Interview with Game Director Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison
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Questions by Stacy "Martuk" Jones, AoC Ten Ton Hammer Site Lead
Answers by Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures' Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison, Game Director
Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures (AoC) announcement of Game Director Gaute Godager leaving the company stirred up a lot of discussion about the future of AoC under the tenure of the newly appointed Game Director Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison. The moment the news broke Ten Ton Hammer went looking for answers. This week the newly appointed Game Director took the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for the AoC community, address some of their concerns, and lay out some of his plans for the future of Hyboria.
Ten Ton Hammer: Some of our community know you from your tenure as Game Director for Anarchy Online. For those less familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the Gaming Industry?
Craig: Ive been working professionally in the Gaming Industry for, I guess around six or seven years now, having been an associate editor at IGNs Vaultnetwork before joining Funcom as their Community Manager in 2004. Like many before me I got into all this through many countless hours spent being an active part of modding and development communities. I tinkered around on everything from the old Mechcommander titles, through several first person shooters to Neverwinter Nights, as well as playing MMOs since before they were called MMOs! (Starting with Meridian 59 back in the early days, I dont even think there was an acronym for the genre back then, they were simply called graphical MUDs. I think you can tell when a genre is in its infancy when people arent quite sure what to call it!) Down the line, after stints with Ultima Online and Everquest it was through work with fan-sites around Anarchy Online that I got to know the team here in Oslo and was eventually asked to join up and get to do it from the inside!
I took over on Anarchy Online, first as project manager in 2006 before becoming Game Director for the title in 2007. I was also involved just prior to that in setting up the community for Age of Conan when it was first announced back in 2005, so its kind of full circle for me now!
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Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison as Game Director is responsible for keeping the development in check from start to finish.
Ten Ton Hammer: Some of our community may not know exactly what the Game Director and Producer does. Could you explain to our community exactly what your job involves in regards to Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures?
Craig: Now there is a question! I think its actually a few things, but what it boils down to is being the person responsible for the decisions that are made in relation to the title. Much of the work is very much the planning and administrative side, but its also about growing and fostering the talent and creativity in the team so that we make the right decisions to provide the most fun to the players. My day is honestly spent with a good deal of meetings! Keeping up to date with the work of the various teams, consulting on the process and feedback and doing everything to ensure that everyone has all the information and tools they need to do their jobs. Its about setting the direction and making the very top level decisions and then doing the sanity checking when the work comes back from the teams that are flushing those things out. So in effect my role can be described as being at the beginning and end of the process to make sure we stay on track!
Ten Ton Hammer: In Anarchy Online you were known for being very active in communicating with the community. How will you handle communication with the AoC community?
Craig: Ill be handling it directly as much as possible! I have always been a community person at heart, and I still feel strongly its an important part of the process. Everyone is happier when the communication lines are open. I think people will hopefully already be seeing that Ill be trying to make sure people stay updated as much as possible.
Of course we wont always agree (we dont always agree internally when we discuss any given design proposal, let alone with hundreds of thousands of player opinions!) but I think as long as the rationale is provided and players can see that we are at the very least listening to their concerns that we will be in a better position moving forward.
Ten Ton Hammer: A change such as this can sometimes mean a change in the vision for a game. Can you tell us some of your future plans for the evolution of Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures?
Craig: I think the things that were aimed for to really make the game stand out worked really well. The visuals, the very hands on combat, the feel of Hyboria itself, I think the team realized that vision so incredibly well that it gives us such a fantastic base to work from.
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PvP, siege combat, and guild functionality will remain a focus of future updates.
I think for my part the main areas that I will be trying to focus on will be more of the MMO mechanics that we can advance further. Bringing in more guild and community functionality and continuing to build on the PVP and Siege sections of the game, I think we have a great deal of potential there to really make the players involved in the world they inhabit. Conflict I think is a key factor for a game world to maintain long term interest and the world created by Robert E Howard for the Conan universe just cries out for that conflict to be expanded upon and developed.
I think we already do the quests and storytelling really, really well, and there you will hopefully be seeing more of that quality coming through into new content, new areas, new dungeons and new quests! For me its about creating a world that the players feel involved in, part of and a connection to. I think its one of our strengths and I plan on making sure we take full advantage of that quality!
Ten Ton Hammer: With other games making their debut and pushing out expansions, will Funcom make a marketing push to re-introduce the public to the much improved Age of Conan?
Craig: I am sure they will when the time is right, thats more a question though for the marketing folks than for me. I certainly feel that we will be able to build on what is already a great game and provide new content and features for the players that will make them appreciate the world of King Conan all the more!
Ten Ton Hammer: Server merges have been brought up by the playerbase quite a bit, could we get an official word as to whether or not we may see low population servers brought together?
Craig: We covered that a little in my latest letter to the community. We are looking at it, but the details are still being worked on, but we will be sure to let everyone know as soon as we have the details. It was addressed because we saw that many players were indeed asking the question, so we felt it was worth addressing. I wanted to acknowledge the community and let them know that while we dont have the immediate plans as it were it is being discussed and considered, and we will make sure we do what is right to ensure the best playing experience for our players!
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you would like to share with the Age of Conan community?
Craig: Just that I think there are some really exciting times ahead and I am honored to get the chance to guide us through them! I am really looking forward to the challenge of providing people with the game experience that does justice to the fantastic game world we have crafted already.
Ten Ton Hammer would like to thank Game Director Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. It is clear from the tone of his answers that Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures is in good hands.
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