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Game Developers Conference: Age of Conan Preview

Jørgen Tharaldsen spoke to our Garrett Fuller

The grown up MMO for the casual player, Age of Conan offers some very different game mechanics and ideas for players to enjoy. I sat down with Jørgen Tharaldsen of Funcom to discuss the marketing, development and most of all story of Conan as an MMO. There were some preview insights about characters in the game (other than Conan), combat, and bringing together the media of stories, comics, TV, the cartoons, and the movies. What's more, Jørgen said that at its core, Age of Conan will remain true to Robert E. Howard’s original stories and vision.

It is no secret that the first twenty levels of character development will be a single player story arc. Funcom wants to give players a great story experience and the chance to get a feel for the game. It will also give the player a chance to learn the combat system and the world around them. You’ll begin as a galley slave who washes up on shore of an island. There will be four opening story arcs to solo throughout your early game. Players who definitely explore through all the possibilities will come out into the MMO world with a slight advantage against players who quickly blitz through the system. This personal story line for players will begin with your first character, once done, if you create a second character you opt to go directly into the MMO world.

Character creation will be an immersive part of the introduction to the world. With over forty sliders to help personalize your character there are certainly a lot of options. Players can also change the look of their character throughout the course of the game by adding battle scars and tattoos. A great note on design of the game is that team has set Frank Frazetta’s artwork of Conan as a goal. Frazetta has really captured the look of Conan over the last fifty years in the paper back novels.

Some of the game play elements we can expect from Age of Conan include quick bursts of action for players who do not have a lot of time to put into the game. Also, players will be able to use a master-apprentice system to help each other level when they can not commit hours of time to play. Using the locations of Stygia, Aquilonia, and Cimmeria for players to explore there will be many areas for classes to further their careers. Funcom is really going for is a mature world for players to explore.

The Hyborian world of Conan is defined by its savage combat. In dealing with this, PvP will be an important part of the game. From friendly bar brawling (which is based on how much alcohol you have drank), to high end full sieges against player made fortresses, PvP will certainly run the gamut. There will also be mini games for people to enjoy with themes such as: team vs. team and last man standing. Another system that Age of Conan will use is a tiered PvP system. Despite players going through the leveling system they will also go through a tiered PvP system which will allow players of any level to still fight each other and beat each other. The Border Kingdoms in Hyboria will set as a back drop for players to build cities and fight each other in large scale battles. NPCs will also play a part in PvP by having their own cities and attacks. There certainly plenty of options for players to look forward too.

Conan lore is endless. Beginning in the 1930s with Howard and moving through the years in comics, cartoons, and most of all the movies. Many characters from the Conan lore will appear in the game. Not just his rowdy friends who appear in many adventures but enemies of Conan as well. Working with Paradox Entertainment who owns the Conan IP, Funcom plans to add some great story elements to the game. Also, many of the current stories that are being written in the Conan universe will be incorporated to content. I wonder if we’ll meet Anok in Stygia.

Age of Conan promises to be an intelligent mature MMO that players can explore on many levels. The end game will have a lot of PvP, resource gathering, story lines, and the Life Quests for players. Funcom is also planning expansions and hopes to see the game grow and remain strong for over ten years. I just wanted to give a quick thanks to Jørgen for the chat, save me a sword at E3 and I’ll bring the Corona.

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