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As promised last week, in this edition I will be answering the questions you submitted to me throughout the last week and a bit. Before I start, however, I would like to begin by apologising to those people whose questions I did not get around to answering. As you can imagine, I was absolutely inundated with emails, private messages, and posts on the WarCry Age of Conan forums, and while most questions have been filtered down because they more or less ask the same thing, there were quite a few I could not answer. This was simply because there were a lot of questions asked that I personally could not answer; the questions were either technical in nature, or concerned matter beyond my own personal experience with the game. Having said that, however, I’m sure you will be pleased with the amount of questions I have answered here, and I hope, well and truly, that those that have their questions answered are satisfied with my response(s).

So, without further-ado, here are your questions and answers:

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1. Is the game going to be end-game unique/fresh?
There is lots to do for the end-game player/guild! If you’re into raiding, PvP, crafting, or intrigued by Age of Conan’s unique Sieging system, then you’re not going to be trudging the plains of Hyboria looking for a fix.

Concerning Sieging, for example, a new guild, a new city to plunder, and a new keep location presents a new opportunity and something fresh and new. You never know how a particular guild/opponent is going to respond, so this makes developing new and unused tactics a major part of that particular facet of the game.

The end-game raids (eight level 80 raids at launch) are designed to challenge even the most organised of guilds and individual players, plus they increase in difficulty. In order to attempt a particular higher-end raid instance, it will be required to complete a preceding raid instance to attain more powerful items to ensure you’re properly matched against the tougher opponents. Funcom have gone out of their way to make sure that while you won’t be sitting at your computer for 12 or so hours completing these raid instances, you will well and truly be challenged and have that incentive to complete and replay.

2. Is there an auction house and, if positive, how does it work?
There is not an “auction house” per se, but there are trading posts. In major cities (hubs) of Hyboria (Old Tarantia, Khemi, and Conarch Village) you can access trading posts. In these locations, you have access to your own personal item vault, an item search facility (to browse for items and other equipment currently tagged for sale), the in-game mailing system (where you can message other players as well as post and receive any sort of item), and your guild bank where any player belonging to a guild can deposit gold, silver, copper, and or tin into the guild savings.

Purchasing an item tagged for sale is as simple as searching for the item (much like you would in other MMOs), only you don’t place bids on the item; you must buy them outright.

3. So, Funcom has always talked about how they want the game to be very skilled based, not “two spreadsheets fighting.” But, the thing is, they’ve added “Dodge” “Parries” and “Misses” all of which are made by Random Number Generators, which means that it’s all luck. Which means more skilled players will occasionally lose to lesser skilled players completely based off luck. Of course, the more skilled player will more often than not still come on top, but due to Random Number Generators, it’ll occasionally be pure luck.

So, my question is, why include Dodge, Parries and Misses, witch take away from the “skill base” when they simply could not have?
Age of Conan still has strong role-playing elements, because ultimately, this is still an MMORPG we’re talking about. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that with the combat system Spellweaving, etc., you are in control of those “numbers” that affect damage, dodge percentages, heals-over-time, etc.

By firing-off combos, depending on the sort of combo it is, you can reduce an opponent’s chance to dodge, reduce their damage resistance, give yourself more powerful heals-over-time, give yourself a buff to your defence rating, etc. Where does the skill come in? Well, first of all, it’s comes with being able to first being able to successfully fire-off your combos, and secondly by having the savvy in actively making strategic decisions in what combo to use and when. A player might be able to mash a few buttons and pull a bunny out their hat, so to speak, but the player that thinks will always beat the player that doesn’t. Player skill lies in knowing your class, knowing your feats, and anticipating your opponent’s next step(s).

4. What level do spell-casters get Spellweaving and how difficult is it to control it?
As far as I know, spell-casters are able to Spellweave from the very early levels, but you’d have a very limited array of spells at your disposal at that stage. Spellweaving is not difficult to control, but as a player you’d need to be careful not to push things too far, as a Spellweave that goes wrong can bear negative consequences on your character. These penalties vary. I would recommend experimenting first, just to see how far you can push your spell-caster and to get a feel for the various bonuses and penalties that can arise as a result of a successful or failed Spellweaving attempt.

5. Whilst levelling past level 20 were there any instances you encounter, such as six man encounters?
Yes, there are several. A personal favourite of mine is the Sanctum of Burning Souls, a level 35 to 40 instance encounter, located in the Wildlands of Zelata in Tarantia. The Sanctum of the Burning Souls takes you deep into the dark pits and chambers of an ancient Acheronian temple. You can have a read of this for a better insight into that particular instance encounter.

6. Will there be any seasonal events like there is Christmas and various other things in World of Warcraft?
I’m a fan of these sort of events, but personally, as much as I love Christmas, I don’t think a Christmas “event” has a place in Hyboria, let alone in the Conan universe. Perhaps some Hyborian “flavoured” events could be played out within the game from time to time. I’m sure the Age of Conan quest designers have been reading the Conan stories and comics for inspiration for events like these, though.

7. What do we have to do to reset our feats/talents?
In order to reset feats/talents, I believe we will be able to visit an NPC, and for a price we can “untrain” our feats/talents to respecify (a “respec”) our build(s). It is simply a matter of re-applying feat/talent points after that in the way that you desire to build your character.

8. What does it take to create a guild in Age of Conan?
Creating a guild is quite simple: once your character gets to level 20, you press on the “Guild” icon located in the top left-hand corner of the screen/GUI, and from there you can establish, name, set the government type, set the guild tax rate, etc. of your guild.

9. How many endgame raids will there be and will they differ significant in difficulty level? Like a guild will have to gear up in easier instances or raids before taking on the tougher ones?
There will be eight endgame raids at launch, and yes, they will differ in difficulty level. The raid instances are three-tiered, and completing one will unlock a harder one. The equipment attained in the previous one is needed to complete the second (and second to third, etc.) in order to evenly match yourself with the next tier.

10. What can you tell us about crafting in Age of Conan?
Crafting, in Age of Conan, is simple but enjoyable. Unlike other MMOs, there is no craft “grinding” in Age of Conan. You pick up crafting quests from NPCs in crafting villages located in resource zones of the world. There are crafting “levels”, and to advance, you have to complete a tier of crafting tasks. Each level grants you access to more advanced/more powerful crated items, which obviously make you very popular to players looking for a finely-crafted piece of armour, a deadly weapon, or a guild looking for an experienced architect to draft them plans for different building types for their guild city.

11. For the guild cities, how many building slots will there be, excluding walls/gates and towers?
I’m not sure on the exact number of building slots, but there will be enough for a guild to build their lookout towers, walls, plus other essential structures including buildings or structure-types that may grant bonuses to the guild’s crafters, a buff to a particular class during a siege, etc. Guilds will have the freedom to pick and choose the structures they want in order to give them the effect or advantage sought for.

12. Does taunt work in PvP at all? Can I taunt another player and have them switch targets from say a healer to me the tank?
To the best of my knowledge, taunt does not work in PvP. That would make protecting your healer/squishy teammate(s) too easy, in my opinion.

13. How will the total land mass compare to World of Warcraft and other MMOs? What kind of teleportation or mass transit systems will help us manage the distances?
Age of Conan will boast 185 square miles of total land mass, with some zones as big as four by four (4×4) miles large. For those of us that use the metric system, that’s about 479 square kilometres, with some zones as big as six-and-a-half by six-and-a-half kilometres large.

In regards to travel, you will be able to, of course, walk from zone to connecting zone, go on horseback, or take a boat or stagecoach to zones that are a bit further away. Don’t forget that Age of Conan utilises zoning technology, so there are loading screens between zones, much like in City of Heroes/Villains.

14. Will the rarity of items (common, rare, epic, legendary etc) indicate the stats and how good the items are?
Yes, items in Age of Conan have a colour-coding/rank system. White items are “normal”, green items are “rare/superior”, purple items are “epic”, etc. Keep in mind though, Age of Conan may not necessarily use that terminology, so simply know that white = normal; green = better; purple = “betterer”, etc.

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15. How will hybrid classes work in Age of Conan? In other words, at what level will my feat choices affect what fundamental roles I can play in end game dungeons, raid, and PvP as a hybrid class?
The good news about the feat-trees in Age of Conan, is that you’re not restricted to one feat-tree if you begin by putting feat points in to the root feat of a feat tree. If you like, you can invest points in the alternate feat-tree to round your character off and truly diversify your character. Even you stay within the one feat-tree, Age of Conan offers diversity within a specific build-type, with different feats and abilities on offer in the same tree. Basically, you can make your character a “specialist” of sorts, or a bit of an all-rounder. There does not appear to be any “must have” feats or abilities, but what ever you pick up, it’s going to help. Not choosing a specific feat or ability or not investing a certain amount of feat points in it certainly won’t be a hindrance to the player, because as earlier mentioned, there is plenty of opportunity for the player to invest in the other feat-trees (be it “General” or the alternate feat-tree) to augment, enhance, or simply to round-off the build looked for.

16. How badly are you stuck with a certain play style or certain abilities when choosing a class? For example, can a Guardian also be developed into a very offensive character, or are you pretty much stuck with the cookie cutter “tank” role?
See above.

17. Can you cut off more limbs then just the head?
I think this will depend on the client you are playing and what the censorship laws are in your particular region. I personally did not experience any more limb-rending than decapitations, but I did manage to trigger a lot of really cool-looking fatalities with my Guardian (I won’t spoil those for you; you’ll have to find out about those yourself).

18. How does the damage of the Bear Shaman hold up in comparison to that of the more specialized melee classes?
The Bear Shaman’s melee damage is actually quite impressive, and very easily the highest-damaging Priest class. How does it hold-up in comparison to the other melee classes? It’s difficult to say, but during beta, I saw a lot very deadly Bear Shamans. If played well, a Bear Shaman could very easily be on top of the kill count for PvP mini-games and the lynch-pin for any raiding or sieging team.

19. What kind of downtime between fights will there be?
Using the “rest” or “recover” ability, you’ll be able to regain your health, stamina, and mana quite quickly; within about 10 or so seconds. You are also able to purchase consumables from vendors – meals and drinks – to help augment your recovery time. Basically, you are able to go from mob to mob without much downtime in between. No rest for the wicked in Hyboria!

20. At what level can you buy your first mount?
Given you had the money, you could purchase your first mount as soon as you came into contact with a mount vendor (level 19 or 20, logically). This, however, may not be possible as the money you may have at this level will not make it possible, that and there’s no sense in doing so since you will not be able to ride the mount until level 40.

The mount-types in Age of Conan vary, and the better quality ones are obviously more expensive.

21. Is there going to be a voice system in Age of Conan?
There are hundreds of hours worth of recorded voice acting in Age of Conan, but no, there is no “voice system” in the game if you are referring to recording voices and sounds yourself and adding them to your own character like you could do in Baldur’s Gate (if memory serves). You will, however, at character creation be able to choose a voice set that will give your character a distinct sound when need to make sounds, e.g. those Maria Sharipova-like grunts in battle, etc.

22. How will the Stygians be able to do dungeons/raids? They don’t seem to have any tanking class.
Races are not “sides”. This means that players playing a character of a certain race will be able to team up with characters of different races. For example, a Stygian will be able to team up any Cimmerian, any Aquilonian, and obviously any other Stygian. So if your Stygian-only team requires a “tank”, you could always recruit an Aquilonian Soldier of some sort, or a Cimmerian Soldier or some sort.

If you are, however, playing within a strictly Stygian-only guild or team or whatever, then the Herald of Xotli has some tanking ability, so you might be able to get away with not using any Soldier class at all.

23. Some PvP in Age of Conan seems to take place at a certain time of the day. My question is, for all those people playing in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of Oceania, will there be a server running in these zones, will there be a server running on our time-zone (from Europe or North-America – similar to Oceanic servers in World of Warcraft), or will there just not be a server for us at all?

24. Are there plans to implement an “auto-zoom” option to the off the shoulder cam when entering combat with a bow, followed by a zoom back out to full 3rd person on return to melee?

25. Will the races be able to group together or will it be only within their specific races that people can group?

26. What are, if any, the incentives to not be mounted in combat in Age of Conan? Or is everybody better off riding at least something in combat?

27. Do the PvE servers have the siege PvP in it?
The PvP on PvE servers will only ever take place in the Border Kingdoms and Sieges. Then of course there are PvP mini-games which can be started using the ‘Search’ user interface.

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28. I was wondering how the switch is between single player to multiplayer? How does it work, exactly?
The switch between single player and multiplayer is only available in Tortage (the “tutorial” zone of the game), where you switch between day and night by either sleep on a bunk in the Thirsy Dog Inn, or by speaking to your class trainer for the first 19 to 20 levels. Going to single player mode (night time) will allow you to attempt your initial Destiny quests. Day time, or multiplayer/MMO mode, as it suggests, will allow you to team up with your friends, guildmates, pick-up-groups, etc., in order to complete the quests in Tortage and its outskirts. You will still be able to access global chats and so on while in the night time/single player mode.

29. I wonder if the armour in Age of Conan is separated (like one piece for chest, another for legs, etc.) or in one piece?
Yes. If you wanted to, and provided your character was able to (trained to/unrestricted), you could wear a cotton cap (if you can afford it), heavy-armour arm bands, medium gloves, full-plate boots, etc. Armour pieces are divided into: head; shoulder, wrist, hands, chest, waist/belt, legs, feet, back, neck, and fingers (for rings).

30. From what I’ve read, you can affix weapons with up to three gems providing different abilities. If you dual wield, can you have six?
If each of your weapons can hold three gems, then yes, two weapons would give you six gems utilised in total.

31. Is there any possibility to change your class in the end-game? Like when you’ve chosen the Soldier archetype, can you then roll back and forth between Guardian, Conqueror and Dark Templar?
Nope. Once a Guardian, always a Guardian; once a Dark Templar, always a Dark Templar, etc (same applies to other archetypes). If you roll a Guardian and decide later you want to become a Conqueror, you’ll just have to roll a new character with the desired class choice.

32. Which class (or classes) in your opinion, makes the most of the unique combat mechanics that Age of Conan is introducing?
Any melee class, honestly!

33. What sort of item decay system is in AOC? Do you need to repair your armour/weapons after taking a number of hits?
There is no decay system in Age of Conan.

34. Can guilds declare war on each other?
Aside from Sieging? Well, not formally, but if you end up on PvP server of some sort (open PvP), feel free to cut down on rival guild members at your leisure.

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35. Do you know how “grindy” the quests are? For example, “kill ‘x’ thing ‘y’ times” or “kill collect…” etc.

I really don’t want to get sucked into another game where I spend all my time killing rabid badgers for their diseased spleens to make into a badger spleen kebab/soup. I want high adventure, not violent shopping trips!
Ahh, “fed-ex” quests. Yes, there are a few of those quests in Age of Conan, but it’s the story/background behind them that makes them unique, as is the case with all the quests in Age of Conan. Killing smaller animals may be required from time to time, but more often than not, you’ll also be required to retrieve the head of an outlaw, cut the heart out of Dark Beast, retrieve a half-eaten corpse form a crocodile’s belly, cut off a Nemedian’s tattooed arm to prove your worth, and so on. The good news is this: there are heaps of quests, so feel to pick and choose at your leisure and attempt the ones you want to do.

35. What types of items can you make/craft?
Anything from building plans (Architect line), gems, potions, swords, axes, bows, crossbows, polearms, cloth armour, medium armour, heavy armour, full-plate armour, weapons with gem slots in them, and so on.

36. Why is there no “good” mage in game? I know that Age of Conan is darker world, but I just always wanted to play that stupid, naive guy, that tries to help everyone. I know that there are some priests witch have some damage spells in spell-book, but, what about pure white mage?
The spell-casters in Age of Conan aren’t evil per se; it’s just the world they live and the general attitude towards magic, sorcery, and witchcraft in Hyboria. Conan himself is distrustful of magic-users, be he has been known himself to allow assistance by it if it means bringing him a step closer to crushing his enemy’s head underneath his boot.

No one’s forcing you to play an evil character, even if you choose to play a mage, so by all means: be that stupid, naïve guy that tries to help everyone.

Thank you to all that submitted questions, and I look forward to meeting you all in Hyboria!

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

Out.

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

Video: Drawn by Pain Trailer

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