IncGamers caught up with Per Storløkken, associate producer on Age of Conan, to find out more about the upcoming Update 5.Can you tell us something about the design philosophy for Tarantia Commons?
We had several goals when we started:
It needed to be different from our other world regions, even though our players enjoyed Ymir’s Pass – we couldn’t do the same thing here. Each playfield needs its own flavor. It is a fairly small playfield, so we needed to find ways to add as much content as possible
Since it is an urban area, and a more contained space, we wanted to have an event that went on in the playfield. The goal was to add something interesting that everybody can be part of, and to add a little bit of conflict – even on PvE servers. In addition it gives people something (hopefully) fun to do after they have finished all the quests and done all the other content in here.
The solutions we ended up with were:
Conflicting quest lines. You’re sent there to learn about what is going on, and to do so you have to infiltrate the gangs that control this area and win their trust. As you progress you’ll gain more knowledge, and in the end you might even learn what is behind it all.
Rooftop gameplay. With an urban area there is room for only so much gameplay in narrow city streets, so rather than miss out on that extra ‘footprint’ we moved a large part of it to the roofs. Fighting on the roofs adds new elements, both on PvE and PvP servers. For PvE it means that in many cases you will have nowhere to run except down – and down easily means death by fall damage unless you’re near water. This makes fighting much more tight than it is on the ground, and you have to be a lot more careful. For PvP it means that this area is going to be filled with people wanting to kill you. At least for the first couple of weeks this is probably going to look more like a PvP battleground than anything else, on one hand we’d of course want as many people as possible to have access to the PvE content, on the other hand – we think the PvP players are going to have a lot of fun here regardless. And, as the novelty of it wears off, it will eventually be possible to do the quests here solo, but in the beginning I’d probably bring a group.
The Riot event. Here the players can help the rioters or they can help the guards, and by helping one of the sides win the event they can get rewards.
What is your favorite aspect of the new Tarantia Commons content?
I enjoy the rooftop combat, because after having died a couple of times you start worrying as much about your escape route as you do about what’s in front of you. It’s a nice change of pace.
Double crossing the gangs is fun – the childish glee of doing something “bad” and successfully blaming someone else for it.
We’ve also tried to give people some, should we say, unethical options to resolve their business with some of the NPCs. Sometimes being unethical has its own amusing little side-effect.
How much attention did the team put into the storyline for the new district?
Since this is a city area we had to take even more care with the storyline than we would have had to otherwise. Blaming wild animals for your misfortune doesn’t work that well in the city. It was decided early that the majority of the quests should be devoted to the main storyline. I think it has worked out well to tell a story through this playfield, the progress feels natural and we get to introduce the conflict in a nice way. Again, due to the layout inherent with the more urban setting of the playfield we could go for a bit more strict direction. Having as clear and dominant main storyline might not have worked as well in a more open playfield.
In what ways would you say the Commons content differ from existing content?
I think the three main goals we aimed for is what makes this a different experience from everything else we’ve done so far. Of those I’d say taking the battle to the roofs feels like the biggest difference. This is a bit strange because technically it is the smallest change – but it does add a new dimension.
In terms of new content for Conan, what can players expect next?
The next thing to come out is going to be The Iron Tower, a group instance set in Tarantia Common District (in which we will conclude the storyline started in the outdoor playfield).
I can’t go into too many details on what will come after that, but I can confirm the things that have already been mentioned before, and on the forums. We are working on the House of Crom as well as the next tier of raid game-play. It’s safe to say it will be a good mix of stuff that I think people have been looking forward to (and waiting impatiently for) for some time and some exciting new stuff as well.