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Age of Conan: Unchained Interviews: PvP Interview

By Garrett Perkins on October 09, 2009

MMORPG.com:

There have been whispers of a new PvP tower system in an upcoming patch. Mind shedding some light on this new system?

Tim Donks:

Before the launch of the game, we brought up the idea of having capturable objectives in the Border Kingdoms. These objectives would scale from the high-end objectives, such Battlekeeps, to ones more obtainable by smaller groups, such as Towers. There were a few reasons why they were put on hold; the most important one being that the initial design was not interesting enough. I really do not think players were waiting for a scaled-down version of sieges, where you would have to shoot a single building with siege weapons. This would also mean the towers have their own vulnerability windows, thus the tower could only be captured every few days.

Feedback on the forums indicated that a lot of people prefer objectives that they can do at any time of the day and not be restricted by vulnerability windows. The second thing that was brought up by the players was that they enjoyed the PvP resources that were introduced as part of patch 1.04. Currently, these resources are only used in making building materials for the Battlekeeps; these resources were actually designed to be used for other PvP related content. Player feedback told us they really enjoyed the fighting over the resources when they were introduced, so expanding this feature is the obvious thing to do.

As part of patch 1.06, we will introduce towers to the Aquilonian End Border Kingdom. These towers can be captured and built by anyone who is part of a guild, and require PvP resources to build. The towers will be located around the center of the playfield, and there will be five in total. The one located in the center will be the most important one; this tower will be required to be able to upgrade any other tower. Each tower has three tiers that, just like the city and battlekeep buildings, progressively get more powerful and also give better rewards. Players can expect some sort of reward for building, destroying, and holding a tower. With the limited amount of towers and the requirement of having a specific one to upgrade the other towers, there is bound to be plenty of fighting over the towers.

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MMORPG.com:

If you were given full reign over the development of AoC: classes, PvE and everything, where would you take the PvP system, and in what ways would you improve it overall?

Tim Donks:

Ah, where to start? I truly believe that I am my biggest critic; there is always room left for improvement. The thing I actually look the most forward to improving in the future is the Massive PvP system. I mentioned at the start of this interview that I have been working on this system since I got hired by Funcom. Quite a bit of my time was spent on fixing bugs and other various issues, while the gameplay in general has been looked at very little. There are various ways to make sieges even more fun; I have been having so many ideas on how to improve the current system. Things such as movable siege weapons, selectable siege ammo, and different objectives/victory conditions. Another important thing to look into would be to give all the classes distinct roles during the sieges; this could also prevent players from trying to get as much ranged classes in their sieges as possible. I think the system has a lot of potential to grow and be more fun for everyone.

I think that one of the biggest misconceptions some of the players have is about why some players choose to play on a PvE server. For most players the reason for this is not because they hate PvP; it does have to do with the fact that they don't enjoy the side effects they will experience while playing on a PvP server. A lot of the players on a PvE server actually enjoy PvP from time to time, but only if they get to decide when they want to play PvP by participating in PvP content, such as the PvP minigames. Because of this, one of the areas I like to focus on is adding more ways to have consensual PvP that works on both the PvE and PvP servers. Adding objectives to the Border Kingdoms is a good example of this. This gives the player the ability to participate in this content when they choose to do so.

I think there is a large amount of possible additions to the game that players are interested in. They range from introducing new rewards, such as PvP tier 2 equipment and crafted PvP equipment, to things like changing existing mechanics or adding new ones. I have quite a few ideas for mechanics for world PvP or PvP minigames that I think our players will like. I hope the players enjoy playing this new content as much as I enjoy making the content. There is definitely plenty to do to make the game even better than it currently is.

Of course, there are lots of possible things we can do in the future. We just have to pick the ones that we think are best. What's great is that if the players enjoy a particular feature, we can always expand it in the future. We will look at player feedback to see where the PvP in Age of Conan should be taken next.

MMORPG.com:

Ganking and griefing are present in any MMO with an open ended PvP server, will Funcom be implementing any more anti-griefing measures, continue to support player enforced PvP or perhaps try a new approach?

Tim Donks:

We introduced the consequence system to deal with higher level players griefing lower level players which was present in the game after launch, thus greatly diminishing some of the ganking that was taking place. Of course, we do realize that this is something that cannot be totally eliminated, as it is actually one of the reasons why people create a character on a PvP server. This is why we have been experimenting with PvP item drops as part of the PvP resources in the Border Kingdom. Players can gank to their hearts' content and take some of the items that their victim was carrying! Some of the upcoming content in the Border Kingdoms will make it even more desirable to PvP in these areas, such as the PvP towers; this should make it easier for other players who are trying to adventure in the other playfields.

One of the things I have been looking into is finding ways to prevent players griefing players by attacking them while they are reading their quest dialogs. The only way for us to make it possible to add meaningful quest dialog to the game is if we can make sure the player has the ability to read the dialog without ending up dead. Having a system that prevents players from getting attacked while in dialog with a NPC will benefit both the live game and the Expansion, but it will be more important in the new quests that will be introduced to the game. This will definitely be one of my focus points for the near future.

We need to see how much of an impact the new PvP content has on players ganking and grieving other players. If appropriate, we could make additional changes to the consequence system further in the future. We could also look into ways to giving players more ways to deal with such matters, e.g., wanted posters for notorious criminals. There are numerous possibilities we can look into to keep discouraging this kind of behavior in the future, but of course, it is also important that we do not completely prevent it. Some players just love to live the hard life of an outlaw, and this should still be a possibility.

MMORPG.com:

Last question and I know you can't talk much on this but can you give us just a little taste of what we can expect out the PvP in the far off expansion? : )

Tim Donks:

One of the things about the Expansion that was announced during GamesCom was that most of the PvP additions will be included in the live updates. This is very important to us, as this allows us to ensure all PvP content is accessible for everyone.

One of the goals we had for the Expansion was to improve the way world design influences gameplay on PvP servers. In the past, we did not pay enough attention to the layout of the playfields; the layouts of playfields suited to PvE or PvP content are fundamentally different. One of the reasons players prefer to PvP in areas such as Kheshatta and the Tarantia Common District, is because they are the high level adventure playfields of Conan, and there are plenty of bottlenecks in the playfield design, i.e., there are plenty of areas very well suited to ambush other players. This is generally in narrow areas or areas where the players need to pass through in order to get to other places such as quest hubs. This is an issue for the players who are trying to adventure in these areas, as getting ambushed by other players can be very disruptive. The Expansion will be focusing on having large open areas with very few bottlenecks.

I am really looking forward to playing the Expansion. From what I have seen, it looks fantastic and I think the Expansion team is doing a great job. It will be fun to sneak up on someone while riding your tiger mount. It definitely has a lot of potential for interesting PvP encounters.

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