Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Best AoC review evah!

Since Scott Jennings isn't (Lum the) Mad any more, he unfortunately writes a lot less, and his blog entries are nowadays often just one-liner links. Which is a shame, because WHEN he writes, he writes so extremely well. His analysis of Age of Conan is spot on, quote: "You can have a server bugfest and a client that barely runs on year-old machines - but all is forgiven, as long as you can set things on fire."

Of course he is writing about the Herald of Xotl, the class I played too. Scott says: "Age of Conan clearly has staked out a niche: people who like burning things. My suspicion is that this may be a fairly large niche." And my problem with AoC is probably that setting virtual people on fire only amuses me for a rather short time, I'm not part of this fairly large niche. I find the various fatalities, with or without fire, a bit disgusting, especially the blood splatter on the "camera". Maybe I should have bought the German version. But I can see how gore and nipples, plus semi-twitchy gameplay, can attract a fairly large crowd of young, male, hardcore gamers with hardcore gaming PCs. And that's okay. Not every MMORPG has to be for everyone. It is okay to have games targeted at some specific audience. Now where is the game specifically for the middle-aged male who prefers strategic thinking and tactics in his MMORPG?
Wizard 101
Regarding your question:
I think we will have to wait a few more years, until the 'middle-aged gamer' niche grows large enough.

On a side note, why is everyone calling AoC gameplay 'mature'? From the sound of it (Boobs! Blood! OMG Fire! FATALITY!) it is targeted more at the typical 14 year old.
lol, well I would have to disagree with some of the generalizing of AoC.

I was in AoC until lv 54, PoM btw. Therefore, my fatalities did not have blood & gore, the guy would hover in a ray of light for a few secs and then be tossed back 8' or so, pretty neat. So I rarely if ever saw blood or gore. Even in a party I didn't notice it as I keep a far off view to survey the area due to pvp. Plus you can check a box to turn it off though I never tried it to see the difference.

As to the "Boobs", lol, around lv 6 I saw a topless female in Tortage running around, then at lv 50 one of my guild mates did it as a joke in pvp. Other than those two times, never saw any "Boobs".

Unfortunately, there are children in the game acting like idiots, imagine Barrens chat lol. One of the first things I did was turn off OOC chat and played the entire game with it off. If you are in a guild, why bother with OOC? Just inane chatter anyway.

I'm out of the game now, quit to focus on beta testing & enjoying the summer. However my reasons were because to me, I felt there was not enough content, classes were constantly being adjusted, keeps not working, pvp rewards nonexistant, and raids broken.

Oh & visit the forums sometime, lol, a drove of idiots posting on their world firsts & such for killing a raid boss that is broke, untuned, and changing every week. Unfortunatey those idiots are adults. The good thing was I could destroy them in pvp and not read the forums on their worthless raid kills.

I've decided in my next MMO to go unguilded and never read the forums. I'll just enjoy the game for what it is until I get bored and move on.
According to the data of ESA - The Entertainment Software Association - today's average gamer is 33 years old, 26 % are over the age of 50. Facts that (younger) game designers and game testers maybe don't know. Hope this will change in the future.
Actually I find the gore refreshing (or at least the M rating). I like to see the developers have the ability to hold to an IP and not be bound by content to meet a “T” rating.

I got AoC for fathers day (along with a new PC to run it) so I only have three characters and all level 10 or under. My only worry is class changes to make PVP balance.
IMO PvP balance is the worst thing to hit an MMO that also try to be PvE.

Great comment on not all game need to make all people happy. That is spot on.
I don't know that the MMO strategy game that you desire will ever come about. I shouldn't say never, but it seems improbable for at least another decade or so. The current gameplay has legs, ugly though they may be, and traction. The youngins like it.

True, the average age of gamers is creeping up, but those results don't necessarily mean that there are no younger gamers. It means that the early population of gamers is growing up. Sort of like the baby boomer effect, but with games.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Here is an interesting chart showing age groups and an overall rating from this sample for a survey done by another player on the forums

Valoks Survey

The larger player group was 31-40
And the highest scores were a 7 or 8...

As well I have been trending the overall game play pops and times, and of note is the Xfire community
(Blog post
Simple and Complex)
Which shows an upward trend of time spent in the game..
If no one knows...Xfire is a community tool mainly used by FPS players...who like to record video of kills and use it for chat, voice chat, etc..
Quite a few clans have been using Xfire to track their times.
What is of interest here is a majority of the MMO's on XFires charts are usually the Free "asian grinders" (except for that one monstrosity), yet here is AoC consistently showing growth in this community..

Me thinks the niche has been found..
EvE Online
PS: Here is the European results for that survey...slightly different, but still a sampling of players..

European AoC results

I am think the EU community is more flexible in MMO choices (they seemed to be the larger population for LOTRO for example)
But, I did find it interesting...

Thought you might enjoy this
Age of Conan is the best MMO that we will see in the next 12 months. Alot of MMO players have become cynical and have not tried Conan long enough to get into it. I tried going back to WoW, but the gameplay is far too simplistic - I'm never going back. People who think WAR is going to be great are going to be very dissapointed. The Order/Destruction balance and the resemblance to WoW are going to be factors that will hurt it badly. The attraction to Conan is not that it's gives the player part of the experience that we've been missing since SWG.
Every MMO launch is championed as fun. Two months later, when only the niche crowd is left playing because of the horrible bugs and nerfs, most people forget the game even exists. Shame on the F13 crowd and Lum for arguing that "fun > everything" when that fun only lasts a few hours because of bugs and incomplete, unpolished content.

Fun is a factor, and new things are fun, but fun is a lot deeper than the first impression, which a lot of people seem to be confusing.
The more twitch-based melee combat system, along with the gore and fatalities, does give the game some immediate fun factor, and it does feel significantly different than your typical MMO autoattack combat (though spellcasters play more traditionally unfortunately).

While I think the melee combat is fun, I personally found that there is nothing deeper in the game to continue to draw you in. An action-style combat system is great, but a MMORPG can't keep me on combat alone - I can get more satisfying combat in any number of single player games.

After playing a couple weeks, the giddy fun of chopping some fool's arms and then head off (or setting them on fire) wears off and you're left with a pretty but content-weak MMO that aside from combat, plays very similar to anything else out there. I won't be playing past the free month - I got my money's worth out of buying the box, but that's as far as it goes.
Finally...a comment I can agree with...
No matter how much I am enjoying AoC, I tend to temper it with some EQ2 for collections, downtime type of gaming..
Beyond the killing, there is nothing in the way of mini game types of things.
Crafting is not overly thought out...(even though gathering IS fun)
But, the clothing does not lend itself to trying to get a new outfit, nothing is collectible, no badge collection games...
I know some mini-game types of playstyles are to be introduced (bar brawls, etc..)
But, with them not there yet, the game only has a certain amount of entertainment value..(no matter how fun this type of game like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden which this is almost like, have only so much replay value...)
But, I also know Funcom HAS to know this, and will rectify it after the launch period issues are gone..
AO has a ton of gameplay NOW, and suffered the same fate at the beginning...same with LOTRO...
So far I know drops are changing, where I am getting various jewels more often for socketing into weapons...that is a good move..

Patience is key I think, and knee jerk reactions by some in the community is not helping at all..believe me I know...took me 6 months before I decided to deride LOTRO to death, as it really was...and still is a crap game..
But, I kept my patience, and gave Turbine a chance...
Here is hoping it does work out for Funcom..
I'd suggest the lore-master class in lotro.

Find a good kin, and at 50, do a BG run. *whew* If that doesn't meet your need for tactical, team-based gameplay, I don't know what will.
It sounds like a good thing that i won't be able to play age of Conan for a couple of months due to computer upgrade issues. Hopefully most of this stuff gets fixed by the time I do get around to trying it. (Age of Conan still has enough stuff in it that sounds interesting for me to try out.)

As for the "middle aged male who prefers stretegic thinking and tactics", I have actually wondered why more MMO's don't seem to have some form of "RTS on the ground" type of playing mode, where player characters are the individual units doing the fighting. Battlegrounds in WoW, and fort aspenwood and the "stuff attacks you" missions in guild wars, seem like they kind of point to how something along those lines might be done, but it overall seems like an underused possibility.

world of warcraft in particular seems like a great setting to do some sort of coordinated battles along those lines, but that opportunity got wasted with the raiding and loot focus.

(I'm not sure if this is what tobold had in mind, but it did provide a couple of paragraphs.)

Not really a fan of the game. I played for a bit. COuldn't get into it. It just felt like another wow levelling grind... I'll stick with wow coz I'm at cap. WOTLK sounds kind of fun too
Personally, I hope AoC makes a healthy profit. It's not healthy for the PC MMO industry as a whole if a game can't even find a niche audience.

If these developers start getting enough $$ for making games that target a specific demographic, then that's promising for old farts like you and me, Tobold.
Now where is the game specifically for the middle-aged male who prefers strategic thinking and tactics in his MMORPG?:

From my part, I'm 24 and I play Dofus, which I consider the best MMORPG ever in all aspects: background, PvE, PvP, crafting, high-end content, class balancing, server animations, etc...

If you can go over the 2D kid-style graphics, you will find the perfect game. And I fed myself with hours on blockbuster MMOs, still member of the biggest pro-gaming french structure. But facing the lack of renewing in gameplay of titles nowadays, Dofus is a must-have. 5€ / months !

Community is arround 3 millions active subscribers, and Wakfu, which is coming out soon, seems awesome.
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