Monthly Development Update - May 2011
Writing this particular update felt both exciting and a little redundant given the two major announcements that have gone out already this week. The major news of course is the launch of the game with a strong free to play option, as Age of Conan: Unchained, and the announcement of the adventure pack - The Savage Coast of Turan. This means that we can finally start to talk about where it all fits into things in terms of the schedule.
We have obviously been working on both those things for a while behind the scenes so it is great to now be able to explain where this will sit in the schedule and how everything will fit together.
So let's take a look at the content schedule, starting with a quick recap of the updates that have just been launched. There are a lot of people reading up on the game in light of the announcement so we thought it worthwhile mentioning the most recent changes as well as the upcoming stuff...
The Ai District, The T'ian'an District (both level 80 group instances), The Faction revamp, which significantly improved the faction progression in Khitai, and the Crowd Control revamp, which included balance adjustments for all classes, are all now released and available for you all to enjoy. There will be some follow up tweaks and adjustments to the crowd control abilities, including the animation updates in one of the upcoming updates.
Next version - Age of Conan: Unchained
This version will be the next you see on the test server, and will contain the full free to play hybrid changes. There is a full FAQ for these changes already up here.
Content-wise this update will also include:
- The Forgotten City - level 40-80 solo ACG
- The Breach - level 40-80 solo ACG
- Khitai dungeon balancing – As we mentioned last month we have reworked the normal modes of the Khitai dungeons to offer a more balanced option and hopefully make them more interesting and rewarding for people to attempt. The earlier instances have also been made more accessible for those arriving in Khitai for the first time, and will not require AA investment to be worthwhile options.
As we mentioned last month, there is also the list of tech improvements that are waiting to go live over the coming months. I won't go into the same detail as in last month's letter, but we have the following updates being prepared to roll out over the summer / fall.
- Starting cross server tech - The merges next week are the start of a process whereby we will be moving the game to new 'cross-server' or 'single server' technology. This means that more players than ever before can play together on the same 'server' and that group activities will be able to be done across what were previously separate servers. This will be introduced in stages, starting with the merges this week, and ultimately the goal is that the only 'choice' as it were for world choice will be based on rule-set, so that all PVE players will play together, all PVPers will be together, and all the Blood and Glory population will be together (that is, within the same territory - there will still be the separation between data-centres i.e. the split between EU and US).
- Blood and Glory PVP server - This is a brand new PVP server type aimed at a more hardcore audience, it will most likely go live at the same time, or just after the release update for the free to play offer.
- Item Database optimisations – While this one will require an annoyingly lengthy downtime, in the long term it will allow us to expand the inventory space available to players, something we are currently restricted in.
- Network message compression – This should improve the performance in situations when there are many players in a confined area, as in sieges or outdoor PVP.
- Server-side PhysX implementation - Improves server performance.
- Load balancing improvements – Improves server stability
This version is going through internal testing at the moment and should move to the test server pretty soon after the current version there graduates to the live servers!
Fall Update – The Savage Coast of Turan
This update will feature a new area for players to explore along the coast of the Vilayet Sea, including new raid content, new solo and team dungeons, a new ACG as well as the overland content. There will be a lot of great content to enjoy in the adventure pack. The city of Ardashir provides a brilliantly epic backdrop against which you will discover a twisting tale of intrigue, betrayal, blood sacrifice and one of the foes that came closest to killing Conan himself!
We have worked closely with the folks behind the new Conan the Barbarian movie to be able to weave our story into the futures of some of the characters you will get to meet in the movie. There will also be quite a few movie themed items available including vanity armours that will allow you to wear some of the armours you might have gotten a glimpse of in the recent trailer for the movie!
Placing the content in Turan has given us the opportunity to raid some of Howard’s own stories set in that area for inspiration.
House of Crom is still on the back burner, but we do intend to finish it up at some stage after the movie tie-in is done. We are also looking back at some of the original content with a mind to some revamps and reworking of the content there, to try and provide a bit of a buff and polish to some of the older areas.
A lot to digest...
So there you have it, a fairly packed schedule ahead for the game over the rest of the year. With the free to play options providing opportunity to more players than ever before, we hope to welcome many new souls to the lands of King Conan. With both new content and some further tech improvements upcoming we aim to keep things interesting for those who walk the dangerous lands of Hyboria.
See you out there