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Thread: Side-story Updates?

  1. #1

    Question Side-story Updates?

    At least we now know that the many calls for updates are being marginally heeded. Even if it did take almost three weeks to do so, the main AO homepage finally has new content! Both new side-story articles are well-written and interesting - congrats to Daimoness and Sedula.

    But it is still painfully obvious that, no matter how rampant discussion on these forums may be, the persistent, never-ending calls for "updates" to the main storyline go unheeded (let alone acknowledged by any FC staff member on the boards). Aside from a few pointed expansionary discussions, which have been nothing more than speculative debate between 4 or 5 people, most players are losing interest in the world of "Rubi-Ka" and are instead directing their gaming efforts towards looting, camping and quasi-power-levelling. AO is becoming much less an RPG than an odd FPS/strategy game.

    Think about it logically, and in terms of what WOULD actually happen. FC dropped an enormous bomb on the player base:
    (i) by announcing that the CoT has disbanded and fled Tir, along with their military; and (ii) through the insertion of ICC peacekeepers in Tir. Given the gravity of these two events in terms of the main story, in the very least, media outlets would be RAMPANT with articles about everything from rumours of the fate of the CoT, to "what next?" analyses, to incidents of skirmishes between Clan and ICC in Tir. Look at how the US media treated the search for Chandra Levy (the murdered D.C. intern), or how the G.B. press treat, well, any day in the life of the Royals.

    These two events are earth-shattering in terms of the impact it has on the whole of the planet. Yet, after a weekend of walking through the AO world, very few people seem to care. The most common response was "there's a story to all of this?" As "designers" of an RPG, that certainly must wound one's pride.

    Given that the media should be having a field day but isn't, here's a question for this board (feel free to go nuts, Bionitrous): was the "update" and subsequent lack of updates a sincere and true attempt at storytelling? Or, was it a method to appease the gaming masses who couldn't log in on patch day?

    I regret having to say this, but I am much more partial to the latter.

  2. #2
    Really can't go off on this one, sorry. I've been wondering what happened as well. Kind of sitting in the back of my mind that there was something wrong when the Launcher still sits at 'CoT Remains In Communicado' for like 2 weeks now.

    I'm afraid that we get stuff when they 'feel like it'. Kinda like game content as well. Seems there is no production schedule or release mechanic set up to ensure a steady flow of information to the customerbase.

    FunCom is a tough nut to figure out. Everything comes in spurts from them. They post like crazy on the forums and then ignore the customer for a month. Ragnar communicates and then disappears. The Professionals start and then stop. The Story seems to be running perfectly and then instantly stops. We get timely patch information and then next time we get preliminary notes two days before it goes live.

    They just don't act like a real company. More like a messed up group of very creative people (except the head game designer who seems intent on destroying the game with his seeming fascination with EverQuest and determination that no thinking should be involved other than 'how long till I get my next level'). Kinda like a bunch of 10-yr Grad School veterans who refuse to graduate and have bursts of inspiration followed by a loss of interest as they pursue the next thing that grabs their fancy.

    They don't seem to treat AO as a product but rather as a paying hobby. That's probably our fault as customers because we let them get away with it. As much as I used to enjoy the game (and still do to a degree) I often wish they would have gone broke. It's a sad state of affairs that FunCom was allowed to do what they did to the gaming public and actually get away with it. It signals to game developers that we as customers don't really matter that much. It's even sadder to see what they are doing now 14 months later. The Story situation is a case in point. They blew a load over the span of 2 weeks and now are probably laying in bed smoking a cigarette and getting ready to hit the hay. And we as customers are expected to accept this rollercoaster of attention from the providers of a paid service.

    It's kind of worthless to even suggest that they could have spread that two weeks worth of material out over a month and this thread would never have been started. It's just not their 'personality'. Who knows? Maybe 14.5 was such a failure owing to the game developers' insistence that everything about the game must be a chore that the end really is in sight.

    Whatever the deal is, I got an eery feeling from the in-game attitude of players as well as the never-changing Launcher page. Despite whatever arguments to the contrary may be elicited by this post, I really think 14.5 has the potential to be the harbinger of the onset of decay for AO. It appears in all evaluations to be if not an utter failure, then at least an indication that the game just isn't going to ever get anymore fun.

    12.6 didn't make the game anymore fun.
    14.2 didn't make the game anymore fun.
    14.4 made Fixers fun while simultaneously smacking them and Adventurers in the face with level requirements that added nothing to the excitement factor of AO.
    14.5 added quests? Where? Bobic, Tribo, Burger thing, and the rings. How about some leaks of the 'fun' things to do? Outdoor hunting? Yeah, right.

    I'm afraid that there's something endemic to the FunCom corporate culture that you either have to accept or cancel: You just can't depend on them. They're like the messed up girlfriend (or boyfriend) who tripped you up with headgames for so long you finally had to show them the door. Sure it would be great for two weeks. But, you knew it wouldn't be long before they were back to their old tricks.

    If in-game city populations are any indication, it seems their messing with the player population with never ending Nerfs, inconsistent Story deliver, and willy nilly game mechanic changes is starting to finally get to a lot of people.

  3. #3
    As I said before... I bet most of their resources are going into the 'patch to fix the patch' - we still haven't gotten one, and I myself have found many a bug in the new content and code.

    That said, they could just throw us a frickin' bone here on the story updates
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  4. #4
    The thing I'm not clear on is how the company divides it's resources. I would think there are dedicated story people, but unless they take a lot of vacation time, where are they? Do they lock Ragnar away and make him do data entry 39 hours a week?
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  5. #5
    Well, if Ragnar is working on the 14.5 'fix' then that's fine with me. But, don't you think a competent company would have at least 3 weeks worth of material in reserve from him to post on a regular basis? I mean honestly, is it professional for the provider of a service like this to have stuff go directly from Ragnar's word processor to the web site? What would happen if he caught the flu and was out of action for 3 weeks?

    Something is just not right with the way they go about things. There should be a ton of material ready for them to post even if Ragnar isn't adding to the stack. Anything. Clan profiles, Omni dept descriptions, major Story character Bios, ...

    As for fixing this patch and going totally off-topic, I certainly hope they can do something to put the 'fun' back in that they had the potential to add. Maybe turn on that multitude of 'static missions for all levels and professions', unbreak the crowd controllers outdoors, and make hunting outdoors actually worth one's time. I played a newb alt on Sunday and forgot how much fun it was to run around the countryside and kill stuff and actually level. It was fun to see the sun set and rise again like well over a year ago.

  6. #6
    The division of labour certainly wouldn't make sense if they have the same people patching the patch as they do writing the story updates. Although (yes, I'm actually speaking in their defence), the absence of "stock" material could be endemic of FC allowing players to guide the direction of the story (i.e., brawls between Clan and ICC would be story-worthy, even in the broader sense of main plot). Then again, I may be giving them too much credit...

    Do you really think only one person is writing story materials? That would be miserably irresponsible, especially given the scale and complexity of the story. The greater risk to such single person would be working to death. The flu would be a welcome respite from the chaos.

    I completely forgot about the charcter bios and OT department profiles. I guess I abandoned hope of that being updated a long time ago. That's all ancillary material; if they can't feed the players material after essentially re-making the political and confounding the military aspects of the game, it wouldn't surprise me to hear that the writer(s) have forgotten about that section, too.

    I agree completely re: "patch" 14.5. I think too many people bog the dev team down complaining about class balance and what to nerf/un-nerf that their purest and best intentions are ruined. I've only been playing the game for about 4 weeks now, and mission farming is getting tedious and boring. Hunting countryside would be a wonderful break from the mundane (especially given the extent to which they focused on atmospheric/graphical elements...looks spectacular on my GeForce - a helluva lot better than the repetitive walls, etc., of missions).

    There's another thread in the "Story" forum from good old Shakkles that makes a good point - if FC can't or doesn't want to update, why not flood the news with player-submitted stories? Today's updates (one of which dates WAY back to the 18th of Sept) represent probably 1% of the material FC has received. Granted it all has to be screened, but anyone can manage doing that.

    As of now, the DB is basically a faded memory, the peacekeepers' only purpose in Tir is target practice, and the CoT lives only in a series of unconnected articles in an archive accompanied by a few downloadable animations.

    Sorry to say this FC (have we figured out if they even troll this forum, or do they ignore it completely?) but you didn't just drop the ball on this one, you spiked it before you made it in the endzone. A government falls, a capital city of one of the major factions on the planet gets overrun by extra-planetary goons, yet the most vivid in-game discussions are "got any mochams?!?" and "let's go camp [insert mob here] for some ph@t l00t!!"

  7. #7
    Its only been one week without stuff. (Not that after such major events not having anything the week after makes any sense)
    I think one week is excuseable. Now if we don't have anything this week, then start worrying.

  8. #8
    Here's the problem:

    7 official updates in like 5 days

    followed by 0 official updates in 7 days.

    Why not 7 official updates over 12 days?

    This thread would not exist if that were the case.

    And yes, I do think that it's only Ragnar and Gaute who do the Story. And I think it's only Ragnar who generates the copy.

    Until they release some official numbers, I'd have to guess they've got probally less than 3 dozen creative talents working on this title (ncluding Shadowlands). I've been trying to dig up some corporate info regarding company size. Not that there's anything wrong with a small tight-knit group of talented people. It'd just explain a lot of what we see.

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