Expectations

It seems like the Age of Conan community is more… agitated… than Hellgate: London’s community.

I see two reasons.

Size: Lots more people playing AOC, and therefore lots more people threatening to quit/quitting/quitting and taking THEIR WHOLE GUILD WITH THEM. Volume counts for a lot, here, but I don’t think this is the main reason.

Expectations: HGL was always a little more niche-oriented than AOC. And HGL’s beta was rougher around the edges than AOC’s. When people expect a huge success and then find that they aren’t getting what was advertised, they are cranky.

Please note, HGL doesn’t have a word about their current troubles on their website. By troubles, I mean “lack of dev team.” Given that, you’d think that perhaps a note on the game’s website might be appropriate. But there’s not. Instead, new people come to the game every day. The existing customers are left scouring other news sites looking for information. Half of the players left to hang out at a rant site that sprung up from the fields of bitterness.

And yet those guys are still not as publicly bitter as the AOC players, who have a more complete and fully supported product.

I’ve been preaching the power of expectations for a long time now, and I still find myself startled at just how furious people get when their expectations are not met. The actual state of the game, and even the existence of the game’s company, are completely irrelevant to the size and tone of the reaction to perceived failings.

In other words, don’t leave your pregame community work in the hands of your marketing team, volunteer developers, and fate.

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50 Comments

  1. Retina said,

    August 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    It might be odd to quite a few people, but I actually enjoy HellGate. I said enjoy because I still play. Having the option for single-player offline helps when the online portion is in doubt.

    My expectations for HGL weren’t very high since I wasn’t super psyched for it’s release. I saw it for what it was: a random dungeon crawler. That’s really it. If you wanted more from it, sorry.

    You’re right about marketing, they are dangerous.

  2. Zappa said,

    August 21, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    The issue that I had with AoC is that it was a bait and switch scam.

    From level 1-20 You were playing one game with lots of depth and cut scenes with nice voice animation and starting at level 20 you go out to a world that is not polished there is no voice over in any of the cut scenes and this for me made me quit the game.

    In addition I enjoyed every few levels doing a personal journey quest that may take me several levels to complete however once you left Tortage you could not follow that line for 10+ levels. To me this also was part of the bait and switch that I hated.

  3. ReptileHouse said,

    August 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    The destiny quest continues to level 80, and those bits, at least, still have the voice acting.

    Deep down, there’s a really fun game in AoC. Sometimes it can be hard to find, though, with all the unpolished dross that’s also in there.

  4. Get A Life said,

    August 21, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Once again…you overvalue your own importance. You try to pump up the importance of a community manager since that’s all you know. It’s purely self-promotional on your part. Get off your obsession on community managers and go find yourself a new career.

    Fact: It doesn’t matter how much spin you write about a game. If it sucks, it sucks.

    AoC was an unfinished product when released. However, the people at funcom knew it was and they went to great lengths to hide it from the public. Obviously the marketing types/shareholders were going to cash in from all the publicity from the intial sales. Hoping that they can stall the cancellations long enough to give the dev team time to add the missing content. Unfortunately, the dev team lacks good quality control and is still tweaking/nerfing the game almost every patch.

    HgL was a disaster. The entire marking strategy was hyping their involvement in the Blizzard and Diablo franchise. Given the results of hellgate, it is pretty clear the talented people were not at flagship, but still at blizzard. The game was/is a fiasco from the beginning.

  5. Jason Cloutier said,

    August 21, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Come play Warhammer, it will be epic…as i am sure you know…

    Isn’t life ironic…a guy named get a life is trolling someone else’s blog…

  6. Get A Life said,

    August 21, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    I will agree with you that the pregame community support for AoC was subpar. They pretty much ignored the community; it was difficult to get any information from them.

    But I believe that was intentional on Funcom’s part. They were banking on the hype their sales/marketing people were able to generate; knowing that the game was incomplete. It was either fraudulent business practices (the bait/switch scam as mentioned above) or just pure denial believing everything is great aka fanboi

  7. Get A Life said,

    August 21, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    warhammer…meh who knows.

    Not a big fan of Mythic anyway. Good intentions is not all it takes to make a quality game. Considering the DoaC was just an Everquest knockoff with marginal improvements over things they didnt’ like about EQ. Their design team were constantly nerfing classes in DoaC. It’s almost like they didn’t have a clue. The trade skills were mindless, repetitive, unimaginative, carpal tunnel laden mouse clicking fest. pathetic.

    Honestly, there isn’t a single new idea out there. It’s all just rehashed ideas with a new UI. Which may not be all bad, but it’s nothing new.

  8. Ruby said,

    August 21, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Get A Life,

    If I may respond, I don’t think she was putting more value into the CM job than there is. It’s not like Sanya was heralding community managers as the reason for the demise or success of any particular IP.

    It’s her job to manage expectations. It’s true to a great extent that any business needs to manage expectations and deliver on the expectations that they have created within their customer base.

    A great example of this is when you pull into a Starbucks VS a McDonalds
    You don’t expect McDonalds employees to be interested in you, give you a quality meal–you just want your burger and fries and to get the hell out of there.

    Starbucks customers, on the other hand, are the most spoiled and over nurtered I’ve ever seen. They EXPECT customer service, speed, and quality. If they don’t get out of a drive through in time, they blame the barista for making them late to work. Starbucks raises customer expectations and is held to them. McDonalds…not so much.

    True, AOC is an unfinished game regardless, but customers are far less likely to light the torches and grab a pitch fork when they aren’t hyped by the developers. Funcom created that high quality branding of AOC and did not deliver.

  9. Gawain said,

    August 21, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Zappa is right. The portion that was demo’ed was the intro, the first 20 levels. It was amazing. The rest of the game isn’t even up to basic mmo standards. Ignoring for a moment the broken things that EVERY mmo suffers from on launch and well into the first year, the game itself just isn’t done well. The crafting system is terrible, the guild war system is terrible, the quests are boring, the difficulty ranges from far too easy to near impossible with no apparent indication either way.

    Jason Cloutier is wrong. Warhammer was ass when I beta’ed it, and unless it has changed DRASTICALLY it will continue to be ass. I was very excited since I am a giant warhammer fanboy, and what they delivered was a thinly veiled mix of warcraft and daoc lightly covered by a warhammer skin. It’s horribly generic, features the most clunky interface since eq1, and is about the blandest “fantasy mmo #403” that there is. Is the beta NDA lifted yet?

  10. Get A Life said,

    August 21, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I believe its the company president/marketing head’s job to manage expectation.

    A CM is nothing more than a call center rep. It’s a public face, but no decision making powers. They are told what to do.

    Sanya took the approach of making it look like she was one of the “people” and not The Man.

    Keeping It Real.

  11. Apache said,

    August 21, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Hellgate London isn’t a real MMO. That’s why Flagship bombed. Fun multiplayer co-op game though if your computer can handle it.

    Age of Conan is a really good game. It will be even better once they finish the uber patches (which I have a feeling will go live when WAR launches). I just suggest rolling on a PvP server so there’s always fun stuff to do.

  12. Get A Life said,

    August 21, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Yeah Warhammer NDA is lifted.

    I’ve heard the RvR combat is boring and sluggish. All you do is either damage or heal. There’s not even a spell queue, so you are just smashing your highest damaging/healing skill buttons over and over.

    It’s not like Guild Wars skillset where you actually have to have umm….skill.

    Based on Mythic’s track record of poorly balanced PvP gameplay, I doubt this will be any good either. Even the basic descriptions of some of the classes, you can just guess based on your own experience which ones are going to suck at PvP.

  13. sanyaweathers said,

    August 21, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Okay, “Get A Life,” dude, I seriously thought you were a parody of a troll because you kicked off your “debate” with me in the last thread by calling me fat and ugly. It was so over the top that I laughed out loud and scared the beagle. And some of your posts in THIS thread are rational enough.

    There are plenty of people in the industry who disagree with me. They usually say so, with their names attached. They also all know that if I have to act as a “call center rep” with no authority, I’d just leave the job. So you’re clearly new here.

    Which I knew, because you just showed up after I’ve been running this particular site for over a year acting shocked, SHOCKED that I of all people would be advocating for the position of community manager to be treated differently from pure marketing or public relations. After eight years of working towards that end.

    Disagree away, you’d be in fine company, but if you want to toss around seventh grade insults, there’s a place for you. It’s called “the rest of the internet.”

  14. dartwick said,

    August 21, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    pwned

  15. Get A Life said,

    August 22, 2008 at 12:39 am

    -.– — ..- | .- .-. . | … – .. .-.. .-.. | ..-. .- – | .- -. -.. | ..- –. .-.. -.–

  16. sanyaweathers said,

    August 22, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Y tu madre, dear.

  17. Ross Smith said,

    August 22, 2008 at 1:08 am

    In Guild Wars: Eye of the North, there’s an NPC who boasts of having “slain the terrible two-headed troll from the Swamps of See-Ahr”.

    Just thought I’d mention that. No reason.

  18. Some guy named Zach said,

    August 22, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Anyone that is waiting on Warhammer to be “the next big” MMO is going to be sorely, sorely disappointed. Warhammer is nothing but a wow clone with slightly better graphics. And that is even debatable. I honestly didn’t get far in the beta because, frankly, I couldn’t bring myself to play beyond level 6 of any of the classes I tried. I found myself craving hot paper clips being jammed in my eyes instead.

    As to AoC, frankly, I haven’t quite figured out the vitriol I’ve seen on the forums for that game, perhaps it is that I went in with zero expectations (while I went into WAR with high expectations). AoC has problems, sure, but frankly it has been one of the more fun experiences in an MMO I’ve had in a long time (I date back to UO). I think most of the angst and screaming and yelling on the forums stem from wow kiddies that can’t deal with the fact that combat is a bit different than what they expect (i.e. not a wow-clone).

    My .02 after lurking here since this blog’s inception…

  19. Get A Life said,

    August 22, 2008 at 1:59 am

    –. -. .- -.. / .- -… / –. -. .- .–

    and yeah I still see warhammer selling one million copies just like aoc did, but I also see it as meh

    they don’t release any information about the classes, skills, nada.

    so that makes me skeptical that they have something to hide. Funcom did same thing with aoc.

    None of those devs from Mythic/EA impress me at all. Paul Barnett and his stupid english accent, just some egotist that wants to be the center of attention, you know..the guy that wears the lampshade on his head and thinks he’s a riot…even after the 1000th time.

    AoC problem is just like the above poster said. The first 20 levels were written like a RPG, with voice-overs, a storyline, varying quests for each class, and then afterwards, there was very little of that. The dungeons/raids were all broken. They were all tank & spank, no strategy. the drops weren’t very good. most of the bosses were bugged, in fact a few ofthem just stood there and didnt’ attack back. There was no class synergies or strategy at all in the PvE raids. I could easily just spam heal spells and never run out of mana and keep everybody alive np. The whole system is just horrible. And the worst part is that the delayed the game 6 months to rewrite everytihng and they still epic failed.

    Crafting system is horrible and broken. well pretty much everytihng after level 20 was bugged and unbalanced.

  20. Rob said,

    August 22, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Yep, some very good comments coming in here. The first 20 levels of AoC are fantastic – and criminally that’s what most of these early 9/10 and 95% reviews are based on – and the rest of the game is pure terrible. Not to mention the weekly patches which seek to fix very minor things, whilst the massive problems are still unfixed three months later… and then the fixes to those minor things go and break other things in the process. It’s incredibly bad. That’s why it’s lost 50% of its users in three months and the share price has gone from $54 to $14, last time I looked.

  21. Marc said,

    August 22, 2008 at 2:41 am

    I’d like to see Sanya’s thoughts/reviews on WAR. I believe when you were employed by mythic the game was going in a different direction then it actually is now. Example more instance, no keeps, very little open world. Would love to see your review on it.

    If you already have one please linky

  22. Apache said,

    August 22, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I didn’t care much for the first 20 lvls of AoC

  23. Slogo said,

    August 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    You could probably write an entire book about why AoC has people very agitated/leaving. I think it comes down to a few things.

    -How well Funcom listened. There really was/is about a good month to 3 month lag between when the community raises a serious issue and when FC gets around to fixing it. Funcom allows characters to get enough damage output to 1 shot eachother and it’s not addressed until almost 2 months later. Bugs of that nature are game breaking and there’s an expectation of a prompt response.

    -low level design flaws. Several game mechanics and coding decisions (high trust in the client) are big marks against AoC and there’s little they can do to really fix them (at best they can just kinda pave over the problem).

    -The type of bugs. I can’t really make a list or anything as it’s still something I’m trying to figure out myself but the type of bugs you have in your game have a big impact on the reception. I’m pretty convinced that there’s a set of “Kiss of Death Bugs” you can have in your game that will severely hurt your retention if not addressed as soon as possible. These bugs aren’t always the most severe or game breaking but they are ones that will give you the biggest loss in subscribers. I think for AoC some of the broken talent tree abilities fall under this category. The issue wasn’t nearly as severe as gem imbalance, crashing, or other such things but you still just had so many players getting so fustrated over their abilities not working.

  24. AimedShot said,

    August 22, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Since Warhammer has come up… I’m quite enjoying the Warhammer and Mythic hate. I’m hoping the WoW fanboys stay in WoW. Warhammer is antiestablishment, antimainstream. Actually, Warhammer is a great game that makes me happy in ways WoW doesn’t. I hope Mythic can do something with my $14.99 a month that Blizzard didn’t.

  25. August 22, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I find it interesting that if you take an overview of Warhammer, and black out the name ‘Warhammer’, and the races… you could swear you are reading an overview for DAoC2.

  26. Slogo said,

    August 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    @AimedShot

    I too am enjoying the anti-mythic hate. Some complaints are legitimate, some are legitimate but very petty, and some are just laugh out loud out of touch with reality.

    I think you have a lot of PvErs and “wannabe” PvPers trying or looking at the game and faulting it for not being as good PvE wise as WoW (though the PvE is probably the best I’ve seen for a PvP game). Also it’s a lot of backlash from the hype as people try to be anti-whatever’s popular (and there’s a ton of hype for Warhammer).

  27. Krinsath said,

    August 22, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Figured I’d chime in here since we’re discussing two games I happen to play/have interest in.

    HG:L had the same problem that WAR seems like it’s shaping up to run headlong into: lack of funds. This forced Flagship to release a game that was not ready, that the developers knew was not ready (the “release” version of HG:L was what? .6?), simply because they had to put out something to show where investor money is going. Roper’s interview on the topic summed it up well…engineers aren’t businessmen, and you need someone to thwack you and say “No, that’s too much” to keep your goals realistic.

    I’ve enjoyed the WAR beta, and I think they have some good core ideas in it. I find their technical execution at the moment to be very weak though, and I have doubts that they will be able to correct the issues in time. I hope they will, because I’m a HUGE Warhammer fan, but the cynical gamer in me says “No way in hell.” However, they don’t have the backing of a Blizzard who can delay something indefinitely and still print a mint whenever they get around to releasing it. They’re also, I gather, attempting to avoid the status of Warhammer’em Online Forever 3D.

    The point I’m reaching laboriously is that a community manager isn’t really the answer to the problems faced by any of the three games mentioned here. CMs are good band-aids for development cock-ups, but the problem isn’t really the community’s expectations in these cases, it’s the poor delivery on promises from development (which a) should never have been made and b) should have been delivered on if they were). While CMs mitigate those mistakes, I do think businesses would be much better served by not letting development cock things up in the first place.

    You know, let the CMs try to foster an actual community rather than having to play firefighter all the time because of some moron in the back that never has to deal with the consequences of his/her actions…

  28. Talance said,

    August 22, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    @Ant: Glad I’m not the only one that noticed that. I’m glad to see RvR in another game, but it’s amazing how it sounds so close to a DAoC2.

    @Krinsath: I don’t think EA Mythic will be short on funds anytime soon. I seriously doubt EA would let them take the “don’t release until it’s finished” attitude that Blizzard’s adopted, though.

  29. Frank said,

    August 22, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    If there’s one tidbit to take away, it’s the key word “Expectations”. The problem is setting the bar up way, way too high, and then somehow having to make a PR dance to explain it away when you can’t do something. This is different than hype. Hype is a very vague, and nebulous thing, because it talks in buzzwords, concepts, and theories. Not meeting expectations is different because it is based on cold hard facts.

    AoC suffered a lot from this, as Sanya said, because of things like instances vs. non-instances, nature of PvP, and the like. And without a clear communication to the develoeprs and not enough interaction with the community, AoC is looking decidedly average.

    As for WAR, while it’s better, it’s still had to handle the same kind of stuff. Look at how high the bar was set with 6 capital cities, and 24 classes. Then when that couldn’t be met, torches and pitchforks came out. This is the real problem with MMOs today – not the overhyping, but the unrealistic setting of clear expectations of what is present and then not being able to deliver. MMO developers need to underpromise and overdeliver, not the other way around.

    I liked AoC enough to play a little bit, and I really do like WAR (wouldn’t be doing what I do for that community if I didn’t). But MMOs in general suffer too much from not setting expectations properly, and sadly, the community manager is right at the front of the army taking the flames to the face.

  30. Blackblade said,

    August 22, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Excellent post.. Good comments.

    However, am I in the minority of people that actually ENJOY WAR precisely because it was exactly what I was expecting?

    I once won a writing competition on a DAoC fan site for a WoW beta account. I was thrilled. I eventually left DAoC for WoW because it was new, polished, and fun. However, from day 1, I always said if they took DAoC, and brought over the WoW UI and graphics style, I’d never play anything else.

    This is EXACTLY what I expected from WAR – DAoC 2 with a WoW UI. Thus far into my beta experience, they delivered it. Why did anyone expect anything else? Underneath everything they said, did they ever promise something other than DAoC 2 with a WoW-ish feel and characteristics?

    People who complained about the loss of the capital cities or the classes are nitpicking victims of hype. They expected EVERYTHING they said from day 1 to be there, fully functional and polished. NO ONE has ever done that – Not even the juggernaut WoW. Hero classes? Siege weapons? Hell, I don’t even think there were any raid encounters when WoW first launched. UBRS was considered “Raid” for the longest time.

    The point of this run-on post? No one can manage your expectations but you. No community manager, no matter how good (<3 Sanya), can manage an individuals expectations – it just doesn’t work. If someone WANTS to be hyped by a product, they will be. In this day and age of MMO’s, people WANT to be hyped – Is anyone REALLY surprised when they’re told what they want to hear, even if the person being told KNOWS that’s what’s happening?

  31. pharniel said,

    August 22, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    WAR looks like doac2…which is cool ’cause that means the mythic bois and grls get to stay employed and feed their fams, but it kinda sucks because WAR isn’t really warhammer.

    It’s like really, really, really bad fanfiction by someone who read the back covers of warhammer and liked the minis enough to make a fanservice story, but meh.

    I know why they had to do what they did, but honestly, orks. working with anyone? Orks is da biggest, dats why dey should be in charge!

    (odd note, most computer translations of warhammer have been flat out horrible. most computer translations of 40k/epic have been teh win.(LIberation, chaos gate, space hulk, dawn of war) don’t know why that is, but there yha go.)

    as for community manager and managing expecatations: that’s why you HAVE a whole Community departmnet, who sits down with PR, and dev and you set ONLY what you KNOW will bein the game at launch. nothing nifty extra special, and if features are cut then they get cut long before the game comes out to allow the embers of the nerdrage that’s going to spring up to cool.

    by having community managment and a community team treated as ‘customer support – for the boards’ is criminal in a subscription and service based industry.
    especially a Luxoury service based community.

    as to ‘all mmo’s promise and then fail’ yha, i kinda wish the UO guys would have won thier lawsuit, you’d see far less of this because legal almost always has the authority to nail people’s scrotums to the walls to prevent fuckups.

  32. dartwick said,

    August 22, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    I read threat like this and start to feel Im the only one who loved DAoC for what it did get right – and loves that WAR may a lot like DAoC with some of the ugly design flaws eliminatedt(massive CC and bots for instance)

  33. Krinsath said,

    August 22, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    @Talanace

    Mythic does at some point need to turn a profit, and I doubt that DAoC produces enough income to fund WAR’s development. Ergo, it would follow that someone else is funding it, and those people will demand results at some point. Basically, they’d be phenomenal idiots to release without the cities and classes they had planned unless there was some outside influence on why. They say EA didn’t make them, but the question is “was EA about to make them?” You can’t fire me, I quit…sort of situation. We’ll never know, but it goes back to the core idea that CMs shouldn’t have to clean up that mess.

    @pharniel

    I’d hesitate to call any of the 40k games outside of Dawn of War “good.” Most of them were interesting, but horribly buggy and flawed. Space Hulk was ok for it’s time (early 90s), however still nothing to write home about. Chaos Gate, for example, was a neat squad combat system with GINORMOUS bugs in it. Like, bone-headed glaringly obvious ones like “You can’t move the landspeeder in the campaign.” Fun for me as a 40k fanboy, but I wouldn’t recommend any other than DoW to a non-fan.

    The Warhammer ones have been awful because they keep trying to recreate the tabletop rules. The tabletop game is a horrible thing to put on a computer…it’s meant to be on a table with models you have a vested interest in over a few pints of beer with your friends. It just doesn’t translate well to a computer. The “Mighty Empires” slant in a Total War-esque type game would probably do better and provide people with something the tabletop doesn’t.

    My one complaint though is that with WAR they went for a Warhammer Fantasy Battle game instead of Warhammer 40k because, you know, nobody has a fantasy MMO on the market. Warhammer 40,000: Galaxy in Flames! Come on! The expansions practically write themselves too…Shadows of the Inquisition (Inquisition added), Wrath of the Ancients (Eldar and Necrons), Shadow of the Great Devourer (‘Nids)…such a missed opportunity. Oh well…

  34. Cliff said,

    August 22, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    It really is all about expectations and how they are met or not met. I actually enjoyed Hellgate, but it lost my interest when the story telling elements of the game went so far away from the tone they had set in their opening movie and trailer. Some movies have done that to me before, where the trailer made it look like one thing and it turned out to be something else. That probably sums up their big issue, in my eyes. They fixed the worst bugs shortly after I started, so it was less a technical issue for me than it was the over all direction of the game.

    I also don’t really get all the WAR reactions here. I really don’t know what people are expecting out of their games these days. They seem a bit… melodramatic. I am playing Closed Beta and have really enjoyed what I have seen. I enjoy the Warhammer world as well, and found the atmosphere to be spot on. I was sucked right in.

    I think the internet might be a happier place if folks took a breath and actually paused now and then before putting words to every emotion that flies through their hearts. (I could use that advice too, by the by.)

    Both Hellgate and AoC seem to have the same basic issues. They are products that don’t work right, and never really did get fixed until it was too late, or are still not working right. The other major thing seems to be communicating those issues in an honest and forthright manner.

    Nice blog by the way Sanya. I have checked in on it now and again, but have never posted before. Keep up the good thoughts.

  35. August 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    @dartwick – I agree. Some of the DAoC2 similarities in Warhammer are a good thing. DAoC introduced some unique MMO strategies that I am glad to see carried over. However, it will be interesting to see what happens when they release their ‘Warhammer: Tribulations of Atlantis’ expansion.

  36. Player1 said,

    August 24, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I think Sanya makes some good points, however there is 1other factor to consider. Having dedicated AoC forums with at least the illusion that devs were reading their posts meant people had a place to focus their displeasure with the game, and eventually, in a nerd-rage spiral of doom, they created their own little self-reinforcing community of hate.

    I remember a number of “I hate AoC and I’m quitting!” posts that were replied to by people who’d post links to the same person posting they were quitting from 1 month earlier… To some of these sad individuals it seems that AoC hate has become part of their identity with a group, or some weird crap like that.

    To make Sanya’s point I think it would be necessary to find out what % of players are actually on the forums bitching about the game. 50% of 1 million people quit, yet there aren’t anywhere near 500,000 “I quit” posts. Or are there now?
    ***

    It boggles my mind that some people can like AoC but hate WAR. Yes, the first 20 levels were cool. After that, it was the lamest excuse for a game, especially an MMO, that I’ve ever played. Pretty much all reasons have already been covered by previous posters. Still can’t grasp how someone would prefer it… oye ve.

  37. UnSub said,

    August 25, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Addressing Sanya’s point, I think the difference in reaction between HGL and AoC is that AoC was meant to be a WoW-killer (such as that term is) and next-gen and supa-doopa PvP et al, whereas HGL was meant to be the next step up from Diablo / action RPGs. So yeah, expectations between the two games were different, as were the audiences for those games.

    Both games suffered from the “tell before you can show” problem. It has been shown time and time again that talking about what your game will have before you can show it on the screen as working is a recipe for disaster. Something will see things changed / dropped from the design document you paraphrased in an interview and it just leaves players feeling disappointed. And with disappointment, rant-y. “Show, don’t tell” has to be the way MMOs are marketed moving forward. It’s boring for the rest of us, but it is the only way MMOs are going to appear on the market without the devs having a lot of egg on their face and suffering for it years after launch.

  38. pharniel said,

    August 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    @Krinsath – Actually, relic is supposedly working on a 40k MMO. Which I *am* fanboi flail about when i think of it.
    though, because of SWG i always try to temper that flail because it could be full of fail.

    But DoW and Company of Heroes and Homeworld were all pretty good games, so I’m willing to give Relic the benefit of the doubt for now.

  39. Kirk said,

    August 26, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Community Managers are the life’s blood of any MMO. Sanya made DAOC community wise what it was. People that played DAOC remember Sanya even long past since they played Dark Ages of Camelot for the good she did.

    Some falicies of Mythic were lack of a solid line of communication with the game for players. It always felt that the paying customer was only ever given enough information to pacify. Hey Get a life? Its still the best PVP game ever created or still in existence today.

    As to nerfing classes that was one of the major failures of Mythics class balance actors. Balance ruins a game. There should be advantages and disadvantages to all classes but not everybody should be equal. It just ruins the game. It takes away the dependency for team success as a team

    It’s up to devs to make a game that’s fun not necessarily balanced. LIke i said all classes should be unique. It doesnt mean all classes should be able to solo and level. Right now the MMO market sucks ass. There is nothing unique or interesting to play for us LONG time gamers. Right now i’m playing nothing but gonna give War a try though it will take a miraculous game to kick MMO’s in the pants like they need right now. Please no more of the same.

    As with any game *insert name here* your gonna have bunch of spoiled unhappy whiners crying there tears because they want more for themselves and less for others. The biggest mistake that Mythic did was listen to there customers trying to please. The game from release to where it is now was much better. It just kept seemed to keep rolling down hill once they started giving into feedback whores and trolls.

    I hope WAR doesn’t have its own forums .. Thats one of the smartest moves a game company can do. We had our own communities of player forums back when DAOC was really popular.

  40. pharniel said,

    August 26, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    @39 – kirk

    this word. you keep using it. I do not think it means what you think it means:

    “It’s up to devs to make a game that’s fun not necessarily balanced. LIke i said all classes should be unique. It doesnt mean all classes should be able to solo and level.”

    So basically, i should punish my potential customers. ‘heres a big bag o’spiffy but if you accidentally choose the wrong one, and happen to be a solo player, l2p gtfo and reroll, lol’

    Yha, i Know a few games like that. Horizons. Vanguard.

    How they doing these days?

    “As to nerfing classes that was one of the major failures of Mythics class balance actors. Balance ruins a game. There should be advantages and disadvantages to all classes but not everybody should be equal. It just ruins the game. It takes away the dependency for team success as a team.”

    Again, let’s break it down for you. Balance means that each ‘team’ has a roughly equal footing all things being equal.
    what people complained about in DAoC and other games is not ‘i lost, must be overpowered but secretly i suck’ it is ‘oh shit, they’ve got AoE that stunlocks, debuffs and gies them a buff, and all i have is this blue Rusty Knife which gives me +5 to not hurting myself.’

    Blananced means that while both sides are not the same, they are equally capable of achieving the goal of the game. In WAR that’s to ‘level up’ and ‘fight the other guys’. So, yes, being unable to solo and level up? that’d be a big old ride on the Fail Boat.

    the reason that there’s no game out there catering to ‘hardcore’ and ‘long time’ mmo players is becauase that market segment is pretty niche, and thus not profitable. At least not for Diku clones.

    See Eve Online for a particularly HardCore game that seems to be doing quite well.

    As to not having company and offical forums: that’s the dumbest move one can make, again, see Vanguard.
    If you don’t have offical forums, how precisly are you going to interact with yoru community?

    Welcome to Drama minefield.

  41. Flim said,

    August 26, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Mythic interacted fairly well with the community without official forums for DAoC…

  42. ReptileHouse said,

    August 26, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    WAR as, essentially, DAoC2 gameplay with a good IP for backstory, flavor and other such things is exactly what I want and am hoping for. RvR in DAoC was amazingly fun for me, even with all its flaws. If WAR can deliver on an improved experience for that style of game, I’m going to be playing it for a very long time.

    Sanya’s work at Mythic played no small role in my feeling of connectedness to that game. She did a great job of convincing me that there were a lot of people at Mythic who cared very deeply about making DAoC a game that was fun. Thank you for that, Sanya.

    I’m no fanboy about Mythic, DAoC, or WAR by a long shot. There were and are plenty of flaws around. For example, the teamlead program could have been done much, much more effectively. Won’t beat that horse here beyond saying that I very much hope Mythic has learned from that experience and will do better in how they handle things this time around. This blog entry is a good primer on how to do that. The TL’s, and the folks (like me) who were working with them and supporting them to gather data, interpret it and present it had a set of expectations about what the program was for and the sorts of results that would come out of it. Mythic had a very different set of goals and expectations. That disconnect resulted in a lot of rough spots that could have been avoided with good community management.

  43. Garthilk said,

    August 27, 2008 at 5:55 am

    Hey,

    Wait a minute. I resemble part of that last sentence…

    In other words, don’t leave your pregame community work in the hands of your marketing team, “volunteer developers”, and fate.

  44. Phaltran said,

    August 27, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I believe one factor that has not been mentioned contributes greatly to the attitudes of the community towards a game: target market.

    When you design a game to attract primarily males ages 30 to , of course you’re going to receive anger and vitriol in the forums whether you meet their expectations or not. I’m speaking mainly towards AoC here. Who else are they going to attract when the primary purpose of the game is PvP and you can play naked female characters? I work with a guy who is playing AoC and he fits the stereotypical jerk who gets a thrill from killing others for no reason and seeing plenty of nudity and gore. HE and his kin are the target audience.

    I don’t see this guy often (thank goodness), but when I do he applauds the maneuvers he can do in AoC to rip someone’s head off, but then he complains (endlessly) of the lack of features like WoW has. I think all of these games, whether intentionally or not, are being compared to WoW by the developing company, by the gaming media and by the gamers themselves. Until a real WoW-killer emerges, they’ll all be compared to WoW and most likely found lacking.

    Since MUDs online communities have been a social experiment, and we all have seen how communities attract unsociable miscreants whose sole purpose for being present in the community is to cause grief and shock. (Get a Life is a good example here.) If you build a game that appeals to that personality, you cannot expect anything but viscous drivel in the forums.

    Personally I prefer the game to be so engaging and enjoyable that I’m barely aware of the community outside of the game. I’ve visited the WoW forums a total of six times in nearly four years. I don’t feel that I’m missing anything.

  45. Phaltran said,

    August 27, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    addendum:
    I apparently generated a segment of code that did not get translated to text. First sentence of the second paragraph should read “…males ages 30 to ‘old enough to convince parents the age rating doesn’t matter,'”

  46. IainC said,

    August 27, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    As a CM it’s a difficult job to walk the very thin line between managing the expectations of the fanbase on the one hand and not crushing the dreams of superstardom from the dev team and marketers on the other.

    People will project their own weird and wonderful vision of the game onto whatever canvas you give them, the more white space they have to work with, the further their vision will deviate from actual reality.Telling these people that the game won’t be as awesome as they have imagined it isn’t going to make you Employee of the Month amongst the marketing boys and girls.

    I’m not going to comment on the specific WAR points that have appeared in comments as I’m hardly an unbiased source.

  47. Kirk said,

    August 29, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    @Phaltran

    DAOC now is antisocial in the sense that you don’t need nobody to get to max level. It’s unchallenging and it was toned down to be attractive to easy mode casual players. You know the same people that think WOW is a great game. There really is no such thing as balance in MMO because your either a cloned class or you don’t exist. You know my runemaster should be able to do everything your eldrich or wizard can mentality? A class that should be a one or two hit to die class with the survivablity of a warrior?. EVERYBODY should have a chance to win if you take the advantages given and exploit the weakness of another team doesn’t mean these classes should be identical or comparable.

    They all should be capable in there own ways under unique but different sets of rules. I liked the day we were forced to group to level efficiently. I met alot of to day life long friends from DAOC because of it. I don’t know of any game out there right now that fosters group play and rewards based on that like DAOC used to.

    I played on Palomides server back in the day.. http://www.palomides.net was our community website. It still is a greate community even after players who once played have gone from games to games. Look at WOW forums official or non are pretty much worthless flame fests. All you see is this and that class is overpowered and need a nerf because some fkn whiner got his ass beat. Official information posts i like to see. There is no need for a flame fest forums for any game. Dislike the game use the Feedback forum just like we did in DAOC.

    Community Managers like Sanya provided us with official information just fine within the limits that she was allowed. There is a niche for hardcore but there isn’t a decent hardcore game out as of yet. Wait until the WOW fall out which has been happening for awhile. People will simply want more challenge or more from a game in general. THe majority of the WOW fanbase are noob first time MMO players also..

  48. kfsone said,

    September 6, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Will Wright must be reading: http://www.mcvuk.com/news/31602/Will-Wright-concerned-by-Spore-hype

    Spore seems to be a neat collection of neat mini-games, garnished with some very unfortunate creative-licensing words like “evolution”. People still read “evolution” about NPCs and expect something unique and precious, when what the developer means is “there are 8 endings and which one you get depends on how frequently you press the W key”.

  49. Phaltran said,

    September 11, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    @Kirk
    I’m not sure you were responding to me because I saw nothing in your post related to what I posted. I was talking about how Age of Conan is targeted toward the juvenile minded, and you tell me how Dark Age of Camelot is anti-social. ???

    Two bits I did pick up on but has nothing to do with this thread: WoW noobs and fallout.

    Of course most of the WoW player base is comprised of noobs. Prior to WoW the largest player base (U.S.) was 450k in EQ and 250k in UO. Combining those and all the other little MMOs together still wouldn’t equal one million much less 10 million. This is where WoW won and holds onto the trophy: it appeals to such a broad spectrum of players. The hardcores can come and go, but they don’t make a big dent in the subscription numbers at all.

    WoW fallout? I think you mean the 500k-1mil players who consume the game as quickly as possible from a single character view point and get bored easily if there is nothing new in a week. That type of player creates and drops an account in every MMO on a regular basis. Even those players will be back at each expansion’s release. I fully expect WoW to swell to 12mil when WotLK is released.

    Everyone’s definition of “hardcore” is different. To some it means time commitment. To others it means the risk of loss. The more hardcore the game gets, the smaller the audience it attracts.

    If some positive, useful community is created outside of a game, that’s great. I’m all for it. I think it’s a rare thing that suffers the larger the game is, and I think some games are good enough to do without the external community.

  50. Mark/GB said,

    September 22, 2008 at 4:31 am

    First of all, hi Tweety! I’m quite sure you don’t remember me, but I was/am one of the “special children” on Palo.net. I’ve read your blog, and appreciate it it tons. That’s no fanboi-ism there; just keeping it real~

    Anyway… yes, AoC is a failed (what’s the word here?) effort? I agree that it seemed more like a scam than anything. It was hyped by many people I know, and I cancelled after the 5th day of live. Let’s face it, it started bad and got worse. I kept hoping things would turn around and it would become a world/game worth spending time in. Wru ww2 plane going down in flames as an emoticon?

    WAR is interesting. They’re doing a lot of things well, and only time will tell how this all works out. I’m a bit concerned at how the public face of the game ends up coming across, but some of the people involved are great people, so here’s hoping. They also seem to be taking community feedback to heart, through beta and now at release. I hope that trend is more than smoke and mirrors, and that WAR can avoid some of the “we know what you want better than you do, srsly” mentality (which was usually followed by a ToA-esque decision that left many of us with the “confused puppydog” look).

    At any rate, thanks again for the blog. It’s good to see opinions that just “are” without some studio’s rhetoric as a filter.

    -Mark


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