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Age of Conan

Age of Conan game director talks about server tech, tradeskills, and more

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

Age of Conan game director talks about server tech, tradeskills, and more
Joel Bylos, the game director for Age of Conan, has put out this month's game director letter. In it, he addresses his team's plan for addressing "most of the concerns and requests" that players have.

Through a three-phase process, Age of Conan will come closer to having the same server functionality as The Secret World. Servers will be moved to the same physical place, then servers with the same ruleset will be merged, and then cross-server queues and functionality will be implemented. The tradeskill system is getting a massive revamp. Key changes there include the near removal of quests from tradeskill progression. Dragon's Spine and Unchained content is starting to get scheduled, bit by bit, for release.

You can read the full dev letter on the official site.

Funcom's Joel Bylos on the centralized TSW, AoC, and AO team

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Interviews (Massively's), Sandbox

Massively Exclusive  Bylos expounds on the centralized team for AO, AoC, and TSW
By now, most MMO gamers are pretty familiar with the fact that Funcom underwent restructuring. But what does that mean; what exactly did it entail? The term "restructuring" in itself signifies changes but does nothing to actually enlighten folks on what the changes are. Other than the fact that Joel Bylos was named creative director for all three of Funcom's titles -- Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, and The Secret World -- and that the team will be in one centralized in location, we know little of the details.

How many developers survived the restructuring and relocated to remain on the team? Is this move foreshadowing one or more games slipping into maintenance mode? How will the coveted dev attention be divvied up? What does the future hold? Devoid of facts, players are left left wondering about how these changes will impact their favorite games.

While chatting with Joel Bylos in an exclusive interview, I was able to ask some of these very questions.

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Funcom's Bylos named creative director on AoC, AO, and TSW

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World

Bylos named Funcom creative director, overseeing TSW, AoC, and AO
Funcom has announced that The Secret World creative director Joel Bylos is now the creator director for all three of the firm's MMORPGs. This includes TSW, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online. Bylos has penned letters from the game director for TSW and AoC, while AO's Dave "Ilaliya" Williams passes the torch via a forum post.

Bylos' TSW letter talks additional content plans up to and including Issue #12 (the live game currently sits on Issue #5, with #6 scheduled for early March). Bylos has a special place in his heart for AoC stemming from his time as the lead designer on the Rise of the Godslayer expansion, and his initial game director letter reflects on both coming home and the opportunities for expanding Hyboria. He also talks a bit about the pros and cons of having a single production team working on three live titles.

Finally, outgoing AoC producer Craig "Silirrion" Morrison recaps his four years at the helm and hints at a "new opportunity within the MMO world."

[Thanks to David for the tip.]

Age of Conan pillages Steam

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Business Models, Free-to-Play, Promotions

Age of Conan pillages Steam
Age of Conan's become the latest title to join Steam's free-to-play library. To celebrate the game's release on the digital distribution platform, Steam is offering a special pack of goodies for 35% off.

The Tortage Survival Pack is currently $6.49 (regularly $9.99) and includes a set of beginner weapons, items to teleport you to your origin city, a DPS-boosting ring, a 20-slot inventory bag, fireworks, 10 XP potions, and a blue snow mammoth mount.

Jukebox Heroes: Age of Conan's soundtrack

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Age of Conan's soundtrack
I'm going to be honest with you: I've been putting off this particular column for months now. I've been dreading it, really. Because what I say next is probably going to turn off a lot of you who seem to worship this score like nothing else I've seen: I only kind of like Age of Conan's soundtrack. It's not really my favorite, nor in my top 10. And I know that this goes really against the feelings for this score that I've seen professed in Jukebox Heroes and elsewhere.

You know what? That's OK. Musical preferences are some of the most subjective things in the world, and we can't be expected to like everything, right? If Age of Conan's soundtrack gets people listening to more MMO (and even video game) scores, then that's a win for our niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche hobby.

This score (and all of Age of Conan's subsequent music) was composed by Norwegian Knut Avenstroup Haugen. He won several awards for his work on the game, including the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Scoring Excellence. If you're interested in the man, Massively's Jef Reahard did an interview with him back in 2010 that makes for good reading. Otherwise, let's head onward and I'll share my personal favorites from the original game score!

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Funcom game directors talk relocation, effects on TSW, AoC, and AO development [Updated]

Fantasy, Horror, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World

Funcom logo
Funcom has published game director letters for all three of its MMOs this morning, and one of the topics on everyone's mind is of course the studio's reorganization. As it turns out, the dev teams for The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online will all be operating out of the company's Raleigh, North Carolina facility which was previously the sole domain of the Funcom customer service team.

TSW's Joel Bylos notes that the move will cause some "development turbulence," and that the game's DLC and update schedule will slow down temporarily as a result. He has more details on both the game's Issue #6 update and veteran rewards in his letter. AoC's Craig Morrison says that the fantasy title isn't going anywhere, although he also acknowledges some staff turnover due to the relocation. He also notes that having the game's dev team and community team in the same building will be a huge benefit. Finally, Anarchy Online's update echoes the first two, but game director Dave "Ilaliya" Williams writes that the engine upgrade, server migration, and new player experience are all still on the table.

[Update]: Funcom has also published an update on the restructuring process on its main website.

[Thanks to David for the tip!]

Funcom restructures Montreal branch, keeps games operational

Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, Miscellaneous

Rumor Funcom closes Montreal branch
Funcom is taking hedge trimmers to its Montreal offices today. Senior Game Designer Tanya Short posted the following this afternoon on her Twitter account: "When your branch shuts down, I guess it's less like being fired and more like honorable discharge. Thanks for going down with the ship! Bye!"

Massively contacted Funcom for an official statement. Director of Communications Erling Ellingsen confirmed layoffs but assured us that Funcom's games will continue on: "We are currently in a restructuring process and the Montreal office is part of that process along with our other branches. This process unfortunately involves a reduction in staff, but the studio is not closing down. It will continue on, but in a different form and function than today. Anarchy Online, as well as The Secret World and Age of Conan, will definitely continue to operate and be an important part of the company's focus going forward." He said that the studio would provide more details when it had finished with the process.

Funcom previously stated that it was restructuring the company to make it more profitable. The Montreal office was established in 2009 and employed 110 people.

Funcom teases Age of Conan Secrets of the Dragon's Spine trailer

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

Age of Conan - Secrets of the Dragon's Spine desert
Funcom released Age of Conan's Secrets of the Dragon's Spine content update last week, and the company wants to make sure you haven't forgotten about it already. The friendly reminder comes courtesy of a new trailer that shows off plenty of gorgeous Stygian desert fly-through shots as well as brief glimpses of new mobs and subterranean locales.

The adventure pack is targeted at high-level AoC players and boasts a new dungeon called The Sepulcher of the Wyrm. View the video in its entirety after the cut.

[Source: Funcom press release]

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Age of Conan launches Dragon's Spine update today

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

Age of Conan launches Dragon's Spine update today
Age of Conan fans itching for a new content can now explore a whole new area and dive into new quests and storylines as the first part of The Secrets of Dragon's Spine update series launches today. This 4.0 update brings with it not only the new area with its accompanying quests and stories but also a new group instance, Sepulcher of the Wyrm. Named Dragon's Spine, this area is a desert region, found southwest of the ancient city of Pteion has only one small oasis and a network of caves and tunnels in the mountains to break up the vast stretches of sand dunes.

But the content won't stop there; future updates in the series will contain a tradeskill system revamp, more dungeons, a new raid instance, and even a new PvP arena. Players should note that The Secrets of Dragon's Spine content is available to paid premium players only.

Massively Speaking Episode 229: SexyTime

Podcasts, Age of Conan, Darkfall, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, The Secret World, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

Massively Speaking Episode 229 Blast from the past
December was supposed to be a quiet, tame month, but has turned into a poop-flinging monkey madhouse! Co-hosts Bree and Justin dissect the craziest news from this past week, including a long-dead MMO come back from the grave, a major title going buy-to-play, and winter holidays springing up all over the place.

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Age of Conan gets some lovely new concept art for Dragon's Spine

Fantasy, Galleries, Age of Conan, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

Age of Conan gets some lovely new concept art for Dragon's Spine
Age of Conan is about to get a heaping helping of new excitement and adventure, thanks to the upcoming Secrets of the Dragon's Spine update. Some of the Dragon's Spine content has already hit the test server and should be joining the live game in the rest of 2012 and early 2013.

To help stir up some excitement for the update, Funcom released four new pieces of concept art on the game's Facebook page. We wouldn't want your clicking finger to get too much of a workout, so we've gone ahead and collected them here for you. Think of it as a special favor to those of you who detest Facebook and all that social media stands for.[Thanks to barbarous tipster John!]

Age of Conan tweaks F2P offerings, all classes and classic dungeons freely available

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

Age of Conan - Angry bearded man with a sword
'Tis the season for Funcom business model tweaks, or so it seems. Hot on the heels of the recent Secret World buy-to-play conversion comes news of significant changes to Age of Conan's free-to-play model. First off, all 12 of the fantasy title's classes are now available to free players. Also, the F2P gold cap has been increased from two to 10.

Still not enough for you? Well, OK, how about all of the pre-80 dungeons in the original Hyborian Adventures game? Instances like the Crow's Nest, Slaughterhouse Cellar, and Xibaluku were previously the domain of subscribers or folks who paid to unlock them, but now anyone and everyone can experience Funcom's considerable dungeon-building chops for no charge.

AoC's Bloody Solstice holiday event is also live with today's patch, the notes for which may be found at the game's official website.

Age of Conan's Dragon's Spine content on test servers

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

aoc monthly dev update
Funcom released its traditional end-of-the-month Age of Conan update over the weekend, and it revealed that the dev team is crunching hard on the Secrets of the Dragon's Spine content update. Executive producer Craig Morrison says that some of the new stuff is starting to appear on the game's test servers, so players are free to poke around provided they can't wait for the official release.

And when, exactly, is that official release?

"It's getting down to the wire now in terms of the release window, so we are currently working hard to bring the first Dragon's Spine updates to the live servers before the holidays. In all honesty it is very tight right now, and as we write this we can't say for certain which side things will fall on," Morrison explains. He also touches on the status of the crafting revamp and post-Dragon's Spine PvP updates, though the nature of the latter is very much up in the air at this point.

The Perfect Ten: Holiday shopping for the MMO gamer

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, EverQuest, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Runes of Magic, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Promotions, Guides, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Holiday shopping for the MMO gamer
With Thanksgiving almost under wraps in the states (Canada got an earlier patch of Thanksgiving because the devs love that country), the starter pistol is about to go off for the busiest shopping season of the year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and oh-crap-it's-Christmas-Eve-and-only-a-gas-station-is-open are all shopping experiences ahead on the calendar, but perhaps the most challenging experience is that of buying the perfect gift for an MMO gamer.

Sure, you could just phone it in and buy a time card, some cash shop points, a subscription or two, or even a Prima strategy guide if you really hated the person, but a proper MMO gift goes beyond that. For a great gift, you need to put in some effort and actually research the field... or just be lazy and use my following guide. We both know which option you're going to choose.

So while you slowly digest that turkey and moan about having to waddle your butt down to Best Buy at 3:00 a.m., why not allow me to help you with a few shopping suggestions? For this list, I wanted to focus on game-specific merchandise that isn't t-shirts, game cards, or CafePress coffee mugs. I mean, this shirt is the bomb and all, but we can do better!

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Age of Conan dev update talks new armor, crafting components from PvP loot

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

Age of Conan dev update talks new armor, crafting components from PvP loot
Funcom is hard at work on Age of Conan's Secrets of the Dragon's Spine content, and executive producer Craig "Silirrion" Morrison has published his customary monthly development update to bring fans up to speed.

There's a good bit of space devoted to new armor creation (including some nifty concept shots and a blurb about upcoming vanity sets). Morrison also says that the team is on track schedule-wise, but there are no dates to report beyond what we already knew about the first of the Dragon's Spine stuff at the end of 2012.

He does mention an interesting tidbit with regard to the crafting revamp and the different ways to obtain ingredients under the new system. "We mentioned in the stream that some ingredients would drop from player loot. That is indeed the plan, and we want the next sets of PVP items and armor to be gained in part from actual conquests on the battlefield, so an important component of the new system will be that some ingredients required for some of the new PVP items will only come from killing other players."

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