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Reader Comments (16)

Posted: Jul 7th 2008 3:51PM (Unverified) said

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Hmm interesting.

I don't let my kids play the game mainly because of some of the dialogue content. I don't really want little 13 year old Timmy asking me what a "whore" is and what did she mean by saying "no no I'm not offering myself to you" (First Tortage night quest)

The "violence" really isn't too much of an issue as it is more of a "wow that looks cool" as apposed to "Oooh I should try that" and I believe that can be turned off anyhow.

I know if the adult "grittiness" was toned down and the rating dropped I'm sure both my WoWaddicted kids would want to play, but I would miss the Conan feel of the world .. and dear God .. Barrens Chat?? Although I have still seen plenty of questionable IQ and intellect among some of the community already.

Posted: Jul 7th 2008 6:23PM (Unverified) said

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So the word 'whore', a term that can be found in the dictionary as well as on television, is more of a problem to you than people having body parts cut off and blood splattering every where?

Just shows how screwed up American priorities are. What a screwed up society. Violence is okay, but even the mention of a word that has to do with sexuality, that's just not acceptable.

No wonder America loves starting wars with every one. Some Americans are more like Islamic fundamentalists than any one else in the world. Total whackjobs.
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Posted: Jul 7th 2008 6:45PM (Unverified) said

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Well I'm not American or live in America.

I do agree it is bizarre how different cultures have different views and taboos. This is why I think Funcom must have had a hard time trying to appease everyone. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. Unless of course this is all rumor.
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Posted: Jul 7th 2008 6:52PM DerickDBrown said

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@ ScytheNoire:

Oddly, not everyone in the country agrees with Taranax....

But go ahead and make a sweeping generalization.
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Posted: Jul 7th 2008 6:09PM (Unverified) said

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do people really care about that kind of thing? honestly, if you want to see some cg boobs go look at some hentai, if you want to play an mmo, play it for the fun and excitement, not because you can see some pixel titties.

Posted: Jul 8th 2008 7:10AM Ghen said

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You're missing the point. The point is to combine the two and grow a third hand.
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Posted: Jul 7th 2008 6:44PM (Unverified) said

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I don't think it's that people are overly excited by the nudity, it's the OPTION of having nudity that appeals to most of us. I have, over the years, grown tired of games extolling there "realism" but then when I swing a two handed sword through somethings body theres no blood?? It is just silly. Im an adult and I prefer games that aren't cut down to suite the needs of breeders and their spawn.

And Scythe, although I am one of those American whackjobs you referenced, many of the people I know agree with you. Myself im absolutely disgusted that torture porn movies like "Hostel" can run commercials during prime time with horrible innuendo and no one bats a eye. Janet jackson shows some boob and the whole country goes into a rage. So it's not the average joes of America you should be mad at, but the religious fascist establishment that is so loud in our politics. That is about to change though, and if you read today's news you will see proof of that, conservatives dont have any friends in the upcoming election.

Posted: Jul 7th 2008 7:16PM RogueJedi86 said

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I don't see how it was a bug. A bug made her entire clothing and hair style different? I could understand if a bug made her dress disappear, but the belt is completely different too. Just seems like they're calling it a bug as an excuse.

Posted: Jul 8th 2008 4:09AM (Unverified) said

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only kid's think that bare breasts are mature content.

Posted: Jul 8th 2008 4:56AM (Unverified) said

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To Adrian Bott,

Your article is a tad skewed and uninformed. Since I am the author of the thread that you linked within your article, then please allow me to set a few things straight.

I was involved in the AoC beta community for two years. I can tell you in all certainty that many of our assertions about censorship are NOT simply "rumors." The game contained more nudity and adult-oriented material in its beta version, to be sure. But it is not as simple as that. We were also promised... that's a keyword, by the way... PROMISED by Funcom's devs that the final version of AoC would be released with all of the nudity and gritty content intact. They were quite specific about it, too.

But it gets even better. They also spent two years promising us that there would be even more mature content *added* after AoC's release. We were given assurances that there would be all sorts of Hyborean-esque fun to be had... from functioning brothels to drunken bar fights and everything in-between. You can see the remnants of those promises... in the form of courtesans, gigolos and massage girls, who no longer function and simply stand around now... serving no purpose any longer. I'm sure that some future patch will sweep them under the rug, too.

At present, only one area of the AoC gameworld still contains anything approaching mature content: the Pyramid Of The Ancients in the Khopshef Province zone. Well, Funcom has announced their plans to "revamP the Pyramid soon. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that those last few remaining nude NPC's will vanish during that supposed "revamp."

We didn't pay for this diluted baby food. We paid for a game that is rated 17+ and which was hyped as being a true legacy of Robert E. Howard's saucy Conan books.

That is the game that was sold to us. That is the game that Funcom promoted and otherwise hyped for several years during its development. As adult players, we had every right to expect that they would follow through on those promises, and actually deliver the package that they SHOWED to us during the beta phase.

Never... not once... did Funcom's devs even hint that they inetended to dumb the game down, and sanitize it within mere weeks after its final release. On the contrary, they kept insisting that AoC would remain true to the books by Robert E. Howard and be set in a "no punches pulled" gameworld.

Instead, they've been converting AoC into little more than WoW with nipples. This is unacceptable to most of us and that is why you are not only seeing protests, but there has also been a rather sizable exodus from this very troubled MMO. Many of the AoC servers are turning into ghost towns, right before our eyes. There have even been several pleading posts from the players to merge the more empty servers. A call for server merges, so soon after release..?! I think that says it all right there: people are leaving in droves, due to their dissappointment with Funcom.

My advice to anyone who is considering the purchase of AoC is this: save your money. The game is horrendously buggy and unfinished. The quests are dull, formulaic and uninspired. There really is no backstory to speak of, aside from your recurring "destiny quest."

Everything else is a big, disjointed hodgepodge of barely-disguised grinds. As for the post-80 game..? It doesn't even exist -- hence the sea of alts that we've all been creating. The only parts of AoC that are fun to play are the first 20 levels (which are obviously designed to get you hooked) and after that, it all deteriorates into a big, long, protracted bore-fest. And with the mature content being slowly phased out, the last remaining selling point for AoC is likewise dying on the vine.

I strongly recommend that everyone avoid this game -- unless Funcom does an about-face, and restores Hyborea to the more authentic version that they repeatedly promised to us during development.

All my best,

- Tessera -
Texture artist
www.tessmage.com

Posted: Jul 8th 2008 10:04AM (Unverified) said

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Besides a few game bugs .. the reason Tessera mentioned above was why I canceled my AoC sub. I purchased AoC wanted that mature world to play in and get the sense that FC is toning down to allow for more subscribers.
Now I get the feeling of a watered-down PG-13 Hyboria and that is not what I purchased.
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Posted: Jul 8th 2008 10:45AM Skellybob said

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Thanks for taking the time to respond, Tess. I'm a little puzzled about the 'uninformed' allegation, as the article focuses quite deliberately on the verifiable. Indeed, part of the point was to show how one key change - the clothing of a topless NPC - was, when you actually take the time to look at the images side by side, far more likely to be a fix to a bit of bugged code than an attempt at prudery. It's also why I closed the article with a call for evidence rather than dismissing the allegations outright.

Your points about the Beta really highlight why this is not a straightforward issue. As I attempted to make clear in the article, the state of the pre-launch game is not something that those of us who joined at launch are going to know anything about - and yes, that was a conscious tip of the hat to you and those like you who WERE in a position to say. But by that very same token, the only alleged censorship that is relevant to the vast majority of players (that is, non Beta people) is any that may have happened AFTER launch. We did not buy the game on the basis of having seen the Beta, nor on that of promises from the developers during that time.

A game may go through all manner of changes between Beta and launch. That's understood and accepted; nobody pays for a Beta. (Of course, now someone's going to say that this is exactly what current AoC players are doing, but enough of the tired jokes.) However, alterations to the post-launch game are alterations to what we actually paid for, and that's another matter. There's a difference between deleting a scene from a movie at the editing stage, and changing it after release so that Han shot second.

These two points - differences from Beta and alterations since launch - are separate concerns. Differences from Beta only affect those who were there. Alterations since launch affect everyone.

Taking you at your word, I can certainly understand annoyance at the game not heading in the direction it seemed it would in Beta. On a personal note, as someone quite heavily invested in Conan's world (I edited the Atlantean edition of the RPG, my friend wrote it, two more of my friends worked on the AoC dialog, one of whom I interviewed here at Massively, and so forth) I consider it a largely missed opportunity. To quote Aaron: 'Game direction did repeatedly say no to explicit sex, which I always thought was a strange touch given other attitudes on display.' Quite.

But however annoying it may be, the game is what it is at launch, not what it could have been. Any suggestion that there is some sort of ongoing process of censorship, of taming down, of recoiling from mature content, thus has to be tracked from launch onwards. If there IS evidence of such a process, I'd be interested to see it.

It's especially difficult to filter out the facts from the rumors when emotions are flying so high and players are so defensive of their content. For example, reference is sometimes made to a buff you would get from sleeping with a prostitute. This appears to be a complete myth, invented by players and never mentioned by developers. On the other hand, drunken brawling WAS mentioned as a game feature, and it isn't in. I don't see any evidence that it was left out because of any mature content, though. Like the original PvP 'jail' system, it just didn't make it into the final release.

Could AoC have contained more, and better, mature content? Absolutely. Could it still incorporate more? Definitely. Is it attempting to undo the mature content it had at launch? Unproven, so far. Many of your objections seem to be focused on changes between Beta and launch, but you also say that the game was dumbed down and sanitized 'after its final release'. Alleged post-launch changes are exactly where evidence is needed, in order to differentiate fact from rumor. I'm prepared to take allegations of post-launch censorship seriously, but only if the people making them are able and willing to point to specific examples and back them up with evidence. This is hardly an unfair requirement, I'm sure you'll agree.

In the event that future changes DO remove existing mature content, as you seem certain they will, you may rest assured that we'll report it.
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Posted: Jul 9th 2008 5:58AM (Unverified) said

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Adrian,

The female NPC in the Purple Lotus Swamp was not an incident of any "bugged code." Not only was her entire costume changed... the entire NPC model was changed as well. She went from being a typical (and topless) Stygian woman, to being some sort of fairy godmother from Aquilonia in a full-length gown. She does not in any way, shape or form match the Stygian setting in which she has been emplaced. Her face is different, her body is different... everythng about her is totally different. That's not a bug fix -- it's a total swap from one model to another -- for the reason of censorship. I can not think of any other credible reason. I work with models and textures on a regular basis and I know what is involved in a mere armor fix. That character was not "fixed" by Funcom -- she was removed entirely.

Likewise in the Purple Lotus Swamp, a particular piece of sexy armor has been nerfed. The item in question is called a Darfari Hunter's Garb. It dropped from random Darfari tribesmen in the Swamp quite often after AoC was first launched. It is an exotic chest piece that reveals the breasts when worn by female characters. It has been nerfed since launch and it has not been seen as a new drop by anyone in a couple of weeks now. One my my characters happens to still have a Darfari Hunter's Garb from before it was censored, and you can see it here:

http://www.tessmage.com/gallery/displayimage.php?album=lastup&cat=0&pos=1

I should also point out as an aside that in the official Bradygames strategy guide for AoC, the Casilda character is shown in a screenshot. Casilda is the very first female NPC that you meet in the game. In the AoC beta, Casilda was nude... which makes sense, because she is a captured prostitute who has been chained up in the jungle by evil poachers. Well, in that Bradygames screenshot, Casilda is nude... but in the game itself, she has had a costume painted onto her at the last minute by Funcom. Keep in mind that the screenshots in the Bradygames strategy guide were directly furnished to the authors by Funcom -- further suggesting that their original intention was for Casilda to remain nude in the final release of the game.

In every single case, these changes were made quietly by Funcom and without any mention whatsoever in the patch notes. Nor has Funcom been forthcoming with any explanations, despite a MASSIVE and ongoing outcry from their customers. Why is Funcom purposefully hiding these changes, unless they are pursuing some kind of clandestine agenda..? Why not simply come right out and explain their changes and their reasons for making those changes..? Instead, Funcom has been silent.

You asked me to give you an example of censorship that has occured *after* AoC's release. I have just furnished you with *two* such examples and I am sure that there must be others. When such censorship is taking place in a clandestine manner, it is also fair to assume that it is the result of an ongoing process of misrepresentation and deceit.

Yes, Funcom has deliberately misprepresented their product to us. That is the way most of us are feeling right now. Hence the anger, accusations and counter-accusations that are flying back and forth on the official AoC board.

There is no question in my mind that Funcom is in the process of censoring their own game after its release. As for their reasons..? I can only speculate, but I am of the opinion that we were duped into giving Funcom a ton of pre-orders and now that they have gottten what they wanted, the process of dumbing this game down for the kiddies is well underway.
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Posted: Aug 5th 2008 6:47AM (Unverified) said

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while I'd like to see more adult oriented content in the game, the censorship I'm most displeased with is that of reducing the texture quality of the nudity in the game. For example: in open beta nipples used to look very real, they had texture and definition instead of what is now simply a fuzzy blotch where the nipple should be.

I'm not sure this was intended as censurship tbh but more a poor target of graphics optimization and one that is unneeded anymore since devs have started removing portions of skin covered by the armor of NPCs, this is a good fix and also resolves the issue of body parts clipping thru cloths.

I do however wish they would return to the Open Beta quality models as they were WAY more asthetically pleasing and believe it or not, I had a better framerate during open beta then I do currently.

Posted: Aug 8th 2008 7:19PM (Unverified) said

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Shut up ScytheNoire you idiot.

Posted: Sep 21st 2008 10:04PM (Unverified) said

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Well, thanks to the protests that were made by myself and a large number of other AoC players, the game is and has been rapidly dying on the vine. On launch day, AoC had over 800,000 active subscribers. Now, that figure is down to less than half of that amount (according to Funcom's own statistics) and still dropping like a stone. The game's director (Gaute Godager) has also been ousted from Funcom in disgrace.

We can continue referring to these clandestine censorship issues as "rumors" if we wish to... but I think the actual events over the past several months have borne out my original assertions about AoC. Funcom deliberately deceived their customers, period. Their customers got wise and more than half of them jumped ship. Basically, adult players don't like being misled by greedy profiteers. AoC is dying for many reasons... but the lack of mature content is most definitely high on the list of the reasons for why so many mature players have decided to shun this particular MMO. We wanted Hyborea... not WoW with nipples. Does it matter what we wanted..? Yes, of course it does - because we're the one's paying for it.

Or... not paying for it. ;)

It's sad to see such a promising concept being ruined by prudishness and mismanagement, but this is what Funcom has brought upon themselves. So for all of you who may have employed hackneyed phrases like "the bottom line" and "market share" and so forth in defense of Funcom... well, guess what..? At this rate, their market share and their bottom line are both gonna be a big, fat ZERO. The residual resentment over this fiasco may very well carry over and hurt the sales of any future releases from Funcom, too.

Those of us who have been protesting against this problem have also been publically mocked. Well, we're still here -- and as for AoC, it's heading straight down the toilet and its director is out of a job. I'd love to gloat and say something like "We won," except for the fact that nobody has "won" anything here. Everyone has lost what could have been a rewarding game for the players and a profitable venture for Funcom.

But they blew it -- by trying to transform Hyborea into Candyland for teenaged males. So much for the power of demographics. So if Funcom wants to fire anybody else, then they should sack their idiotic marketing staff, who no doubt asserted that it would be perfectly acceptable to make money by raping the classic works of Robert E. Howard. Guess again, Funcom.

In the end, I'm left saying what I always say: repression sucks and it always yields negative results in the end. Good luck, folks.

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