Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnThrough the Eyes of Mitra: Age of Conan Beta Journal Entry #1Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
I've only ever gone as far as reading about Funcom's style of storytelling in their roleplaying games, and have only seen NPC dialogue in action in gameplay videos and what not, but I have to say that I was really quite impressed (and to be honest quite surprised) by how the NPC dialogue and interaction pulls you in to this dark, sleazy, and mysterious Hyborian age. Before experiencing it for myself, I thought, "Oh yeah, this is just going to be your standard 'talk to NPC and get quest'" just like it is in other MMOs, but the NPC interaction and dialogue took me back to my single-player RPG days, namely, when I played 'Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic' those Sierra adventure games that I was addicted to, namely, the 'Gabriel Knight' series. What Funcom had given me when interacting with NPCs was the opportunity to be in character, i.e. "roleplay", or simply to select the dialogue option that suits me or that I feel fine with. Funcom has graced the MMO genre with their cinematic storytelling style, and something tells me that it is now here to stay. When I met up with Casilda (the "lady of the night" that you rescue on the shores of Tortage) at The Thirsty Dog Inn, she offered me that "special" reward, but just because I could, I asked her simply for a beer as if to say, "Fetch me a beer, wench!" Her reaction to such amused me quite a bit as I'm sure I'm not the only guy in the world to be met with such a reaction. Basically, she says something to the effect of, "Here I am throwing myself at you and all you can think of is beer?" What can I say? I'm in a tropical climate, and I've been slaying Picts and Bat-Demons all afternoon, for crying out loud, woman, it's a hard-earned thirst! Of course I want a beer!
With the quests that I completed that weren't about killing an amount of a particular type of mob or collecting things, I found myself go through a metamorphosis of reactions and feelings to them. There were quests that quite literally made me laugh out loud, and those that made me think, "Dude, WTF?!?" A quest in Tortage in particular that stood out to me especially was the quest entitled, "The Den of No Return".
"The Den of No Return" was particularly gruesome in nature. Laranga, Captain of the "Red Hand" regime in Tortage, sent me to investigate a number of disappearances of "important people" (and by important I don't mean the snobs or the rich) in the neighbouring White Sands Isle. Laranga told me he had suspicions that Strom (yep, that guy again) was getting rid of these missing people somehow. So after a bit of snooping around and talking to the local Priest of Mitra to seek his wisdom on the matter, I took myself to the White Sands Isle to check out this hut where these people were last seen entering. Upon entering, it became very obvious what happened to these "missing" people. If you can imagine the monster-plant in that movie, 'Little Shop of Horrors', only with more mouths to feed and growing on three levels of this hut, well, I'm sure by now you get the picture. I felt myself, by the end of this mission, thinking, "This Strom needs to die!" but at the same I was a bit more on the, "Hey, even if I was an evil son of a..., I don't think even I could think up such evil schemes to make my enemies pay; that's so cool!"
By the end of this quest, I felt like I had learned more about this harsh world of Hyboria. While rich in its landscapes and architecture, what really lies beneath is a cruel, harsh, unforgiving world, not one for the faint of heart, to say the least. So for me the city of Tortage is the wake-up call I'm sure we're all going to need before we enter the greater world of Hyboria. Tortage offered me only a taste of the things to come, and I had better be ready for it.