The Age of Conan launch event was truly a spectacle. Hundreds of fans converged with hundreds of the media to form an enormous group that took in presentations, a Cimmerian War Camp, a Harem, live bands, good food and free beer.
Fortunately for you, there was more to this get together than fun. There was fun and games. The games is what you are interested in and more specifically "the game", Age of Conan. After the final presentation we were placed in groups of five (two of us were Ten Ton Hammer staff) and set upon the developers like coyotes on a carcass. Andreas Öjerfors, Quest Coordinator / Designer was our first victim in the interview queue. It went startling similar to this,
Interview group: Will there be an honour system for PvP?
Andreas Öjerfors: In the PvP mini-games, which is capture the skull we points that you can gather. That you can use in your fights for the battlekeeps. With this you can get gear. We also have the blood money system. You can buy gear and items with this. There are eight battlekeeps per server and these give your guild bonuses. You need and you want a battlekeep. For instance, one guild will hold a battlekeep and another will be a contester for it. The guild that has the keep will be able to open a time slot which is when you can attack. It's like a calendar. You don't want to have to guard it 24/7, so this gives you certain time slots when you know you can be attacked.
Interview group: Would you say as a quest designer that the beginning of Age of Conan, the single-player aspect could compete with classic single player RPGs in terms of quest, story and immersion?
Andreas Öjerfors: I would certainly say so, yes, of course. (laughs) The first five levels are completely single-player. From level five until 20 there is an option for single-player or multiplayer. The single-player has more in terms of storyline. It has always been our goal to have the quality of a single player game in a multiplayer environment. You play together with your trainers and the quest NPCs that you have grown to be friends with. In the end, you play with them against the tyrant's forces.
The player is always motivated. We also try to make it cinematic. Every area of the game has one or several conflicts. Many smaller quests are part of quest chains, so you have atoms and molecules. These together make up the story of a region.
The destiny quest is also single-player and is like the red thread throughout the game.
Ten Ton Hammer: What about players who jump in and for whatever reason decide that they don't want to partake in the single-player aspect of Tortage and there may be some who mistakenly do just that. How will that affect them down the road in Age of Conan?
Andreas Öjerfors: In the end, it is not necessary, however you do get things that you want from the destiny quest. So, you want to do it. If you get to level 70 and decide that you want to do it, then you will spend a couple of hours completing it. At level 70 that will be a very, very minor investment.
Interview group: What about crafting?
Andreas Öjerfors: Crafting is also quest based. You have trainers for the different crafting professions and they will give you crafting quests. So, our crafting is not grind based, you actually do quests to raise your skills. You also have to get resources from nodes in the world. You extract those.
Interview group: Do you see a problem with melee heavy raids, because the game has collision? Some players may not be able to attack the mob.
Andreas Öjerfors: That's part of the tactics that you have to develop. I don't see any problem. Also, many raids have multiple targets, so you need melee and healers on different targets.
Interview group: Can you compare the size (geographical) of Age of Conan to other MMOs?
Andreas Öjerfors: Oh, that's difficult. It's huge. I can't compare it to any others, but there are 250 hours of gameplay to reach level 80.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you have morality options in your quests or quest chains?
Andreas Öjerfors: Yeah, we have a little bit of that. We don't have a lot of morality options, it's more like if you do something really stupid then you are going to fail the quest. We have the ability that if you talk to someone and you pick the wrong answer we can take a different road in the quest and make you do something else, perhaps more difficult and then come back.
Interview group: Is there a way to complete quests in more than one ways, for instance bribing or taunting rather than fighting?
Andreas Öjerfors: No, not normally. We don't really do that. We talked about having guile as a skill, but we didn't do that.
Ten Ton Hammer: Erling hinted at some zones requiring players to complete a quest to enter. Is there going to be an attunement requirement for guilds to gain access to raid zones?
Andreas Öjerfors: We did originally plan on having more of that, but we don't have much of it today because we simply want more of an open world where you are limited by if you go into a zone and you are too low a level you will die. I think that is how it should be.
Interview group: Will players be able to edit the User Interface like they do in other games?
Andreas Öjerfors: The philosophy from the gui designers is that they are going to try to provide a streamlined interface with a unified experience.
Ten Ton Hammer: You talked about the depth of the Conan lore. Are you worried with all the hype about the mature rating and the sexuality that the depth will be lost?
Andreas Öjerfors: That is something that we would like to talk about. We have the violence and the sex and that looks very good marketing-wise, but we the devs look at it a bit differently. We look at it as pretty serious stuff, based on Howard's writings. We try to portray Hyboria as we believe Howard wrote it.
Ten Ton Hammer: The Age of Conan intellectual property is a lot like Battlestar Galactica in that it is has a rich background, but there are also a lot of holes. did this prove problematic or beneficial to the dev team?
Andreas Öjerfors: I think that is a strength. I often don't like to play licensed games, because I already know what will happen. With Hyboria it is so grand and so big that it can fit any number of conflicts. There are so many blank spots in the history of Hyboria that we can fill and even add our own stories to.
Ten Ton Hammer: How much leeway do you have with the IP when it comes to doing your own thing? Do you have to go through the license owner to deal with this new lore that you come up with?
Andreas Öjerfors: They have access to our quests and story documents and if they have a problem they let us know, but usually they don't. The like what we do.
Thank you to Andreas and the rest of the Funcom team for taking such good care of us while we were in Oslo.
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