. If there is something in the user interface or related systems that is clunky and unwieldy to use the players will know it, and they'll let you know about it by complaining. You have to pay attention when they inform you of these shortcomings and address them.

      Failure to address these sort of complaints will quickly snowball into great dissatisfaction, especially if there are many such things in the user interface that elicit such complaints.

      Your gameplay can be great fun but no matter how fun it is if the user interface and related systems are as unwieldy as trying to type a novel while wearing mittens it will leave players frustrated, and frustrated players will eventually leave.

      Any MMO hoping to succeed these days has to have a well thought out, well working, polished user interface (encompassing player controls, system and control configuration setup, chat system, and mail system if you have one) or it will immediately disappoint players who are used to better. Forget the actual gameplay itself. If your user interface falls far short of what is expected then your gameplay, no matter how fun, simply won't make up for it.

      Turing word: inferior
      In a sentence: If your user interface is inferior then your game is inferior.

      • People seem to be missing a key point:

        When WoW came out, it sucked too. We look at WoW with these rose colored glasses, forgetting the 4- and 5-digit queues to enter servers, servers down for days at a time, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

        And you know why we've forgotten them? BECAUSE THEY FIXED THE PROBLEM.

        That's the real killer here. Tabula Rasa, AO, Vanguard, etc. failed and died because they couldn't, or wouldn't fix their mistakes. Age of Conan is heading down that same road, and in all honestly, they'r
      • Maybe you can pull your heads out of your butts! I am so glad you lost the rights to SWG!
      • "Your gameplay can be great fun but no matter how fun it is if the user interface and related systems are as unwieldy as trying to type a novel while wearing mittens it will leave players frustrated, and frustrated players will eventually leave." Exactly, I couldn't even make it through the starting area of Tabula Rasa because of the mitten factor. AoC was on my list to try, but the heavy system requirements would have meant an entirely new computer, so I passed on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Infernon (460398) *

      You make an excellent point. I am one of the WoW players you're talking about.

      When I purchased AoC, installed it and started it for the very first time, I was really disappointed at what appeared to be a pay-to-play beta. I stuck with it for about two more weeks before canceling my subscription and heading back to WoW.

      It should also be mentioned that the game runs horribly on high-end hardware and doesn't make use of SLI. The worst part about it was being a fan of the original books and waiting for this

      • Can I humbly recommend LOTRO? Its very WOW-like, but prettier and somewhat slicker. My coworkers and I have all switched over, and are quite happy with a new world to explore.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by strudslev (1150171)
      Wow. You must not be an active WoW player, since you are not bashing the game or its developers. I completely agree with your though.
      • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:37AM (#25989235)

        I know that was sacrcasm, but I must way: WoTLK has surpassed my expectations in a major way. The Burning Crusade was just a joke compared to it. For the first time in a long, long time I've found myself actually interested in the story lines behind many of the quests. There are still a few of the "Kill 12 Super Snow Bears" quests around, but even a lot of those have some purpose behind them.

        The whole issue with Malygos is great. The Worgen story in Grizzly Hills. Almost everything that happens in Dragonblight. The Death Knight starting quests. It's all just great. Heck I'm a few bars away from level 78 and have still only stepped foot into half the zones - I just don't want to leave any of them until I've done all the quests there are to do.

        The the flip side it seems like all raiding has been "simplified", so I'm thinking a full clear of the content will be fairly trivial, so despite it being so much better out the gate, my interest in WoTLK will likely fade within 6-7 months. Still, this is certainly enjoyable for the time being.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          Yea. They have upgraded quests from, "collect 20 beaver testicles." to "101 ways collect 20 beaver testicles."

          SPOILER ALERT: Also the whole, crapping in an outhouse quest then digging through your crap for the seeds was, umm, very comical. I play a GIRL character, you know Guy In Real Life, and man could she tear up that outhouse.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by bonch (38532)

          Wrath of the Lich King has some neat moments, but it's killed when you start to come across the same "Kill X of Y" quests of the last four years. The game is very imbalanced right now as well. Warlocks are nearly debilitated in damage and survivability, and elemental shamans are hurting. Retribution paladins and arcane mages are dominating the landscape because of their ridiculous burst damage.

          In PvE, Blizzard created redundant buffs between classes so that there is no longer a special reason to bring a

          • by brkello (642429)
            Warhammer got old to me very quick. The PvE in that just doesn't come close to WoW. I think the PvP was superior, but it gets boring pretty quickly as well. I realized that Warhammer was essentially an MMORPG TF2 that was less fun than TF2. The only way it was fun was when I was playing with my brother and we both just lost interest fairly quickly.

            Also, after the colorful world of WoW, Warhammer looked gray and dull. The animation it had for animals were hideous. Every person in each class of the sam
    • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cocoa Radix (983980) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @09:03AM (#25987645) Homepage

      Well, what they quickly found out was that AoC isn't a very well done game. WoW really is a slick game. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but polished and quite a bit of fun. This is why they have so many players.

      While I don't play WoW right now, I have played a bit in the past (but only to the mid-thirties). I will agree with you wholeheartedly that it is not a perfect game (again, only made it to the mid-thirties), but that it is probably the single slickest game made that is also on such a grand scale.

      I didn't realize this, however, until I played on some free servers in an attempt to accelerate my leveling just to see what some of the game's later areas were like. Maybe I was playing on a particularly bad "fast leveling" server, but I could tell that such an interruption to the game's delicate balance really wrecked everything.

      I'd be at level one, with zero experience accumulated, and it'd be awesome to kill that first wolf or boar (or whatever woodland critter that I'd be fucking frightened to see in my backyard) and shoot up eight levels and collect sixty gold.

      However, this immediately nullifies the usefulness of all quests in the area, so you're stuck with traveling already. And then as soon as you get to enemies who will shell out experience, you realize that all of your attacks are missing and you're getting pounded, because you skipped eight levels' worth of weapon/defense proficiency growth. Since you nullified the usefulness of all of your earlier quests, you're stuck grinding. Immediately.

      Basically, I'm just trying to say that WoW's slickness comes from the developers' strict attention to balance -- even the player economy in WoW is a pretty beautiful thing.

      I've been trying to find another MMORPG to play so that I don't have to be another "WoW junkie," but I don't know how successful I'll be. I haven't tried AoC, and after RTFAs, I won't. I'm currently playing Lord of the Rings Online, but I can't help but think that it's nothing more than WoW wrapped in Middle-Earth. And the player base is vastly smaller, so finding people to group with can be a chore.

      I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Guild Wars 2, however, because the original Guild Wars is such a phenomenal game...once you get past the fact that games with no monthly fee attract a lot of idiots, and idiots don't handle the character customization that GW gives you very well...

      • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Diss Champ (934796) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:00AM (#25988811)

        I play LOTRO and Eve. LOTRO is a bit more than WoW in Middle-Earth- I got bored in WoW & Guild Wars a lot faster- but then I have a good kinship, which is key to any game of that type and didn't hook up with as good a bunch in WoW. Still, I like the quests, deeds, crafting, etc better in LOTRO than WoW but I can see how WoW would appeal to some. Both WoW and LOTRO are primarily PVE games with uninteresting PVP, but the PVE is well flavored. I haven't picked up Moria yet, but I hear very good things from my kinship about it; the legendary weapons (weapons that can level) seem to be a hit. LOTRO is what I play if I want to just relax with no consequences to screwing up.

        Eve is a totally different monster. Excellent in-game economy. High stakes PVP. Everything important is player driven. The PVE is not particularly developed. The game is very much what you make of it- and the reason it is a niche game is that these characteristics appeal to some and make others feel like they are doing something too much work to be a game- or they reduce their risk by finding a boring corner of the game and get bored there. If you make bad decisions you can lose a lot of stuff- that's the double-edged sword that gives PVP adrenaline and pain.

        AoC buzz was like it was gonna be a PVP game. Instead, they didn't really finish it enough for me to tell what it could have been- at least based on the bit of time I tried it before going back to LOTRO and Eve.

        • Eve is a totally different monster. Excellent in-game economy. High stakes PVP. Everything important is player driven. The PVE is not particularly developed. The game is very much what you make of it- and the reason it is a niche game is that these characteristics appeal to some and make others feel like they are doing something too much work to be a game- or they reduce their risk by finding a boring corner of the game and get bored there. If you make bad decisions you can lose a lot of stuff- that's the double-edged sword that gives PVP adrenaline and pain.

          CCP really has a great business model with EVE, charge $20 for the client, downloadable from the website, and free expansions 2-3 times a year. The EVE universe is set up such that they will never need to make an EVE-2, they can simply keep updating the existing system. They have the intelligence to make the client download actually include all the updates, so you aren't stuck installing, downloading the expansion, installing, and the downloading the patch, and installing. I can have a fresh, fully up to

          • by brkello (642429)
            An Eve expansion is nothing like a WoW expansion. Eve expansions are just like WoW updates. It adds some small amount of content and a few new mechanisms. WoW expansions add huge amount of content to the game that completely change game mechanics and experience. Eve is still the same game it always was except now you can salvage wrecks or now they have new models for their ships. Missions are still as boring as they ever were. People are still sitting around gates and ganking. The reason why you can
        • I'm glad to hear from another LOTRO player. I'm only just now getting to the twenties, and I have no plans on stopping for at least a little while, so it's encouraging to hear that the upcoming thirty-plus levels have something good to offer.

          I will agree that LOTRO's crafting is better than WoW's. Too many WoW players seems to pick herbalism and mining (or whatever they're called) as professions and just sell stuff to the people who are actually taking the time to craft useful items/weapons/armor. I like

      • Or, ya'know, just play WoW as you appear to have liked the experience. It's just a game.
    • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @09:06AM (#25987679) Homepage Journal

      What is surprising is how so few companies appear to "get it". You want to make an MMORPG that can survive in the Age of WoW? Simple. Do everything that WoW does first, then build on that (e.g. player built content, dynamic content, etc.).

      We saw the same thing with the FPS genre where tons of games were released that actually moved the field *backward* (e.g. games with no AI players in multiplayer mode, games that featured no -- or restricted -- controller customization(!), etc.)

      The state of the gaming industry is unbearable to watch nowadays. It's like everyone is rushing to push out garbage, relying on IP laws and Digital Restrictions Management software to secure income.

      And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

      • No, copying WoW might bring medium success, but if you want to beat WoW you'll need to raise the bar even higher, which might involve completely different tactics than WoW. Change is exciting, and if and when one comes along that is a wholly different game it may well usurp WoW. I doubt any clone with addons will.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        What is surprising is how so few companies appear to "get it". You want to make an MMORPG that can survive in the Age of WoW? Simple. Do everything that WoW does first, then build on that (e.g. player built content, dynamic content, etc.).

        No. It makes more sense to build something that appeals to people who didn't like WoW. Do something different.

        And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

        Try Radiant Dawn on the Wii.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by bonch (38532)

        Please, no. Don't do what WoW does. WoW is seriously flawed. It's popular because of slick graphics and controls. It's the Myspace of MMOs.

        In my opinion, Warhammer has already pushed things forward with innovations like Public Quests.

      • http://www.lasersquadnemesis.com/ [lasersquadnemesis.com] is made by the guys who made x-com, and with additional stuff like online play available.
      • by cluke (30394)

        And, dammit, when is someone gonna make a new, *good*, squad-based, tactical turn-based game like X-COM or Jagged Alliance again?

        Check out Valkyria Chronicles, if you have a PS3. It could be exactly what you want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365)

      I know a number of people who play WoW and try AoC. As of now over 90% of them have canceled their AoC accounts and the couple who haven't don't play it much, they just haven't decided to quit yet. None of them left WoW for AoC for good, or have even made AoC their primary game.

      I'm the opposite: AoC is now (still) my primary game. I have tried numerious other MMORPGs, and liked quite a few of them (SWG and LOTRO come to mind), but every time I have tried to get into WoW, I hated it. For some reason that

      • I guess I'm some kind of mutant hybrid. I played WoW a few years back (I quit the month 1.7 was rolled out and my rogue was nerfed) for about 2 months. Only got to 58 and never cared. Got the bug again a year later, but went to guild wars instead.

        I tried AoC. Hated that too. The fact that I could run around topless on a female toon was a poor substitute for actual gameplay. The combat system sucked, and after the third logout because I got inescapably stuck behind a laundry basket or something... yeah.

        So Ao

    • by AutumnLeaf (50333)

      I jumped into Warhammer Online (WAR) to check it out. There were many things I liked about the game. The greenskin starting zone was a riot - very comedic quest descriptions and characterizations. The Public Quests were brilliant ideas to me until I realized that I'd falling behind the leveling zerg rush and suddenly the zones were empty and I couldn't do them.

      But what turned me off the most in the game were two polish issues.

      1) When mobs "aggrod" on a player, they would engage their run animation and cl

  • Kind of silly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tridus (79566) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:09AM (#25987329) Homepage

    NCSoft was publically adamant that Tabula Rasa development would continue too, right up until they weren't. MMO companies are always like that, they need to maintain the illusion that everything is fine even while the ship sinks.

    Funcom botched this in spectacular fashion. I can't wait for the day when they get DX10 in and can finally say "Age of Conan: now all the features listed on the box actually exist!" Only seven months later too!

    Bottom line is that games that release in this poor a state deserve to fail. It's a good lesson for other game companies. Release crap every beta tester tells you isn't ready, and pay for it.

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      I don't think DX10 was AoC's problem though. :p DX10 is just a technology, it doesn't even say anything about how it's used. Besides, I don't think the problem was even in the graphics. Just that it was boring. So, well, the only problem with missing DX10 was the one of less trust in the company. But I don't think that was why so many left the game either. Again, I think it was because the game was boring.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bottom line is that games that release in this poor a state deserve to fail. It's a good lesson for other game companies. Release crap every beta tester tells you isn't ready, and pay for it.

      This is sad, but true. Part of the reason that WoW is so popular and well-received is because of Blizzard's approach to releasing games. They publicly say a game will be released "when it's done", never sooner. They've developed a great track record with their games and have the bar set pretty high when it comes to expansions or new versions (diablo III, starcraft 2, etc...).

      I'm sure we'd see a lot more quality games if parent companies weren't so concerned about quantity over quality. Games are expensive t

    • NCSoft was publically adamant that Tabula Rasa development would continue too, right up until they weren't. MMO companies are always like that, they need to maintain the illusion that everything is fine even while the ship sinks.

      But they are still developing even though they've admitted the ship is sinking. They pushed a new release to the test server this week [rgtr.com].

    • Bottom line is that games that release in this poor a state deserve to fail. It's a good lesson for other game companies. Release crap every beta tester tells you isn't ready, and pay for it.

      One they apparently are unwilling to learn, again, and again, and again.

      I am done with MMORPGs. At least until WoW2 or World of Starcraft or Diablo Online.

      If you are looking for some MMO entertainment without the endless class imbalances, boring raids, and repetitious treadmill; if you just want to blow stuff up, then I suggest an MMORTS. One I am currently playing is Beyond Protocol. Fresh out the gate and has a few kinks to work out, but infinitely more polished than any of the garbage MMORPG I have se

  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:16AM (#25987363) Homepage Journal
    I played the game for less than a month at launch before quitting, but came back with my wife for a couple of months recently before cancelling once again. My wife and I had a really great time playing together, actually.

    A huge part of our enjoyment was thanks to our awesome guild. The 18+ subscribership (due to the game being rated M) is a real boon. At 30 and 25 my wife and I were the youngest in our guild and were made very welcome as we participated in conversations about our guildies' jobs, children, and even grandchildren.

    If you've got someone to play with I highly recommend checking this game out for at least a couple of months. The game is pretty stable (but not entirely) and is undoubtedly the most attractive MMO there's ever been. The scenery alone makes the world a true pleasure to inhabit; as a Canadian I felt especially at home in the tundra.
    • I forgot to mention why I quit again after 2 months. I got my new main up to lvl 72 and felt like I'd pretty much seen the whole game. There are two areas for lvls 70-80 and I'd scoured them pretty thoroughly. I didn't feel motivated to replay any of the areas I'd already mastered with this one character which left pretty much nothing in the entire world for me to discover anew.

      I'll definitely check out an expansion pack but until then I'm done.
      • 2 areas? There are 10 areas [wowhead.com] in Wrath of the Lich King.
        • spyrochaete didn't say anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if he also played World of Warcraft and just burned out on it.

          Maybe I have attention problems, but it's exceedingly rare for me to play any PC game for 20 hours before I am bored to tears. Playing WoW month after month never worked for me. So playing Age of Conan 1 month here and 2 months there might.
          • When I couldn't stand my friends' nagging any longer I bought 3 months of WoW a couple of years ago. I played for about 5 weeks and uninstalled it. It's a fine game but it's not the game for me.

            I enjoyed AoC much, much more - partly because my wife joined me, partly because the graphics are so much better, partly because the writing and tone of the game are much darker and more mature and primal, and partly because all players are 18+.
            • "and partly because all players are 18+"

              You really believe that matters?

              a.) there are a lot of parents that don't care and would allow their children to play. "Here johnny, here's the credit card, go ahead and sign up".
              b.) I've met more than my fair share of immature 18+'rs.

              • Yes, I believe it matters immensely. The average AoC player is mature, polite, and accommodating. I can't say the same about any other MMO I've played. AoC is the only MMO rated M so from what I've seen that's the game more mature players flock to.
        • To be fair, WotLK is an expansion pack with nothing but high level content. AoC is just the base game.
      • by illumin8 (148082)

        I forgot to mention why I quit again after 2 months. I got my new main up to lvl 72 and felt like I'd pretty much seen the whole game. There are two areas for lvls 70-80 and I'd scoured them pretty thoroughly. I didn't feel motivated to replay any of the areas I'd already mastered with this one character which left pretty much nothing in the entire world for me to discover anew.

        I'll definitely check out an expansion pack but until then I'm done.

        Unfortunately, that's the reason that I quit as well. The game

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree. Our guild met up in real life and had key party. Can't do that with a bunch of 17 year old dudes. (Unless you're CmdrTaco :)

  • I was an anarchy online player. I've seen how those dumbasses at funcom operate. LEt's not be coy here : AO was broken for a YEAR post release until they finally found most of the memory leaks. and i've seen the way they treated their customer base, how they fixed balance issues, and actually couldn't even be bothered to have a paid staff to do events in a MMORPG world, instead relying on free slave wage from incredible players who would become ARKS ( Player helpers ) and still had to fill petitions betwe

    • Yeah, I played AO too, for all of a month before I gave up on it. What a train wreck.

      I've heard AoC stands for "Anarchy Online Continued".

    • I'm not an MMO player by any means but I bought AoC because of Funcom's reputation with single player games. With this expectation I was, in part, extremely satisfied. I'd played The Longest Journey and Dreamfall prior to hearing about AoC, and I was not at all disappointed with the calibre of writing used to justify performing menial tasks in ordinary quests.

      However, as you say, LullySing, the stability of the game and the absence of features promised on the box are what drove me away. I just wasn't
    • by unity100 (970058)

      They are cheap bastards, used to shipping unfinished items to the market, and i really didn't think they would stop on this bullshit behavior for a new game. And while everyone was laughing at me then, look at them now. " Oh, wow just came out with an expansion, I'm going back". Yeah yeah, go kill six snow mooses now [penny-arcade.com], go.

      please dont bullshit without having an idea on what you talk about, just like the jerk in the article.

      im playing games since 1982, zx spectrum. i've seen c64 days, 486 days, golden age of gaming, mmos. i played swg, wow, aoc. and therefore im VERY hard to please.

      and i can say that northrend is like nothing you speak of, its clearly a labor of love. the mere content in wyrmrest temple in dragonblight, which supposedly constitutes 1/4 of that SINGLE zone out of 10, is much more than the content in previ

      • by dcowart (13321)

        I'm going to second that. Wrath is very nicely done. The graphics are visually arresting. The quests aren't just kill six snow moose, it's go kill 10 crazed dwarfs and crack open their skulls to see if their brains are rotten... and I'm all for the skull cracking.

        Blizz learned a lot from the BC expansion and definitely made this one better. I am a fan of WoW and have been playing for three years now. I often take breaks from it to play steam games, but no other MMO has offered anything remotely like it

        • by rcuhljr (1132713)
          One more agreement, Northrend has been excellent, especially quest triggered in game cinematics.
    • I remember when Anarchy Online came out, it was pretty obvious that FunCom had run out of development money, so they decided to release a beta product, and use the retail sales to fund the development work needed to get the game anywhere near a release standard.

      For months, large numbers of items you would loot would show up in your inventory as "NoName", because they hadn't finished populating the item details into the database. Cities that had more than a handful people in them at a time would cause your

  • by Roogna (9643) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:46AM (#25989365)

    Back when it first launched, like so many others, my wife and I gave AoC a try. When we canceled our accounts about a week later we gave them a whole list of very simple technical issues that the game had that made it basically impossible to play. Things like, getting to close to a wall and your character would "hook" on the wall and get stuck. Or the complete inability to switch characters without logging all the way out.

    All these companies trying to compete with Blizzard are missing the one thing Blizzard has done well. Refinements. Oh WoW as a game isn't perfect, but what it is, is imminently playable (in a UI perspective) from the moment you open it up.

  • First, I'm not surprised what happened to AoC. They decided to push out the game early because of WAR and WOW and paid the consequences. A lot of the stuff in game was half assed, just so they could have the checkbox ticked on their list. Other parts were amazing but overall a disappointment.

    Second, in reading the comments I see all these comparisons to other MMOs as to why AoC failed but one is conspicuously missing: Warhammer Online.

    Maybe its an anomaly, but most of the people I come into contact with

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @12:20PM (#25989929)

    For different reasons.

    Blizzard wants the gold from the safe.
    SOE is interested in the technology.
    Funcom wants the board orchestra that kept playing 'til the end.

  • It got really dull, really fast.

    I also found that the entire world was just full of idiot gankers. People who found it hilarious to kill me after i've just worked my way through 20 minutes of fighting down a hallway to get to a specific person for a quest.

    The most annoying thing is, at the time i quit, there was no incentive to kill anyone as there was no pvp reward system in place. PVP experience? Didn't exist. PVP Renown gear? Didn't exist.

    But it was just a big massive free for all. You couldn'
  • TR and AoC fail for the same reason: Both were released before they were done.

    Now, don't get me wrong, MMOs are hardly ever really "done". And publishers feel like they needn't be, because, hey, people have to be online anyway to play them, so you can finish them while people already pay for them. A publisher's dream: Actually getting paid for finishing the game.

    Doesn't really work out that way, though. WoW succeeded for two very simple reasons: First and foremost, the IP was well known. Warcraft was a name

  • I wanted to enjoy the game, but there were plenty of problems.
    1. Gathering skills. You must get these impossibly rare drops from your gathering skills to continue to the next level of gathering. I gathered over 300 cotton looking for that rare drop. It never happened. I might have been able to justify it if I could have reasonably sold the cotton. The auction house system was too flawed to justify selling the cotton in this fashion.

    2. Lack of choice. Once you hit level 50, you have one and only o
  • Changes. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @02:45PM (#25992347)

    I wonder if all these cancellations are ever going to bring about an anti-MMO backlash. Every game out there seems to launch with a flood of issues, bugs, class imbalance and missing content. And to make things worse it really stinks to be stuck with a copy of a game that is completely unplayable when the servers have been shut down.

    A looming threat I see to MMOs beyond WoW are the Chinese and Korean MMOs, like the one I currently see advertised on this site. They tend to all be somewhat generic, offer little more than intensive grind and don't quite have the production values of the big names. But they have two important distinctions; they offer an Asian perspective on the fantasy theme and, more importantly, they're practically free to play. To some extent, they've taken the Guild Wars model and have added micro-payments.

    I think City of Heroes is a good example of what a successful MMO given the competition. They've been around for over 4 years now and they seem to have a fairly stable player base. They've got a unique theme, first of all. Additionally, instead of trying to do everything they focused on a core set of gameplay elements. I haven't played the game in a few years now, but I still think they had the most entertaining combat system of any MMO I've played, by far. It's the closest I've seen come to an action game where I feel like I'm actually engaged in the fight as opposed to just sitting there waiting for one of us to go down.

    Developers need to stop trying to recreate World of Warcraft with only cosmetic differences. Secondly, they need to seriously consider whether or not it's actually worthwhile investing all that time and money into a game that will likely fail in the end. Of course they all have high hopes early in development, because of unrealistic expectations and overly ambitious goals. My hope is that we start seeing more single-player and limited multiplayer RPGs. And I'd also like to see a stronger shift away from the tired old fantasy theme.

    • I think a huge problem with the MMO scene is that you only need one MMO on your gaming roster. They keep you entertained for a long time, much longer than most other genres/games. People see the success of Everquest or World of Warcraft and think "awesome, I've gotta make one", realising too late that their target audience is already enjoying their MMO of choice and has no reason to shift to the new one.

      The only chance a new MMO has is to be better than what currently exists on the market, which becom
  • by duckInferno (1275100) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:06PM (#25993559) Journal
    Every single game released before it was ready has underperformed or outright failed.

    The best games ever released had a specific mandate of "don't release until it's ready", that's in terms of fun and sales performance, and has also increased the reputation of the developers/publishers as folks who make good games.

    So why then, going on a decade since this simple formula was first proven, do execs still insist on rushing out unfinished impending failures?
    • by TOGSolid (1412915)
      "Developers need to stop trying to recreate World of Warcraft with only cosmetic differences." Absolutely, and that's why all these new MMOs keep crashing and burning. They're trying to cash in on WoW but when their target audience goes to check it out, they realize quickly that WoW is still better and go back to the same ole same ole.

      WAR is a good case in point of this. Now, at first I was one of the WAR fanboys. The game really did seem to provide an alternate choice to WAR with more focus on PVP a
    • Duke Nukem Forever
  • I'm back to dabbling with Wrath of the Lich King, but I have to say WoW combat is still hugely boring after AoC combat. I enjoyed that a lot - didn't do PvP, so any imbalances weren't an issue. It was also very nice to have mature subject matter and dialogue (which means it's occasionally juvenile as well, but that's acceptable).

    What killed it for me is pretty much as was said. Once you get off Tortage, content takes a giant plunge. Once you hit L60 or so there's far too much grinding (I didn't have to grin

  • With all the buzz about the sheer buggyness in this game, people simply don't want to part with their cash before they've had a taste first. For the love of god, put in a 7 day free trial, maybe then people will play your game!

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray

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