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imageAs a new year rolls in, most of us are probably left with that guilty feeling that we may have over-indulged ourselves in Christmas breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and perhaps even come back home after the mad rush to relatives’ houses thinking, “Next year, we do things differently!” You may even be guilty of attending a post-Christmas sale at your retailer of choice only to be knocked to the floor by a middle-aged woman with an overzealous desire for footwear and other apparel. You may have also weighed yourself on the scales a day or to into the new year and noticed you’ve added on a few more kilograms (okay, “pounds” for those still using the Imperial system) and made it one of your new year’s resolutions to either: a) go to the gym more often; b) attain a gym membership and physically occupy the bounds of the gym more often; or c) use the gym equipment yourself rather than imagining what sweat feels like when watching other members of the gym use said equipment. But there’s no need to feel ashamed if you have felt any of these feelings, because God knows we have all felt them, and you are rest-assured knowing that the errs of the previous year are magically wiped clean as we begin the cycle of the next 366 days (yes, it’s a leap-year this year), unless of course you’re a convicted felon; I imagine things might work a bit differently for you.

2008 is certainly going to be an exciting year for ‘Age of Conan’ fans, with the game’s release just under three months away. But my job this fortnight is not discuss what we might see from Funcom in the months to come, no, that’s only guess-work and to be quite frank clairvoyance or looking to the stars for answers was never my thing. All that we can do is to look forward to what we do know about, and that is this: the game is coming on March 25 this year.

A wise man once said, “A man should never know too much about his own future” Okay, it wasn’t really a “wise man” per se, but I do hold the musings of Dr. Emmett Brown in very high esteem. I believe this is something that I have touched on in previous editions of Mitra’s Method, but essentially what I’m talking about is speculation. It’s awesome that the Funcom product managers and community representatives take the time out of their already busy schedules to share with us information about the game and its progress, but the problem is that we, the fans, have this uncanny ability to break-down every single word they utter and jump very quickly to our own conclusions. There’s a soothsayer in every single one of us, it seems. Why can’t we call a spade “a spade” these days?

Something that certainly does not help matters, are these individuals with amoeba-sized brains who post on the official forums claiming to have information about the ‘Age of Conan’ beta. I’m not going to cite examples, of course, but on analysis of this information it’s quite apparent that their information is grossly inaccurate. But what measuring stick am I using? One of my favourite games to play as a youngster was Chinese Whispers, and I’m sure that as we get older we often find ourselves as unbeknownst participants in this game. We all know that the objective of Chinese Whispers is to rely on your acute sense of hearing and ensure the correct message makes its way from start to end, but due to people often mishearing things or in whispering words are muffled somewhat, the message changes, even by a word or two, but this has the ability to change the meaning of the phrase completely. The lesson Chinese Whispers tries to teach its participants, is that if you want a clear answer or effective communication, it’s better to get the message straight from the source; to get it “straight from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

The Funcom staff will have to forgive me for referring to them as horses (perhaps I can refer to them as “Wyld Stallyns” instead?), but anyway, they are the ‘Age of Conan’ orcales; the source of all things ‘Age of Conan’. It is these people, and the trusted media that they liaise with (myself included *wink*), that are only to be trusted. Okay, the media can be quite opinionated [on occasion], but they’re getting their information first-hand, and what’s so good about is that it’s perfectly okay with Funcom, that is, no one’s breaking any NDAs by getting that info out to you. The info from press and other media may not be coming straight from the horse’s mouth, but it coming from the horse next to to it is still pretty darned good. But here’s my advice: if you see someone posting or disclosing information, and if this person is not a recognisable source (like the popular Santa Gaute, the incomparable Erling Ellingsen, or demonstrator extraordinaire, Jørgen Tharaldsen), then use the measuring stick; how does their information measure up to what is being said by the press or what Funcom themselves has said? If you see discrepancies, inaccuracies, and things that sound just plain dodgy, dismiss it, or at the very least take it with a pinch of salt. This will save you the distress later, trust me, because we can get so caught-up in our involvement in the game that we lose our head a bit and when we hear something even remotely negative, for us it’s like the four horsemen of the apocalypse have arrived and the sky is raining with blood and lava. Don’t let this happen to you!

imageSo why am I telling you all this? I mean, most of you are quite level-headed anyway and know what’s fact and what’s crap. As most of you, the Mitra’s Method faithful, know by now, I am leaving on a jet-plane for Oslo, Norway in about 10 days’ time. Why? I will be representing the WarCry Network at Funcom’s fan-site community event held between January 17 and 19, and I will be there with a notepad, pen, digital camera, mini tape recorder, and an empty noggin to retain everything that Funcom feeds me and getting the 411 on all things ‘Age of Conan’ whilst over there, and here’s where I’m calling for your help. You see, I’ve got my list of questions, and I’ve even gotten my fellow guild members involved, but if there is anything you would like to know about ‘Age of Conan’, then shoot me an email with a few of your own questions, and I’ll put them to the developers, product managers, community staff, and basically anyone else wearing a Funcom nametag in the Funcom offices (even the cafeteria staff if I have to).

What I give to you is the opportunity to get things straight from the horse’s mouth, or at least from the horse right next to it (that’s me). So no more speculation, no more dismissing shady characters and their clairvoyance or looking to the stars for answers, and no Chinese Whispers being played here, because I will be delivering a full report of my time over there in Oslo in Funcom headquarters, and you, hopefully, are going to get all of your own questions answered. I’ll even hook you guys up with some footage and snaps of the game it looks at that time. To send me your questions, please put in the subject heading “Questions for Mitra’s Method, Funcom visit”. You can find a link to email address at the end of this article (just after my sign-off), and I’ll even give you until Sunday, January 13 to submit your questions.

Anyway, I digress too much…

I was recently thinking about my own new year’s resolutions for this year, and yes, Mitra’s Method was included in such thoughts, and I felt that last year I had things pretty good: a good number of readers each fortnight, what I perceive to be good feedback from you guys in general, and lots and lots to talk about in the lead-up to the game’s release. So I’ve decided that for 2008 I want to challenge myself and maintain the standard that I set for myself each fortnight in 2007, but of course your help is required for that, and that’s when I need your feedback! So don’t be afraid to send me an email, as others have done in the past, be it inflammatory or encouraging in nature; feedback is feedback (just don’t subscribe me to any “dubious” websites or newsletters).

imageRegarding ‘Age of Conan’ and what is to be revealed in the months to come, take each day as they come, and avoid the speculating if you can. I’ve spoken before about being too emotionally invested in a game, and I’m quite sure you’re all already aware being so can remove can detract you from how much you are able to enjoy the game or the way you receive information given to you by Funcom staff or the press. So if you’ve been guilty of over-analysing what Funcom or the press have been telling us, or involving yourself in speculation about the game’s development and progress, then this is the chance for you to wipe the slate clean and make 2008 the year that you wisen-up and let Funcom do the talking: use the measuring stick and sift the details yourself. If the information has some merit, even still, take it with a pinch of salt, but don’t treat it as gospel unless Funcom confirms it. Let this be one of your new year’s resolutions as far as ‘Age of Conan’ is concerned.

As I will be in Oslo on January 18, there obviously won’t be an edition of Mitra’s Method for that fortnight, but I will be back the following week with a full run-down of my time at Funcom HQ and a full report of my hands-on time with ‘Age of Conan’. Depending on how things turn out as well, I might have something for you next week (I’ll get back to you on that; things are still up in the air), but regardless, January is going to be month for information for ‘Age of Conan’ and the joy is in not knowing what will be revealed, and this is how things ought to be. Avoiding the guess-work may also allow you to enjoy information given to you; you may avoid disappointment that way.

“I never think of the future; it comes soon enough.” – Albert Einstein

Until next fortnight, this is Stephen “weezer” Spiteri,

Out.

Want to contact me? Then email me here.
© Stephen Spiteri, January 2008

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