It's a sad day for AutoDuel and CarWars fans everywhere. Yesterday, NCsoft announced that it will be shutting the doors to their failed but underappreciated MMO, Auto Assault. The last day will be August 31st, and after that there will be no going back to Ground Zero.
My feelings on Auto Assault are a mixed bag, really. For a solid 3 months I played it religiously, from the day it came out. I was one of the few who pre-ordered and bought the 60 dollar collector's edition (great set of headphones in that). I had high hopes for the unique concept, despite worries of my own about its readiness for prime-time.
But remember that wall I talked about in LotRO? The one I'm worried of hitting around level 40 or so? Well it was much worse in the early days of Auto Assault. There actually was a time when you ran out of quests to do, several spaces actually. As any one of the 3 races. And this left you with little else to do but grind mobs to level up. The combat in the game was fun no doubt, but not that fun. I left the game at level 40 or so, came back when more content was supposed to be patched in to help out those level gaps, hit 58... and left for the last time.
The game, so fresh in concept had lost its appeal. Maybe it was the bugs. Maybe it was the desynch error. Maybe it was the lack of anything to look forward to when I did hit the level cap. Maybe it was just that the game was not very engaging for me, as I had once hoped.
But here I was, one of AA's earliest and most hopeful adopters... and I left for good not half a year after its launch. I should have guessed then that this day was not far off. The EU and US servers merged, the NetDevil team was moving on to a new unannounced project. NCsoft laid off a lot of employees (though they did state it wasn't related to AA's failure, this is hard to believe). The message boards never had more than about 20 people on them at one time. It was as though the game came out and no one cared but us few hundred people.
There are many things that went wrong for AA. But the most worrisome is that it was something different. It failed. How many more games with something new to offer will see the light of day before they can no longer find publishers? Leaving us with WoW and EQ for the rest of our gaming lives?
Hopefully Tabula Rasa, Conan, Spellborn, and the whole host of games coming out that are trying something different, do it better than AA and see more success. As a gamer, I'm praying for it.