Monthly Development Update - August 2012
This is a harder update than usual update to write. There might have been a temptation to talk around the proverbial elephant in the room. However that really didn't sit right with us, so this update will cover the questions that I am sure are on the lips of many of you, and that is what does the future hold for Age of Conan?
Many of you will have already heard that Funcom has had to reduce our operational costs. You can read the official statement here. This meant that all the teams were affected in some capacity. Yes, there were some cuts to the Age of Conan team as well. However, the team that remains is still large enough to continue with the current content plans, just with a few adjustments, and probably a slight delay or two here and there depending on progress.
The team has not been "cut down to the bone" and we have retained all the personnel required to do game updates and keep adding new content into the game. Age of Conan benefited in that regard from the fact that we were already run as a partly separate production unit. Therefore we have been able to retain enough staff to keep the content coming for our loyal players.
It will, however, mean things are done a little differently.
In many ways it has combined with what we were already considering in some regards. At risk of sounding like spin, as we had discussed in last month's updates we were considering doing the updates in stages so that we delivered smaller updates, but more often. Now we are in a position that it really becomes a necessity to do so rather than an optional choice. That will be the best approach available to us with the new structure of the company.
That means that all the content that would have originally come in the adventure pack will come in parts over the rest of the year and the early parts of next year, and the same goes for the systems and code updates. That includes the single server changes, the crafting revamp, and the remaining class revamps.
Oddly enough, for some of those things it may mean that some of it comes earlier, since the dependencies to the adventure pack work have now been severed. This will give us some more flexibility in what we release and in which order.
The team is currently assessing exactly what order those updates will come in, and we will fill you all in on the details of the schedule as we figure out when the different parts will be ready. We will most likely talk a little more about that in next month's development update.
The new location!
Of course with the content now coming in delectable bit-sized pieces it means we can now reveal the new location, a little of the mystery surrounding it, and show you some of the stunning production art that the team has been working on while we set about creating the look and feel for this new area of Hyboria we are about to explore.
The new content will be all be part of the Secrets of the Dragon's Spine updates. The new game-play areas and dungeons will focus on an area on the border between Stygia and Keshan.
The Dragon's Spine is a remote desert region located south and west of the ancient city Pteion. It's dominated by a ridge of jagged, mountain spikes which gives name to it. Rippling desert dunes stretch for miles in every direction from the spine, lifeless, except for a small oasis in the mountain's shadow, and treacherous caves and tunnels weave in and out of the mountain rock. The only building made by man is the Palace of Cetriss, which can be found in the center of the area, at the foot of the mountain ... but men are not the only beings to have forged a thriving civilization in the desolate desert, many secrets lay buried beneath the sands.
Within the new content, which is aimed at level eighty players, there will be several new dungeons, a new raid area, a massive outdoor playfield (roughly the same size as the coast of Ardashir), and a new PVP area, as well as a host of new rewards, armor sets, weapons and other cultural items. There will also be a new mount type that we will be revealing later on, which is closely linked to the story that will be found in the Dragon's Spine.
The dungeons, and we will just tease with the names for now - The Coils of Ubah Kan, The Sepulcher of the Wyrm and The Slithering Chaos - will offer the same kind of selection of experiences as you found in the Savage Coast of Turan content.
Players will be diving into the depths of the desert to discover the secrets of this lost race, and the secrets they may have held. A deep and ancient evil is rising and you will all be tasked with helping to prevent its victory!
PAX this weekend
For those attending PAX prime in Seattle this weekend, I will be taking part in the MMORPG.com panel on the Future of Online Gaming, and taking the opportunity to chat with some of the press at the show about what's to come for AoC. If you are attending and see me wandering the halls, make sure you say hello!
Until next month
That's it for this month, quite a lot to digest there. New areas, new approaches, and some interesting possibilities on the horizon. The development team is as committed as ever to the world of Hyboria, and we are dedicated to continuing to produce the best content for all of you that we can. Good people and great allies have fallen on the battlefield this month, but we will fight on. We will fight on in their honor, and raise our tankards to past victories, and to the victories to come.
See you on the battlefield!