So, here we are, 19 days after Early Access to Age of Conan began. Where are we?
On a personal note, my guild has managed to build our Keep in instance seven of the Lacheish Plains. It does absolutely nothing at this time, but it sure looks nice!
The State of the Game. I’ve covered this a little before, especially here and here. The issues I mentioned there are mostly still present, so I won’t repeat myself. There has not been a patch since last I wrote, nor is there an ETA on the next one, though there has been a letter from the lead developer, which admitted that many zones, quests, and features that were supposed to be in the release did not quite make it in. they will be along over the course of the summer. I have that in full further down the page.
It turns out that the double-buff bug introduced in the last patch is a great deal more serious than I first thought. As well as allowing us to gain double the strength of some buffs, in some circumstances debuffs are proving to be permanent until you log out. This is especially problematic on the PvP servers, where folks are finding themselves permanently rooted, stunned, or snared by magic-using opponents, and then shortly after finding themselves deceased.
It has been discovered that female characters are attacking a great deal slower than their male counterparts, when using the duel-wielding fighting style so important to classes such as the assassin and ranger. There has been no dev response on this, or on many of these issues, but you will be happy to learn that a recently introduced bug that reduced the breast size of player characters merited a special announcement that it would be quickly fixed. Maybe I’m underestimating the number of people who play AoC for partial nudity and gigantic breasts.
It appears that character stats such as strength and intelligence are doing very little indeed, possibly nothing. Many of the skills which we can put points into also do absolutely nothing.
The PvP minigames are suffering from a particularly poor method of setting up matches. What happens at the moment is that you select what sort of match you want, and then you select which map you want to play it on. Then, if enough people are looking for the same combination, of appropraite level, your match starts. The problem is that you have no way to see what sorts of match and map everyone else has selected, making it more of an exercise in ESP than in PvP. We desperately need to be able to set up a match, and then have that match appear visually on a list that other people can simply select and join. The current system will see the PvP minigames mostly ignored as too frustrating. Though as the PvP advancement system is not in game yet anyway, perhaps it does not matter so much, but when finally we can gain PvP xp those of us on the PvE servers will need the minigames to get a good quantity of fightage. Also I love capture the flag in any game.
Players and NPCs appear and dissappear seemingly randomly, especially in town. I can only imagine how annoying this must be on PvP servers. It appears to be an issue with the game’s LOD settings. A separate issue is how long the game takes to load up the graphics for an NPC. I am frequently forced to stand waiting for up to 30 seconds in front of where a NPC will eventually appear to so I can speak to them. This gets peskier yet in situations where NPCs are spawned to attack you, such as when gathering. While invisible, they are still more than capable of hitting you (and being hit if you can find them). AoC’s texture management, and graphical memory management in general, is appalling. Maybe my PC isn’t so great, but if there’s an NPC going to attack me I don’t care if you use a placeholder graphic that looks like an angry lego brick, providing I can be aware that there is something there I need to worry about.
Ranty today? Why yes, I am!
As usual, I want to say that I AM enjoying the game. It’s just frustrating to see so many wasted opportunites. Lets see what the Lead Dev has to say:
Gaute Godager – Game Director
As you may have noticed we have had frequent patches the last two weeks. We hope this will soon start to quiet down, but as long as there are major issues – and there have been – we will dedicate the Conan team to fixing them and giving you these fixes as soon as possible! We have a plan on how to move this game forward because as you know, what you have today is but the platform – the dawn of this world. I hope you enjoy the game as is, but I can ensure you, this is but the beginning!
Our focus from now on can be summarized by these points:
1. We will add content, specifically in mid-late thirties and mid-late fifties and make the leveling speed smoother in those areas, reducing the need to grind.
2. We will have an overhaul of the PvP system – adding consequence and a host of small things.
3. We are fixing bugs you reported through all channels we can get information from.
4. We will add a new large outdoor region in the 55-60 range this summer!
5. This is only a small teaser! More information about the exciting summer and fall Roadmap will come the end of the next week!
6. We are staffing up Customer Service, Quality Assurance and Community departments!
I will spend some words on a bit more details now.
1. Filling “thin areas” in our content
We have seen that there are certain level ranges of these Hyborian Adventures that do not have the amount of quality we wish them to have. Most specifically these are the end of the Thirties and the end of the Fifties level ranges. We are addressing this in several ways.
* Several mid-late thirties dungeons are getting a complete overhaul (Black Castle, Pyramid of the Ancients and Treasury of the Ancients)
* Several quests are being made fuller and more entertaining. If people wish to revisit these quests, we will add a system to let them try them out again.
* we are adding first a batch of quests in Eiglophian Mountains (lvls 55+)
* We are also adding in a bunch of quests that didn’t quite make it for launch in the 30+ areas.
* Around 60 quests through the game have been flagged as “Lore Quests”. They will now be patched out with full Voice-Over. (Roughly 1 quest per level after level 20).
All this will come in June! In July the first level 80 additional Dungeon will be patched out. More on that later…
2. Overhauling the PvP System
People like our open PvP system. There are many plans on how to give this open free PvP even more meaning and Purpose. In the meantime we will be doing some smaller tweaks, and we plan to get these out sometimes in June. I will not go into 100% detail here, but that will come next week! What I can promise is:
* An update on how sneaking and perception works in PvP (nothing major, but an adjustment).
* A change in the amount of information you get when you hover over an other player.
* An added system of consequence to “ganking”. (Killing much-much lower level players).
* A system of adding consequence to losing a PvP match, and winning a PvP match + turning on PvP Leveling.
* A change in how Crowd Control (Root, Knockback etc) works in PvP.
* PvP gear.
3. New Massive Region
We will unveil this location later, but it will feature a host of quests, new monsters and places of dreams or horror. It will be styled towards the players in the late 50s and bridge the experience on the way to Atzels Approach. We have plans for releasing several of the areas that didn’t quite make it for the release.
4. Fixing bugs and increasing Customer Service
Funcom has always prided ourselves with having great customer satisfaction. The success so far for this title has left us with the need to increase the size of CS. This will go in parallel with the constant fixing of bugs and other issues that lead people to petition. Included in this is even better testing of the game by increasing the size of Quality Assurance and informing you better about changes by staffing up the Community Department. I know a blurb like this will haunt me always, but I will still venture one: We aren’t satisfied until all our customers are! You know we had a very, very difficult launch of Anarchy-Online! That was a very painful process for all of us working on it – 4 years. You might not understand how driven we are to make sure you enjoy this game, and all the support around it!
The future is very bright for Hyboria. There will be many bright mornings following this, the very first. Together we shall surge ahead and build the world even bigger, better and more detailed!
Age of Conan, Funcom