Age Of Conan Taking Pages From Secret World’s Book

By Nathan Grayson on August 1st, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Come one, come all! Ladies and gentlemen, step right up to see Francis, the horse who grimaces like a man!

Hand-me-downs are for the weak. Real fictional computerized barbarians use hand-me-ups, because they don’t abide by tradition. They destroy it. Actually, no, they don’t do that at all. Instead, if Age of Conan‘s any indication, they observe it closely and make a series of measured decisions based on heaps of empirical data – in this case, data collected by The Secret World and its recent successes. And then I guess that somehow leads to enemies being driven somewhere – in some variety of environmentally friendly automobile, presumably – to provide community service for lamenting women? Sounds about right anyway, but I should probably brush up on my barbarism.

Most impressively, Conan’s set to integrate The Secret World’s excellent single-server structure, which allows players to move between shards for instances, PVP, and questing. It will, however, take time, and Funcom is still ironing out some of the finer details.

“This process is now in motion and will continue in stages until probably early next year. Retro-fitting a new system like this is not just ‘plug and play’ when it comes to not just an existing game (that wasn’t originally designed to support it), but an existing game with over four years worth of data. This means that to mitigate risk, we have chopped the process up into smaller steps so that we can ensure it is done as smoothly as possible, and that we aren’t all hanging around waiting for a year before absolutely everything we want to do with it gets done.”

“It is important to again note that the single server technology will not be able to unite the US and EU dimensions, as the technical considerations are just too risky… There will be some decisions to be made along the way, for example do we allow PVP and PVE players to mingle freely, or do we put restrictions on it?”

Funcom’s also looking into delivering more frequent content updates – even if that comes at that expense of larger updates. It’s a model that stands to mirror aspects of TSW’s “Issue” system, although presumably with less of an emphasis on story.

Obviously, Funcom’s main focus is still on The Secret World, but it’s impressive to see an MMO that’s been fighting the good (and insanely violent) fight as long as Conan attempt to evolve at such a fundamental level. Only time will tell whether or not it pays off, but I’m rooting for it. I mean, yeah, I don’t think we’ve created an expiration-date-less game just yet, but we’re getting close. And goodness, if a virtual space could transcend time, trends, and generations, well, that’d really be something, wouldn’t it?

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15 Comments »

  1. frightlever says:

    Unfamiliar with what The Secret World does (roll on the weekend) but one of the problems AoC had at launch was that the instanced maps felt empty of other players. That and massive imbalance between classes.

    On the other hand, you can’t have ALL the players on a single map in a game like AoC – there wouldn’t be enough spawns to go round.

    Hmm. None the wiser.

    • skittles says:

      Secret World has a system whereby even though you select an initial server they are all linked, therefore you can play with anyone at all that plays the game. The maps are all instanced because of this obviously, but as long as you know where your friend is you can join him/her/it, regardless of initial server selection. It does have that sort of empty map feeling AoC did on occasion as well.

      • frightlever says:

        “even though you select an initial server they are all linked, therefore you can play with anyone at all that plays the game”

        Neat idea! Thanks for explaining that to me. I suppose the LFG will be across the board as well then. Hmm.

  2. Mungrul says:

    Doesn’t solve the main problem that AoC has of following a classic MMO structure, with low level content becoming irrelevant at top level, and top level content being restricted to those who raid, which typically represents a minority of the community. It’s very much exclusive at top level, driving away people who prefer more variety rather than playing the same content over and over again.
    More games need to adopt GW2′s autolevelling, making content viable and rewarding at any level.
    Oh, and it’s also incredibly traditional in that it’s very much a case that the player is expected to grind for a month or 2 just to get one piece of equipment.

    • Mungrul says:

      In addition, there’s no PvP matchmaking, and PvP is very much affected by gear as well, so again, it dissuades people from playing because as well as there being a steep player skill learning curve, people who’ve been playing longer have a gear advantage. So while you may technically be a better player, landing more blows than your opponent, none of that matters thanks to tiered gear.
      And that’s before even considering class imbalances, where ranged classes, in particular the Ranger class, have heavy advantages over melee classes thanks to ill-conceived auto-hit ranged attacks that can crowd control melee classes with ease.

      I enjoyed the world and feel of AoC, and graphically it’s better than most if not all other MMOs out there, but in the end it just devolved into yet another WoW clone with poor balance and end game content only accessible to the minority.

      • frightlever says:

        I dunno. Gear advantage, sure. But have you actually PvPed in AoC? This may have changed but it was absolutely manic back when I played. A fully geared but fat-fingered fool like me stands no chance against a skilled keyboard jockey armed with a pointy stick. Quite possible that’s changed – been years since I played, but PvP was heavily based on skill back then.

        • Mungrul says:

          Yeah, I played a lot relatively recently, and there are now tiers of gear, only available at certain ranks.
          It’s not an inviting scenario at all, as if you have no tiered PvP gear, you are at a distinct disadvantage. This is noticeable in the scoreboard at the end of the game where gear advantage and ranged advantage is obvious.
          Good luck playing a barbarian in PvP at level 80 if you haven’t PvPed before then.
          The trouble is, PvP in AoC is trying to reproduce the modes from popular FPS games, and when compared to FPS games isn’t even remotely fair. It’s like being restricted to the machine gun in Quake 3 while higher rank players have access to the railgun and rocket launcher.
          Not fun at all, but unfortunately the community believe this is the way MMOs should be. They’re incredibly resistant to change, shouting down any suggestion that player skill should be more important than time played.

      • manveruppd says:

        Yeah, agreed. And the tragedy was that it didn’t start out being this gear-centric, they had promised a more skill-based game and that’s why a lot of us bought it (including me). But in the months after release their forums were flooded by people complaining about how they found a new sword and it was only 0.1% better than their old sword and they were upset cause they wanted every new loot drop to make them feel exponentially more powerful so they could cackle with maniacal laughter. Funcom listened, and obligingly DOUBLED (no exaggeration) the amount of bonus points top gear added to your base stats, but did that please the naysayers? Nope, they went back to WoW. All that was left was we unhappy few who had signed up for something completely different and had had it taken away in the name of pandering to the lowest common denominator. Until, of course, we left as well.

  3. caddyB says:

    Is it any good though?

    • thepaleking says:

      I certainly enjoyed it when I played it at release, even with all the major bugs (there was a memory leak that reduce the game to a crawl after like 1 hour). I imagine it’s only gotten better. The best part of the game were the environments, which were simply spectacular, especially the graphics were amazing for an MMO back then. The combat had some interesting twists as well, like being able to control the direction of your attack, though I don’t remember the point of it was…

  4. PunisherPlummer says:

    Super Mario Bros has no expiration date

  5. Maxheadroom says:

    Cor this is still running? Played it for the ‘free’ month on release but rapidly lost interest (although that you tube clip of the horse kicking every passing player off a bridge almost made me give it a 2nd look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-rl3RPC_Mw ).

    Really thought this folded yonks ago though. Next you’ll be telling me Neocron & Anarchy Online are still going!

    • frightlever says:

      I spent a week in a sewer in Neocron… still get the flashbacks…

      AO was good. Crazy stat stacking to squeeze into the most-OP gear possible. Had a lot of fun in AO.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Anarchy Online is still going just fine. Just celebrated its 11th birthday last month and we got patch 18.5 with new optimisations and a new player market to replace the old one.

      And Neocron apparently seems to be running as well. Amazing that one is still going O.o

  6. Goduran says:

    Age of Conan was plagued with ridiculous class imbalance, a huge amount of bugs and glitches both graphical and technical, as well as some ridiculously encumbered systems. However, what it did right it did incredibly well.

    It was basically unmatched visually for an MMO, combat had great potential, but what was really good was the writing and story of the game. While some people complain about it dropping off drastically after the starting area, which was incredible, one of my characters went to Stygia and quested there, and the story arc for the zone was like nothing I’d ever seen from an MMO at that time. WoW hadn’t started doing zone “phasing” yet, which was a great step in the direction of the overarching storyline that each zone had.

    I’ve yet to see an mmo make me feel as engaged as Stygia did. Sadly, I had to sneak-walk through most of the overworld to avoid getting one-shot by invisible rangers and barbarians while questing.