Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: On Second Thought…Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
The last item on the chopping block concerned soul corruption, but as I discovered in the Funcom offices while over there in January, spell-weaving and soul-corruption is still in, but being sent/damned to Hell as a result of being too "corrupted" is no longer.
When I first heard about being sent to Hell as a punishment for becoming too corrupted, the first question that entered my mind was, "Will you have to fight your way out of hell every time you're sent there?" Naturally, such an outcome would become tedious and monotonous, especially if it was the same instance of Hell every time, and as a result, because of Hell potentially becoming so "hum-drum" after a few times, the punishment or penalty begins to lose its meaning, a lot like going to jail in Monopoly. In the end, what sounded like a very cool feature will simply become a chore.
The angle that Funcom took on making this decision on removing Hell from 'Age of Conan', was that if you're two or three very adept mages in your guild or team were weaving a particularly nasty spell against a gargantuan demon, for example, then being sent to hell and effectively punishing the whole team for doing so would simply become a matter of sheer impracticality. As for the poor mages that have condemned themselves, they leave their team or guild in waiting of their return so they can pick up from where they left of, or even worse, having to start from scratch! As soul corruption remains, it is merely a case of the mages being punished for "dabbling in the dark arts" too much or too often, but not a punishment in the sense that it would ruin their gameplay experience, as I'm sure many players playing the mage classes (or any other class that will be able to become "soul corrupted") will feel that the soul corruption may well have been worth the chaos, death, and destruction they created with their own two hands.
"Going to hell as a result of screwing up your spell-weaving - Hmmm, two crucial magicians wiped from a raid test sort of left us asking if this idea was even good on paper ;p I rest my case."
As for the rest of 'Age of Conan', Gaute went through a list longer than your arm of things that are still in-game and will be at release also, so I won't bother listing those (you can read that yourself, if you like), but as I said earlier, a true "Conan" experience is being offered:
"When we gave you our feature list it was not an empty marketing promise to merely grab your attention, but our serious effort of telling you what we were trying to accomplish. We told you about our vision for the game. The vision has not changed at all! The true Conan experience awaits."
Sure, people are going to be disappointed with the cuts and changes, but given the scope and reasoning for these changes in Gaute's report, I'm sure these are things that even the minority will be able to forgive.
If anything, this report offers us a lesson in being innovative, that what sounds "cool" or a good idea at first does not necessarily mean it's going to see considerable span of life. Could you imagine if it Funcom had gone ahead with these things and then later hear back from the player-base itself, "Hey, these things sounded cool at first, but after giving it a go a few times now, I'm sick of it!" Customers are lost this way.
It reminds me of something Gaute said to the community in his address regarding the game's delay announcement back in August last year:
"I am still professional enough to realize that sometimes you must have the balls to pull your own pants off, standing there in all your glory, and admit your mistakes."
Say what you will about what "mistakes" Funcom have made with 'Age of Conan', if any, but personally I think it's better for Funcom to make these sorts of decisions on their own merit rather than hearing about it from the customers they're aiming to sate. No one likes an angry mob.
"The great house of Hyboria has been erected, and we are now doing the final interior work."
May 20 cannot come soon enough.
Until next fortnight, this is Stephen "weezer" Spiteri,
Want to contact me? Then email me here.
© Stephen Spiteri, February 2008