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The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom: Finding an Age of Conan hidden faction

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Guides

The Anvil of Crom Finding an Age of Conan hidden faction
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across an odd quest chain in the Kara Korum portion of Khitai. It was odd because there was no real indication of its existence, at least in terms of the usual NPC exclamation point or any sort of standard MMO visual signal.

How did I find it? That's a long story, the short version of which is that I needed a base texture for some new Anvil of Crom graphics that were in the works. Some of the village buildings in Khitai have this nifty moss-covered stone look to them, and as I zoomed in to get a good screen cap, I saw a funky symbol on the wall. It was clickable, and doing so rewarded me with a pop-up window, a quest called Telltale Signs, and my first brush with one of Age of Conan's hidden factions.

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The Anvil of Crom: Three features Age of Conan needs right now

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - Three features Age of Conan needs right now
Well, I'm still dodging buckets of boiling oil and flaming arrows on account of my last column. Before I embark on another bit of shoddy journalism, irresponsible cronyism, and revisionist history -- known colloquially around these parts as an opinion piece -- I'd better take a few moments to clear the Occupy Massively folks off my front lawn.

OK, all set. They're crusading against the man in another comment section, so won't you join me after the cut for a look at some missing (and essential) Age of Conan features?

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The Anvil of Crom: On Age of Conan's 'bad launch'

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom
I recently ran across an internet discussion featuring the worst MMO launches of all time. Age of Conan was in there, of course, and while I'm not going to tell you that the title's debut was perfect, I feel that there's quite a bit of misinformation stemming from the game's early days.

Some of you may disagree and interpret this week's column as a fanboy defense of Funcom, but if you've been reading The Anvil of Crom for more than a month, you'll know that I take the devs to task far more often than not. The stark reality is that AoC's launch simply wasn't as bad as some people make it out to be.

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The Anvil of Crom: Downgrading an Age of Conan account to F2P

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - Comparing Age of Conan's free and premium services
As I mentioned last time, I'm currently test-driving the EU servers. As such, my Age of Conan subscription fee is spoken for, and my US server characters are now relegated to free-to-play status. Since I'm still deciding on an EU main (I just rerolled after getting a PoM to 22), I figured I'd use this week's column to take a quick look at my veteran account through the eyes of a free-to-play customer.

When AoC Unchained debuted last summer, I read the account services matrix like everyone else, but to be frank, I didn't pay it much attention because I'd always been a subscriber. In the back of my mind, I figured that anyone who's halfway serious about Age of Conan would want to sub up, and my experiences this weekend have only reinforced that notion.

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The Anvil of Crom: Age of Conan turns four, taps SWG for crafting inspiration

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Crafting

The Anvil of Crom - Age of Conan turns four, looks to Star Wars Galaxies for inspiration
The last time I did an anniversary retrospective for Age of Conan, we had a recent expansion, some new dungeon content, and several class revamps fresh on our minds. The year before that, we had the earth-shaking combat and itemization changes. This past year, the major development was, of course, the switch to a freemium business model, followed closely by the game's first adventure pack.

Join me after the break for a quick rundown on the last 12 months as they happened in Hyboria, as well as an anniversary interview with game director Craig "Silirrion" Morrison that sheds a bit of light on the crafting revamp.

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The Anvil of Crom: Four reasons to return to Age of Conan

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - Reasons to come back to Age of Conan
A couple of weeks ago, one of Massively's more eloquent commenters referred to yours truly as "Funcom's biznitch." Well, OK, biznitch wasn't the exact word, but you get the idea. This bit of nerdrage was amusing for multiple reasons, not the least of which was that I hadn't covered (or played) Age of Conan for nearly five months at the time.

You know what, though? I do like Age of Conan, and I did miss Hyboria.

Sure it's got its issues, omissions, frustrations, and WTF-were-they-thinking design decisions, but it's also got a game world unlike any other in the MMO space. Join me after the cut for a few reasons I came back (as well as a preview of what the future holds for The Anvil of Crom).

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The Anvil of Crom Extra: Craig Morrison on new content, crafting, and customizable communities

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Classes, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Dungeons

The Anvil of Crom - Spring 2012 Craig Morrison interview
It's been a little while since we've interviewed Age of Conan executive producer Craig Morrison. In the intervening months, Funcom's bloody fantasy MMO has added developers, new content, and fresh ideas at a fairly steady pace.

This week sees the introduction of tier four raiding content in Khitai as well as a lengthy Morrison-authored update letter that provides a roadmap for the rest of 2012. Follow along after the break as we talk raiding, the upcoming crafting revamp, and the community potential (and perils) of Funcom's spiffy new single-server technology.

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The Anvil of Crom: Quality-of-life improvements for 2012

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - Angry man header
This week's Anvil of Crom took a bit of thought because honestly, I haven't felt very motivated to play lately. It's one part burnout and two parts wandering eye, as there are a lot of MMOs out there that I keep hoping Age of Conan will emulate in the interests of becoming a more complete game.

It's certainly not a bad game as is; I've been traveling Hyboria for four years now (and writing about it for two), and you don't do that with titles you have to force yourself to play. Like most things, though, AoC could be better.

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The Anvil of Crom: Greatest hits vol. 2011

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - angry man banner
By Crom! Can you believe we've made it through another year? Well, almost, at any rate. Technically there are a few days left in 2011, but as I'll be taking some of them off for the purposes of gaining weight and opening presents, it seems like as good a time as any to do a little recapping.

Saying that 2011 was a big year for Age of Conan probably qualifies as severe understatement rather than simply understatement. The big news, of course, was the Unchained free-to-play conversion, but that was really just the tip of the gigantic Hyborian iceberg. Join me after the break for my top seven Anvil of Crom issues from the past year.

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The Anvil of Crom: The winter of our discontent

Fantasy, Age of Conan, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - angry man banner
Well, winter isn't just coming, folks -- it's here. And it's not one of those balmy south Florida winters when the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees. No, this is a blustering Cimmerian winter, complete with hard freezes, winds of change, and dare I say a little Hoth-like chill in the air.

Age of Conan's 3.1 patch rolled out to the live servers a few days ago, and along with all the Dreamworld tweaks, it also brought a decent helping of bugs and general discontent. Join me after the cut for a deeper look.

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The Anvil of Crom: Thanksgiving leftovers and what's new in Hyboria

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - angry man banner
What's up, Age of Conan fans? Hopefully all of you had an overindulgent Thanksgiving (I'm picturing clusters of barbarians hunched around roaring campfires, gnawing the blackened meat off the bones of whatever game animal happened to pass by).

For my part, I spent the last couple of days avoiding work, gaining weight, and catching up on recent news from Funcom's Hyboria. I've been a bit distracted with various online shooters lately, but I always find myself coming back to AoC because of its unique fantasy world and rough-and-tumble themepark mechanics. Join me after the break for a few recent tidbits that piqued my interest.

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The Anvil of Crom: Celebrating the selfless gamer

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Culture, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom - angry man header
Oh sh... it's time for another installment of Massively's Anvil of Crom! If I sound a bit harried, it's because there's simply not enough time in the day for all the gaming goodness going on lately. Whether we're talking about the MMO space where I'm currently dabbling in AoC, DC Universe Online, EverQuest II, and Global Agenda, or the single-player smorgasbords of Arkham City, Uncharted 3, and Skyrim, sometimes it sucks to be an adult with responsibilities!

Those "sometimes" are usually during the pre-Christmas release window when game publishers all get together and decide to make our entertainment lives miserable by releasing 35 badass titles at once. Hello geniuses, how's about we stagger the badassery throughout the year; you'll still be rolling in money and your customers won't be rushing through one title to get to the next.

Anyway, I'm continually on the lookout for interesting tidbits from Funcom's Hyboria, and over the past couple of weeks I've been struck by a noticeable uptick in what I'm going to call the quality community. Since AoC's 2008 launch, the game's community has been alternately awful and tolerable, and whether that's because of the game's mature rating (and the immature people it attracts) or some other factor, it's been a rare occasion when I've had cause to highlight the nice folk.

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The Anvil of Crom: A four-month F2P report card

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom

The Anvil of Crom angry man banner
Greetings barbaric faithful, and welcome to another installment of the Anvil of Crom. In between bouts of getting frustrated with the Isle of the Iron Statues dungeon this week (I know, I know, it's sooooo easy, and how bad can I be if I have trouble with it?!), I've been giving a fair amount of thought to Age of Conan's free-to-play experiment.

It's been nearly four months since the devs rolled out the freemium Unchained patch, and that's ample time for me to have formed a few opinions (and to have revised a few others). Join me after the cut for some discussion on what works, what doesn't, and what I hope to see going forward.

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The Anvil of Crom: Can AoC survive The Old Republic?

Fantasy, Age of Conan, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Anvil of Crom

Age of Conan - The Anvil of Crom banner
Can Age of Conan survive the onrushing BioWare MMO apocalypse?

That's a fair question, and if you've been playing AoC lately, or really any MMORPG, you've probably heard of a competing game called Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you haven't, well, I don't believe you. Anyway, you may or may not be aware that BioWare announced the official launch date for its MMO opus a while back, and barely a day goes by when I don't hear a guildmate, a groupmate, or someone in global chat talk about it.

That's Age of Conan's global chat, in case you were wondering, and as a long-time fan of Funcom's barbaric fantasy MMO, I can't help but be a bit concerned about its future health after December 20th.

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The Anvil of Crom: AA resets, tradeskills, and hardcore PvP stagnation

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Anvil of Crom, Crafting

The Anvil of Crom banner - angry man with a sword
Welcome back to the Anvil of Crom, dear readers. After the content explosion of the past couple of months, it seems almost strange to be relatively relaxed when it comes to Age of Conan. I'd gotten so used to scrambling around re-writing columns at the last minute -- and polishing up interviews and impression pieces -- that I had almost forgotten what it feels like to settle into a comfortable gameplay groove.

In looking around for interesting topics this week, I realized that it's been quite some time since I turned the column over to the community. So without further ado, join me after the cut to see what's on the minds of Hyborians at home and abroad as we power through the week's hot topics.

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