VideoGamer.com: There's a patch announced for the release date. Are you able to say what it contains?
JT: No I won't because I don't want to make any promises on what the patch notes will be before we're done with them. Doing patch notes is a long process because there's always more in development than what you have putting into the patch. We're now moving into what we call a trunk, which is the main trunk of the code, and then we stabilise and weed out the bugs. Our core focus for the launch is technical aspect, stability and polish. Those are the three pillars that we are focusing and that's where we put all our people and have been doing in some cases for many months and in some cases for many weeks.
VideoGamer.com: Are you able to say how big the patch will be?
JT: No. We set an internal cap but I'm not going to say that either. Simply because we try to put a maximum cap on how large it will be but at the end of the day it's quality that determines it. There will be a patch on launch day for sure. And there's probably going to be a patch after launch day and after that again. It's a big world and there's many things we don't know until we get even more people in, even though we had tens of thousands in the beta playing. It will be interesting times. It's interesting times now for sure. Only a few days to go now.
VideoGamer.com: Do you anticipate any server performance issues when the game launches?
JT: Actually no, not on the server side. We've been doing this for quite a few years now. We're one of the companies in the world that's been doing this the longest. When we launched open beta we also put tens of thousands into the closed beta at the same time to stress our systems as much as possible, and a couple of hot fixes. After that we've been rock stable on the server side. Very few server crashes.
The biggest issue is the unknown. What happens when you have let's say 500,000 people trying to go into the same door? We went through this before with Anarchy Online back in 2001 and that was a gruelling experience. We thought we knew a lot but we didn't know anything when the systems really started to burn. Now we have a back up on the back up on the back up. If this happens we do this, these are the people responsible, this is how you do it, this is the hardware. If the forums go down we have four servers, smack, bang. If our websites gets issues, shut it down, this is the temporary, emergency website. If this server gets filled up it gets cycled back to the bottom. If there's too many people, this is the queue system, etc etc etc. We've been about a year working on the launch. We have our own launch groups, our own beta meetings, we meet pretty much every day. We go through, OK what's important, how do we do it, how do we prep our systems? We've been burnt before and we're trying to ensure that if there are mistakes and holes that we didn't see coming they are most likely stopped. But hopefully we have guarded ourselves and cast such a wide net that we will be able to pick up stuff quite fast.
VideoGamer.com: We saw some footage of the siege weapons. Will players be able to build them?
JT: Yes. We have crafting for pretty much everything. For the cities it's resources that you have to gather, the base resources. We tried to make a unique crafting system but easy to learn as well. It's all based around quests. You do quests, you get recipes and then you gather aspects and you don't have to stand over it hammering for hours. If you find the recipes, if you do the quests you'll be able to complete them and they go up in the tiers. I wouldn't say it's casual friendly but it's something a lot of people should be able to get into and this is important to us. A lot of people should be able to enjoy crafting while the higher tiers of it should be difficult to get through. We use a gem system where you can upgrade and modify the items that you create. In terms of how strong is a crafting item versus a drop item, we try to not make them stronger but a bit more dynamic. Let's say you have a sword, you can choose to put everything on one skill or one strength or one aspect. If you have some armour you are making you can choose to be very specific on it. You can get crafting gear according to your needs and wants and also to the needs of the world. Hopefully between 5-10% of our gamers will be crafting focussed. So we have tried to build a lot around them so they always have something to do. They are important. But, it's a Conan game, and a Conan game means that by the nature of the license it is the fighting that comes first. But there should be a lot for the crafters.
VideoGamer.com: Do you have to find a job?
JT: You have different tasks and you can also specialise in crafting. There are various branches where you can specialise in your chosen profession. Some will become essential for their guild. Other people can be freelancers and stand free and just focus on going solo in groups to gather resources needed to make the stuff they want to sell. How this pans out is going to be interesting for us, in a live environment, how the economy evolves. All of this is unknown. You can beta test all you want, but how is your economy three months after launch? We think we know how it is, but it's probably going to be different, and this plays into the crafting. So well see. Interesting times.
VideoGamer.com: The game has very good graphics for an MMO but also has high minimum specs. Is there a worry that there are going to be some performance issues with players who are playing it with minimum specs and do you think that the higher graphical demand will limit sales?
JT: Yes, it will. That was a given. That was a conscious choice that you make before you start development. We have invested more than $20m in our proprietary graphics engine, been getting a lot of help from Microsoft and Nvidia. But we knew we were making a game for mature gamers. We come from the West, our core market is Europe and the US. We made a bet that, OK, if you're going to make a Conan game you have to make it mature, visceral, lush detail and animation, and in some in that evolution you just have to stake your claim like any PC game does. So you can choose the cartooney approach or you can choose our approach, which is the watershed. We chose our approach because we think ultimately it benefits us. We think our players will like it more because everybody loves good graphics. Yes it does mean that you're going to need a better PC than playing WoW for instance. But that was a conscious choice we made.
VideoGamer.com: Internally what kind of subscription numbers are you looking at that will make you consider the game a success?
JT: I'm not even going to say those numbers! We sent out a press release where we passed one million beta sign ups for the game which to our knowledge is the biggest for any game in the West ever. We had more than five million people visiting our websites so far this year. If anybody told me a few years ago that we would be seeing these numbers I wouldn't have believed it. I don't even want to predict the future. Right now everything is looking good. Everybody loves us, we haven't launched yet. There's still the illusion until people put their fangs into it and give us feedback. But we have scaled our servers for 600,000 players on day one. That's the amount of people our server can handle. If we get that amount of players we will be a great success. That will be a really big success for us. We just want to make really good games hopefully lots of people play and hopefully we will be able to make more games and more content.