Monday, June 16, 2008

New Site - Sooner Than Anticipated!

That's right, folks. I've moved.

I built a blog in Wordpress from scratch tonight (and partly at work, ahem). And while it still needs some finishing touches it's fully functional and ready to go.

I'm going to move everything over there, so PLEASE update those blogrolls and come on over to my new digs! I went with a new name too, so I can stop switching between Bildo and JoBildo... just JoBildo from now on.


It's odd leaving this one here, but hopefully the new scenery will be more of a boon than a burden.


In Need of Advice Again

I just received an offer from Heritage Freelance a rather large and growing Web Solutions company based in Utah to work as a full-time freelance designer for them from the comfort of my home in Ohio.

The kicker? I work for the Government right now. It's steady income. I know how much I'll get paid every two weeks, and there's little to no chance of being canned unless I violate the privacy laws. But it's not what I love to do.

There are two (realistic) things in this world I can imagine myself being truly happy doing: Web Design and Community Management. The latter I'm slowly working towards. The former is right there, ready for the picking. I have my degree. I believe that I have talent. I just don't have the job.

This chance, is a great one. But it's also shaky. There's no set amount of work, though they say there's a steady inflow as they've needed to hire on 150 new contracted designers a week as of late. But my pay comes on a per job basis. So my paychecks will vary depending on how much work I do. And at any given time, the work could run dry right? I could suddenly find myself without pay if that happened.

So it's a great set up. Working at home, doing what I want, and when I want... but it's not guaranteed income like my current (but undesirable) position.

Help me fellow bloggers, especially those with experience in the workforce. What should I be asking this company, and what are your thoughts in general?

I Just Built a WordPress Theme From Scratch

And I have WP Designer to thank.

My new blog will be coming just as soon as I get my wife's photography site and blog set up. Take care of the missus first.

If you've ever wanted to learn how to build a theme from scratch, head to that site. His words not only break everything down into easy to digest bits, but even a layman could do it. I had an advantage with my knowledge of XHTML and CSS design, but I am a near-noob in PHP so I came away with more knowledge on that subject than I had before.

Overall... guy rocks. Go to his site. He designed Rick's theme after all!

Age of Conan - 6/16/2008 Patch Notes

Tons of fixes once again. Hopefully all good ones. Haven't been able to analyze them much yet. Undocumented notes to come as soon as I see them posted where I can read them. Will have to check out Khemi now too, as it seems numerous quests have been added there which is odd since I strongly believe the late 30s need no love for quests, but hey whatever. As long as the gap from 55+ is fixed soon too.

Player Characters

-New buff counters were added to a number of mage and soldier effects.
-All gathering feats should now have the correct proficiency suffix in their name (e.g. 'You need Woodcutting Novice to perform this action' messages).
-The Goad ability can be trained and used on a NPC that does not have aggro on you. You must be in combat to use this ability.
-The buffs from rogue general feats Concealment, Distraction and Mountaineer will now be removed from characters when they untrain feats.
-You can no longer enter spellweaving when climbing or swimming. If you are hiding or crouching and enter spellweaving, you will leave that state immediately.

-Flesh Rot now applies a separate debuff for each player
-Lotus Weapons now applies a separate debuff for each player.

Bear Shaman
-Crush Armor I+II+III combos now have improved visuals and sound.

-You may now use Incite the Ranks if Fire Weave is running.

Dark Templar
-Soul Barrier's cast time has been reduced from 3 seconds to 1 second.
-Changed the Cooldown of Unhallowed Blight III to 20s.
-Changed the Unholy Debuff to be 5% on all combos and changed the duration of the debuff to last for 25s.
-Reduced the Mana cost of the following spells by 50%:
*Aura of Dread Fury (Ranks 1 - 4)
*Aura of Infusion (Ranks 1 - 5)
*Covenant of Pestilence (Ranks 1 - 4)
*Covenant of War (Ranks 1 - 3)
*Covenant of Death
*Covenant of Invulnerability (Ranks 1 - 3)
*Covenant of Vengeance
*Drain Life (Ranks 1 - 5)

-Waves of Flame now inflicts more damage each tick.
-The animation for the Demonologist-spell Unholy Hate has been slowed down a bit.
-Resolved an minor issue with Demonologist spellweaving not affecting stamina potion effects.

Herald of Xotli
-Resolved a issue with "Blood Pit" so it will always spawn if you successfully kill a minion with the "I Eat Your Heat" combo.

-Vile Insight now gives the intended Unholy Specialization as reflected in the description.
-Plagued Heart Curse will now correctly increase in damage with more feats trained.
-Parasitic Soul Swarm now inflicts more damage each tick.
-Pestilential Blast now has an additional skull visual.

Priest of Mitra
-Resolved a problem with the priest of mitra spellweaving ability.
-Repulse has had its base damage lowered slightly and contribution from bonus magic damage increased.
-Cleansing Fire now has a slightly lower manacost and now scales correctly across all levels.
-The damage bonus applied to Repulse, Cleansing Fire, and Lance of Mitra from Force of Will has been lowered to the correct amount.
-The damage bonus from Improved Repulse has been significantly increased

The buffs from ranger stances Shattering Stance, Piercing Stance, Fire Stance and Sniper Stance will now be removed from characters when they untrain feats.

Tempest of Set
Brutal Lightning Strike should no correctly increase the critical strike chance of Lightning Strike.

-You can no longer be knocked off the horse from the front.
-You can be knocked off from the side: more likely by monsters higher level then you and less likely by monsters lower then you. The chance almost drops to 0 if they are grey to you.
-Full chance to be knocked off from behind by monsters of higher or equal level than you. Monsters that are grey to you still cannot cause a dismount even from the back
-Fixed a problem where advanced mount abilities were being given out by the basic training. Mammoth and Rhino owners - Please use /claim again. This will train the attack abilities associated with these two mount types.

Khopshef Province
-Numerous quests has been added to the playfield.
-Freed Rogue Slave should now use his weapons correctly.
-Treasures are now located throughout the province.
-The Arax Queen should now stick to her spawn location.
-Tweaked some gameplay; added more camp NPCs and roaming animals.
-Fixed some areas which could be exploited.
-Boat Captain Amyr should now have the [Khemi] tag.
-The Traveling Merchant should now travel.
-The Followers of Derketo should now patrol.
-Ptah should no longer get killed by the Mantis.


-Dealing with Dila: Dila should now attack.
-Hunting the Spider: Quest can now be completed.
-The Lost Scouts: Waypoint to Diarmad was fixed.
-Oasis of Zaara: Waypoints for quest were fixed.
-Flowers of the Snow: The flowers way markers were adjusted.
-Paetus and the Nemedian Crown: Waypoint for Armsman's Tavern was fixed.
-Rahim & Lord Camillus: had it's journal text modified to point to the correct location.
-Death to the Undead: Indicators for minimap were displaying to small. This has been resolved.
-The Mark of Acheron: Players will now be able to experience the destiny event in the Field of Chiefs.
-The Mark of Acheron: The Mark of Acheron is permanently removed when performing the Medallion Ritual now.
-Soul Chamber: If you die in the soul chamber you now lose the tablet in your quest inventory.
-Added item rewards for the quests "The Honoured Dead I", "The Honoured Dead II", "The Honoured Dead III" and "The Honoured Dead IV".
-Destiny Quest: The quest rewards 'King Conan's Tribute' & 'King Conan's Esteem' can no longer be traded.
-The Lost Bottles: Wine bottles will now have a blue flame indicating you can interact with them.
-Tradeskill Quests: You can now delete all tradeskill quests but not tradeskill progression quests.
-Tradeskill Quests: Resolved various level requirement issues with the quests.
-Securing the Caravan Route": Added the correct waypoint for returning to Gua
-In the quest "A Curious Encounter" in Field of the Dead Quest, Radi will no longer give the player an amulet.
-"The Wolves at our Throats": Moved the waypoint for the location of the Wolverines, for the quest .
-Vistrix now drops his tooth for the quest "Master of the Silver Peacock." The player will need to DELETE their quest, and return to Kalanthes to get the quest again in order for the tooth to drop.


-Hood of Jagged Barbs has been revamped.
-Added new purple rare drops to world loot.
-Conqueror Spear should now look the right size.
-Cimmerian Hide Light Wrist item should no longer clip with arms
-Khopshef Province: Treasures are now located throughout the province.
-Average, Fair, Fine and Superior Meat will no longer end up in the quest inventory.
-Crafting Item: Renamed item "Bloodsilver-studded Boots" to "Bloodsilver-mail Boots"
-Hek'lar's Accursed Dagger will now appear with the correct icon in the player's inventory.
-Fixed an issue with 'Darfari Armbands', they should be visible on female characters and have stats now.
-Reinforced Iron Warhammer no longer goes into the quest inventory.
-Prices of vendor bought food items have been adjusted.
-Vendor bought tradeskill components have updated visuals.
-The stack-size of building materials has been raised to 1000.


*Ice Cave: Ice worms should now attack correctly.
*The Acheronian Warlord will drop bossloot armor again.
*The trader in Lacheish Plains has been removed as intended.
*Toirdealbach should now be a more fun and playable encounter.
*The Catacombes: Necromancer Undead Warlord should now attack correctly.
*Purple Lotus Swamp: Weaponsmith Ethi woke up with his height a bit smaller than what it was yesterday.
*Villa Lentulus: Gurges the Nimble should react normally to players.
*Yakhmar's Cave: Yakhmar should no longer get stuck if it cannot reach its target.
*Kyllikki's Crypt: Kyllikki should reset properly when nobody is in her hate list.
*Khopshef Province: Freed Rogue Slave should now use his weapons correctly.
*Border Ranges: Greven, Histacus, the Nemedian Adventurer & General Zarathus will all drop Nemedian community loot again.

*Purple Lotus Swamp: Ladders should now work correctly.
*Tarantia Noble District: Armsman Tavern - Players should now be able to teleport into the arena by clicking on the door.


-Obsidian has been renamed to Feldspar.
-Weaver quest line: Changed reference to Steelsilk to Gossamer Silk
-Orichalcum has been renamed to Duskmetal.
-Tigereye Gems will now end up in the resource inventory.
-Skinning Trainer will now tell you were to get skins.
-Resource nodes can now always be harvested while their health is at 10%.
-All crafted Cloth; armbands, wrists, boots and belts can now be worn.
-Increased dps on 'Swiftsilver Flat Bow'.
-Skymetal Battle Crossbow, Moonsteel Katar and Moonsteel Ratchet Crossbow have all received one free gemslot.
-The Weaponsmith Trainer now gives the cooldown warning for the tradeskill quest progression when the cooldown is in effect.
-The dialogues of the Resource Gatherer Trainers and Crafter Trainers now check if the player has the appropriate feats set on them, in addition to quests. If the player has the quest to gather resources or craft, but has lost the feat that enables him to do so, the feat is now retrained (to the correct tier).
-All crafted cloaks now support the equipping of gems.


-All Assassin abilities which stack multiple times now have a stack count in the buff GUI.
-All Bear Shaman, Priest of Mitra, and Tempest of Set abilities which stack multiple times now have a stack count in the buff GUI.
-The targeting arrow should now be positioned correctly when targeting a horse, a gorilla or a mutilator
-We have implemented a control to the options menu for how often background music plays. Tweak this if you wish to change how often you hear background music.


-You should no longer do the loot animation while swimming.
-Fixed a problem where certain high level monsters wouldn't spawn.
-Now all spells can be cast with dagger and staff without problems.
-When you train Basic or Advanced Riding, you will no longer be teleported
-Fixed an alignment issue with quest indicators over quest NPC's heads.
-Locking to raid instances have been fixed. All players participating in a raid will now be locked to the same instance
instead of entering a new one after death..
-Fixed problem that would cause the resource manager to download the same resource again and again.
-Bonus spell damage now increases both minimum and maximum damage, instead of just maximum (average damage will remain unchanged).
-Stat bonuses from items (strength, wisdom, dexterity and constitution) will now affect your character properly (Note that strength now directly affects your DPS, not your attack rating).

A Weekend of Conan, Fathers, Hulk, and Wordpress + (A Secret)

Busy and fun weekend this week.

Played a bit of Conan and made my way nearly to 44 in the process. I've got more quests than I can handle and actually had to delete a few from my log because the area I am in (Noble District of Tarantia) is filled to the brim with quests. I'll have to visit the Fields of the Dead soon to re-obtain said deleted quests.

But the fun in Hyboria was dampened by a memory leak that's reared its ugly head on Vista 32 systems again. It starts off fine but becomes nigh-unplayable about an hour in. The mini-map and main map lose their textures becoing nothing but gray spots and that's when you know the game's about to crash.

Before I went to bed last night I used a CMD command to enable Vista to fully use all 3GB of RAM and if it works I'll post that command later. If you're the impatient sort, check the tech support forums for Conan, as it's posted there in a sticky about the memory leak issues.

Spent Saturday night at a cookout for my father-in-law, and chatted with my own padre for a bit on Sunday thus fulfilling my duties as a son on Father's Day. At my in-law's we watched 30 Days of Night which was... god awful really. I don't really feel like wasting my breath as to why it was, just don't see it if you haven't already. Trust me.

Thank Jeebus though that on Sunday my wife and I went to see the Hulk. We expected little from this one, due to the previous attempt at bringing Bruce Banner's alterego to the silver screen. Luckily, we were absolutely enthralled with what Edward Norton and Louis Leterrier put together. I won't spoil anything, but if you too are afraid after the Eric Bana Daddy-Issue edition of the Hulk, forget all about that movie and go see this one. If you were a fan of the Bill Bixby TV series, go see the Incredible Hulk. If you're a fan of the comics, go see the Hulk. If you're a fan of the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story go see this movie. If you're a fan of action, go see this movie. If you just want to see a good movie... go see it.

Marvel, now with all its franchises in its own hands, is doing it. They really are. They're bringing the Marvel Universe together. The Avengers is coming in 2011, preceded by both a new Captain America movie and a Thor flick. And what's more is that they're pulling in extremely good talent (Norton in Hulk, Downey in Iron Man) and then bringing them all together too. It's like a wet dream for any fan of the comics. These heroes, these Greek Gods of the American Age are coming to life in a way I never thought would happen.

Now we just need someone to relaunch the X-Men series in 5 or so years and wipe that horrid taste of X3: The Last Stand out of our mouths.

Lastly, I spent a few hours last night building my own theme from scratch in WordPress. I'm doing a small job for client right now that involves WordPress, and it's inspired me to create my very own blog on that platform. In a few weeks or months (depending on the time it takes me to get it all done among my other responsibilities) I'll be migrating to WordPress. Ye've been warned, gar.

Oh yeah, the secret. Well, I can't say much. But I will say that what I saw this weekend has me very excited. I don't mean to be tease, but then - of course I do. When I can talk more, I will. Gamers who read this blog (and I know that's all of you) should be very excited for what's on the horizon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Age of Conan - Coming this Fall... KINGSHIP

Words cannot describe how awesome this first MAJOR content update sounds. I know a few folks (KEEN) who might be interested in reading this. This is one of many new things planned for AoC this year, and I'll be damned... it all sounds fantastic. You can read about the new PvP System, the Fugitive part of that, new dungeons, new chat system, Powerpoints (odd sort of achievement system), new lore quests with voice overs, well... a whole lot of NEW at this LINK.

Am I still excited for WAR this fall? Yes. Will it be hard to pull away from Conan on a daily basis if all this makes it in by then? You bet your ass. The TTH Guild and its alliance will own Hyboria one day this fall, mark my words. Anyway, read about the Kinship content update below:


Kingship revealed - Huge upgrade planned!

We will be doing a lot of improvements and additions to Age of Conan in the weeks to come, and we will be sure to tell you about it. But let’s also take this opportunity to gaze deeper into the glass ball, to see what awaits us in the future – later this year!

Okay, so we’re not ready to give you all the juice on it just yet – this is, after all, some months away from going in the game. But we want to lift the veil a little bit, as we feel that this is such a powerful community builder that it deservers some anticipation!

The tentative name for this update is Kingship, but that might change as we move close to patching it onto the servers. This is basically an update that will introduce some very groundbreaking new features into Age of Conan, such as guild alliances, legendary battlekeeps, and so-called Wonders of the World. And some other, secret stuff!

The Kingship upgrade will also be rooted in the Powerpoints system, and we will be introducing several new features and content. Here is some of what you can expect!

Guild alliances

We want to allow guilds to get together and form alliances, creating strong accumulations of power that can take on some of the biggest challenges on the server, and we will be employing various tools for them to create a strong common identity for the alliance.

Here is a list of some of those tools:

* Alliance flag – you will be able to acquire a flag that you can carry around on your back, and this flag can be customized for you alliance.
* Alliance cloak – you will also be able to acquire a cloak that you can customize for your alliance, showing everyone what gathering you hail from.
* Alliance chat – of course, just as with guilds you will be able to share a common chat channel with all members of all the guilds in the alliance.
* Alliance name – you will be able to select a name for the alliance, and that name will be shown after your guild name and your character name.

A guild alliance will be quite a political entity, and this among other things involves holding elections to choose alliance leaders and such. Rest assured, guild alliances will have plenty of tools at their disposal when they set out to conquer the known world!

Legendary battlekeeps

Already in the game your guild have the opportunity to build player cities and eventually also conquer battlekeeps. We will, of course, be improving these functionalities as well as we move ahead in the coming months. Kingship will also expand on this feature.

Situated next to the three big cities – Conarch, Khemi and Tarantia – will be something called legendary battlekeeps. Massive constructions that can be seen from inside the major cities themselves, and there will only be three of these in total in the online world – one for each capitol city. Conquering these battlekeeps will be the ultimate challenge!

Guilds will effectively have to team up with each other and become alliances if they want to have any chance of conquering a legendary battlekeep. These will be gigantic battles, and we are aiming for over 300 players to be involved in the battle simultaneously!

That also means we will be doing some technical improvements to the massive battle system to allow for this great number of players in one battle at the same time.

Wonders of the World

These battlekeeps will all have different benefits to provide the alliance that owns it, and they will all be visually very different from each other. You can customize and build upon your legendary battlekeep, just as you would with the “ordinary” battlekeeps.

Another feature we will be introducing with this upgrade is Wonders of the World. These are powerful constructions rooted deep in the identity of that nation (e.g. the “Golden Lion of Tarantia” for Aquilonia) and they look epic and magnificent. Each nation has two of these wonders, and they can be built in the legendary battlekeep for that nation.

Building these wonders is a huge effort for anyone in the alliance, and will involve a lot of team work. Once you have built the shell of the wonder in your legendary battlekeep, other guild alliances can steal it and bring it to their city – so you need to protect it!

The benefits of owning one, two or more of these wonders (can you steal all of them?) is beyond anything you can imagine, but those details are to be revealed at another time!

Age of Conan - To The Death Update and More

I love when news is released on Fridays. Great way to herald in the weekend. Today, Funcom released a slew of new info about the coming changes to PvP and what it's meant to be, plus further content updates. Here's the press release, copied and pasted from VN Boards. It's got a ton of typos as I believe it was done by a retarded monkey, but it's legible. It also states that more info on these new features will be on the official site, in the newsletter, and on the forums. So keep your eyes peeled. My comments are in bolded italics.


Funcom and Eidos announce massive evolution plans for Age of Conan

Massive PvP update in June – New areas and dungeons – Powerpoints and Guild Alliance warfare to come

Durham, USA – June 13, 2008 – After the incredible initial success for Age of Conan, a whole world of MMO players are eagerly anticipating the future plans for one of the most popular online games ever released. While Age of Conan has already evolved massively since launch, numerous expansive additions are yet to come. Funcom and Eidos are therefore proud to lift the veil on Age of Conan’s promising future, and today the two companies reveal selected features which are now in production.

"While we have enjoyed the initial success for Age of Conan, we know that a solid launch is but the start when it comes to the MMO genre,” said Gaute Godager, Game Director on Age of Conan. ”As we look ahead we are preparing a huge amount of new content, and what we are presenting today will evolve Age of Conan even further. It’s naturally an incredibly ambitious update plan for a live MMO game, but we are certain our players would want nothing less.”

Without further ado, here are some of the cool things to expect in the months to come:


The great combat system in Age of Conan has taken MMO fighting to a new level of fun, and Player versus Player combat plays a major part in this. As a result, a massive new PvP update is planned for late June. Aptly called To the death, this update brings more consequence and rewards to PvP, and an important part of it is the Fugitive system. The more lower level players you kill, the easier it is for others to hunt you down. In addition, ten PvP levels with additional ranks will be introduced, as well as specific gear and weapons for PvP.

Excuse my language but... FUCK YES! That is exactly what I was hoping to see for Conan's PvP. Now the only thing I worry about is how hard said ranks will be to get. But something tells me it's not active because they're reworking it from the elitist boner-fest that it was in beta. Or so I hope.

The Fugitive System is one step above the Prison idea too. Imagine being some player who doesn’t know about it, you go about ganking lowbies thinking you're hotshit… and then said lowbie comes for revenge and impales you on his pole-arm. Ooops, guess he won't be acting like a moron anymore. Good show, Funcom.


Pre-production has started on a MASSIVE free update which will come later this year. Currently titled "Kingship!”, large clusters of guilds will be able to form alliances, and rule and conquer on a massive scale. Everyone in a guild alliance will play a part in this system, and together they can even erect unique looking alliance Battlekeeps. The alliances can also fight over, and build, culture-specific "Wonders of the World”, with a direct link to higher powers! As part of the system Funcom will also facilitate larger amounts of players in massive battles.

Are you reading this TTH guild members? Because I'm thinking that when this puppy hits we'd better all be level 80 and ready to go to war. This sounds amazing in print, and I really can't wait to see what it's like in reality. Definitely going to have to get in touch with Funcom to get more out of them in the coming months. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if this was to directly compete with people thinking about leaving for WAR. They'll need to weather that storm somehow, and this will surely help. Man... very enticing.


This fall, a unique reward and character evolution system called Powerpoints will be introduced. This rewards active in-game behavior, and allows for gathering points through numerous methods, including owning a Battlekeep, playing the end-game at level 80, winning PvP matches, or simply being an active guild member or subscribing to the game. There will be many ways to obtain Powerpoints, and numerous rewards, ranging from exclusive Powerfeats to weapons, armor and potions. Powerpoints may even allow you to level faster!

This sounds to me a lot like an Achievement Point system, and I'm sure that's what it is in part. Hey, what can I say? Whatever lets me keep evolving my characters at level 80. That's what all games need to be sure of... that capped players have plenty to do. I just wonder exactly what it will entail.


You won’t need to wait for an expansion pack to explore exciting new areas. In the next period, Funcom will include several new areas, as well as evolving already existing areas. This includes a brand new dungeon in Aquilonia, reshaping three dungeons in Stygia, and an entire mountain range in Cimmeria!

Not sure what the "next period" means, but likely over the next few months. They've already started overhauling Pyramid of the Ancients in Stygia, so I guess that was the beginning. New content is ALWAYS a good thing. Especially if it helps avoid that level gap around 60. The more the merrier, I say. Mountain range in Cimmeria? Can you say Frost Giants?


While the guild alliance system brings a whole new level to the game, Funcom will continue to expand the existing player-made areas and the systems running them. A focus on evolving the massive elements of the game even further continues, ranging from placing NPC’s in the cities to more choices and benefits.

This stuff we already knew was coming. It's been in the works for a while, and hopefully isn't too far off. The cities as they stand now look cool... but do nothing. Looking forward to when they're actually beneficial to our guild.


An MMO is nothing without a good social scene. While Conan is all about crushing your enemies, social enhancements are also getting some love. A fun example is the combo-based dancing system which is now coming to the game, and it’s entirely motion captured by professional dance artists.

Um, okay? I know there are people out there that love the RP stuff, but really it doesn't benefit me at all. Glad to see more social aspects being added though. I'd prefer an overhaul of the UI to dancing though... heh.


Age of Conan has received tremendous praise for immersion and the great voice-over quests. This is but the start of the adventure, and numerous new quests are coming into the game, spread across the entire world and across the level ranges. Soon 60 additional quests will also get full voice acting, further improving immersion.

This is great news. One of the best aspects of Tortage was the voice over quests. I know some disagree, but to me voice acting, even the bad kind, is far preferable to just reading text when it comes to immersion. I'm hoping this means that the Destiny Quests are getting more extensive.

No more comments from me, as the rest is not really gameplay related. Hot damn though, Funcom. Deliver on this stuff and you'll have happy customers.

Embracing community feedback since launch several enhancements and fixes have been implemented to Age of Conan, and Funcom has continuously staffed up the service departments to improve customer satisfaction. This has already resulted in a better game experience, but the work will continue. At the heart of all of this stands the Age of Conan community. A lot of the upcoming improvements to the game will be based directly on community feedback, and the wishes and concerns players have when it comes to the future of the game will always be taken into account.

By reading the community websites, official forums and the monthly Clan of Conan newsletter you can expect additional information about upcoming features and released updates, as well as an arena to give your feedback. A new Clan of Conan newsletter is also going live today, with more details on the upcoming features.

LotRO: Experiment Successful

Let's see how long we can keep this weekly meeting going though. I want Hudson and his brother to catch up to me in Conan because I personally find it far more interesting, but hey... at least I'm not paying for LotRO. And to boot, Turbine's game is one extremely polished beast these days. Whether or not I'll run out of quests in the later levels is also not a worry because I'm not solo.

So I imagine this experiment could take us all the way to Warhammer Online in the fall when we'll be meeting up there for a bit more PvP centric gameplay. If not, I'll just force them both to stick to Conan by holding a gun to their heads (JOKE... and a bad one even).

We started the night a little late because Hudson was stuck on a train with some rowdy and drunk baseball nuts, but by 8:30 PM or so we were in Middle-earth and tearing up the newbie zone... I know, I know we're extremely mighty. You don't have to tell us.

The game's looking rather fantastic in DX10, and I really forgot just how good the music and sound effects in LotRO were. The arrows whizzing by reminded me very much of the movies and that's a good thing. Hud's brother is our resident Legolas, and well... he was pretty much killing everything before we had a chance.

A couple things I like about LotRO despite the rather boring classes? The quest log has been given a major overhaul since I last played and it's now so organized that it's almost like a metagame unto itself. There's icons abound, it tells you exactly who has what quests and if you share them, it lets you know if it's a solo quest, a group quest, or a small group quest. Plus you can read all of your past adventures. It's really what I wish to see in all MMOGs in terms of quest tracking. Good stuff.

One thing's certain though, if I were solo-ing LotRO right now... I'd be bored. It's amazing how in Turbine's game simply grouping makes a huge difference. Now this is true of ALL games in the genre, but in WoW or Conan I don't feel bored when I solo even if it's for hours at a time. In LotRO, it's different. There's something about the pacing of the game that makes it rather dull when you're alone. But party up and you've got a good time on your hands. I guess that suits this little experiment well though so I'm not complaining.

I'll end this recap with a couple of screens in glorious DX10 from our travels last night. Oh, and one last note... LotRO's in-game voice chat sucks. Thank god for Ventrilo.

JoBildo the Dwarven Rock-God!

Shh... I hear buffalo.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Age of Conan - Undocumented Patch Notes for 6/12/2008

I promised them earlier, and this is what I could find for now. There could be more, but I can't access the official forums at work. This is from the VN Boards. Take some with a grain of salt, while others have been confirmed.


* Outdoor bosses seem to have an upgraded loottable now.
* Drop rate of blue items seems improved
* Harvesting bug introduced in last patch appears to be fixed.

* Grey Elite mobs have lost their innate miss chance and damage reduction on significantly higher level characters. (Will hurt high level players farming low level dungeons.) - JoBildo says, "This one was already confirmed by Famine to be a bug. A fix is on the way, likely in next Tuesday's patch. Be careful farming low level dungeons until then.

Player Character's
* crimson shield (mage feat) seems to be working and gives a +HP bonus now

* The cooldown on the Assassin ability "Snap Kick" has been reduced to 45 seconds.

Bear Shaman
* The stamina, mana and health regeneration on the ability "Untamed Regeneration" has been reduced by approximately 40%. Additional damaged recieved has been increased from 10% to 15%.

Herald of Xotli
* Undying Glory of Xotli now gives you shield of risen after the self-res

Confirmed Bugs Introduced
* Gems still do not appear on the Trader after being searched for.
* Stat display errors when equipping de-equipping the gemmed items unless you zone or completely log out and back in (your character as to leave the game world).
* Shields with slots (whether gemmed or not) do not count as shields for combos that require them.
* No type of silk will show on auction house.
* Many reports of major FPS drops in many areas. (will continue to monitor this one for more info)

Possible changes awaiting further verification:
* Many mobs potentially hiting harder than they used to.
* Firelance isn't always registering a hit, after the combo is activated.

LotRO Experiment Begins Tonight

Tonight's the night. Hudson, his brother, and I are going to attempt to start our weekly LotRO group tonight. I'll be playing a Minstrel in our little trio of awesomeness, which should be interesting as I never did play one in LotRO except for a wee bit during the beta process.

The only thing I've got to take care of before logging into Middle-earth is a few pieces of content for Ten Ton Hammer. Then? It's off to create my little dwarf and hopefully have more fun than I remember having in LotRO. Hudson seems to really be enjoying himself, but I fear the whole time I'll just be wishing I was in Hyboria instead.

We'll see...

Age of Conan Patch Notes - 6/12/2008

I don't have much to say about my adventures in Age of Conan today because I didn't get much time to play last night. I got to start in the Tarantian Noble District and check out how funky it is to ride atop a Mammoth, but that was about it. So in place of my usual AoC chat, here's today's patch notes! There are some Undocumented ones as well, and I'll post those later. Lots of good stuff in here, especially the fact that my mammoth will now actually serve a purpose as a traveling mount until I can afford my horse.



* The Killer Rhino and War Mammoth have received a minor increase to their trot and gallop speeds. The trot (default movement speed) should now be slightly faster than a jogging player, while the gallop should only be slightly slower than a sprinting player.
* The Standard Horse has received a moderate increase to it's canter and gallop speeds. The canter (default movement speed) should now be equal to a sprinting player, while the gallop should be slightly faster than twice the speed of a jogging player.
* The Armored Horse has received a moderate increase to its canter and gallop speeds. The canter (default movement speed) should now be a slightly faster than a sprinting player, while the gallop should be moderately faster than twice the speed of a jogging player.
* The Swift Horse has received a substantial increase to its canter and gallop speeds. The canter (default movement speed) should now be equal to twice the speed of a jogging player, while the gallop should be only slightly slower than three times the speed of a jogging player.

Player Character

* 18 new robe assets added to the game for the mage classes
* Players can no longer be knocked back while in spellweaving state
* A large number of abilities had a tendency to not trigger in some situations. This should be fixed now.
* The following emotes are now available to both male and female characters: scratchhead, scratcharm, apprehensive, danglefeet, squirm_on_ground, relaxed_lean (new)


* Assassins in Unholy Stance will now generate a Soul Fragment from performing a Sneak Attack.


* If a Barbarian performs a unarmed attack after executing their No Escape ability they should no longer slide around without animating their legs.
* Unstoppable should stop functioning when the feat is untrained
* Finishing Blow damage boost after charge should always cancel (even when missing the target) - Finishing blow should scale like this : 1 point = 2x damage, 2 points = 3x damage, 3 points = 4x damage.
* Decapitation feat should scale better when more than one point is spent in the feat.


* There is now a 5 minute cooldown on the resurrection effect gained through your Furious Inspiration ability. This cooldown is on the character offered the resurrection, not the conqueror, so you can still resurrect multiple people in the team, just each of those people cannot be brought back to life by you more than once every 5 minutes.


* Fires of Gehenna (Rank 1) will now correctly inflict fire damage.
* Inferno of Amher (Rank 4) now has the correct casting time.
* Increased the movement speed of all your pets significantly.

Herald of Xotli

* The effect of Demonic Fortitude has been increased to convert 10/15% mana to 10/20% stamina.


* Significantly lowered the manacost of your nukes and dots.
* Increased the movement speed of all your pets significantly.
* Corruptors, Mutilators, Necrotic Bombs and Harvesters will now correctly trigger Bone Horde.
* Pets no longer have the base monster miss chance. They no longer have an innate chance to miss their attacks.
* Fixed Life Leech so that it will tick correctly on a monster that was not initially aggro to you.

Priest of Mitra
* Armor of Faith is no longer cancelled by Holy Light triggering.

Tempest of Set

* Tempest of Set spellweaving should now have all abilities enabled.

Mid Level (40) gameplay improvements

* Field of the Dead: 100 additional mobs have found their way into the the playfield. In addition respawn times have been adjusted on both normal mobs and bosses to improve the playing experience. Also, a number of quests in the playfield have been improved upon.
* Treasury of the Ancient Ones: This Dark dungeon in Khopshef plays like a new dungeon now! It has been revamped with a new event for both solo and group players. Special rewards await those who dare to take the challenge in Epic Mode. And you will no longer fall through the world when climbing up the statues.


* Quests in the 20 - 40 level range have been checked that all are categorized under the proper locations in the quest journal.
* Den of Wolves: The Plains Wolf population has increased.
* The Curse of the Werewolves: Quest NPCs population has increased. Corinocht Slayers also update the quest now.
* Wolf Hunt: The Yukagi Wolf population has increased.
* Hunting the Vanir: Increased the number of Vanir in the SE camp, also increased their respawn rate.
* Cure for Lycanthropy: Removed Skull of an Alpha Wolf pickup item, this skull can now only be gotten as a loot drop. Added mobs and reduced the respawn time of most mobs.
* Toirdealbach's Tomb: Fixed the respawn rate, fixed the lighting and Toirdealbach's behaviour has been adjusted.
* Water for the Soldiers in Thunder River: Updated the waypoint for Guard Captain Marcus.
* Wagon Wreck: Added a missing waypoint for the quest The Wagon Wreck.
* The Chieftain's Vengeance: Updated waypoints for the goals "Destroy Vanir Supply Crates" and "Kill Crazed Vanir" in the quest "The Chieftain's Vengeance".
* Finding Safe Passage: The player now has to kill 7 Lupine Hunters. The waypoint has also been tweaked.
* Cure for Lycanthropy: Added the missing waypoint to the "Collect Wolf Blood".
* Wagon Wreck: Removed the level requirement for the handing in of the quest Wagon Wreck. The player will now see the ? above the NPCs head.
* A Silver Bracelet: Fixed requirements on Bartholomo's dialogue, so he won't show destiny dialogue during daytime.
* Phoenix of the South: Made sure the destiny quests are resolved and spawned in the right order, to prevent full quest journals to break the destiny quest.
* The Awakening I: The quest reward has received a revamp based on feedback.
* The Awakening I: An intermittent stall when watching the cutscene "Nadini's Vision" in the Destiny Quest has been resolved.
* In Defense of Beauty: quest can be completed now.
* Get Mantis Scales: The description was improved to better indicate where to get the scales.
* Chaos in the Fortress: Burning the tents will now provide team credit.
* Emerald Eyes: Quest classification has been corrected.
* Family Matters: Quest description has been corrected.
* Khopshef Province Quest: Updated the waypoint to Rami's Position
* Kalutma: The dialogue has been tweaked to be more logical.
* Lions and Lambs: The quest cannot be 'stolen' by other players now.
* Lost Bottles: Wine bottles will correctly show as quest items in the world.
* Seven Years: The text has been updated to be more accurate.
* The Worshippers' Demise: Certain NPCs on white sands have been eating those worshippers with glee and will now have a much higher chance of dropping their gems.
* Ante Up: Giants Approaching has had it's quest marker adjusted so that it appears in the proper location.
* Path of the Raven: Rogan will now give the player 3 feathers for the quest.
* Conall's Valley - Destroying the Ymir Totem has been updated to reward group credit.


* Champion of the Honorguard now correctly drops T1 shoulders for Priest of Mitra instead of T3 shoulder for Ranger.
* Herald of Xotli raid gear has been fixed and should now offer proper bonuses
* Widowdusk Fauld should appear correctly now in inventory and in game.
* Crafted crossbows should now appear correctly in the character's hand.
* Updated item names to Gold Carcanet and Filigree Gold Carcanet
* Fair Meat: will no longer end up in the quest inventory.
* Drinking cape should no longer clip with chest item
* Polearms are now all of the same length
* Katars are now held and animated correctly


* Field of the Dead: The dusk wolf pack has developed an aversion for bridges, and has changed hunting grounds.
* Waudreen has been resupplied with an ample amount of armor.
* The Champion of the Honorguard now uses its correct abilities again.
* Toirdealbach's reset behaviour has been fixed.
* Wulfere has lost his overly large belly, and gotten a head that is the same color as his body
* Sergeant Vargus and his troopers have gotten a visual overhaul
* Obenathis got a visual update
* Fixed so the Axeman play they're animation when they get back up.
* City of Tortage: The Town crier has realised he is not Cimmerian. He is Stygian. So he can, in fact, cry... and he now will.
* Conalls Valley: Hydallan has had a potential dialogue loop fixed.
* Conall's Valley: Kinkaid's dialogue has been tweaked.
* Pyramid of the Ancient: Pashi dialogue updated.
* Captain Mycus's dialogue has been updated to reflect his new career as a wagoner.
* Alyssa in the Thirsty Dog Inn has had a false level warning removed.
* Stygian Soldiers in Khopshef now correctly attack the wolves when they are out hunting.


* Gemmed items should now work (giving bonuses) and viewing them should no longer crash the client.


* You should no longer get stuck in Renton's House.
* There should no rain and lightning in Toirdelbach's Tomb now


* Combat-dodge animations updated for both Male and Female characters. Females now seem faster when dodging.
* Victim of "I eat your heart" will not fall into the attacker's mesh anymore.
* Picts will no longer raise their eyebrows at people after having been killed by a fatality
* Players should now use proper animations when interacting with items while swimming.
* Players should now have a correct landing animation when jumping.
* Character Creation: Avatars can no longer be rotated after selecting enter game.
* Doing a fatality will no longer cause your character to increase in size.
* Polearm fatalities now collide with the victim properly and show more blood
* More client and server crashes resolved.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Age of Conan - LordOrion Leaks Some New Armor Screens

LordOrion over on the European Age of Conan forums recently divulged in THIS THREAD and THIS ONE a brand new screen of some of the game's forthcoming PvP armor. This one in particular is for the Ranger. And there's lots more to come it seems in terms of all types of armor and weapons for all classes.

Let's face it, the players and the devs both know that itemization is screwed up and that there's a serious need of more interesting stuff for our characters to wear. Now, for certain, it seems they're definitely working on it and we should see the fruits of Funcom's labor over the next few weeks.

Can't wait to see what my little snake-woshipper will be donning down the road. Apparently we'll hear more about their plans for PvP and other updates this Friday. Also worth mentioning is that the rumored PvP-Prison system WILL NOT be in the game because it just isn't ever a good idea to make even the annoying and hated players of your game suffer. If anything, just ban the bastards, right? There will be some other sort of consequence for griefing, ganking, and lowbie camping... but we'll just have to wait and see what they come up with.

LotRO - An Experiment In Middle-Earth

Gasp! Bildo's talking about LotRO! He must assuredly be sick of Age of Conan and we should quickly harpoon him!

Just getting your thoughts out of the way before I go into this. Recently, Hudson's having a bit of a confusing time with MMOGs. He's in the Warhammer beta, apparently really loving it, but like any beta tester he of course wants to be experiencing games where his progress is a bit more permanent.

Over the course of the summer and up until Warhammer's release, he plans on revisiting some previous MMOGs to see how they're shaping up. LotRO is one of those he plans to check out again. Now, I'm not about to pay $15 for an experiment I'm not sure I'll even really enjoy, but over the next some odd Thursday nights I'll be using my father in law's lifetime account (hooray for free play!) to venture anew into Middle-earth as a Dwarven Minstrel on Meneldor with Hudson and his brother in our little static group to see just how much fun is still to be had in Turbine's game.

I doubt I'll see the end-game before I either quit on it again or Warhammer comes out and Conan plus WAR demand all of my attention, but at least with a static group won't have much trouble doing group quests and we'll for sure always have someone to party with.

Should prove to be a good time, regardless of how much progress we make. The only kink I see in the cogs is that I might very well feel like playing Age of Conan the entire time... if only Hudson would get his ass out of Tortage already!

Age of Conan - The Sanctum of the Burning Souls

I logged into Conan last night around 8pm expecting to play for an hour or so before I logged out and got ready for bed... that one hour turned into roughly 3 as Brendon (my buddy) and I ended up joining 3 other guild members and another non-guilded player in the Sanctum of the Burning Souls - Age of Conan's first real group dungeon. It's not that the dungeon took 3 hours though. The actual running of the place only took about 60-70 minutes. It was the logging in, getting Brendon set up on Vent, running to the dungeon and getting started in general that took the other 2 hours. Thank Jeebus for fun chat on Vent or that first 120 minutes would have been really boring. But the dungeon itself?

Hot damn... the best time I've had in an MMOG since my first Van Cleef run back in 2004's WoW or at least since that last time I ran a dungeon in any MMOG. I honestly can't remember the last one I ran either... it has to have been almost a year ago now.

It's not that the dungeon was particularly well scripted either. It was essentially a basic mob clear then tank and spank on the bosses. But there's something special about being in a new game and seeing sights unseen for the first time. The loot was good there, is not especially helpful to a Tempest of Set (though I did get some nice upgraded boots which you might see on my character in a few of the screens below. Very "Cimmerian" looking.

The setting was appropriately atmospheric and wonderous. Lots of creepy crawlies, undead, and religious fanatics throughout. On top of it all, I had about 6 or 7 quests for this place and I managed to get them all done in one run. And even without turning them in (though a couple finished just by completing the objectives) I managed to go from the beginning of 39 all the way to level 40. That's right, JoBildo can now ride his Mammoth! Though when I tried to do so after leaving the dungeon I got stuck on the terrain and had to log out... Mr. Mammoth will be ridden tonight then.

Anyway, there's not a whole lot to really tell you about strategy in this place. Like I said it's pretty much an exercise in tanking and spanking the bosses, a good introduction to how healing full groups and tanking will work later. Really, what's oddest now about Conan to me seems to be the extreme emphasis on AOE not only in damaging spells, but also healing. So what happens in groups like ours last night is that we basically all huddle around the mobs, the DPS guys go nuts, the Tanks try to hold aggro, and the healers are behind them all casting their AOE heals and the occasional damage spell. Very different from the stand back and heal, or stand back and cast approach I'm used to.

Overall it was a really good time, and my wife particularly enjoyed the sound of one of our guild members' voice (he's Australian). Hoping this is the start of many successful dungeon runs in Age of Conan.

Now for the pics of our little adventure. Sorry if they're a bit dark... I didn't think they'd be so shadowy. But you can get the gist from them. Just click to see it bigger. Hope they're at least semi-visible...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Validity of Online Tech Training

Here's an odd post, and I'm looking at Tipa and Saylah with this one for sure.

I recently graduated with my degree in Web Design, but it's more of a graphical degree and there's a part of me that VERY much still wants the technical knowledge of things like PHP, MySQL, and the like. Problem is, I can't afford the time needed or the price of the official MySQL classes. Nor can I afford to take out more loans for a full college degree.

In my eyes, that leaves online courses that can range anywhere from fifty to two-hundred dollars in price for unlimited use. I am VERY comfortable in online learning and quite disciplined when it comes to such education. I've been doing online school for two years now.

My question is, would these types of training be worth the relatively small investment? Here's one of the site's I'm looking into: LINK. To all those developers and techies out there, does this sort of training seem viable to someone who needs more than a book to learn by?

Sid Meier and Company Revisiting Colonization

Hell YES!

Colonization, as a child, was my first foray into the wonderfully addictive genre known as the 4X game that Sid Meier helped pioneer.

I for one am very enthused to see that the game's being updated. Which also reminds me that the console version of Civilization is out this week. Might have to spend 60 bucks and get lost in the "Just One More Turn" haze that I do so love.

Anyway, just wanted to share that bit of news with those of you who might care. Can't wait to take the Spaniards to the New World!

Age of Conan: Necromancers Getting Some Love Soon (tm)

Massively is reporting that Jayde of Funcom has come out and stated some major overhaul changes for the way Age of Conan's Necromancer works... and in a good way no less! Power to the rulers of the undead!

Here's a snippet:

FunCom system designer Jayde has announced the next step in the retooling of some of Age of Conan's more gimped classes. After Demonologists got a survivability and damage boost, many players thought Assassins would be the next in line. They still might be - there's no clue to the content of this Thursday's patch - but it's the Necromancers whose future looks intriguing right now.

The focus is squarely on pets: the Necromancer looks set to become a true pet class, reminiscent of the Mastermind from City of Villains. 'The balance and progression of the class is being altered to introduce 2 pet points every 5 levels after level 5, resulting in all 8 base pet points being available at level 20 instead of at level 70.' Access to ad hoc bonus pet points is also being improved, with a rework to the Nightfall feat tree. For those unacquainted with the Necromancer, this means they will have a lot more undead at their command throughout their careers than they used to. Age of Conan deals with Necromancer pets on a point-based system, allowing players to choose whether they want a lot of weaker pets, a few strong ones, or a mix.
Continue reading AoC: Necromancers in line for radical changes

Age of Conan: The Pyramid of Ancients and Multi-Sided Boobs

I spent a couple of hours playing Age of Conan last night. The patch seems to have really cleaned up the game even more. Hills and mountain sides are now much easier to traverse, and going down a steep incline doesn't result in my character getting stuck on some odd pathing blockage.

The experience points needed to level in the early to mid-game really has been decreased, but apparently the experience needed to level from about 75+ has been increased to balance this out. Not a bad idea to ease the pain of the mid-game, Funcom. Not bad at all. From what I've seen said on the forums, it's not 70-80 that need more quests, it's the late 30s and the late 50s. Now, I'm nearly 39 and I've still got a butt-load of quests, but then I also ended up doing two of the 20+ areas in Khopshef and the Wild Lands which is probably not the most ideal of leveling paths. One shouldn't have to do gray and green quests to level up. I'm not complaining, just saying that it goes against the grain of MMOG design and in an odd way.

Anyway, I finished up a few lower level quests that were still in my log which pushed me last bit of the way to 38. The new experience curve had cut the amount of experience I needed to level nearly in half, so that was a welcome change. Now 2 levels away from being able to ride my War Mammoth, I headed once again to Khopshef province where I had some upper 30s quests that were finally yellow in my quest log. The place I had to go into was called the Pyramid of Ancients, a level 38 or so solo-able dungeon of massive scale and winding paths that's altogether very easy to get lost in.

There were eunuchs galore around the place, trying to kill me with all of their testicle-less might. My goal was two-fold upon entering. To find a man's brother (presumed dead) and to seek the scourge of Khopshef Province and end his reign. I managed to find the man's brother (or the 4 pieces of him that were left), and I did end the life of the being that reigned darkness over Khopshef... but the quest for the latter didn't update at all so I'm afraid I'll have to try it again or just give up on it for the foreseeable future. Yep, another bugged quest.

However there were a few good things that came of this adventure. The first was a sheer shower of experience inside the place by killing mobs alone. I went from barely 1/15th of the way into 38 to nearly 39 in about 90 minutes of playing around in this Pyramid. I also managed to get a few good drops off of the mobs in this place, included a bitchin' looking new one-handed mace which I'll screen shot later. Lastly, the best thing of the night was undoubtedly the oddity that is Age of Conan's female anatomy. See below...

All in all it was a good night. I plan on trying that bugged quest one more time tonight, and finishing a few others I have in the area. And if there's time after I finish this week's "Lost In Hyboria" I might be able to get a Sanctum of the Burning Souls group going. The Sanctum is Age of Conan's first true full-group dungeon, and I'm itching to give it a go.

If not, I'll just keep chatting up Hudson and Saylah who have both joined the TTH guild recently. Yep, Hyboria so far is proving to be a very good investment.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Age of Conan - Undocumented Patch Notes for 6/9/2008

Found these undocumented changes on the VN boards. Not sure why Funcom wouldn't include these in their official patch notes, except for the fact that maybe their note writer simply isn't on top of things. They're all great changes. Especially the experience change.

If that one's as true as it seems, they very likely just helped a lot of the problems with grinding at least for those who had yet to hit the leveling gaps. In the official notes, they also stated that Elite mobs and bosses are now properly giving more experience, so playing through those instances now have yet ANOTHER benefit. Take a look, the bold italics are my own emphasis.

* Horses move faster
* You no longer fall through the Guild City gates
* Party members now show on zone maps (this was in before this patch).
* Summon to Instance is now enabled. * Trade skill resource stacking has been improved
* Experience to level has been slightly reduced. * Some of the Hyborian Foliage has taken a vacation.
* 'Crouch' ability added, allowing you to slowly move through others. crouch is 200% slower then not-rogue hide and after using crouch you get -100% PvP defence rating.
* 'Ambience' sound slider in Audio Options removed.
* Some Bugged resources have been sorted
* Hair still sticks through your helmet but is now the right color rather then blonde.
* Guard AI greatly improved.
* dance ability now tells you of combos
* Regional chat is now in so you can chat with players multiple zones away.
* Attributes (Str, dex, wis, con, int) now have different describtions aparantly. No other changes regarding attributes at this time. Adding to STR still does not increase attack rating. Same for INT and Magic Attack.

* Overreach reduced in power. Apprently reduced by 40-60% damage. Strikes that were hitting for 1200-1500 overreach III now hitting for 600-700

Herald of Xotli
* Fire Lance reduced in stamina cost, damage and is now a 2-step Combo. Reduction seems to be ~25-40%

Possible Bugs
-Necro spell Mark of the Devourer broken. Persists on target even after your death, causing you to res with aggro and be ganked by mobs at the spawn point.
-Reports of some resource nodes having problems similar to the previous Cotton bug. Unable to confirm yet.

Exp Change Confirmation
- Lower xp per lvl confirmed, ~72000 before patch, 60100 now.
at lvl 33.
- lvl 52 HoX, last patch the XP I needed for next level was around 320k, this patch it was 280k.

Letter from Dev Regarding Mount Issues in Age of Conan

Just found this little letter from Sharum concerning mounts and the speed issue that seems to come with them... as in they don't have any speed boost at all. Now, another issue in my book is the cost. 3 gold for a horse by level 40 when I have 24silver at 37 seems like an insurmountable cost. I would say either lower the cost to 1 gold or raise the level needed to be able to ride, but those decisions aren't up to me. Anyway, here's the letter for those affected by the Mount bug.


Greetings fellow Hyborian Adventurers!

There has been a lot of activity lately, both on these boards and in-game, due to the way Mounts are currently performing in Age of Conan. While there has been little-to-none official feedback on the subject so far, I am happy to finally be a part of this community and able to shed some light on what I perceive as the most pressing concerns.

1) Mounting up doesn't increase my speed at all!

Without going into complex and, quite possibly, boring details it's worth mentioning that we've tracked down the bug that caused this, and that it has been fixed internally. Basically what happens is that, when you mount up, your new movement-speed isn't being read correctly; resulting in your speed being exactly the same regardless of whether or not you are mounted. Unfortunately I can't promise an exact date when the fix to this issue will be applied on the Live servers, but I can offer you a functional work-around; after having mounted up simply draw, or sheathe, your weapon. By doing this the game will once again attempt to read your movement-speed, and it will be applied correctly.

2) My Horse is too slow (even after the work-around)

If this is one of your concerns, you will be happy to know that I am personally feeding our stock of proud hyborian steeds some extra vitamins this week; which should result in an overall speed increase for all types of Horses. The increase won't, by any means, be massive; but it should go a long way towards making these mounts more useful and desired.

3) My Rhino/Mammoth is too slow

Yes, they are both very slow creatures in-game. I know that this has been, and most likely will continue to be, a topic that is being discussed to great length; but a decision was made shortly after new year that, for the sake of balancing things out, we needed them both to have the same movement-speed. The War Mammoth is still slightly harder to kill, and the Killer Rhino is still a bit easier to maneuver, but when it comes to moving forward they will both run at the same speed. With that being said, I am happy to say that they're also being fed vitamins, albeit a smaller dose than the horses, and will as a consequence move slightly faster.

4) My Rhino/Mammoth is useless outside of certain scenarios

If, by useless, you mean ineffective in PvE combat scenarios or as traveling mounts, then yes; you are indeed correct. These mounts were, from the start, designed to be a fearsome weapon in siege warfare and not something you would climb to the top of just to either ride from A to B or slaughter a group of unsuspecting picts. When it comes to their usability in siege warfare we would like to put off any further balancing until guilds around the world have started par-taking in this activity on a more or less regular basis. Tweaking something "just right" is never easy, and making something "overpowered" is equally bad to making something "nerfed".

5) I need to purchase Basic Riding in order to get my Mammoths/Rhinos special abilities

If you don't plan on purchasing Basic Riding for any other purposes, I would advise you to save your money. You were meant to get these skills automatically when claiming your pre-order mount, and just as intended this will be the case once the respective bug-fix goes Live. Consequently, players whom have purchased Basic Riding already will have to do another /claim after the patch introducing these changes in order to get the respective abilities back on their Ability page; and players who aren't meant to have access to these skills (i.e. players without pre-order mounts) will find them removed from their Ability page.

Allow me to end this, my very first post on the official forums, by saying that I am thrilled to see the amount of feedback coming in already, and that I try to read through as much of it every day as my free time allows. I might not always reply, even in the future, but I do my best to listen to what the players say and take it with me into our design meetings as suggestions for what to implement something new or how to implement something already existing. Naturally, I cannot accommodate every wish of every player, but I will at least endeavor to make the community feel that it is being listened to.

Thank you all for reading!
Svein Erik "Sharum" Jenset
Funcom Oslo AS

Age of Conan - Level 37 and Nearing the Infamous Wall

I did some serious leveling in just a few hours this weekend in Age of Conan. Went from 33 to 37 in the course of about 5 hours. The leveling speed in Hyboria is an odd beast. It seems the developers want their players to plough through 1 to 40 within 36 hours or so, but yet they claim it should take players 250 hours to hit the cap. That would leave 214 hours for levels 41 through 80. Something tells me that either their math is off or that the mountain from 41 to 80 is going to be a steep one.

I should be 40 by the end of this week (yay, War Mammoth!) and from what I can gather this is where the leveling does indeed slow down though not from a sudden increase in experience needed so much as a sudden decrease in the amount of quests available. Around level 55 is where it seems most people have issues and end up resorting to purely grinding. I'm not sure how true this is even as I have quite a few guildies in their 60s who claim to have not run out of quests to do yet. But they may also be the kind of players who spend plenty of time just hunting while they quest. Meanwhile I can think of at least one player in my guild who got so sick of the grind around 60 that he just started a new character to wait out the fresh content.

So really, I guess what it's going to come down to is just how it goes for me. I do tend to spend time killing mobs when I find a good spot. Not really grinding so much as just clearing out an area before I move on. It's a habit I developed when I was playing WoW because of the mob density there. So for all I know that might end up helping me out. Or maybe if I'm lucky by the time I really hit that wall the new 55-60 zone will be in the game. 60 and up from what I can gather is much less of a trouble spot, though some folks are reporting issues leveling there too.

Ah the lovely first 3 months of a new MMOG. Everyone running around trying to figure out how to play the game and little or big holes in content get uncovered at a pace that shocks even the most seasoned developer.

I'll keep you posted on JoBildo's progress. With any luck, it'll be smooth sailing. Without any luck, Bildo (Herald of Xotli or maybe Dark Templar) will be born to take over for a while. Time will tell.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why, Funcom, Why?!

Why on earth do you make me wait 5 levels for a new spell when you apparently keep them horded for one mass handout? I mean, really... 6 new spells?

It's not that I'm not appreciative, but I could have used some of those during the previous 4 levels.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Age of Conan: Dinged 33 and the Importance of Destiny Quests

I played some more Conan last night (of course) and after a bit of time questing in The Maze (a spider infested area of the Wild Lands), I suddenly remember that I still had my level 30 Destiny Quest to do back in Khemi.

Sadly, like a tool I forgot to take screen shots as I was at once wrestling both an oncoming bio-break and the dark mistress that is time herself. It was nearing my boiling point for sleep-deprivation but I needed to finish this quest, the same way one needs to finish a whole bowl of pasta from Macaroni Grill. It simply HAD to be done.

So anyway, the quest involved finding the second piece of the Phoenix Medallion (which I received from my time spent in Tortage with the Strom quest-line). Apparently it was being guarded in some sacred caves by Slaves of Acheron for Thoth-Amon (the game's prinicple baddy). First I had to find my way into these caves, which was no easy task as there didn't seem to be a way up top to the mountain the entrance rested on. I spent about 15 minutes running around before I asked my guild if they knew anything about it.

Luckily, it appears the Destiny Quest from level 30 on is the same for all classes (or maybe unluckily?) so my good pal Sardu pointed me to the area where a very indistinguishable climbing point rested waiting for me to vault it.

Now this is very important: PUT POINTS INTO YOUR CLIMBING SKILL. Luckily, I had been. But you absolutely need climbing of (I think) 150 to get up to this summit. So bear that in mind as you level. You may not climb often, but you need it here. You can always change it back after the quest, just remember that you need it for this particular and very important part of the game's main quest line.

Anyway, I won't spoil anything but the quest inside the caves is rather fun and a very cool atmosphere if not altogether very original. As an extra boon, my squishy Tempest of Set got a Rare shield off the final boss called the "Blood Guard" which was a huge improvement over my previous shield and looks positively wicked to boot.

One little MINOR SPOILER here. Once you defeat the boss and get the piece of the medallion you were there for, the only way out was down and into a pool of water and then swimming out. Very fun to take a 100 foot leap into a pool of water... if only they'd programmed the characters to do a swan dive.

When I turned the quest in, I got to recover a bit more of my lost memory and in doing so I was able to choose one of two permanent stat buffs. For the priest class this means either a boost to your mana regeneration rate or a boost to your pool of mana.

As a Thunder spec'd ToS I really didn't need the mana regen. I get enough of that from Storm Crown and my Idol of Set (seriously, I'm NEVER out of mana), so I went with the boost to my actual mana reserves. I didn't check the exact numbers but I'm fairly confident it was a few hundred at least. I wish I would have paid more attentiont know the exact amount it gave though.

Apparently this trend of additional stats when completing the Destiny Quests continues at level 50 and again at 60 and 80 (I believe) which is when the other main Destiny Quests are doable. And why wouldn't you do them? They're fully voiced, they usually involve some pretty wicked enemies, and they have a genrally good story to follow. My only gripe is that they don't happen often enough. I hope Funcom goes the way of LotRO here and adds more and more to the DQ line with each update.

Good stuff, indeed. I'm actually a little sad at the fact that I'm going to the movies tonight and not going home to play. Now I know I've got Conan-itis.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Level 32 and Thoughts on Grinding in Age of Conan

I spent about an hour and a half in Hyboria last night and managed to "ding" 32 before my time was done. I was hoping for closer to 33, but I ran into a bit of a snag, one that was more self-induced than anything else.

I was trying to do a quest called "The Wounded Child" in the Wild Lands of Zelata, which involves finding and talking to a wounded blind child somewhere in the vicinity of a lot of level 32+ big ol' bears and quite a few leper bandits around the mid 30s. The problem is, she was no where to be found. After waiting for her to spawn for a while, I finally asked my guildmates and in the OOC channel if the quest was broken. And of course... it was.

I was ready to head back to more civilized areas of the game, somewhere safe to sell my items and check the Trader, when I realized just how close to 32 I was at the time. Then it dawned on me... if there really is a hefty gap in the leveling process in terms of quests it'd be a wise choice to see just how unbearable pure mob grinding is in Age of Conan.

The key to grinding in Hyboria is to make sure you're always taking on mobs your level or higher. Pretty much anything below your current level won't be worth the time. But I was around level 32+ bears and mid 30s bandits, I was golden. It turns out when you're taking on 2-3 mobs at a time that are above your level by 1-3 levels (thanks to my healing abilities), the XP comes in pretty quick order. In fact, counting the time it takes to travel for all the questing, I'd say my leveling speed was about on par with the amount of time it was taking me via mostly quests.

Yes indeed, it seems grinding is a pretty effective way to level with the Tempest of Set thanks to the ability to heal myself and take on multiple mobs adequately with my AOE spells. I imagine it would be a little rougher with a class that can't heal. But seeing as that's not me at the moment... I don't really care.

This little experiment basically said to me that I could handle "grinding" if I end up having to do so for a bit before the content Mr. Godager referenced in his recent letter gets put into the live client. I don't imagine I'll enjoy it as much as questing, but that's just my play preference. The key is that grinding in Conan is a viable way to level, unlike LotRO where experience gain was so slow when just killing mobs.

Do I want to have to grind? Not at all. But at least now I know I can tolerate it in Age of Conan. If I get to the point where I have to do it to level I still might find myself subscribing to a second game while I wait on the added quests Funcom's working on, something to scratch that need to quest in an MMOG... but at least I won't get sick to my stomach at the sudden wall I find myself facing when I run out of quests.

Yep, thanks to the brisque nature of combat in Hyboria grinding's not so bad. It's not great... but I'm fairly certain it won't send me screaming from the game if it comes down to it. Good to know, I guess. I just hope Funcom outpaces me and gets that filler content into the game sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Age of Conan - Letter from Gaute Godager

Yesterday the main honcho behind Funcom's Age of Conan, Gaute Godager, let loose a nice long letter to the community detailing what the team's plans are for the game in the next couple of months and throughout the summer. I'll paste the bulk of the letter here in bold with my own thoughts on his words in italics. Here we go...

Fellow Hyborians!

As you may have noticed we have had frequent patches the last two weeks. We hope this will soon start to quiet down, but as long as there are major issues – and there have been – we will dedicate the Conan team to fixing them and giving you these fixes as soon as possible! We have a plan on how to move this game forward because as you know, what you have today is but the platform – the dawn of this world. I hope you enjoy the game as is, but I can ensure you, this is but the beginning!

Our focus from now on can be summarized by these points:

  • We will add content, specifically in mid-late thirties and mid-late fifties and make the leveling speed smoother in those areas, reducing the need to grind.

  • We will have an overhaul of the PvP system – adding consequence and a host of small things.

  • We are fixing bugs you reported through all channels we can get information from.
    We will add a new large outdoor region in the 55-60 range this summer!

  • This is only a small taster! More information about the exciting summer and fall Roadmap will come the end of the next week!

  • We are staffing up Customer Service, Quality Assurance and Community departments!

1. Filling “thin areas” in our content

We have seen that there are certain level ranges of these Hyborian Adventures that do not have the amount of quality we wish them to have. Most specifically these are the end of the Thirties and the end of the Fifties level ranges. We are addressing this in several ways.

Several mid-late thirties dungeons are getting a complete overhaul (Black Castle, Pyramid of the Ancients and Treasury of the Ancients). Several quests are being made fuller and more entertaining. If people wish to revisit these quests, we will add a system to let them try them out again. We are adding first a batch of quests in Eiglophian Mountains (lvls 55+). We are also adding in a bunch of quests that didn’t quite make it for launch in the 30+ areas. Around 60 quests through the game have been flagged as “Lore Quests”. They will now be patched out with full Voice-Over. (Roughly 1 quest per level after level 20)

Basically, this is exactly what I wanted to see on this roadmap more than anything else from a personal standpoint. As long-time readers of my blog might know, I tend to get frustrated and quit on games that don't have questing content from level 1 to the finish line. WoW spoiled me and there's no going back. Even with Conan's fantastic combat, I doubt I'd be very enthused to hit 50 and find myself with little to do outside of killing mobs to level. Sure questing pretty much is exactly that, but the idea of mini-objectives with large experience rewards and monetary ones as well helps mask what would otherwise be mindless repetitive grinding. Here's hoping this makes it into the game before I get stalled in the upper levels. If not, it's either going to be alt time or back to TR for a little while.

2. Overhauling the PvP System

People like our open PvP system. There are many plans on how to give this open free PvP even more meaning and Purpose. In the meantime we will be doing some smaller tweaks, and we plan to get these out sometimes in June. I will not go into 100% detail here, but that will come next week! What I can promise is:

  • An update on how sneaking and perception works in PvP (nothing major, but an adjustment).

  • A change in the amount of information you get when you hover over an other player.

  • An added system of consequence to “ganking”. (Killing much-much lower level players).

  • A system of adding consequence to losing a PvP match, and winning a PvP match + turning on PvP Leveling.

  • A change in how Crowd Control (Root, Knockback etc) works in PvP.

  • PvP gear.

This really doesn't affect me too much yet, as I'm not focused on the mini-games or siege warfare until much later in my character's life, but the simple fact is that the PvP system as it is now is without any real purpose or rewards for those who engage in it. Only those few guilds who have made it to owning their own Battlekeep might have anything to gain or lose by PvP, while the majority of folks really have no reason to engage other than the sport of it right now. Some sort of reward system is needed, and I'm glad to see it's on the drawing board of more important things. WoW didn't have a real PvP system until months after launch, but I'd rather see it sooner here in a game that's MEANT to have PvP as a main draw at the end-game.

3. New Massive Region

We will unveil this location later, but it will feature a host of quests, new monsters and places of dreams or horror. It will be styled towards the players in the late 50s and bridge the experience on the way to Atzels Approach. We have plans for releasing several of the areas that didn’t quite make it for the release.

Hell yes. Though the part about "areas that didn't quite make it for the release" bugs me, because I wonder just how much was cut out due to wanting to hit the May 20th mark. We know that WAR's not coming until the Fall or Winter, so why wouldn't their publishing give them a bit more time to flesh out the game? It would have only boosted the already killer sales the game's seeing (well over 500,000 sold so far but it's the retention that's key). I'm anxious to see this zone, and if all goes well it'll come at the perfect time for me.

4. Fixing bugs and increasing Customer Service

Funcom has always prided ourselves with having great customer satisfaction. The success so far for this title has left us with the need to increase the size of CS. This will go in parallel with the constant fixing of bugs and other issues that lead people to petition. Included in this is even better testing of the game by increasing the size of Quality Assurance and informing you better about changes by staffing up the Community Department. I know a blurb like this will haunt me always, but I will still venture one: We aren’t satisfied until all our customers are! You know we had a very, very difficult launch of Anarchy-Online! That was a very painful process for all of us working on it – 4 years. You might not understand how driven we are to make sure you enjoy this game, and all the support around it!

The CS part of this one doesn't really matter to me, as I think in nearly 10 years of online gaming I've only used customer service a handful of times. Mind you, I'm all for it but I'm not sure how much it will affect me personally. I've heard some shady reports about Funcom's timliness in terms of their CS staff, so here's hoping that it does indeed improve.

What matters more is the "fixing bugs" part of the equation. Despite the overall playability of the game, there are a TON of bugs. Nothing gamebreaking for me, but we gamers are spoiled at this point byt the relative smoothness of WoW (yes that game again), and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed by some of the wonkiness left in Hyboria. It's early though, and the fact that they've got this much laid out ahead of them does A LOT to instill faith.

I believe Funcom knows what it takes to make a game exciting and fresh for years. Loyal followers of Anarchy Online will tell you the same. The key for them will doing so in a timely and non-buggy manner. I worry that when WAR or Lich King hits, if AoC isn't in a much better state content wise than it is now, it will lose a lot of steam and never really regain it. They've done a great job of getting box sales, but they need to retain those customers by proving to them that they're 15 bucks is well spent on Hyborian Adventures.

I'm rooting for you Funcom. This is one fine game already, but it needs much more to keep our ADHD gamer brains glued to the screen for the long term. Don't let us down.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Leveling Like Mad - And Thanks To Settar

I spent a couple hours Sunday when I got home and then a few yesterday on my last day off playing Age of Conan and managed to go from level 26 to 31 in that time. At first, I wasn't sure I'd make much progress as a lot of my quests involved running around the world and just visiting people for various little deeds. But eventually I wrapped up what quests I had at the time in Khopshef and made my way to the Wild Lands of Zelata outside of Old Tarantia... and it was quests galore all over again.

I filled my log to the point where I couldn't take any more quests between this new zone and some of the gathering quests I was still working on. That's the first time that's happened to me in AoC. Now, some of the quests are gray for me as I entered the area at level 29 but they don't give any less experience upon completion than they would when I was of appropriate level. The mobs I had to kill for them gave less, but not the quests them selves.

So anyone who finds themselves at level 30 wondering what's next, bear in mind that Funcom apparently wants you to do all 3 nations' level 20-30+ areas in order to hit the mid 40s. Bad design? Maybe. But I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind doing gray con quests so long as they give experience and monetary rewards.

The downside? Going through with an alt won't be as exciting as there won't be a new area to explore.

I've also been hearing plenty of reports that leveling slows down big time in the 50s and 60s, as quests start to thin out until level 70 or so. Sounds to me a like WoW's 45-50 gap, and LotRO's 35-45 gap. I'm hoping that with this advanced knowledge I can spend some extra time grinding on mobs for cash and extra experience to help avoid some of this. I'm hearing that it's damn near impossible to have the 3 gold needed for both mount training and the actual mount at level 40, so I'm goin to have to go farming anyway to get that ride, or at least the ability to ride my free Mammoth from pre-ordering.

That brings me to my last point of the day. BIG props to Settar for creating and maintaining a great blog on the Tempest of Set, and more importantly an excellent detailed leveling blog. Settar's Tempest of Set Blog is of immense use to me as a ToS myself, but moreso I'm digging his leveling journals as they help me see what's in store for me in the weeks to come.

Good stuff, Settar. Keep it coming.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Home Again

I'm back from vacation... and as usual it seemed both at once too short and too long. By the 4th day I was missing my Stuff-Storage Unit and my two dogs. However, I was also deeply enjoying the oceanfront property we rented and the waves that I swam with daily.

It's an odd thing, vacation. You spend a whole year yearning for one, then (at least for me) when I finally get one and get out of town I find myself missing the normalcy of home before it's over.

What would solve this? Moving to the beach of course. Now there just remains the little problem of how I'll finance a million dollar home on said beach. I promise that once I figure that out, I'll let you all know.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow from work, most likely. I have an interview for a web designer position in the afternoon and I'll be playing catch up at the office most of the morning but you never know. Something might strike my fancy to post on.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go see if the patcher for Conan is up yet.