The title of this article is a question posed by a member of our AoC guild. The trigger for this question was that he and 3 others were waiting for a slow-spawning boss for a quest. They were standing near the spawn waiting when the boss spawned and a solo player immediately got to it and tagged it. So their group had to wait I don’t know how long for the boss to respawn, when the “offending” player could have just asked into the group and they all could have had it. It seems like this sort of antisocial behavior has been growing more prevalent in recent years. It’s not a new phenomenon though. I remember being a dark elf enchanter in Everquest and there was a guy (not a dark elf) killing guards inside Neriak. As I ran past him, I got a tell; “Give me Clarity.” Excuse me? “Effing give me Clarity!” Umm, I don’t want to. This resulted in a huge string of profanity directed at me. If he had been even a little courteous I would have surely buffed him. As it was, not so much.
Courtesy was much more common, and even expected, in Everquest than it is in today’s games though. I think one of the factors is where players come from today vs. what my circle of friends’ gaming background was when we started.
I have a theory (this should scare you.)
It’s been a little while since I wrote about AoC and what’s going on there. A lot has changed as I see it so let’s get started;
First of all, I understand that the game isn’t for everyone. I don’t understand the hate that is going around about the game though. There are some definite annoyances in the game. It still crashes and hitches too much. Not nearly as much as in the open beta but enough to make your blood boil at times. There are harvesting bugs, quest bugs (some of them just plain don’t work) and other kinds of bugs all over the game. That being said, it’s still very playable and Funcom is patching twice a week trying to get on top of it. As long as there is progress then I think it’s worth playing, more so than anything else I can think of right now.
According to a press release at FunCom Age of Conan is the number one PC release currently going. It’s been interesting to watch how it’s been received here in the “blogosphere” with some blogs panning it, some praising it, and blogs like mine liking it but expressing concerns.
With the negatives that have gone along with this title from the get-go you would think that it wouldn’t have had this kind of initial success. Here is what the release has to say;
In Germany, Age of Conan is #1 on all-format and PC, while the console-orientated UK market has Conan as #2 on the all-format charts, only beaten by the GTA 4 juggernaut. The game is the biggest launch for a PC title this year in the UK with a firm # 1 placement on the PC charts, and the game had the biggest ever MMO launch – outside of the World of Warcraft franchise. In Sweden and Norway, Age of Conan storms in as #1 on both PC and all-formats, while contributing to making it the biggest week for PC games in 2008. In Spain and Italy, Age of Conan reigns the PC chart, while the Australians sends the game to #1 on PC and #2 on all-formats. That Age of Conan had a chance of conquering PC charts were known, that it competes in the all-format charts come as a pleasant surprise.
You guys know I started out as skeptical on Age of Conan. Very skeptical. I’m still concerned about some issues in the game. Like most (all) new MMO’s it’s far from perfect. But I’ve got a small group of people that have guilded up and we’re enjoying the game.
So here’s what I want to do. if you want to buuld a guild city in AoC, you need a few things. You need a guild leader that is level 40. I’m most of the way there, just a couple clicks from 34. You need a ton of resources and some level 40’s that will take up the crafting professions. And you need 24 members. Now our little guild is made up of some pretty dedicated players. Everyone in the guild at the moment lives near me and is either someone I’ve played with in other games or gamer friends of those people. We’re going to build a guild city.
Let me start by saying that I was not in the beta and have only my limited “live” game experience on which to base these ramblings. I would hope that they are going to be working on the issues and will get them fixed. The opinions expressed are solely the opinion of the writer.
So much for the disclaimer…
Genda and I spent most of the weekend playing AoC. Game play seems to break down like this;
1. Get up early and make a few harvesting runs.
2. Once we start running into more and more people harvesting, go out in the world and experience play to lvl.
Notes on Harvesting:
I like the harvesting being in a separate, instanced zone. We spent quite a bit of time roaming the Purple Lotus Swamp this weekend and I really enjoyed it. By mixing random mob spawns in with the harvesting grind, it keeps you on your toes. I would imagine it also keeps people from running harvesting bots (a serious consideration since the nodes are not randomly situated). Both good things in my book.
Over at Chez Grouchy we have a week of AoC under our belts. In spite of a bad case of Alt-itis (and the fact that we got GTA4 this weekend and have been messing with that and yeah, I know I’m a latecomer) we’ve got a couple of characters out of Tortage and off exploring the rest of the world. Tarkheena and I are both explorer/stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of players so it’s not surprising that we haven’t hit the level cap just yet. I wanted to share some thoughts with you all on what we have seen and what our experience has been so far.
Funcom is reporting that there have been 400,000 units sold (and presumably activated) in the past week. That’s a pretty good week by almost any definition. Even with all of those players the launch went pretty smoothly. They even added 9 servers over the weekend to accommodate the additional players. These included 5 new PVE servers and 4 new PVP realms. With that in mind, you have to give Funcom’s launch high marks for being catastrophe-free. You’d have to say that overall their launch is one of the smoother ones we’ve seen.
So I’ve been challenged. Some of my readers have read my beta impressions and let me know that wasn’t how it was going to be once the game went live. Like an underachieving basketball team, they are going to flip the switch on launch day and be great. That may be. I wasn’t planning on finding out for myself on this one. But my journalistic integrity has been challenged and so I went out and bought two shiny copies of Age of Conan. I’ll be playing the game, at least for a while, and I’ll post here what I find.
The actual go-live for the US servers went reasonably well, after a three hour delay. Well, a two hour delay followed by a one hour delay. But I digress. Once they went live I did the patch. This was substantial since the game went Gold a month or so ago and there have been 2 magic patches since. OK, I’ll drop the snark. For today. Honestly, the patch went pretty well, if not speedy, and before too long the live servers were up. I was able to make a character and get into the game. I only played him up to about level 6, I think it was, before I had to log. For the most part everything was working for me. Of course, this part went well for me in the Open Beta too, so it’s too early to tell. It certainly didn’t seem like their login servers were being taxed, and that is a very good sign.
This weekend, the folks at FunCom changed up the beta stress test a little bit. Any characters you had previously made were buffed to 20, give level-appropriate gear, and set out into the world to see their racial home city and set out into the wilds. So there are basically two separate tests going on; the level 1-13 noob experience, and the new 20 + free to roam and quest portion. One other important thing: PVP is on in the outside world. Once you leave a city, you are in a kill or be killed environment.
I hope that old colloquialism isn’t lost on my audience, but doing that to someone’s Corn Flakes basically means that you set out to ruin their day. It’s pretty evident that even as the pace of development at Blizzard seems to have settled in at a snail’s pace, they still have folks working in Marketing who are pretty aware of what is going on around them.
Not content with having a plus-50% market share of the world-wide MMO market, Blizzard has broken their deafening silence and is starting to announce some of the content and features of their upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion. All this less than two weeks before AoC ships. Some of AoC’s perceived shortcomings have been documented here. Blizzard wanted to you think about that, and also let you know that, hey, raiding is more accessible under WotLK! You can read about the shiny new features over at GameSpy.
Bildo has a link up on his site to an interview with OaC Product Directory Jorgen Thoraldsen from MMORPG.com where he attempts to shed some light on the widely-reported (and whined about) problems with the AoC open beta client. He asserts that the client is not, in fact, an old one as asserted by the fan community;
And yes, I have seen the same rumors that it’s old, but it’s not entirely true. We tried to include the best we had on a stable approach, but in our eagerness to please we wanted to get a few additional fixes out (hence we pushed the launch back a couple of hours). In order to reach the May 1st date some of those fixes led to unwanted side-effects which weren’t discovered in time. For some, it got a bit rockier than we wanted. We are running an extensive survey now, and from the first few hundred replies (which should be statistically correct), it seems that most people are actually having tons of fun AND good performance. We are humble about it though, and admit that things could have gone smoother, but the experience some people have had now has helped us to improve for launch, which is what really matters.
I’ve had the AoC client installed for a few days now, and in the interest of testing I’ve installed it on the two best gaming machines at Chez Grouchy. I continued to have in-game bug issues on my machine. I was doing a quest, died, resurrected and came back to a totally unpopulated instance, for example. I had to exit the instance to reset it, and start the quest over. I still have mobs that I can’t hit and that can’t hit me until I reposition them. I’m finding other bugs too, but that is what I do for a living, and many of them make the game less than playable. At the very least, they are jarring and remove me from the game experience.
On the positive side, the game is beautiful. It feels a little claustrophobic, as Enochos mentioned in his comment to the previous post I did on AoC. I like the characters, the classes (for the most part,) and even the somewhat odd combat system. I can see how the combat system does bring some skill back to playing an MMO. The music and the voice acting are also pretty darn good. The artistic parts of the game are polished, and it has a lot to recommend it.