I was taking a look through my Google Reader subscriptions and found a great article at Online Massively Multiplayer.com about Funcom’s Age of Conan. I decided to leave a comment and really got going, so I decided to re-post my comment there as a blog entry here.
I was one of those initial AoC subscribers. I was looking for a way to break free of the WoW grind. AoC was fun… at first.
The starter island is a masterpiece and is everything an RPG MMO should be. I especially loved listening to the voice-overs. That’s partly where Funcom failed I think. They set their own bar during the first 20 levels of game-play, and then fell short afterward. I remember being shocked when I left the starter island and found out that there was no more voice-over dialogue. I remember seeing it mentioned that they intended to complete more voice-overs for the quests, but I didn’t stick around to find out. They should have had it all done to start with, or not done it at all. That was just the first disappointment.
On top of that, AoC didn’t really introduce anything innovative or new. In fact, it felt like a step left, instead of a step forward. There was nothing wrong with the classes, per se, just the game-play itself. Most of the interfaces felt awkward and just not that intuitive.
Also, I remember being particularly disgusted with the amount of quests that required you to go from one end of the zone to the other (or one end of the game world to the other), especially considering they weren’t very interesting to start with. Granted, there are only so many scenarios you can come up with as far as quests go in a game where you grind XP or grind quests to level up, but instead of making them as hard as possible to take up time, why not make them easier and focus on other aspects of the game that will appeal to your player base? I think most players now take partial enjoyment from the leveling up, are amused slightly by some of the quests, but all in all just want to get to the “end-game” content.
Speaking of running from one end of the zone to the other, what was with their idea of putting the crafting NPCs in a separate zone on the far end of a zone packed with mobs? Why did the game even need a special zone for a crafting town? That should have been incorporated into the three major cities. On top of that, placing level restrictions on being able to craft is getting old. It doesn’t make sense, even for a fantasy world. I can’t wait for a game that will allow a person to be solely a crafter if they want to be. (And a good game with a bard class would be nice! I miss that from DAoC/FFXI!)
I suppose the general idea I’m trying to get across is that AoC wasn’t well thought out, and had a rough, unfinished feel to it. Today’s MMO players expect more from their games. On top of that, most have played multiple MMOs of high caliber and don’t want to take a step sideways. They want to take a step forward to something better. When it was released, AoC didn’t stand a chance against polished games like WoW.
The market is so competitive now that I think companies will have to try to appeal to niche markets rather than mainstream. For example, most people play WoW because there’s just nothing better available.
I’ve been rather disappointed by the MMOs coming out recently so I’ve turned to F2P games to occupy my spare time while I keep my eyes peeled for the next blockbuster MMO. Right now I’m content with Combat Arms and Runes of Magic.
Combat Arms is a fantastic online FPS that keeps the action pumping. It’s so well laid out that I just can’t believe it’s free. Every time I log in I’m impressed with the gameplay. The only thorn in Combat Arm’s side are the number of hackers that manage to get past their hack detection software. If Nexon could find a way to prevent hackers from getting in the game matches this great game would be golden.
Runes of Magic is a great game that’s free to play and incorporates elements of WoW, UO, Guild Wars, FFXI, and who knows how many others. It’s as if they plucked out the best parts of each game and rolled them into one very entertaining MMO.
Hmm… looks like I dropped a quarter instead of two cents!
[Posted by myself on Massively Multiplayer.com on Tuesday, March 31st at 12:38am SGT]