Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: Piercing the DarknessMitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
"Something's gotta give" you might say:
"In Darkfall our world is full of content, we keep adding more every day and it's all usable: Movement is not restricted, you don't have to stick to road travel, there are no invisible walls, no impassable mountains."
Okay, that sounds nice, but then you go on and say things like this:
"To run from one end to another at regular running speed could take more than eight hours."
Eight hours? Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you mention just a bit earlier that your number one priority is gameplay? If I'm paying 15 bucks a month to play an MMORPG, I do not want to be spending hours upon hours of my time during the month just getting from place to place. Again, the gamer is fickle, and attention spans are getting shorter and shorter these days (sadly). With the miracle of gaming technology players can be in a fight and or battleground at the click of a button. If I wanted to go on an eight-hour hike, I'd put my trusty pair of Adidas runners, walk out the front door and burn the fat off my own pasty-white gamer arse.
Picture it: you and your posse are in one part of the world when some of your guildmates alert you to your guild keep or city being attacked right across the realm. I don't know about you, but my own idea of good gameplay does not consist of traversing sweeping plains or mountainous terrain for hours on end to eventually arrive at your destination, only to find that your lands have been taken, your women have bore the offspring of your enemy, the guy that used to run the local blacksmith is now speaking a foreign tongue, your dog or favourite pet has forgotten who you are, and someone has discovered your secret stash of "Orcboy" magazines. Wouldn't players rather assemble an army and assemble it quickly? If my guild keep or city was being attacked, I'd want to be in the vicinity as quickly as possible to fend-off the would-be assailants and give them a good fight while I'm at it too.
"We never tried to exploit the M rating, and we never felt there was a need to tease our players with promises of ultra violence or sexist sexual innuendo."
Who, exactly, is trying to exploit the M rating? Again, I think you've completely missed the point: a Mature rating is another selling point! We're tired of playing "games for everyone", and the mature gamer is looking for a mature game. Funcom is setting the benchmark in mature gaming with 'Age of Conan', and again, referring to my own personal experiences with the game, they have achieved this. Hyboria is the perfect setting for a Mature-rated environment, and no, 'Age of Conan' does not need to exploit the bizarre fetishisation a majority of fantasy gamers have with buxom elves, sultry gnomes, or "knock me off for two-dollar" halflings. Funcom is keeping things contextual, and not "going there" for the sake of "going there". Yes, you'd better believe this is marketable (I'm definitely bought!), because Funcom have identified a gap in the market: a need/want expressed by the general gaming community; a desire to sate our fanciful and primordial urges to completely obliterate our opponents in a harsh and unforgiving virtual world.
What of this talk of "sexist sexual innuendo"? It doesn't appear, Mr. Flambouras, that you are even remotely familiar with the works of Robert E. Howard. Even one of my Year 8 (eighth grade) English-literature students could tell you that Howard's Conan stories were riddled with these already said fanciful and primordial urges, and most of which is due to the time in history in which Howard was writing these stories. It's fiction! It's meant to take us away from the bounds of reality, or at the very least take us places where we couldn't even imagine in our own minds! And did you ever even bother to realise that the reason why Funcom are "teasing" us with all of this is because they know this is what gamers really want? They do so because they know they can deliver, and any gamer, regardless of whether they're in to 'Age of Conan' or not can attest to this game appealing to the mature gamer. What is best in life?