When the Age of Conan community moans about class changes, executive producer Craig Morrison knows his game isn't an isolated case - "You go to any MMO forum and you look for PVP balance discussions and you'd think the game was the worst balanced pile of crap you've ever seen."
Morrison, speaking to Eurogamer, declared MMO class balance - not just in Age of Conan - an "eternal argument".
"Whenever you have balance changes it's almost impossible to get neutral or actual feedback from a forum on whether they like the nature of a balance change, because it's so inherently biased towards their class preference," said Morrison.
"They're not actually considering the balance of the game as a whole, they're solely considering how it's affecting their particular experience. And if they're one of the classes that's been adjusted down rather than up, they dislike it, and you'll see the people posting who play the classes that got a little boost saying it's a great patch.
"It's one of those eternal arguments. You go to any MMO forum and you look for PVP balance discussions and you'd think the game was the worst balanced pile of crap you've ever seen. You can almost do that for any MMO."
"The challenge is ... sitting down and figuring out which complaints are valid."
The Age of Conan backlash stems from a change to the crowd-control abilities in the game: the roots, the snares, the stuns - spells and abilities that incapacitate, slow or stop other players. Morrison said incapacitating opponents had become "a little bit too easy" in Age of Conan, and that most groups relied on this tactic as "a crutch". By weakening those abilities and freeing players up, Morrison hopes he has encouraged strategical thinking.
"Whenever you make balance changes like that there will always be players that like them and dislike them," he shrugged. "It's one of the challenges of taking feedback from players; there is very often good feedback buried in there - the developers spend a lot of time with the community particularly on our test realm servers, and they go through and they talk to people and they play in the game, so they can see through the bias and emotion.
"The challenge for the systems guys is sitting down and figuring out which complaints are valid."
In general the changes seem to have helped. "Generally when we see more PVP happening, that's a good sign that the changes are prodding in the right direction," said Morrison.
Funcom announced last week that Age of Conan will turn free-to-play this summer. The MMO will have its name changed to Age of Conan: Unrated to coincide with the F2P launch.