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Age of Conan

Age of Conan's January Director letter talks PvP gear, daily quests, and crafting system

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Crafting

Age of Conan's January Game Director letter delved into the game's most recent patch as well as the upcoming re-balancing of PvP armor, an update on the crafting system overhaul, and a look at new daily quests. Additionally, the next world boss to start rampaging through Hyboria (which will have more frequent spawns than those before it) will begin its menacing spree on February 5th.

PvP armor will be receiving the same re-balancing treatment that PvP weapons recently got, giving newly level-80 players a fighting chance to land some good blows and dish out damage in PvP. As an update on the long-awaited crafting revamp, the letter notes that all existing items can be broken down into salvaged components for upcoming crafting recipes. And finally, new daily location quests will give players a reason (and rewards) for traveling across Hyboria each day and visiting different locations.

Choose My Adventure: Hanging my hat in EverQuest

Fantasy, Age of Conan, EverQuest, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Choose My Adventure

If ya'll were all fired up to see a rousing round of Age of Conan over the next few weeks, yer gonna be disappointed. This rodeo don't take kindly to cheatin', so AoC's been disqualified. What I can't figure out is why the perps would brag so brazenly about tryin' to fix the event. Do they think we don't read forums? Maybe some folks just fell off a horse and hit their heads one too many times?

I'm sadder than a frog without a lilypad; I feel bad for all the genuine rule-followin' fans who wanted to see their favorite game get the spotlight it certainly deserves. And this will really put a bee in their bonnets: AoC probably woulda won even without the tamperin', so those fools who decided they didn't want to play fair an' square just blew it for the rest of ya. And here I was looking forward to returnin' to Hyboria. For those supporters who voted legitimately, I hope ya still get your time in the ring in another Choose My Adventure.

With that unfortunate business outta the way, I'd like to introduce ya'll to the star of our show: EverQuest. It edged out Anarchy Online by just a few votes to takes its place as the next CMA title. Ya might find it a bit ironic that the keeper of the Norrathian Notebook is heading to Norrath, but since my first attempt to sink my feet in that soil didn't pan out, I'm hopin' it'll be different with ya'll directing the adventure. 'Sides, seems kinda fitting, it being the Year of EverQuest and all. Now there's a whole mess o' choices this week, from race to class to server, so get in there and brand yours before 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, January 31st.

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Age of Conan director's letter talks achievements and PvP

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, MMORPG

Age of Conan
Age of Conan senior designer Matthew Bennett stepped in to author the game's most recent director's letter, and in doing so offered updates on AoC's long awaited achievement system as well as some valuable intel on the state of PvP items. According to Bennett, the Age of Conan team has a rough design in place for achievements that centers on broad categories like PvE, exploration, and dungeons, with sub-categories being designed for each.

Bennett also explained that the dev team is taking a hard look at Tier 3 PvP gear by working to re-balance stats on key items to make them more useful and up their damage output to an appropriate level. The PvP team is also working on Tier 4 PvP items. Finally, Bennett reminded players that starting in February, Portents will return to their normal cycle of starting on the first Wednesday of the month and lasting until the following Tuesday.

As for the big things like The Palace of Cetriss raid and Age of Conan's new tradeskill system? While not the focus of this particular letter, those key game elements are still in development.

One Shots: Breaking news

Screenshots, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Culture, One Shots, Humor, Champions Online, Miscellaneous

This just in! We've received reports that caped crusaders are beating the ever-loving crap out of a villain literally 12 feet in front of us! Seriously, if we could just turn these news cameras a little to the right, you'd see the whole thing, but for now you'll just have to take our word for it. Sponsored by Doritos.

Reader Sean submitted this particular gem: "I used to play quite a bit of Champions Online from closed beta through about four months after launch. Before the dark times. Before the patches. Here I am laying the smackdown on Foxbat during his 15 minutes of fame -- surely not what he had in mind."

Ha ha! Surely not there, Sean! Now for a word from our sponsors, and by that we mean more excellent player-submitted screenshots.

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Age of Conan to receive some new world bosses

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play

Meet the new world boss, similar to several of the less world-related bosses, something something fooled again.
Do you like finding huge monsters out in the world and taking them down? Then you'll have reason to be excited about Age of Conan's upcoming world boss system. The most recent game director's letter explains that these bosses are an outgrowth of the anniversary event designed to make the game world feel more dynamic. Each boss will have a one-week spawn period, and with 12 bosses in total, players will be facing a different boss each month.

The boss will spawn within one or two outdoor areas and can be engaged and fought by any level-appropriate characters within those areas, with rewards going to anyone who takes part in the fight and survives for at least one minute before it dies. Item caches are dropped by each individual boss, but the bigger reward comes to players who manage to be counted as slaying all 12 bosses as they spawn. For more details, as well as information about upcoming gathering and event changes, take a look at the full game director's letter.

Age of Conan unchains three dungeons in overhaul

Fantasy, Age of Conan, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Age of Conan players wanting more challenge in their dungeons have three more choices on the Unchained circuit. The Halls of Eternal Frost, The Scorpion Cave, and The Caravan Raiders Hideout have all received a major overhaul and have new Unchained modes to up the difficulty ante.

Of course, new modes means more endgame loot! Besides what raiders and dungeon-divers will find in the dungeons themselves, those who a complete the full tier of Unchained dungeons are rewarded with a chance at some of the best dungeon loot in the game courtesy of a new mastery quest. Additionally, more treasures can be found in a variety of other dungeons throughout Hyboria.

Age of Conan sneaks a peek at some (selectively) stylish crafting

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Crafting

Style is a subjective thing, guys.
Age of Conan is already unchained according to its subtitle, but players are still restrained in certain ways. You can't just craft an item with your chosen stats and have it look like whatever you want, can you? Of course not! At least, not until the major crafting revision goes live, and the latest game director's letter shows off how players will be able to do exactly that.

The letter previews the new crafting interface, which along with ingredients allows players to select a style for the crafted product. New styles are unlocked via completing missions and certain achievements. The system also allows for adding new visuals as endgame drops or from the cash store, giving players more flexible options about how to look. Take a loot at the full letter for more details, as well as discussion about the next major content update and the possibility of porting elements over from The Secret World.

Leaderboard: What changes would bring you back to a previously played MMO?

Polls, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard

Leaderboard - What changes would bring you back to a previously played MMO?
I just realized something. The original concept for this Leaderboard column hinged on two competing MMO philosophies duking it out. In recent months, though, it's sort of expanded into a more general feature and an excuse to make sure our criminally underused polling software still works.

Eh, whatever. Random thoughts of an MMO blogger, I guess.

Anyway and on topic, I've been thinking about going back to Age of Conan lately. So far I've managed to talk myself out of it, but yesterday's dev letter and its crafting tidbits piqued my interest. It also got me wondering what exactly the criteria is for returning to a game you've cast aside before. I imagine it's different for everyone, so for today's Leaderboard, tell us what changes -- if any -- would bring you back to an MMO you've heretofore abandoned. Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Age of Conan dev letter outlines new dungeons, tradeskill revamp progress

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons, Crafting

Age of Conan dev letter outlines new dungeons, tradeskill revamp progress
Age of Conan game director Joel Bylos has penned a new director's letter recapping the various happenings in Hyboria.

Funcom is still hard work on AoC's long-awaited crafting revamp, and Bylos says that the "single most important part of the tradeskill system was completed earlier this week." Apparently there was plenty of work to be done converting old items and old tools into the new system -- some of the assets were originally created using Anarchy Online toolsets, for example. It sounds like there's still a long way to go, though, as Bylos mentions that UI work, content work, node placement, and tutorials still need doing.

The letter also mentions Age of Conan's traditional Halloween event as well as three new dungeons that have made their way onto the game's test server. Click through the links below to read all about it!

Original Age of Conan game director talks combat influences

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

Original Age of Conan game director talks combat influences
If you've been around the MMO block a time or two, you probably know the name Gaute Godager. If not, he's an original Funcom founder, as well as a game director on 2001's Anarchy Online and 2008's Age of Conan.

AoC fansite Assassin's Hideout recently scored an interview with the elusive developer, and it's an interesting read thanks to tidbits about the game's setting and its unique combo combat system. As for the former, Godager says that while Funcom considered many IPs -- including George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire -- the Conan property made the most sense because it lent itself to the "stylized HBO-like grown-up game" the team desired. It also helped that Robert E. Howard's Hyboria license had recently been acquired by Funcom partner Paradox.

Age of Conan's combo system is indebted to a 1993 fighting game called Samurai Showdown that served as one of Funcom's very first projects. The developers all took a fencing lesson, during which the instructor said that "all sword fighting [is] based around only six attacks. Up left, up right, straight down, down side up left, down side up right, and stab." Godager says that the explanation stuck with him and ultimately had a significant influence on MMO combat. "Look at EverQuest and draw a line to Neverwinter," he explained. "You will see Conan in there directing the speed, intensity, and flow of combat."

[Thanks Slith!]

Age of Conan's August letter previews the Great Hyborian Race

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Events (In-Game), Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play

The finish line is atop the skulls of your enemies.  It also has a ribbon and some flowers.
How do you implement open world PvP in an aging game? Age of Conan is going to do precisely that by running a race. Director Joel Bylos discusses the upcoming Great Hyborian Race in his director's letter for August, an event designed to promote PvP as well as give everyone a chance to see the game through new eyes. New players and old will have a chance for glory, fame, and fantastic prizes.

How will it work? After the server merge (which has been delayed slightly by moving the game's offices), a new Blood and Glory ruleset server will be started specifically for the race. Players will have sharply limited use of XP potions, no use of offline levels, and a simple goal of reaching level 80 as fast as possible. Prizes will be given to players who reach the top first and who gain the most PvP experience. The letter also discusses upcoming unchained dungeons and upcoming unchained PvP, so even if you don't want to race you'll have something to explore.

Serpent Men abound in Age of Conan's new Dragon Spine dungeon

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Serpent Men abound in Age of Conan's new Dragon Spine dungeon
Age of Conan updates have slowed somewhat since Funcom restructured itself over the past year, but the dev team is still adding new stuff to its rendition of Robert E. Howard's Hyboria. The latest patch features a new dungeon called Coils of Ubah Kan which offers a "brutal challenge" for six-man groups along with appropriate loot and rewards.

The instance is part of AoC's Dragon's Spine content, which became the title's second adventure pack when it released in early January, 2013. Players must fight their way into the ancient underground city of the Serpent Men in order to complete the new dungeon. Funcom says that "even more content will come to this area in the near future."

[Source: Funcom press release]

Jukebox Heroes: Expansion themes

Age of Conan, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Allods Online, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Expansion themes
Main themes seem to be a strong favorite among video game music fans (and even the casual set), but I've talked about them a few times already. So instead of puttering around with main MMO themes, why not give expansions some of the credit?

Not every expansion gets its own theme tune, of course, but plenty do. We've covered a few of them in this column so far, including Riders of Rohan and EVE Online: Apocrypha. What we haven't done is spend an entire week looking at these upstart themes and see how they compare to the originals.

So strap on your headphones and prepare for symphonic excellence. Here are six great MMO expansion themes that deserve a few minutes of your time!

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Age of Conan composer joins PlanetSide 2 and Starcraft II nominees for music award

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Free-to-Play, Music

Age of Conan joins PlanetSide 2 and Starcraft II as nominees for music award
Say what you will about the rest of the game, there's little argument that Age of Conan has impressive music. And now, soundtrack composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen joins the list of nominees for the Best Score in a Video Game at the 2013 Hollywood Music in Media Awards. His nomination comes for his work heard in AoC's latest content update, Dragon's Spine, which can be heard in the trailer.

Other nominees include Jeff Broadbent (Planetside 2) and Russel Bower, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford, and Neal Acree (Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm), nominated in January and March, respectively. The winner for best score will be selected at the HMMA ceremony at Hollywood's Fonda Theatre November 21st. Interested in listening to these impressive soundtracks for yourself? You'll find selections for both AoC and PS2 (and many more) in our own Jukebox Heroes feature.

Director's letter for Age of Conan talks loot, merges, and dungeons

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

If you're concerned about drop rates, that may be a different discussion altogether.
If you've not been happy with loot rewards in Age of Conan, you can take some succor in the fact that the designers aren't happy with them either. The latest director's letter discusses the problem of rewards in the first Dragon's Spine dungeon and explains that the team is trying to create interesting loot without creating a huge power imbalance between new and veteran characters at the cap. While the next few dungeons will fill out the loot sets that have been established, the team is actively working on long-term solutions.

Beyond that, the game remains on-track for server merges in the summer, with older unplayed characters moving into "archival" status to make database merges less onerous. The tradeskill revamp and further dungeons are also in the works; Coils of Ubah Khan is nearing launch as the next dungeon. For more details on the updates and discussion of achievements, take a look at the full letter.

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