This week we had the chance to talk with John Devers from Funcom about the Age of Conan Saga server. Here is what he had to say!
My name is Jon Devers, I'm the Lead Designer on Age of Conan. I've been with Funcom for almost 6 years now, starting in May 2012.
MMORPG: How much of the original format of the game are you keeping on the server? Will the starting stories remain the same?
Jon Devers: For this saga server, we wanted to keep the game’s formula relatively unchanged. This is mostly to see what happens when there are no special rules, but also so we can gather feedback on what players might like to see changed if we’re able to do more saga servers in the future. We already have some ideas we’re throwing around, but hearing more from the community is always awesome and helpful!
MMORPG: Are there improvements you have made to the game specifically for this server launch?
JD: Most of our changes have been technical; things in support of having more extensive customization on each of our live servers. There have been some other small data changes such as bug fixing, and then some things outside of the game like reworking membership prices. We wanted both the game and membership to be even more accessible with the launch of the saga server.
MMORPG: How have you been working with fans on bringing back the original feel to the game?
JD: The clean slate and even playing field everybody starts with definitely helps restore some of that classic feel you only get with a new MMO. Everybody’s progressing through the lower level zones together, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones, and it’s exciting to see those powerful low level drops or the lone level 80 character riding by on their mount.
In addition to that our awesome community team, Andy Benditt and Nicole Vayo, have been actively monitoring the forums and talking with players in-game about their experiences on this first saga server. This has helped us identify issues players have been encountering early on, and it’s also helped us better understand what players would like to see from saga servers in the future. One thing that seems to resonate with a lot of our veteran players is a proper raid progression server with tier unlocking, and that’s definitely something I’d like to see in the future as well.
MMORPG: What about early Age of Conan appealed to you most?
JD: Definitely the combos and fatalities. My personal favorite is the Herald of Xotli’s “I Eat Your Heart,” though all the classes have their own unique fatalities so it’s always fun to see these while leveling up an alt. Age of Conan has also always had a much more mature take on MMOs to realistically capture the Conan universe, so I personally prefer exploring this darker, more savage universe than that of more traditional MMOs.
MMORPG: The game had a fantastic class and combat system for an MMO, are you keeping that intact?
JD: Absolutely! The classes have evolved some over the years, but no changes have been made to them as part of the saga server going live.
MMORPG: How about character progression? This is not 2008 anymore, are you doing anything with the Saga server to ease the time on players?
JD: To play back into one of Age of Conan’s strengths, we’ve made it so that all fatalities (melee and spell fatalities) yield bonus experience. There’s also a fatality buff that’s applied to all players on the saga servers, so they can get fatalities more often and thus more experience. Raid token gain has also been greatly increased for members, so once you’re level 80 you can gear up much faster than you can on our vanilla PvE server, Crom.
MMORPG: What plans do you have to continue the life of the server in the future?
JD: The Saga server is meant to be a limited time server, so we have plans to merge the characters there with Crom on May 15th. However, as I mentioned before, we’d really love to do more saga servers in the future that have more unique rulesets and we’re listening to the community to gather feedback on what they’d like to see. I would personally like to see a PvP ruleset for our next saga server, and have some ideas for more unique PvE servers as well!