by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
by Erling Ellingsen, Product Manager for Age of Conan
For the past few weeks, gamers of all kinds have been diving into Age of Conan
Reviews and opinions of the game have been tossed around the internet,
and the players have been eager to voice their own thoughts on the
brand new title. But on launch day, what was the attitude like in the
Funcom studios? Was everyone nervous? Or elated? To answer these
questions, we contacted Erling
, a product manager for Age of Conan
asked him a number of questions about his post launch experience. If
you’re looking for some entertainment….read on!
Ten Ton Hammer:
It’s been five years since the Funcom team started working on
Age of Conan.
How does it feel to finally be seeing players out in the world?
Product Manager for Age of Conan
It’s definitely a mix of many different feelings. I do feel
happy about it and relieved that everything is finally done and out the
door, and I’m overjoyed about the fact that so many people
will finally be able to tread the jeweled thrones of Hyboria under
their sandaled feet. At the same time it’s a bit sad as it
feels like the end of an era – over four long years of making
this game, and now everything changes. But that’s life,
Ten Ton Hammer: I know
that the last few months have been pretty exhausting for you, but the
public may not know just how hard they were. Can you give us a brief
example of the things you did over the past few months to market the
Erling: Working in
the gaming industry, pretty much no matter what sort of position
you’re in, is pretty exhausting. The hours tend to be long
and things change very quickly. Of course, it’s also
tremendously fun and exciting! Personally I have spent the past few
months traveling all over the world to meet the press and talk about
the game. My job here in marketing is mainly working on public
relations. So I have gone to different events, visited press, done
countless interviews and such in an effort to raise awareness of the
game that the brilliant developers are working on. I’ve also
worked a lot, the past few months, on the “Hyborian
Insider” video series showcasing the game and that involves
working closely on the game itself capturing footage, generating
screenshot assets and more.
Ten Ton Hammer: What was
the most thrilling moment you had over the past few years? Conversely,
what was the hardest thing you had to go through?
Another thing I do here at Funcom quite extensively is working on the
events, coordinating and executing them with the rest of marketing,
events such as GDC in San Francisco and Games Convention in Leipzig.
I’m also quite blessed to be working with the wonderful
people on the team, creating plans together with Jørgen
Tharaldsen and Gaute Godager on what features to show, when to show
them and other important PR related issues. A bit of a side project, I
also had the pleasure of writing the manual for Age of Conan, which
was a lot of work but also a lot of fun, and it involved working very
closely with the developers on the team – something I enjoy.
Traveling the world and showcasing the games to journalists you pick up
a lot of feedback and a lot of knowledge, stuff that I take back to the
developers so we can shape and mold the game into something better
together. In the end, everything we do is one giant team effort!
Erling: Working in
the gaming industry is a true blessing, and there has been so many of
those thrilling moments during the years I have spent here at Funcom.
Witnessing drastic improvements in the game is of course very high on
the list of “best moments”, such as the first time
we were able to do mounted combat or the first time we could actually
walk around in the city of Tarantia without the computer screaming in
pain. I love traveling the world, and I really enjoy visiting the press
and coordinating and attending all these important conventions and
press events. This job is really full of highlights!
Ten Ton Hammer: Now that
AoC has finally launched, do you have any plans? Take a long vacation
Erling: No rest for
the weary, my friend! We will be working very hard for the next couple
of months making sure we iron out any remaining issues and improving on
what the players want us to improve on. We’ve already
started, for instance by doing major changes to the interface now that
the players have requested. I do hope, though, that some time this
summer I will be able to get a few weeks of vacation. Then I will be
getting in my car and drive all around Norway and perhaps a bit of the
rest of Europe, enjoying the clear mountain air and camping next to
tranquil lakes! Ahh… oh, how I miss nature! I’m
also thinking about taking another trip to Egypt again, I love that
Ten Ton Hammer: Will we
be seeing you stay on the AoC team over the next few years? Or are you
moving to Funcom’s next project?
Many fans had been
waiting for years to see the release of Age of Conan.
Erling: As a Product
Manager I work on all of Funcom’s projects, so you will
definitely see me involved in future Age of Conan
projects and other games such as The
Secret World. I am really looking forward to Age of Conan
expansions, and we have some great things coming up. Watching Age of Conan grow
and evolve should prove very satisfying! The team at Funcom is truly
amazing, and it’s quite an adventure working with all these
talented people. It’s a lot of fun being just one piece of
this giant puzzle!
Ten Ton Hammer: Many
players have really enjoyed the enthusiasm you have for Age of Conan. How
did you get hired on in your position, and how can players wind up
doing something similar to what you do?
Erling: I think
I’m an enthusiastic person by nature, and when I commit to
something I really go all the way with it – such as with Age of Conan.
I’m very glad to hear that this shows! Of course, with a
fantastic game such as Age
of Conan and with such a tremendously talented team
working on it, it’s hard not to be very enthusiastic! Before
I came to Funcom I actually worked as a journalist in a newspaper, and
I worked there as a consumer and news journalist, and I wrote about
games “on the side”.
Ten Ton Hammer: In your
own words, what was the Funcom studio like the night the game launched?
Did anyone sleep?
One day Funcom asked me if I wanted to come and work for them, and
having been interested in games all my life I jumped on it even though
it meant leaving behind a very comfortable and quite exciting job. My
passion for games runs pretty far back, but things started getting
“serious” when I gathered a team of other
enthusiastic individuals and made the game called “Era
Online” (you can look it up on Wikipedia, actually!). The
gaming industry is an industry driven by passion and talent, and if you
can combine the two, I’m sure you will reach your goals
eventually. It’s a cliché, but I’ll say
it: follow your dreams!
atmosphere was unbelievable! We launched the early access servers on
Saturday evening May 17th (coincidentally Norway’s
constitution day, double celebration!) and the office was packed with
people milling about doing their thing. Eventually we were all watching
this gigantic screen showing the number of players logged in, and as
the servers opened we saw the number sky rocket. It was amazing, and I
can assure you that there were lots of champagne! We are very happy
about the fact that everything went relatively smooth and that the
launch was a big success. But… what’s this sleep
you speak of?
Ten Ton Hammer: The
number of Collector’s Edition boxes that the company has sold
is astounding. How did you manage to pull that off? Why do you think so
many people were interested in that boxed set?
It’s a combination of great marketing and an even greater
game! And that combination is definitely explosive. The hype has, of
course, sky rocketed over the past few months and Age of Conan has
received an incredible amount of attention. It also helps that
we’re using the Conan license, as everyone and their
grandmother has some sort of idea of who Conan is – whether
it’s the original books, the comics or the movies!
Ten Ton Hammer: Could you
tell us the funniest story you have concerning the Age of Conan
development and/or launch? Hopefully it doesn’t include
Erling is looking
forward to bringing the AoC expansions to awaiting fans.
Erling: Oh, yeah. We
had this guy Cody over to Oslo and… oh, not about you? Okay.
For it probably involves one of my many travels or one of the events
I’ve worked on. We had such a brilliant time with the launch
event in Oslo. We basically flew in one hundred journalists from all
over the world and we built a gigantic Viking camp in the mountains of
Norway, hired dozens upon dozens of actors, hired a huge European live
band and really went all the way with launching the game into the
history books. We even had a dramatic play on stage to which I wrote
the dialogue for about 4 AM in the morning the day before the event
started. When I saw the actor on stage speak the lines I had written in
my sleep deprived state just a few hours earlier, and I heard how
amazingly cheesy it all was, I couldn’t help but laugh and
think about what an odd sort of job this really is!
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you’d like to tell Ten Ton Hammer readers and Age of Conan fans?
It’s been such a long road leading up to the launch, and
I’m thrilled to see so many people now giving their attention
to the game – I and everyone at Funcom truly, truly
appreciate this. We’re lost for words when we see the amount
of attention we’re getting and we only hope that we can live
up to your expectations. To everyone who has been following the game
through all these years: this game is for you. I hope you stick with us
even further as we continue to shape Age of Conan into
an amazing gaming experience!