The king has nearly arrived. No, not that
king (Elvis? Ed.
). Not the guy with the Hobbity friends, either. Nope, this is the first great king of modern heroic fantasy: King Conan!
The launch of Age of Conan: Hyborean Adventures
, developed by Funcom and published in Europe by Eidos, is just a few days away. I went all the way across to Oslo, where the sun was shiny and the beer was heinously expensive, to spend a bit of time with Funcom.
The game (if you hadn't surmised this already) is based on the fiction of Robert E. Howard, who has the distinction of being Conan's real world Dad. It's an MMO based in the fictional and troubled low fantasy realm of Hyborea, where Conan presides over a dark and ugly land. You won't find the pretty elves of its main target - World of Warcraft
here. You'll find troubled races of men and many moral shades of grey.
You'll also find a real-time combat system that differentiates itself from traditional turn-based MMO combat. There is also a player-versus-player siege combat mode that enables guilds to attack one another's cities (which they've built from scratch). You'll also find a single-player experience at the start of the game that Funcom promises will emotionally attach players to their character and provide 15 to 20 hours of game-play before the multi-player section of the game starts in earnest.
Along with other video games journalists, I sat down for an interview with Andreas Öjerfors, quest co-ordinator at Funcom, for a discussion of what makes Conan
different from the pack. We talked story, the Conan
license and a wealth of other things both epic and sociable...
A lot of MMOs are very samey. What have you done to differentiate Conan?
How much have you seen?
Up to level 12.
Then you've seen really nothing of the game so far. Basically, up until level 12, until 14 at least... really until level 20, that's an introduction into how to play the game, really. You have the quests there and the storylines.
If you don't care for them, well, it's partially a mechanic that teaches you to deal with the game. That's one of the reasons why we have the single-player content.
First we believe that to have the player get a connection to his character, which I don't think a lot of MMOs do. Secondly, it's a way of not being pushed into the world having no idea of how to play the game - actually allowing you to take the time to learn the mechanics.
So, you have a focus on story in quests and a different killing system. Is there more to it than that?
I think there's a lot more to it than that... I think you experienced some of what we're trying to do, even up to level 12. The difficulty with an MMO, of course, is the limits the 'MM' part puts on it.
So, levels 1 - 20 and even afterwards, we have the single-player quests where we can do much more and if you think that's just 'blah blah blah' and 'kill five' or something then I don't think you'll play a lot of it. But the multi-player quests - that's a huge challenge for any MMO. What we really try to do is push it further. We use a lot of scripting where you have to do quests where you defend something,or you destroy something within a certain time or try to use those things.
Sometimes in MMOs you have problems where you can't do a fresh quest because you don't have space to do it. Will that be a problem here?
The quest inventory? Basically, it's not going to run out. There is, of course, a technical limit, but the quest inventory will not run out.
So, you won't find that you can't do a quest because there isn't room?
Exactly, that's why we created a separate quest inventory.