Welcome to the first Age of Conan developer’s blog here on MMORPG.com. For the time being I will be the only contributor but as time goes on we hope some of the other dev team members get time to participate. Who am I you ask? Well that’s the very first questions I would like to answer. My name is Jason Stone, I am also known as “Athelan” both on these forums, in interviews and on the official forums. For the past three and a half years I have worked as a designer on Age of Conan. Some of my areas of responsibility have been with combat and PvP and being heavily involved in the design and iteration of those areas. Now I am only one designer out of many designers with different specialties and responsibilities and it takes all of us to produce a great game.
Funcom has always placed a high importance on being involved with our community. This is apparent in the ways we try to interact with them and keep communication open as much as possible. When the game was smaller and less popular this was relatively easy to do via the forums. Both Jayde (Evan Michaels one of our systems designers) and myself have spent a lot of time posting and trying to answer questions. Now I am not saying Jayde and I plan to stop posting, but one of the reasons Funcom was so behind this blog with our partners here at MMORPG.com was because we understood how it can be used as a communication platform with more clarity than the forums will currently allow.
Now just to tangent a little bit to give those who don’t know me a little background. I started work in the industry as an Everquest Game Master in 2000, after having worked as a Network Engineer and Admin for the Banking Industry. I spent five years at Sony Online and worked my way up as a Lead GM, Community Manager, and then into Quality Assurance where I got a chance to do a little design work with the guys on Star Wars Galaxies and then on Everquest 2. I am an avid “hardcore with a real life” MMO gamer. More or less that’s a recent transition for me as I am adjusting to being married which makes the real life use up more time than I was accustomed too. I also play loads of other games on many platforms and simply love co-operative gameplay. I have since 1997 played most MMO’s that came out in the western market to high level and actively engaged in PvP. I have played a few Asian MMO’s but not to the same extent. Jayde (as mentioned above) and myself ran a high end raiding guild in World of Warcraft while also working on Age of Conan during the time I spent in Norway.
Fortunately for me, and hopefully for the embetterment of the game itself as well, when I told Funcom over a year ago I would have to return to the US in June we were able to work out an agreement to keep me working on the project. The reason I had to return was my pending nuptials and I was married on October 6th of 2007. Being in the US now and on a different time zone definitely takes it toll on me being able to do some of the things it used to, but it also opened the doors to me being available in the US for questions and giving me time to work even harder on community issues as well as design.
The goals for this dev-blog will be to highlight the goings on in the Age of Conan community, respond to community questions and feedback, give you sneak peeks into my own Beta experiences, and share tidbits from my life as a lucky sap who ended up with every nerdy gamers dream job (and a cute wife to boot!) – Jason “Athelan” Stone