Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: Piercing the DarknessMitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
WarCry Editor's Note: This Age of Conan Editorial is in response to a March 28th developer journal from Darkfall Producer Tasos Flambouras, published here on WarCry. Flambouras never mentions Age of Conan in his article.
Weezer's Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this editorial are my own and are not representative of Funcom or any other company or enterprise affiliated or associated with them.
Tall poppy syndrome. This is not a social condition very well known to those living outside of Australia or the UK, but basically it is a tendency of others to criticise an individual or group of individuals on their success. Australian professional golfer, Greg Norman, tall poppy syndrome to him meant "a jealousy of success". Norman exemplified by saying that if someone in America bought a sports car, then other Americans would say "Nice car!" If someone in Australia bought a sports car, however, other Australians would scratch it. "Okay, Stephen's lost the plot" I hear you saying, "Yeah, what are you babbling about now, dude?" Well, this fortnight I spring to the defence of 'Age of Conan', as I examine some of the criticisms the game has received from "other" and competing MMORPG developers.
If you're wondering that I'm referring to, it's this, a journal entry written by 'Darkfall' Associate Producer, Tasos Flambouras. If you, a fan and follower of 'Age of Conan' have read the article, you would instantly recognise the amount of swipes Mr. Flambouras takes at the Funcom-produced game, due for release on May 20, 2008, only 46 days away. Okay, I'm all for a bit of competition and what-not, and I myself don't mind a bit of banter back and forth to keep things interesting, but if there's anything you need when in competition, it's the ability to back yourself up: what you say, and especially what you do.
"I see official screenshots from other games that look amazing, then I see some in-game screens and they're an insult. We don't have a 'screenshot setting only' to sell you the game..."
Yes, we've all seen screenshots of in-game action from 'Age of Conan', and it looks amazing, but pardon me Mr. Flambouras, what technological and graphical leaps and bounds are you guys making with 'Darkfall'? Even I've been poking my head in the 'Darkfall' pages and perusing the screenshots of the game published, and putting all my fan-boy mannerisms aside for this editorial only, are these screenshots actually meant to impress us? I understand: you're developing a graphics engine for a massive and seamless world, but how do you expect to sell a game if it is not at least visually pleasing to the eye? Granted, graphics aren't everything, but they certainly help with the experience, and I don't know about the rest of you, but I would much prefer to be in a virtual environment that makes my jaw drop as opposed to an environment that will only coax as much as a "meh" from my mouth.
"Our number one priority is gameplay, and this is why the graphics have just recently started coming along in a big way."
Only just started coming along? How much longer do you guys intend to continue working at it to make it visually appealing? Furthermore, where's the proof? Where are the fruits of your labour? I mean, throw us a fricken' bone here!
"...your game screen will look far better than anything we've shown you so far."
How exactly are your potential customers meant to believe that if only what you are giving them at the moment, by today's standards, completely and utterly sub-par? To be perfectly honest, I think given the time you've been working on this game thus far, we're expecting a lot more, and I don't mean oodles of screenshots released on a fortnightly basis, but something that sells.
Be honest with yourself: screenshots are going to help sell your game, not just promises, because in the end the gamer is fickle and needs tangible evidence that what they're seeing is what they're going to get. From what I have seen of 'Age of Conan' through my own personal experiences and what I saw at the Funcom offices in Oslo in mid-January this year, allow me to sum it up in one, simple compound word: eye-gasm! And the devs over at Funcom have by no means skimped on the gameplay to manifest such stunning graphics.