Age of Conan Server Merger Indicates Trouble?
A post on the Age of Conan forums by game director Craig Morrison explains that a server merger is coming soon to promote "more healthy populations on each and every server."
In the realm of MMORPG, this is known as a bad sign. It means that the expected numbers aren't playing it up as much as anticipated.
So what went wrong with Funcomm's Conan? Personally this gamer only played the game briefly, but I've been keeping my eyes on the Internets, and watched the whole thing go down. The problem with Conan was actually the same bunch of problems that are commonly found in MMORPGs:
First off, the game could have been in better shape. Sure, no MMORPG hardly ever launches anywhere close to %100 done -- gamers don't even expect that anymore. Developers can be like -- "Hey you know all those game modes we've been telling you about for years? Well, they'll be out, in a patch in March." But a game has to be in a reasonable shape -- you know, not that many game crashing bugs, not severely unbalanced. Game zones finished.
Second, not enough high level content. As I've said, I never got too far in the game -- but from all over forums from all over the place, I've read Conan players saying there isn't that much to do in the end-game at all. The PvP was good (although it had a few flaws), but the big Realm Vs. Realm meta-game never really fully materialized.
Third, the game had pretty high system requirements. Sure the game looked awesome when cranked, but I remember when it first came out, I was using one of the most powerful video cards out at the time (I believe it was a 8800 GTS 512MB) and my frame rates stunk. I can only image what it would be like to play the game in sorta-of existing DX 10 version, or if I had a system that was anywhere close to the minimum requirements, which many, many gamers use.
But hey, it's a tough MMORPG market out there. Warhammer seems to be one of the few MMORPGs of 2008 that seems to be shaping up pretty well -- but then again, it does seem like their is always a great buzz for any MMORPG for about a month after release, and then things get more pessimistic.
Part of the problem could be that abundance of fantasy games out there. To this gamer, it doesn't seem like Age of Conan, World Of Warcraft, Warhammer : Age of Hamburgers, Lord of the Rings, Darkfall, The Chronicles of Spellborn offer worlds different from each other by all that much at all. Sure all fantasy games are going to be pretty similar rip-offs of Tolkien, but developers might want to try mixing up the forumla just the slightest amount, to at least appear like they have some original stuff going on.
Like throw in some underwater space werewolf mutants, or allow the player play as the game as a carnivorous plant or something. Or make the game world currency shrunken animal heads. Anything besides another YAMFRIES ( Yet Another MMORPG Featuring Rangers, Imps, Elves or Sorcerers.)