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Age of Conan: Unchained Dev Journals: Hardcore PvP Incoming

By Guest Writer on June 10, 2011

Blood and Glory

For some the true appeal of the Hyborian setting is the brutal and unforgiving nature of the world Robert E Howard described. That isn't always something that is compatible with making an accessible game that appeals to a broad spectrum of users, as you are usually aiming for with an MMO, but with a license like Conan sometimes it is worth exploring other, less conventional ways, to bring that blood soaked and brutal world to life for those who are willing to live a less forgiving life.

That is where the new Blood and Glory server ruleset comes in.

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Why make a new server ruleset?

There is lots of talk amongst players, and MMO veterans in particular about how they often feel a little neglected by an industry that now has much more mainstream appeal. It is certainly true that when developing MMO titles these days we definitely are trying to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible. Sometimes the real desires of the hardcore playerbase have been mutually exclusive of the changes we think are needed to maintain the broad appeal that games on this scale require.

However that means that sometimes we don't get to focus on niche ideas, even when those ideas might indeed have a strong following, and while an idea may not have the support of a majority of players, it may still be a perfectly capable of supporting an idea. This we hope is one such idea.

The problem we faced previously with something like this was that some of the things we will discuss today are indeed mutually exclusive of the experience that we need to maintain on the live servers. Previously we have stayed away from the idea of having different rulesets for different servers, as it does increase maintenance overheads and such. However, as we have gone on we see that there is clearly a very dedicated, and very loyal, group of players who long for a more brutal and demanding PVP environment. It has become increasingly apparent that the desires of that section of our playerbase simply want something a little bit further away from the experience that the mainstream majority are comfortable with.

Thus we have now decided to create a completely new server ruleset to provide a world that those players will also find interesting. Yes, it certainly won't be for 'everyone', but that is kind of the point this time around. We will then deploy one of these servers to each of the EU and US territories.

The Blood and Glory server ruleset

The idea for this server type, which we shall call the 'Blood and Glory' servers for now, is to provide a more 'old school' PVP environment. This will be a server where your reputation and skill will mean something, and surviving will require you to keep your wits about you, and make good friends. It will, in effect, be intentionally uncompromising. This will very much be a 'live by the sword, die by the sword' type of server. 

The specifics of the rule set are:

  • This will be a fresh start server, no transfers.
  • You will only be allowed one character on this server. Your reputation will mean something on this server!
  • There will be no guards on this server. Your only protection from other players will be your allies, and your own wits and skills.
  • No Offline levels will be useable, all levels must be earned the hard way!
  • The Shrines of Bori feature is disabled on this server, so teams can't allow their friends to progress under their protection as they can on the regular servers.
  • Diminishing returns has been adjusted slightly, allowing for more exp from PVP kills on this server.
  • There will be an option for team vs team mini-game matches through a new queue option that id designed to let organised teams pit their wits against other organised teams for bragging rights.
  • PVP is opened up again in White Sands isle and the Underhalls so that the PVP experience exists in some of the starting areas as well.
  • There will be a limited form of player looting. One random non-No Drop item from your inventory will be left behind as loot when you die to another player. There will also be some items 'generated' that players will drop, just as you see when killing an NPC.
  • The previous Battlekeep rewards will be adjusted.

It is also worth noting that the last three changes listed there may also be considered for the live servers as they are more balance related, and will benefit those who like their PVP on the regular servers as well.

Community Interaction

One of the cool elements of this project for us was involving the players. We used polls and feedback threads on the PVP sections of our forums to get direct feedback from the hardcore audience as to what they would find appealing in such a setting. So the players have had a pretty direct influence on some of the design choices above.

This isn't an exercise is mass appeal, and when you look to a niche like this it does allow you to play with some ideas that you might not otherwise be able to.

We will meet you on the battlefield!

We are quite excited to get the chance to try something like this, and try and also provide something that is focused on a specific niche of players who have a slightly different taste for PVP. It has long been one of our challenges with a title like Age of Conan, and this is the result of a lot of hard thinking about how we can better appeal to both sets of players, without compromising the desires of both too heavily.

Having a separate rule-set was eventually the choice that made logical sense given the clear split in PVP tastes amongst our community and there is something undeniably and most suitably 'Conan-esque' about this proposal. We think the great barbarian would approve of a world where your survival will be dictated by your wits and skill alone.

If it sounds like a challenge you would appreciate make sure you check out the new server when it launches this summer as part of the continued roll out of the new Age of Conan: Unrated!

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