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Age of Conan

Age of Conan's May Director's Letter details new content and tech

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

Screenshot -- Age of Conan
Crush enemies, see them driven before you, lamentations of their women, yadda yadda. You know the drill. The Age of Conan Game Director's Letter for this month has hit the interwebs, and the topics of discussion are the recent 5th Anniversary event (and the new event system that it utilized), the impending transition to single-server technology, and a number of updates heading to the game soon. The first phase of Age of Conan's switch to single-server tech (which involved moving all of the servers to the same physical location) has been completed, and the AoC team is now "preparing to move towards the new phase," which means merging all same-ruleset servers.

Meanwhile, in Hyboria proper, Age of Conan recently held an in-game event to celebrate its fifth anniversary, and this included the introduction of some snazzy new event tech. In a nutshell, the previous system required that the game be patched in order to both begin and end an event, but with the new system, the devs can run and adjust events on the fly. On top of that, AoC players can expect a smattering of new content over the summer, beginning with the new Coils of Ubah Khan dungeon. Later additions will include new Unchained Dungeons, the Palace of Cetriss, and a shiny new tradeskill system. To get all the delicious information straight from the barbarian's mouth (ew), just click on through the link below.

Funcom Q1 sales and restructuring keep studio moving forward

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Legal, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Funcom restructuring, good Q1 sales keep studio afloat
If it's not the best news ever, at least we've got some good news from Funcom today. The studio posted its first quarter financial report, showing that it had solid sales and "significant" operating expense savings because of the recent restructuring of its organization.

Funcom made over $6.3 million of revenue in the first quarter, mostly thanks to sales and subscriptions of The Secret World and Age of Conan. The studio said that it saved almost $1.2 million of operating expenses in the same period thanks to the restructuring. Also, The Secret World made more money in Q1 2013 than Q4 2012 thanks to its new business model.

In terms of game news, Funcom is pushing forward with its LEGO Minifigures MMO, the new Anarchy Online graphic engine, a summer release for Issue #7 of The Secret World, and development of several smaller titles. Both LEGO and Funcom will be working to "establish closer integration between the physical product and the game." Finally, thanks to recent decisions by the studio, both Anarchy Online and The Secret World are boasting larger numbers of players than in the previous quarter.

Age of Conan announces 5th anniversary event, new membership perks

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

Age of Conan announces 5th anniversary event new membership perks
Just because it's a tough and gritty world in Age of Conan doesn't mean folks don't know how to celebrate. In fact, Funcom has announced fitting festivities for the fifth anniversary of this fierce fantasy world. Each day for five days starting Thursday, May 23rd, a new epic boss will begin roaming the lands of Hyboria, and each day that a boss remains unconquered it will increase its level of brutality. On the flip side, the chance for epic rewards for defeating one also increases by the day. All players, regardless, of level can join in the fight to take these monsters down, and everyone will have a chance at the rewards.

As anniversary gifts, all players will receive a one-week pass to Khitai as well as other items that can be claimed from the item shop. Members will receive a double item store discount throughout the five-day event as well as a special gift.

Starting tomorrow, membership will include account-wide double xp items, 200 bonus points per month, and a bonus AA point for every level (granted retroactively). Interested in becoming a member? Funcom is also offering a special deal through May 30th granting 50% more time with multi-month subscriptions.

Second Wind: Age of Conan

Fantasy, Screenshots, Video, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Humor, Livestream, Second Wind

Age of Conan screenshot
I remember playing Age of Conan when it first came out; it seems like an eternity ago. So many titles have been released and failed since then that it's easy to get it all mixed up, and it doesn't help when many of those titles are sub-par or just plain boring and forgettable. Age of Conan sort of messed with my head with its insistent instancing and odd combat mechanics. I just couldn't wrap my head around what the game was trying to do.

Is it a hardcore PvP-centric MMO? Many would say so. Is it a grand, single-player adventure? In some ways. Is it an immersive romp through the long-lived lore of Conan the Barbarian? I guess so. It's a bit of all of these but does none of them perfectly. I decided to jump back into the game because the last time I played it was when it switched over to its odd freemium model that is all-too-common in Western MMOs these days.

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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!]

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