Monday, August 11, 2014

Interview with Peter Lavoie "Pyzerius" Massicotte

I give the interview with a true "working class hero", a man that co-created much of the most enoyed content and AOC (and never truely got a credit for doing so) . He is currently tinkering with class balance changes on TL server.


1/ You have showed up on TL forum around the time Cirith left for break so please tell us: have you locked him in a deep dungeon (Scarlet Citadel style) and took his place or perhaps you got your developer position in a much less sinister circumstances? How did you end up on AOC team?

I've known since I was about 7 years old that I wanted to design games, but never thought a career in game design was attainable or possible.

In 2006, I began my career in the industry, starting as a QA tester. I further specialized my talents by learning and becoming a certification tester for the three major console companies, as well as serving as a French localization tester.

When Funcom opened up in Montreal, I switched over with the intention of trying to make my way into the development team. I subbed to Age of Conan immediately to get a sense of what the game was about. I remember my first go through Tortage, the music, (Knut is a genius imho), the ambience...I was hooked. I would go on from there to level every class to 80 to really experience my options, (having been an MMO veteran, this is typically how I approach MMOs). After 4 months of QA at Funcom, I applied to become a designer and got the position. Thus, I began my journey as a content designer for Age of Conan, back in 2010. I was ecstatic!

My first assignment was to create a solo dungeon in Kara Korum, so I designed and implemented Refuge of the Apostate. From there, I moved on to group and raid designs, working on dungeons such as The Vile Nativity, Temple of Erlik, Jade Citadel and Sepulcher of the Wyrm. Cirith and I became fast friends during this process, (as we worked together on these dungeons), eventually going on to becoming roommates. I even had the honor of being co-best man at his wedding! 

I was also tasked with the responsibility of handling the changes to Thoth-Amon's Stronghold and Amphitheatre of Karutonia (normal and unchained).

There was a period of about 18 months or so where I was not present on Age of Conan. I won't go into too many details as I don't want to bore anyone, but I had a nervous breakdown. I have always had to deal with depression and anxiety disorders my whole life and in the years I spent in the gaming industry trying to get noticed, I pushed myself physically and mentally beyond my limits for too long, which ended up in a crash. After lots of therapy and rest, (during which Funcom was infinitely patient and understanding), I am back with a vengeance and ready to tackle whatever needs to be done to continue enriching Age of Conan!

Just so happens that Cirith was getting married and going off on a honeymoon adventure, so I picked up some of the stuff he wanted done while he was gone. He's back now, 100% more married than ever. (Age of Cirith: Chained)

2/ Please explain, and in details too, what is exactly that you do as a developer? Most of us have a very vague idea how the content for the game is made. Lets say you need to develop a dungeon. What tools and assets do you use? Do you have complete creative freedom or do you follow some kind of rough draft of a dungeon? 

- First thing we do is decide what the design goals of the dungeon will be . This acts as a sort of foundation for the whole dungeon, something we can come back to for inspiration on spells, NPCs, etc... It also helps keep the entire dungeon cohesive. During this step, we will decide the basic level design, (layout).

- After the design goals have been decided, we then move on to the concepting phase. Here we will decide how many bosses we'll have and begin a writeup on their design. For the concepting phase, we normally don't decide numbers, just a rough draft of how we want the fights to work and which of our core design pillars we’ll be trying to hit and how. We begin documentation at this point, and once we're happy with our concept, we send it off for approval, (it normally bounces back and forth a few times before both the designer and lead are happy with it). We don't have 'complete' creative freedom, but we have a huge amount of creative freedom, which makes Funcom a lot more interesting to me than some other studios in the area.

- Once the concept is done, we begin the design. This is where we cement things in our documentation to have a guide to follow when implementing things; this is always written and considered from the players’ perspective with the sort of experiences they will encounter at the forefront. Around this point is where we see if we need to request new art assets or whether we can use existing ones. 

- Next is the implementation phase. This is probably the longest phase, as we now have to "make" everything we whipped up with our imaginations in the concept/design phase. We have many tools at our disposal to help us with this, but I can’t go into much detail as they are largely proprietary. Now we can start scripting logic and prototyping mechanics alongside abilities to see how they play out in reality rather than just in theory.

Moving on to particle effects is a logical next step, since they are tied to the spells we just made, so we'll decide on spell visuals with special attention paid to what we need to communicate through visuals. For this step, we either use existing particles if they fit nicely, or create new ones if we can't find a particle that does exactly what we want it to do. Soon after, we create every NPC needed for the dungeon and decide what armor they should wear, what race they will be, etc... The World Designer will be working on the physical dungeon, and once they have a version of it ready to use, this is usually in grey box format to start so that we can test mechanics in the ‘correct’ space as soon as possible. 
These steps are usually cyclical in nature, so we constantly shift from one to another and come back to each several times until the dungeon is ready for testlive. This iterative approach to design is pretty important to how we work and allows us to adapt the original concept as we play through the mechanics and later after we start getting player feedback.

3/ Can you share some details how the class are adjusted during the struggle to balance the game? Again many of us think that the developers haphazardly mix a bunch of nonsense together and call it a day. Pure math and number crunching, player feedback, statistics and developer’s own experience with certain class – how are those used in the process?

The first step is to address the problem at hand or the outline the goal we want to achieve. For example in the current iterations you are seeing the goals are two fold, firstly continuing with the class re-balancing that kicked off in the last patch and secondly highlighting key feats which are undesirable or largely avoided by players and reworking them into something which is at least an interesting option. Of course time factors for the patch are a consideration in what we are able to do too.
The next step we took in this case is to go through thread after thread on the forums and start compiling a list of sane suggestions and valid problems for each class and the game as a whole.

Once we've formed a list, we begin research, testing and documenting on the shortlisted changes so that we can highlight the problem and then think about possible solutions. Once we have a bigger picture after looking into every item on the list, we consider how much of an impact making these changes will have on the game, (ie. if they are particularly skewed toward one class/archetype, whether adding any of these suggestions will make other classes feel less useful, etc..). If we have ideas for some changes that we have wanted to make for a while, we normally throw them in this list too.

Next would be patching out a rough draft of our work, essentially paper prototyping the changes. This process means reading through a lot of feedback and making tweaks where necessary. Here's where it's easy to get trapped, because the player feedback is easy to drown in. We have to make sure that we keep a level head and use our research to make informed decisions, and not just implement everything we see on the forum. There's not much more to it than that, we just bounce between prototyping, feedback, tweaking & balancing until it's ready for live!

I think the most frustrating thing about class balancing is the feeling that we will never be truly satisfied. For example, the latest class balancing, Cirith gave me a list of 10-12 things to change. Since he was on vacation and I was inspired, I went a little nuts and added a lot to it. We've now reached the point where we want to patch it out and where I am needed elsewhere, but I feel like there is so much more I can do! But this is why we want to keep these class tweaks coming in future patches, its easier for us to balance in batches and we can then gradually gauge the state of the game and that provides a spring board for the next set of tweaks.

4/ You have developed Refuge of the Apostate solo dungeon which, at that time, was a pretty unique in AOC (compared to old, boring Villas in Noble District). Where did you get the ideas and inspirations for this dungeon? The maze/puzzle part of the dungeon reminds me of old school Tomb Rider and the “nightmare” sequence looks a lot like Max Payne 1. Am I on to something or did you have something totally different on your mind?

 For Refuge, I wanted to bring a console-like experience to our MMO. It was something that I felt was lacking from the MMO genre in general, and since I had an opportunity, I decided to go for it and try for something different that AoC players had not necessarily experienced in our game. Since Refuge was going to be a solo experience, we had a little more freedom than in group or raid dungeons where there are many unpredictable variables, (players). 

I had just finished Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and was nuts about it, so the maze area was fueled largely by that. I won't lie, getting that aspect of the dungeon functional was probably the longest and most difficult task of all of Refuge, but I am happy with how it turned out. As for the nightmare sequence, both the artist and myself loved the Scarecrow sequences in Batman: Arkham Asylum so we used that as inspiration, (the artist even threw a "scarecrow" straw dummy in one of the prison cells in the nightmare realm if you look closely). The nightmare realm itself is just the boss room of the actual dungeon broken up into several pieces to make a new, creepy version of that boss room.


Fun Fact: The Tian-bai in the nightmare realm is actually the largest NPC we have ever put in the game, (take that Frost Father!)

5/ How much of a lore fan are you? Is Hyboria just a setting for MMO you are working on or is it something that you are passionate about? When designing new content do you pay close attention to making it “in line” with lore, or is it something that you leave to the writers and artists?

We are all lore fans here on the AoC team! I don't think there is a single person who was not read every Howard story. When making new things, keeping the setting in mind has always been important. Sometimes we stray a little from the setting, but it's normally to offer players something fresh, or something that will improve their quality of life, (therefore, something mechanically fresh that adds a lot to the game but does not necessarily fit with lore. A good example would be the plethora of exotic mounts. There's only so many types of horses we can make.) Its inevitable any individual/company inheriting a licence will take a little bit of artistic freedom, but the essence of Howard’s world is always in our minds.

6/ If you can share this: how much server wider stats are available to the developers? Characters made, resources gathered, gold acquired, most kills by class, most deaths by class, most crafted item, most popular dungeons, bosses killed most oftne…. Most of us drool at the thought of having those stats to win forum arguments. In all seriousness thou: are stats important in day-to-day development, or perhaps they are just a tool used to monitor for very very serious issues?

The database contains a vast amount of information which can be cross referenced to aid in the solutions to many problems, however data can only really prove so much and should never be the only tool or factor in determining the solution to any problem. Something we added recently for example was zone traffic information to see where players are going and when, its some very interesting reading, especially during World Boss and PvP Festival weeks.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A taste of things to come

We all know that Funcom has a nasty history of not keeping their promises. Fact. However, say what you will, I am rather impressed with last few months: stuff like pvp gear or pvp events (never mind what I think about the quality of those) got promised and then delivered at speedy pace. Furthermore recent patch 4.3 class changes (and more to come) gave me that warm feeling that maybe, just maybe, AOC might be in the right hands for once.

So I will let my guard down (a guard of an asshole sceptic) to daydream about the features that were already promised and are in the works.


New Conan movie Arnold
This is a pie with a side dish of pizza: not only we are getting new Conan movie (have you seen pictures of Arnold lately? Bro must be lifting), but also in-game  movie tie-in. While Game Director Joel Bylos mentions that the thing is not set in stone I think Funcom would be stupid not to cash in on the release of CTB movie. However I won't be disappointed if nothing comes out of it since there is a lot much much cooler stuff to be looking forward to.


Cross server PvP and PvE queues
I will be honest: I am eye-balling Crom server from time to time because a lot of cool stuff is happening there simply because of a very high population. Furthermore the idea of queuing up for dungeon in AOC is just awesome (yeah I know that it is a MMO industry's standard for some time now, AOC is old!). Nothing drives me away from PVE more than time consuming LFG/LFM and then getting everyone to the dungeon. It feels so dated.

Unchained PvP Revamps
I don't really care about it (probably because I am on top of minigame pvp food chain), but if it got more people back into game or introduce them to pvp (chances are it would)  then bring it on. Not on top of my "zomg" wish list but it is out there.

Tradeskill System
To quote the letter: "This is probably the single most anticipated update from the players". QFT! Its been so long since I have crafted in AOC that I forgot that it is even in game anymore. This is my #2 thing that I am looking forward to the most and, from what I understand, it will change pretty much every aspect of AOC. I have always enjoyed this type of activity in MMOs and if I could...*gasp* PVP and craft at the same time? No more content is needed then.


Palace of Cetriss 
As of now we know that POC (see what I did there?) will be a tier 5 raid content. I am planing to REALLY get into raiding when next tier goes live. This will be the first opportunity for me to participate in discovery & progression parts of raiding. Until now when I was raiding (T3 and T4) it was with an experienced team that knew the fights like the back of their hands. Because of this, even if I was contributing DPS, I felt a little like I am being carried through the encounters. I never had to "figure out" Zodiac and train for taking him down, the knowledge was simply served to me on a golden platter. New raid gives me a chance to enter the unknown with the rest of the guild and figure stuff out with them. I might like it or it might be a horrible experience, but I will certainly try it.

New minigame map
So the letter says that "Palace of Cetriss and the new minigame map which are being developed in tandem.". Kind of forgotten stuff, eh? Since I don't really need tokens or pvp exp anymore I am usually just rotating two maps: HV and LT over and over and over again (and I am not even slightly bored of them, such a good design). I don't really feel a need for new minigame in a rotation...unless it is something unique like 3v3 or  new type of map setting (deathmatch!).  


Achievements
This is my #3 on the "zomg" list. It seems to be combining all the things that I already love in AOC: lore, exploration and vanity items. PvP achievements are only sweetening the deal. Coupled with crafting system achievements are a feature that will add a long lasting content to AOC even if it means merely re-visiting old stuff (Mitra is my witness I will go back and complete all quests in Tortage just to get an achievement!)


The Great Hyborian Race
I will pass on that and I am glad that it got put back on a shelf. AOC already has too much stuff for new characters to do and merely not enough for seasoned veteran's maxed out toons. I want to finally have some sort of progression and creating new character from scratch and then re-doing old content as fast as possible seems like a nightmarish idea to me.


Tier 4 PvP gear
First of all I am so glad that strange and alien concept (at least to the previous team) of PvP items > PvE items for PvP got finally fully implemented in AOC. I don't really feel the need for even more power in PvP (especially since it was made clear that T5 POC raid drops will not upset the pvp balance) and the power gap between fresh lvl 80 and PvP T4 veteran will get even bigger but... well I don't care, I just want more goals in PvP and this is certainly a powerful incentive for me to look at PvP as something else than just getting more kills. What I am worried is that T4 gear will be hard-locked to PvP events which.. I am less than ecstatic about . There has been a talk that T4 pvp gear will be more about choices than flat power increase but lets face it: gear for pvp is about getting that max crit rating + combat rating values. Unless we get some hard caps on stats or diminishing returns (which I am a big proponent of) there is a very little room for pvp gear optimization (and by little I mean none). 


Slithering Chaos as 12-man instance
I have always loved the concept of smaller scale raids as pulling together 24 people can be very challenging for smaller guilds (or just damn impossible). It can also be a great second choice for those raid night when not everyone shows up but there are still a bunch of people ready & willing to take on something bigger than 6-man hardmode

New Alternate Advancement Abilities and Loot Progression in Tier 5 raids
New AAs? #1 spot on my "this is fucking awesome" list. I am a little worried with the implementation because many peoples (me included) are already capped on their AAs and are accumulating every day more and more AA points (I think I have something like 150/120/160 to spend). There is something else that is also intriguing: "New Alternate Advancement Abilities and Loot Progression in Tier 5 raids - these two are intimately tied together and we have a solid idea of how we are going to build player progression through Tier 5 raids and new content. I’m saving all the details for a future game director letter, but new weapon combos, new items and new ways to play your favorite class are all on the table!". So new AAs are exclusive to Tier 5 raiding? One a one hand it addresses my main woe "not enough content for veterans", but also seems like a very small player base would get their hands on new AAs if it meant that you had to be in T5 raiding guild. If new AAs are purely cosmeting (and something tells me they will) then new AAs will be just more e-peen0r to weave around (I am more than fine with it).


PvP streak reward system
What I like about it is that "there will be different types of streaks covering both the regular minigame level and the tournament mode". Tournament mode! Holy crap how I wish we could have "group" back in "group pvp" (another wild concept that couldn't be fully grasped by old team). To actually group up with pvp buddies for pvp....like I used to back before freaking 1.6 (yeah 2010 called and they want their group pvp back).On the other hand I am a little afraid that PvP steak will be, again, a simple "more tokens more pvp xp" type of deal which PvP events turned out to be. I don't need that.


Unchained Raids
Unchained T1 raid will be first encounter in Tier 5. This is smart move by Funcom since, as far as I know it, majority of T4 raiders are done & bored (TM) with the Citadel and are looking for a fresh challenge and progression. Since I have NEVER done a T1 raid (imagine that) this is something that I might want to explore a little further. I also hope that unchained T1 will provide raiders with T4 tokens (it should since its part of T5) so I could complete my T4 set.


That is about it, all the major and exciting promises in one place. Without being overly negative about it this looks pretty awesome. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

PvP Events - not so hot

I didn't want to post about Festival of Bloodshed until I have taken it for a good spin (Bori taught me that impressions can be deceiving). My verdict: I don't like it in it's current form. I am not claiming to be objective on this matter, but when it comes to my personal opinion I want to be honest in here: it is a cheap content done in a sloppy manner and it doesn't address my issues with the game. Not even Funcom denies that this content was cheap to produce and it really shows. But quite honestly I have a low expectations for 6 year old MMO when it comes to budget and resources allocations (even more so now that AOC doesn't have it's dedicated team). Still I cannot overlook the sloppy implementation of the events and by that I mean complete lack of any UI and visual indicators that would allow me to have a basic understanding of just what the hell is going on. You see all the information about the events is feed to player via on screen messages and system whispers. That is just less than elegant. Any revelant information is usually served to me with just tons of text clutter informing me that I might not have enough soul shards to perform something. Things like score goes into whispers which is even more messy. The result? Things like arena events are just blood baths in which you "Live.Die.Repeat" (in true Edge of Tomorrow fashion) with your guildies asking over TS: "is it over yet?", "is this still going?" How the hell I should know? 
To add insult to injury whatever class balance issues that are present in minigames are magnified ten folds when it comes to open world pvp. My recipe for utter destruction? Take soldiers, and some healers and just a pinch of ranged damage (Necro for 30s dots is preferable). Arenas are just rogues chasing casters while getting their asses pierced by ranges with soldiers just racking up the kills. There is no respawn downtime, no limited lives or any structure to those "arenas" so if you die just respawn and run back. Live.Die.Repeat (unless you are a soldier and in that case just live). 
Furthermore you have to take just absurd amount of quests from Picts NPC instead of those quests just spawning when the event is active (minigame style). Since I am already crapping on Picts I might as well go all out: I think that it was a horrible decision lore wise to use Picts for these events. It's a pet peeve of mine but seeing skin clad, body painted, gruesome savages that Picts are just HANGING OUT IN in Tarantia Commons with the locals is dumb. Funcom have always treated Conan source material with respect and this is first time in 6 years when I am actually upset about the story, writing and the implementation.  

But I can stomach all that. Class balance was always out of whack and the PvP Events got a lot of fixes and updates which is a nice change from Bori. My problem is being capped on gear/AA/pvp lvls. I have absolutely zero incentive to do those events. This is still a MMO and it needs progression. 
I could just repeat every point that I have made in "No progression" post and it would be as valid as it was a year ago.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Interview with Joel Bylos

Joel "Nusquam" Bylos (as seen in this picture "air guitaring" theme to 1982 Conan movie) took his time to talk to me about the nitty gritty details of running 3 MMOs at once and keeping AOC relevant in the MMO genere: 

1/ How does one tackle such an enormous task as taking over two major MMOs (AOC and AO) in addition to already time consuming TSW? I am sure things have settled down by now, but how were those first few initial weeks? Have you kept tabs on post ROGS Age of Conan developments or was there a need to catch up on a lot of things?

With trepidation is the right answer, I think. It all happened incredibly fast, the downsizing of the company and I was suddenly in a position where I had responsibility for three projects instead of one.  
The first few weeks were complete insanity. On one hand I had a new, much smaller team, with responsibility for more than one project.  All of the team had different levels of expertise with different sets of tools – AO has a completely different set of tools to Age of Conan (with a couple of exceptions) and The Secret World has major changes again.
And then, as well, I had to catch up on everything that had been done since I stopped working on the game (roughly a month after launch) and even though I had been following and still playing, I needed to get more insight into the playerbase (they evolve over time!) and see what they were asking for.
I had been following the development of new content on Age of Conan – Craig has always been a mentor, so I always stopped by for a chat whenever I was in Montreal – but I wasn’t “in touch” in the way that someone who works full time on the project is. 
In the end, it was a pretty frantic period and I’m not sure I’d tackle it the same way again, but the choice for me was pretty clear – I wanted to do what was best for the games and their future was quite uncertain in terms of development so I wanted to ensure that they weren’t left untended and unloved.

2/ How exactly the development team is shared across the games? Many of us have this vague idea that devs, much like a horde, just rush in to work on AOC and after some predetermined time drop everything and switch to TSW. Could you elaborate a little how things are handled with a centralized team?

It’s somewhat more organized than that, but only barely.
Essentially, we have some devs who are focused full time on a particular game (like Cirith), usually based on prior knowledge of the tools and the systems. And then we have more general developers – coders, artists, animators, audio etc. We build the roadmaps for the games at the beginning of each year, get estimates on the development resources as needed and then shift those resources around from patch to patch.
Things get a little rocky when something takes longer than expected *ahem* Tokyo *ahem* and that can have unfortunate ripple effects on the other projects.
We’ve learned a bit over the past year, and we’re refining our processes to avoid these kind of situations but sometimes it happens to us.

3/ How does one set a development road map for already 6 year old MMO such AOC? Is it more or less about steady flow of additions or perhaps we will see adventure packs making their way back to Hyboria? ROGS sized expansions are ruled out or perhaps nothing is set in stone right now?

Well, I can probably rule out ROTGS sized expansions off the bat – my team for that project was much larger than the current live team for all three projects, everybody on the team was experienced at creating content for Conan and we had 1.5 years to work on it.
Currently we set the roadmap based on a few things – past promises to the playerbase that need to be fulfilled, things that we think need serious love (usually confirmed by the player base) and what we can achieve that provides long-term value to the playerbase.
Anyone who has been playing knows that we have been putting out some recurring, automated content – for me this is important so that people always have multiple options when they log in. But hand-crafted content tends to reach a higher quality bar with the downside that it takes more investment.
I want to get us into a state where we have fixed/revamped/improved systems that are not functioning as they should, and delivering new content for those systems. This means PvP and PvE, but it also means things like Achievements and Crafting. 
I’m a bit more of a narrow focus developer. I believe that fewer systems, done well, is always more interesting for players than a ridiculously broad spectrum of systems done in a mediocre manner.
Unfortunately, Conan currently falls into the second category, so we have to choose to focus to certain things and improve them to a standard we are happy with, before we move on. 

4/ In recent interview Matt 'Cirith Gorgor” Bennett hinted at pvp being one of the features that will now get their fair amount of focus. Are you planning to address just the most pressing issues in pvp or is it a sign of more balanced approach with both pve and pvp getting attention?

This falls a bit in line with what I mentioned above – we’re going to put focus on the core elements of PvP (items, abilities) for a while. 
On the other side of that, it was long overdue to make some additions to content on the PvP side of the game. We do want to take a more rounded approach to the way we deliver content – but I hesitate to divide content along neat lines of PvP or PvE. Especially in Age of Conan, which has open world PvP. Theoretically, all content should be built around creating player enjoyment. 

5/ How are you handling the issue of inheriting a lot of unfinished content that you and your team are now expected to deliver (like Dragon's Spine). Is there a temptation to just throw everything away and start working on your own ideas or perhaps it is common thing in games development that sometimes you have to finish someone else's work?

Heh, so I have this presentation that I give to newly hired designers. It’s kind of a “set your expectations for this type of work” presentation. One of my points in that presentation is that nobody who works for a decent sized company will ever work on “their game”.
It goes for almost all designers, they are usually working towards somebody else’s vision and even the people with ultimate creative responsibility are limited by the budget/tools/team etc.
So the live team, being pretty experienced in their own right, get this and I don’t think it bothers them much. I’m certainly used to it, Khitai was determined as the expansion location before I was on the project, I had no say in the scope etc.
Unfortunately, what has caused problems for us on Age of Conan was the knowledge loss from the old team to the new. The coders who work on the crafting system now are not the people who worked on it originally. The artists on Dragon’s Spine are not the guys who originally modelled it etc.
And that is the part that slows you down – having to learn how/why something is built the way it is. It’s almost always faster to start from scratch than start over, but we don’t have the resources to start many of these things from scratch. So we learn, adapt and hopefully get them finished eventually!

6/ With The Legend of Conan in production and Paradox Entertainment fully backing the reboot will AOC also provide content based on the film? You have already confirmed that it might happen, but are you perceiving it as a great opportunity for the game to reach new players? Did the last Conan The Barbarian movie with Jason Momoa have any significant impact on AOC population?

I think anything that spreads the word of Conan out to more people (and I mean the general REH word of Conan) is a good thing for the game. I’m sure we’ll do some tie-ins to the movie, it really does depend on the scope I am given for said tie-ins.
I don’t have the numbers from the period around the release of the earlier movie, but it is always hard to pinpoint the cause and effect around population fluctuations, so I usually don’t play the guessing game unless there is a large and very obvious trend.
Age of Conan’s population is at a point where it seems to be quite resilient to the factors that affect other games – like newly released MMORPGs for example. 

7/ Are there any plans to change/adjust the current payment model? Will we see the F2P expanded? The Rise of The Godslayer expansion opened up to F2p crowd? Or perhaps current subscription model is working well? With "The Savage Coast of Turan" we had an adventure pack that was sold as separately regardless if someone was a subscriber or not. Is this something that is again being considered or perhaps we will see something totally new?

In this regard, I have very little control. I have made a series of recommendations about the future of F2P on AoC, several of which were taken from the community, but I don’t have any news on that front.
I would prefer, currently, to keep any future content updates for subscribers for as long as we have that model. System updates become available to everybody and I think the base content for a free player is already very generous. That said, I agree it is slightly odd to have to purchase the expansion and then subscribe to use anything beyond Gateway to Khitai. I have made certain recommendations in this regard, but it isn’t my call
As for whether the current subscription model is doing well, it’s probably something you’d be better off asking the business people. Age of Conan earns money, which is the single most important factor for my team and I, and as long as it continues to do so I don’t see dramatic changes being made to the way things work.

8/ If we were to day dream about content based on a particular REH Conan story, what would it be?

Let me tell you a story. When the expansion was wrapping up in 2010, I wrote a proposal for a series of single player adventures based in the world of REH. They were essentially reproductions of the Howard adventures in the Age of Conan engine, and you could buy them stand alone, or tied to the MMO itself.
You played Conan through these adventures, targeted to 3-4hrs long and at the end of each, you received a code which could be redeemed in Age of Conan for an item based on these legendary adventures.
Alas, the team was moved to Montreal, we went through another round of layoffs and I was moved to The Secret World. But I still have the design document I wrote for the first of these adventures, and it was Pool of the Black One.
Why? Because we have the assets for that island, we have the Black Ones, we have the pirate assets and because making it as a prototype for the concept would have been extremely cheap.
Those reasons really haven’t changed, so if I was to start building adventures based directly on the REH stories, Pool of the Black One would likely be where I would start.

9/ are you still actively developing AOC or have you switched to more of a Game Director's role and deal only with "vision and direction" ?

Those quotation marks make vision and direction seem like they are simple concepts! Believe me, not at all.
In any case, on Age of Conan I still get my hands dirty in the tools and on a design level. I wrote the story and flow design for the last few events, implemented the quests (at least for Halloween) and wrote all of the texts.
I certainly don’t (and can’t) do as much as anybody who works full time on the project, but I like to use the tools every now and then. It keeps me clear on the limitations of the engine that we are working with and helps me to understand more what my team is struggling with.
I don’t need to be an expert – that’s why I have a team full of them – I just need to be able to understand what the experts are saying and why.

I hope that gives you some insight, thanks for listening!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Feat Improvements - Assassin report


Senior Designer Cirith opened a proverbial can of worms by asking the players to post suggestions about feats and perks.... which is awesome! Because of lack of class changes AOC grew very stale since ROGS and nothing pumps players more than breathing new life in their old character (Blizzard knows this very well as every single WoW expansion resulted in total skills overhaul). 



Here is the post:
 05-20-2014, 08:40 PM  Report Post   CirithGorgor is offline   #1
Senior Designer
 
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Funcom Feat Improvements

Along with the class balance changes (which are still in the works) we also want to be able to provide a little something for every class, in the form of reworking some of the most undesirable feats for that class (disclaimer these may not all be in the same patch(es)).

We would be interested in seeing what the communities input is on this, so what we would like to find out is what do you think is the most undesirable feat for your class and why?

We'd like to use a format something like this.

Class : class
Feat Name : name (tree/aa location)
What is undesirable about it : reason why you think this feat is undesirable.
What would you like to see changed about it : in an ideal world how would this feat behave (changes that are stand alone and do not change core mechanics are more likely to be considered).


As time progresses we will start finalizing which feats we'll take a look at and start focusing any feedback when that becomes appropriate.


I have made my own list of the issues and fixes. Personally I miss the old Lotus/General and Corruption/General builds with Hybrid being just one of possible, viable speccs. Of course this is a raw draft as I can't do any number crunching in order to balance things out.

CORE ISSUE:  SOUL SHARDS
Soul shards were originally designed to be a “limiting factor” in assassin’s game play. The devs decided that assassin was so powerful when unrestricted that a “power cap” in a form of limited soul shard resource is required. Since patch 1.6 the game went through a lot of changes, especially CC revamp, which made the soul shard system outdated and mostly pointless.

Managing soul shards is a chore, it is not fun, and having the system in place is grossly limiting any variation in assassin’s builds. To perform adequately in solo pve and pvp you need to feed your character a constant stream of shards which is only possible with both Crystalized Lotus Extract feat (lotus tree) and Necrotic Empowerment (corruption tree) feated in. This pretty much creates a scenario in which only hybrid builds are viable and there is little to none variations between those builds (otherwise you are risking severally gimping your performance without making the game play more “fun” or interesting).

Assassin also has no means of “generating” soul shards outside the natural regen (which is absurdly slow), feats (Crystalized Lotus Extract, Necrotic Empowerment) and a perk (Castration combo). Especially assassin should have means of “capturing” additional shards in an active manner.

 Ideas how to address this:

1/Bring back the old mechanic of generating 1 soul shard upon stealth attack. Since stealth is back to the PVP this would be pretty nice way of generating additional shards

2/ Bring back the old mechanic of Relish in Death feat where assassin was capturing soul shard upon fatality and team fatality - another way of adding the shards,

3/ Allow assassin to “consume” his remaining energy to get additional shard. This would promote “last stand” type of decisions where assassin can chose to run using his energy or take a risk, use up his energy and try to finish the opponent with his shards.

CORE ISSUE:  HYBRID BUILDS ARE KING
Assassin can get all the best stuff offered by both trees via hybrid build. There is no need to pick and chose because you can afford everything you need from lotus and corruption tree (and general even!). More so Corruption tree doesn’t have any means of dealing with casters (very low protection, no way to mitigate spells) and Lotus tree doesn’t have any self heal (Avatar of Death corruption tree is a powerful health tap) which makes it super ineffective both in solo pve and pvp. Lotus tree used to have Golden Lotus feat that gave the class a self heal (heal over time effect) which made Lotus/General builds possible. Without self heal it is very hard and ineffective to go against melee classes as lotus (especially tanks). Self heal should be deep in lotus tree so it is unavailable to Hybrid. Arcane Backlash seems like a perfect candidate for this.

PERKS:

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Master Assassin (golden perk)
What is undesirable about it :  once perk is equipped and pvp T3/T2 armor is used this perk will grant 117% (well over 100% anyway) tenacity. Tenacity makes crits unavoidable with 100% chance so added 17% does absolutely nothing and it is a gross overkill. In other words: the game punishes you for using pvp gear with this perk even thou it is a perk for pvp only.
What would you like to see changed about it : perk should have tenacity amount lowered to be 100% chance with full pvp gear (it will always give 50% tenacity to pve gear since pve gear has 0 tenacity) and the loss of tenacity should be compensated with a second stat (penetration, critical damage rating) or a high chance to crit with combo opener (this would promote landing combo openers instead of preloading every single combo).

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Chocking powder (golden perk)
What is undesirable about it :  you have to stand perfectly still to be able to use it, it requires 2 souls shards to be used
What would you like to see changed about it : This perk should be usable during movement. It shouldn’t have any soul shard requirement as it is not nearly as powerful interrupt as other classes have.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Castration combo (silver perk)
What is undesirable about it :  very long animation
What would you like to see changed about it : this combo has absurdly long animation which roots assassin in place and makes him very vulnerable to counterattacks. Change animation to Lethargy rank III.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Disfigure (silver perk)
What is undesirable about it :  it burns stamina and mana on target and returns some stamina to assassin. The mana and stamina burn are very low and stamina returned to assassin is useless to him (such is stamina to all classes in post running energy revamp). The perk is also bugged: when assassin is doing the stealth attack it deals additional 1 x Face Stab miasma. However if you have disfigure perk equipped the x 1 Face Stab from stealth attack won't remove mana or stamina as it should with that perk.
What would you like to see changed about it : it should add more damage to Face Stab (since this perk supposedly upgrades it) instead of mana and stamina burn (assassin already has 2 other feats that do exactly the same)  it should burn energy (used for running) and feeding some burned energy to assassin.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Dance of Death (silver perk)
What is undesirable about it :  it gives very small hit rating debuff that also needs to be triggered via face stab. The hit rating debuff is negligible as both PVE and PVP gear is currently LOADED with hit rating, also assassin doesn’t have enough evade rating on his own to take advantage of this.
What would you like to see changed about it : - make the hit rating debuff scale more with added points, currently 5/5 doesn't give enough,
- make the dance of death base poison consumable with ANY miasma, not just face stab. The problem is that this perk is too cumbersome to use because it works only with face stab, if any miasma like soul strike or lotus dart would trigger it then it would be faster and more efficient to use.
- the description on the perk says that consuming the base posion with face stab gives damage that scales with points. The damage is only 432 which is not nearly enough for a  perk 

COMBOS:

Class : Assassin
Combo Name :  Lethargy (basic combo)
What is undesirable about it :  does very small damage, the animation is long and the debuff is laughable (-6% melee damage)
What would you like to see changed about it : Assassin already has a combo that debuffs both melee and magic damage for -30% (Atrophy, feated in combo). Lethargy combo doubles Atrophy in that regard, but is much muuuuuch worst. Change animation of all lethargy combos to Lethargy rank I animation (its very fast) and make this combo apply snare instead of -6% melee damage.  Snare effect also fits perfectly the name of this combo. 

Class : Assassin
Combo Name :  grim corruption (basic combo)
What is undesirable about it : this combo adds both snare and basic poison on the target. As soon as basic poison is consumed via miasma (and this is why you are using grim corruption in the first place) the snare is also removed. It is counter productive to have both snare and basic poison in one effect because you usually want to consume basic poison as soon as possible. 
What would you like to see changed about it : remove the snare effect completely from Grim Corruption and give it to Lethargy combo.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Flurry of Blows (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  too low offhand chance (only 5% more than deft hands which gives passively +10% offhand chance).
What would you like to see changed about it : buff offhand chance to 25%

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Deft hands (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  too low offhand chance 
What would you like to see changed about it : buff offhand chance to 15%

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Cat’s Paw (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  too low evade chance (40%) This feat remained unchanged since 2008. Since then massive hit rating introduced to post ROGS PVE and PVP gear makes 40% evade chance very low.
What would you like to see changed about it : Buff the evade chance to 60% or add 10% evade chance passive effect to the feat.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Lotus Coated Dart (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  Every other miasma has a second effect (when used without base poison present) that is usefull. Soul Strike gives protection debuff, Face Stab deals damage 1 x (which still can go way beyond 1200 dmg) Lotus Dart deals…about 150 damge.
What would you like to see changed about it : add debuff or other effect to Lotus Dart. This could be 20% spell fizzle chance.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Dull Pain (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  this feat mitigates every type of magic damage except holy. It is counter intuitive and there is no reason why assassin should be at disadvantage against certain class.
What would you like to see changed about it : add holy damage mitigation. 

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Flesh Rot and Lotus Weapon (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  very low damage coupled with low proc rate
What would you like to see changed about it : add more damage per tick, increase proc chance and procs per minute

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Snap Kick (Lotus Tree)
What is undesirable about it :  Snap Kick combo removes 1 soul shard upon usage
What would you like to see changed about it : remove soul shard consumption. There is no reason why using snap kick should be penalized via soul shard consumption. Snap Kick used to be instant pre CC revamp, but now it is 1 step combo that is single target (has very small cone so it’s hard to KB more than 1 target) and is limited by weapon range which in case of daggers is already shortest range in game.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Lotus Overload (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  it has no visual effect
What would you like to see changed about it : it is a pretty powerful effect against casters and it procs quite often. Visual indication that Lotus Overload is active should help casters to make more tactical choices (like saving up their CCs). Visual indication would also help assassins to make more informed choices in both pvp and pve (like not using dull pain because lotus overload is active). 

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Impede Essence (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  it removes mana and stamina from the target. Stamina is already useless to all classes and the mana drain is not big enough to justify 5/5 investment
What would you like to see changed about it : added points should also improve Impede Life combo’s damage, more mana drain 

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Opportunistic Strike (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  it is a stun that: costs 2 soul shards, has casting time, roots assassin in place AND is limited by weapon range so with daggers distance wise it is shortest spell in game.
What would you like to see changed about it : make it a 10s buff that gives you 100% chance for your combo opener to crit and 100% chance for your next successful combo to stun your opponent.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Corrupted Body (Lotus tree)
Suggested Name change: lotus heightened senses
What is undesirable about it :  it adds protection against spells, but assassin has soooo many protection stuff (Lotus overload, dull pain, lotus tainted blood, natural protection, protection wards passive perks, chromatic ward, arcane backlash)
What would you like to see changed about it :  make corrupted body stack evade chance on hit. Assassin because of his low armor and low HP has big issues with surviving large scale battles (especially if targeted by ranger).

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Arcane Backlash (Lotus tree)
Suggested name change: Golden Lotus Leaves
(it is lore based, In “Xuthal of the Dusk” REH story Conan drank golden lotus wine that healed his almost mortal wounds).
What is undesirable about it :  it decreases spell damage, but assassin has soooo many spell protection stuff (Lotus overload, dull pain, lotus tainted blood, natural protection, protection wards passive perks, chromatic ward). If you do 3/3 Arcane investment and 1/3 corrupted body then you also get arcane backlash which does very very small damage (unchanged since 1.5).
What would you like to see changed about it : another spell protection is not needed. Lotus tree self heal IS needed (see Core issue: Hybrid Builds). Change it to give heal over time effect.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Lotus Overdose (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  it renews stamina which is useless post energy revamp, doesn’t have any visual effect
What would you like to see changed about it : add visual effect (Avatar of Death on corruption tree has very clear visual), remove stamina regeneration and add energy regeneration, remove +10% scale (no idea what the devs had in mind with this 0_o).

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Crippling Weakness (Lotus tree)
Suggested name change: Exploit Weakness
What is undesirable about it :  it adds more snare power to grim corruption and this combo adds both snare and basic poison on the target. As soon as basic poison is consumed via miasma (and this is why you are using grim corruption in the first place) the snare is also removed. You hardly ever will take advantage of snare power and it is very costly.
What would you like to see changed about it : restore all time Lotus tree favorite mechanic of dealing more DOT and OFFHAND damage the closer the target is to death (it worked like that in 2008). It promoted switching targets in order to maximize your damage output and it made target assisting in pvp rewarding. Also Lotus tree needs more damage compared to Corruption or Hybrid and it capitalizes on Lotus tree two themes: dots (Flesh rot, lotus weapon) and offhand (Flurry of Blows, deft hand).

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Kidney Shots (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  it doesn’t do what the description says. The description is “assassin attacks deal additional piercing damage”, but instead feat gives weapon damage buff. Piercing damage is a relict of pre-1.5 stats revamp.
What would you like to see changed about it : keep the weapon damage buff but also give armor penetration rating, Lotus tree doesn’t have any penetration or armor debuff which makes it very hard to play against armored classes.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Curse of the Lotus (Lotus tree)
What is undesirable about it :  lack of any visual effect
What would you like to see changed about it : add visual effect, it is supposed to be lotus bomb so perhaps a greenish dust/smoke?


CORRUPTION TREE
Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Unholy Strength (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  it upgrades swift strikes combo damage only by 5% while Lotus tree’s Swift Ending upgrades SDS and GC by 10%
What would you like to see changed about it : Give it 10% Increased damage to Swift Strikes and Lethargy

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Accelerated (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  Lotus tree has too many means of dealing with spell damage and Corruption tree has too many means of closing in with the enemy. 
What would you like to see changed about it : Switch feats around to promote more balanced experience with single tree builds and it won’t affect hybrid builds. Switch Dull Pain with Accelerated. Add small chance to resist snare or root to compensate for 2 souls hard requirement.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Dark Weapon, Dread Weapon (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  too low damage, too low proc chance
What would you like to see changed about it : upgrade both damage and proc chance

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Poisoned Blades (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  20% fizzle chance upgrade to bad combo (lethargy). Not worth it, ineffective, not needed.
What would you like to see changed about it : bring back old mechanic of removing directional shielding. This should remove opponents shields for couple of seconds.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Blind Side + Bewilder (Corruption tree) 
What is undesirable about it :  Blindside combo on it’s own is a two step, low damage and long animation and it gives some stamina which is useless in post energy revamp situation. Bewilder upgrade removes stamina and mana so it does EXACTLY the same what Impede Essence in Lotus tree. There shouldn’t be two feats that do same thing (and are both bad at it).
What would you like to see changed about it : Both the combo and it’s upgrade are not needed in their current form or even with huge boost to damage (it would cause combo bloat as assassin already has huge amount of them: Swift Strikes, Slow Death Strikes, Grim Corruption, Lethargy, Atrophy, Sins of Flesh, Impeded Life, Castration, Snap Kick, Death Whirlwind, Grave Blossom). Remove it completely and use the freed points to create something new from scratch.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Burden to Bear (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  you only need 1/3 point added to make it effective. Adding more points increases proc rare very little and it is not worth it.
What would you like to see changed about it : increase proc chance upgrade value.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Soul Corruption (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  very low shard regeneration upgrade
What would you like to see changed about it : major boost to shard regeneration rate

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Corrupted Poison (Corruption tree)
Suggested name change: Unholy Armor
What is undesirable about it :  it adds more snare duration to grim corruption and this combo adds both snare and basic poison on the target. As soon as basic poison is consumed via miasma (and this is why you are using grim corruption in the first place) the snare is also removed. You hardly ever will take advantage of snare duration and it is very costly.
What would you like to see changed about it : Bring back Unholy Armor that gives assassin more armor to survive in large scale battles. This feat is deep enough in Corruption tree to prevent abusing it via hybrid builds.

Class : Assassin
Feat Name :  Vampyric Nature (Corruption tree)
What is undesirable about it :  lack of visual effect
What would you like to see changed about it : add visual effect

ROGUE GENERAL TREE

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Quick Recovery
What is undesirable about it : It adds stamina regeneration, stamina is not a problem in post energy revamp reality  
What would you like to see changed about it : change it to energy recovery 

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Second Wind + Endurance (general tree)
What is undesirable about it :  Awfully long cool down, stamina recovery (not needed!) and costly upgrade.
What would you like to see changed about it :  cut the cool down to 3 minutes, Endurance should upgrade Second Wind with more energy recovery and passive 5% speed bonus for the duration of Second Wind. 

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Keen Senses (general tree)
What is undesirable about it :  not worth even 1 point
What would you like to see changed about it : allow for search to be usable in stealth (so you can search without leaving the stealth yourself).

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Acrobat (general tree)
What is undesirable about it :  too low evade bonus
What would you like to see changed about it : major boost to evade chance

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Swift Shadows (general tree)
What is undesirable about it :  both the stealthing bonus and stealthing speed bonus are negligible.
What would you like to see changed about it : boost the bonuses considerably.

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Ambush
What is undesirable about it :  stealth requirement, no other function
What would you like to see changed about it :  remove stealth requirement as mandatory to use, make ambush kill minions also in pvp (like killing Demonologist minion). If Ambush is used in stealth it should give weapon damage bonus for 3 seconds.

Class : Rogue Archetype
Feat Name :  Mountaineer (General tree)
What is undesirable about it :  there is no use for climbing bonus
What would you like to see changed about it : add some small bonus to resist root, snare, knock back and stun effects.

Here are most common assassin builds http://aochideout.blogspot.com/2013/03/guide-assassin-builds.html (pretty much all viable ones) so the devs can check how the changes will affect current speccs in both PVE and PVP. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

PvP guild - is it possible?

With the 4.2 patch right around the corner and the daily pvp quests about to hit live servers I have a high hopes that group pvp will once again make people excited about pvp. The very concept of me being in a pvp group with non-strangers (aka people I know) is so alien to me that I will need to ease into it (thanks Craig! We all owe you one). Having an alternative of "random minigames with random strangers" and "open world pvp quests that you can do with friends" I can very much see myself grouping with people for pvp on a daily basis. This leads me to the point of this post: 100% pvp guild as a possibility in post 4.2 reality. I am talking about an organized guild of individuals committed to doing pvp as their main and pretty much only in-game activity. It was always a dream of mine to be in a such a guild as my in-game guild history is llittered with PVE guilds doing...pve without me. I did my time in The Law - a pvp centric guild - but in all honesty I joined them at worst possible time: there was no group pvp content whatsoever (the only chance to interact with guild members was usually fighting them in minis) and The Law was taking a shot at T4 raiding (to get PVE weapons to stay competitive in PVP). All that have lead to...less than desirable scenarios.
But that table has turned with wild concept of PVP gear being better than PVE one (even more so with impending T4 pvp gear) and above mentioned open world pvp objectives. So will the pvp guilds show up on Fury? I surely hope so.

Matter of fact I have asked that very question on the official forums and.........hilarity ensues with usually "Crom is the best fuck the rest" type comments springing up. I have so many hopes for this patch, but will it be a "game changer"? We shall see soon enough as may 20th is right around the corner.

The Age of Conan, 6thAnniversary event will run for several weeks starting on the 20th of May and is titled “Shadows of the Past”. - http://www.ageofconan.com/news/game_director_letter_april_2014 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

4.2 sexyness incoming

In a titanic effort to have at least one post this month (don't blame me, nothing is going on right now in AOC) I want to grace you, my readers, with an update from TL server:

As you know in a last letter Game Director wrote:

"4.2 is not a sexy name, perhaps, and we’ll give it something more appropriate as we get closer to the release, but the contents of the patch are as follows:

Daily open world PvP quests and events.
A new token type tied directly to the above content, which will allow us to provide players with a new tier of PvP gear.
Our 6th Anniversary event"


As we know ANYTHING takes Funcom XYZ amount of time which can be anything from "next year" to "when Moses comes back". It was frustrating as hell, but most of us (me and a couple unmediated lunatics that are current AOC community) endured that with a dignity. That, shall we say unfortunate, trend took strange turn when Joel "the fucking man" Bylos took over AOC and sent CirithGorgor to do his bidding. And by that I mean stuff really started to appear on live server in a timely fashion. If anything I am pleasantly surprised and this trend seems to continue. I am risking jinxing it, but for me things are bug and lag free and the changes are steering the game in the right direction (TM). 
Anywho CirithGorgor made it very clear when we can expect 4.2:

 04-17-2014, 01:17 PM  Report Post   CirithGorgor is offline   #24
Senior Designer
 
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Funcom

If you look at what Joel mentioned will be making up patch 4.2 you should be able to work out the likely patch date . Specifically the anniversary element.

Currently we are in the process of verifying an event build which can be pushed to testlive as well as itemising patch 4.2. A large part of this itemisation will be put on testlive along with the event build.

We'll start focused feedback threads and a final event day once that build goes to testlive.


The anniversary, as my calendar proudly states (yes, I keep track of that, call me romantic), takes place on 17th of may. Since it's Saturday it might or might not launch on that particular date, but it will be very close to that.

The first installment of 4.2 is already on TL:

Old Yesterday, 05:32 PM  Report Post   Erelon is offline   #1
QA Lead/Admin
 
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Funcom Update 4.2 Notes

Update Notes for 4.2
**These notes do not necessarily reflect the final version that will be deployed on Live**


NEW!
* New social items have been added to the Contraption Merchants for purchase using Conquest Trophies
* A new vendor has arrived in each of the Armory areas, this vendor offers unique new items in exchange for Victory Tokens


GENERAL
* Tier 1 and 2 accessories have had their stats improved to bring them more in line with the Tier 3 accessories
* Tier 1 accessories no longer have any PvP level requirements and their gold cost has been reduced
* Tier 1 accessories available (and previously purchased) through the item store have been upgraded to match the stats of the new Tier 2 accessories
* White Sands Isle is now PvP Enabled on all PvP servers


DUNGEONS
Temple of Erlik
* At least 1 of the new weapon and accessory items are guaranteed to drop from each boss.
* The Bat of Nergal now provides Dragon's Tears instead of rare relics
* Zaal drops a dragon's tear instead of rare relics, and also a chance at his minipet
* Archfiend of Gore now also drops Phials of Heavenly Knowledge

I took it upon myself to explore this 4.2 craziness and bring you the news:


Two new kinds of tokens. Victory token is self explanatory (it really is since it has a description stating that it's gained via world pvp events). Tokens of Gilding is  a bit of mystery. Some say it will be dropped by world bosses and some predict its a new T1-T2 raids reward. Me? I am betting my money on new daily quests. Lead Designer said one that world quests that are not pvp related (like smuggler run) will give pve rewards for completing them. It makes sense.



Here is the vendor that sells you crap for new Gilding token. Vanity all the way.


Here are new pvp vanity stuff. It is not yet finalized so don't worry that 4.2 is only about pets. Final blow ability is for tauting people in pvp as it allows you to "finish off" already dead opponents (animation looks like Hox).


More vanity, but also a bit of transformation stuff (similar to Jiang Shi spell).


The pvp gear gap is officially closed. You can now take a fresh lvl 80 character and in a matter of few weeks have him geared up and able to compete with veterans. New pvp T1 set is all epic, costs only few golds and is for pvp lvl 0-4 which can be made super fast (probably even faster with new world pvp quests).

Last but not least one of the most interesting pets that will stroke your epeen until it is swollen and bloody. This pet will actually call out your stats so people can hear about stats that currently cannot be viewed by other players.