With Age of Conan's Rise of the Godslayer expansion coming up in just about a week, Age of Conan Game Director Craig Morrison has delivered his latest Letter from the Game Director, which he uses to discuss one of the less talked about features of the upcoming expansion: random encounters.
Craig on Random Encounters:
The idea was a simple one - add a number of encounters that could happen randomly while the players were traveling to Khitai from Khemi. The designers wanted to highlight that it was a dangerous and lengthy journey. They wanted to add an optional route for players. In effect the player offers their services as a caravan guard to pay their own way to Khitai instead of handing over coin. Then along the way they would be pressed into service when the caravan encountered a problem.
Interesting. So how does that work? And yes, after reading below I thought "Release the Kraken!" as well.
As I mentioned above the player can offer their services as a caravan guard to pay their own way to Khitai instead of handing over coin. (You can of course just pay the caravan master his fare and travel straight to Khitai without worrying about working your way, so this feature is completely optional). What then happens is that you will be presented with one of nine scenarios that might occur along the way. The voyage to Khitai takes you past some dangerous areas, some of which Conan fans will recognize from the original stories, like the Vilayet Sea.
These encounters take place as solo instances where the player has to complete a specific task to allow the caravan (or boat) to continue on its voyage. These encounters range from protecting your boat from a Kraken, acquiring supplies from a Pirate Cove, defending the caravan from raiders or investigating a strange oasis plagued by the undead. There is an interestingly diverse set of objectives for these encounters, and you never know which one you are going to be presented with.
It should be noted that while this is certainly an interesting addition to the game, Craig points out that the feature had come close to being cut a number of times before he actually got to see it in action. On the larger issue, Craig mentions that cool ideas like the random encounters feature are shot down all the time as a result of trying to balance time and resources, given the fact there is never a shortage of ideas. Craig had basically shot this one down before seeing it in action, and he is pretty happy now that his designers convinced him otherwise. The hope, of courrse, is that you all will be as well!
Read the full letter here.