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Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures: Craig Morrison on Quality vs. Profit

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

MMORPG.com occasionally asks the same question to a group of developers to see how different philosophies inside the industry really are. This week, our question is: "How do developers balance the company's need to make a profitable product versus their desire to create an interesting and innovative game?" Today, our answer comes from Age of Conan's Craig Morrison.

This week's Developer Question is:

How do developers balance the company's need to make a profitable product versus their desire to create an interesting and innovative game?

That is always a challenge for sure. You have to make an assessment of the risks that are inherent in trying something different against the risks in making something that is too generic. If a team 'dials in' a design as it were you will have a reduced chance of having a break out hit, especially as the market gets more crowded and the end user has more choice. I would guess there are exceptions where being a good 'clone' is the aim of the project, but if you are aiming to attract a genuine audience and make a mark at the top end of the market you must have a clear vision of what you want your game to be.

Read Craig Morrison on Quality vs. Profit.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

Comments

  • Coldrain_13Coldrain_13 Pinnacle, NCPosts: 107Member
    I read this while alt tabbbed from AoC bored to death..........this guy is a load of BS.

    Sad thing is I just resubbed back to aoc.

  • Methos12Methos12 Maladis 46Posts: 1,234Member Uncommon

    To be honest, his grin tells you everything you need to know.

    Nature without Technology is little more than animals running about.
    Nature without Magic is without wonder or miracle.
    .........
    Magic without Technology is fantasy.
    Magic without Nature is formless and useless.
    .........
    Technology without Nature is application without understanding.
    Technology without Magic is repetitious and uninventive.
  • Coldrain_13Coldrain_13 Pinnacle, NCPosts: 107Member
    Cha-ching!
  • Darth_OsorDarth_Osor Mt Laurel, NJPosts: 1,089Member

    Asking a Funcom exec about profit vs quality?  What...no Ferengi were available?

  • CujoSWAoACujoSWAoA Nooo, AKPosts: 1,781Member
    NEGATIVE RESPONSES TO ANYTHING AGE OF CONAN, RAAAAAAAAAH!!!

    MY POINT HAS BEEN PROVEN AND THE WORLD IS BETTER BECAUSE OF OF MY FINGERS AND KEYBOARD AND BRAIN COMING TOGETHER!!!

    NERD RAAAAGE!! RAAAAAAAH!!!

    I look forward to your expansion Mr. Morrison. What I have read of it sounds very nice and I will purchase it and form my own opinion through hours of gameplay enjoyment.

    Thanks Funcom, for making it and providing it at a very reasonable amount of money.
  • Cameron27Cameron27 Fort Collins, COPosts: 142Member
    Originally posted by Darth_Osor


    Asking a Funcom exec about profit vs quality?  What...no Ferengi were available?



     

    I thought the Ferengi work at Cryptic

    "I will not play it nor any other MMO until they make it possible to obtain the best gear without forcing people to group up to do so." SwampRob

  • RawizRawiz HelsinkiPosts: 469Member Uncommon

    So, rubbish PVE man taking control of a PVP game. Gee, sounds like whole new news, worth an article if you pay enough?

    Sup with 10 new AoC topics in 10 days? Let's get paid MMORPG, right?

  • Nhoj1983Nhoj1983 Mount Vernon, WAPosts: 185Member

    Craig wasn't the lead for the innitial developement of AoC so the funcom rage isn't really pertinant. Most the the positive trends of the game can be attributed at least partially to his leadership.  He's a smart man and his many such articles show this.   Let's keep the conversation even.  I'm not as of now subbed to AoC but I will buy the expansion.  AoC is going the right direction as far as all points show atm.  Thank you for the interesting article.

  • SamatmanSamatman Elmer, NJPosts: 123Member

    Thanks for the interview, I enjoyed reading it.  I think game integrity vs. profit is definitely on everyone's minds these days and I hope you can ask the same question to other devs working on other games in the future.

    Sadly, these forums are becoming a toxic pit of despair.  I hope that the new forum moderation makes a difference soon.

  • PocahinhaPocahinha cidadePosts: 550Member
    Originally posted by Rawiz


    So, rubbish PVE man taking control of a PVP game. Gee, sounds like whole new news, worth an article if you pay enough?
    Sup with 10 new AoC topics in 10 days? Let's get paid MMORPG, right?



     

    hahhaha so true man

  • VolgoreVolgore Posts: 2,209Member Uncommon

    While AoC has made it's progress with CM on board, Funcom may not be in the exact right position to discuss a "quality vs profit" topic with anyone.

    They shoveled in the profit of about 800k+ initial sales, while the lack of quality of their product left like below 100k subs at some time.

    Also this constant rubbing in of AoC reports, interviews, features every other day is really starting to smell....and you guys know what like!

    image
  • FrobnerFrobner REykjavPosts: 649Member

    I dont know how you can put Quality vs. Profit into that header since the question was about making  interesting and innovative game vs Profit.  But to be honest.  Funcom is not the best company to talk about quality in the first place.  But Im not really gonna go into that.

    About innovation and intresting tho.  Craig talked about having few focused features that could be diffrent from the norm while still keeping the game in the general mainstream MMO style.  I can very much agree with that.  But considering the past 5 years of MMO gaming - NONE of the new games have been able to focus on the TRUE features that make a highly successfull MMO game.  WAR and AOC have turned into PVP niche game.  LOTRO has its flollowers but Turbine never got to grip with how to make a fast phased combat (partly because of bad animations).  So still the winner - after 5 years and counting - is WOW that manage to create again and again - new intresting features (even tho they take the best bits from others).  And the new random dungeon system will probably make the game even more populare now than ever.

    But the sad thing is... There are actually MILLIONS of WOW players looking for a new and updated MMO game.  This has become very obvious with the intrests in new MMO releases. The pre-order programmes of new releases try to exploid this need from ppl to find a new game.  But instead of those new releases to do their bit in actually creating the featuers that those gamers are truely after - the developers go back into the same old featues of OLDER mmo games that never got that much following.

    Im going to write a special article on what kind of MMO would fill the void for millions at this point in time.  The key to it all tho - is that  MMO gamers have matured quite abit since early WOW .  They demand quality - and that is something that very few other MMO developers have been able to deliver on - other than BLizzard ofc.

    When it comes to Funcom tho - Aiming for a mature group of players should have made it ABSOLUTLY clear that quality control was priority number one.  It was far from that and ofc that leads to total collapse in playerbase. You can have billions of exiting features.  But without real quality control those features turn into a bunch of annoying nightmares for the gamers.

     

  • DaSpackDaSpack BrightonPosts: 583Member
    Originally posted by VoIgore


    While AoC has made it's progress with CM on board, Funcom may not be in the exact right position to discuss a "quality vs profit" topic with anyone.
    They shoveled in the profit of about 800k+ initial sales, while the lack of quality of their product left like below 100k subs at some time.
    Also this constant rubbing in of AoC reports, interviews, features every other day is really starting to smell....and you guys know what like!



     

    can't help to point out a number of errors in your text. Initial sale of the AoC box went to Eidos. FunCom only got a fraction of that revenue back into their pocket. I do not belive they made money out of the game being launched less complete than what many people think it should have been. Thus you should rather perhaps speculate in if the launchdate were entirely up to FunCom to decide, or perhaps not a result of Eidos wanting to pump their tanking revenuenumbers.

    And when it comes to FunCom talking Quality, I do think there is no better developergroup to do so. This because they have clearly picked up the ball and work their way through most problems of AoC. AoC is now a very good endproduct. It's much harder to fix a thing than just to start over with something new, so kudos to FunCom for choosing the hard but right route. The route every AoC gamer and dissapointed AoC gamer wanted. If FunCom was out for a scam and maximizing profitt, they could have dropped AoC like a stone and just started the next hype. But they have not, they have very dilligently continued to improve AoC and now they have outperformed most other developerhouses, like EA/Mythic on Warhammer, Lotro, etc.. in terms of improving their MMO product (improvement pr time unit that is).

    Just for the record. I play AoC now for the first time and have done so some months. I'm level 80, still working with AoCs epic raids. I'm also working with our Guild to build our city (still tonns of work there, goal is to finish our own decorative Symbol when that is added in from testlive)

    The Ultimate Breakdown

  • Originally posted by Rawiz


    So, rubbish PVE man taking control of a PVP game. Gee, sounds like whole new news, worth an article if you pay enough?
    Sup with 10 new AoC topics in 10 days? Let's get paid MMORPG, right?

     

    The game isn't just a PVP game, it's both.

    and gee maybe there are more articles because they have an expansion releasing soon? Look at any game that has a major addition coming and this site is full of articles about it. That's kind of what they cover :p

    Anyways, nice read, I think it's maybe a little pandering to the troll audience to name the article as 'quality vs profit' when the question was actually about innovative features against more cheaper options, and I have enjoyed reading the answer from both Funcom and Icarus. The two answers are pretty much the same yet the Fallen Earth one is seen as ok, but this one isn't? I play both games, and both are cool, well made MMOs, if FE had the polish and visual quality of AOC it would be an even more awesome game.

  • furidiamfuridiam lincoln, ILPosts: 137Member Common

    This is one of the major problems with MMO's now a days.  I have been playing mmorpg's since muds and started with UO hard core.  What attraticted me to these games?  Innovation...thats is the huge portion that is missing from games today.  If a company could come out with a game that is unique and still have polish I would be all over it.  Darkfall had the right idea but from everything i have heard/seen of the game it just isnt polished enough. 

     

    It is very sad that the video game market has turned into a repeat/rehash of previously released games with graphics that are better.

  • tapeworm00tapeworm00 Mexico CityPosts: 549Member
    Originally posted by VoIgore


    While AoC has made it's progress with CM on board, Funcom may not be in the exact right position to discuss a "quality vs profit" topic with anyone.
    They shoveled in the profit of about 800k+ initial sales, while the lack of quality of their product left like below 100k subs at some time.
    Also this constant rubbing in of AoC reports, interviews, features every other day is really starting to smell....and you guys know what like!

     

    Man sometimes you people can be so stupid. This is good journalism. A controversial game known exactly for the obvious reasons you just stated gets asked exactly what its developer doesn't want to be asked. Morrison's answer was pretty elusive, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.

    But no, you guys want everything (including what to think) handed to you in a silver platter. Evolve already.

  • DarkjinxterDarkjinxter PortsmouthPosts: 174Member

    Lore busting Wolf and Tiger mounts?

    Which category would they fall into I wonder, quality or profit?

    [Disclaimer : I play AoC mainly because I am a fan of RE Howard's Conan stories, and the excellent community that exists on the server Crom]

  • DistopiaDistopia Baltimore, MDPosts: 16,914Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Deestroy


    Anyone worried about quality would not make a wow clone.

     

    Last time I checked AOC was nothing like WOW nor is AO, but okay.

    For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

    It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  • ZyonneZyonne OsloPosts: 259Member
    Originally posted by Malickie

    Originally posted by Deestroy


    Anyone worried about quality would not make a wow clone.

     

    Last time I checked AOC was nothing like WOW nor is AO, but okay.



     

    AoC has a lot more in common with WoW than it does with AO, though. If AoC had the complexity and depth of AO it would probably be a much better game.... but with fewer subscribers. AO was an extremely ambitious, and risky project with a limited budget and must be considered a success overall since it still has a loyal playerbase and makes a small profit almost 9 years after launch. AoC had a huge budget, and they played it safe to hit a much wider audience. Compared to expectations it must be considered a failure, even if it has more players than AO. There are a lot more people and a lot more investors involved in the AoC project so it needs a lot more subscriptions to stay floating than AO did.

     

    Anyway, with its two MMOs, FunCom has tried both approaches. AO leaned more towards innovation (quality) than towards safety (profit). With AoC it was the other way around. They failed to hit a good balance with both. Maybe they'll get it exactly right with The Secret World. :)

     

  • MMO_DoubterMMO_Doubter Bedford, NSPosts: 5,056Member
    Originally posted by Darth_Osor


    Asking a Funcom exec about profit vs quality?  What...no Ferengi were available?

     

    I admit - I LOL.

    "" Voice acting isn't an RPG element....it's just a production value." - grumpymel2

  • MMO_DoubterMMO_Doubter Bedford, NSPosts: 5,056Member
    Originally posted by Samatman
    Sadly, these forums are becoming a toxic pit of despair.  I hope that the new forum moderation makes a difference soon.

    By silencing negative posts? Not a good way to encourage dialogue.

    "" Voice acting isn't an RPG element....it's just a production value." - grumpymel2

  • sadeyxsadeyx leicesterPosts: 1,553Member

    er... LOL ?

     

    I like the way the dev completly deflects and avoids answering the question and turns it into a reply about unique features vs generic ones!

    Neither of these things are responsible for turning a profit, a unique feature thats boring doesnt make money.. and a generic features thats bugged and inbalanced doesnt turn a profit..

     

    Whats disurbing is that mmorpg.com publish this dev's reply, they must surly see that not a single word utterd in anway answers the question, lol

  • DeeweDeewe Long Beach, CAPosts: 1,965Member
    Originally posted by Frobner


    I dont know how you can put Quality vs. Profit into that header since the question was about making  interesting and innovative game vs Profit.  But to be honest.  Funcom is not the best company to talk about quality in the first place.  But Im not really gonna go into that.
    About innovation and intresting tho.  Craig talked about having few focused features that could be diffrent from the norm while still keeping the game in the general mainstream MMO style.  I can very much agree with that.  But considering the past 5 years of MMO gaming - NONE of the new games have been able to focus on the TRUE features that make a highly successfull MMO game.  WAR and AOC have turned into PVP niche game.  LOTRO has its flollowers but Turbine never got to grip with how to make a fast phased combat (partly because of bad animations).  So still the winner - after 5 years and counting - is WOW that manage to create again and again - new intresting features (even tho they take the best bits from others).  And the new random dungeon system will probably make the game even more populare now than ever. 

     

    Very interesting post.

     

    I would add regarding quality AoC looks like a rushed game, especially compared to WoW in which everything has been polished and polished again and again.

    For example it's an AAA MMO but you can't even resize the UI. Switching from first person view to 3rd one is a major feature for rangers but there is no functionnality to do so without having to scroll (this slowly) with the mouse wheel. Switching weapons activates or disable skills but guess what you can't have your tool bars switch automatically either.

    It takes like 5 minutes of game play to remember the 1,2,3,Q,E directional attacks and you can't fight without being obliged to display them on the screen.

    The trading UI looks like something that was made 10 years ago. And the chat tab isn't better. Worse are the usual commands  like invite, emotes, tell... In that they should have copied others MMOs.

    The game was supposed to launch on XboX 360 but you can't use an Xbox controller on a PC. Unless you use third party software to remap keys like the CTRL + M mouse look toogle, or use macros to switch weapons and hot key bars, not to say have a one button mouse look toogle.

    While speaking to NPCs the very high bloom, too often, not only blinds you but prevents you to be able to read the lines.

    This game has supposedly a dark, realistic looking but they have some so bright colors and looks that make you wonder if you are playing a manga game or what. Not to say finding perfectly clean, brand new  marble looking statues deep into dark and humid environments.

     

    So in short: instead of trying to add physics to the grass, they should have hired talented UI developpers and artists, then review all graphics so the game feels more consistent. AND give the option to players to wear pants if they want to, really!

     

    BTW: the grass physics makes you think your character is more a chopper about to take off than a humanoid.

     

  • BishopBBishopB OsloPosts: 6Member

     I think CM has done a fantastic job making AoC better. I like the way he interacts with people on the forum. I have not experienced that with any other game. I agree that he might have avoided talking about AoC by sticking to a more general game development theory, but I think I would have done the same if I was in his shoes.

     

    As for all you haters and trolls....

    I spoke to a friend the other day who plays wow. He told me that he had bought AoC a while after launch and that it was just soo bugged! It was no point in playing a crappy game like that! 

    A bit further down the conversation he also stated that his pc (laptop) was like 5-6 years old and pretty useless. He never seemed to connect the problems with AoC to the fact that his PC was sub standard. That made me wonder if a large percentage of the complaints about the game were in fact the average gamer with an old pc complaining about a crappy game instead of complaining about having a crappy pc?

    Having played the game since launch (with quite a few breaks now and then) I never had the big problems with the game. Ok, I confess I had a monster rig that I built just before AoC launched, but I only experienced 10-15% of the problems that I would have expected from reading the complaints on the forums.

    Am I way off here? 

    Are a lot of the trolls just angry kids with old gaming hardware?

    ;)

     

     

     

     

  • DarkjinxterDarkjinxter PortsmouthPosts: 174Member
    Originally posted by BishopB

    Are a lot of the trolls just angry kids with old gaming hardware?
    ;)

    Undoubtably. Though there's probably a few with monster rigs also.

    [Disclaimer : I play AoC mainly because I am a fan of RE Howard's Conan stories, and the excellent community that exists on the server Crom]

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