[MUD-Dev] AO Mess

Vincent Archer archer at frmug.org
Sat Sep 29 12:09:44 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

According to Robin Lee Powell:

> I'm not sure that's a good example: Anarchy Online is quite, quite
> dead.  The vast majority of their long-time players have left.
> Or so says Lum The Mad, and others.  I have no direct experience.

I have semi-direct experience. Or, in the manner of the posters of
the old, unmoderated board:

  Date of registration 2001-08-01 12:25:00 
  Subscription status ACTIVE, CANCELLED 2001-09-28 
      (reversable until 2001-10-01) 
  Next transaction None in this state  

And I didn't play much this september. One of the interesting
feature is the friend list (ok it's messed up too); which gives you
a list of people with a red light in front of them showing if they
are on or off.

For the last two week, none of them were connected.

There are monitor pages, but they are supposedly not exact. Still,
you could plot the peak number of on-line people per day, and
september's numbers are about half of those in august. Now, how much
of that is cancelled accounts, and how much are kids back from
holiday and in school...

> You can't build much of a community around a game that's _that_
> messed up.

Yeah. Part of it is the usual "MOBs don't play according to the same
rules as PCs", part is probably protocol errors, part is probably
tweaks in AI.

AO's MOB AI always swung a lot, regarding casting. Even during beta,
MOBs would cast (every single class in AO can "cast", or well, "run
nanoprograms"), then the next patch, none would, then back. 12.6
introduced MOB overcasting. The MOBs cast, cast a lot. And since
they don't play as normal characters, they never bothered to track
how much nanopool they had to cast. Since they cast too often now,
they cast way more than anybody can reasonably have nanopool
for. And "magic" has always had a disproportionate effect in combat.

Then, there are obvious state errors. There are MOBs that you cannot
cast on. If you do, the server returns you "Target not found",
meaning that, under all likelyhood, you probably have a different ID
for the mob client side and server side.

Then, there's an error in AC calculations. In AO, armor "class" is
quite simple: for every 10AC point, you substract 1 damage from a
hit, down to the minimum damage you can make. For example, if your
weapon does 10-20 damage, and your opponent has 50AC, then half the
time, you're going to do 10 damage, and half, 10-15. Well, 12.6,
under some circumstances, dropped the minimum. If your weapon does
10-50, and your opponent has 400AC, then 80% of the time, you're not
going to make ANY damage.

And so on. Those are the problems I've seen documented. Apparently,
there are also aggro problems in missions (think of a dungeon where,
the first mob you fight, the entire dungeon runs to the entrance to
help), but I haven't been in missions since 12.6, so can't testify
for it.

The main point which dooms Funcom isn't the existence of these
bugs. Bugs happens.

It's the fact that, once these bugs were introduced, Funcom was
either unwilling or *unable* to back off these changes.

	Vincent Archer			Email:	archer at frmug.org

All men are mortal.  Socrates was mortal.  Therefore, all men are Socrates.
							(Woody Allen)
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