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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 current growth, some new dungeon content material, and several class revamps fresh on our minds. The yr earlier than that, we had the earth-shaking combat and itemization adjustments. This past 12 months, the main improvement was, of course, the switch to a freemium business model, followed closely by the game's first adventure pack. Be part of me after the break for a quick rundown on the last 12 months as they happened in Hyboria, in addition to an anniversary interview with sport director Craig "Silirrion" Morrison that sheds a bit of mild on the crafting revamp. The tip of June noticed AoC be a part of the ranks of Western freemium converts with the Unchained replace. The vast majority of the original Hyborian Adventures marketing campaign was made freely accessible to all comers, together with four of the sport's 12 classes. The sport's 2.6 patch additionally introduced us the Breach and Forgotten City dungeons in Khitai as well as look armor functionality (and there was a lot rejoicing). A week later, Funcom threw a bone to its hardcore PvP crowd with the introduction of the Blood and Glory particular ruleset servers. Deathwish and Rage were initially fairly standard, and Funcom also hinted at some curious instancing tech in the works. We haven't heard much about it since, however I count on that we'll be taught extra this summer time after the launch of The key World. The tip of August brought us AoC's first journey pack. The Savage Coast of Turan was too small to be known as a proper growth however too massive for a simple "patch" moniker, and Funcom has hinted that this might be the primary distribution mannequin going forward. We bought a brand new stage 50 to 55 playfield with a ton of quests, a stage 50 to 80 scaling solo dungeon, a max-level solo dungeon, a max-level group dungeon, and a brand new raid occasion, all of which have been based across the Jason Momoa Conan film that debuted in the summer season of 2011. January noticed the introduction of the lengthy-awaited House of Crom dungeon. Unfortunately (or luckily, relying on the way you have a look at it), this occurred after my private AoC sabbatical, so I've yet to cowl the dungeon here in the pages of The Anvil of Crom. That will be remedied briefly order, though, and within the meantime, you'll be able to read all about it on the sport's official web site. March brought us the new Jade Citadel raids, also fodder for a future column installment or four. The Priest of Mitra class was given an intensive makeover on this update too, and that brings us up to the current day. As per AoC anniversary tradition, I had a chance to ask a couple of questions of govt producer Craig Morrison. Keep studying to see what he has to say in regards to the upcoming crafting revamp plus a complete lot extra. Massively: Is there any overlap between the AoC and TSW dev groups? Any cross-pollination of concepts? For instance, TSW's crafting system looks pretty nifty. Any likelihood that AoC's upcoming revamp shares something in widespread with it or is inspired by it in any way? Craig Morrison: The groups are run independently and have their very own resources and administration. Do not forget 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 via that process. In that method, there are various shared initiatives and considerations. Look At Me Never Rat On Your Friends And Always Keep Your Mouth Shut That means we may use the identical Dreamworld function in other ways, just as we will with the single server expertise that's presently in the works. It is a cool state of affairs for a recreation of our age to be in as a result of it means we are able to typically benefit from some fairly cool technical work that we merely wouldn't be capable to afford in any other case. By way of the crafting system, that is something very distinctive to TSW. They took their inspiration from Minecraft when it got here to their shape- and location-based crafting, and it is a cool system, actually good enjoyable to play with. However, I'm actually looking ahead to the brand new system for Conan. We are trying again a bit more, taking our inspiration from games like Star Wars Galaxies and the other earlier MMOs, with a focus on substances and discovering the most effective combinations. That adds a layer of depth that you do not find in the opposite fashionable MMOs that have used more simple list sort crafting methods, the place you get the same results all the time. Personally I feel it is exciting to see proper crafting making a comeback in our video games. Both approaches have benefit, and I believe what the team is cooking up for Conan is extra suited to the barely more stat-based degree progression we have in Conan, as opposed to the flatter system in TSW. Nonetheless, each methods are putting a premium on true experimentation and asking gamers to think and discover the system slightly than just learn an ingredient itemizing. I feel it's something that MMOs can benefit from exploring once more. In regard to a excessive-level view of the crafting revamp, how a lot can we expect crafters to be essential to the in-game economy? Will gamers be capable of get end-game gear and consumables from crafters, or will those items stay exclusively loot-drops? The intention is for the crafted goods to be competitive will all however the best of the endgame gear, and maybe even in some cases, provide some of the most effective items, though I don't suppose I wish to forged that as a particular in a single path or another and make some form of sweeping blanket assertion. What I'll say is that we're aiming for the gadgets to be useful for veterans and endgame and that the liberty it would symbolize will permit those who give attention to it to make one of the best objects. We hope to create a symbiotic relationship there, the place a few of the better gadgets will come from crafters, and crafters will want the help of the raiders to collect a few of the rarer elements. Are you able to give us any hints about the following journey pack? What a part of Hyboria will it cowl (geographically, even a basic space if you can't get particular)? Can we count on it in 2012? We aren't revealing the precise location of the pack simply yet, however as we teased within the last growth letter, we're trying south once more, near one among the original game areas. The journey pack is presently aimed for the tip of the 12 months, yes. The team is currently laborious at work on it in order that we can release it towards the tip of Q4. South, you say? Stygian content is pretty barren compared to the sport's different 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 extra Stygian content material between, say, 40 and 70? I believe we addressed that stage vary in other playfields, like Ymir's Go and Tarantia Commons. I don't think we ever set as much as necessarily have an equal variety of locations in each of the video games territories, partly for visible and cultural variety and partly to cover some totally different ideas and ideas from Howard's Hyboria. Since we are looking south, yes, the journey pack content material may well stray close by geographically, however the cultural and mythos that may influence it's another beast altogether. Expect to listen to extra about the adventure pack a bit later in the summer season. While the manufacturing teams are separate, as we talked about above, since we're an unbiased studio, all of our central groups are shared, so the advertising and marketing and PR folks are a touch busy right now with the launch of The secret World, so we'll hold the adventure pack reveal until after that. There is a perception out there that due to the perceived inadequacies of AoC's launch, the sport isn't value trying out even four years later. Why do you suppose that is, and would you agree that MMOs like AoC are utterly different animals from their launch builds? MMOs always evolve. That is without doubt one of the few constants in the style. Personally I always strive and take a look at video games a second or third time, and I think many veterans are the identical. We are also helped by the truth that thanks to the Dreamworld engine, the game nonetheless seems to be competitive with recent releases. After all the issues that the sport had at launch does have an impact on some veterans' opinions, and that's an expected a part of working in that style. I don't suppose you may hold it in opposition to anyone, at the tip of the day there have been very high expectations for that launch, and the unique group fell simply in need of some of those expectations. It is natural that some gamers won't offer you a second chance. You won't ever, ever, win everyone back over. Then again, it's considerably of a shame because MMO titles do evolve. As long as you always concentrate on bettering the sport and adding content, then there's a constant circulate of people who come again to take a look at the game again. In truth, these gamers typically end up as a few of your most loyal followers after that because somebody who had a problem with the game and returns to see the problems they'd resolved appreciates how far you've gotten come. Of course, that fluctuates for each participant; some really like the changes whereas some feel a recreation may need moved away from what they liked about it, but total we generally hear fairly good issues from those that had prolonged absences from the game. They arrive back, and so they remember just how much they appreciated the combat system, or they get to embrace the viscerally mature setting that Hyboria offers. Any plans to regulate the free-to-play choices within the near future, or is Funcom fairly happy with the quantity of entry Unchained players at the moment have? Total we are fairly happy, but we may consider some tweaks and changes. As part of the birthday celebrations for example, we're giving free players the power to seize everlasting access to the premium dungeons from the original game, so we are open to continuing to evolve the free participant offering so that the sport remains competitive. I believe free gamers in Age of Conan Unchained have one of the most open techniques on the market. No obligatory quest or progression content blocks until they reach max degree is a pretty sweet deal, one that provides greater than many different F2P titles. It is an ever extra aggressive market, though, so we will definitely proceed to change issues up as and when we see match in an effort to appeal to the ever-growing and ever-more-demanding army of free players out there. Nonetheless, one necessary level is that we really need to have the ability to avoid having to go down the whole pay-to-win path. We have now been very cautious to keep away from that for a purpose, so we would like to keep up the worth to gamers of being premium members. That in turn means that you just can't give all the pieces away without cost except you are willing to fully embrace a pay-to-win approach, and that is not someplace I might be comfy taking the game. What about an AA respec for subscribers -- any plans to offer that in some unspecified time in the future? The alternate development system was designed to not want "respecs" as you possibly can after all simply earn more points since there isn't any steep curve in the progression, and it's a flat value. So at a elementary level, there aren't any plans to permit for players to re-use already spent factors. If we added a respec we might have to think about your entire set-up, since players would then never must get beyond X variety of feats they have determined are optimum for various situations, and they might simply switch between them. That stated, after all you do not need to stand in the way in which of gamers feeling they will progress, so we may take a look at it from one other angle, be that some form of adjustments to the AA development, or possibly sooner or later, some type of multiple-specification system as we're doing for feats. Lastly, pretty much as good because the questing and the storyline in Tortage is, a few of us have actually run it two dozen times now on varied alts. Any chance veterans may get a "skip Tortage" capacity at some point? Yes, I'd like to get one thing like that in at some stage. We have now talked about it just a few occasions, however it tends to be a type of issues that loses out within the priority conversations. As we move in the direction of a fifth yr, it should hopefully be something we will sneak in at some stage. Sounds good -- we're looking ahead to the following 12 months! ~~~ In addition to providing us with an interview scoop, Funcom has also thrown some prizes our means to offer to Massively readers. We have now 10 codes that grant 4 months of premium time to any current account. If you do not have an current account, you can always create a free one and apply the codes from there. How do you get your hands on one of these codes? Simply watch our Fb and Twitter pages the place we'll give out all codes from now till Friday evening. Best 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 suggest a column subject, suggest a guide, or perform a verbal fatality via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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