The Anvil Of Crom: Age Of Conan Turns Four, Taps SWG For Crafting Inspiration

The final time I did an anniversary retrospective for Age of Conan, we had a recent growth, some new dungeon content material, and several class revamps contemporary on our minds. The 12 months earlier than that, we had the earth-shaking fight and itemization changes. This previous yr, the major growth was, after all, the change to a freemium business mannequin, followed closely by the game's first adventure pack.

Be part of me after the break for a fast rundown on the final 12 months as they happened in Hyboria, as well as an anniversary interview with recreation director Craig "Silirrion" Morrison that sheds a bit of mild on the crafting revamp.

The end of June saw AoC be part of the ranks of Western freemium converts with the Unchained update. of the unique Hyborian Adventures campaign was made freely out there to all comers, along with four of the game's 12 courses. The sport's 2.6 patch also brought us the Breach and Forgotten Metropolis dungeons in Khitai in addition to look armor functionality (and there was much rejoicing).

A week later, Funcom threw a bone to its hardcore PvP crowd with the introduction of the Blood and Glory special ruleset servers. Deathwish and Rage had been initially fairly popular, and Funcom also hinted at some curious instancing tech in the works. We haven't heard a lot about it since, however I expect that we'll be taught extra this summer time after the launch of The key World.

The end of August introduced us AoC's first journey pack. The Savage Coast of Turan was too small to be referred to as a proper growth however too massive for a easy "patch" moniker, and Funcom has hinted that this will probably be the primary distribution mannequin going ahead.

We bought a new stage 50 to fifty five playfield with a ton of quests, a stage 50 to eighty scaling solo dungeon, a max-degree solo dungeon, a max-level group dungeon, and a brand new raid instance, all of which had been based around the Jason Momoa Conan film that debuted within the summer season of 2011.

January noticed the introduction of the long-awaited Home of Crom dungeon. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), this occurred after my personal AoC sabbatical, so I've but to cover the dungeon here in the pages of The Anvil of Crom. That can be remedied briefly order, though, and in the meantime, you may read all about it on the game's official web site.

March brought us the new Jade Citadel raids, additionally fodder for a future column installment or four. The Priest of Mitra class was given an in depth makeover in this replace too, and that brings us as much as the present day.

As per AoC anniversary tradition, I had a chance to ask a couple of questions of government producer Craig Morrison. Keep studying to see what he has to say concerning the upcoming crafting revamp plus a complete lot more.

Massively: Is there any overlap between the AoC and TSW dev teams? Any cross-pollination of concepts? For example, TSW's crafting system appears pretty nifty. Any chance that AoC's upcoming revamp shares anything in frequent with it or is inspired by it in any approach?

Craig Morrison: The groups are run independently and have their very own resources and management. Remember that we both run on the identical know-how platform, which is independently developed by one other separate division, so we get many inherent upgrades simply by that process. In that approach, there are various shared initiatives and issues. Which means we could use the same Dreamworld feature in other ways, simply as we are going to with the only server technology that's presently within the works. It is a cool scenario for a sport of our age to be in because it means we can typically take advantage of some fairly cool technical work that we merely would not have the ability to afford otherwise.

By way of the crafting system, that is one thing very unique to TSW. They took their inspiration from Minecraft when it got here to their shape- and site-based crafting, and it is a cool system, actually good enjoyable to play with. On the other hand, I'm really wanting ahead to the new system for Conan. We're looking again a bit more, taking our inspiration from video games like Star Wars Galaxies and the opposite earlier MMOs, with a concentrate on ingredients and discovering the most effective combos. That adds a layer of depth that you do not discover in the other trendy MMOs which have used more simple list kind crafting techniques, the place you get the same results the entire time.

Personally I believe it is thrilling to see correct crafting making a comeback in our video games. Each approaches have benefit, and I believe what the team is cooking up for Conan is more suited to the barely more stat-based stage progression we've got in Conan, as opposed to the flatter system in TSW. Nonetheless, both methods are putting a premium on true experimentation and asking gamers to assume and discover the system slightly than simply read an ingredient itemizing. I feel it is one thing that MMOs can benefit from exploring again.

In regard to a excessive-level view of the crafting revamp, how a lot can we expect crafters to be necessary to the in-sport financial system? Will players be capable to get finish-game gear and consumables from crafters, or will those items stay solely loot-drops?

The purpose is for the crafted goods to be aggressive will all however the better of the endgame gear, and possibly even in some situations, present a few of one of the best gadgets, although I do not think I wish to cast that as a definite in one route or another and make some sort of sweeping blanket statement.

What I'll say is that we are aiming for the items to be useful for veterans and endgame and that the freedom it'll represent will permit those who concentrate on it to make the very best items. We hope to create a symbiotic relationship there, where some of the better objects will come from crafters, and crafters will need the help of the raiders to collect a few of the rarer substances.

Are you able to give us any hints about the following adventure pack? What a part of Hyboria will it cover (geographically, even a normal space if you can't get particular)? Can we count on it in 2012?

We aren't revealing the precise location of the pack just but, however as we teased in the last growth letter, we're trying south once more, near considered one of the unique sport areas.
The adventure pack is at present aimed for the tip of the year, yes. The group is presently onerous at work on it in order that we can launch it towards the top of Q4.

South, you say? Stygian content is fairly barren in comparison with the sport's other zones. There's Khemi and Khopshef for levels 20-35 or so, after which Kheshatta from 70-80. Is the adventure pack set there, or are there any plans to add some more Stygian content between, say, forty and 70?

I think we addressed that degree vary in different playfields, like Ymir's Go and Tarantia Commons. I do not suppose we ever set as much as essentially have an equal variety of locations in each of the games territories, partly for visible and cultural range and partly to cover some different concepts and concepts from Howard's Hyboria.

Since we are wanting south, sure, the adventure pack content material could well stray close by geographically, however the cultural and mythos that will influence it is another beast altogether. Count on to listen to extra in regards to the adventure pack a bit later in the summer. While the manufacturing teams are separate, as we talked about above, since we're an impartial studio, all of our central teams are shared, so the advertising and marketing and PR people are a touch busy proper now with the launch of The key World, so we'll hold the adventure pack reveal until after that.

There is a perception on the market that due to the perceived inadequacies of AoC's launch, the game is not worth checking out even four years later. Why do you think that's, and would you agree that MMOs like AoC are fully different animals from their launch builds?

MMOs at all times evolve. That is likely one of the few constants within the style. Personally I all the time strive and take a look at games a second or third time, and I feel many veterans are the identical. We're also helped by the fact that due to the Dreamworld engine, the sport still seems to be aggressive with current releases. After all the issues that the sport had at launch does have an impact on some veterans' opinions, and that is an expected a part of working in that genre.

I do not suppose you'll be able to hold it towards anybody, at the end of the day there were very high expectations for that launch, and the original group fell just short of some of these expectations. It is pure that some players will not provide you with a second likelihood. You will never, ever, win everybody back over. Alternatively, it's considerably of a disgrace as a result of MMO titles do evolve. So long as you all the time give attention to improving the sport and adding content material, then there is a constant movement of people that come again to check out the game again.

In reality, those players usually find yourself as some of your most loyal followers after that because somebody who had an issue with the game and returns to see the issues that they had resolved appreciates how far you've gotten come. After all, that fluctuates for each player; some really like the modifications while some feel a sport may need moved away from what they preferred about it, but general we usually hear pretty good issues from those who had prolonged absences from the game. They arrive back, and so they remember just how much they liked the fight system, or they get to embrace the viscerally mature setting that Hyboria offers.

Any plans to adjust the free-to-play choices in the close to future, or is Funcom fairly happy with the amount of access Unchained players currently have?

General we're fairly happy, but we might consider some tweaks and changes. As part of the birthday celebrations for instance, we are giving free gamers the flexibility to grab everlasting entry to the premium dungeons from the unique sport, so we're open to continuing to evolve the free participant offering so that the sport stays competitive. I feel free gamers in Age of Conan Unchained have one of the crucial open programs on the market.

No necessary quest or progression content blocks until they reach max level is a fairly sweet deal, one that provides more than many other F2P titles. It is an ever extra competitive market, although, so we will certainly continue to vary issues up as and once we see match with the intention to attraction to the ever-growing and ever-more-demanding military of free gamers out there.

However, one important point is that we really need to have the ability to avoid having to go down the whole pay-to-win path. We now have been very cautious to keep away from that for a motive, so we wish to take care of the value to gamers of being premium members. That in flip means that you simply can't give all the things away without cost until you are keen to fully embrace a pay-to-win approach, and that is not someplace I would be comfortable taking the sport.

What about an AA respec for subscribers -- any plans to supply that sooner or later?

The alternate advancement system was designed to not want "respecs" as you possibly can in spite of everything merely earn more factors since there is no such thing as a steep curve within the development, and it's a flat value. So at a basic degree, there aren't any plans to permit for players to re-use already spent points.

If we added a respec we'd have to contemplate your complete set-up, since gamers would then never must get past X variety of feats they've determined are optimal for different conditions, and they'd simply change between them. That stated, in fact you don't want to stand in the way in which of gamers feeling they can progress, so we could have a look at it from one other angle, be that some form of adjustments to the AA progression, or possibly in the future, some form of a number of-specification system as we're doing for feats.

Finally, as good because the questing and the storyline in Tortage is, a few of us have actually run it two dozen times now on numerous alts. Any likelihood veterans would possibly get a "skip Tortage" capability in some unspecified time in the future?

Sure, I might like to get one thing like that in at some stage. We've talked about it a few instances, however it tends to be a kind of things that loses out in the precedence conversations. As we move in direction of a fifth year, it's going to hopefully be one thing we will sneak in at some stage.

Sounds good -- we're trying ahead to the next 12 months!


In addition to providing us with an interview scoop, Funcom has also thrown some prizes our means to present to Massively readers. We have now 10 codes that grant 4 months of premium time to any current account. If you don't have an existing account, you'll be able to always create a free one and apply the codes from there.

How do you get your fingers on one of these codes? Merely watch our Fb and Twitter pages the place we'll give out all codes from now until Friday night. Better of luck!

Jef Reahard is an Age of Conan beta and launch day veteran as properly because the creator of Massively's bi-weekly Anvil of Crom. Feel free to counsel a column matter, propose a guide, or carry out a verbal fatality through