Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Age of Conan players not happy with primetime maintenance

It’s a condition very similar to the growing pains that Blizzard first experienced when demand for their game outstripped their servers. Age of Conan had a very successful early access weekend except that whenever they brought their servers down the forums exploded. While the downtime on Sunday wasn't too bad since it happened in the middle of the day that was not the case on Monday. In a decision that must have been made by some European marketing major, Funcom decided to prepare for going live by taking the servers down from 5pm-12am yesterday. That's right, they thought it was more important that the servers be ready for a midnight release date then being live for primetime.

The forums for the game were already getting a reputation for being unruly and things only got worse as people came home from work. I was among those who got home just in time for the servers to go down for the rest of the day. After cursing my luck I hopped onto the forums only to see that about 50,000 other people had the same idea. In the general discussion forum there were 177 threads with about 70 of them related to the decision to patch during primetime. I finally got tired of reading the same complaints over and over again and tried looking at some of the other threads for information on instances and combat. After getting rick rolled twice I determined that the forums were probably useless until things settled down.

In all honesty I can see how being ready for a midnight release date is a big deal to the company that released Anarchy Online. Funcom really wanted to show the market that they can launch a finished product with no major issues despite their history. I do see problems forming though if they make a habit of bringing down the U.S. servers during primetime. Age of Conan is a mature rated game which means it probably has a larger population of players with day jobs. This means that more than any previous MMO it’s very important that the game is stable during the evening hours. I'm sure that Funcom got the hint from the reaction on the forums yesterday.

Still I have to wonder if this is a danger of playing a game not developed by a North American studio. While Blizzard is centric to west coast time it usually doesn't interfere with my ability to play that much since it’s only a three hours difference with the east coast. With a European studio I have to wonder if their work schedule will mesh properly with the time I have available to play. It's funny but the only reason people care that much is that the game is obviously good. If it had only a lukewarm welcoming from players then I'm sure patching during primetime wouldn't have garnered such a negative response. Still has it stands now players aren't sure if this was a onetime occurrence or if the maintenance cycle for the game might always occur during the evening hours.


Karl said...

What you are complaining about has been a fact of life for European gamers playing games developed by American studios for years. The only answer I have ever gotten when mentioning this on a forum for those games is "tough *hit".

I usually quite enjoy reading your posts since they are often insightful and informative. This seems more like a gripe about how you seem threatened by how you are potentially adversely affected by the timezone difference between Europe and the US, by something that is most likely a onetime occurrence.

Relmstein said...

There was a lot griping about the Monday maintenance but I'm not too hung over about it. I did write this post right after I got home so I might have come across rather strong.

The interesting thing is just as you poing out, European gamers have been dealing with MMO patches and timezone differences since classic Everquest. However, I'm willing to bet that Age of Conan is going to be the first experience a lot of North American gamers have with such a huge timezone gap with the developers.

I guess we really should just man up and stop our complaining but making a lot of noise on the forums seems to be something Age of Conan is inheriting from WoW. Oh well, at least we don't have Australia's problems with release dates and service.

Viet said...

Most likely a one time occurrence. Now if US prime time maintenance becomes the standard, we'd have a problem. I've been thinking of getting the game. I can't get into the AoC forums so I haven't been able to read complaints/cheers for the game. Is it worth trying out?

Relmstein said...

Its a really great game but its not going to be for everyone. It's done some unique things with it's combat system that sets it apart from other fantasy games. I would highly recommend it if:

1) You think you would enjoy slightly faster paced combat then World of Warcraft. I thought it would be button mashing at first but there is some decent strategy and timing involved.

2) Have a computer that can run the game. I think you really need a dual core machine with a decent graphics card. I believe I've heard people say a Radeon 8600 can run medium setting at an okay rate but I wouldn't try to play it with anything older.

Stropp said...

Welcome to the club mate. ;-)

This is something we Aussie gamers have had to put up with for years now. Depending on the time of year (daylight savings), WoWs Tuesday maintenance has closed us out from anywhere between 7pm and 11pm on our Tuesday evening. Bliz even refused to change their maintenance schedule just for the oceanic servers.

Over the years I've got used to such things so they don't bother me so much anymore. If the servers are down there's always another game to play, book to read, tv show to watch, or (shock horror) person to talk with.

Relmstein said...

Haha. They did the same thing to the European servers also as reported by Tobold.