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Message From the King

Glen "Famine" Swan from Funcom's Age of Conan answers questions, and discusses the game, life, and the industry. Let us know what you would like to hear about.

Author: FC-Famine

Beta Diary Updates, and the future of the FAQ

Posted by Athelan Wednesday January 30 2008 at 12:26PM
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So just when I was working with the MMORPG guys to figure out the image hosting so I can start a Beta Diary we get a huge client patch on the beta and I am still downloading.

 

I have a whole one screenshot of my brand new Aquilonian Priest of Mitra named Athelanna standing on the beach and that is it. But look forward to updates on that soon.

 

We also with the new website will be updating the current FAQ and expanding its features. In addition to the FAQ we have now we hope to have a much more in depth information resource for you guys the fans to dig up the facts easier.

I go away for the weekend and everything happens.

Posted by Athelan Tuesday January 22 2008 at 11:02AM
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So I just got back yesterday, which for us here in the US is a lesser known holiday Martin Luther King day which celebrates the work of Martin Luther King and the nonviolent civil rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's. My wife and I had gone up to Oakhurst with my Father in Law to help him work some property that he purchase. This time it was mostly burn piles, rather than clearing brush. We had a good time but it was exhausting and we also got a chance to go ride our dirt bikes/four wheelers out in the mountains and I only fell over and ate the dirt once.

So big big news  yesterday. First we got the shiny new www.ageofconan.com website.

Then we got the announcement about the release date being moved to May 20th.

And an explanation from our very own Game Director Gaute.

 

First in starting to discuss this I want to echo what Gaute said, which is up until last week we did not have any intention of delaying the game further. So when both he and I tell you we as a team have been working our buns off to reach this goal we are not just blowing smoke.

I feel very strongly still that we *could* release in March, but with all my years working with MMO's I am not going to look a management "gift horse" in the mouth. The flat out raw truth is *ANY* MMO designer approaching launch would probably kill for another 8 weeks at this stage of Beta. Using World of Warcraft as a fantastic example, they stayed in Beta for a long time and on launch they had a game that was very polished in most regards and thats what I want to see for Conan as well. (For those Non old-farts or non American the saying to look a gift horse in the mouth comes from Western Cowboy days where it would be considered rude to check the teeth on a horse given to you for free, IE don't complain when something good comes your way for any reason)

We are also working on getting the official FAQ updated with correct information and hopefully being able to expand its features.

 

Overwhelming response, Open Beta, and Cheetah 2

Posted by Athelan Tuesday January 15 2008 at 11:16AM
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First I want to thank all of you for the great feedback and excitement of those who have stopped by to read the new blog. Second, even if it is re-hashing what many of you already know I want to re-quote/link to the Open Beta message clarification posted by our Community Manager Pharamond.


Looks like there was a miscommunication/misunderstanding at the show.

We are planning to have an open beta for the game as we get closer to launch, however, it will be through specific partners and require an application/registration process, much like most of the other betas for most other games.

We will be limiting the number of keys we release to a manageable number at any given time, rather than subjecting people to queues and loading screens and so on. By "a manageable number," we mean tens of thousands, not just a handful.

We’re also ramping up some of our tech test betas, and, of course, we’ll be doing key giveaways, inviting forum veterans, and inviting more people to the current, closed stage of beta as we ramp up for launch.

So, yes, there will be a wider-scale open beta, but it will require an application/registration process and won’t be as simple as “press button, get key,” which is what we wanted to say.

__________________
Shannon 'Pharamond' Drake
Community Manager – Funcom[/quote]

http://forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=51002

(Looks like Keith already beat me to it and made an article about it)

 

I am trying to answer some of the repeat questions I see in comments. Now understand I simply won't have time to get to everything, or might not have the answer for something right now. There will be a system in place soon that will help in cataloging these answers but I will leave discussing that for another time.

Cheetah 2 is what we refer to as an internal development milestone for our optimization pipeline (lots of big words there) it is the next huge leap towards final optimization in our proprietary Dreamworld engine. It is already present in our "Test Live" environment which means QA is testing it so I will guess it will be present in the Beta within a matter of a week or two. Completely off the top of my head speculation of course. Just to give you an idea as to the improvement, a camera path (a flying route that the camera follows) flying over Connal's Valley used to run at a decent 20-35 fps most of the time for me with an occasional chunk on huge vista's or loading. In the new engine I was seeing no lower than 25 FPS ever and that was with over 800 NPC's in the playfield all loaded to be present at once. Normally the playfield only "awakens" NPC's who are close to the player to save on performance. Without forcefully loading these NPC's my framerate shot up to a high of 128 fps on a single 8800 GTX card, and this was on XP in Dx9

 

Random answers now on questions cherry picked out of comments.

 

There have been talks of ongoing storyline quests to follow the destiny quest. These are however enormously time intensive and will take time to implement and likely be seen after launch.

 

We still plan as far as I am aware to have PvE, Role-Play PvP, and PvP servers at launch but not list of server names or number of servers per region information is available.

 

A PvP server in Conan is at its base a server where open PvP is enabled in all areas except hubs. There are zone line and "just died" protection systems in place and you do not leave a tombstone in PvP.

 

As far as testing Sieging, testing continues and the max current numbers we have tested is in the 200-300 range with plans to test higher. The game actually handles lots of players very well, NPC's are way more expensive which is why we have limited NPC's being present in the siege PvP areas.

 

You hit all enemies in a cone in front of you in Age of Conan with every attack. Not just a single target.

 

I am not aware of what/who will be offering EU Pre-order bonus's

 

Conan is not a seamless world meaning we have zones or playfields. The world itself primarily consists of non instantiated outdoor areas, with smaller instantiated quest areas and dungeons leading off of it.

 

The game was always designed with scalable use of content, but this does not mean everything is dynamic based on the group size going in, we have dedicated time to making areas for solo play, small group play, full group play, and multiple group/raid play.

 

I haven't played much TF2 on the Funcom server since the game came out because I really suck at it and my poor little Engineer turrets keep getting killed.

 

and to close of this post a little self gratuitous shot of me and my wife from the wedding

My wife and I

 

Welcome to the first Age of Conan Developer Blog at MMORPG.com

Posted by Athelan Monday January 14 2008 at 3:41PM
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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