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Interview, Part Two

Dana Massey Posted:
Interviews 0

Funcom's Conan Game Director gives us a peek around the corner

In the second part of a two part interview, Gaute Godager takes over the answers. In this article he discusses rogues, crafting and reassures players that the first twenty levels - meant to be single player - do not carry a subscription fee.

MMORPG.com: People love rogues, but to date the thieves among us have not really had a chance to shine in an MMO. Conan boasts a thief class. Can you tell us a bit about it and what are sneaky friends have to look forward to?
Gaute Godager:

As you might know, Conan was thief in an early part of his career. This has very much inspired us. Not only can the players sneak around, like in most Action RPGs, the thief can climb walls, use physical shadows and to gain advantages to disappear. It is important to know that in Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures, the player will not be able to “Pop invisible” in front of the NPC’s or other players. He will have to drift into the shadows, using real occlusion to gain the opportunity to hide.

In addition, Conan will be the first Online RPG to feature a whole region (almost) exclusively focusing on the Thief and its sub-classes. This region, “Tarantia Noble District”, will include many, many opportunities to sneak, hide, climb, pick-locks, steal, pick-pockets, assassinate, remove traps and sell your loot to other shady characters. It is my belief that Thief sub-classes will return, time and time again, to this trove of sneaky treasure.

MMORPG.com: Your FAQ mentions that at level 40 players branch out into a parrallel development. One is a crafting class. Does this mean all players will need to wait until level 40 if they wish to be a tradesperson?
Gaute Godager:

Yes, that is true. That said, the leveling curve of characters in the Conan world is very casual up to level 40, so much that your grandmother could do it. Remember, Conan is an Online Action RPG featuring a strong story, not only in the first 20 levels but continuing through the full 80 levels of the game. This game will thus gradually offer the normal MMO gameplay to the player.

MMORPG.com: With “Formation Combat” you boast that players will have control over an NPC group. How will players go about recruiting this group, what impact will this have on multi-player groups, and what will the user interface be like for commanding them?
Gaute Godager:

I think what I have been trying to say here, is that the player may have other players and NPCs in the formation. What the mix will be, players to NPC’s is yet to be decided.

As a leader you simply move around to have the formation follow you, be it players or NPCs. The leader may also fire off special moves or attacks only available to the formation like “Charge of the Phalanx” or “Volley of Arrows”. These will be fired using shortcuts or pressing icons.

MMORPG.com: It is a constant debate in this genre to balance instanced content vs. online content. A lot of MMO games say they shy away from too much instanced combat so players do not feel like they’re paying a monthly fee for a single player game. Obviously, Age of Conan is going the other way and shooting for the single player experience, especially early. Besides social interactions, what types of things can players expect the online aspects, and their monthly fee, to provide them throughout their journeys in Aquilonia?
Gaute Godager:

It is important to tell players that the first 20 levels, the single player experience, will not feature a subscription fee. If you buy the game, you can play this portion for as long as you want, without subscription. It is only in the next 60 levels, the more “normal” MMO portion (though this game is no true MMO, but rather an Online Action RPG) there will be a subscription.

I would not like to participate in the debate about instantiated vs. non-instantiated combat. To me it is all about what you are doing that matters. Sometimes you are on a progression quest, or “Destiny Quest” as we call them, and this features a strong story connection to the game where it will be natural to instantiate. Making the social regions single player would naturally be very silly. The key here is to focus on gameplay, not politics.

MMORPG.com: It is mentioned that the Picts, an enemy, will build cities and besiege player built cities. This begs the obvious question: can players be a Pict? If not, why and what PvP options will be available?
Gaute Godager:

No, the players can not be a Pict in the game at launch. We feature 3 races, Stygian, Aquilonian and Cimmerian. There will be 3 distinct different types of PvP available to the players at launch. First off, there is the massive siege battle, as you mention. Secondly, there is a group focused system where match-making will pitch player teams against each other. Finally, there is a fun focused “Drunken Brawling”, where players don’t fight with their normal levels, but rather with a combination of random behavior and their degree of drunkenness.

Many thanks to Gaute and Terri for their work on this.

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Dana Massey