Sunday, June 7, 2009

Interview with FURYBlakhart: advocate, novelist, raider...

FURYBlakhart, the cutter from across the pond, took his time
to talk to me about his ongoing adventure with Age of Conan
and assassin community:

> 1. How does it feel to be a flag bearer for assassin community?
Feeling any pressure? We all have faith in you.

FURYBlakhart: I guess I shouldnt say it feels "good" so much as
I enjoy it. It IS a lot of pressure...I want to make sure I am
always covering basesfor the bulk of the community and accomplishing
things. You'll never appease everyone but it is important to me I
make an impact, for the better, for as many as possible. You are
also working to provide feedback to a variety of QA Staff for Funcom,
so you need to convey material in a way that it receives the
appropriate understanding and yet is concise. It's a bit of a juggle.
I dont mind the pressure though - I enjoy being an advocate for the
class, making sure we have a voice and, admittedly, being a little
more hands-on than most.

> 2. How do you gather our feedback? Do you have a system for it or do you
go with the guts?

FURYBlakhart: I know other advocates seem a bit more organized or Vocal; Lara
for one who has made some incredibly lengthy posts. For me, it's
about paying attention and letting the community provide a lot of it's
own feedback without me polluting it with my own biases and opinions.
I easily read ten times the amount of posts I actually get myself
involved with. Basically I just sit and watch whats being said, what
the biggest or most recurrent complaints are and take it from there.
If I need more info I'll post, or if I feel like convoluting the pool
to get more insight I'll do so.
For me it's more about letting it flow without a lot of intervention
and then finding the important bits or prodding for more info if

> 3. Are you getting confirmation from FC when submiting new stuff? Are they aproving it any way?

FURYBlakhart:All I can really say on this is that while my personal wish
would be for a larger flow of information - that I think FC is working
with the advocates as best they can and that the program is bearing
some fruit. It isnt like we say "Hey, go fix this" and it's done the
next day - but I believe complaints are being heard and addressed,
discussed internally, etc... I can't say for sure but one would have
to assume that, just as with me, the devs hear a lot more than they
ever provide concrete feedback on and likely discuss more issues than
we will ever know.

> 4. How assassins have progressed as a class since launch?

FURYBlakhart: I missed the first few months of the game so I dont have a bearing
since launch. Looking back I would have to say that the Patch which
changed combos was likely the biggest change to sins. It really
staggered the burst killing power we used to have, I think. A lot of
combos have just felt weaker than before that time, plus the penalties
for moving and pre-loading combos obviously had a large impact on all
melee classes.
Overall though I think Sins have seen fewer changes than a lot of
other classes. Likely one of the least changed since the Combo Patch.
So, I guess, for me I havnt seen us as having "progressed" a whole
lot. Getting Stealth improved alone would be a huge progression for
us, as would having Lotus fixed up.

> 5. What is your philosophy when it comes to trees? Do you feel that lotus and corruption should be working best only vs certain classes or should they just provide diffrent ways to achieve same resoults vs all classes?

FURYBlakhart:I've always been a fan of having flexible trees that give you the
tools to do any job, but are focused particularly for one area.
Having Talent Tree's or specs that play the same or basically do the
same things is boring....why bother having different trees then? One
thing that has kept me playing the Assassin is that I believe we are
one class that is strong in this area. Both Trees we have give us
tools to kill anyone - although one is better suited to melee and the
other better for casters.
I wouldnt ever want to see a tree so focused that it prevents you from
fulfilling multiple tasks. Nor would it be fun if they both provided
the exact same playstyle. And again thats one of the great things
about Sins - speccing one way doesnt completely negate your potential
for doing other tasks and yet both trees can play out quite

> 6. Do you feel that assassin contribiute enough to groups in PVE? Should we get some something that helps group in other ways than DPS (assassins were designed to cure poisons at some point)

FURYBlakhart: Given that lethality is supposed to be our niche, it's hard to
give us a lot of other abilities that provide group buffing. I mean
our main role is simply to provide lethal doses of Steel. We NEED to
have something other than "just" damage, but I'm sure the devs always
struggle with these kinds of issues; how to give a high damage class
some group utility without making them OP.
Impede Life is a pretty mean debuff. Grim Corruption isnt half bad
either. Some of the feats we have can be very helpful as well...
Sabotage Armor is a great group utility tool. The new Burden to bear
in 1.05 is killer, especially since it procs and stacks without
Overall i think that short of having some form of Group Buff that we
have more than our fair share of group helping tools. The largest
issue, I think, when it comes to AoC is finding room for melee in

> 7. You have mentioned that you had some experience with similiar position (related to community managment) in the past , tell us more about that

FURYBlakhart:Back when Star Wars Galaxies was new SOE had positions similar to
these Advocate spots that FC has with AoC; they called them
Correspondents. The original Squad Leader rep stepped down and I was
one of those who applied for doing that. Believe me when I say you
have never seen an MMO class in such a bad was the red
headed stepchild no one wanted to acknowledge. I was not picked for
it but continued to post a great deal about the class and had some
interaction with their lead community manager and one or two of the
more active design staff.
I was in beta testing for both SWG and the Jump to Lightspeed
expansion they did. A while before development of "Trials of Obi-Wan"
the SOE staff held some internal discussions and testings for this new
Combat System they were implementing - completely changing the way
combat mechanics worked. I was one of maybe 2-3 dozen non-staff
initially selected to take part in that.
The shortfall of it all is that I gained quite a bit of insight into
the thought processes behind this type of feedback program and while
not being extensive, I felt I knew what could be expected.

> 8. Are you a number cruncher or do you go with trial and error when it comes to getting best results in PVP and PVE?

FURYBlakhart: Both. Sometimes I beat my head against a Wall until the
solution presents itself. Other times I do the math and cycle the
numbers and facts. Right now there's an issue that was brought up on
TL where White Hits may be doing as much as Combo damage....
something like that I will definitely crunch some numbers on. A lot
of the raid content I have done has been trial and error; "hey, I
wonder what happens if I try this ability first instead of this," for
I also lead raids and that is pretty much a lot of trial and error,
going by feel, thing for me rather than crunching numbers or doing
incredible amounts of research.

> 9. This will be personal: assassin pvp set is looking good or does it need a total revamp?

FURYBlakhart:LOOKS Wise: I Like the THOUGHT of the PvP set...I believe the
individual who designed it had "Arabian Nights" or something similar
in their head when they did it. However: something obviously went
very wrong lol. I wouldnt mind them sticking with the current theme,
but making it more sleek and sin-like (trashing the clunky boots for
example, changing colors around...making it look like flowing silk)
STATS Wise: I think they are on the right track with it but could
use some more tweaking. Im not really happy with any of the gear
stat-wise to be perfectly honest, but I am hard to please when it
comes to gear and itemization. PvP gear should be THE BEST for PvP
and they still need to add some edge to it.

> 10. How did your adventure with Age of Conan start?

FURYBlakhart: I had been playing LOTRO and EQ2 when AoC came out. I'm a gamer,
so I'd obviously heard of AoC. I had read a lot about it and looked
it up but I decided not to get into it. Actually, at the time, some
personal issues came into play and I toned down a lot of my MMO play
to begin with. I was barely playing LOTRO and had stopped playing
It wasnt until a friend of mine started telling me more and more about
the game and her guild that I finally took the leap and bought the
game. the "new mmo smell" caught me and on top of that, the basis for
her guild sounded very attractive. So, my journey started with a
friends prodding, the promise of an excellent and brutal new MMO with
some flair, and a great guild to belong to.

> 11. Are you interested in AoC lore? Have you read any comics or REH books?

FURYBlakhart:I have been meaning to get into some of Howards books. Ive read
bits and pieces and I do find it intriguing reading. It's my style of
literature anyway and I am surprised I havnt picked it up before now.
I am a huge fan of the lore for any game as it is. Ive spent hours
reading WoW lore, countless hours on LOTRO Lore ( I am a big Tolkien
fan), and lore for any other RPG I have played.
RPG's and MMO's offer a depth and variety of stimulus that other games
If I just wanted to run around and slash things or let everyone know
how awesome I am with headshots...there's plenty of Shooters to do
that in. If I want to prove tactical superiority, theres a lot of RTS
for that. For me, MMO is about melding a lot of gameplay together
and enjoying the depth of the environment.

> 12. Is Age of Conan yours only MMO or do you play other titles aswell?

FURYBlakhart:AoC is the main dish. I do have side courses but AoC always
remains the center piece. I am way too involved in it for anything
else to become a main priority. I play games other than RPG's and
MMO's as well, like the Call of Duty series, Dawn of War II, Total War
and others. But AoC always takes up the majority of my time and I
kind of snack on the others.
I play LOTRO from time to time still. I hadnt played WoW for ages but
I checked out the Wrath expansion then quit again after leveling up
and doing some raids. Im playing a bit of Guild Wars presently, think
I've played it about 6 hours this week.
> 13. What was your first MMO?
FURYBlakhart: My first real MMO was Earth and Beyond. I had done MUD's and
things like that prior - but that was the first real MMO experience.

> 14. Are you settling to Age of Conan for good or are you also looking foward to other titles that are on the horizon?

FURYBlakhart: I am always looking at other games and things down the horizon.
Hard not to. I have to say that I do like how the new Star Wars is
shaping up (have to love Bioware).
However with that said I am in AoC for the long term. I'm really
invested in the guild I am with plus this Advocate position. And hey,
lets face it.... AoC has a LOT of promise. Theres tons of negativity
to go around about AoC and Funcom, but anyone who can't see the
potential for this game isn't looking. Let's just hope that FC gets
this next patch right and continues to fill out the game and realize
it's full potential. There's no other game on the market which has as
much future potential as AoC. WoW has its niche but its an old beast
and caters to the masses and is VERY dumbed down. LOTRO has it's lore
and good gameplay to keep it going. Both of those seem a little
"locked" in though. AoC has lots of room to go - FC just needs to
keep things in the right direction.

> 15. Stealth, should we get some exclusive features related to it?

FURYBlakhart: I believe assassins should indeed have some kind of benefits
associated with stealth. Rogues are better at stealth than
non-rogues, and Sins should be the masters of stealth. Whether that
come from inherent bonuses for our hiding or being detected...or some
new abilities we get to increase our hiding, resistance (notice I
didnt say immunity) to tracking, or something similar I'm not sure.

on march 23th Fury was announced assassin class advocate.He is an
established raider.
Currently Fury is the only assassin class advocate.
This text was ASS to edit (spaceing, html) and it was a battle lost by me, so hope you don't mind
this "professional" format.


Pumpkins said...

first comment!

I will read it now..

Slith said...

fastest comment ever,

Khalid said...

Really interesting and entertaining.
Thanks for making it! :)