PAX East 2017: Talking Conan Exiles on the show floor with Funcom

If you're a fan of Funcom and the games it makes, Conan Exiles probably has you breathing a bit easier than you have in a while. It's an indisputable success for the developers, who have been in a difficult financial situation for the past several years. Now they've got a pretty big hit on their hands, big enough to take out a sizable booth on the PAX East show floor to demonstrate the harsh survival of the game.

I had a chance to chat with some of the Funcom staff on site as well as an opportunity to play the game a bit myself. (Although that was mostly an exercise in getting gored by rhinos and eaten by alligators, so MJ is probably the better source of information on the game mechanics.) They revealed to me just how big of a success the game has actually been for Funcom, hitting its twelve-month sales goal in 30 days. That's significant however you slice it, especially when you're discussing a buy-to-play game rather than a subscription setup.

Of course, you don't need to worry about the success leading to money being diverted into other avenues; the current plan is for everything made by the game to be re-invested in the game, making the best possible version of Conan Exiles for public consumption. The point was repeatedly stressed that the early access model is something the development team wants to visibly respect and endorse; there is a set end point to the game's early access development period, and during that period it will not have any additional paid content for players. Everything added to the game during early access will be added for free.

After that? They're not ready to discuss that yet. But if you were attracted by a promised but not yet implemented feature, you won't have to pay for it. The point of early access is to get feedback and learn more. Rolling siege towers, for example, were added to the game specifically as a result of player feedback.

No word on whether or not player feedback will lead to the Dongle Touch Mini-Game.

Obviously, as this game is rising, the sun sets upon Age of Conan, which seems like an odd dichotomy. I asked if this game was meant to in some ways to be a spiritual successor to the older title, and the answer is a combination of "yes," "no," and "sort of." The two games have very different focuses, naturally, and while AoC was designed from the ground up as an MMO, Conan Exiles is meant to be about survival in a fashion that an MMO couldn't and wouldn't be able to manage. Part of that is environment, but that also includes things like having big PvE encounters and organized endgame play as opposed to an experience built of your own goals.

At the same time, Conan Exiles is still an inheritor of parts of AoC's legacy. The combat in the game, for example, already closely resembles what AoC combat was originally meant to look like, years before it was possible to really make those systems work. It also inherits the same visual language that Funcom developed for the Conan franchise, so while it's built on a new engine and with updated graphics, you should be able to look at the games and see the stylistic link. It's not a spiritual successor, but it is a part of the overall Conan mythos, and it should feel that way.

That's also something players can look forward to in the future; while elements of AoC will never be wholesale plucked out and added to Conan Exiles, the designers are incredibly happy to raid the game for ideas about environments, creatures, and designs. The lore link works both ways.

Part of the difference is also that Conan Exiles does not have a story beyond the one you craft for yourself. While there's plenty of lore to be found scattered throughout the Exiled Lands, players will never find themselves sent on a specific mission to address some climactic story confrontation. No, you'll just be left to wander the wastes, build your structures, and survive. A comparison was made to the extensive lore and background of Dark Souls, which players experience almost entirely secondhand.

We'd like to thank Funcom for taking the time to answer our question and congratulate it on the game's success so far. Life in the exiled lands appears to be nasty, brutish, and short, but that's the sort of thing that Conan himself would think is pretty good. Maybe not what is best in life, but in the top ten.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Boston for PAX East 2017, bringing you expert MMO coverage from ZeniMax, Square Enix, Funcom, and everything else on display at the latest Penny Arcade Expo!
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33 Comments on "PAX East 2017: Talking Conan Exiles on the show floor with Funcom"

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Reader
ogged451

"the current plan is for everything made by the game to be re-invested in the game"

Too bad this paradigm wasn't applied to their past products. 😞

MJ Guthrie
Staff
MJ Guthrie

I'm pretty sad about the no money from this raging success will be diverted to any other titles =*( I was hoping TSW would get a boost.

Reader
starbuck1771

To be honest it doesn't surprise me. Funcom most likely has to pay a hefty sum of the money from the games to Cabinet Entertainment who owns the rights to the IP. Where I believe Lovecraft's works are public domain.

Reader
luxundae

My hope is that a couple of things could still benefit TSW.

First, it's possible that a number of people were previously working on TSW but temporarily assigned to Exiles in order to get it out the door. The fact that Exiles is now fully budgeted may allow them to hire up permanent Exiles team members and release some of the other folks back to TSW.

Second, with the pressure off the TSW team to keep the company from going under, they may be able to put out more content to please the existing player base (new story missions, new investigations, etc.) without worrying as much about the urgent need to bring in new players.

But yeah, I was hoping that TSW would get a boost :/ We'll see how it goes!

Reader
NeoWolf

It must be getting some financial love somewhere in house surely or what would be the point of the relaunch?

Reader
Nordavind

But when is it being released outside Steam?

Reader
starbuck1771

Quote: bringing you expert MMO coverage

Me: What? Where?

as proven here lack of fact checking and proof reading: http://massivelyop.com/2017/03/10/the-soapbox-everyones-being-dumb-about-star-wars-the-old-republics-lightsaber/

Reader
BalsBigBrother

Um I think you might want to step away from the keyboard and get some fresh air, its good for your apparently :-)

Reader
starbuck1771

Why don't you want me picking on Elliot? After all he was the one who said expert. :P Anyways it is all in fun.

Reader
Witches

That first pic is from TSW, don't tease people like that, it's not nice.

MJ Guthrie
Staff
MJ Guthrie

Definitely from Conan Exiles, as other shave mentioned. Was really cool watching the devs summon that during one livestream =D

Reader
mcsleaz

No it's not. Thats one of the gods you summon in Conan, Yog I believe.

Reader
Nordavind

Uh, what? The header? It's from Exiles. It's Yog.

Reader
Witches

My bad, i think i mistook him for Chtulu, he's lucky i'm not a cop...

Reader
rafael12104

Screw it. I'm dropping all pretenses now.

To all of those who thought Funcom had one foot in their own grave a year ago when they were begging for money, which includes me btw, suck it! Lol!

This is how it is done. DBG could take a lesson. And while there is no telling how long the ride will last in the fickle gaming world, Funcom deserves this for simply being straight up with their investors and customers and for delivering on their promises.

I could not be happier for them.

Reader
Alberto Martinez

Why should they suck it for being correct? Seriously the devs of Conan have come right out and said that Conan "saved the company from bankruptcy....?" I think maybe you meant people who were hating on funcom and wanted it to close down maybe? "those people can suck it"...)

Reader
Denice J. Cook

ROFL, Funcom was probably inspired by Daybreak's crazy success with H1Z1 if anything. :)

Reader
starbuck1771

Yes and No. The mistake DBG made was letting John Smedley slip away and then laying off the majority of the major Devs. Columbus Nova has no idea how to manage a game development company and continue to make piss poor decisions concerning development and management.

Reader
NovaScotiaCitizen

AE is a great game but the news I'm waiting for out of Funcom is what's the plan for Secret World

Reader
Boom

"The combat in the game, for example, already closely resembles what AoC combat was originally meant to look like"

What spam LMB vs multi directional combat with shielding?
Have they played their own games?

You knew I was going to post, why taunt me eh.

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Reader
thickenergy

Yeah, I don't know who Funcom sends to these conventions but it should probably be people that at least have some idea what they're talking about. I've got 480 hours in Conan Exiles. I like the game. But don't try to sell it as something it is not right now. That does nothing but result in lost customers, ill will, and bad reviews.

Reader
deekay_plus

lol we were just talking about this as you streamed it yday too. how is that statement even remotely true?

Reader
Boom

Ikr its baffling

The only thing that statement could allude to in the future is player sieges which were meant to be a thing in AoC but never materialised on the scale that was initially planned.
That would make sense, but the actual combat? Get out of here with that lol

Reader
Koshelkin

"to look like" not "to play like"

Reader
Boom

Splitting hairs aside its still wrong, everything about AoC's combat from the animations to the actual mechanics are superior.

Reader
Koshelkin

Yes, definitely.

Reader
rafael12104

Yeah, combat. Lol. I'm just glad it works sort of.

Reader
Koshelkin

Why didn't you talk about TSW with them? <.<

MJ Guthrie
Staff
MJ Guthrie

It was made clear to MOP before going that TSW would not be discussed until after PAX. So, now let's nab a dev or two and lock them in a closet until they talk!

Reader
starbuck1771

Yup no spoilers for the revamp til it is ready.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

Because it's a Conan: Exiles booth not a Funcom or even TSW booth is why.

Reader
wratts

Hopefully there will be an update Soon(tm). Focusing dev effort on a combat update and NPE seems like a mistake to me. Five year old game on an aging in-house engine . . . yes people have complained about the combat forever, but the window to attract new players has largely closed. I'd much rather see them invest in continuing content and updates to the existing world. We'll pay $20 for meaningful story content 2-3 times a year, and most of that could be done in the existing zones. If they keep up the content drought though, they'll continue to see the current playerbase lose interest

Reader
BalsBigBrother

Um while I would like some news about TSW too I am not sure that talking to people who are fully involved in developing another game would be all that helpful. Of course that is all dependent on who is at PAX and talking but my impression is that for Funcom it is all about Conan Exiles for this convention.

We will just have to wait till they are ready to announce the details of the revamp sometime shortly after PAX is done I expect.

(now I have typed that the next article will be about TSW knowing my luck hehe).

wpDiscuz