A Diamond in the Rough.

What makes a great MMO?  Polish?  A great launch? Different approach to an old idea?

These can be said of just about any type of game. 

But what makes an MMO great?  Is it the different race/class combinations?  Is it the questing and rewards? The way a character fights or cast spells?  Is it the graphic or maybe the sound effects and music?  Could the game bring something innovative to the genre that no other one has or maybe some thing that has been tried before but failed?

I bring all this up, because when I was thinking about my experiences in AoC, it occurred to me that this game was good, but not great.  The game lacks polish.  (Sorry to Darren and others that hate that term.)  Characters shouldn’t be disappearing into the ground, getting stuck on terrain or losing pets every time they zone in to or out of an instance.  Graphical glitches should be lower than what appears to be happening in this game.  My preception is that beta is where companies find these small problems and fix them before the game is released.  Worse case scenario the game gets released and a miracle patch is sent out to ease the pain.  Something as simple as your character getting suck on a rock or bush shouldn’t be happening the first week of release.

Classes are another issue.  Every class should be pretty much balanced when the game comes out.  I know that this isn’t always possible and some tweaking might be necessary. The fact is, we shouldn’t be see Rangers pwning people at point blank range, especially if the Ranger is getting the snot kicked out of him by a dagger wielding assassin.  I love nuking people at point blank range with my demonologist, but I also think that if a bunch of undead are beating on me, I should get interrupted a few times and that just doesn’t happen.  Worse case scenario is when they find out there is an unbalanced Feat,  Nerf it in the wrong direction and make the whole Feat line pointless, causing the player to really hate that class.  I have a friend that plays a rogue in Wow, who bitches everytime a patch comes out because of something Blizzard took away, but he still plays his character because in fact the nerfs are little and a much needed change or so I keep telling him. lol  Designers need to balance a class not over power or gimp it to the point where players won’t ever touch it again.

The in game mail, auction house and bank are still down.  These things are key to the success of any MMO.  They help drive the ingame economy.  How can people get the materials they need to build these big guild houses if you can’t sell or buy much needed items on the auction house?  Designers have lost a good bit of their end game just from this problem.  You also can’t pass off items of value to an alt or keep things that maybe useful later because of limited storage space.  This is a failure in my book.

The PvP is pointless.  I know that the PvP in WoW seems tacked on, but at least they have some way of rewarding the player for participating.  AoC doesn’t offer anything that I am aware of except at end game where you can lay siege to other guild keeps. But what about the lowly level 15 that wants to get his gank on?  I like real world PvP just as much as the next person, but after pwning people for 5 minutes it gets kind of silly.  Why grief people all day?  Especially since there isn’t a penalty for ganking people half your level or lower.  It seems like people would get fustrated after a while and just say screw this game.

From what I’ve gathered from several web sources, AoC had a flawless launch.  why?  Because the servers have been rock solid and the lag has been minimal?  I just don’t understand this philosophy.  Just because the game hasn’t had a major shut down, doesn’t make it a great game.  Look at WoW.  Right after it was launched they had server problems and had horrific lag.  Everyone was complaining and Blizzard gave everyone extra time to make up for it.  Did WoW go under because of this?  NO.  Blizzard is the top dog now and their launch was anything but flawless.  I do have to give props to AoC.  Funcom did learn from Blizzard’s mistakes and had servers on stand by to take up the slack.  A smart move on their part.  But does this mean they have a great game on their hands?

The quests are fun, the game has lots of nice action and the graphics are spectacular.  At times, there seems to be too much for the player to do.  I mean, how are they suppose to attack, switch weapons, hide and complete combos?  Not to mention being able to block attacks, lay traps and direct their pets around?  All of this seems overwhelming at times, but its challenging which was the point the designers were trying to make.  They want the player to become more immersed in the game’s action, which I am glad to say, they have achieved.  They have successfully taken the old art of combat and made it something different.

My current plan is to keep Conan as my second MMO.  But why Oakstout, you’ve all but trashed the game?  Well, to be honest, even with its faults, the game is a blast to play.  I’m not saying its better than LOTRO, but it has captured more of my attention in the short span that LOTRO ever did, even with its achievement system.  I also don’t want to be too quick in my decision.  All the issue I currently have with the game can be fixed.  Its just a question of how long it will take and if they will really make the effort to get it done correctly.

So is AoC a diamond in the rough?  No. Right now its more like a lump of coal that is on the verge of greatness, if only the right kind of pressure is applied.  I just hope it doesn’t take too long.

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~ by oakstout on May 27, 2008.

6 Responses to “A Diamond in the Rough.”

  1. I think a key thing is NOT to overhype your game.

    AoC had the most hype I have ever seen in an MMO. I mean, do you remember the epic vision they painted for us in the beginning? People were expecting this title to descend from heaven and smite WoW in two.

    Now compare that with the game today.

    It’s good, but doesn’t live up to the hype.

    Kids, don’t overhype your games.

  2. True and massively on line isn’t helping. They reported that it got top marks on a lot of reviewer sites and the fact is only 2 sites have even posted a review.

    Also, just because 400,000 boxes have been sold, doesn’t make it a great game. How many of those people will stay after the free 30 days is up?

    I just hope that hype doesn’t kill WAR. That is a game I am really looking forward too now that Conan hasn’t met expectations.

    To be honest, it will take a couple of years before something comes along and kills WoW. EQ was on top for a very long time and only lost the top spot due to out of date graphics and a desire for SoE to future proof their replacement, EQ2. If they hadn’t tried to reach so far with EQ2, they would have beaten WoW hands down.

    When WoW becomes the old kid on the block, there will be a new champion around the corner. Lets hope that blizzard doesn’t over reach with their WoW replacement.

  3. A couple years? By then Blizzard will have started releasing info on it’s next MMO.

    I’m becoming more and more of the persuasion that Blizzard is the only thing that will ‘beat’ Blizzard. They only need to hang in there for a couple more years, and the horizon is mostly clear of threats.

  4. AoC was over-hyped? Hmm, I must’ve missed all that then. Other than a few bloggers or forum posters, I don’t recall seeing much hype from Funcom at all until the past few months.

    WAR on the other hand, is waaaaaay to far-gone already. Here I thought McQuaid whipped people into a frenzy with his Vanguard posts… Mythic’s enthusiasm has the fanboi’s on an all-time high and if WAR isn’t the friggin Second Coming — which it won’t be — people are going to be pissed.

    I hope WAR is something new, but all I keep reading from the beta guys is “just like WoW, minus the fun.” On the flip side, I’ve never cared at all for the Warhammer IP or the tabletop games, so personally I’m only watching WAR from the periphery.

  5. I felt the same about Conan. It wasn’t getting all the hype expect from bloggers and it was pretty high for a while till they blew it with the open beta. I think that caused Funcom to pull back a bit till they made sure the launch would go off right.

    I going to try WAR. I agree its getting a good bit of hype from their own press machine. They do monthly video podcasts and send out information packets to all the web magazines. I’m not exactly sure if this is a good or bad thing. I’m only interested in it because the people I’ve met while playing WoW tell me it should be better. Course they are fanboiz of WAR and play the tabletop and Dawn of war video game, which I have learned to love again.

    I’m going to keep an open mind. If it appeals to me, I’ll try it. I’ve done the same with just about all other MMO’s. Being WoW like might not be a bad thing, since I really like WoW. And even i have been known to say that the next WoW klller will be Blizzard’s replacement, so why can’t a WoW clone be the next killer game?

  6. I say: “fun” Can anyone outdo me on the vagueness factor? 🙂 😛

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