MMORPG fans take note: Age of Conan is almost here! To celebrate, developer Funcom invited the world's press to Oslo, Norway, to glue their eyeballs on some never before seen raiding and guild PVP footage. But, as AoC's US and European launch inches ever closer, concerns have begun spreading online about how the game will cope with the server pressure its massively successful beta promises. We cornered product director Jorgen Tharaldsen following the bash to find out what Funcom's doing to ensure a smooth, and playable, Age of Conan launch next week.
VideoGamer.com: I wanted to ask about the guild cities. Are they in the open world or are they instanced?
Jorgen Tharaldsen: No they're instanced. We have to make it like that. There are two kinds of guild cities. We have the battle keeps, which are the PVP siege ones. They are limited in terms of how many instances they run in. You have about nine on each server. The purpose of those is to have an eternal guild war going all the time. Then you have the peaceful ones, which is the one we saw today. That will have a lot more instances. So when that one instance is full you just brew a new one. If the guild is unable to keep up their upkeep for that they will lose it and then that means a new spot will be available. But they have two very different focuses. One is the social gathering, what you do with a guild, the focus of the guild, the other is pure battle. They are also very different in terms of how they are built up. It's a lot easier to build up a siege PVP one than it is to build up a normal one and take it through all the tiers, simply because we want you to be up and running quite fast. So if you take a siege PVP one down, with what is left in the rubble you should be able to get a new one up quite fast so you're ready for war.
VideoGamer.com: Does the keep go to the guild which won it?
JT: Yes. We have to have a million rules and systems running the system. It's something for the elite players when you get to level 80. There's a lot of rules we have to do to avoid exploits, to avoid waking up in the morning and your city is gone. So there's a complex system running this and in terms of who wins the battle. Of course you can get some of the benefits even though you're not in that guild you will get the power, the XP, the PVP levels and of course the joy. It's not just about rewards, it's about having fun too, so hopefully players will have lots of fun with this, and then you have the mercenary system on that.
VideoGamer.com: We saw in the presentation a character doing spellweaving. How will it work exactly? Will you be able to cast spells while spellweaving?
JT: Yes. It's based upon which class you're playing. It's also reactive in that you can control the power of it as you move through, a bit like the combo system or DDR, with the arrows and you have to control the way the system works. In the presentation it was a GM so there was no kick back, otherwise you would have seen the health go down first and when there's no more stamina the health starts going down. It's either a heroic way of going out or it's how much you control the energies you are weaving. But you don't have 100 spells in spellweaving. It's a state and it's a frenzy. After the spell starts it evolves. It goes from being a single target spell to doing a cone to doing a full AOE. By being in that state of course you're saying to the world, hey, come kill me! There's a strategic element because you have to protect the person doing it, but you can also do it effectively, let's say in a siege you can stand on the barracks and do it. But at the same time it's also a warning signal so there are also repercussions by doing it wrong.
VideoGamer.com: So you can still attack players while you're spellweaving.
JT: Yeah. The whole essence of everything we do is attacking players and mobs and boss mobs and everything else in the world.
VideoGamer.com: So the attacks will be automatic while you're spellweaving? You won't have to do other spells at the same time?
JT: No. There's a limited amount of how many spells you can do. Simply because since the power grows so much it would have been a nightmare to balance if you had all the entire spell range. It's like layers. You start with single spells and then you evolve until you become really good at the spellweaving aspect. Like with everything else we do it's an evolution. It's our way of giving more to the spell casters. We have an active combat system for the melee fighters and the range for the ranger and we have this for the magic classes, and the healers have their own way of doing it as well. It's trying to bring some innovation while not alienating too much from what people know from before.