Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnThrough the Eyes of Mitra: Age of Conan Beta Journal Entry #2Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
Disclaimer: I have received special permission from Funcom to publish these beta journals and I publish them first with the approval of Funcom. I forward these journal entries to Funcom first to seek approval to ensure that the content I wish to publish is fair and accurate. These journal entries are not opinion pieces or reviews, but a means to discuss exclusively a reflection of the exciting content that the game will deliver to you on May 20, 2008. I have been given special permission to "break" NDA for the purpose of these journal entries, and write them with Funcom's trust instilled in me. If you yourself are in the 'Age of Conan' beta, then please do not see this as an excuse for you to begin publicly discussing the game in any way, shape, or form. The NDA is still in effect, and many things are still subject to change during this crucial beta stage.
My thanks first and foremost go out to Funcom for allowing me to write and publish these journal entries in the first place. I am incredibly pleased to bring to you these journal entries, and hope you get as much joy reading them as I have writing them.
It was an Aquilonian I was playing, so that meant on completion of the Destiny Quest in Tortage, my first port-of-call was the capital of Aquilonia, the city of Tarantia, or "Old Tarantia", as it is called in 'Age of Conan'. Old Tarantia, if you've been fortunate to travel around Europe and visit the various Greek and Roman-influenced cities of the continent, will instantly give you this sense of awe and grandeur as you make your way through the bustling streets of this proud and glorious city, just like the great European cities: Rome, Valletta, Paris, Athens, Ephesus, Lindos, Madrid, Skopia, Bern, etc.
Strewn through the city of Old Tarantia are statues and sculptures made in honour of kings, and great warriors past, and if you've got a keen eye, you might even see a work in progress dedicated to Aquilonia's Cimmerian-born monarch. Within this bustling city, you will see vendors, dock-workers, the odd destitute and penniless boor, guards with sword and shield in hand defending their posts, children running playing "chasey" ("tag") through the streets, a cat being chased by an eager-looking canine, and depending on what corners you traverse, an over-exuberant gigolo and not too far away, a sultry-looking harlot. The devs weren't kidding when they said they wanted to make Hyboria in 'Age of Conan' a living, breathing world, and historical context aside, Old Tarantia in its "life" offers the player a uniquely but only slightly skewed reflection of how life is in the real world.
I decided that it was actually time to get some adventuring done, so I took off my tourist hat and went about talking to some of the NPCs in Old Tarantia. Getting a feel about the place wasn't a problem as certain NPCs will give you quests to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt around the city. One such scavenger hunt-type quest was for the stable owner in Old Tarantia, whom informed me that one of his most prized phillies had run off and it was my job to scout-about and track down where the spooked equine had gotten to. Let's just say it all goes to the dogs. The city has more or less everything you need, and that's not just for the lowbie character; players will continue coming back to the hubs (Old Tarantia, Conarch Village, and Khemi) if not for handing in quests, but to check in at auction houses, to stock up on new spell scrolls, or perhaps even to re-equip one's self with some shiny, new weapons and armour, and thanks to the fast-travel system in 'Age of Conan', it's not a trip that you will mind having to make, and I guess that's one of the advantages of not playing in a "seamless" world: travelling from point 'A' to point 'B' from anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour is not my idea of fun, and I'm quite sure this is what Funcom is going for as well. If you're paying for a month's subscription, you don't want to be spending half your time on foot or horseback just getting from place to place. But having said that, the zones are magnificently large, and you can think what you like about zoning technology, but Funcom have gone to great lengths to give each and every zone in 'Age of Conan' that epic feel, not a world made out of plastic or coloured with pastels.