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Age of Conan: Unchained Interviews: 3rd Anniversary Interview With Craig Morrison

By Garrett Fuller on May 23, 2011

MMORPG.com:

Age of Conan has turned three years old! What has been your favorite part of the journey?

Craig Morrison:

Working with this team, and getting to build a game and build upon a fantastic license and gameworld. Conan is really a great license to work with, and a very interesting MMO project to get to head up. Watching the team build the expansion, and see it come to life so vividly and successfully was definitely a highlight, because it was something we got to put our own touch on, but I am proud of everything the team has achieved over the last three years.

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MMORPG.com:

Of all the changes made to Age of Conan since launch, which do you think had the most impact on players?

Craig Morrison:

The biggest change was the 1.05 update back in 2009 that changed the RPG system and progression system to allow for a statistics system that was more intuitive and approachable for players.

MMORPG.com:

With the Khitai expansion you were able to add a lot to the end game for players. Can you tell us some of the elements you really felt added to the game?

Craig Morrison:

It added depth, and most importantly, a lot of great content. The feeling prior to the expansion was that really the majority of players were ‘done’ when they reached maximum level. The expansion addressed that and allowed us to add a lot of additional content, and horizontal progression, for max level players. With the recent improvements to the faction and item progression that we made this month, I really think it works to provide players with a great experience for exploring Khitai.

MMORPG.com:

Age of Conan is a game that has grown over time and continues to work with its community to make the game better, what is the secret to building such a strong community?

Craig Morrison:

Listening, and knowing when to open up for more input, and when to stick to your guns. MMO design can never be a democracy (remember what happened when Homer Simpson designed a car?) but there is a good balance to be found in taking feedback and allowing it to fuel the designs and act as inspiration. While you will always see disagreements on internet forums, and difference of opinions on details, I think the majority of players genuinely see when new additions, new content or changes come from the ideas behind their feedback, and appreciate it when they see it, and experience it.

MMORPG.com:

Where do you see Age of Conan going over the next three years?

Craig Morrison:

I think it will continue to evolve and grow, and become an even better MMO than it already is. I am very proud of what the team have achieved so far, and think we compare very favorably to most of our peers if you compare them at the three year point. So I am mostly looking forward to seeing where the current team will take the game now that we have the new Dreamworld technology in place and have a really sound platform for the game moving forward.

MMORPG.com:

As MMOs change course and how do you address new ideas when working with a game like Conan that has been out for a while?

Craig Morrison:

I don’t think it’s really any different apart from the fact you have to consider conventions that your players have established, and their likes and dislikes. From a design perspective it is still usually a case of assessing the pros and cons of any suggestions against the value it would represent and how much resources it would take to implement.

MMORPG.com:

Are there any parts of the Conan lore you feel need a place in the game that are not there yet?

Craig Morrison:

The beauty of the license is that we have a whole world to explore, and there are many great locations that could make for great content updates, expansions or adventure packs in the future. We haven’t even fully tapped out the locations from the areas we do feature, let alone all the possible other areas of the world we can visit with future content. Personally one day, I’d love to see us do a take on the City of Thieves, but that’s just one example.

MMORPG.com:

The new movie is coming out, has there been talk of working with the movie to add elements into the game?

Craig Morrison:

We will definitely be doing some cool things to take advantage of the appearance of the new movie. It is going to be a very interesting year for all things Conan…expect to hear some more on that area soon!

MMORPG.com:

Age of Conan helped move action combat into MMOs, can you tell us the impact the combat system had on current games?

Craig Morrison:

I think it might not be until we see the next generation of games before we could say whether we have influenced anyone else. Recent title started production before we were on the market, so that is why you see games that were developed for many years, like Rift, and upcoming games like The Old Republic, take more from a game that was out when they started, like the obvious inspiration of World of Warcraft. So to see if anyone else follows us down that more action orientated avenue will be interesting. DC Universe comes the closest in terms of mechanics I would guess, but it also different in its own right due to the console control scheme. So right now it gives us something pretty unique and compelling that you can’t find elsewhere, so that suits us just fine for now!

I hope someone else goes down that route because I think there is definitely a space for it.

MMORPG.com:

What is next for Age of Conan?

Craig Morrison:

As I said above it’s going to be a very interesting year, and you can expect to hear some news on that front very soon! Yes…I know...evil teasing…but you won’t have to wait long for the news on this front!

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