AoC Open Beta final thoughts (Lvl 20+)

Funcom was kind enough to lift the level cap on the Open Beta servers and boost everyone up to level 20 during the last day of testing. In addition to the level boost all servers were transformed into FFA pvp servers and characters were given a set of stock blue items. I have been playing for most of the day and wanted to give you all my thoughts on two of the three areas, the PvP, and the performance of the open world in Age of Conan.

If you can’t handle reading someone’s blog and their opinion of the experiences they have while playing a game then stop reading now. TY!

—WORK IN PROGRESS—

The REAL starting areas

I knew there had to be more to Age of Conan. After suffering through some of the worst gameplay ever in a mmorpg (Tortage), finally experiencing a part of the game that felt like a true mmorpg was a relief. The world is big, open, and begging to be explored. All the more reason for me to say this: Funcom, you REALLY need to get rid of Tortage completely or make it optional. I regret that I did not make a Aquilonian. I thought I had created one but i turns out I accidentally made two Cimmerian characters. You’ll have to find someone else who experienced the first land, but here are my thoughts on two of the three.

Cimmeria – This land gave me a very big Midgard vibe. Lots of norse influence in the architecture and culture. But while playing with my Dark Templar and exploring the various towns and quest hubs I could not shake the feeling of how drab and uninspired the entire land felt. It’s incredibly bland and … bleh. I didn’t last long here. The quests I found (and I found a lot) were “Go kill 10 of this and get their teeth” and “Go kill 5 of these and get their tails”. Nothing to get excited over. After an hour and a half of exploring around and killing mobs I felt ill because of how awful the environments of Cimmeria felt. To me it was bad enough to not buy the game if that’s at all what the rest of the world is like.

Stygia – Thank you Crom! The rest of the game ISN’T like Cimmeria. Stygia is vivid, alive, and full of character. The main city feels like you’re walking the streets of Agrabah or some other Egyptian influenced city. The level of detail in Stygia is immense. Walking up the streets I would stop and look at the shop keeper’s tents and they looked lived in and real. Unfortunately this detail came at a price. I had to turn my settings way down just to be able to move on the docks.

The quests in Stygia are much better than Cimmeria. I felt like there was more of a story here and I could more easily accept that this old hermit had a vision from Set and it was my obligation to help him collect snake fangs and scorpian stingers. The lands outside the city are best compared to a harsh desert with many beautiful oases. There is a river running between the main quest hub for level 20 and the main city that you must zone across by boat. Once in the quest hub you get several quests like the one I described above.

Updated thoughts on questing after playing all day: Overall the questing I have done so far has been lifeless. If I had to pass judgment on the questing right now I would say that AoC has shallow and uninspired questing that is literally, on the level of “kill 10 rats.”

Open-world PvP on a FFA Server…

The two characters that I played most today were my Ranger and Dark Templar. Both of them performed well but the Ranger stands out as being amazing. With my hide skill maxed out I was easily able to stealth around undetected and avoid being ganked. When I wanted to fight someone it was just a matter of positioning myself in a place where the other player could not easily reach me due to pathing. My ranger was able to kill any casters in four arrows and melee’s like Guardians were not an issue. I did however have extreme difficulty killing anyone who got the jump on me and Bear Shamans in general (they out heal ranger damage easily). My Dark Templar felt middle-of-the-road and neither struggled or did very well against anyone in particular.

What I don’t like:

  • Rez point camping – People would literally camp the rez points and gank people before they could load in. This NEEDS to be addressed. I spent 15 minutes trying to get away from the Stygian rez point.
  • Griefing Questers – Griefers wait until you initiate a conversation with a NPC then gank you while you’re stuck in a quest dialog.
  • Everyone stealths – *facepalm* Much more annoying than I ever thought possible. Having a caster stealth up and drop a nuke on me is… indescribably dumb.
  • Ganking – Level 80’s can attack level 5’s and camp their rez points. In OB today level 26’s were camping level 20’s. So stupid.


What I do like:

  • Group fights – getting a group together and roaming to find other groups is actually lots of fun.
  • The sense of “danger” at all times is really an adrenaline rush.
  • PvP whenever you want it without queues, etc.


Too bad the parts I don’t like dominate and squash the parts I do. FFA PvP will be a gankfest for a long, long time. It might eventually cool off as people start to spread out in the world. Something that many FFA servers suffer from is age. As FFA servers age I find that many people form elitist clicks and the servers become ghost towns with the occasional gang war over turf. Not my cup of tea at all. I would rather play in the Border Kingdoms on a PvE server and experience city sieges, battles for resources, and as close to ‘fair’ fights as I can get.

Performance, Glitches, Bugs, Lag, etc

What happened Funcom? Open Beta originally stunk like a skunk but you patched it up and the Tortage experience was almost lag and crash free. I guess that patch didn’t address the issues in the rest of the game. PLEASE READ: DO NOT leave a comment telling me that it’s my computer’s fault. I’ve been playing mmo’s for 12 years and I can tell what is and isn’t my computer’s problem by now.

Here are the following bugs, glitches, and performance issues that I encountered:

Memory Leaks – I encountered a total of 4 memory leaks today. One in Cimmeria and three in Stygia. The one in Cimmeria was out in the valley. The three in Stygia were spread out with 2 of them being in the main city and the third at the quest hub across the river. These memory leaks would come on very quickly and drain my system memory. I would drop to 4.4 frames per second each time and then crash to desktop with a Funcom error message thing asking for feedback. My system would take about 30 seconds to recover then be fine.

Hitching/Stalling/Hanging/whatever – This was supposedly fixed in the Closed Beta and I thought it would be fixed in OB. Running around with Shaders 3.0 enabled and Dual-Cores on I stall and hitch like a … yeah. When I turn down shaders to 2.0 and set core affinity to 1 then I experience them a little less. They’re frustrating but one of the lesser evils.

General CTD’s with an Error – I CTD’d 7 times today due to unknown reasons. That’s 7 times not counting the CTD’s from memory leaks. These CTD’s were linked to an error in the game’s engine. Each CTD came up with a screen wanting feedback on the crash from Funcom. I happily obliged and filled out what I was doing which ranged from fighting a mob to running around the main city looking for quests. It feels like Vanguard. “ooOoOoo he said Vanguard!!!” Yeah, I know it’s a swear in many of your vocabularies but the only game that has come close to this is Vanguard.

Graphics Glitches – Lots of these. The worst are green and purple shades on people and buildings. The lesser of the worst would be water disappearing and characters swimming in the middle of the air. Oh, and I love sliding around the world with my arms stretched out after loot.. yeah.. that looks awesome. The funniest of the glitches is when someone would cast a spell it would send out this arc of color across the world.

Final Thoughts

I’m very pleased that AoC feels like a real mmorpg after Tortage. I hated Cimmeria but loved Stygia and truly regret not being able to see Aquilonia. All the content and areas I explored still showed signs of needing polish but that can come after release. Right now Funcom is in a terrible position for a developer to be placed in. Instead of being able to focus on improving and polishing the content of their early game, and then moving on to the late content, they’re foced to split their attention and fix performance issues and optimize their game post launch. Vanguard suffered from the same issues and only within the past few months recovered from their deficit. I’m not dooming AoC to Vanguard’s fate, not at all, just simply pointing out a very obvious pitfall that Funcom could struggle to recover from.

I’m being very critical about the performance issues because they should not exist, to this degree, in a game that is launching in one week. In my opinion the game is not ready for launch and could really have benefited from another two to four months of beta testing. But we have to play with the cards we are dealt.

After playing the game and seeing the state it’s in I won’t be subscribing past the free month if these issues exist long post launch. Regardless of how fun some of the content can be, I swore off paying to test a game long ago.

AoC Screenshots gallery: 17+ new images of the OB Lvl 20+

Videos: Cimmeria on a Dark Templar \\ Stygia on a Ranger (no sound in the videos, sorry)

  • Keen, here are 2 screenshots of Aquilonia, it was by far the most impressive of the citys.

    I didn’t get all the same performance issues as you, don’t understand that one but I don’t doubt you had them. Heres hoping the game see some improvements quickly after release though. I’d really like to know what the release client performance is going to look like. Anyway, here are the screenies.

    http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g82/rotozoomer/Sammah_picture006.png

    http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g82/rotozoomer/Sammah_picture007.png

    Also here is a very cool one of the lvl 20 aquilonian assassin armour.

    http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g82/rotozoomer/_picture001.png

  • Excellent review. I agree about ffa pvp (at least per my experience with it in past games). I do sincerely hope the technical issues are addressed quickly.

  • The FFA pvp can be a BLAST if you get a group of say 5 people and quest. I did that today, and we would run into other groups and have mini “battles”. Was always fun. Now, try and get these groups…

  • @kmxs: DANGIT! I knew Aquilonia would be awesome. It looks like exactly the place I would most want to start.

  • I wish I could give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that question Henrik. I like some of the ideas and theoretical gameplay features that have yet to be shown or experienced by anyone (City sieges, Border Kingdoms, etc). I like the beautiful environments and world of Hyboria. I like some of the very interesting class designs. But I don’t like the combat system, potential for hamster wheel pve raiding, and pvp progression system (4:1 k/d ratio to advance at all).

    I think I would have to answer that with a “sorta”, heh. I need to see more of the game to truly judge it. So far I can only judge what I have seen which is admittedly not much.

  • On the closed pvp beta servers when I played there was a 15sec or so invunerability window after a death/resurrection. So that you could not be killed or damage others, giving you a chance to stealth and move away or continue the fight. So stupid they did not put that in the open beta also.

    And also you can not get attacked while in a dialogue with a quest npc in the closed beta.

    I was playing the closed beta some 7-8 hours today and while it is certainly not perfect I only had it lock up twice (ctrl+alt+del and closed it) and I has zero memory leaks. Memory usage was around 1.2-1.5Gb all day no matter what area I was in or what I did.

    I also had none of those grinding halts in fps that I used to have before the closed beta may 7th patch. Think it was some error with the shaders they fixed.

    And I have never had to turn off any cpu on my dual AMD X2 3GHz cpu.

    Graphic glitches I have seen some though like the water is still disables in zelata so it looks like you are moving/swimming through air 😉 And a few invisible walls but mostly just minor stuff at this point.

    Anyway I hope they will get a good start on AoC because I am damn tired of playing wow and war is still many months away.

  • I’m sad to say it – considering I pre-ordered, have a guild, etc – but this might be one of those games where you buy it, play it a little bit to satisfy the craving, and then come back in 3 months or so once its polished and actually ready for play.

  • Well hopefully it turns out, not like we have a lot of options anyhow. Warhammer coming out is another crack at it if this is no good. If they both suck….

    Blizz is working on a next gen MMO. Be awesome if it was a sci fi starcraft kind of thing. Getting a little bit spent on all the fantasy MMO’s.

  • Yeah. Being completely honest here if I had an alternative I would have already uninstalled AoC. I guess that speaks volumes and answers the question Henrik asked a little more.

  • I find myself really wishing Funcom had time to put in some of the anti-ganking features they talked about early on, mostly tools to help the populace self-police. A bounty system was mentioned on many occasions, obviously it never made it in.

    I think in the end, they settled with the ‘nighttime’ solo-instanced quests for key quests instead. They’ll have to realize that they need to do more, because this is one of the issues that led Blizzard to blandify WoW’s PvP.

    Frankly, I’d love to quest with the feeling that there could be bandits on the roads, etc. but that doesn’t mean I want to be ganked whilst talking with quest NPCs. I’ll be trying an RP-PvP server and we’ll see if the playerbase shows much restraint.

  • I really appreciate your telling it like it is style.Perhaps its because you don’t have advertisers to worry about.I have bought the early entry code and will give the game try. Having the NDA on at this point really concerns me.

  • Auqilonia seems to have the flavor of the Aztec or Mayan culture as far as Kmxs’s SS’s show. I like the seemingly diverse races they have chosen for AoC… but then again I guess thats all Howard’s doing 🙂 hmmm the Aztec’s practiced human sacrifice, how cool is that lool “bring me the virgin”!

  • Keen, seems like you like the game less and less. 🙁
    What is your fps range and what settings do you use?

  • Medium Settings. 2x AA. No Shadows. No Bloom. 3.0 Shaders (unless I’m crashing a lot then I turn down to 2.0). 1440×900 resolution.

    In Tortage Area I averaged 30fps

    In the Cimmerian city about 25fps

    In the Stygian city about 15fps

    In the wilds out hunting with few people nearby about 40fps

    Approaching cities/quest hubs/other people it dips to about 18-25fps.

    Overall the FPS is not stable. It fluxuates around the average which gives the illusion of poor performance. Whereas if it were stable at even 30fps it would be perfectly fine. It’s the drastic drops that bug me.

    But again… I’m not even really bothered by my FPS. It’s the crashing, stalling/stuttering, and graphic glitches that bug me most.

  • @Verus,Keen,anyone who cares

    Glitches can be annoying and from my experiance with games like DaoC, even Wow ect… some stay in the game for years. Dark Age still has people swimming in mid air, standing on horses, and falling through terrain into water…why always falling into water? “splash”!

  • for me, I think they fucked it up performance wise doing the lvl 20+ thing. I get memory leaks like no other, complete freezes where I have to log off vista and log back on to get my comp to work, FPS lock ups in pvp battles even 1v1.

  • Man, i hope this game doesn’t suck.because i dont have any other mmo to play. warhammer wont be coming out to 4Q and wow well im not doing that again.

  • Keen, I too am in the closed beta but I have never gotten past Tortage; I have 2 questions:

    1) Does your starting race restrict whom you can group with? If my buddy rolls up a Cimmerian and I roll a Stygian, will we be able to group together after level 20? Does one of us have to run across the continent to group with the other once we leave Tortage?

    2) Did you find the Ranger’s ranged attacks a little … short sighted? It seemed like I had to be standing 12 feet away before my target was ‘in range’ for an attack. Is it different in PvP?

  • This GY camping and PVP slaughter fest will end, you can not level to 80 and be ganking people the whole time. It was just a way today to easily get some PVP action and test out your class. The stealthing in this game needs to be adjusted. I do not mind ALL classes being able to hide at the cost of sta which will bring you out (if you hide from full as a necro it lasts like 6 seconds, its not a big deal). However, having no chance to see 3 classes in teh game before they kill you is a bit absurd.

    My impressions:
    Rangers atm are out of control. There is no reason that rangers should have the 2nd, yes 2nd highest base STA in the game only to Guardians.

    I really did not have a problem with any other classes. Sure Assassins are annoying as hell but if you get the jump on them its not too bad at all. Also barbs seemed to have a bit too much survivability for how they billed the class. However, once the stealthing issue is addressed this should not be an issue, but Barbs at their current status getting the jump in addition is pretty harsh.

  • L1H, It doesn’t matter what race you are you can take boats to the other races areas and quest there if you like.

  • Keen is just a critic like the rest of us, he just haves a website. Play the game for yourself and make your own decisions.

  • Anyone know why none of my characters (created since day 1 of OB) were changed to lvl 20? I logged in on the 10th, still lvl 13. Logged in today, still 13. WTF???

  • FFA PvP rarely works out. It looks good, it sounds good but usually comes up short. Sure folks remember the good times, which seem to get even better as the years go on. I think it probably was decent in UO, but it was an entirely different set of people playing UO.

    Lore excuse: In Conan, folks were not running around killing everyone without consequence. You didn’t just rez to fight again in the lore.

    Get your friends: A nice ideal, but not really true in practice. What if you are new? What if your friends are not a high enough level?

    Stealth everywhere: Wheee, everyone stealthing everywhere… seems like a fix for a bad game mechanic.

    No factions: So it will probably be even harder to find random help.

    People will be too busy to gank: People always find time to gank 😉

    There won’t be that much ganking, just epic battles!: Again an ideal. Sure it may happen sometimes, but ganking and pvp while someone is in pve is the norm.

    (Hope you enjoyed the strawmen I setup 🙂 )

    Thankfully they made PvE servers. There is nothing wrong with FFA PvP, it could probably be done real well in a game dedicated to it, rather than just a different mode.

    On a side note… the AoC forums are a nice preview of what you may find on the PvP servers. The M rating only describes a number.

  • Hey Keen
    I’ve been following your blog for a while to get some input beside my own experiences in AOC OB, and even thou i don’t always agree with your experiences i respect your opinion and reviews.

    That being said, a game for me boils down to 1 thing.

    How much fun am i having playing it?
    To this i must admit i’ve had loads of good times these 2 past weeks in AoC.
    Even thoe Tortage was a small part of AoC i had a good times questing and grouping with strangers.
    The Pvp Mayhem was awesome, I participated in Spawn point ganking,and some 1v1 or 2v2 Pvp and Minigames (good fun)
    Personally i didn’t think the spawn point Pk’ing was any problem. Sure i died sometimes, but most of the time i got away and took my revenge ( I played a mage and priest with low survivability at lvl 20)
    I always survived the loadscreen and always had time to get a few spells off before i bit the dirt.

    Pve Was fun, it took some time to learn all the classe i played…but they all seemed quite balanced for both pve and pvp.

    I don’t claim that this game dosn’t have issues ( had a few crashes and saw quite a few bugs/glitches) but overall i think that i had more goodtimes than bad, and that is what makes a game good to me

    Kudos to Funcom for a very plesurable experience playing OB.
    Its a really fun game that hopefully will get even better with time

    /Simon

  • I love how most of the screenshots taken have a chick with a bare ass in them. This game is going to have so many female characters it isn’t funny. I think I will pass for a few months and see how it shakes out.

  • OMG KEEN NOOB c6alld u a idiot sad really is, anyways i enjoyd this lvl20 thing first thing i did when leaving into the open pvp was chop some want to be gankers head off. After awhile of being triple teamd an so forth i went into a CTF an that is where my problems startd massive lagg crazy blue green rainbow lights, annoying yes i restartd my comp an never went into a pvp match again an everytihng for me workd just fine ill agree with u that the Cimmeria starting area was a bit blah but i honestly did not have an opertunity to even explore it with all the ganking going on…looking forward to this game but also looking for a better mmo.

  • Well… I did notice fixes in stabilty as the beta went on.
    Less stuttering, more constant framerates, less crashes.

    Honstely I think playing this game without a duel core, 2gigs ram, and nvidia 9600, SATA HDD, would just be pointless as that should be the mimium specs.

    I tried running the beta on my friends XP desktops.
    Kill every app, tsr, service, ran at best case.
    All case running at the LOW game setting.

    p4 2.8 single, 1.5gig ram, nvidia 6600, 7200 IDE HDD.
    Ouch that hurt watching… Never made it the starting city.

    p4 3.2 single, 2gig ram, nvidia 7600gs, 7200 IDE HDD.
    Yea even with everything turned down, the game felt
    pretty unplayable. Long load times, low framerate,
    general sluggish gameplay. In the city the felt unplayable.
    Walk pause walk pause.. Outside the city, well you could play but not what I would call fun.

    AMD X2 4000, 2gig ram, Nvidia 7900gs, sata HDD.
    Alot more playable beach, night missions were good.
    Outside the city wasn’t too bad, mostly playable.
    Every now and then, I could see the new content loads, which would bring the gameplay really sluggish.
    PVP with groups bigger then 5 would stagger.

    For kicks I added my ram and video, so now 4gigs RAM, with a Nvidia 9600. Immedately could see a huge frame improvement. The city ran better once loaded. As did the island, both running around and combat. I don’t know if you call it zones, but there points you could see the loads, afterwards you could move between the two points freely, without the extra memory, the loads would be there.

    Last friend had an intel q6600, 4gig, 8800gtx, raid 0 sata.
    Pretty much handled the very well at LOW settings. Still
    there were stutters in the city and in 5 or more combants.
    Load times weren’t too bad 15-40sec, but longer then other MMORPGs.

    I can completely see the load time issues with IDE drives.
    SATA is a must. Raid 0 totaly helps.
    I certianly see the benfit of my two raptor drives in raid 0.

    As for Ram I say 2gig is mimium, 4gigs is needed. Note many system will not show all 4gigs(3.x) due the the 32 bit issues. But it does help. Also setting a 5gig swap space partition set with a 4096gb pagefile helps.

    Video Card: Its time for a 9600gt or 9800gtx. SLI will help.
    Wishing for a 9900, hopefully out in a month or two.

    CPU: Duo core if not quad. AoC certianly uses all the cores.
    More the better, the faster the better.

    Honstely unless you got a top of the line gaming rig, your not going to really enjoy AoC. Even then you’ll have play at low settings for the best gameplay.

    I can see in about a year, a decent new computer playing this game fairly well.

    That’s going to be a hard sell for many people. Even Gamers who wish to play but their system won’t cut it.

    Think back to the beta and launch of EQ2.

  • Had no problems at all other then not being able to go the menu screen since everytime you do it crashed. But anywya i use a 8800gt 4000 amd 2 gigs ram and it ran pretty smooth for me never seen those graphical glitches keen posted but did see the ones where white streaks take over your screen then it eventually crashed after improving my cooling it stopped. I didnt run shadows and had the view distance down a good amount other then that everything was left as is and the game ran great its to the point I might get another 8800 gt and run sli cant wait for this game to coem out was so fun and might possibly pull me away from that one grinding game…

  • Thoughts on PVP…
    Well I started on Rallos Zek EQ, then AC Darktide, DAOC, AC2 Darktide, WOW Archimode, Shadowbane, WOW Boulderfist, LOTRO bradywine mosterplay.

    Alright FFA PVP. YEA. I do like it. Yes all you carebears run back to the PVE servers. Complain and Complain how someone ganged or ganked you.

    Ok. I heard from my bro in the closed beta there was a 10 level limit. Not sure if that will carry over to the pvp servers.

    Did not see any character level exp loss or penalty for dying to another player.
    Did see PVP EXP loss. No equipment durability loss and no item or coin drops.

    Killing another player got me both character level exp and pvp exp.

    I love the fact everyone by level 20 has both HIDE AND PERCEPTION skills.
    Certain class have feats(talons) trees that make them faster or better.
    Hiding can be tough as monsters and terrain can easy break it.
    I think a player has to use the “search” power to uncover another player.
    You do move slower(not much then running) when hiding.
    Not sure if walking vs running when hiding has any useful bonus.
    Your group members can see you when hiding as a ghostly character.

    NO pvp in the main city. Outside of the main city FFA.

    There was only spawn point per fairly big area.
    You seem to always rez at the nearest point your character has discovered.

    You seem to load and depending on how quick you loaded the longer you got a safe invulnerably. You could use skills and abilities, but any attacks or spells you made broke it, as with any monsters attacking you.

    My short load time, gave me at best 20sec of moving before it wore off.
    That made an easy stealth far enough away, that the spawn brawlers wouldn’t do anything. I could out maneuver most spawn campers.

    I saw plenty of slow loading players that didn’t get the safe protection as it runs out before they were back in the game. I’m thinking Funcom should up that timer.
    Maybe like two to five minutes.

    Outside the city: There seem to be set gullies(canyons) leaving the Cimmeria city. Not an open place just to run. With set choke points and limited wall climbing, made escape into the rest of world quite hard. With one or two ways out of a NON PVP main city, these will be the gank battlegrounds on the FFA servers.

    I don’t like the PVP mini-game quing as you can’t move or do anything but wait for a game. Maybe I missed something with that interface.

    Really wished we could see mounts and city warfare.

  • I really, really, really, really, really want to like this game, but I’ve never played the beta and pretty much the only commentary I’m getting on it is from this blog, and i know you’re just being critical Keen, and everyones entitled to their own opinion, but you just seem… over-pessimistic. I mean, what you’re playing right now IS a beta, and i know it’s common belief that open beta is launch gameplay, but alot of these bugs are probably gonna get fixed. In my opinion i think this always happens shortly before launch. The developers talk all this hype about how awesome their games gonna be, and when time comes to release the game everyone’s let down because one or two parts didn’t meet their expectations. Hell, this might even happen in the week before WAR’s launch (btw i’m pondering playing AoC until WAR comes, then switching). So i guess the best thing i could point to now is the Monty Python’ Flying Circus’s version of the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

  • I’m being critical because I have to be if I’m going to truly decide for myself whether or not AoC is a game worthy of the two most precious commodities in this world: Time and Money.

    I have participated in *thinks* I believe 8 or 9 mmorpg closed beta’s (and I lost count of open beta’s) over the past 12 years and have only seen bugs and performance issues on this scale one other time – Vanguard. If you stick around a while and continue reading my blog you’ll come to realize that I do not for a minute believe the “It’s beta!” defense when a game is SIX (6) days from release. I’ll gladly accept and perhaps even use that defense when a game is 2-3 months from release… you know, when the NDA USUALLY drops for a mmorpg and the game still has time for development and change.

    That brings me to my next point. AoC still has a NDA and it’s less than one week before Funcom expects people to spend money on their game. That’s the biggest red flag imaginable for me. Does it not bother anyone else? They’re showing us the level 1-13 content then bumping us to 20 for a few hours before servers come down. All I can do is judge the content and gameplay experiences that I am shown. I don’t like being pessimistic. I love mmorpgs. They’re my passion, my hobby, and if I’m lucky one day and win the lottery (I want to prove it doesn’t take half a million $ to get WoW’s success) they’ll be my career.

    Button line: AoC’s gameplay is good, not great but good. The combat system is sketchy for me and feels clunky at times. The world is beautiful. The performance issues are ugly. FFA pvp sucks but City sieges, in theory, will be awesome. The bugs are widespread. The game really needed another 2-4 months of beta.

    I prefer “realist” rather than pessimist because I’m being real and telling it how I see it. I’m not purposely focusing on the negative or trying to find it. It’s finding me, and in some cases coming up behind me and clubbing me over the head. I’m also pointing out plenty of positives but sadly people don’t really recognize the positives when someone is calling out flaws in a game they plan or want to play.

  • I truly love this game but I will not be playing it, simply because Funcom will not put in an RP-PvE server. I’m too old for gankfests, and will seek out another game where the devs actually care about my playstyle instead of their chest-thumping.

    Also, yes, I know most of the quests are “kill ten rats”, but what else could you really do? I mean, there have to be hundreds of quests in an MMO just to give the players something to do (besides camp res points). Fedex quests are worse, in my opinion. How would you solve the “kill ten rats” problem?

  • Hey Keen, nice review. I hate to say it, but on reflection, I agree a lot with what you say. I’m not a huge Warcraft fan, I’ve never got a character to 70, never raided or PvPed much, but I have to say my limited experience in WoW was 100% (no exaggeration) stability. Never crashed, pretty much instant load times, only load times I do remember are going from continent to continent, and short (like 10 seconds) going into PvP or dungeons. Now, contrast that with the load times I was getting in the AoC beta… I was literally beating my high score on a puzzle game on my mobile phone in those load times. I swear, if it’d been longer than 10 days, I’d have time to read books in that time. And while the quest content, the percieved image of endgame in WoW and the repetitive combat system put me off staying in WoW, I honestly took the stability and performance for granted. And, in my opinion, for it’s age, it doesn’t look half-bad (as the WotLK video shows).

    I think, for an MMO, which you will invest so much time in, every load screen you sit through, ever CTD you recover from, every stall you experience, just chips away at your enjoyment in the game, until eventually you find yourself asking – shall I renew my sub? I guess what I’m saying is, stability and performance is the number 1 issue Funcom should be addressing. People stay in WoW because they have no issues with performance… some may enjoy the repetitive and grinding of the PvE and PvP systems… and they will stay in the game indefinitely. But, even if you love the AoC combat system and quests, it’ll be a test of endurance to stay in the game at the current state.

  • what ppl seem to forget or where not there maybe WoW had problems in beta too and for sometime after the game was far from prefect when it come out

    now AoC is really not ready as it is now it really could use another month or 2 in beta but for me anyway the last couple of patchs in OB made it 100 % better

  • *sigh* I guess I’m just being over-optimistic then. But i definitely will be giving this game chance seeing as Warhammer is still months away and WoW has been dead to me for a while now. Hopefully i don’t fall in love with this game so i can at least give Warhammer a try.

  • For those that are upset about RP servers, there is no such thing as RP anymore. People used to RP in games. Last time I went into a WoW RP server, what I found out was horny brats hiting on pixels at one of the bloodelf city tavern: “Who wants to RP?” meant cybersex. Then went to the alliance side and found out really nasty stuff.

    The RP should be removed from the MMORPG acronym and just write MMOG. RP servers are not needed. You can roleplay anywhere in the game and hit as many pixels as you want, the RP label is not needed. AoC is a mature rated game anyway. Create a RP guild in any PvE or PvP server(e.g, The Pixels Hiters of Hyboria).

  • Sorry, “Roleplayer”, I have had much different experiences in the twelve years I have been playing MMO_RPG_s. Roleplay is alive and well where roleplyers can go about their business without having to deal with Ipwnurface running around talking about last night’s ball game. Please troll somewhere else.

  • Up until this recent Open Beta experience (the 20+) I have been looking forward to playing AOC over the summer at least, while waiting for WAR, LOTRO’s Mines of Moria and WOTLK to come out. But given the horrendous state of the game and its community, I have already canceled my subscription and will NOT be picking up my retail pre-order box. I have spent enough money on their beta already. I can only judge the game by what Funcom will let me experience and if they choose to demonstrate old software (supposedly) to me, then thats all I can base my opinion on.

    I have actually had a pretty good technical experience with the game, but then I have a top of the line Alienware laptop on which to play it. But the kinds of bugs that I do see *still* in the game are inexcusable. What broke the camel’s back (as it were) was I jumped into a river expecting to swim across it and instead fell to the bottom of it and was walking along the riverbed instead!!! I got a ranger toon up to 20 so I could stealth around the countryside and avoid the gankfest that I knew was coming and I ended up in zones that were devoid of *any* mobs…! One was called the borders of Kesh (I believe)and it looked like a duplicate of the jungle zone that I just zoned out of, this time with no mobs in it… the same buildings and landscape as the previous zones, just without any NPCs or monsters… WTF?! This is not a graphical bug… the game is simply unfinished. Up until now, I defended the game as just being OK, but now I think it is a failure of Vanguardian magnitude. Like others have said, the NDA has not been lifted for a reason. And before I hear the “beta excuse” again… why would a company *choose* to display the game in this state to me? Their choice has encouraged me to not buy the game…

    The other killer for me was all of the outside zoning. You had to zone to get out of the capitol cities, load zones again to get to another named area, load zones when entering buildings… this is a real immersion killer. I am mostly an explorer at heart and I was looking forward to a new world to explore over the summer.

    As for the community, it was pretty bad. The spawn point gank fests are indicative of the kinds of people who will be playing this game at launch. And this is indicative of many open PVPers in general… their idea of fun is to *prevent* you from having any.

    Last point: the whole NPC dialog/close up thingie is a major design flaw as I see it. The animations for it a amatuerish, the NPCs facial expressions hardly change and you can get attacked while speaking to them (happened to me several times). If they change it so that you *cannot* get attacked while speaking to an NPC, that will also be used as a tool to avoid combat unfairly. It seems obvious to me that this dialog mechanic creates more problems than it solves. Dialog trees are a good thing, just put them in a separate window like every other game and be done with it.

    However, I will give them points for style. The have captured the Conan flavor and it is nice to see. That alone would be worthy of a 3 month subscription if the state of the game was not so bad.

  • WoW pushed up the bar on MMO’s and AoC failed to meet or surpass it.

    The PvP I’ve experienced in AoC is more bland than WoW’s. I don’t have as much play time in on AoC as WoW. But as Keen stated many blog posts ago. That first 5 min is crucial.

  • Hey

    Keen was watching your video with ranger, how did that shaman killed you? He never touched you, i tried to see in full screen but its worse so cant see very well what happened there.

  • @Luis: I think he had ToS partner somewhere (I never did find him). I was getting nuked by lightning. That Bear Shaman out healed me pretty well though until the necro pets went on him.

  • Are the cities outside of Tortage Island also instanced like Tortage is? With multiple instances of the same city?
    Keen, would you mind making a link on your homepage to both of your computer specs?

  • PEOPLE HATE CHANGE! THIS IS A NEW GAME….ONCE U LEARN HOW TO PLAY IT — U REALIZE THE THINGS U HATED – U LOVE! IN DUE TIME! MY FRIENDS..IN DUE TIME!

  • WoW set the bar so low, that now you have to have a shit game thats so freaking ez mode or else no one will play your game, with auto attacks and roll your face accros the keyboard and you get fuking epics handed 2 you, i agree that the pvp exp system in AoC sucks but common stop saying WoW is so great when all you do in that game is 12451, or 111111, either way you can win that way in WoW, WoW did one thing good, made the game accessible to people with 800ghz 512 ram WALMART RIGS, and THATS why its so popular, this game is so much more advanced than WoW gameplay wise and graphics wise thats its going to take a bit longer to polish this game, WoW is one helluva nicely polished turd, AoC is the real deal and wont be release a perfect gem just yet

  • Couldnt agree more about FFA servers i swore them off in WoW after leveling to just 40 too much of a headache. If your going to be playing what server are you going to be on?

  • Aquilonia looked incredible yet I had the lowest fps there compared to anywhere else I explored.

    Noticed the game runs incredibly better with 4gb of ram, at least in windows vista.

    My friend has almost the same specs as I do but has only 2gb of ram yet he runs into stalling a lot, filling up all of his ram up and basically having to restart his computer while I almost never noticed anything.

    This is probably due to memory leaks, just takes me a lot longer to feel it. After playing for several hours I finally noticed the same lag I was seeing on my friends computer and alt tabed to my surprise to see 3.9gb was being eaten up.

    Didn’t notice many graphics glitches at all except the obvious ones like air swimming. My guess is a lot of these bugs are due to lower graphics settings.

    Here are some screenshots mostly of my guardian at 1920×1200 with max everything including shadows etc. with 2xAA including a few of Aquilonia. Had to convert them to jpg though so there is a little bit loss of quality.

    http://img159.imageshack.us/img159/6346/gludiouspicture000fn4.jpg
    http://img72.imageshack.us/img72/4179/gludiouspicture016os9.jpg
    You can really see the loss in blue compared to the original on this one
    Original: http://files.filefront.com/Gludious+picture016png/;10194767;/fileinfo.html

    http://img72.imageshack.us/img72/850/gludiouspicture017id9.jpg
    http://img72.imageshack.us/img72/5771/gludiouspicture021xx8.jpg
    http://img126.imageshack.us/img126/473/gludiouspicture023qd3.jpg
    http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/7610/gludiouspicture029yl8.png
    http://img117.imageshack.us/img117/1584/belvederepicture004ei7.jpg

  • Keen, you are seriously out of your mind if you think Tortage is bad. It is IMO the best opening/tutorial of every MMO thats ever been made, and ive played them all. A wonderful mix of singleplayer and open ended game play, different areas to explore (ruins and underhalls are amazing), tons of different style of quests and did I mention the night time single player quests are very RPG’ish witch this genre has een lacking for quite some time. In fact they should of named these MMOAAG, for massively Mulitiplayer online action adventure game.

    I liked cimerias city much more, it felt more alive and cruel and this si the area I will start with. Stygian on the other hand is hella boring and bland, your tastes suck ass compared to every person I spoke with, almsot univeral agreement among my guild is that Cimeria is the best zone.

    “”””Updated thoughts on questing after playing all day: Overall the questing I have done so far has been lifeless. If I had to pass judgment on the questing right now I would say that AoC has shallow and uninspired questing that is literally, on the level of “kill 10 rats.””””””
    —–The questing is no more different then any other MMO, and they are alot more realistic then WoW (or WAR for that matter, but we all know your a WAR fanboi)

    Everyone stealths- but only the rogues can actually get away with it, every time I tried stealthing on my ToS or Conq I got about 100 feet and had to stop and rebuild up my stam, I guarentee you stealth on other classes wont be an issue, its easily avoidable if you follow the “FFA PVP primer” (google it if you need help) stealth on soldiers and priests suck. On the other hand stealth on rogues need a drastic tweek, its so OP right now that every single rogue is OP now.

    Your take on FFA pvp is dead wrong, the reasons why you like it are exactly the reason why FFA servers will grow.

    The problems you experianced with the stability is your COMPUTER’s fault period. I had tons of issues up untill that last patch then it became great. You had to make sure you turn your affinitys to 1, lower your resolutions, set the grpahics to low, and play that way.

    YOUR screenshot of graphic glitches is due to your shader being set to 3.0, do you not understand this game is not optimized for SLI, DX10 yet? you basically had to make your computer a oldschool DX9 1 core program and the game was fine, you tried to hard working a non optimized client as hard as possible.

  • @Zederok: Okay, so your opinion is different. That doesn’t make my opinion wrong.

    And my computer’s fault? Please, don’t even start that. First off I was on shaders 2.0 and I don’t even have SLI or DX10.

    Good day.

  • your screenshot of the purple and blooby is indeed due to shader being set to 3.0, theres no way it isnt casue you even stated in your blog you had it at 3.0 also my opinions matter as much as yours, its blogs and people like you that degrade a game causing people who never played it to cancel there preorders.

    I still think you are a WAR fanboi and it shows on your blogs, as well as your IGN Vault forum posts.

    I actually agreed with alot of your earlier blogs pertaining to AoC, but the majority of your latests posts have been pertained to client issues have in my opinion jaded your opinion of your blogs and I dont want to see that cause I even defended your blog posts on AoC main forums…alot of posters on funcoms forums call you an idiot jsut FYI.

    heres a snippit taken from your blog, these are your words as typed above:

    “Hitching/Stalling/Hanging/whatever – This was supposedly fixed in the Closed Beta and I thought it would be fixed in OB. Running around with Shaders 3.0 enabled and Dual-Cores on I stall and hitch like a … yeah. When I turn down shaders to 2.0 and set core affinity to 1 then I experience them a little less. They’re frustrating but one of the lesser evils.”

    This is exactly what you had to do to make the system work.

    Like I said the client that was played on open beta lvl 13 max and FFA open beta was not the same that was tested on pvp weekend or thats in closed beta or tech beta. the client we played on the last 2 weeks is semi-optimized for the low end of the spectrum, as such the vast majority of posters who experienced the most issues were duo core or quad core platforms, in fact I failed to see 1 post pertaining to issues on old systems.

  • Opps one of them was resized because I uploaded the png.
    http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/6792/gludiouspicture029jm6.jpg

    Most frustrating thing for me this beta really wasn’t technical unlike what seems to be overwhelming majority of people but was fighting the Necro class.

    Necros using the hide skill and sending their minions after you is very annoying since they can stay hidden so you can’t really do anything but kill their minions.

    When that happens they just use fear when you are on their last minion that stuns you which feels like forever, then DOT you to death and maybe kite you if you aren’t dead already.

    At least this was the case on my guardian, might be better/worse on other classes that take more damage against minions.

    But this is just minor in comparison to everyone else having issues.

  • @Zederok: Some people can’t handle any negative about their games. We call those fanboys. Whereas myself I call it straight up how I see it. These issues are not my comps problem they are with the client and the error messages from the CTD’s prove that. Just the fact that I have to turn shaders down and disable one of my cores is proof enough that it’s the game’s fault.

    I’m in closed beta btw. I’m forming my opinions from the CB and OB and restricting what I say publicly to what has been allowed to be discussed.

  • Not in the AoC beta, so I can’t judge for myself, but you might be setting the bar slightly high, Keen, with WoW as a benchmark for stability. For all their faults Blizzard games have always been amazingly rugged, they’ve all played on extremely low system specs, with exceptionally high reliability. Not to say it’s a bad goal, that stability is probably a large part of their games’ success, (or that it won’t kill AoC, see: Vanguard) but it’s not necessarily the norm or requirement for gaming products.

    Lord knows I’ve seen enough (non-mmo) games that have launched with issues as severe as you can see in some of your screenies.

  • Sorry that you won’t be playing past the first month, Keen. I’m sure War will deliver the traditional experience you’re looking for.

    On a brighter note, while I can agree that AoC has its share of problems, I don’t think the game’s future is as bleak (excuse me “realistic”) as believed. For every blogger I see giving a negative review, I see 10 giving the exact opposite.

  • I really don’t think I’m setting the bar too high. WoW isn’t even the sole benchmark. There are plenty of games that launch without major client issues (keep in mind that server lag is different.)

    If setting the bar too high is asking for a polished client that doesn’t CTD, lockup, or have memory leaks then guilty as charged. But really, don’t you want those things too?

    Wipe the performance issues completely away, optimize the client, and Age of Conan is a decent game with great potential. There are loads of great features and mechanics that I’m dying to try out like building a guild city, sieging other cities, exploring lands with my friends, etc. But none of those things are truly doable for me when the game plays in it’s current state.

    *crossing my fingers*

    Let’s hope the retail client is completely different.

    @Alex: Could you link me to those positives? It’s easy to find the negatives since so many people out there are having problems with the game. I’m interested in reading some good experiences. I’ve only been able to find Bildo’s Blog that basically just says he likes the game. If there really are that many positives I really, really want to see them.

  • Keen, I honestly do think its your computer’s fault… but that it shouldn’t be the case. 😛

    It’s Funcom’s biggest pratfall that they’re catering to the higher-end systems almost exclusively when their main competitor is coming this fall with significantly (I presume) lower requirements.

    This is the same mistake EQ2 made, skewing to the higher end, and it really bit them in the arse when WoW came out and could run on an old Apple II. 😀

    Now, I adore what Funcom’s done for combat in this game, what they’ve done for story-telling with the Destiny Quest line, and what they’re doing presumably with city sieges if they play as good as they sound. But they’re making a huge leap of faith by assuming that the hardcore of the hardcore PC gamers with the high end systems are going to choose AoC over any other MMOG just because theirs uses the horse power they have access to.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how the game handles its firs few months. I know I’m not alone in loving it, and I have faith that the technical issues can be ironed out. I mean, my system’s not exactly beefy and I don’t have NEAR the issues. The most I get is a lag spike here and there and that’s the server not me.

    So… in the end, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you should just wait for WAR as it sounds that AoC will be giving you more headaches than fun with your current set-up.

  • Oh! And e-mail my work account… I’ll be there and unable to read responses by tomorrow morn.

    Later days, brutha.

  • *rips out his hair* Bildo, you of all people my man!

    – Memory leaks that cause CTD’s with error messages specifically pointing to the Cheetah client = NOT MY COMPUTER’s FAULT!!!

    – Disabling dual cores and 3.0 shaders to fix crashing and bug issues = NOT MY COMPUTER’s FAULT!

    Okay, I got that out of my system. It’s VERY very very very very common for a game to work fine on some systems and have heinous performance issues on others. Again, I’m getting carpal tunnel from typing this over and over, this is a big reason why developers bitch moan and complain that developing for the PC is almost more trouble that it’s worth compared to consoles. REGARDLESS though it’s still their job to optimize it for as much of the mainstream hardware as possible. I’m using mainstream Nvidia name brand hardware that’s less than 1.5 years old.

  • Will i be able to play this game with Nvidia Geforce 6150se nforce 430. I’m thinking no but I already pre-ordered just wanna know how screwed I am

  • I think you’re pretty much screwed completely on any of the 6 series of cards. I’m on a 7950gt512mb which is pretty much the top end card of the 7 series and it struggles.

  • Anyone else in beta have a low gfx card like mine or close to it please tell me about the time your having so I know what im getting into.

  • you really need a 8 series card to see the difference.

    I like keen and a gazillion other duo/quad core system had major issues, yet every single person who ran a system thats over a year old i.e. 1 core with no SLI tech, no DX10 shader tech and everything else that makes a high end system run great had no issues.

    I see this as a good thing, cause once they optimize the game to the advanced systems while keeping the lower end machines viable then the game’s FPS, CTD and memory leaks will be a thing of the past.

    Again I know its hard for you to understand Keen, but it is your computers fault, just like mine, the client is not optimized for the high end PERIOD! its hard to imagine that when we think of games like this that we believe that the low end machines should be the problem but this isnt the case with the beta clients of AoC. The whole issue is assbackwards I know but thats how funcom has decided to make the game.

    Now if you had a low end machine which you dont, and you had these issues it WOULD be the games fault due to the client being optimized for your system, but the fact is it was almsot universal problems with duo/quad core systems and every single person that I spoke to that had an outdated computer had almost no issues bodes well for the game, albeit assbackwards liek I said.

  • The game not being optimized IS the game’s fault. THAT’s where the period goes. 😉 Our systems are what they are. They don’t change. The game does. My system is a constant here. The game needing to change to accomodate the hardware (aka optimization blah blah) is not the fault of my hardware.

    That seems so utterly obvious to me.

  • I run with a NV7600/AMD3600/2g RAM and most stuff on low @ 1152×864 during the Pvp beta. hehe I had the TIME OF MY LIFE! Only time I ever had problems was on the last day when I had…5 maybe CTDs and was too tired to deal with it. I probably changed a setting that messed it up:( So agan, game runs FINE on a low end system.

  • I give up, you wont see the difference if it bit you on the arse.

    here goes: “IT IS YOUR FAULT YOU HAVE A GOOD COMPUTER, TO GOOD THAT THAT GAME ENGINE IS NOT MADE TO RUN ON YOUR SYSTEM”

    I know like I said its ASSBACKWARDS but it is the way it is, think outside the box damnit it man.

  • well i say the games pvp system makes me smile cause of the goold ole eq days. i remember ALWAYS having to look out for who was in the area and running in pacts for protection. i look forwar to the pvp world like that. as for the camping issues.. well it sucks but its realistic lol. all for the fact that slow loaders get pwned ( which sucks cause i load slow lol) i enjoyoed the combat exp/

  • Ha! I succeeded in making Keen bald. 😀 My evil plan is complete.

    It certainly is their job to make the game as accessible as possible, Keen old chap. That’s sort of what I was getting at… you just said it better.

    😉

    Let’s be sure to play on the same server, eh? For at least the month you’re in-game we can hang.

    Cheers!

  • If you are running vista keen you should get SP1. Supposedly fixes most of the CTD. All I can tell you with 100% honesty is that I have zero memory leaks now in closed beta (and I have not seen anyone else say they have any in global chat either). And neither do I have the game slow down to 1-5fps like it used to do since the may 7th closed beta patch.

    I do believe AoC will get a pretty good start as I have seen it gotten a lot faster, more stable in the closed beta lately. And I only have a Geforce 8600 (probably slower than your geforce 7950 or whatever it was). And I get 40-50fps at low settings and I can´t say I should get higher with a cheap card like that. I also think on launch I will get another 5-10% more performance with the background debugger gone and and the dx10 version (they claim it is slightly faster) and if so I will be more than happy. I would NOT try to persuade the people visiting your blog NOT to play AoC based on the open beta client.

    That said I do like the idea also that the game will allow us players to get better graphics as we get better computers. The thing with wow was that already at launch pretty much I could max it out and now 4+ years later the game looks the same for me. Only thing was I got so I had 1Gb memory for wow.

  • And as for the quest sure there are many standard ones just like in any mmo and same as we will see in War for that matter.

    But I have also done some amazingly cool ones like one had me question people like a detective to find out who had stolen gems from a merchant. One quest had me go up and argue in front of people why Aqualonia was better than Stygia against an agitator from Stygia. Then there are the destiny quest that had me kill someone in his sleep as a rogue type class and on my warrior type class I got captured and put in a cell and then had to kill the guards and flee out of the castle.

  • I have NEVER as long as I have played wow seen any quests like that..EVER.

    And I know the 1-20 can get boring but it is a 100 times better than any 1-20 in wow that I had to force myself through. Here there is an interesting storyline, talking npc, different destiny quest depending on what class you pick and tons more.

  • @Nassir: The blog you linked to (http://www.warcry.com/articles/view/editorials/mitrasmethod/4865-Through-the-Eyes-of-Mitra-Age-of-Conan-Beta-Journal-Entry-2) gets payed money to say good things about AoC. They even brag about their texts getting screened by Funcom people, and they have advertisement on their page for AoC. OF COURSE THEY ARE POSITIVE!

    Do someone know of a blog that does _not_ get money from Funcom and that has written an overly positive and well thought through article about AoC?

    As for clever quest design: play some single player c-rpgs such as Oblivion and Morrowind. Some of those quests are great, leaves actual choices to the player, give long term effects and requires thought and cleverness.

    Example of a more clever quest design: While walking through town you notice a thief pickpocketing a noble. You have the choice to ignore it, notify the noble, talk to the thief, notify a guard, attack the thief or maybe a few other alternatives. If you talk to the thief you can demand a bunch of money to keep silent, or you can offer to help him out because you don’t like filthy rich nobles either. You might get a contact that can lead you to get in touch with the local thiefs organisation. If you instead talk to the noble, you might be offered to go on a date with her son (if you chose the right conversation alternatives and you intelligence skill is good enough), because you seem to be a such a nice person. If you alert the guards or take down the thief yourself you might get a fight, a reward for capturing the thief and a contract issued on you that will make members of the thiefs organisation trying to hire other players to kill you.

    A lot of alternatives that requires actual choice for you (or your character if you are RPing), it gives a living world and affects your characters future. Why can’t mmorpgs do these sorts of quests?

  • Yah I have noticed a couple of cool quests myself, the assassin sneaking on the rooftops eavesdropping and such.

    @Bildo – I’m gonna have to disagree about the EQ2 comparisons. My first impression of seeing EQ2 on my friends computer wasn’t “OMG it takes to much PC power what a stupid company!” It was more on the lines of me wanting to upgrade my PC. Once I actually played the game for a few hours I realized that I really disliked the game itself, it came off as a real treadmill for me. So I would say EQ2 killed EQ2, not the fact that it had cutting edge graphics.

    Sure games like this are painting themselves into the corner of a smaller player base but there is nothing wrong with that. There is a large portion of the MMO community that craves the nicer graphics. People keep making comparisons about how they are supposed to compete with WoW when I really think they aren’t bothering to try.

    In order to make the game Funcom wanted to make they had to make a few sacrifices, but in areas they decided were worth it to still make a product that fit into their vision. Think about the sacrifices Blizz has made to make the product in their vision, I’ll make a short list for each (I’ll probably forget a few things here don’t get all fine tooth comb on me).

    WoW – Game design goal: CASH-COW

    More accessible audience – shitty graphics
    More accessible audience – too fucking easy
    More accessible audience – poor overall game balance
    Stylized graphics – hides shitty graphics

    AoC – Game design goal: Create Hyboria, try to hold its integrity.

    Insane graphics – limited audience
    Mature rating – limited audience
    Difficult PVP system – limited audience
    Realistic Graphics – meets the demand at the time

    There are just a few points on it, I think from that alone its pretty easy to judge that Funcom isn’t trying to be a direct competitor of Blizzard. This is actually a really good thing, instead of constantly changing your game to make it the “Every-Game” they are filling a subsection demand in the MMO market that hasn’t properly been done. EQ2 and Vanguard tried to do it but were trying to sell the games on graphics alone.

  • Just as it felt at PvP weekend… All good experience is killed by crashes, low performance and bugs. It will be AoC downfall.

    But of course some will say “this is beta!” or “this is old client from 1981!” and so on. There will be no miracle patch, no miracle client, God will not intervene and polish/fix game in last week.

    Prove me wrong at launch Funcom.

  • “WoW – Game design goal: CASH-COW

    More accessible audience – shitty graphics
    More accessible audience – too fucking easy
    More accessible audience – poor overall game balance
    Stylized graphics – hides shitty graphics”

    You’re exposing your own elitest attitude here kmxs.

    Its easy to fault and take shots at the guy sitting on top of the ant hill. WoW does not suit my gaming taste anymore but talking about a game and trying to PROVE that it is a shitty product is faulty arguing at best. With a player base of 10,000,000 people your little list is clearly incorrect. Don’t you think it is more logical to assume that it is your ‘hardcore taste’ that are out of touch instead of all 10 million other people? I shouldn’t have to point out how absurd it is to say “OMG! I know what gud gamez r and no one else does! Rah rah!”

    The list of AoC qualities are all true: their aims will garner them a limited audience which probably means average success at best.

    “Realistic Graphics – meets the demand at the time.”

    This one is my favorite. You shoot yourself down within your very own sentence. Aiming to meet what people want right now instead of having a plan for future, long term goals? Good job? They look pretty now but in a year, GG. Something prettier will be out and your flashy graphics will be second rate to something even MORE realistic.

    *Factual argument time*

    Having stylized graphics that can with stand the test of countless, countless years and a gradual, seemless learning curve are hallmarks of a masterpiece. If you can play the game and feel at home within 10 minutes of playing, something good is happening. As for ‘balance,’ asking for perfect balance is a pipe dream. Things are going to get as close as they can but perfection can never be accomplished if you want to have a varied and diverse playing field. I bet you were one of those people that believed your class should be able to pwn everybody.

    */end*

    Why is it that whenever a game garners massive success, their image turns from one of masterful and artist game developer to greedy pig-faced CEO? Blizzard has ALWAYS been concerned about the integrity of their creations. Why do you think its so successful?!?!

    Also, I respect your OPINION and you’re certainly entitled to it, but trying to slip something like that by…I had to say something.

  • Bartlebe got you there kmxs. His point is flawless that “Realistic graphics” are not the “demand of the time”. It’s fairly easy to see that it’s quite the opposite with major developers like DICE, Blizzard, Valve, etc all moving away from realism. You can’t argue with facts.

    I may not like WoW, Bartlebe may not like WoW, 2 million people may not like WoW for various reasons. But that doesn’t mean squat when WoW still has 10 million people playing and other companies are constantly moving to emulate their success with future games while the ones currently out aren’t even breaking 500k subs.

  • Great Blog as usual. I passed on the beta this weekend due to my puter not man enough to run the OB so I shall wait for release to try it.

    BUT…becuase I had nothing to play this weekend I went to go get the TF2 map packs and saw an ad for a game called Savage 2. What a fanatasic multiplayer game. A mix of RTS/FPS/RPG (Think of Warcraft 3 but all the units are individuals in fps mode).

    It was just amazing to me that a small studio could make such a great game but due to the low adverstising budget make it so hard for others to see. This is what WoW’s battlegrounds should have been all along!

    I know this is an AoC discusssion so I appologize in advace but was curious to know if the Keen and Graev folks have done any type of review on it. I don’t see it in the site, yet seems right up ya’lls alley.

  • Much appreciated, and your review was dead on.

    This game is literally the most fun I have had in ANY game in a LOOOOONG time. It’s just really sad that I’m just playing it for the first time as of this weekend.

    I’m also really disappointed about how much it appears that money matters to the IGN and Gamespots. IGN had a great review, but I really felt that game deserved a video review. And GameSpot didn’t even have a review of this game. Very disappointing. You wan’t to think that Advertising dollars really aren’t that much of a factor.

    Anyway, enough of the thread hijack..thanks for the review link. I’ll keep checking up on AoC and WAR from here..but I’ll be playing S2!

  • @Bartlebe & Keen

    I think you guys need to read into the context of my post a little more. It wasn’t intended to slam WoW. It was intended to show the market audience for either game is different. WoW is going for a much more global group, trying not to please a few with 90% accuracy, but please many with 60% accuracy. I have stated many times in the past the reasons why I dislike the direction WoW took after TBC and none of them had to do with graphics.

    I don’t understand why you say I am exposing my elitist attitude either? I am elitist, very much so, but my post really doesn’t allude to that whatsoever so much as try to exagerate a circumstance in order to draw a difference between the goal of each company.

    Pardon me for not stating 1 thing which might have let you revel in your AoC hate which is, if AoC is a flop it won’t be due to its marketing strategy, it will be the same reason that EQ2 and Vanguard failed, because the game is garbage. Obviously performance and stability will play a part due to the major dissatisfaction from public opinion in this area, but I wasn’t responding to that as that isn’t what Bildo was making reference too.

    So onto the next point here, this is actually very ironic. Because in my original response I had rabit trailed as you have, into talking about stylized graphics versus real. I did so based on my comment of AoC meeting current demand. I ended up deciding to remove it from my post because Bildo didn’t really cover it and I was trying to keep my “wall of text” quota down as most people just try to pick at one point and ignore entire well thought out arguments I make in ignorance pretending that they simply don’t exist.

    At this point I will include what I was going to say about that. Both of you have made a pretty critical error here. Bart says I “shoot myself down” & Keen says “Bart got you there”. Got me what? when? huh? Look I never stated 1 form of graphics were better then the other. I didn’t make the decision for either company which to go for, and I didn’t even give an opinion as to my own personal preference, which in fact falls into the category of the stylized end.

    In a fantasy genre I prefer the more anime exagerated stylizations over realism due to the lack of ability on realistic graphics to achieve perfection which is almost what is required to pull it off correctly.

    Sure stylization “can” give a game more longevity, but take a look at the example in action here. WoW’s graphics are only 3 years old and honestly they aren’t holing up all that well. No matter how stylized you wanna label it, the textures are garbage and the raw character models look like complete crap minus a couple exemptions. If you want to get into the specifics on this I’ll gladly give some examples of how, sure WoW is very stylized, but it simply isn’t enough to make up for poor graphics, and at only 3 years old this WoW engine isn’t even aging as nicely as War3 did, has and still is. War3 just looks good (in my opinion) but WoW looks cheasy at this point.

    Now AoC’s graphics based on realism may not age as well as if they were stylized, but I tell you what. The graphics engines themselves are changing so fast that it doesn’t matter, in 3 years any game is going to look dated…

    But lets take a look at another specific here. EQ2 graphics engine vs WoW. Personally when I look at screenshots of either its fairly easy to see that EQ2 graphically looks more impressive then WoW. And it came out before WoW. People argue this case strongly either way as to preference, its not so much important what I like here, or you guys, but that people have differing opinions based on preference. Starting to see my point?

    When both games came out I was very partial to the WoW graphics, but honestly at this point I look at recent screenshots of both games and it seems like EQ2 has aged a little better then WoW. Now that I am over my WoW Fanboi’sm from playing for 3 years I can more easily see that. And don’t jump on me saying “graphics don’t make the game”. That’s not what I’m talking about and I really don’t think we need to get into that debate, I believe that the best games can have both good gameplay and graphics. A beautiful example of that is “Call of Duty 4” I think anyone can agree with me on that one.

    If your going to just flat out disagree with me on the stuff I’ve “walled” your way here then please take the time to go over the points I’ve made and angle of view I am coming from. I was pointing out that AoC was obviously not trying to compete with WoW from a marketing point of view. You took my post out of context, tried to make yourself look smart and then called me an elitist… Pot kettle black? You tell me.

  • Are you sure these are your ‘final thoughts’ on the open beta Keen? For some reason which I can’t quite pin down, I don’t believe that.. 🙂 😉

  • @ thallian
    Im sure keen has some pearls he is holding on to from closed beta. I just wish we knew what his opponions of it were/are. There has been so much speculation on OB vs. CB that it makes my head swim and im currious to know if the CB client is more stable or reliable than the OB POS that they dumped on us.

  • Just to make something clear, when I refer to the aging of the graphics engines of WoW and EQ2 I am not referring to the texture designers or the animations. Merely the model art and the direction they went for on the textures. Its my opinion that the artists and animators that work for Blizzard are just better at their jobs then those who worked on EQ2. If both teams were asked to do the “exact” same thing, I would say that Blizzard would more then likely do a better job of it. I do also prefer the Stylization of WoW. I just don’t think that Stylizations ability to age can compete with the extremely low polygon count mixed with low res textures.

    If we had limitless CPU power then WoW would have looked like the opening CG cinematic, which in and of itself is far less cartoony then the actual game, which some people would say is “less” stylized. I think the more exaggerated cartoonyness, and not the stylization in and of itself were meant to camouflage the the low performance graphics engine. And it did a damn good job of that. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter what color you paint your cavalier, its never going to look as cool as an unpainted corvette. But more people can buy the cavalier, and in this analogy anyhow, it drives better and gets better gas mileage =P Its a true shame no company has been able to put out a “Corvette” MMO that actually drives as good as it looks.

  • @kmxs

    WoW needs to do what EQ1 did. Release an expansion or addon with an updated engine. They have reached their limit with thier current engine and it is starting to show signs of age. What % of their play base cares im not sure. EQ 1’s graphics were horrible toward the end of its life span but there wasnt much competion then and it still retained its subscriber base.

  • Yah I agree with you on that one. Although I didn’t prefer the Luclin graphics that much because it really took away from a lot of the unique qualities of the items your point is still something I strongly agree with. If they had done it correctly and didn’t try to cut so many corners on updating the engine it would have been a thing of beauty.

    In the end I still played with the Luclin graphics on because the benefits far outweighed the losses. I really loved the concept that they would even do that in the first place.

    WoW has done this in ways though which can’t be denied. The TBC textures were higher rez which reflected on the character armour and weapon models as well improving the overall quality of the game. The one thing I wish they would have done was do less texture body painting for armour pieces though. Also WoW seemed to have caught the FFXI bug of re-using way to many models. I would assume a company with that kind of financial influence would be able to staff enough people to create massive amounts of content in the way of unique graphical content. I don’t know many people out there that aren’t willing to sacrifice a bit of HDD space for more variety.

    Shortcuts like that are something the entire MMO genre is guilty of though, I mostly pick on WoW because it is the simply put the most successful MMO created to date, and the standard for which other MMO’s will be based off of for years to come.

  • Primarily, I was addressing the comparison section of your post and not the marketing strategy. I should have been more thorough in the scope of my argument and I am sorry for neglecting it.

    It makes a certain amount of sense to say that the games are shooting for different target audiences but I am not entirely sure I believe it. By the logic posed in your earlier argument, you seem to suggest that AoC is aiming for a different audience based on the qualities of their game. I cannot believe that a game is intentionally “shooting” for a smaller audience. While people in gaming forums live and die off of the hardcore/softcore types of labels, I am not totally sure that massive gaming publishers make the same sort of distinctions. I purpose that AoC is attempting to target the larger body of gamers today.

    Think about it. With hyper realistic graphics, mature ratings and a brutal, competitive environment, they seem to be shooting for the exact same audience 80% of games today do. The Xbox360/PS3 generation of gamers? Realistic and ‘harder’ games like AoC are designed to reel in large bodies of gamers. I can’t believe that they are trying to sell themselves short and become a niche game. No company that has spent millions of dollars will resign themselves to that fate. I would be willing to go so far as to say that it was WoW, with its “easy difficulty and bad graphics” that is the more remarkable success story.

    Just a theory that I am tossing around in my head.

    Now, a few quotes.

    “I am elitist, very much so, but my post really doesn’t allude to that whatsoever…”

    “WoW – Game design goal: CASH-COW
    More accessible audience – shitty graphics
    More accessible audience – too fucking easy
    More accessible audience – poor overall game balance
    Stylized graphics – hides shitty graphics”

    Your post reeks of elitism and especially the aforementioned section. With some critical reading skills, it’s not hard to see. Now that I called you on it and you admitted it, I can’t understand why you’d bother to defend yourself. Your post told me that you believed you had it figured out better than the average, 10 millionth WoW subscriber and I would be willing to bet that you believe it too.

    You are correct when you say that you didn’t give a personal preference on which style of graphics you preferred and, like yourself, I would rather not get into a graphics debate. It really comes down to a difference of opinion and shouldn’t be argued over. Also, I agree that CoD4 is a great example.

    I don’t mind walls of text because I don’t mind reading it. Don’t worry about walls. I quoted parts of your post and spoke to them as factually as possible. Sometimes things must be quoted, an unfortunate part of discussing things online. I am perfectly willing to admit the qualities and craftsmanship of a game I don’t’ like and a target audience that I do not fall into. I think that mostly opts me out of the elitist category and puts me into more of a ‘terrible cynic’ one. Also, I wasn’t trying to make myself look smart. I was arguing with you about something that I have a disagreement on. If slopping your opinions around haphazardly is the way you like to discuss things on a forum then go ahead but don’t feel threatened when someone engages you in discussion.

  • AoC is indeed shooting for a smaller audience, in my opinion. Case in point, the only RP servers are PvP servers, where in every MMO the RP-PvE servers are packed and stay packed. Funcom insists that there isn’t enough interest to have them.

    Yes, I am on a crusade at this point. 😛

  • I find it strange that anyone would blame me of being “haphazard” as I am probably one of the most long winded and thorough debaters around here. That’s not to say anything of how correct I am of course, just a comment based on what you said.

    Bart: “Primarily, I was addressing the comparison section of your post and not the marketing strategy.”

    Well the comparison sections purpose was to show the differences in marketing, and I think it succeeded in that. Obviously reeked of personal bias, I didn’t try to hide that. But that wasn’t my debate, I think the entire context of the post made the context fairly obvious in its intention. I took some cheap shots at WoW in it, certainly, I just wish the 5% of my cheapshots were less of the focus of peoples debate when I spend so much time forming a contextual argument. I suppose I could stay away from them, its my way of giving some more of my own “bias” opinion without getting into an argument of preference, as Keen is so want to do =)

    Bart: “By the logic posed in your earlier argument, you seem to suggest that AoC is aiming for a different audience based on the qualities of their game. I cannot believe that a game is intentionally “shooting” for a smaller audience.”

    Well I didn’t say it was shooting for a smaller audience, thats more cause and effect. They are prioritizing the “type” of game they want to make within the demand that is there. Sure it limits their audience for the time being, but if they do the mechanics correctly it they will have a steady increase and push the industry standard a bit higher. Crytek for instance is the most guilty of this concept of creating a game that is absurd in its requirements, but hey its cool that somebody is doing it, and doing it well. Without them the industry would be worse off, and they are obviously making money.

    So what I am saying here is companies have a different barometer for how much they are willing to sacrifice graphically and content wise in order to still retain as high a user base as possible. I think we can both agree it would be ignorant to assume Funcom doesn’t know this. They are a second time MMO creator with a lot of games to look at . They must have some kind of plan, whether it will fail or not if it takes any kind of unique approach at all it adds to the industry. I’m not giving my opinion on how far to go here. I gave that in the other blob, I wish it could be both, just more scalable.

    Bart: “Your post reeks of elitism and especially the aforementioned section.”

    I really am having a hard time seeing this one in regards to my original response to Bildo’s post. Just because I flavored my argument with a bit of bias doesn’t make me elitist. I even tried to be obvious enough as to not give the impression of subversion.

    Personally I am not threatened, its an internet forum and I learned long ago that when you throw your pearls out there its more likely a swine will swallow them up before someone will offer up solid debate. I commend you for your much less venomous response tho =) You gotta admit that first one was begging for an emotional nerd rage response with all its subtle insults 😉

  • “Well I didn’t say it was shooting for a smaller audience, thats more cause and effect. They are prioritizing the “type” of game they want to make within the demand that is there. Sure it limits their audience for the time being, but if they do the mechanics correctly it they will have a steady increase and push the industry standard a bit higher.”

    I want to agree with that, but I can’t. MMORPGs that struggle or appeal to a small audience from the beginning rarely, if ever, grow and push the industry forward. They slowly die, come up for air every year at expansion time, then continue to slowly die.

    Games like this don’t push the industry standards higher. EQ2 didn’t. Vanguard didn’t. If AoC does poorly it won’t. Right now wouldn’t you say that the “industry standard” has been set by the most successful games?

  • EQ2 and Vanguard’s industry pushing standards fell 100% in the area of “Graphics” which I stated before. I personally think AoC has a little more to offer then just premo graphics. They’ve done a great job with a lot of other aspects of the game, and stolen quite a few good ideas from previous titles.

    Take a game like “Eve Online” as an example of a niche market game that has a full realization of the effects of their game engine on the market, but wants to make a specific type of game. They have full well admitted they know there isn’t a gigantic market for a sci-fi space piloter in a hard core PVP environment that is nearly 100% player driven content. Guess what though, they don’t care, and they still release new content, and they still get more subs.

    You can’t give a game as an example only “because” they went for the awesome graphics. EQ2 failed on so many levels that blaming its failure on the graphics alone would be a pretty narrow view of success and failure in the MMO world knowing how crappy that game actually was.

    What really needs to happen is a game like this… Designer Dragon from Origin creating the PVP mechanics. Squaresoft creating the models, textures and sound. Blizzard writing the code for optimization, then the EVE devs to run it after launch so it doesn’t turn into 500 other games and back again before the first expansion hits. 😛

  • “What really needs to happen is a game like this… Designer Dragon from Origin creating the PVP mechanics. Squaresoft creating the models, textures and sound. Blizzard writing the code for optimization, then the EVE devs to run it after launch so it doesn’t turn into 500 other games and back again before the first expansion hits.”

    This is why I’m excited about 38 Studios, Red 5, and even Blizzard’s next-gen mmo. They’re pulling quality people together from all over to create this next wave of mmorpgs and they have great examples of what NOT to do in a mmorpg. Hopefully they are paying attention.

  • Agreed. Although WoW didn’t turn out to be everything I wanted due to their game decisions and not “just” being bored with it. I still do have a lot of faith in Blizzard’s next-gen MMO to be extremely entertaining regardless. They know how to make games, I think WoW became so much of a cash-cow that making game altering decisions that may segregate certain groups of gamers became a much more serious matter then making the game they want it to be. IE: the huge difficulty decrease the game has undergone over and over again. They are constantly making things easier.

    I don’t see this being a lot different then the Brad Mcquaid / Sony fiasco when they got up to 400k subscribers and Brad lost his ability to make the game he wanted at that point. I still really wanna believe in that guy btw, but Vanguard…. WTF Brad?!

  • Yea Blizz has done nothing but make great games. And just because I don’t like the PvP doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of folks who really do like WoW the way it is. It’s just not for me.

    What impresses me most about Blizzard is there support for their product. Continuously making improvements/tweaks/balances. They just needed to take a few interns and make some new PvP maps. The fact they haven’t made ANY new maps is just wrong.

  • “Personally I am not threatened, its an internet forum and I learned long ago that when you throw your pearls out there its more likely a swine will swallow them up before someone will offer up solid debate. I commend you for your much less venomous response tho =) You gotta admit that first one was begging for an emotional nerd rage response with all its subtle insults ;)”

    Haha. Very true. Well said. 😀

  • “This is why I’m excited about 38 Studios, Red 5, and even Blizzard’s next-gen mmo.”

    Don’t forget to throw whatever Bioware comes up with in there too… it’s really a great time to be a gamer, as our hobby is taking the limelight these days.

  • @aussiejackie: What I find somewhat misleading about the srtests out there is that they don’t take into account anything other than exacts and absolutes. That test puts me into the green in all areas telling me that I will have NO problem running the game. There’s no way for the test to truly know that the game isn’t optimized for lots of hardware or that it still has crashes and problems. Additionally it’s not really an accurate representation of how well the game will run even if it had no problems. By that test I should be able to run it at high settings. 😉 I have to run it at medium.

    But still an interesting test to take if you’re truly wondering if your system can even launch the game.

  • AoC = Biggest Tease Ever

    When it’s running smooth…oh boy! The most fun since, well since I first booted up WoW. You can’t say that FC is not pushing the genre forward with this game. There are many new elements here and I’m very excited about them. I mean come on Keen! When was the last time you lopped off some poor schmucks head? Or slit another’s throat? Don’t even get me started on the MOUNTS AND MOUNTED COMBAT.

    However when the fps drps and glitches abound then I feel my head slowly heating up and then BOOM it explodes.

    Please, please run smooth on the 17th and I will love you long time FC.

  • 7 days to go till i get my copy and finally try this game,

    Still havent decided what class im gonna start with.

    Keen, do you have anything to say about the Conqueror and its auras ? are they knowed to be late bloomers ?

  • @Gusto: Yeah for sure man. The gameplay can be fun when it runs smooth. I have not tried mounted combat yet (and don’t know if anyone has really) nor have I tried the city sieges (no one has) but those sound REALLY fun.

    @Higgs: I only have experience with the conq from 1-13 and at 20. The auras were a non factor at that level. Their benefit was negligable… but remember that’s level 20 at most and at that level few things influence combat. Hopefully the conq blooms later.

  • anyone having a problem with the early access update pacth installer. dam thing keeps saying downloading patch info but after 20 mins is says download could not be completed wtf!!!1111

  • May 13th, 4 days till early access… the NDA still remains? Are they afraid of what closed beta testers will say? If the game is awesome, why wouldn’t the devs let people talk about it in the days before the game releases? Smells fishy to me…

  • maybe because they dont want to show all the content available pre lauch to people so it remains as suprise, just my 2 cents ;P.

    btw 2 patches were patched in closed beta that fixes alot of stuff, including performance issues, npc bugs, animation bugs, a few glitches and class balancing.
    Lets hold our horses till we get the final release patch build and actualy experience the game with all options available and optimizations.

    btw, 700MB patch is up but it seems its more of a resource update patch, i didnt notice any version change on the build or not big changes on folder size, it still says 24.9GB, so i guess its textures etc updates.
    Corrent closed beta build is arround 48038, cant remember exactly. Corrent pre-release patched client is 47444.

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