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Asheron's Call 2 : Fallen Kings: Exclusive Q&A

DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

Jonathan Hanna, the Director of Community Relations, took some time to answer some questions about the demise of Asheron's Call 2 announced late last week. The reaction, exclusively here on MMORPG.com, finds out why, the fate of the team and more.




image MMORPG.com: A game must, in the end speak for itself. As a sort of post-mortem, completely independently of outside factors, what do you feel went wrong with AC2 as a game to cause its eventual failure? What lessons has Turbine learned from it that can be used to enhance future projects?

Jonathan Hanna: There are many factors that contributed to AC2’s ultimate fate, and it’s really hard to single one factor out above the others. There are a lot of things that Turbine has learned from AC2, and we’re constantly applying those lessons to Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. One of the key lessons that we learned is the customer perception of sequels in the MMO space. They end up splitting your community more so than growing it. So they are counterproductive, unlike sequels in other game genres where they can be really successful.

You can read the full Q&A here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

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Comments

  • PaldarionPaldarion Orlando, FLPosts: 39Member

    AC2 was a fun game out of the box.  Almost immediately, Turbies started waving the dreaded "tweaking" bat and nerfed their player base into non-existance.  From this exerpt of Q&A, I can easily tell that they STILL don't get it!

    People want to ENJOY games - they play them to have FUN - not to WORK.  People want their characyers to evolve at a noticable rate.  People don't want to go slow - they like to move fast.  It was fun in beta, and it was fun until 8 or 9 months after release.  Then it became the same ol' same ol' "lets nerf everybody till they are the same.... God forbid a Defender sholud be able to **gasp** solo!"

    If Turbine doesn't start putting the "fun factor" back in (and I give them kudos for doing so in AC 2 beta) and leaving it in, (like maybe let your build team have some input on the maintenance team),then both LoTR online and D&D are as doomed as this once great game was.

     

    "Life is too short to play nerfed characters."

  • PedrotePedrote El VendrellPosts: 53Member
    As a former player of AC, and beta tester of AC2, I have to say that from the start the project seemed doomed to fail: there was nothing on it that could get new MMORPG players into it - not like WoW or SWG, and the only players who could be attracted to it - the AC player base - were very disappointed from the start. It is sad that it had to close at last, but probably Turbine should have listened better to their own customers...
  • honorehonore Raritan, NJPosts: 1Member
    I really liked AC2 for awhile although it had none of the depth or lore of AC1. My guild kept me coming back because I had such good friends. However they made two strategic errors: 

      -Not flagging a pvp zone until you were already in it, resulting in immediate ganking
      -Mages were only support characters

    Let it be a learning lesson for other games. Support characters don't work. Ensure that pvp is 100% consentual. And stop the constant nerfing of characters that we've grown to love. One developer posted "no one likes nerfing but it has to be done." Well the mass exodus proves that it did not have to be done. People were happy. The game never recovered.

    Still I'm sad to see it go. Keeping it alive this long was definitely a labor of love (and a good way to beta test material for their upcoming games).
  • KestrelKestrel Rapid City, SDPosts: 1Member

    We can only hope that Turbine has learned from AC2, and doesn't repeat some of the same errors in their upcoming games. Unfortunately for AC2, it was caught in the middle of a power struggle between Turbine and Microsoft, and simply never recovered.

    AC2 didn't really break any new ground for MMORPGs. Sure, the graphics were awesome, but everything new about AC2 (compared to AC1) was not really new. Yes, beta and the first few months were fun, but once the server consolidation took place, the handwriting was on the wall. It tried too hard to rest on the AC name, but really didn't live up to anyone's expectations of a sequel to Asheron's Call: In the final analysis, it stole place names, race names, and a tiny bit of the lore from its parent--but didn't live up to the promise.

    RIP, AC2.

    Kestrel

  • Wax_TeethWax_Teeth Houston, TXPosts: 10Member
    AC2 was so badly designed that it was destined to fail. The only things that kept it going were VC funding and Jeffrey Anderson's ego. I guess they simply ran out of funds.
  • KilabanKilaban Gales Ferry, CTPosts: 17Member

    I'm a 5-year subscriber to AC1. I did the AC2 beta and subscribed for a couple months at release, then again a year or so later. While the game had some great tech going for it, it was still really broken for a long, long time.

    First thing that comes to mind was the rampant "perching" of tyrants, huge creatures with tons of XP. Players could get them stuck on the landscape and rack up big. Turbine allowed this to go on for much too long, just like they allowed XP "chains" to go on in AC1 for years. The XP chains were just the player's response to a core feature of the game, which allowed players to swear allegiance to other players of equal or higher level and "pass up" a percentage of their earned XP. Trouble was, the XP snowballed "up the chain" so that entire hierarchies of players amassed huge pools of experience for almost nothing.

    Granted, this is old news and Turbine eventually fixed the problems, but not until both issues changed their respective games so much that content had to be tailored for these hyper-advanced player populations.

    I only hope Turbine has learned some lessons for their upcoming D&D Online and LOTR Online.

  • MyskMysk Pittsburg, KSPosts: 982Member


    So they are counterproductive, unlike sequels in other game genres where they can be really successful.

    This one causes a palm plant. No, I wouldn't call sequels counter productive. What I would call counter productive is making a sequel that's so different from the first as to be something completely different, not to mention down right cheesy.

    AC1 was a fun game back when I played it. There's a lot of good things about it. It wasn't some hokey game with characters running around beating drums as an attack.

    I mean no disrespect to anyone who actually enjoyed AC2, but from my point of view the game was cheesy and boring. It deviated so far from what I saw as the AC1 spirit and fun that I had no desire to continue playing it.

    Sequels counter productive... heh, what was counter productive about AC2 is that it was lame.

    ~Me

    image
    I probably don't follow the threads that I post in. If you want me to see a response then feel free to PM me.

  • DerexDerex RegensburgPosts: 5Member

    I played from jan '04 till last weekend, will cancel my account this week.

    This was and still is the best game for me, a skillsystem that really is fun, you can play solo as well as in groups, you don't have to hunt mobs to advance, there are enough quests to do, it all was good, except: Marketing.

    It's funny to read that Q&A, I'm not surprised at all, that ac1 is still going on, and ac2 is not, Turbine never meant too. The answer were they told us, that they advertised on websites and magazines, it's simply not true. I read a lot of magazines, most of them lately to check if anything is written about ac2, and it wasn't. And I only found 1 ad at an website, and that was an ac2 fansite, how should that attract the attention of retired or new players?

    And one question was really good, you feel really tricked, if you buy a new addon for the game just to hear a little later, the game is going down. I think providing ther servercode, to make a playerrun server is the least they can do, and if the game is really unrescuable, than what do they fear for?

    Good luck for those who will play LotR or DDo, I won't be tricked a second time by Turbine, there are other games out there, and even if they will never be what AC2 was, they aren't at least Turbine games.

  • AdminAdmin Santa Fe, NMPosts: 5,035Administrator Common



    Originally posted by Derex

    I played from jan '04 till last weekend, will cancel my account this week.
    This was and still is the best game for me, a skillsystem that really is fun, you can play solo as well as in groups, you don't have to hunt mobs to advance, there are enough quests to do, it all was good, except: Marketing.
    It's funny to read that Q&A, I'm not surprised at all, that ac1 is still going on, and ac2 is not, Turbine never meant too. The answer were they told us, that they advertised on websites and magazines, it's simply not true. I read a lot of magazines, most of them lately to check if anything is written about ac2, and it wasn't. And I only found 1 ad at an website, and that was an ac2 fansite, how should that attract the attention of retired or new players?
    And one question was really good, you feel really tricked, if you buy a new addon for the game just to hear a little later, the game is going down. I think providing ther servercode, to make a playerrun server is the least they can do, and if the game is really unrescuable, than what do they fear for?
    Good luck for those who will play LotR or DDo, I won't be tricked a second time by Turbine, there are other games out there, and even if they will never be what AC2 was, they aren't at least Turbine games.



    I can confirm that Turbine ran a large ad campaign for "Legions" here at MMORPG.com in May 2005 and also ran a contest at the same time giving away free swag and games.  I also know for a fact that this same campaign ran on the Warcry network and GameSpot.com (saw ads on both sites while ours were running).


     

    - MMORPG.COM Staff -

  • KilabanKilaban Gales Ferry, CTPosts: 17Member

    Marketing didn't kill AC2...

    AC2 just wasn't a good game, nor did it appeal to a large population.

    Good games market themselves, unfortunately bad ones do as well.

  • nissa_rednissa_red ParisPosts: 30Member


    Originally posted by Paldarion
    (snip)
    People don't want to go slow - they like to move fast.
    (snip)

    I would like to humbly disagree with this statement. I don't enjoy a game in which everything is handed to me on a silver platter. Yes, it is great to actually see the experience moving up at each kill, and yes, it is nice to have a warrior running around after a week able to heal themselves and casting spells thanks to items... but this is immediate satisfaction, and it lasts for only so long.

    The games that I still play, or remember with fondness, are the ones that are/were *reasonably* difficult, to provide me with a sense of achievement. I have never, and will never play WoW for the same exact reason you mentioned : people wanted it fast (and easy). All that people get in heading that way are pizza delivery buttons in the end.

    A game should bring variety, it should bring challenges at every level, it should favour human interaction but allow many different playing styles (grouping, soloing, raiding style guild, family style guild, etc.)

    Once for all, please stop generalizing about what people want to find in a game, or transposing what *you* want, it is becoming a bad habit on these boards.

  • IijsIijs London, ONPosts: 457Member

    Obviously, AC2 didn't provide enough of that, eh Nissa?


    I loved the way Hannah danced around the last question, which was the best of all of the questions. (Other than how many were subscribing when they pulled the plug?)

    "There are many factors that contributed to AC2’s ultimate fate, and it’s really hard to single one factor out above the others. There are a lot of things that Turbine has learned from AC2, and we’re constantly applying those lessons to Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online."

    *translation* AC2 sucked big-time and not enough people were playing it. Lesson learned? Make sure DDO and LOTR Online don't suck.

    With two premier 'A' quality MMORPGs coming out in 2006, why throw any more cash at a sinking ship like AC2? Put those assets (and talent) into titles that will matter. Both of those titles already have legions (hundreds of thousands) of fans ready to give them a shot. Just like WoW. Something AC2 never had going for it.

  • nissa_rednissa_red ParisPosts: 30Member

    Not trying to defend AC2, I've never played it.

    I was just interested in reading the interview, and more specificially about the reasons provided to explain the failure of the game. If I could concur with many posters in this thread bringing up objective and valid points, the one I quoted was not.

  • HadorakHadorak Leesville, SCPosts: 25Member
    Botom line: AC2 just got out of BETA at legions launch and never recovered
  • AshenkharAshenkhar Hoschton, GAPosts: 61Member


    Originally posted by Paldarion
    AC2 was a fun game out of the box. Almost immediately, Turbies started waving the dreaded "tweaking" bat and nerfed their player base into non-existance. From this exerpt of Q&A, I can easily tell that they STILL don't get it!
    I agree with you 100 percent. This is the exact reason that I quit AC2. I tried to hang on, but eventually AC2 became a boring JOB as opposed to a fun game. I kept watching the game. Poking my head into forums once in awhile. All I saw was the same old mistakes repeated over and over.

    The problem is, they had feedback after feedback from players. People started dropping like flies, yet they still didn't listen. Truly it boggles the mind as to why they kept up the same actions that were so obviously destroying the game and alienating most of their player base.

    Obviously there were a few loyal fans that stuck around. Just not enough to support the game.

    Turbine really makes a bad impression as a company.
    A) They shut down the game right after the expansion.
    B) They dodged most of the pertinent questions in the interview here. This leads me to believe that they have learned nothing from the mistakes they made with AC2. Good luck on DDO and LOTR guys... An upstanding company would admit their mistakes.
    C) They won't release the server for other people to host their own games. Why NOT? They have proven again that they could care less about their fans. Who is it going to hurt? It's not going to compete with legitimate servers, because they are turning those off. They just figure since they couldn't do it, they don't want anyone else to either.

    It makes me wonder. What happens if you invest a ton of time in DDO, and they decide to shut it down, or LOTR? I'd like to think that they'd be good enough to at least give out a working copy of the server. But nope, not Turbine.

    Sorry guys, you have made a HUGE mistake. Even shutting down the servers you could have maintained some raport with your fans by providing them with a way to keep playing. I'll be surprised if ANY of the upcoming Turbine games are considered a retail success.

  • LiddokunLiddokun San Francisco, CAPosts: 1,665Member Uncommon

    All I can say is Rest In Peace AC2. I've played AC2 beta and about 6-8 months after it went Live. It was fun until the nerf bat came swinging. Unlike AC1, AC2 didn't have too much content and lore going for it so I guess even the most ardent of fans simply gave up. Yeah I remember back then people were soloing Tyrants easily (end game dragons that is meant to be defeated by many players). Oh well, I hope Turbine puts in their best talent and resources for DDO and LOTR and make it one hell of a great game that is at par or even surpases AC1.

  • DerexDerex RegensburgPosts: 5Member

    [quote=Administrator]I can confirm that Turbine ran a large ad campaign for "Legions" here at MMORPG.com in May 2005 and also ran a contest at the same time giving away free swag and games. I also know for a fact that this same campaign ran on the Warcry network and GameSpot.com (saw ads on both sites while ours were running).[/quote]

    Sry forgot to mention, I'm from Europe, I talked about our magazins, but I only can say what I heard of the US players, and they didn't see much ad.

  • tharkthark FalunPosts: 1,148Member Uncommon

    Well..from my point of view AC2 was a fun game and actually reminds me alot of a game that has huge success right now..

    It had it's own cartonish style and was based on action and fast paced combat, leveling wasn't slow and graphichs was totally on par with just about anything today part from EQ2, hell the graphics in AC2 was much better than WoW in my opinion atleast.

    also had a great crefting system on par with all the others out there.

    What it sadly didn't have for some odd reason was players, but when i told my friends about AC2 and they tried it, they all stayed in the game..and they really enjoyed it. So my conclusion is this, when it all went bad in the start they simply scared the players to much for most of them to ever return, and the rumours also went rampage how bad AC2 really was etc, and this they newer recovered from..

    Why not go for a "free" subscription plan like Anarchy online with advertising, and those that wish to contribute with their monthly fee doesn't get the adds..Well, just an idea..!!

    I had a god time in AC2 and will always remeber it..RIP

     

     

     

  • GunharpGunharp Woodinville, WAPosts: 2,890Member

    "No. We have no plans to open source the server code."

    As sorry as I am for them...that would be the GREATEST move ever done by a mmo company. If your game is dead etc etc etc...

    And you release the source...my god.

    I wish you would of had a follow up question as to why...seriously.

    But oh well, good interview.

  • nomadiannomadian DevonPosts: 3,490Member

    Hmm I played this game in the trial, excellent game but it lacked in some vital areas which stopped me from playing. Its a shame to see this game go though I do think that all possibilities have not been explored.
    For example, considering the number of servers devoted to AC, can not 1 be devoted to AC2?
    And just to fill in the gap for subscribers, AC2 have 10k subscribers according to mmog.com, and peaked at 60k when it first came out. (Which when it was most problematic and got most of its bad press.)

    Also a quick comment about the expansion, I was thinking of joining again then, I looked at the expansion details and it was all pretty much based at the already subscribers. I personally think that if you wanted the expansion to appeal new players you don't make most of a new expansion content for the older players.
    Instead, they should do what SoE do release something enticing in the expansion for new players. For example a new race, a new class, a new starting area, ac2 was rubbish in its replayability.

  • dadowndadown Tulsa, OKPosts: 205Member

    I played AC1 for over 4 years and loved it.  I got into the AC2 beta about a month before release.  The first week of AC2 was fun, but by the end of the second week I'd lost interest in it and was very disappointed.  AC2 was all window dressing and very little substance. 

    They'd made some great improvements to the UI, but they'd oversimplified the game play so that there was no depth and people could max out their char. in less than a month.  There were also major flaws in the PvP design.  They got lots of feedback in beta about what needed to be changed, but they were too head-strong to listen.

    I checked back about a year later to see if it had been fixed, but while they'd improved crafting, the game still had the same flaws.  It was no suprise when the game started imploding (reducing servers) and the final shutdown was just a question how how much red ink it would take before they admitted failure.

  • DaCrushaDaCrusha Mendham, NJPosts: 12Member

    ::::27::

    I played AC2 for over a year throught the server consolidation and then left as my favorite classes got nerfed and nerfed and nerfed again. The community was the thing that made me stay that long. Turbine seemed to miss the point that the customers satisfaction is the key to success. All their "balancing and upgrading" did was aggrivate people.

    But still I had a fond enough memory of my time in Dereth that when Legions came out I decided to give it another try. Shame on me for giving Turbine another chance. After plunking my hard earned dollars on their expansion they announce the shut down. They really should refund everyone who purchased Legions. It was a total snow job.

    I will be suprised if Turbine actually manages to survive the next round of developer shakeout as they seem to have no idea how to treat their customers.

  • SaftwearSaftwear chicago, ILPosts: 124Member

    Wow,

    This news is not going to look to good to anyone in the MMorpg community. I was really looking forward to both of their new projects, but the fact that they can't make a sequel to a popular game and carry it further than the older version does not speak well of Turbine at all. I think from reading posts and doing a bit of research that this company is not at all interested in what their community wants and really pays attention to profit margins.

    Consider me out of D&D and LOTR. Two games that I was really looking forward to.

  • EduardoASGEduardoASG AzoresPosts: 832Member

    This doesnt surprise me. What does is how long the game stayed online.

    I beta tested AC2, and while the graphic engine was a very good one, the game system was ouddated like hell.

    Companies need to remmeber that, more important than eye candy, the game system has to be good and hook the player. Several pshycologist goals need to be achieved for a player to fell statisfaction playing the game and be addicted to hit. The Hunter, The Collector, The Explorer, The Random Reinforce, The Social.. theese the basic things a good game needs to provide to a player to make him/her feel a sense of accomplishment that will bring him/her back and back to the game.

    AC2 lacked a lot of theese, at the beta and after its launch, and thus the game was crippled right from start. Plus put that together with a money exploit company like Turbine with a bad customer service and you get a good recipe.

    -------------

    MMORPG.com: What was the logic of releasing a new expansion pack, then promptly ending the game? Are you worried about a backlash from those who spent money on an upgrade that will soon be of no value?
    Jonathan Hanna: The expansion pack was meant as an attempt to bring more people in the game by getting AC2 back on store shelves. We advertised the game on the web and in magazines too. Unfortunately the expansion pack didn’t really grow the game. 

    --------------

    This is as lamme as a company can go. They sold the expansion already knowing they would be closing the game soon.. just to get some last few coins before closing it. Thats Turbines style...

    --------------

    MMORPG.com: How many active subscribers did the game carry at the time of the announcement?
    Jonathan Hanna: I can’t give out exact subscriber numbers.

    --------------

    This is hilarious. Typical Turbine style again..

    The problem is that this BS will go on and on on upcoming market games like Dungeons and Dragons Online. they gonna ruin it.. they already doing it and the game hasnt been launched yet.

    Why didnt Wizards of the Coast picked another company to take license of DDO...

     

     

    ~ D R A G 0 N . S L A Y E R S ~ Aion, AoC, AC, AO, DDO, Eve, Eq2, GW, MW3, L1&2, RF, RIFT, SWG, SWTOR, TR, UO, WOW, WAR

  • bverjibverji Corpus Christi, TXPosts: 722Member Common



    Originally posted by Paldarion

    AC2 was a fun game out of the box.  Almost immediately, Turbies started waving the dreaded "tweaking" bat and nerfed their player base into non-existance.  From this exerpt of Q&A, I can easily tell that they STILL don't get it!



    I agree this interveiw shows no responsibilty for the lack of success of A2. It leaves me very little in the way of a positive expectation for D&D or middle earth.

    These game companies just don't get it. They don't understand the potential of the mmog industry or how to reach that potential. They still work on the model that people WILL play their game not realising that there is to much compitetion and available information for them to practice unprofessionalbusiness ethics/relations. These companies are creating reputations and for most of them those reputations aren't good.

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