Sunday, December 28, 2014

1 year in review - 2014

Yet another Hyborian year has passed and it is time for my savage review. When you look at the list of things that were promised in 2013/2014 it will be pretty obvious that most of the stuff did not get delivered. On another hand new gear mechanics had to be introduced to add any new meaningful content to AOC. Lets see what was going on in Hyboria during those 12 months.

  1. All Your Tomium Are Belong To Us
  2. [Forum Event] Epic Tales of Uncertainty - a forum game
  3. Halloween Streaming!
  4. Adventurers vs Kang - Hardmode! - youtube re-post
  5. Player Spotlight Rishis
  6. Forum re-design
I often give community managers a hard time because I feel like so so very little has been done over the years to really help AOC and it's community. I spilled my beans on that subject here. With an addition of new community manager I didn't expect for things to change drastically, but I gave the benefit of doubt. Without being an asshole about it the above list is what pretty much has been done for the community over 12 months. Epic Tales ended on a less than epic note. Halloween Streaming was two community managers giggling on Twitch and dieing on their low level characters. It was painful to watch as it was pretty obvious that community managers had little to no idea how to play the game. If someone expected insights about AOC, Q&A session with a dev or learning anything about the game then it was a big let down. I don't mind that "shits and giggles" approach to streaming once in a while IF it is a break from your regular streaming that has both purpose and content to offer. If just laughing your ass off for 2 hours on Twitch is the only thing you are going to do over 12 months then why even bother. We also had one youtube video re-post and one player spotlight. What was that about? Why even bother to do something once and then abandon it completely? I am not going to talk about forum re-design. I will just mention that old design was the best thing I have seen when it comes to MMO boards and I am saddened to see it gone. However if it was needed for technical reasons then be it, it's not that super important. Community management, again as always, resorted to posting server status and path notes with addition of Tomium offering a wide array of snarky comments to the players (which is less than welcomed and opposite to helful).

  1. Age of Conan's Sixth Anniversary!
  2. Age of Conan Halloween
Sixth Anniversary was a bit of a let down because of poor writing. The story was rushed, uninspiring and to make it worst it was used later on for PvP events lore. Halloween even was on the other hand very well put together and pretty much addressing ALL of my concerns about this type of content in AOC. Bonus points goes to Funcom for sticking with this new philosophy of adding something new to the events in every year. 

  1. added a buff which will give players amnesty against criminal/murder status
  2. The first kill of each month will now provide a new Portent Token which can be claimed on each of your characters.
  3. Portents spawning on the PvP servers now have lower health to compensate for the increased challenges provided by these locations. 
World Bosses are here to stay. While WBs are glorified, gigantic pinatas but no one can deny that it is a super popular content. The improvements to the WBs, especially addressing the problems on PvP servers (where sometimes it took more than 1 hour to take down bosss) made things a lot better.
I only wish that Funcom has went a diffrent route with WBs and instead using gigantic monsters they should have used armies and generals. Cutting through the ranks of Nemedians to kill their general would be, at least for me, a lot more epic than sticking my dagger in some fat, flying demon. This content is what it is and recent changes are appreciated.

  1. Update to all PvP vendor weapons to have improved stats that should make them much more competitive in a PvP environment
  2. Stats have been redistributed on all tiers of PvP armor. Tier 3 PvP gear should now be of a similar standard to T4 raiding gear.
  3. New social items have been added to the Contraption Merchants for purchase using Conquest Trophies.
  4. New vendor offers unique new items in exchange for Victory Tokens.
  5. New mechanic in a form of Finesse hits,
  6. New mechanic in a form of set bonuses
  7. New mechanic in a form of item buffs
Even thou changes to existing pvp gear were deemed "very hard" by the Game Director later on we got awesome stats re-balance which resulted in closing the gap between T1 and T3 pvp gear and making T3 pvp gear more desirable for pvp than T4 pve gear. Great change! I did't enjoy pets this year. Pets, pets, pets, everything gives you pet reward. New pvp currency in a form of victory tokes can be spent pretty much on more pets. At very least  with the planned addition of solo arena all those pets are making sense now. The single most important addition to AOC this year were new gear mechanics which were needed for AOC to expand and provide future content. Developers have coded themselves into trap post 1.5 because with no stats cap item budgets could only gone up resulting in T4 gear making pretty much everything painfully obsolete. New mechanics are great for adding new items that are not simply a flat power upgrade and also set bonuses encourage mixing and matching between set pieces. Bonus points goes to Funcom for making finess hits a PVE exclusive and thus avoiding the age old issue of PVE gear being more valid for pvp. Check out more info on new mechanics here.

  1. changes to memory cloud, loot has been redistributed over to The Zodiac & Emperor Yah Chieng
  2. changes to Temple of Erlic T3.5 raid. At least 1 of the new weapon and accessory items are guaranteed to drop from each boss.Some bosses drop Dragon's Tears, rares, minipets or Phials of Heavenly Knowledge.
  3. All existing raid vendors now offer weapons and accessories for sale in exchange for their respective tokens.
  4. All existing raid vendors now offer weapons and accessories for sale in exchange for their respective tokens.
  5. A new vendor offers new unique mounts, social pets, and morph abilities in exchange for tokens from Tier 1 to Tier 3. This new vendor also offers an exchange for Simple Relic Is > Simple Relic IIs and Simple Relic IIs > Simple Relic IIIs.
  6. T5 unchained raids.

I am not much of a raider so I can offer a little insight about raid related changes. T5 raids are developers buying themselves more time in order to pump out T6. Adding T5 was a smart move because it was painfully obvious that T4 raid was .... raided to death (sorry for this bad pun) and PVE players were ready to move on (to another game most likely). T5 raid uses old bosses and raid zones but has new mechanics. I would call it a blatant attempt at stopping PVE population from leaving if it wasn't for the addition of gear with new mechanics.


  1. The contraption merchants now offer an exchange of Campaign Badges into Conquest Trophies.
  2. PvP Festival events
  3. Daily PvP Questing System
  4. White Sands Isle is now PvP Enabled on all PvP servers
  5. PvP Minigame streak system
  6. A new item, "Indemnity", has been added to act as insurance against a minigame loss
  7. Individual minigame statistics are now visible on the player info window. New statistic added in a form of minigames abandoned count.
PVP Festival turned to be something oh-not-so-hot (check my article here). Most of the veteran pvpers ignore daily quests and pvp festival as they have nothing to gain there and what is left are mostly alt farmers that are making the events into Bori 2.0. The event and daily pvp zones lack of proper UI solutions (on screen messages and whispers are lackluster and remind me of MUD games) and it's not even clear where the even/daily quest is taking place, players must go from zone to zone and discover it for themselves (hint: most don't even bother).
But events are what they are: cheap content delivered very fast and I cannot argue with the cost-to-quality ratio because, in all honesty, it still beats Bori by far. 
What I am very upset about are Minigame streak system and minigames abandoned count. Game Director promised that Minigame streak would be also made for tournament mode so to encourage group play in AOC. He didn't deliver on that promise. Furthermore minigame streak quest can be broken/failed not only by losing the game but also via abundance of bugs like server kick, or getting CCed under map. What is Funcom solution to that? New item called Indemnity which pretty much acts as insurance against losing. So what it bad about it? Its cash-shop exclusive item and that is just evil. It's Funcom saying: pay us not to get fucked over by AOC bugs. This item should be buyable with tokens and the fact that it is not is a blatant money grab executed in a worst possible manner. To add insult to injury minigame abandoned count, a new type of visible stat, doesn't really count minigames left but rather the amount of bugs. I for exemple didn't leave a single game and I can boast an amazing 13 minigames left. You can check a video of me getting 2 minigames abandoned in one game (while staying in it!) and see the bug report thread. If I had to sum up pvp content for the year 2014 I would say: most noble of the intentions, most poor execution.

  1. Requirements for gaining offline levels have been adjusted. In addition to premium account status, players must now possess a level 70 character before offline levels can be earned on the game account.
  2. The active PvP Daily location now provides all players with a buff which will block criminal/murder status.
  3. Guards will no longer come to player's aid during the Pictish Festival of Bloodshed (daily or festival week) in the festival location.
  4. Players below level 80 will receive PvE XP boosts in the festival location.
  5. It is now possible to signup for minigames from the Border Kingdoms : Cimmerian End, Border Kingdoms : Aquilonian End and the Border to Kush.
  6. An Auto Loot feature has been added
I really liked how the devs quickly responded to obvious problems. In previous years it took months for anything to get fixed and now a lot of stuff got hot fixed within a week or so. An auto loot feature is amazing addition to the game.

  1. changes and fixes to a lot of classes
  2. alternative advancement changes
Changes to the classes were very welcomed as it's been years since even most simple tweak. I especially like how Conqs got finally toned down a bit. Alternative advancement changes were a nice try, but as long as the game rewards stacting +crit everyone will use same set of AAs.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My horse is amazing!

I have made this post so you can look at my horse and decide for yourself horse is amazing. It happens that I have recently received two rather sweet mounts.

One is Strategists Steed offered via Kickstarter campaign for...Age of Conan Board Game (more info here). I was looking to buy that board game for some time and KickStarter offer loaded with extra stuff made it only a sweeter deal. Strategist Steed is a code which you apply to your account and then you receive the mount via /claim command. The Mount is account wide with unlimited claims and it a bit faster than swift horse (or at least as fast). The claimed mount icon is epic in color and surprisingly it has no description.

Tarpani Stalion is a different beast. I wrote about this mount in this post calling in an undead magic mount. Well you get this mount via quest chain which can be started when your guild gets to the 20 lvl renown. After pretty nice story you have to force an NPC to talk and he won't spill the beans unless you pay up .... 200 gold pieces. After you have stuffed NPC's face with golds he reveals that the horse is only "conditioned" via horrible means to be much stronger than other horses. That "conditioning" also makes it look undead which is... a plus in my book. This mount seems as fast as Hyrkanian horse, but then again I didn't test it and I don't know shit about shit (unlike Cynara who posted pretty definitive guide on mount speeds). The added benefit of this mount is +590 protection buff that you will get when mounted (might come handy during sieges or so).