Friday, December 14, 2007

Age of Conan Interview from Mondes Persistants

Just wanted to draw some attention to this article from a French website that was reposted on the VN. My brain's still a bit fried this week, but the prospect of playing this on my 360 has me squealing with childlike glee on the inside. Read on, if you have even a passing interest in AoC (and yes I realize it's over 3 months away, but I wanted to share so sue me).

Mondes Persistants - Funcom Q&A

Answered by Erling Ellingsen

How is the beta going? I heard you had 3 level of beta, from internal to general. Could you tell us how it works and what are the benefits of this system?

We actually have two different betas, so to speak. We have the general beta and the technical beta. The general beta is up and running all the time (unless the servers are down for a patch or for some sort of maintenance) and in this beta we want people to test the actual gameplay and report bugs relevant to the gameplay and their experience. The technical beta is something we do sporadically, testing certain features for a limited time (often just a few hours), usually to stress test different systems and for the developers to get numbers they need in relation to that.

The beta process is doing very well right now, and we're gathering some very important data. For the developers, getting immediate feedback on what they create, is absolutely invaluable.

What big issues is the team working on right now?

That would be simply polishing the different features, the different content and so on. Often we go back and tweak different features based on the tester's feedback, such as the combat system that we have been working on a lot based on the feedback we have received. We receive all sorts of different feedback from the testers – from hardware specific matters to gameplay specific matters – and we constantly evaluate this feedback and act on that. It's a very dynamic process right now.

You just accepted a new wave of beta tester in Age of Conan. Are you going to shorten the time between these waves or people who missed it can expect a long wait for the next one?

Unfortunately I can't comment on how many we will let in, when we will let them in or how often we will let them in. Rest assured that we are bringing more and more people in now, and we're doing it more and more often, and the numbers are steadily growing based on our needs. Remember that beta testing is a development tool, and we only invite what is necessary to get the results we need.

Players controlled cities - How do you choose where you’ll build your city?

Cities can be built on what we call “resource and gathering” areas. These are regions of the game world particularly set up for crafting and guild social life. As a guild you basically go into such an area and find a location that is available (represented by an object on the ground that you can interact with). Some areas might be already claimed by another guild, of course. These regions of the game are instanced so that we will have as many copies as needed based on how many guilds want to build a city. All guilds able to do it can get their own city. The battlekeeps, though, is much more exclusive.

Is it still planned that cities will be attacked by PvE Monsters if they’re not cleared from the surrounding?

These areas are teeming with life, both benign and malign. Your city will often find itself in the situation where you will want to kill enemies in its proximity, often to gather the resources you need to further advance your city. It's a great way to gather resources and to make sure the proximity of your city is safe from monsters and humanoids that want to do your guild members harm.

Will you be able to get help from mercenaries (non-guilded players)?

The mercenary system is reserved for the player-versus-player part of the game, where guilds can build or capture battlekeeps in the so-called Border Kingdom. This is where other guilds can try and capture your battlekeep and you will have to defend it with all the resources you have. Even if you are doing the actual attack on a battlekeep, you will be able to recruit other players to fight for your cause. This is also a great way for other players to jump right into the action.

Any details on the buildings that will be available for players to build?

There is a variety of different buildings that you can put in your player city and they all give you different benefits. The basic ones are, of course, the city walls that will provide structure and safety. You will also be able to build things such as the Alchemist's tower, the blacksmith, and many more. Building something requires a certain amount of resources such as wood and iron, and this must be collected by the players themselves in the area surrounding the player city. Building a structure requires someone skilled in the arts of architecture.

On full PvP servers, is it possible that these Cities are attacked by other players?

We actually separate the player cities from the player-versus-player environment. Other players will not be able to attack your city. This is something we decided on very early in the development, as we wanted guilds who are not necessarily interested in player-versus-player warfare to still experience the joy of building a settlement where they can go about their merry ways and engage in various social activities. On the other side of the spectrum you will find the battlekeeps, very similar to player made cities, that other players can and will try and take from you. Battlekeeps and player made cities are constructed in entirely different parts of the world.

Will throwing weapons be any use at all except than being a “pulling tool”?

Absolutely, we are putting a lot of effort into ranged combat altogether. Throwing knives, daggers, axes and so on is a big part of this, and they will have significant use in the game. Ranged combat in general is very different from other massive online games, in that you for instance can go into first person mode and actually aim using a crosshair. Doing it from this perspective actually increases the range you can throw in. You can also use the directional combat system and try to hit your enemy from different directions, such as the head, upper-right part of the body and so on.

Will there be a horsemanship skill?

Yes and no. It depends on how you define it. Basically your character gains a feat allowing you to use a mount once you reach a certain level. There may be many stages of advancement within the arts of mounted combat, though! We're putting a lot of work into this feature.

Will mounted combat use its own set of skills/combo or your class combo will works the same way?

Mounted combat is similar to combat on foot, and it has its disadvantages and its advantages. Most of the time you will not be able to use any combos while mounted, though you can attack in other different ways than you would be able to on foot. The directions are also limited, so for instance if you're mounted on a horse, you will only be able to strike in a few different directions. You can use both ranged weapons and magic while mounted, but here also there are limitations. We're also putting a lot of focus on momentum. Picking up speed and striking your opponent as you pass him or her will cause much more damage than if you were simply standing still while attacking them.

Will there be different type of horses?

There are many different kinds of mounts, and often there are variations of each! For instance, you can acquire many different types of horses such as the quick, but unarmored ones, or the slower ones that may have more armor on them. You can also acquire mammoths and even rhinos, and these offer even more ways to fight and protect yourself. When mounted on a mammoth, for instance, your attacks will actually be done through the mount itself where the mammoth will attack your target using the tusks and the trunk. These beasts can even destroy entire buildings! You will also see that different mounts operate differently, almost like different cars do in “Grand Theft Auto”. For instance, the mammoth can be slow to pick up speed and hard to turn!

Ok, so we don’t know much about crafting except there will be quest to go from one tier to the other. What could you tell us more?

We are quite deliberately keeping crafting under wraps as we want to save something for closer to release! But we can say a few things, of course. You have many different tradeskills such as gem-cutting, weapon-smithing, architecture and potion-making. You start a tradeskill by finding the relevant trainer who will set you out upon a series of quests. Progression within crafting is more or less entirely based on questing. You will often have to use various tools when crafting, one example being a sewing kit for specific types of armor and clothing.

How many different kind of resources do you think of including in the game?

Absolutely. You will find many different types of minerals, types of wood, potion ingredients and so on. Different ingredients may be required in different items, and using some ingredients as opposed to other ones may enhance the potency of the item you are creating. We also have a gem system where you can put different types of gems into weapons and armor, to make them more potent.

Gathering these will be an active/online thing or a passive/offline mechanic?

It is very much an active thing where you will need to go into the game world and acquire them. You will find resource nodes in many different areas and these must be gathered. You also have resource nodes in the Border Kingdom where guilds can fight over the right to own them and tap them. You will also need to gather resources for use in building cities and battlekeeps, so often you will see entire guilds organizing huge “gathering runs” in order to bring resources into the guilds.

Can spellweaving be described as the combos for magic user?

In one way, yes, but it is fundamentally different. Spellweaving is the act of combining different spells that can be combined to create different results. Spellweaving can be a dangerous thing to do, and if you overdo it you might end up with negative side-effects.

How rare & important is the spellweaving in AoC ? Is it something you always do or do you keep it for big occasion? Are the risks great enough?

It's not something you always do, but it's more or less up to your playing style. Spells can be cast in the more traditional manner by simply clicking on them to executing them, and you are not required to use the spellweaving system. I would say it's something you do when you are a more advanced spellcaster or when you want a certain type of result that you can't get with normal spellcasting.

Will there be spellweaving asking for more than one spell caster?

We're playing around with different things here, and we want to keep this under wraps for the time being. Rest assured, however, that we have some really cool things up our sleeves!

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