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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 12:27PM Pingles said

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To be fair, some changes are likely FAR easier to implement than others.

So while you can say Funcom is not listening by prioritizing Horse Racing over Appearance slots for all we know the code for Horse racing was a plug-in with very few code conflicts while the Appearance things might warrant a major rewrite of code with more game-breaking bug opportunities.

Expecting the developer to qualify those types of challenges might be a bit much. They come off sounding like "that's too hard to do!" when it's more a matter of managing resources.

To be honest I don't know where a good middle-ground is.

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 1:00PM Paradigm68 said

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@Pingles I think the author's point is that if a dev is going to implement easy but relatively unwanted features instead of complicated much desired features (which as you say is fair and understandable) don't tell your customers it is because they asked for it.
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 1:25PM Plastic said

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The egoist in me can't help but think this article is an expanded, and better articulated, version of my reply to Craig in the aforementioned Daily Grind post. Glad to see the argument expounded upon, and I would be really interested to hear the reasoning behind the seeming discrepancy you are writing about. Although, I think Pringles hit the nail on the head; it probably boils down to Devs not being the best at explaining resource management to their player-base.

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 1:36PM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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Interesting follow-up Jef and it highlights the issues and challenges developers face that I mentioned in that other thread last week.

My whole point was that we can't possibly do everyone's 'most wanted' feature, so there will always, always, be someone out there who feels exactly like you do.

It is an unavoidable aspect of MMO development, in particular in games that cater to many different playstyles. Someone will always think you made the wrong choices...and in fact, for that person (or group of people) we did indeed make the wrong choice...but for someone else it ('it' being any given change under discussion) was a good change that improved their enjoyment of the game.

Those are the types of choices we have to make every day, and short of having unlimited resources we can't please everyone all of the time.

I actually think we already do a lot of what yo describe above, we are fairly open with the reasons on why we have done x,y or z focus or change, or why we haven't done, or when there is a technical, resource or other consideration that blocks us from doing something we agree with players would be good (like for example cross server mini-games in our case, we all agree it would be great, alas we don't have the tech infrastructure to support it yet...or a 'social tab' for gear, we agree it would be a great addition, and have wanted to do it, but have only recently been able to start on it)

We have also shown quite a bit of data, like the summer survey for example, and stating clearly the split between PVP and PVE players 9which is actually roughly 50%)...the problem there is that those who are dedicated to their point of view rarely care to acknowledge stats, or claim they are biased or flawed.

We have also already spoken about exactly those issues you raise, like reducing the grind in Khitai - there are long threads, with details, on both the US and EU forums right now (including me explaining that account wide tokens is probably not the approach we would take, but that we are doing things there to account for that - you might want to check out the test live server notes just yesterday there too ;) )...so in fact, personally I would argue that many of the points you raise above have been discussed, and the open details are there for anyone to read as part of those discussions.

Yet, even with all that, we still hear that we don't talk enough, and sometimes I wonder if people can't always distinguish between not getting an answer, and not getting an answer they like. If they don't like the actual answers from an open communication they often refuse to acknowledge the process.

This is an area I personally spend a lot of time upon (including my significant other glaring at me for writing long posts on an early Sunday afternoon :p) so I would be very interested to hear how exactly you would think a business can improve upon that in your opinion? You say in the last paragraph that 'like to see Funcom take a serious stab at improving this aspect of its operation going forward' and that you want even more of an insight into the development process. How would you have that done if it were your choice?

Now there will of course be some things we simply can't talk about, and aren't appropriate to discuss in public (in particular as we are a publicly traded company so there are legal limits on what we can reveal in some cases) but overall I think with a monthly development update, a weekly update that describes what much of the team were working on that week,..and frequent detailed explanation of certain issues on the forums - what other avenues is it that you are thinking of? That's not meant aggressively as I genuinely love talking about feedback channels and how to improve (after all, who doesn't want to improve their companies profile?)...but I genuinely feel we are pretty 'ahead of the curve' in that respect, so I would be very interested to hear exactly what we could do that would satisfy this demand for even more communication.

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 2:20PM xyna031 said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison Craig You get the game runing smothly like it did before the expansion with some sort of pvp ranking and you got a year sub from me! I left the game almost for 1 year now because i was tired of rage quiting every week because the new zones were just unplayeble for me and i was tired of the same old pvp level grind, amazingly i actually got to pvp 4 i dunno why lol
Everytime i ear AoCs soundtrack always give that nostalgia feel and gives an immediate rush to sub back but the stills feels some kind of unfinished for me... It has so much potential. God i miss my assassin :3
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 3:22PM Plastic said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

You mention the big summer survey as an example of sharing feedback data with the community. However, this better serves as an example of the point Jef is trying to make, which is not that data is never shared, but that there seems to be a discrepancy between user feedback and update prioritization (at least based on the information players get to see), and that customers could benefit from a better explanation of why there is such a discrepancy.

If you read through the thread where the results of that summer survey were posted (http://forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=226714), you will notice that many, if not most, players were left scratching their heads in disappointment.

It seems to me that if less that half of your player-base is happy with the proposed changes, there is a serious problem. I don't know what information was taken from that thread by Funcom, but reading the standard GM response in there ("we can't please everybody") and then seeing it repeated here six months later, is a bit disheartening.
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 4:48PM SWILK3RS said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

The worst part of this situation is the fact that in the AOC suggestions forum thread, you have everything that you need to make improvements. Maybe you should talk to the Eve Online directors. They did an entire update of nothing but player suggestions. I was a huge fan of this game until the grind killed it. Craig, what ever happened to the "if it's not fun, take it out of the game" mentality? This game is like a roller coaster. It started out with a huge release and then almost completely died. You were able to give it some life for a bit but it's back on life support. Take a step back and even take yourself out of the process. Focus and execute. Easy fixes Craig. Easy fixes.
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 5:05PM Jef Reahard said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

Hi Craig,

Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I (as well as many AoC fans I'm sure) appreciate the way you interact with the community moreso than many (most?) AAA developers. I struggled with writing this article because I wanted to get it out there but also didn't want to come down too terribly hard on a game that I enjoy. I simply think AoC could be a lot more (and more popular) than it is.

As for my suggested improvements, the main thing I'd like to understand is the feedback process. Is feedback on the forums considered? Does it mainly come from test live? The surveys? Other avenues? The reason I ask is because almost all of the people I talk to in game (and outside of it) are focused on PvP, and they're all unhappy about the current state of it.

I totally get that you can't please everyone, particularly with the large audiences often involved with an MMO, but with AoC it seems like the targeted "core fan" has shifted substantially from what it was when the game launched, and many of the changes that have been made (or not made) have taken the product away from what made it unique and moved it more in line with the rest of the genre (i.e., the changes from 1.04 to 1.05 for example, or the Tortage open PvP removal).

Also don't get me wrong, personally I'm more of a PvE-focused player in most games, so it doesn't break my heart to see AoC feature more PvE development focus than PvP, but in talking with people in game (and of course reading the forums), it seems the vast majority of that particular group are really focused on PvP, and are really negative since there isn't a lot going on in their arena of choice.

So, my main disconnect is where the rest of the feedback is coming from. Surely you guys wouldn't be spending money and dev cycles if you weren't hearing from people that like the direction things are going but, aside from the very occasional attempt at a positive forum thread, I don't see a lot of that. Also as Plastic mentioned in a comment above, yes the surveys were an interesting read, but they didn't seem to be well-received on the boards, and we as players don't really have any other barometer for the community's collective mood.

At the risk of asking a question that you might not be able to answer, who is the ideal AoC customer, i.e., what type of MMO player is really this title's primary target?

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Posted: Feb 17th 2011 1:35PM chopstix906 said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

I apologize in advance if I list any redundent comments, but I feel I should mention some things that I have noticed.

I think the article made a very good point in stating that feedback was minimal from player surveys. I may be wrong, but I took some of these surveys listing my opinions about want I would like to see implemented into the game, but I can't recall ever seeing the results of these surveys. I'm not sure if I just haven't been looking closely enough or the results weren't released, but I believe I held a similar opinion to other PVPs like myself.

I also understand where you're coming from when you say, "we can't please everyone", but I believe that, in theory, you can. If you stop worrying about what updates will please certain players and just implement things for every background, then it's only a matter of time before you satisfy the vast majority of your population playerbase.

Another thing I noticed was on the forums where a player listed a very detailed list of ideas to implement into the game. You commented on this thread, stating that almost all of them were looked at and either listed as doable or unrealistic. I understand that some of those would be and enormous amount of work and truely are unrealistic, but you have to understand that not every update is going to be a simple fix. You state that some updates would take a lot of time, people, and money to finish, but the reality is, most of the requested updates are generously sized. Just taking time in one of these would reassure the playerbase that you truely are taking their opinions into consideration and are willing to put a lot of time into one large, useful update. Many small and easy updates aren't going to soothe the players' rage at this point. We need a beam of light to show us that this game can be something amazing.

Again, I apologize for redundent comments, but I just wanted to share where I'm coming from.
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 1:43PM Bhagpuss said

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"to heck with the players; I'm going to make the game I want to make, and if people don't like it, they can play something else."

As a customer, that is exactly the attitude I would like all but the very largest, most mainstream game developers to take. If they did we'd have many varied and different MMOs to choose from, rather than many very similar ones.

I'm not bothered whether individual game companies succeed or fail, any more than I care whether individual publishers or movie studios succeed or fail. As a consumer I don't want to be pandered to by designers trying to second-guess what I might pay for; I want them to have a creative urge that drives them to make what they believe is the best game they are able to make.





Posted: Feb 13th 2011 2:13PM Sleaker said

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I have to say that Runic Games does the Raving Fan thing pretty dang well, talk to anyone that's played Torchlight! Mmm speaking of Torchlight, If you haven't gotten it you should get on steam and go get it, cause it's awesome.

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 4:02PM Dunraven said

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It's funny that the author mentioned the book Raving fans. My very good friend at Vigil games told me that book is basically their company's Bible, I don't know if that is going to translate into a decent MMO or not.

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 5:57PM Thorqemada said

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In my opinion Funcom does many communication regarding to AoC.
The monthly and weekly updates/letters whats going on, in germany is a podcast every 2 weeks from a cm, also official responses in the english forums.
They do a far better job than most other mmos out there.

For the weight of PvPers vs PvEers afaik (and there be some recent threads in the forums about it with quite the latest guessings) the PvE-Server population is far bigger than the PvP-Server population.
Contrary to it is the survey with is more equal but it only leads to the conclusion that the PvP crowd is far more vocal...

PvP as single base of a mmo does not work, there simply be not enough loser for the winners if the only purpose to play a mmo is PvP.
Any succesfull MMO with PvP has a much bigger PvE part (even EvE) about 80 to 90 percent.

So the quickest way ínto ruin is to make a PvP-MMO guessing that the players do not exploit the tools you give them, do not take any advantage possible, do not go for the easiest prey driving the fresh meat right away in the moment they try to get into the game etc...and coninuing to make content for the few that stay.
How can you tell your fellow vocal PvPers that think they be the "hub of the world" that isnt the case without having a major turmoil?

AoC is quite doing a very good job with them...

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 6:11PM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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Yes Jef, I think you identify exactly the issue which we face with Age of Conan in particular and that is that many people considered it to be a solely PVP focused title when that was not the case, and they still wish that it was what the games sole focus was.

Now for the record, PVP is a very important part of the game, and we do work to improve it, however the game was always primarily designed as more of a quest and encounter driven PVE experience, which then had additional PVP elements (at least in terms of what was made, if, maybe not, in terms of what may have been spoken about prior to launch, and before my time, which I can't change, but I likewise can't blame anyone for hoping for). This is one of those very difficult things to discuss openly because people invariably jump down our throats and immediately jump to the incorrect conclusion at the far end of the specturm. So I say 'It isn't a PVP focused game' and people jump to the incorrect conclusion I mean 'we don't care about PVP', which is farthest from the case.

Having the PVP features is a very important part of the game. (and personally if I ever get to make a game from scratch, which was just my vision as it were, I'd love to do one centered with a dynamic PVP environment...but back to topic...)

So taking that PVP is important, you then have the fact that, put simply, the PVP crowd are very, very hard to please. Not because they are any more opinionated or pushy than PVE fans, but because they come in with so many different opinions about what makes 'good' PVP. There are those that want to gank, those that want open world, those that like arenas, those that like mini-games those that like territory control so and, and so forth (and often not only do they prefer one style, they are quick to label the other varieties 'lame' and 'useless'. The summer survey is actually a great indicator of that - just look at all the different options preferred...and those whose opinion isn't the majority then have a hard time accepting that they aren't the majority and continually come up with reasons why the data is flawed or biased. All we want to do is make people happy, so there isn't anything in it for us in faking such data. Thus even when we do what the majority wanted (12v12 mini-games with a new queue system) those in the minority suddenly flare vocally and come across, in forum terms, as if we are somehow neglecting a 'majority voice' when that simply isn't the case.

So to take that instance as an example, to the absolute best of our knowledge the most wanted PVP addition, and most liked PVP 'style' in the game is PVP mini-games...but that means the section of the player base who like other forms (and often see mini-games as 'lame') then sound off on the forums. So if I wanted to be ultra-defensive I could point out that we are actually already doing exactly what the majority of the players asked for, and those complaining are the actual minority.

I hear many people, in particular genre veterans, bemoan the PVP options in World of Warcraft for example, but their arena system and mini-games are by far the most played and most enjoyed PVP features that have ever existed in an MMO. There can be quite a disconnect between the vocal opinion of a group of people, and the reality of what is happening in your game itself.

...now in a perfect world maybe you could add something smaller for the minority as well, but then resources become and issue, and you also have the fact that, sometimes, what that minority want is actually something that would be mutually exclusive of keeping the majority happy.

There are also parts of the PVP nature of the game that we have never been truly happy with as well, as with the performance in siege gameplay, but also lacked the resource to re-write fully, so have had to tweak it when what it really needed was an overhaul (which we still hope to do at some stage). So I can fully understand someone who held that as their most valued feature in the game being less than happy with that feature, and it is a valid criticism that we have't been able to resolve those issues fully.

Worth noting as well that there is a train of though amongst some developers that we shouldn't talk as much as we do. In fact some of my own team have questioned why I am so active with the forums and the community on the basis that I could never make everyone happy so why not just be quiet and the players would bemoan the lack of communication, but all parties could happily believe that they might be the majority, whereas when we have an open channel like this, and explain who that majority seems to be, we annoy those in the minority...so the logic goes that maybe you are best just not commenting and let people believe what they believe. (i.e. you don't annoy either side and create an 'upset minority')...however personally I have always thought it worthwhile to take that risk :)

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 10:28PM thedoommarine said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

Craig, you have always been great to the community and I very sad about Conan's current state and I know you are trying very hard to change that. I still sub but barely play anymore because of the state of Tryanny. The server is dead and I don't want to pay to transfer my characters to a non-PVP server. I have heard rumors of merging Tryanny, which I would love to happen. I hope there are more players when the 2.1 graphics update kicks in because I miss killing gankers.

Yours truely,

All 45 people left on Tryanny
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Posted: Feb 14th 2011 2:45PM Slithers said

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@Craig Silirrion Morrison

Craig, you just proved that you have absolutely no clue what your doing in the PVP department. You first speak about how you noticed PVP mini games were our most played feature in the game over any other PVP activity, I can give you that. But you also note that World of Warcraft competitive arena's is their most played feature, I can give you that too, but here is the problem.

YOU REMOVED PREMADE VS PREMADE and made mini games pug vs pug where there is no real competitive play involved what so ever. In World of Warcraft, you can make teams, you have rankings, you have ladders, you have special gear that requires "SKILL" to obtain it, not any given noob can obtain the gear, you have to actually be good. You also can play with YOUR FRIENDS, something you also removed from your game.

You speak about how it's a 50% PVE and 50% PVP game, but the fact is, you give 90% PVE and 10% PVP for content output and then you say "were hard to please". We have asked you since LAUNCH, I have been here since god damn launch, to implement, RIGHT CLICK DUEL, ARENA PVP Ladder, PREMADE VS PREMADE QUEUES for Mini games or revamped sieges that actually work and what do you give us? a new grind to pvp 10, some laggy 12 v 12 map that is designed for Rangers and you just water down the entire combat system for PVE players and make the game slow, boring and the combat system designed for a 2 year old.

3 of my accounts, my entire guild are unsubbed from your game, I can't even count the amount of people I played with that cannot stand what you did to the game in patch 1.05 and on, it was basicaly a slap in the face to anybody who enjoyed pvp, pvp and so fourth. Then you expect us to sit here and read your constant lies and deception to journalists because you try to defend your game for players who don't play it, may try it out.

Craig Morrison, your nothing but a liar, a con artist more or less, you will lie until the day the game dies, why? because your paid to, that's your job. Fact is, you killed your game and it was more focused on PVP than PVE? If it wasn't, then why are we on ANOTHER WEBSITE discussing it with 92119219 of players that use to play this game. Let's also discuss how anytime we post old videos of "Developer Diaries" when they talk about how the game is about skill, hardcore combat, no grind and more pvp focused than PVE, you remove it and than ban the person from the forums. your so full of shyt, seriously. The Secret World is going to burn, I hope you burn with it.

YOUR FRIEND MORPHS
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 6:17PM Graill440 said

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The warm and fuzzy hugs are a bit much.

Money drives developer choices, on what they will and wont do, not what fans want. If idea A from the fans is to costly or resource consuming whether good or bad it will not happen. In the end if it bites anywhere into the profit margine it wont happen and fans see the limited lip service to try and sooth the sometimes unbelievable choices developers make.

To everything this developer has stated i simply restate this for record and a glaring example of the developers in this title doing what they want.

The UI is still a mess, this includes anything from how one sorts and stacks anything, interacts with their storage to binding a key to their liking. Crafting is still, well crap. These two popular examples are still garbage after all these years? There is no excuse for this.

So you two continue to hug each other and we past "fans" will continue to remind you of your poor choices.

A person once told me you cant please everyone all the time, thats somewhat true, but you can definately please the majority most of the time if you have any common sense and a budget.

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 6:53PM Jef Reahard said

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@Graill440

Aww, really? I thought I was being my usual crotchety self, I don't even hug my own mother. Seriously though, it's a good discussion I think, even though ultimately I probably won't get all the answers that I want.
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Posted: Feb 13th 2011 6:40PM Vagrant Zero said

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This whole back and forth is all well and good then...but did anyone else notice Craig all but confirmed that Social/Appearance tabs are finally being worked on?

Can I get a YAY!

Posted: Feb 13th 2011 6:51PM Jef Reahard said

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@Vagrant Zero

I was about to post something similar. \o/
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