I have decided to write a post and address the controversy surrounding AoC’s Open Beta Client being “much older” than the Closed Beta Client — rumor has it that the open beta client is even older than the Gamespot PvP Weekend Client. Since the NDA was dropped for the 1-13 content for both open and closed beta, I decided to log into my closed beta account and test the differences between the clients for myself.
After testing the game for a few hours with the closed beta client and repeatedly going over the areas in Tortage where I had problems (I seriously zoned in and out of that Inn 20x times) I have decided that it must be true. I did not experience a single CTD, crash, memory leak, or disconnect (reading my OB writeup you’ll see I had dozens of problems every few minutes). The game ran smoother and performed far better than Open Beta Client. While some of this is definitely attributed to less people being in a single area together, it can not be dismissed that the closed client is indeed better. The ONLY problems that I found in the closed beta client were the load times and stalling — but they are supposedly on purpose or with reason.
What does this mean? This means that Funcom made a huge mistake by using an old botched pos client for their Ope Beta. This was a mistake of epic proportions. Why release an old and bugged client when the problems it faces have already been resolved? That negates the need for testing. Why expose 50,000+ people to bugs, glitches, exploits, memory leaks, and shoddy code when such problems are non-existent in a newer client? That works against marketing, reviews, and building hype. And most importantly why in the name of Crom would you not at the very least make official reference to this fact? Someone needs to be fired.
One of the most widely acknowledged cardinal rules of mmorpgs has been completely ignored here. You only get one first impression. And Funcom, you have botched that first impression. I’m lucky. I have the opportunity to test the 1-13 play in closed beta and realize that it’s practically a different set of code. But thousands upon thousand of others do not.
I’ve said it already a dozen times, Age of Conan’s gameplay is fun. It has real potential. Yes, the game still needs polish and everything I said in my open beta writeup stands. But now that I have experienced the game without the horrific stability and performance I am once again leaning towards purchasing the game. I have just over two weeks to confirm that feeling. I hope Funcom comes to their senses and does more to promote their game better. It deserves it.
NOTE: I agree with Cameron Sorden in his Massively Article on this point: “I’m a hardcore gamer, and if my computer built specifically for gaming from less than a year ago has problems with this game, how can they hope to capture any significant audience?”. AoC is still going to face enormous problems pushing the bleeding edge of technology. While the game runs smoothly on low-medium settings and doesn’t crash anymore on the Closed Beta Client, it’s still less than ideal.
Disclaimer: Could these issues still exist but be less blatantly obvious? Yes. That is why I will be playing the 1-13 gameplay a dozen times over to make sure of it. Vanguard had a sneaky way of hiding its CTD’s and memory leaks. More testing is necessary.