Here in Leipzig, MMORPG.com has captured some great video interviews and presentations that will be hitting the site over the next week. That's not going to stop us, however, from bringing you the important information right up front, at least until you can hear it from the horse's mouth.
Today, MMORPG.com attended a presentation by the team from Funcom's Age of Conan. A number of interesting points were made that are worth sharing with everyone as soon as we could:
First, Funcom's Erling Ellingson acknowledged that there was a deficiency in the game's higher level content, specifically in areas above level 50. As a result, the team has added a new zone, Ymir's Pass, to the fray that promises "dozens of hours of content". In Ymir's Pass, the team has also included a number of new elements taken directly from Howard's stories. This, they said, was something that some players had been asking for, the opportunity to experience specific events captured in words by Howard.
The team is also working toward improving the dungeon experience throughout the game. We were told that players wanted more variation and more challenge in the game's dungeons and so new and interesting traps have been added that require a little bit of thought to defeat and progress past. One example that was given to us saw an undefeatable snake conjured up when players walked through a beam of light streaming through a giant engraved eye. You can defeat that by shooting out the eye. It's fairly simple, but at least adds a little bit of challenge (also, the unbeatable snake will kick your butt if you're not careful).
They also showed us another trap that was heavily influenced, or blatantly stolen from the Indiana Jones movies as a giant boulder rolls down a stairway, crushing everything in its path. What can I say? It's an iconic and some would say tired trap, but seems to fit in whatever world you happen to wander into.
Along with the addition of new challenges like the traps, the developers are also taking another look at the way that their boss fights are handled. Erling told us that World of Warcraft was an inspiration for the new boss encounter design as they seem to have engaging battles that require players to create a strategy to defeat. The example of this that we were shown sees players fighting a boss NPC as his devout followers sacrifice themselves, which results in the boss being healed.
From there, we were shown a little bit of what DX10 is going to offer. Ellingson told us that DX10 was delayed in the original release after a decision was made to put the full force of their coding team behind fixing the performance issues that arose in beta. He also apologised for having the DX10 feature listed on the box, telling us that the decision had been made after the boxes had already been printed.
In a preview of DX10, we saw what that technology can add to the game. Not only does the lighting in the game improve dramatically (if you'll pardon the pun, the difference is like night and day), but new water reflection and water light diffusion make the underwater game a lot nicer (expect to see more underwater action in future updates).
The last thing that I want to mention in this interview preview is the announcement that Funcom currently has a small team working on the game's first expansion. While no details are immediately being made available, Ellingson pointed out that the current live game is still the company's top priority, but that an expansion was definitely in the works.
That's all for now. We hope to have this video up for you as soon as we get home to some reliable internet access.