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The final time I did an anniversary retrospective for Age of Conan, we had a current enlargement, some new dungeon content material, and several other class revamps contemporary on our minds. The yr earlier than that, we had the earth-shaking combat and itemization adjustments. This past yr, the major improvement was, after all, the swap to a freemium enterprise mannequin, adopted intently by the game's first journey pack.Be part of me after the break for a fast rundown on the last 12 months as they occurred in Hyboria, as well as an anniversary interview with sport director Craig "Silirrion" Morrison that sheds a bit of light on the crafting revamp.The tip of June saw AoC be a part of the ranks of Western freemium converts with the Unchained update. The majority of the unique Hyborian Adventures marketing campaign was made freely obtainable to all comers, along with 4 of the sport's 12 lessons. The sport's 2.6 patch additionally brought us the Breach and Forgotten Metropolis dungeons in Khitai in addition to look armor performance (and there was much rejoicing).Every week later, Funcom threw a bone to its hardcore PvP crowd with the introduction of the Blood and Glory particular ruleset servers. Deathwish and Rage were initially quite fashionable, and Funcom additionally hinted at some curious instancing tech within the works. We have not heard a lot about it since, but I anticipate that we'll be taught extra this summer after the launch of The key World.The top of August introduced us AoC's first adventure pack. The Savage Coast of Turan was too small to be known as a proper expansion however too big for a easy "patch" moniker, and Funcom has hinted that this will likely be the first distribution model going ahead.We received a new level 50 to fifty five playfield with a ton of quests, a stage 50 to 80 scaling solo dungeon, a max-stage solo dungeon, a max-degree group dungeon, and a brand new raid instance, all of which were primarily based around the Jason Momoa Conan movie that debuted in the summer season of 2011.January saw the introduction of the lengthy-awaited House of Crom dungeon. Sadly (or thankfully, depending on the way you take a look at it), this happened after my personal AoC sabbatical, so I've yet to cover the dungeon here within the pages of The Anvil of Crom. That shall be remedied in short order, although, and in the meantime, you possibly can read all about it on the sport's official webpage.March introduced us the new Jade Citadel raids, additionally fodder for a future column installment or 4. The Priest of Mitra class was given an intensive makeover on this update too, and that brings us as much as the current day.As per AoC anniversary tradition, I had a chance to ask a couple of questions of government producer Craig Morrison. Keep reading to see what he has to say concerning the upcoming crafting revamp plus a whole lot extra.Massively: Is there any overlap between the AoC and TSW dev teams? Any cross-pollination of concepts? For example, TSW's crafting system seems fairly nifty. Any probability that AoC's upcoming revamp shares something in frequent with it or is inspired by it in any method?Craig Morrison: The groups are run independently and have their own resources and administration. Remember that we both run on the identical expertise platform, which is independently developed by one other separate division, so we get many inherent upgrades merely by means of that course of. In that approach, there are a lot of shared initiatives and concerns. That means we might use the identical Dreamworld characteristic in different ways, simply as we are going to with the only server technology that's presently within the works. It is a cool scenario for a game of our age to be in as a result of it means we will sometimes take advantage of some pretty cool technical work that we merely wouldn't be capable of afford in any other case.By way of the crafting system, that is one thing very distinctive to TSW. They took their inspiration from Minecraft when it got here to their form- and site-based mostly crafting, and it's a cool system, really good fun to play with. On the other hand, I'm really looking ahead to the new system for Conan. We are looking again a bit more, taking our inspiration from video games like Star Wars Galaxies and the opposite earlier MMOs, with a concentrate on ingredients and finding one of the best combos. That provides a layer of depth that you do not discover in the other trendy MMOs that have used extra simple record sort crafting methods, where you get the identical results all the time.Personally I feel it's thrilling to see correct crafting making a comeback in our video games. Both approaches have merit, and I believe what the workforce is cooking up for Conan is extra fitted to the barely more stat-primarily based degree progression we've in Conan, versus the flatter system in TSW. However, each methods are placing a premium on true experimentation and asking players to think and explore the system quite than simply read an ingredient itemizing. I really feel it's something that MMOs can profit from exploring once more.In regard to a high-stage view of the crafting revamp, how a lot can we expect crafters to be necessary to the in-game economy? Will gamers be capable to get finish-recreation gear and consumables from crafters, or will those objects stay solely loot-drops?The aim is for the crafted items to be aggressive will all but the better of the endgame gear, and perhaps even in some situations, present a few of the very best gadgets, though I do not suppose I would like to forged that as a definite in one course or another and make some type of sweeping blanket assertion.What I'll say is that we're aiming for the items to be useful for veterans and endgame and that the liberty it would represent will permit those who concentrate on it to make the most effective objects. We hope to create a symbiotic relationship there, where a few of the higher gadgets will come from crafters, and crafters will need the assistance of the raiders to collect some of the rarer components.Can you give us any hints about the subsequent adventure pack? What a part of Hyboria will it cover (geographically, even a normal space if you cannot get specific)? Can we anticipate it in 2012?We aren't revealing the exact location of the pack just but, but as we teased in the final development letter, we're trying south once more, close to one of the unique game areas.The journey pack is currently aimed for the end of the 12 months, yes. The group is currently hard at work on it so that we will launch it toward the tip of Q4.South, you say? Stygian content material is fairly barren compared to the sport's other zones. There's Khemi and Khopshef for ranges 20-35 or so, after which Kheshatta from 70-80. Is the journey pack set there, or are there any plans to add some extra Stygian content between, say, forty and 70?I think we addressed that degree range in other playfields, like Ymir's Move and Tarantia Commons. I don't suppose we ever set up to essentially have an equal number of places in every of the games territories, partly for visual and cultural range and partly to cover some totally different ideas and concepts from Howard's Hyboria.Since we are looking south, sure, the adventure pack content material could properly stray nearby geographically, but the cultural and mythos that will affect it's one other beast altogether. Expect to listen to extra in regards to the journey pack a bit later in the summer season. While the production teams are separate, as we talked about above, since we're an independent studio, all of our central teams are shared, so the marketing and PR people are a contact busy right now with the launch of The secret World, so we'll hold the journey pack reveal till after that.There is a notion on the market that because of the perceived inadequacies of AoC's launch, the sport is not price trying out even 4 years later. Why do you think that's, and would you agree that MMOs like AoC are completely completely different animals from their launch builds?MMOs at all times evolve. That is without doubt one of the few constants within the genre. Personally I at all times attempt and take a look at video games a second or third time, and I believe many veterans are the same. We're also helped by the truth that due to the Dreamworld engine, the sport nonetheless looks competitive with latest releases. After all the issues that the game had at launch does have an effect on some veterans' opinions, and that is an anticipated part of working in that style.I do not assume you can hold it towards anyone, at the top of the day there were very excessive expectations for that launch, and the unique group fell just in need of a few of those expectations. It's natural that some players won't give you a second likelihood. You will never, ever, win everyone back over. On the other hand, it's considerably of a shame as a result of MMO titles do evolve. So long as you at all times give attention to enhancing the sport and including content material, then there's a relentless stream of people that come again to check out the sport again.In reality, those players often end up as a few of your most loyal followers after that as a result of someone who had a difficulty with the sport and returns to see the problems they had resolved appreciates how far you will have come. After all, that fluctuates for each player; some really just like the adjustments whereas some feel a game might have moved away from what they appreciated about it, however general we generally hear fairly good things from those that had prolonged absences from the game. They come again, they usually remember simply how a lot they favored the combat system, or they get to embrace the viscerally mature setting that Hyboria offers.Any plans to regulate the free-to-play choices within the near future, or is Funcom fairly happy with the amount of access Unchained players currently have?Total we're pretty happy, however we may consider some tweaks and adjustments. As a part of the birthday celebrations for example, we're giving free gamers the flexibility to seize everlasting access to the premium dungeons from the unique sport, so we're open to persevering with to evolve the free player providing so that the game stays competitive. I believe free gamers in Age of Conan Unchained have probably the most open methods out there.No necessary quest or progression content material blocks till they reach max stage is a pretty sweet deal, one that provides more than many other F2P titles. It's an ever more aggressive market, although, so we will definitely proceed to alter issues up as and when we see match with a view to attraction to the ever-rising and ever-more-demanding military of free gamers out there.Nevertheless, one essential point is that we actually need to be able to avoid having to go down the entire pay-to-win path. We've been very cautious to keep away from that for a cause, so we would like to keep up the value to gamers of being premium members. That in flip means that you simply cannot give every part away at no cost unless you are willing to completely embrace a pay-to-win approach, and that isn't somewhere I would be comfortable taking the game.What about an AA respec for subscribers -- any plans to supply that sooner or later?The alternate development system was designed to not need "respecs" as you may in spite of everything merely earn extra points since there is no such thing as a steep curve in the development, and it is a flat value. So at a fundamental degree, there are no plans to allow for gamers to re-use already spent factors.If we added a respec we'd have to consider your entire set-up, since gamers would then never must get past X number of feats they've decided are optimal for various situations, and they might simply swap between them. That mentioned, of course you don't want to face in the way of gamers feeling they can progress, so we might take a look at it from another angle, be that some form of changes to the AA progression, or possibly sooner or later, some type of a number of-specification system as we're doing for feats.Finally, pretty much as good as the questing and the storyline in Tortage is, a few of us have literally run it two dozen occasions now on varied alts. Any chance veterans may get a "skip Tortage" capability in some unspecified time in the future?Sure, I might love to get one thing like that in at some stage. We've talked about it a couple of occasions, however it tends to be a kind of issues that loses out within the priority conversations. As we transfer in direction of a fifth yr, it'll hopefully be one thing we are able to sneak in at some stage.Sounds good -- we're wanting forward to the next 12 months!~~~In addition to providing us with an interview scoop, Funcom has also thrown some prizes our manner to offer to Massively readers. We now have 10 codes that grant four months of premium time to any current account. If you do not have an existing account, you can always create a free one and apply the codes from there.How do you get your hands on one of these codes? Merely watch our Fb and Twitter pages the place we'll give out all codes from now until Friday evening. Better of luck! EXTREME CRAFT Jef Reahard is an Age of Conan beta and launch day veteran as nicely because the creator of Massively's bi-weekly Anvil of Crom. Be happy to counsel a column matter, propose a guide, or carry out a verbal fatality through