Age of Conan's Game Director Gaute Godager released a letter addressing the reasons behind the announced delay and the development progress report:
It feels to me I am the Herald of bad news (no, it is not a new class). Rather, I am the grey faced postman always arriving with the bills. I am the guy with a yellow post-it on your windshield confessing a fender bender. I am the only one in the elevator when the door opens, and a pretty lady enters reaching for her nose. It seems I only write to you with bad news - that's all I do! I want to write this update to encourage you - we are on the right track, and by Crom we are close to the finish!
Although you might not see it this way, and you are frustrated, we delay because - it is right. It is the right thing to do! Naturally I sound righteous, haughty and bordering on arrogant when I say this: This is the right thing to do. You want something better than what you would have gotten in March. You deserve something better! I want to apologize - not for what we did but because some of you might have gotten upset. For that I am sorry. For this decision, and every one leading up to it - I stand by it 100%! This game will rock!
Ok, enough with the emotions, though I simply needed to get this off my chest. Why do we delay again? It is simple and it is complex:
- The level of bugs.
The previous delay was for a major reason - the combat control and balance. This is no longer the case. We have the big things under control, although not all has reached beta in the speed I would have liked to have seen! It is now simply getting in the things we did, polished. We have continued to receive fantastic feedback for the previous changes. See this article for instance: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=178652 if you worry that the game has not progressed. The previous delay was correct and time spent wisely, so is this - and so will this time be spent!
The simplicity of this explanation (bugs) as the reason behind the delay is that you have heard it before by all major players in the industry and by all others making computer software. Bugs are controllable on a statistical level, but I guess sometimes statistics don't really reflect the experience. Although we have seen bugs go down as predicted by statistics, the increase in polish didn't really follow suit. This discrepancy can only be explained that the bugs we have fixed aren't by themselves flawless. Two bugs out of beta and one in. Again a well known phenomena. The added time should now deal with it. We are on the right track.
I guess you saw we hosted a large community event at the end of last week, giving the awesome Conan fan- sites a chance to see, ask and learn as much as they could about the nuts and bolts of the game. (And meet so many of you really cool people - how did you like the Stygian restaurant?) This event was all about giving as much info as we were asked (in addition to us presenting a lot ourselves;-). I think it's safe to say that many of us had a great time at the event, but since so much info came out of it I also see the need to clarify some things. I am creating a State of the game update so you can learn more about how we are moving ahead. Today, however, I wanted to speak about the additional eight weeks of development, and the new release date.
Reading your concerns and replies about the delay on our forums I see, and understand, that many of you are concerned about the status of the game. I also see that many of you support our decision in pushing it back, since you have played enough MMO's to understand. Like me, you know that the last stretch of polish is what makes or breaks our MMO straight-after-launch-first-impression. Like me, many of you know that making games is not an exact science. We are dealing with emotions, and fun, and technology and what have you.
Launching in March was our clear goal, even up to last week. As a listed company we are forced to deal with release dates in a different manner, especially since a lot of our value is based on Age of Conan. And whenever something changes, we need to inform the market first. Most of our people only found out this morning due to legal requirements. The final decision was something I and some of our key management people made over the weekend. The premise was simple. As we now moved into the home stretch, we took that last, long look at the state of the game. How would it be come March? Would it become like we intended it to be if we launched in March? The final word from our CEO came on Saturday evening, after we discussed this through the day. And here we are.
Let me be very clear about this; as opposed to our last pushback in August we are not about redesigning parts of the game this time around. Now we are on the final stretch, with the goal plain in sight. I have assured you before, but we are neither the first nor the last gaming company to add more development time to our game in the last stretch. That is not an excuse though, but ultimately it's the quality which matters. That is the only yardstick which truly matters. This additional time is about hope. In only four more months you will know if we made the right move. I feel confident we have!