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Age of Conan: Update 3.0 Interview

MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood had the opportunity to sit down with Funcom's Erling Ellingsen to talk about the most recent major update to Age of Conan that hit the live servers today. In the interview, Ellingson tells us a little bit about combat changes, improvements to tradeskills, PvP changes and more!

MMORPG.com:

What was the team hoping to accomplish with this new update?

Erling Ellingsen:

We started introducing the new PvP system in the last update, and we wanted to finalize it in this one. So that was certainly a big focus for us. The notoriety system is a major addition the gameplay in Age of Conan, and I think this will open a whole new world of opportunities for those inclined to get involved in PvP. We also wanted to improve on tradeskills, introduce culture armor and start making some changes to the combat system. The update is simply huge, but the highlight is undoubtedly the PvP additions!

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MMORPG.com:

So let's touch a little bit on each of these individually. Can you give us an overview of the new PvP system now that it is completely rolled out? What does it add to the game?

Erling Ellingsen:

The PvP consequence system will punish players who kill other weak and innocent players. If you kill a so-called innocent player you will get a criminal status, and you will accumulate murder points. If you accumulate enough murder points you will be flagged as a murderer, basically making you an outcast of society.

Murderers will be attacked by city guards and will be unable to trade with normal vendors. Instead, murderers will have to seek out renegade vendors on the fringes of society! You can absolve yourself of murder points in a number of ways: just waiting it out as it fades over time, earning regular experience, and performing redemption quests. Other players will want to hunt murderers down as killing a murderer increases PvP experience gained by one hundred percent! PvP experience is now very valuable, as we introduced PvP levels and PvP specific gear in the last update. There is a lot more detail to this system, of course, and we will be putting up an article on the official community site explaining everything in detail.

MMORPG.com:

Ok, let's talk a little bit about tradeskills and crafting. In a recent review here at MMORPG.com, the AoC crafting system was criticized for being rather weak. How does this update address that?

Erling Ellingsen:

This update brings several changes to tradeskills, but this is only the beginning. We will be looking even more into tradeskills going forward, and we are very keen on improving it further. What this update does is make crafting more enjoyable by introducing several different changes and additions. First off, we are bringing in new types of armor and weapons, called "Base", "Culture" and "City". This gives smiths a lot more to craft and the recipes for these items also include new resources that alchemists, skinners, weavers and woodcutters will have to provide, so working together with other player crafters and gatherers will become both encouraged and necessary. We are also making numerous changes to resource drop-rates (making it easier to gather resources), and the alchemy profession is getting a significant overhaul by having their number of recipes reduced and also making less resources necessary. This will generally make alchemy much more enjoyable. This is by no means the "miracle update" for tradeskills - we will of course continue to improve this feature in the time ahead.

MMORPG.com:

We've been hearing about culture armor for a while now. What is that exactly?

Erling Ellingsen:

Culture armor is a new type of armor we are introducing into the game, in an effort to both make tradeskills more interesting -and- to get more content in there. We are releasing 24 recipes in this update, each recipe making three pieces of armor in a set. Each class will get one culture armor set they can use, and everything is based on various Hyborian cultures. They look stunning, and are designed clearly with that culture's unique fashion in mind. All culture armor is intended for high-level players, and in terms of stats they fall somewhere between dungeon-dropped blues and same-level epics. Culture armor will have to be crafted by players, and the recipes are dropped by boss mobs. We plan to add even more culture armors in future updates. Also note that we are introducing culture weapons in this update as well.


Age of Conan Screenshot

MMORPG.com:

Your team is making a number of changes to the game's innovative combat system. Can you tell us how combat will be different?

Erling Ellingsen:

First of all we have done major changes to crowd control and immunities, allowing players to break stuns, fears, roots, snares and charms when they have lost a certain amount of health. We did this in order to give players a fair chance to whithstand these effects and fight back. Secondly, we have done some changes to some of the combos. What we have done is make some of them have fewer steps, for instance making them more viable for use in PvP. So while there are now many combos that are shorter, they also deal less damage of course. We have also introduced a penalty for when you miss with your directional combo strikes, and the penalty will increase with the number of missed strikes. This is definitely something we will keep our eyes on closely, and we will certainly track how these changes are received in the community.

MMORPG.com:

How different is the game today from the game a month after launch? If I left the game after my initial month, why is it worth my time and money to come back?

Erling Ellingsen:

This is certainly a biased answer, but I will give it to you anyway: it is definitely worth it to come back if you haven't been playing for a while! We have made a huge number of improvements to the game in the past few months, from major gameplay additions to countless little tweaks and fixes. There has also been radical improvements to technical stability (such as memory leaks). While we certainly have many things left to do before we are satisfied, we are still really happy about the progress we have made. I have spoken to many players about what they feel about the progression, and most of them tells me that the game has improved radically since one month after launch. But this is only the beginning, we are working relentlessly on future updates and we are putting a strong emphasis on player feedback when doing so. Of course you should rather ask a player this question. Better yet, I encourage people to pick their character back up and give it a try. I think they will be pleasantly surprised, even though there is still a lot of improvements left to be done.

MMORPG.com:

Okay, last question. What is on the immediate horizon for Age of Conan?

Erling Ellingsen:

Right now we are looking very much forward to the upcoming content update. This will include Ymir's Pass - a gigantic new outdoor adventure region intended for level 55 characters and above - as well as the legendary Amphitheater dungeon. We really believe this will introduce countless more hours of content for players, and the feedback we have been getting from players on the testlive server is very promising. We are also working on tier 2 and 3 PvP armor - armor that looks beyond stunning and will be sure to appropriately show of your status as a PvP god. We are also working on new high-level dungeons and a new adventure area for Tarantia City. Our techies continues they work on DirectX 10, as well as working on even further improvements to stability.

Generally I would say the future of Conan is very promising. The game has matured a lot in the past few months, and we strongly believe it will only get better. We have had a few rocky months and we know that there are issues we need to iron out, content that needs to be added and player concerns that must be addressed. We very much appreciate everyone's patience, and we're very happy to have our players with us as we keep making Age of Conan a better and better game with each update we put out. We look forward to seeing how this latest update is received in the community, and we look even more forward to push out future updates!

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