Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Director for Age of Conan

So the rumors turned out to be true and it seems like Joel is indeed "master of it all" now. While I am very optimistic about JB's capacity to push AOC into right direction simply I cannot help to look back at all those years of the reign of Crag Morrison.I don't want to turn this post into glowing with praise nor swarming with complains, but if I had to make one sentence statement about CM it would be this "Silirrion made a lot with very little". Is it all great? No. Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. But it was a bitter test that Sillirion had been given and after all those years I can only say: he's a pass (if there is indeed such an expression). 

It seems like almost yesterday when Game Director Gaute Godager has resigned from Funcom. His last patch was 1.4.

Many will argue that 1.4 was the "golden era" of Age of Conan, but I would disagree as it had A LOT of game breaking issues. Cunnding deflection killing people? Storm crown on TOSes one-shotting people? Freaking BEASTY Bear Shammans? (ol' Galdah getting 50 kills per mini *roll eyes*). THE DAMNED GEM ERA? To top that off there were almost no systems present in the game (pointless, unrewarding minigames being one of them) and people were fight clubbing their way to pvp lvl 5 gear. BTW it is a common misconception that 1.4 wasn't all about gear as there were only two types of gear in the game meaningless stats on pve armors and pvp armor with massive advantage when it comes to resistance. I feel like I need to keep going here: chain CCs locking, combo skipping, animation issues on male/female, combo cooking, shield stacking, unlimited backwards tapping (no cooldown on the buff) and horrible, horrendous performance and stability issues with the game client. As a new Game Director you got that along with increasingly smaller funds, team and vicious community to tackle.

With all that I have say that Sill is leaving Age of Conan in the best shape it's ever been systems wise. Item/stats revamp, AA system, feats revamp (with more or less successful class revamps), combo skipping fixed, new CC system (immunities, casting times), stamina revamp, Khitai revamp, token system, MULTI-FREAKING-SPECCs, crafting revamp (which I am sure will be awesome, too bad CM won't be around to take credit) and much much more. I am not a big on PVE, but it is not secret that former Director focused a lot of PVE content which turned out to be great (with House of Crom and T4 being the highlights of those years of development). He also more or less handled client issues and implemented Dream World system (so now AOC can benefit from TSW) Those are the reasons why new players that are coming to the game are stunned by it's quality and immesivness.

While PVP benefited a lot from all the new systems I have to say that PVP as a whole suffered greatly. The removal of groups from group pvp followed by Bori turned out to be a disaster. In all those years PvPers got Jab Sag minigame (all not that great in my opinion but still fairly popular due to it's rewards) and Blood & Glory setting (which failed pretty hard). I have to give Sillirion credit for listening to the feedback when it came to world pvp bosses and scraping the idea. I have no idea why he was turning away from pvp in a game that has such an amazing pvp potential.

Craig Morrison at first had amazing relations with the community but things turned sour around the time Bori got launched and he pretty much never recovered from that blow (at least in the eyes of vocal pvpers). Nevertheless he was always very professional even when people where directly insulting him.
The man has thick skin and balls when it comes to sticking to the plan, I will give him that. On the other hand I think often the community was too harsh and too hard on the Director and without doubt that drove him away from the forums (can't blame him for that).

So looking back at all those years I will say that Sillirion had a tough job and for the most part he succeeded. Often he suffered for the design choices he didn't make and the flaws/bugs he wasn't responsible for.

Apart from some pvp related issues he was the right man for this job and he soldiered on like a boss.

Thank you Mr. Morrison for all those years of toil and adventure. I know you did your best with the resources you had. Some will call you Craig "PVE" Morrison, but to me you are Craig "The Fixer" Morrison. May your blades never dull.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Slith's cheesy exploration guide ep. 11

Ommmpfffff! Is it almost a year already since last time I have produced one of these cheese flavored exploration guides? This cannot be! Today we are, as of late, still in the jewel od the dreaming west- my personal all time favorite - Old Tarantia. This time I was exploring the wall near the Tarantia library (still unconquered building for me). I had pretty solid idea about how to get there, but it required a single, pretty hard jump (from the bridge) and if you failed you had to ago again  through series of extremely hard jumps. So I waited and waited until my guild got (finally) ranked #1 on guild renown. This has granted me right of entrance to the rooftop in OT (that bar-thingy) from where I have instant and easy access to the nearby bridge.

Looking at my next target...
Sadly the parts outer wall (the one that you can see in the last picture) are separated by invisible walls. This means that simply getting on the wall doesn't grant you access to the whole wall around the city. I hate invisible walls with a passion.

If you have managed to get anywere on top of OT library then, please: PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN :D

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lore Whore: Dark Horse on the Sword

When it comes to my Conan media consumption up to this point I have been pretty damn old school. I mean I have a quite large collection of books and comics (some from 70'). Tons of paper. But recently I have heard the digital call of the new "Phoenix on the Sword" and have decided to answer it by buying the "paperless" version. 

Old Tarantia that we know and love
The price tag got me really sold on the idea in the first place: 5.99$ for a bundle of 4 comics is a steal. The price difference between digital and paper issue is simply staggering. The second thing is convenience: after few clicks the comic was ready for reading on my PC or mobile device like iPhone. Reading the comic on the computer was pleasurable and I didn't get any weird feeling indicating that I might be missing something that the print version would have provided. But enough of this digital sorcery talk let's get to the point. I like Dark Horse and have always enjoyed their producs. I still have yet to see a single boring Conan issue by DK (have read tons of those from Marvel). The art in DK's Conan is, as always, excellent so I won't even bother to compliment it here.
Toth-Amon as seen in "The Book of Toth"
It's eye candy all the way. Now the story is, of course, REH's original with some very minor twists that are there only because it's needed to translate the book into comic form. For example Toth-Amon explains his slave status by merely touching the Baron and showing it to him via some wizzardly vision. As you might have guessed
3 panels of Toth-Amon merely monologuing about that doesn't make for a great comic. Apart from that I find interesting that the story in "Phoneix" is told to a scribe by an old Conan - now a ruler of Aquilonia for several decades.  As always the writers have used REH's writings in the most clever way. In one of the panels old Conan recites a poem that REH wrote for the first page of the book. The dialogs are lifted straight from the book which is more thatn welcomed. Overall this is a great comic and one that will please any Age of Conan fan. More so this issue has sold me on the idea of digital comics and I will, without doubt, purchase more of them in the near future. Long live The Dark Horse!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Content beyond the SDS?

I am always looking over the horizon for what else Hyboria holds for us. Truth be told that Dragon's Spine REALLY took me by surprise as my initial guess was: Hyperborea (which SHOULD be made, damn it!). Supposedly it was possible to foresee the Dragon's Spine as artwork for this content was made back in ... 2009 ! Here is a thread to prove it. 

Trying to see what the future holds for Age of Conan I have searched teh internets and came up with this: Undying Temple. The concept art for this content was created by Wanglin Fang who have prepared artwork for both House of Crom and Turan add-on.

The artwork is from 2011, but since Funcom used 2009 paintings for SDS that doesn't really tell us how far away this content might be. I am not aware of any tie in to Conan lore that undying temple might have. I have noticed that the artwork is connected to Lemuria which is a kingdom from Kull's stories. Can't say I am pumped for this art since this kind of mobs reminds me of those LOTRO tree-walking-thingies. Just because there is an artwork for it doesn't mean that we will see undying temple anytime soon (if at all) considering that Dragon's Spine - a 2013 add-on - is based on 2009 artwork :X 
I REALLY want the game to shift to the dreaming west as I am very weary of super natural. Sure, Conan stories have A LOT of super natural elements in them, but it's often more subtle and working the background. Right now in AOC one Lovecraftian monster chases another and the whole thing is so deeply steeped in that mythology that at times I am feeling like playing The Secret World (House of Crom and Dragon's Spine are guilty of this). I long for more military conflict, especially ones on the larger scale (like Hour of the Dragon which is about Nemedia invading Aquilonia). Pretty good example of content which has little to no super natural was Tarantia Commons, a rough place where low lifers tear each other apart. Butchering a members of the The Crows? I can get behind that more than solving a riddle about how to summon some cloud-a-like monster from the outer dark.

But there is a exciting thing on the horizon as Schwarzenegger gets another shot at Conan. Newer saw than one coming as it seems like something posted as an April's fool joke. Not saying that it will be bad, it is just very very unexpected. It is pretty obvious that Funcom will again jump on Conan movie wagon and will produce some content tied to it. The Turan add-on wasn't all that bad (Ardashir looks excellent and Iron Statues is the best solo content so far) but the CTB references (I hate that fat bastard Artus and cliche non-character El-Shan) were clunky, unnecessary and poorly written (DMH I am looking at you!). Fitting considering it was a bad content based on a bad movie.

I guess this could work..
Funcom will again have problems with fitting AOC into Conan: The Legend since CTB took place several years before AOC and CTL will take place several years after AOC. What gets me excited is a possibility for Aquilonian add-on for Age of Conan. My character hails from Aquilonia (hence Slith of Aquilona) and I have simply adored all leveling zones in Hyboria tied to the Aquilonian empire.Not much is yet known about CTL, but I have my fingers cross that it WON'T be about some Acheronian menace. Please, give the damn Acheron some rest..

Friday, February 15, 2013


As I previously mentioned I have this strange "thingy" about MMOs where I can really focus my attention on one character without feeling some kind of stress that prevents me from enjoying the game. Call me weird. However few months ago I have rolled an "alt" named Comgall the Barbarian and have played him on and off from time to time. At first the plan was to experience all AOC story since I have rushed so much when leveling Slith back in 2008. It was great: awesome Tortage experience, followed by grim and interesting Conal's Valley and then super story-saturated Wild lands. All of this have left me hungry for more stories. I have managed to do Field of the Dead with relative interest and  about lvl 40-ish I have started to become more interested about feats and perks rather than the story. I am very much a min-maxer kind of player  so again I was obsessing about "best" specc, gear and combo rotations. Story, sadly, all of sudden was simply getting in my way of gaining more and more levels so I could unlock feats and experiment with b uildsAfter a while it became evident that I should use my offline levels to ding lvl 80 as I wasn't enjoying "playing" the game, but was rather hell bent on reaching 80 lvl asasp. So after dinging lvl 80 via offline levels (I still have like 250 of those :P) I have played around with few speccs, did few solo instances and minigames and pretty much threw my barbarian into a trash bin. Another problem manifested itself: playing assassin exclusively  for such a long time I am very used to certain pace and standards that were simply not meet with barbarian. Honestly playing barbarian very much felt like playing assassin in slow monition :P I was still not used to the class, but I had no desire to learn it. You see my asssassin key binds and routines are so ingrained in my brain that last week I have punched in the combination for SDS II on my bank's ATM cash machine :X That is intense. I simply cannot un-make those years spent developing and practicing assassin. More so it seems like I have been deluding myself that I can have an alt for the story alone. Couldn't have done it. And I REALLY like good story in general as I have read every 'lil bit of text in Khitai, Turan and Dragon's Spine quests. The lesson learned? I am doomed to play just one character. Period. Oh well, seems like the epic saga of Comgall the Barbarian has come to an end. Perhaps I am destined to NOT having an army of alts, but my MMO ADHD comes with certain perks that are granted via focused game play: I am missing only few mastery points from having ALL of my AAs unlocked. Sorry Comgall, your 2 stuns and 2 knock backs are simply not good enough to match it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Borderkingdom asshattery

As you might have noticed that I am kind of cranky lately because of group pvp in Age of Conan. Seeing how I can either do eversomore minigames with randoms (but I am coming to conclusion I don't need that in my life) or nothing at all I have decided to call upon a friendly TOS and group up for some Bori pvp. And by that I mean that I have searched CE and it showed a group being there and since me and TOS didn't have anything else to do we have decided to go for it. First of all the new CE search mechanic (in case you don't know: you can search for players in CE only when being outside the play field) worked like a charm: we knew there were people in CE that needed killing and said people were ignorant of our presence until it was too late.
Both me and Koirein are pvp lvl 10, but since there was a full group in CE we have decided that it's ok.
Needless to say we have plowed the CE in few minutes destroying two altars and after brief carnage our opponents left the zone. Fun? Hardly. People do not farm Bori because they are good at pvp and they are not there to pvp, but rather to create optimal scenario in which they can get best pvp xp/tokens ratio for the time spent there. For them our presence was annoying as it made said "ideal scenario" impossible to pursue. The opportunity for pvp was highly undesirable. For us it also felt like half-assed content since Bori farmers provided little to no resistance and gave up pretty quickly. For me personally it also felt like I am being an asshole for making already boring and unattractive content even less bearable for those people. Is content for CE "gankers" about either making other people more miserable that they already are (if they hate Bori) or spoiling their fun (if for whatever reason they enjoy Bori) ? At very least people in minigames literally "sign up" for whatever they are getting. Ganking those people in CE somehow felt wrong .
Perhaps if pvp crafting is introduced then killing people in CE will actually have a valid reason other than just making people miserable.I will gladly revisit CE after the crafting revamp is in, but as it is now it is just weird.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

[Guide] Lost Temple Tricks

 I have called this guide "lost temple tricks" for the lack of better term as there is hardly anything tricky or hard about performing the jumps shown in the video. However those jumps are "smart" way to move around the map as they will save you from Bruised Body and Broken Debuffs which are nasty movement debuffs. So the purpose of this guide is to show you how to stay fast, mobile and how to access places that were not meant to be accessed this way. All of this is legit and is present in the game since ever.

Opener Jump - this is the fastest way to start a minigame. Simply jump on the first step and jump further down. This is mandatory for flag carries that want to get to the enemy flag room the asap.

Spawn Jump - double tapping forward close to the wall will allow you to slide down. This is the fastest way to rejoin the fight.

Column Jump - a nice trick to escape your enemy and it can also be performed while caring the flag. Simply jump on the column and slide down to safety. Be careful about using this trick with accelerated buff as you will jump too high and get Bruised Body debuff. I haven't seen anyone using this and since I have came up with this one myself I am claiming it as my own. Didn't call it "Slith's jump" out of modesty for which, like many other things, I am famous for.

if you don't use this tricks most of the stunts shown in the videos will land you Bruised Body debuff

Flame Jump - straight forward jump. Can be performed while caring the flag.

Ledge Jump - this is one of two "tricky" jumps. To perform it you need good timing. You cannot be sprinting while jumping, this is not about speed or height of the jump, but about timing.

Soft Jump - Same as ledge jump. You cannot be sprinting while jumping, this is not about speed or height of the jump, but about timing.

Escape Artist - This is a quickest way of escaping the enemy base or chasing down the flag carrier. You will get bruised body if you attempt to do this jump without accelerated.

Spell Weave Jump - I am also claiming coming up with the idea for type of jump. However this is rather a gimmick than an usefull skill, but when you pull it off it makes you feel like a ninja. The idea is that casters will often stand in this spot as they will be safe from all except rangers. Anyone trying to reach the casters would have to go through rather lenghty ledge while under the rain of fire and CCs. This jump should be a total surprise to your opponent as you can land exactly next to him in mere 3 seconds.

Teleport Jump -This might cause people to accuse you of cheating as you will simply vanish after jumping down. The whole "trick" to it is based on a simple fact that both fall and environmental damage do not put you in combat. So pretty much that means that you can go into hide as soon as you hit the ground. If someone is chasing you and you will jump down and stealth he will not see that as assume some kind of teleport hack. Happened to me more than once.