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Age of Conan: First Week Impressions

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May 29, 2008 7:02:53 PM

Article by Travis Meacham.

Funcom's new fantasy MMO Age of Conan released last week and we've played through the opening 20 levels to bring you our impressions. In this early look we focus on the questing and combat that dominates the beginning of the game.

http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/05/29/age_of_conan_first_week/

More about : age conan week impressions

May 29, 2008 7:48:41 PM

I agree, this is a really great MMO, at least so far. I have a level 30 Sygian Ranger right now, and I'm having a blast.

One thing I appreciate is the quick leveling. I'd expect that I personally can max out my character with casual play within the next month or two. In some of the other MMOs, that'd be close to impossible, especially while going at it solo.

Also can't wait to get my mount, and then take part in guild wars and major seiges. :) 
May 29, 2008 9:59:42 PM

When I loaded up the client I just saw two dudes getting it on. I think there's something wrong with my game.
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Anonymous
May 29, 2008 10:01:41 PM

You must have loaded the toms second take videos on accident
May 29, 2008 10:03:02 PM

OH SNAP SON
May 29, 2008 10:03:46 PM

Honestly though, can't wait for Age of Nakedman patch
May 29, 2008 10:18:19 PM

I'm really enjoying myself as well (although I sometimes get drawn into hardware discussions.....), although Tortage started to drag towards the end i found, it was quite liberating to get off the place but i've now joined a guild (and saw some of the city being built, woot i glitched the game and got stuck in a trading post :p )
May 29, 2008 10:27:53 PM

Quote:
You must have loaded the toms second take videos on accident


Ouch. Funny...but ouch...
May 30, 2008 9:42:36 AM

After reading this uninformative - but glowing - review I get the feeling you did very little beyond moving your character from quest to quest. Age of Conan is plagued with many problems and far from having a smooth launch. I’m not going to do your job for you but I’ll list a handful of them.

Registered users have been randomly locked out of the forums for over a week - some are still unable to visit the boards for help. Petitions queues stretch on for well over a day. Emailing support often results in a form letter response that doesn’t even remotely touch on your problem, and no phone support is available at all. For the most part Funcom's communication has been abysmal.

Inside the game, severe exploits and dupe bugs from beta made there way to the retail product. Players have reached the level cap (80) within days of the launch. Many people are having problems claiming pre-order rewards. Basic MMO functions like a bank, mail and auction system weren’t even operational for the first week of launch. In-game mail still isn’t working properly, often resulting in the loss of items. Guild functionality is heavily bugged. Voice-over acting and much of the single-player game you rave about ceases to exist once you leave the starting island. It feels a lot like a bait and switch, as does the removal of DirectX 10 functionality even though it’s advertised on the box.

Performance issues have many subscribers unhappy and technical problems are keeping scores of people from playing. Extended downtime for the U.S. servers happens every day and takes place in the middle of the afternoon or during primetime rather than the early morning hours. Ridiculous problems like graphical options not sticking to their user defined settings are a constant source of frustration for many players with lower end hardware configurations who are forced to heavily tweak their visuals. That problem you expressed regarding low resolution textures randomly popping up in your scene isn’t a bug like you think it is. It’s a documented feature of the game’s engine – it scales down graphics on the fly to maintain a level of performance. Obviously if you think it’s a bug it’s been implemented poorly - and while it's possible to disable that annoying feature, doing so leads to peformance issues - making it feel more like a band-aid hiding a larger problem.

As a game journalist you might want to spend some time investigating your next game instead of just playing it.
May 30, 2008 12:34:46 PM

he said in the article that its not a review.... he said "These are strictly my early impressions of the game"
and does any MMO launch without bugs?
May 30, 2008 1:52:38 PM

Pmid said:
After reading this uninformative - but glowing - review I get the feeling you did very little beyond moving your character from quest to quest. Age of Conan is plagued with many problems and far from having a smooth launch. I’m not going to do your job for you but I’ll list a handful of them.


It's not a review. It's a look at the first 20 levels.

Pmid said:
Registered users have been randomly locked out of the forums for over a week - some are still unable to visit the boards for help. Petitions queues stretch on for well over a day. Emailing support often results in a form letter response that doesn’t even remotely touch on your problem, and no phone support is available at all. For the most part Funcom's communication has been abysmal.


A vast majority of MMO players never go to the official forums.

Pmid said:
Inside the game, severe exploits and dupe bugs from beta made there way to the retail product. Players have reached the level cap (80) within days of the launch. Many people are having problems claiming pre-order rewards. Basic MMO functions like a bank, mail and auction system weren’t even operational for the first week of launch. In-game mail still isn’t working properly, often resulting in the loss of items. Guild functionality is heavily bugged. Voice-over acting and much of the single-player game you rave about ceases to exist once you leave the starting island. It feels a lot like a bait and switch, as does the removal of DirectX 10 functionality even though it’s advertised on the box.


Here's the thing, I was able to enjoy the first 20 levels without banking anything, sending any mail or joining a guild and I was able to claim several pre-order rewards without difficulty. This article reflects my experience which I also stated in the article.

Pmid said:
Performance issues have many subscribers unhappy and technical problems are keeping scores of people from playing. Extended downtime for the U.S. servers happens every day and takes place in the middle of the afternoon or during primetime rather than the early morning hours. Ridiculous problems like graphical options not sticking to their user defined settings are a constant source of frustration for many players with lower end hardware configurations who are forced to heavily tweak their visuals. That problem you expressed regarding low resolution textures randomly popping up in your scene isn’t a bug like you think it is. It’s a documented feature of the game’s engine – it scales down graphics on the fly to maintain a level of performance. Obviously if you think it’s a bug it’s been implemented poorly - and while it's possible to disable that annoying feature, doing so leads to peformance issues - making it feel more like a band-aid hiding a larger problem.


The number of people having trouble is much much lower than the number of people enjoying the game. I assume you're referring to the official forums for these problems which, once again, is only trafficked by a very small but extremely vocal minority of players.

Sounds like you're not enjoying Age of Conan. Can I assume you'll stop playing it then?
May 30, 2008 2:46:17 PM

Quote:
After reading this uninformative - but glowing - review I get...
I'm getting more and more discouraged by the utter lack of critical reading abilities of many of the people on this forum (a forum that I often attribute as having an above average level of intelligence amongst it's members). The gripes you are going on about have nothing to do with the article. Instead you apparently just saw- not read- an article where *gasp* somebody was praising portions of a game you obviously do not like. So rather than actually consider what he was saying you just pulled out your Jump-To-A-Conclusion mat and away you went.

Anyways after playing to level eight I agree with what Travis is saying. The game looks great visually, the combat system is very fun compared to other MMOs. However the first person ranged combat just doesn't do it for me and I have a feeling it's not what they were going for. I haven't had much more time to play (it's been too nice out to play any game much). I understand there are many complaints although I've yet to have any major ones. I hope Funcom works to fix them because this game has a lot of great potential based on what I've seen so far.
May 30, 2008 2:57:52 PM

The game has had the smoothest release of any MMO to date and that includes WoW which was up and down the first 3 weeks and had fewer initial players I believe. So over all I am extremely impressed with the game engine. I could never go back to playing a WoW like game again. They still have much work to do for sure but the game is solid and is different enough. They need to improve the social aspects of the game and world interactivity but they have had a great start.

I wish they would have not included pet classes as they look out of place in the world. The combo system is love/hate and for me its hate for me and add no value what so ever to the game. As such I’m running with a Priest now problem solved. I frequently drink while playing and that doesn’t mix well with the higher level combos at least for me. It’s also a little too fast to level at this point easily twice as fast WoW at least up to 30.


May 30, 2008 4:13:12 PM

Even while Funcom has clearly stated AoC is not intended as a WoW killer I find going from WoW combat to AoC like going from black and white to color. I may still play WoW occasionally, but only with my already 70 character and for end game content. After just going through just the first few levels of AoC I can't imagine have to level another character in a game with such a relatively boring combat system.
May 30, 2008 5:39:38 PM

Quote:
The game has had the smoothest release of any MMO to date and that includes WoW


This isn't true and is unfair to NCSoft. Every NCSoft launch I've seen has been smoother. A bigplace AoC falls down is customer support-- something that NC excels at.

All in all, if you ignore the impossible customer support, the launch of AoC hasn't been bad but it has NOT been as clean as City of Heroes, City of Villains, Guild Wars etc....
May 30, 2008 5:42:22 PM

Quote:
All in all, if you ignore the impossible customer support

Actually the degree to which you can ignore customer support is a great indicator of how good any product really is.
May 30, 2008 5:49:39 PM

Quote:
Actually the degree to which you can ignore customer support is a great indicator of how good any product really is.


Absolutely. And if we *could* truly ignore customer support then the fact that customer support ignores us wouldn't be an issue. (Thats not really fair, I admit. They don't ignore us. They are just saddled with a system that makes it impossible for them to actually help us.)

But there are ALWAYS at least 200 people backed up in the CS queue by 8pm at night.

So, by your own observation, this does say something about the state of the game. I don't knock them for this because, honestly, ALL MMOs have these sorts of problems when they first hit scale. But they *should* have had a reasonable CS system in place to handle it. And they don't.
May 30, 2008 6:16:53 PM

Sony's Everquest used to be just as bad with getting support. They ended up having to bring on a ton of customers and train them to do low tier support, all for having their monthly fee waived. I had a roommate that did it for quite some time, and he put in a lot of hours helping people with his seer account (or whatever they called it). I was pretty surprised back then that they weren't at least paying the seers minimum wage, but hey, they called it "volunteer" work.

Give the guys at Funcom some time, they'll get the queues cleaned up. Right now everyone is new, and there are tons and tons of probably needless petitions. I know some people think a quest is broken because they can't find an item or enemy spawn, and then put in a petition, when the item / enemy is right near the area that they're at or just needs to spawn. It's stuff like that which backs up the queue.
May 30, 2008 6:30:23 PM

The really infuriating thing is the way the throw your ticket out if you aren't there. I don't care how nicely you put it, there is no way that will do anything but upset the customer more.

And, as I showed in my analysis in my blog, it actually makes the problem much much worse then it has to be.
May 30, 2008 7:22:17 PM

Actually his article states that it is not a “full review”. It then goes on to give his “impressions”. If you’re giving your opinion about a game you’re giving a review of it – regardless of whether it’s a full or partial review. Pretending this isn’t a review is ridiculous and several of you are nitpicking terms.

Ryan - EQ initially had poor support but in all fairness it was the companies first MMO and one of the first of its kind. Their situation was understandable – Funcom’s isn’t. They’ve been in the MMO business for 7 years now and after the disastrous AO launch one would think they’d strive to be better prepared this time around. How many years do you suggest we give a company to get things right?

As for the review – sorry, your look at the first 20 levels which we’re not calling a review – it’s clear you stuck your head in the sand and plowed through the first 20 levels without really paying attention to anything outside of your own little world. That may work in a single player game but I expect more from a review of a massively multiplayer world. At least try out the basic features beyond combat – which while new and interesting should have required no more than15 minutes of your time to investigate before moving on to something else. You hype up the night-mode single-player experience without explaining that the feature is mostly absent once you leave the starting island. So is the voice acting.

If you’re going to focus on the first 20 levels why don’t you mention the complaints about the replayability of the game and the tedium of leveling alternate characters – mainly because there’s only one starting area to progress through for the first 20 levels? Sorry – you don’t pay attention to the forums. “The number of people having trouble is much much lower than the number of people enjoying the game” – either you have access to data the rest of us don’t or you’re content with being a reckless journalist.

You touched on loot but I’m surprised you didn’t mention the limited bag space and the annoyance of having to leave a majority of your loot on the ground while adventuring – made much worse by a broken storage system. You got through the first 20 levels without using email - leaving you unaware that it's mostly broken. That's the problem - you didn't bother to look around at the features of the game. I guess you never tried trading with another player only for your traded items to end up in your quest or resource storage bags rendering them useless. Did you bother doung anything during your first 20 levels to get an accurate impression of the game beyond just moving from quest to quest?

Numerous bugs and exploits are plaguing the game. Maybe you chose a PvE server and didn’t realize players are running around abusing bugs which allowed them to one-shot each other. Player cities – which were supposed to be the pinnacle of player achievement, already exist a week into launch thanks to duped gold ruining the economy. Again, your article reeks of someone who ran around playing an MMO mostly solo as if it were a single player game. That’s fine for random players but game reviewers should be stepping outside of their comfort zone and touching all aspects of the game. Ignoring the forums is ignoring the community, which is part of what makes an MMO an MMO. Maybe it'd be best if you stuck to console reviews and someone more qualified reviewed Age of Conan.

Had you actually visited the forums you would have realized the low-resolution problem you complained about was a feature and not a bug, and then you could have properly criticized its poor implementation instead of just assuming it’s a problem that’ll eventually work itself out. Funcom is more likely to fix the negative aspects of their game if reviewers are more honest and informed. Here's to hoping someone else reviews the next 20 levels.
May 30, 2008 7:42:42 PM

Pmid said:
If you’re giving your opinion about a game you’re giving a review of it – regardless of whether it’s a full or partial review. Pretending this isn’t a review is ridiculous and several of you are nitpicking terms.


It's not a review. It's a look at the first 20 levels. And it's one person's impressions. You disagree with it. That's fine. What's important to you in an MMO isn't important to me. It's OK to disagree, even on the Internet.

Since the game is so much trouble though can I assume that you won't be playing it or visiting the official forums anymore? Seems kind of silly to continue to play a game that you don't like or frequent the forums for a game you aren't playing.

Or, are you still playing it. And if so... why?
May 30, 2008 7:43:29 PM

Cyberqat said:
Quote:
The game has had the smoothest release of any MMO to date and that includes WoW


This isn't true and is unfair to NCSoft. Every NCSoft launch I've seen has been smoother. A bigplace AoC falls down is customer support-- something that NC excels at.

All in all, if you ignore the impossible customer support, the launch of AoC hasn't been bad but it has NOT been as clean as City of Heroes, City of Villains, Guild Wars etc....


What you are ignoring is they went live with 400,000 subscribers. None of the titles you have mentioned had half that amount launch. It's much easier to provide support when you have a much smaller base to deal with. Your first two titles also sucked and Guild Wars is disputable as even being a MMO. Further more none of them even tried to push the envelope in terms of technology.

Not lashing out at you just pointing out that this was a hugely successful release on a massive scale.
May 30, 2008 8:07:08 PM

Some of you are being real idiots with you criticism of the article. Criticize the game all you want but why are you jumping all over an article which based on it's title and the author's own statements, both in the article and outside of it, clearly define this as by no means being a be-all, say-all, definitive look at the game. If you've all really played it so much (rather than just picking up on the rants of others) then go ahead and write your own definitive, comprehensive review of the game and beat THG to the punch.
May 30, 2008 9:00:40 PM

Yes, your article talks about combat and questing – both of which should have taken less than a single play session to form an opinion on. While it takes time to master, the essence of the combat engine can be grasped within minutes. Seeing as you barely bothered with the other aspects of the game I have to wonder what you spent all that time doing while leveling to 20. A review of your journey to fill your experience bar 20 times makes for a rather pointless MMO article. You didn’t even bother to mention that some of the features you enjoyed – like nighttime solo play - are no longer available once you leave the starting island. Based on your article I’d be purchasing the game believing it had a strong single player element when in reality it doesn’t.

Despite the repeated claims that your not-a-review only focused on combat and questing, at least 60% of it touches on economy, graphics, performance and stability. You speak only from your own experiences but please consider what makes for a more informative statement?

“I can only speak from my own experience here but I'd categorize this client as very sound.”

or

“The forums are full of technical problems and complaints about performance, but personally I haven’t run into any issues yet”.

People reading the former - who haven’t played the game - will walk away from your article with the impression that AoC is relatively problem free and a safe purchase. Your head-in-the-sand review style is misleading. And while that wouldn’t matter if you only reviewed the combat and questing systems I remind you that you did spend half your article discussing how well the game looked and ran.

If you spent less time backpedaling and more time focused on improving you might actually be decent at writing articles one day. As it stands every time I come across a review at Tom’s which has me rolling my eyes 99% of the time your name is tacked onto it. It gets old. If it’s not bad game reviews it's bad movie reviews chock full of spoilers - probably because you can't figure out what else to fill the article with.
May 30, 2008 9:00:53 PM

purplerat said:
If you've all really played it so much (rather than just picking up on the rants of others) then go ahead and write your own definitive, comprehensive review of the game and beat THG to the punch.


Did, two of them:

http://blogs.sun.com/gameguy

But I basically agree that its bad form to personally attack the reviewer just because you disagree with his conclusions. Respect him as a writer and cocnentrate on game issues.

Ad hominem attack just weakens your argument.
May 30, 2008 9:24:40 PM

Wow! Someone has it in for you, Travis. Pmid even hates your movie reviews.

You know, it's funny -- you complain about stability issues with Hellgate: London in your review, and the next thing you know, the Hellgate fanboys are ready to crucify you (hell, they photoshopped a picture of Ben and I as "Dumb and Dumber" just for mentioning what you thought of the game). Then you write about how you didn't experience any client issues with Age of Conan, even though lots of people complained about lag, and then all of the sudden Pmid is taking you to school and smacking you with a ruler like the nun in "Blues Brothers." You just can't win...

BTW, that was a nice read, Cyberqat. Thanks for the link.
May 30, 2008 9:58:31 PM

The problem I have with his movie reviews is how they’re padded with spoiler information. In the recent Iron Man review he discussed the musical score and how he felt it worked with the movie. That’s good, that’s the direction you want to go in with your reviews. Instead he goes on to mention cameo appearances and nods to characters in the Iron Man universe. That’s not what I want to see in a film review. Those are little surprises a movie-goer wants to enjoy firsthand without having to dodge references to them in a review before seeing the film. It’s completely possible to review the merits of a movie without dipping into spoiler territory but this particular writer often fails to achieve that. My husband and I have both given up on reading movie reviews at Tom's because of it.

I do tend to enjoy your reviews RobWright and have nothing against this site.
May 30, 2008 10:21:16 PM

I know what the problem is. Hitting ESC a few times should get you out of auto-attack. ;) 
May 30, 2008 10:55:25 PM

Pmid said:


Here's to hoping someone else reviews the next 20 levels.



Here's to hoping you find someplace else to rant.

Travis enjoyed his experience. He then wrote that he enjoyed his experience. His job is not to seek you out and find out if YOU enjoyed YOUR experience. It's as if your expectations are that he writes his reviews by cut and pasting forum complaints.

I've had a good experience with the game. I have a crappy system too. I set my system to high with shadows and occlusion off and shader 2 and it runs at 35 plus fps (amd4000+ and 2megs). My impressions are that the game is surprisingly good. My impressions are that everyone in my guild is having a pretty good first impression too. My impression is that Pmid approaches either the Travis or AoC with some sort of vendetta.

A few points but without wasting my time with quotes:

Giving 'impressions' is perfectly acceptable in magazine type journalism for any product that you require an extended period of time with. Happens all the time from Car and Driver to Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports can take up to 3 years to give a final review. So on this issue you clearly have some sort of bone to pick because someone didn't read your QQ post.

Complaints on replayability? WTH are you talking about. Through level 20 is basically a tutorial. I haven't found a game yet that offers REAL replayability in a PVE environment. I hate grinding alts in every MMO I've played and I don't expect that to change. Are you telling me playing undead is suddenly an entirely different game and oh so much more exciting then playing a tauren? I just want the Alt-treadmill to be over as quickly as possible and I will be begging to have a /level function like DAoC had.

Limited bag space. Kind of an issue, but you do get separate tabs for quest items and for crafting. Most of my garbage in other games was accumulated crafting resources. I'll grant you this one, but tell you you're overplaying your hand. I've NEVER had a trading issue. The AH appears to be working for me now after 11 days. It's not like I gathered so much glorious stuff in 11 days that this is killing my experience.

It's unfortunate that gold duping occured. It looks like they are resolving that issue though rapidly.

Ignoring the forums isn't ignoring the community. It has always amazed me how small a portion of MMO's bothers to post. People having fun typically don't post. My guild has 75 people in it that are having a generally good first impression. I've only had 2 people quit. No one has had anything seriously negative to say. There have been some bug complaints but none have been game killers. The only issue that has been brought up to the point of being a negative in the guild forums was the nerf to mage aoe spells.

I'd actually go so far as to say the best way to ruin the fun you are having with a game is to go look at the forums.



May 31, 2008 2:47:14 AM

I deleted/edited my original post, since I felt it was unfairly negative.

I can see where Pmid is coming from, and do not appreciate the condescending tone towards his opinion. Attempts to try to discredit his posts with comments like "if you don't like the game, why are you playing it", were pretty weak.

The problem with these initial impressions, is that they are just so narrow. I don't understand why they were even posted, if they were going to be like this. They do not go in depth into anything, and leave out many inherent flaws in the game. I hope readers of this are critical enough to take them for what they're worth... just 1 players impressions of 1-20 on 1 character on a PvE server, never grouping, never trying PvP, never using any of tools like the mail, or bank and basically just doing the 1-20 quests... which translates to pretty meaningless impressions.

I am happy you were happy, but I really hope that nobody actually buys the game based on this non-review, from such a narrow perspective. This non-review pretty much encouraged just that.

In a full review, I hope that things will be looked at more in depth.
For starters:
Take a long look at how the combat system performs in the long run, and under PvP situations.
Actually play a little on a PvP server.
Join a guild, and try to form groups.
Look at the PvP minigames fairly, as compared to competing products.
Instead of looking at the single player 1-20 quests, take a look at what quests are offered at slightly higher levels.
Note the actual viable end game content, and its complexity.
Observe the AI, and take note of the obvious patterned behavior.
Try to use the chat interface, bank, and other tools.

I hope that a few months from now, that it will be apparent how shallow this game's gimmicks really are, and we'll see a realistic review... but from the impressions, I was truly disappointed by your observations. Surely, 1-20, I saw more.... and was not as pleased.
May 31, 2008 3:19:22 PM

Actually I played 4 characters and did engage in some PvP. The original article was about 4x as long but we wanted to save the PvP and class areas for the final review.

All of the items you listed will be looked at in the full review but they may not make it into the actual article. A review detailing all of that plus our normal review areas would be over 10 pages long... unless you want just a bullet list of each item with the words "good" and "bad" written out beside them. The game needs time to get through the launch and we need more time to play it.

I was never trying to discredit anyone's posts by asking if they are still playing the game. It's just a question. It's strange that I haven't gotten an answer. I'll ask you the same one since you seem somewhat unhappy with your early experience.

Are you still playing?
June 1, 2008 3:47:10 PM

To disagree with somebody's opinion is one thing, but to say they should not have even expressed it because you don't think it's correct is another. Talk about condescending. A lot of people have experienced the parts of the game that Travis reviewed and think it's great. If you don't agree or have thoughts about other parts of the game he didn't mention, then great go write your own review. Simply ranting (especially against the author of the article) just makes you look like a disgruntled idiot.

Quote:
I hope that a few months from now, that it will be apparent how shallow this game's gimmicks really are...

So you hope that any issues you have with the game are not fixed in the next few months, rather that they be just as bad so you can be the guy who called it first and say "told you so!".
June 1, 2008 4:18:17 PM

Someones sure earning their mony even if a few people (who're making them earn it) dont think so heheh. Ill be looking forwards to the actual review, and am very interested in the single player part of the game. PS also noticed alot of strangers on here not liking this game hmmmm
June 2, 2008 4:28:29 AM

I think alot fo you are forgetting the obvious here, firstly it has the record number of players for the first week so you think it's going to be crowded? I think the answer is yes and you can't deny it.

Do you think that they expected over 400,000 people to play in the first week and the number continues to rise? Well maybe they did and maybe they didn't but the fact is that to supply an effective customer service to so many people requires a lot of man power in many languages and in many different countries.
So you have to be reasonable in thinking that obvious with the amount of cash they made from the 400,000 initial players they will put it back into their customer support and bug fixing departments to maintain continuity of their product in a stable manner right?

Moreover, it is the first week of a game that has been developed as the flagship game to launch into windows vista DX10, do you think that windows is not going to work with them to fix bugs? Of course they will, vista needs all the help it can get at the moment and this is their foot into the gaming door so to speak.
Bugs take time to fix, if you have a bug then report the bug and just try to keep playing, it will be patched, if not now in the future.

A second note is that many of todays great MMO games still have bugs and have been out for over 4 years and have millions of subscribers and yet they are still there. Sometimes you just need to take it with a grain of salt and a chill pill.

I think most of these bugs people experience are from not meeting the hardware requirements, even if they just bought the computer 6 months ago. You just have to pony up the cash and get a new card in 3 weeks time when nvidia and ATi release, this game is not heavily CPU based and relies on your graphics card to push the pixels more so than not.

P.S. Thanks for giving us the insight into the game and taking the time to write about your reflection based upon the first week. I am sure that i will enjoy the review which is coming soon I would like to think. Gives me something to do at work at least *grin*
June 2, 2008 5:54:14 AM

purplerat said:
I'm getting more and more discouraged by the utter lack of critical reading abilities of many of the people on this forum (a forum that I often attribute as having an above average level of intelligence amongst it's members). The gripes you are going on about have nothing to do with the article. Instead you apparently just saw- not read- an article where *gasp* somebody was praising portions of a game you obviously do not like. So rather than actually consider what he was saying you just pulled out your Jump-To-A-Conclusion mat and away you went.


The irony and hypocrisy in your statements make your lack of critical reading abilities crystal clear. I think I’ve made it more than obvious that I’ve read the contents of this article – apparently closer than you have - even going as far as to dissect its contents. My suggestion for next time – consider what other people are saying before you pull out your own Jump-To-A-Conclusion mat.



Everything else – The complaints about replayability are valid. Since someone brought up WoW let’s use it as an example. Yes, there is a difference between leveling an undead and a tauren – they have completely unique starting areas and their own unique quest-lines. Every character you create in AoC is forced to run through the same tutorial, the same starting city – great for a single player adventure but bad for an MMO.

How many characters did it take before you stopped bothering to listen to or read the NPC dialogue because you knew what you needed to do from your previous characters? This article is a look at the first 20 levels – yet the reviewer approaches the game as if he’s playing a one-shot solo adventure. Yes, it’s all very entertaining the first time through – but with the rapid leveling speed in this game there needs to either be some serious end-game content to keep you entertained - or a whole side of the game you’ve never seen that makes the idea of rolling a new character interesting. To Funcom’s credit the destiny quest-lines vary based on which of the three archetypes you’ve chosen, but most MMO’s already offer class-specific quests in addition to multiple starting areas/stories.

While I doubt most of the players visit the AoC forums, there is enough traffic to the point where a post can’t stay on the front page for more than a few minutes before being pushed down by another legitimate complaint. Claiming the forums are used only “by a very small but extremely vocal minority of players” is an extremely biased and ignorant opinion made by someone who’s clearly out of touch with MMO communities.

If you want to write your impressions of how you play an MMO – I suggest using a blog. If you’re looking to write a review for an MMO you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and attempt to cover most of what your readers are hoping to hear about. Just because you’re limiting your opinion to your first impressions of the game doesn’t mean there’s nothing past graphics and questing to write about. Nobody is expecting a write-up on city building, crafting, mounted combat, raids and guild warfare - but there are plenty of basics which fall into the 1-20 category.

What is the character creation like? What kinds of options are available? What range of personalities were you able to create?

What was grouping like? What group options are available? How does the solo players experience compare?

What can you do with your treasure beyond selling it to a vendor? Is it mostly bound to the player? Can it be traded? Can it be auctioned? Can it be stored?

Does the game make much use of instancing? How large are the instances? Is world transition seamless or zone-based?

Are there many differences between the various classes before level 20? When does each class start to come into its own?

How was PvP at the early levels? What PvP options are available for low level players? How different are the climates on a PvP server versus a PvE?

What can a new player expect in terms of support? How long did it take you to get a petition answered? Does the game offer forums? If so - how is the developer feedback on the forums?

What kind of features does the interface offer? Is it customizable? If so – are there a significant number of addons available already for the game?

Does it seem like most of the polish is focused on the beginning, middle, or end game? Can you offer a brief summary of features available for players once they get beyond level 20? Which promised features didn’t make it into launch?

If I were a potential subscriber these would all be points I would hope to see briefly covered when reading an article that supposedly discusses the 1-20 experience. This article didn’t even cover a fraction of those. If you’re being paid to review 20 levels of an MMO and all you can write about is that the graphics are pretty and the quests are fun – well I hope your pay reflects your coverage. I don’t know how it works at Tom’s but I suspect you’re being paid to analyze and review games, not just play them. There’s an important difference.

I do have problems with the state of the game and those complaints were written to Funcom in the appropriate forums. This forum is where I give my opinions on this article – and I’ve done just that. If you’re writing the next review I suggest removing those blinders you’re wearing first.
June 2, 2008 7:21:45 AM

Sorry for responding days later. It was the weekend :) 

Purplerat was correct in my taking a somewhat condescending stance myself in saying that narrow impressions should not have been posted... but, I really do believe that, so I can't really retract that statement. Its not really a matter of saying the opinion isn't valid, because its different than mine, but more so a feeling that readers deserved more negative balance, and depth in the impressions. They were just labled as "impressions", but there is an obligation when you know that what you say will influence buying decisions.

I realize that it will not be smart to go into every detail in a review, since readers won't have the time or attention span to read all that. I was pointing to areas that I find are clearly flawed. Others may disagree, but certainly they would be areas of interest.

As far as Purplerat's assumption that I want to pull an "I told you so!", well, thats not really too accurate. I simply feel that this game is getting too much praise, and thus far has not been looked at honestly by an online magazine. If there was a place where the game could get an honest review, it might be here.

For Travis' "are you still playing?" question.... this will be hard to answer without a rant ;) 

The short answer is: "No."

It's not because of any technical problems or anything like that. I feel that FC has had an OK launch, and the game client runs great on my system. I stopped playing because almost everything in the game has been done before, and better someplace else, with the exception of the combat system... which I may have mentioned I thought was just a gimmick. I didn't really dislike the combat system, until I started noticing AI patterns, which basically just made it feel tedious to use in PvE, and in PvP it just felt clumbsy. Under it all, I didn't feel like the system created much substance in the way of strategy, and if it can't do that, its just hitting more buttons needlessly.

I should stop there, though. I'm not trying to write a review on this game... but in all honesty, to say I was "somewhat unhappy" with my experience is an understatement. I did not feel that this game delivered on any of its promises, and.... I hated it. I know some players who did enjoy the game though, most of which who are less nit-picky than I am, but even those people would not give impressions without at least a good amount of negative balance. This is largly what made me feel that the impressions had blinders on. Taking a step back, that assumption might not have been entirely accurate...

I know I'm comming accross quite negative, but in reality I am just trying to encourage more critical observations in the full review.
June 2, 2008 1:58:33 PM

I think the forum response to the article brings up an interesting point. The divergence seems to be in what people consider the average MMO player. It would make for an interesting bit of research to see what people really do when they play an MMO.

I've played multiple MMOs in both competitive and non-competitive PvP and PvE environments. I rarely care to delve into the games forums or get overly involved with the auctions/mail/trading community. I'm also not overly concerned with replay-ability in an MMO setting. I've always felt that a good MMO should remove the desire/need for alts.

My opinions and drives in the game are obviously different from the view held by many of the people who responded to this thread. I think it would make an interesting future article.


Quote:
Since the game is so much trouble though can I assume that you won't be playing it or visiting the official forums anymore? Seems kind of silly to continue to play a game that you don't like or frequent the forums for a game you aren't playing.

Or, are you still playing it. And if so... why?


This seems like such an odd sentiment to me. Since when have human beings done anything based on logic? Why would anyone spend hours of their life building a life within some digital world when they could be making the one around them better? It's like a bad relationship. Sometimes the hardships are their own rewards ; )
June 2, 2008 4:09:36 PM

Pmid, I read the entire article and pretty much agree with Travis as far as early gameplay of AoC. That's not to say he's absolutly correct or that others can't disagree or otherwise not like the game. Your response however is basically just to bash him because you neither like the game nor the author of this article. Seeing the stranger tag on your name and the 11 posts I thought maybe you were just trolling against AoC. But when I checked it looks like you are just trolling against this author. Have you ever posted on this forum other than to bash a review by this particular writer?
June 2, 2008 5:41:53 PM

Hmm – why can’t I have a differing opinion without being a troll? You’re making the mistake of assuming I dislike the articles because I dislike the writer. How silly - in reality it’s the ridiculous article(s) in addition to the way he handles criticism which result in a negative opinion of the writer. As I said - most of the time I stumble across an article which leaves me shaking my head it has tmeachem’s name on it – either a poorly written game review, a whine or rant about the game or film industry, a spoiler-infested movie review or a preview-article which is often little more than a glorified post warning the readers to prepare for the coming of his next bad review.

My husband and I both frequent Tom’s site regularly. I don’t post often and it wasn’t until recently that I even realized I was posting several times on articles belonging to the same writer. That should only be viewed as a sign that he disappoints often, although I suppose it’s easier for the writer to believe it’s a ludicrous “auto-attack” response. Maybe instead of looking over my posting history your time would be better spent reviewing his – you’ll find negative opinions towards his articles and his forum behavior fairly often.

I've spent more time writing here than the article or its author warrants and there's little else to be said. If tmeachem finds the notion of being trolled more palatable than understanding he has much room for improvement as a reviewer - well that's his loss and we can look forward to more bad articles. Despite his smug responses I get the feeling his next MMO review will include most of the topics I and others pointed out were missing from his AoC "impressions" - now that we've done his job for him and spelled out a variety of topics an MMO review could contain . :sarcastic: 
June 2, 2008 6:57:13 PM

If you dislike his opinion so much then why bother reading his articles? Even if you read it then realized he wrote it why not just leave it at that? It's not just that quite a few of your post are geared towards bashing his opinion ALL of your posts are. You seem to have such a strong opinion about AoC and a willingness to share it but why not do it in any other thread other than one where you get a chance to rip this writer for liking it? It's not like you just strongly disagree with his point of view, you spend almost as much time belittling him and showing your disgust and disapointment with his articles. The reason I checked your posts (which only took 2 mouse clicks) is because if I'm going to take your opinions on this game seriously I want to make sure you're not just trolling against the game. For all I know you've never even played this game and are just ripping it based on others info in order to make the writer look bad.
June 2, 2008 7:54:11 PM

Pmid said:
Hmm – why can’t I have a differing opinion without being a troll? You’re making the mistake of assuming I dislike the articles because I dislike the writer. How silly - in reality it’s the ridiculous article(s) in addition to the way he handles criticism which result in a negative opinion of the writer. As I said - most of the time I stumble across an article which leaves me shaking my head it has tmeachem’s name on it – either a poorly written game review, a whine or rant about the game or film industry, a spoiler-infested movie review or a preview-article which is often little more than a glorified post warning the readers to prepare for the coming of his next bad review.

My husband and I both frequent Tom’s site regularly. I don’t post often and it wasn’t until recently that I even realized I was posting several times on articles belonging to the same writer. That should only be viewed as a sign that he disappoints often, although I suppose it’s easier for the writer to believe it’s a ludicrous “auto-attack” response. Maybe instead of looking over my posting history your time would be better spent reviewing his – you’ll find negative opinions towards his articles and his forum behavior fairly often.

I've spent more time writing here than the article or its author warrants and there's little else to be said. If tmeachem finds the notion of being trolled more palatable than understanding he has much room for improvement as a reviewer - well that's his loss and we can look forward to more bad articles. Despite his smug responses I get the feeling his next MMO review will include most of the topics I and others pointed out were missing from his AoC "impressions" - now that we've done his job for him and spelled out a variety of topics an MMO review could contain . :sarcastic: 


Pmid, I understand and respect your opinion on Travis' work, even though I may disagree with it. However, I must take exception to your comments about how he handles criticism. I don't think his posts here on this discussion thread are smug or ludicrous. Rather than ignoring people's criticisms on this forum, Travis is attempting to address them and answer the points brought up by you and others. He's doing so in a professional manner, without personal insults or flame-bating. If you think Travis asking if people are still playing the game is offensive and/or immaterial to the discussion, well, then go ahead and make that point. I disagree, and I think others would too. Travis never called you a troll. The author of the article made a off-hand remark and it's clearly upset you.

But Pmid, you're taking this to irrational lengths now. You're repeating your criticisms of the author in a cyclical argument that's gotten away from the core of this discussion thread, which is Age of Conan. If you disagree with his assessment of the game and how he wrote, then please, by all means, keep writing. And I'll even give you an invitation to write your own first week impressions piece and pitch it my way. But let's stop this before it gets carried away. Looking up your post history? Who said anything about that?That's a little paranoid don't you think? And now you're going to take credit for his full review of AoC, which hasn't even been written yet, if it meets your standards? You're continually bashing a writer and now setting yourself up as the reason his work may actually improve? Now THAT is ludicrous. Pmid, you sound quite intelligent, which I believe most of Toms readers are. So please don't take offense when I say this is unbecoming.

Whether you choose to keep reading Travis' work or not, or decide to continue the discussion in this thread about Age of Conan, is entirely up to you. Either way, I hope you continue 1) reading Tom's Games, 2) engaging in intelligent discussions on the forum, 3) write your own Age of Conan first week impressions piece and send it my way, and 4) put this diatribe to rest.
June 2, 2008 7:58:06 PM

purplerat said:
If you dislike his opinion so much then why bother reading his articles? Even if you read it then realized he wrote it why not just leave it at that? It's not just that quite a few of your post are geared towards bashing his opinion ALL of your posts are. You seem to have such a strong opinion about AoC and a willingness to share it but why not do it in any other thread other than one where you get a chance to rip this writer for liking it? It's not like you just strongly disagree with his point of view, you spend almost as much time belittling him and showing your disgust and disapointment with his articles. The reason I checked your posts (which only took 2 mouse clicks) is because if I'm going to take your opinions on this game seriously I want to make sure you're not just trolling against the game. For all I know you've never even played this game and are just ripping it based on others info in order to make the writer look bad.


I’m not sure what you’re looking at but I’ve only commented on three articles - this one, a disappointing article on Starcraft II touted as “new information” when 95% of it was cut and pasted from other news sources, and a rant from a jaded gamer who was obviously tired of MMOs in general. If you believe that constitutes some sort of trolling campaign you’re sorely mistaken. While there’s definitely some half-assed work happening here it’s not on my end.

Why would I post my opinions on AoC in any thread other than one dedicated to an AoC review? Your lack of understanding makes little sense. Should my AoC complaints - or the complaints aimed at a poor AoC article – be placed in the Mario Cart discussion thread instead? Would you find that more logical?

AoC could be a nice game but it has a lot of problems combined with abysmal customer support – not a good combination. I also read a general game review on this site which briefly hypes AoC’s “revolutionary” and “interactive” combat system and how it sets it apart from other MMOs which - according to many - only require you to activate your auto-attack key to fight successfully. I really don’t understand those comments at all. When’s the last time anyone played an MMO where you could succeed at a non-trivial encounter just by turning on your auto-attack function? I would love to see someone try to auto-attack their way to victory as a rogue in WoW PvP. It’s been a while since I’ve played it but doesn’t City of Heroes require you to actively press buttons to continue attacking? I believe the game had an auto-attack function but you could only assign it to one attack at a time – best of luck auto-punching your opponent to death. EQ2 has an auto attack function but you’re not going to win many fights without pressing buttons to activate your other abilities. The same goes for LoTRO – a game which introduced reactive and chained combos into the mix.

What’s so revolutionary about combat in AoC? Ok, so I need to press two buttons to do a taunting blow in AoC. I also need to hit two buttons to do a taunting blow in LoTRO in addition to waiting on my character to block an attack. Does that mean LoTRO has the more interactive combat? The shielding in AoC force you to choose the direction of your attacks wisely – so does playing a rogue in WoW. Tabula Rasa forces you to be continuously aware of your cover as well as the enemies – not all that unlike shielding in AoC. As someone else pointed out, much of AoC's combat is a rehashed gimmick. That isn’t to say that it’s an awful combat system – I like it just fine. But when you see a reviewer hyping it up you have to wonder if they even play MMOs much at all. In fact, I would say the lack of an auto-attack in AoC is more of a drawback than a plus. The whole point of an auto-attack function is so a player can micromanage tasks that his character wouldn't have to - like typing. Stopping to type important information to your party means your character stops fighting altogether – highly unrealistic and extremely disadvantageous to players like myself who prefer not to speak on voice - as a female gamer I can’t say two words into a microphone around players I don’t know without getting bombarded with a dozen personal questions. It also punishes players with a higher latency because their true DPS takes a hit since the server isn't handling their auto-attacks between special/combo attacks.

I’ve played AoC and I’ve taken a long, hard look at many of it’s features – apparently more so than the reviewer and probably in the same amount of time. You’re welcome to assume I’ve never touched the game if that makes it easier to dismiss my points you disagree with. I would like to see this game judged on it's actual merits and faults. The single player destiny campaigns are wonderful and worthy of praise. But the combat system? Is it really that revolutionary? Maybe if the reviewer had grouped more/at all he would have experienced the frustration in trying to communicate during battle. I love the voice acting and the NWN-style delivery system. Praise that – which he did – but also make it clear that the voice acting nearly stops completely once you leave the starting island. If the game is running wonderful on your system then mention it, but also research how it’s running for others and whether or not they’re getting adequate support.

I just want to see a complete, unbiased review – one that points out to Funcom what they did right and where they need improvement. Take off the kid gloves and stop treating them like this is their first MMO launch – they’ve been in this business for 7 years.
June 2, 2008 8:02:19 PM

robwright said:
Looking up your post history? Who said anything about that?That's a little paranoid don't you think?


I believe you might be missing/ignoring purplerat's comments, which are focusing on just that - as well as many troll references.
June 2, 2008 8:32:44 PM

Pmid,
I apologize if you feel personally attacked by my checking your past post. Unfortunately when comparing the opinions of a writer on this site who I've ready many times before and respect and somebody who's only post are scathing criticisms of that writer I think it's necessary to weigh that fact.

Anyways aside from any technical issues which I've yet to experience and are to be expected in a new launch of this type I feel the game is very appealing to many people. One of the great successes of WoW is that it appealed very well to the none hardcore MMO player. AoC doesn't not necessarily go after the same crowd but does take a similar approach in grabbing a different type of MMO player. I personally like it. Sure there are areas that can be improved but as somebody who's played the first 10 levels in the week since launch it still has my attention and I'm looking forward to continuing the game. I think a lot of other people would agree. But I can also see that certain types of MMO fans my not like this game at all. That's fine by me.
June 2, 2008 8:46:54 PM

Out of curiosity why would any sane reviewer add information about bugs/hardware issues that they didn't experience? In the same vein how would he review the lack of voice acting outside of Tortage, when he says he played up until the point of completing the quests in Tortage ...

I put the disk in my drive installed the game, downloaded the patches and turned it on. The only bug I've experienced was on a single exit the game wouldn't restart as it thought the client was still running. Why would it be beneficial to anyone to put a bunch of random crap from a bug forum in a review that I might write? I hardly see how someone with a machine that has god knows how many problems reflects on my experience. A review or first impression should be based on the writer's experience at the time. It isn't up to Travis to compile and analyze everyone else's experiences.

I can't say I've loved everything I've read from Travis, but most of your criticisms here seem completely off the wall. The things you mention about the combat system are valid points. Revolutionary may have been a strong word to use, but the combat system is at least different and a bit more reactive. When did you ever have to predict where you'd be attacked or where to attack next in WoW even as a rogue? You simply had to position yourself behind your opponent.
June 2, 2008 9:17:13 PM

Pmid, having a right to criticize is one thing. You come out of the chute basically telling Travis he hasn't done his job. Then you proceed to tell him what his job should be by giving what is basically a laundry list of detailed steps on how one should review games.

However, as I want this post to be useful, I will give you my 2 week impressions:

I'm the GM for a mid-sized guild with numbers just short of 90 total in the guild. Of these 90, between 10 and 12 are alts (can't remember off top of my head) and about 10 haven't been on for a week so I'm guessing they quit. At any time of day we have people grouped in Sanctum and now in the Tomb in Fields of the Dead and Cisterns. I'm now in my 50's and have done all the Sewers, Sanctum, and FoD group quests short of the Tomb. It isn't that hard to group. I've been in both pick-up and guild groups. It worked seemlessly once you learn how to join the leaders instance. The guild tabs are working. The guild bank is working. Trading is working. The people are generally having fun in mid-level content. So far nothing has been a game breaker.

The following bugs/issues have been brought up enough that I know they're a real concern about game play:

We have had maybe 12-15 people affected by respec'ing screwing up your gathering skills.

We have just started to consider laying the first blocks on the guild town, but we have decided to wait another week or two just in case because of bug rumors.

We have had some people bit by the poor customer service. That is very legit. 2 day waits followed by a useless email. The parties effected were still able to play the game during this time period so I don't know how bad an actual 'broken' game experience would be.

Again, the mage classes were upset by the nerf and they switched classes. It's notable that they switched classes instead of quitting.

*So, all of this said, people are still generally happy with the game now 2 to 3 weeks in. The general feeling in guild chat is upbeat. Many of the people we have are transfers from other MMO's and I noted they are here most of the time so they aren't time-splitting between the MMO's.

I'd argue that a game is not made more replayable by the difference between Tauren and Undead zones (as an example) because you end up in the same zones by level 20. In fact, I'd just say it's more annoying because I had to go to Thottbot for quest guidance more often. So far, I think only DAoC really gave you a feeling of being in a totally different land because you never did share zones except for the RvR.

It's also logical that the initial review be done from a PvE standpoint (which was a concern of yours) because there are more PvE'ers based on server growth. Initial 9 pve 5 pvp 1 rp-pvp US, 5,2, and 1 EU. Subsequent 5, 3, and 1. So appears that PvE is still strongest portion of population (19pve/10pvp/3rp-pvp) at approximately 60%. This is supported by the server growth still expanding more PvE worlds than PvP.

So there are my initial impressions. The game is off to a good start. I'll give my final review when I get 24 level 80s on the first raid.
June 2, 2008 9:35:10 PM

clay12340 said:
Out of curiosity why would any sane reviewer add information about bugs/hardware issues that they didn't experience? In the same vein how would he review the lack of voice acting outside of Tortage, when he says he played up until the point of completing the quests in Tortage ...

I put the disk in my drive installed the game, downloaded the patches and turned it on. The only bug I've experienced was on a single exit the game wouldn't restart as it thought the client was still running. Why would it be beneficial to anyone to put a bunch of random crap from a bug forum in a review that I might write? I hardly see how someone with a machine that has god knows how many problems reflects on my experience. A review or first impression should be based on the writer's experience at the time. It isn't up to Travis to compile and analyze everyone else's experiences.

I can't say I've loved everything I've read from Travis, but most of your criticisms here seem completely off the wall. The things you mention about the combat system are valid points. Revolutionary may have been a strong word to use, but the combat system is at least different and a bit more reactive. When did you ever have to predict where you'd be attacked or where to attack next in WoW even as a rogue? You simply had to position yourself behind your opponent.


I think you’re completely underestimating the amount of energy management and attention to combinations required by a WoW rogue to stunlock an opponent just so you stay behind them. If you believe it’s as simple as moving yourself behind a PC/NPC and turn on your auto-attack you’re kidding yourself.

Predicting where you’ll be attacked in AoC is possible in PvP if you’re familiar with your opponent’s special attacks and the direction a majority of them will be coming from. But versus an NPC you’re just guessing and better off leaving them alone and on their default settings. Short of being gifted with the ability to see into the future there’s no way to accurately guess where each swing of an NPC is coming from - and by time their swing visually occurs it’s too late to readjust your personal shielding.

I disagree with your opinions on bugs and hardware. I’m not saying this is the case, but if the reviewer represents 5% of the people in the game not having problems and the other 95% of the player base is, why do you feel it’d be responsible to write an article claiming the game is having a smooth launch and is relatively bug free? The point being - in order to avoid making that mistake you have to be willing to do a little research and the best way to do that is by visiting the forums in addition to listening to comments within the game. Saying only unhappy people visit the forums is like saying that only happy players who can play the game are actually inside it playing instead of on the forums complaining. You need to pay attention to both sides to get an accurate view of how the launch is going. And perhaps in doing so you find out you’re one of the few people not having technical problems and can write a review which accurately represents the facts. If you approach your review thinking that only loud whiners visit the forums then you’re allowing your bias to interfere with your job as a reviewer. I feel that’s a very relevant point to bring up.

Just to point out what a mess things are from a customer support standpoint, a Funcom moderator has stickied a post from a player which advised everyone –regarldess of their computer specs - to turn their graphical options to the highest settings to improve their performance because - according to the poster - all of the other settings were bugged and hurt the game’s performance rather than helped. As insane as that sounded the Funcom moderator stickied the thread without adding any additional information. What exactly is Funcom trying to say by doing that? Are they endorsing the suggestion? Are they silently agreeing that the low and medium video settings give worse performance than the high settings? And if so - why isn't it a part of their known issues list? That's the level of interaction you can expect from Funcom on their forums. Their customer service borders on the ridiculous and they've been in the MMO business for seven years now and had everything to prove after AO's launch. Take the kid's gloves off. Be fair - but be accurate and thorough.
June 2, 2008 10:40:33 PM

Pmid said:

I disagree with your opinions on bugs and hardware. I’m not saying this is the case, but if the reviewer represents 5% of the people in the game not having problems and the other 95% of the player base is, why do you feel it’d be responsible to write an article claiming the game is having a smooth launch and is relatively bug free? The point being - in order to avoid making that mistake you have to be willing to do a little research and the best way to do that is by visiting the forums in addition to listening to comments within the game. Saying only unhappy people visit the forums is like saying that only happy players who can play the game are actually inside it playing instead of on the forums complaining. You need to pay attention to both sides to get an accurate view of how the launch is going. And perhaps in doing so you find out you’re one of the few people not having technical problems and can write a review which accurately represents the facts. If you approach your review thinking that only loud whiners visit the forums then you’re allowing your bias to interfere with your job as a reviewer. I feel that’s a very relevant point to bring up.



No, ABSOLUTELY NOT, the forums are the WORST place to go for helpful reviewing information. Forums by their nature draw a limited crowd of people who are talking instead of doing. Talking to people in game would be legitimate, but he said this was his first impressions and he'll give a full review after he's had more time. Here are the first 9 non-stickied subjects in the AoC general forums. Does this look like a useful way for a reviewer to spend his/her day when it is a clearly stated first impression?

Constantly patching... WTF
Funcom spend far too much time and money on Tortage ( 1 2)
Why Jail System Will Be A Huge Success ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
They work on a new Dancing System!? And Ignore the rest?
Devs, or anyone for that matter
add the nipples back to the Succubus pet and the medusa
Can hardly wait until June 20th.... ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
How are people honestly complaining about ganking? I mean WTF? ( 1 2)
Respecs are getting expensive, how about some free ones?

In fact, I'd say I'd want someone to avoid the opinions on the boards and tell me what they themselves thought. I don't want someone tempering their opinion (good or bad) by listening to someone else. I didn't ask for a committee first impression. When I go to my own class forums, I note that alot of information given by people who claim authority on the subject just because of their level is out and out wrong.

So Travis, HEAR THE PEOPLE! Make your review more hard-hitting by including information about the lack of Succubus nipples damn it!
June 2, 2008 11:33:09 PM

Right – because succubus nipples is what I was talking about when I suggested going to the forums to become familiar with the problems people might be having when deciding whether the game is really having a smooth launch or not.

Here, I’ll peruse the forum for a moment and see if I can make some better choices than you.

It would appear that many Vista users with 4 GB of memory are having “out of memory” crashes. Funcom recommends a boot config fix mentioned on a CAD forum until they can locate and resolve the issue, a work-around that - in some cases - results in your computer failing to start.

Players are still having problems with the patcher it seems. Either it’s crashing, stuck in a downloading loop, or not downloading at all. Lovely.

Some players are frequently losing their mini-map – it greys out until they restart the client. Annoying.

Here’s a good one. Characters using names which were used previously used by another character and then deleted (re-rolls) are unable to receive new in-game mail from other players. Well that’s good to know in an age where half the population name-claims before ever re-rolling the character up for real

Players are having performance issues they can’t understand. Choosing a “high” quality setting seems to give better performance than a “low” quality setting. No – nothing odd there.

Looks like Funcom has adjusted portions of the character creator after launch, changing the look of existing characters. Uh oh - players never like that one.

People seem frustrated with the amount of time and polish placed on the first 20 levels of the game compared to the lack of quests and areas for players after level 50. Destiny quests cease being unique after Tortage. Disappointing.

Most player petitions seem to get deleted once they drop below 10th place in the queue. That combined with the fact that it takes 6 hours to move 60 spots in the queue = scary.

Same old complaints about a lack of developer feedback. Probably doesn’t help that the dev-tracker on the forum is still broken. The web designer must be hard at work fixing pressing in-game issues – or on vacation.


Well that’s at a glance - while making an attempt to actually make our forum visit useful. – and there’s lots more to pick from. And at the point when this article was being written the game was also plagued by much more severe leveling exploits, dupe bugs, guild issues and bugs that turned particular classes into one-shotting gods. You probably wouldn’t be aware of that without visiting the forums unless you ran into the problem personally. Ignorance of the true state of the game does not equal a smooth launch.
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