Sunday, July 31, 2011

PvP - on a stranger tides

Monthly development update is in and, as foretold by Shaggy, it pretty much covers PvP additions/changes for the upcoming months. Let's go over these, shall we? (not that you have a choice).

Systems and Balance updates

Funcom already has proven that they are ready to take Age of Conan into a new, bold places and kick PVE in the nuts while doing so. Proof? The freaking CC changes. Thank you. Indeed there are many fixes and changes to be made in order to make more feats/perks viable choices in PvP. Rogue general tree would be such example and many, many other in Assassin tree. Good to hear that FC is willing to get down and dirty with most mundane of problems.

Resurrection system in mini-games
This one is pretty weird. Right now if you die you respawn and can re-joing the fray almost instantly. I would assume that FC will allow you only to respawn when every member of your team is dead? Sounds like slowing down the action....a lot. But on another hand it would enforce making tactical choices more meaningful. Example: the whole team bashing Priest of Mitra to a bloody pulp for 2 minutes only to find him re-joing the fight in less than 10s. Not with the proposed system. It would also make "kamikaze" style of play less effective (many assassins are guilty of this) because there would be penalty for dieng. I had my feel of this kind of game play when back on 1.6 on TL server assassins were losing all their shards upon death so it was very beneficial to last long in minis. It was a very different and intberesting experience. Honestly I can go both ways, bring it!

Tracking system & Stealth system

I would say it was most surprising and pleasing part of the letter. Both of those mechanics are CORE to the Age of Conan system and I would rather expect the Devs to roll back the game to 1.4 than to even touch that with a stick. And yet here we are. I find both of those features broken beyond belief and ruining open world pvp. Whatever changes we will get will be welcomed ones. One can only hope that the stealth changes will bring something new and interesting to assassin table. The stealth should be the name of OUR game, the rangers can keep some sort of nerfed tracking and the rest, I hope, will get shafted.

Animation and Combat updates

This will address the issue-we-are-not-speaking about. Oh wait, I am not on a forums right now? I meant the fucking combo skipping exploit. Some classes (like assassin) can literally shave-off good chunk of their combo animation while dealing same damage. Hell, assassins can skip the whole animation on Deaths Whirlwind, making the damage instant. On another hand some combo animations are so long that it really discourages the usage of such combos (Castration being one of those). The changes will make the combat more fluid, dynamic and above all: fair.

New PVP content - World bosses incoming...
"These massive foes will spawn in locations in the Border Kingdoms, and will challenge players to organise to take them down. However, they will always appear in an open and unrestricted PVP setting, so anyone wishing to take them on will have to compete with their fellow players as well.

It also appealed on the nostalgia level, many of us on the team have fond memories of pitched battles over open world bosses or locations that you used to see in games like Anarchy Online and Dark Age of Camelot, and we want to try and reproduce that feeling for this addition.

So the next content addition will take the form of new PVP world bosses that will appear in the other Border Kingdoms."
Ok, I won't go "HOLY CRAP" on you and freak out (althou I would really like to). I have never experienced this kind of content in other games, however these are my 2 cents:

Like many I have full time job and family to take care of. I do only pvp/solo pve in MMOs for various reasons, but above all because this kind of content is always available to me regardless what time I log on. So rather making my schedule fit Age of Conan I have made Age of Conan fit my schedule.

On a side note: I am very much aware that people with same lives have also found a way to fit Age of Conan into their lives. We have, however, different approaches to this: I rather have small gaming time here and there and some enjoy having only 1-2 "raiding nights" during the week.

Back to the bosses:
Creating pvp content that can only be done in specific time frame ultimately will "force" me to show up at certain hour in order to participate in it.

This will not be an addition to pvp that I could enjoy on a daily basis. And we all know its all about ME (My Enjoyment).

It would be "ok" to have this kind of "PvP raid bosses" as a minor and just one of many pvp additions that will be made during the year. But it seems like this will not be a minor addition and nor one of many in 2011.

In other words: if this content is "time frame exclusive" I am stuck with same minigames for 4th year in a row.

I REALLY want to see this in action, but as many have suggested this content might be very hard to implement in a game without two opposing factions. What will stop the major guild from "sharing" the bosses, picking the days in a week when each of the guild downs the boss? Obviously we know very little about this content, but just having it "time frame exclusive" (and I cannot imagine FC going any other route) makes me go QQ. Time will tell (as it always does).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

PvP level 9

Ok so it is here: old school, purely minigame-grown pvp lvl 9. It is also the very first level in my Age of Conan gaming that didn't give me squat. Nada! I have no desire for Bori gear (the stats difference is marginal at best anyway) so there is absolutely no benefit for me for reaching this level. That's some damn good game design!

However I have noticed a MAJOR shift in minigames quality on Fury: much less ass-hats, less complaining, better team work.
I remember how horrified I was when for the first few days on Fury I have seen people going for kills and nothing else. Such is no longer the case.

Overall getting to pvp 9 was suprisingly easy and fast.For the duration of the last 20% I was using pvp xp books and cash-shop pvp pots, but the rest of the level was pretty much unbuffed.

Another thing was how pleasurable and more skill based the pvp has become after the CC changes. Honestly I cannot simply imagine how we could ever have played this game in any other way that with casting time and being able to knock back all the classes.

Even the dreadful SAG 12 vs 12 minigame got improved since its initial launch and it is no longer "rush center + keep that sucker".

It is all good, but sadly there is simply no carrot to be had in this scenario: I will push pvp lvl 10 eventually and it will be pretty much same as getting lvl 9 with no reward waiting for me in the end. Part of the fun in pushing the pvp level progression was getting that sweet, sweet piece of lootie and  non-Bori players are deprived of that "completion" feeling that was always associated with dining another pvp level.

And I don't expect Funcom to shower me with purplezz(ororor0r0r0r0z)  at every level so I can

overpower any player that hasn't been pvping since 2008, but how hard would it be to allow me to buy new hair style, tattoo, social cloak or a pvp mount (yeah, where are THOSE?). You know: all the fluffy stuff that makes your e-peen all that little bigger.

And last, but not least: the tournament mode. It was supposedly designed as "Premade vs Premade minigames for bragging rights". That "bragging rights" made me go "oh noes!". Yep, that is a key word for "it will suck".

Since patch went live I couldn't get A SINGLE game in the tournament mode.  Everytime there is a team signed you can bet its a Bori farmed pvp lvl 10s with pretty much perfect setup when it comes to class composition. In opposite corner we have: you and pvp lvl 3 friends and no tank. Enjoy! The rewards are also the same which says: more work, more preparation, harder fights for.... same reward. Totally makes sense. How come developers can think of "Hardmodes" with epic rewards for those that are willing to put in a little more effort, but the same rule cannot be applied to pvp. Remove hardmore tokens and epic items from Hardmodes and make them "for bragging rights" and see how many Pvers will flood those instances.

Bragging rights my ass!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Update Notes 2.7 - 20th of July [Assassin]

  • Grave's Blossom and Death Whirlwind have been adjusted. They will now scale somewhat differently for 1-4 Soul Fragments, and should still do about the same for 5 Soul Fragments. Both these combos will now also hit a second target with full damage, but will follow the normal rules for damage reduction on any targets beyond the second.
  • Grave's Blossom and Death Whirlwind damage has been reduced, but will now hit two targets with 100% damage.
  • Fixed an issue where the cone for Grave's Blossom was skewed and would pick targets on the assassin's right side.
I will be posting assassin related patch notes under "Patch Notes" so returning assassins will have easy time checking out what has changed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Total rebuild

As you can see I have done some re-designing on the blog (if you can use that word in relation to messing around with blogger's settings). Mainly I have ripped down the tag system and went for "folders".

Here is what you will find in those categories:

News - all the recent information from me, devs or straight forum madness

Rants - me giving you pice of my mind on various topics

PVE - all things PVE from exploration to content review and events

PVP - all things PVP so it is like PVE, but better (coz its PVP)

Podcast - things I do in my car when no one is watching (just kidding, I am doing it even when someone does)

Archive - placeholder for out-of-date guides. This way all the stuff published in other categories will be applicable to the current state of the game.

Guides - all my guides that you can find on official forums. All up to date.

Bombay Sin - all the silly stuff that is still worth keeping, but won't fit any other category

Lore - books, comics, movies, the works!

Hope that now the blog will be a little more user friendly.

On the totally unrelated topic: I have tried Facebook and I hate it :X

Thank you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Age of Conan: The God in the Moon

After reading all of REH Conan books I have been left hungry for more. Naturally I have turned to other, numerous Conan books, but quickly realized that those are poo (and by that I mean shit).

Not only the authors butchered Conan character (Conan praying to Crom? Me not think so!), but also continuously shown lack of basic knowledge about Hyboria.

Enter   Age of Conan: The God in the Moon by Richard A. Knaak.

The book is about Nermesa Klandes, young noble officer in the army of Aquilonia. The young lad idolizes Conan and joins the army to fight picts in the battlefields of the Westermarck.

First of all the story takes place in the pictish wilderness. I didn't enjoy this setting whole lot in the "Beyond the Black River" so I might be biased towards "The God in the Moon" because of that. Like Picts? Then you will digg this.

The story unfolds very, very slowly and for the most part of the first chapters its a yawn-fest. But then again Mr. Knaak did very well when describing the sword fights and battles. It's not REH, but still very dynamic style of writing.

The book's strong points is that it is very well researched. At first it seemed like the author is trying to put as many Hyborian words in the first chapters as possible (Bossonians, Gundermen, The Iron Tower etc.), but as the story unfolds it becomes more and more subtle. I have really enjoyed how old pict was talking about distant future when they bring down Aquilonia (check The Hyborian Age).

The author also did justice to Conan. The King makes short appearance, and pretty much acts as Conan. Zenobia also is portrayed in "The God..", but the author clearly drew his inspiration from Dark Horse comics, by showing that Conan threats her as his equal (which doesn't come up in REH story). Whatever, both Dark Horse and Marvel (King Conan series) did it so I guess it is ok.

The only thing that really annoyed me in this book was author overusing "blurry shadow leaped from the tree" motive. Seriously, if you were taking a shot of vodka every time someone jumped down from the tree you could get yourself pretty messed up.

Verdict: The book is entertaining in it's decency. Its decent at best, but it seems to be sufficient.

If you have finished up with all REH stuff give those books a try.