Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: On Second Thought…Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
We've heard murmurs of things being cut from 'Age of Conan', or changed so dramatically that it is only a shadow of what it resembled at its first inception. So this has been a major concern of the 'Age of Conan' community: what has been cut from the game, and why? The disappointment with any sort of cut or change is implicitly comprehensible, but I think what is easily forgotten is that what at first sounds like a good or "cool" idea at first, on review, doesn't always seem to work out, seem practical, or just ends up contradicting a vision, and we all know how important it is for Funcom to "stay true" to Howard's vision of Hyboria, and their own vision for 'Age of Conan'.
"At the end of the day someone has to say, 'This was a much better idea on paper than in the game. Let us focus on what is there - for the good of the whole game.'"
First on the chopping block - I guess you could call it - was "Global Forced Player Formations":
"The player formations were implemented and tested, we even have tools to set up positions and add their effects. The problem was it never excited people to lose control over their characters. Having your character move when someone else moves sort of undermines the idea of a game don't you think? The coordination of a voluntary formation was just too much for most players, especially with the collision system we have. It simply wasn't fun!"
Formations, in a way, was something that drew me to 'Age of Conan' in the first place, mainly because I'm a sucker for sticking my nose into battle plans, strategies, tactics, and changing things on the fly as battle conditions change. I wasn't completely fussed with not being in control of my character when "locked" into a battle formation, but Gaute is right when he says that this design, essentially, is not fun for the player.
The idea behind any game is for the player to be in control of what ever it is they're doing, and no exception is made for MMORPGs. The question had to be asked as well, "If I'm not in control of my character whilst in a battle formation, then who is?" Ultimately I think the player in control was going to be whoever it was playing the "Commander" prestige class (the "battle master", if you will), one player alone. In this player's hands, the fate of his teammates and potentially his or her entire guild lay. You might be in the situation where the Commander chooses a formation that you don't necessarily agree that the team or guild should take, but because he's (Sic.) in control you really have no say in the matter. With a bit of luck, the formation might prove effective, but you've had no impact on the outcome of the battle (that's not fun), or on the flipside, you chosen formation and decision of the Commander could lead the entire team or guild to grisly death (well, about as grisly as deaths can get in MMORPGs anyway).
I'm of the mind that the team or guild with a bit of savvy will be able to draw up their own battle plans and formations and implement them manually, that is, a raid or team/guild leader will communicate to teammates and teammates/guildmates will get themselves into position. Of course this will require a great deal of organisation and excellent communication skills, but the fun therein lies with the team/guild itself drawing up their own plans and formations, or borrowing the ones that have worked for the armies and legions of old. But if that's not your style, I guess you could settle for a good old-fashioned barbarian rush (Rarrggh!).
While not a "cut" per se, there have been two more classes merged. While not as dramatic as the class mergers that were made around this time last year, this time around it was more or less taking the good from certain classes and spreading the good stuff over already-existing classes or coming up with a new concept all together. The classes that I refer to are the Lich and Scion of Set.