The insider trading case that’s embroiled the former leadership of MMORPG studio Funcom has finally come to a close today with convictions and sentences for three of the four executives charged.
Recall that Trond Arne Aas resigned from his CEO role at Funcom in 2012 on the very same day that The Secret World launched (and underperformed), after which he sold off a significant portion of his stocks, prompting the investigation and the 2014 raid on Funcom’s offices by the Norwegian economic crime unit in connection with its securities fraud investigation. Last year, the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime charged Aas and three other former company executives with market manipulation and insider trading for their role in what ØKOKRIM characterized as the 2011-2012 “pump and dump” financial scandal. The trial began last November; all four men maintained their innocence, with at least one attorney denouncing ØKOKRIM for “activism.”
The developers of Conan Exiles had a problem. The game was full of high-resolution textures to paint across the world, thus ensuring that rocks looked like rocks, trees looked like trees, and skin looked like slightly softer rocks. But the amount of required textures were also causing issues with video cards with only 2 GB of VRAM, and even 4 GB of VRAM could result in problems. So how could the team avoid turning the game into a blobby mess? That’s exactly what the latest development post is all about.
If you were hoping to read about some major new gameplay system coming to the game, we’re sorry to disappoint you, but this post does not end with the revelation that players can kill and harvest textures. But it is an interesting peek behind the scenes at a development element we rarely consider that has a large impact on the game as a whole. Check out the whole thing to learn how the game handles textures, and then hug a textured and non-blobby tree in the game. Then chop it down for lumber.
Update 25 has landed for Funcom’s in-early-access survival sandbox Conan Exiles, bringing with it 50 new emotes as promised. You’ve got the basics, like shrug and point and dancing, and then you’ve got “laying [sic] seductively,” “spank,” and “belly dance,” which is totes what you should be doing in a brutal world where everyone wants to kill you.
The update also fixes several ongoing exploits, including a dupe issue and that pesky problem of “accidentally” falling through the game world and raiding people’s bases.
And this line in the notes is cryptic: “Seeing dead people can now lead to great rewards.” Hmm.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go over here and emote sleeping on the ground. I’m sure it’s safe to sleep here. What could go wrong?
Just because you happen to be a humanoid frog doesn’t mean that you’ve lost at the lottery of life. On the contrary, you have all sorts of advantages, such as being able to install and replace light fixtures very high in your underground cavern. Also, you can eat flies.
Reader Finyar starts us out this week with a stunning interior location from a fan-favorite MMO: “I’m currently playing Guild Wars 2 again and I’m always impressed with how beautifully crafted the game world is.”
Art matters, people. Also, why can’t we play more frogs in online games?
I’ve mentioned many a time that I like Funcom quite a bit. I want to like Funcom quite a bit. Heck, I want to be excited about Secret World Legends, but every day or so I get reminded that such a course of action will be very difficult at the least. Because quite frankly, Secret World Legends seems to want me not to be excited about it, as evidenced by… oh, every single thing that Funcom is doing around it.
Which is odd, because Funcom literally has access to a playbook for a large-scale reboot.
Secret World Legends is coming off of The Secret World, which was a cult MMORPG classic with a mighty fan following. Final Fantasy XIV was coming off of… well, its initial version, which had a fan following full of people who admitted that it was halfway to Stockholm Syndrome. And yet that game managed to get people excited and earn fans, while Funcom seems dead-set on alienating people or making them just plain nervous.
Now you will be able to express yourself in Conan Exiles in more than just grunts and barbaric yells of victory, thanks a new patch on the test server.
Funcom is adding a staggering 50-plus emotes to the game for the exile lad or lass in training. With all of the new emotes comes a revision to the system: Players will begin with a core of expressive commands and then learn more emotes as they adventure through the game world.
The patch is also addressing a sneaky exploit that involves players falling through the game world and then somehow attacking enemy bases from below. Other changes include tweaks to the repair hammer, a restraint to overeager thralls, and the ability to scroll chat using your middle mouse wheel. We live in the future, folks!
Funcom’s Joel Bylos features in a Twitch interview on Gamasutra this week talking up Conan Exiles and explaining the core difference between server-based survival games versus Funcom’s “old MMOs,” as the interviewer put it. Bylos’ answer actually makes a lot of sense.
“[In] The Secret World, we focused very strongly on making really cool and interesting content and story, and the idea was to make it interesting to play. The thing is, with an MMO, a lot of focus goes into repeatable content. A lot of focus goes into things like ‘I’m gonna run this dungeon six times’ or 20 times or 200 times, right? So we need reward systems that give you tokens, that let you build or buy better items. There’s a lot of itemization discussion in MMOs. In a game like Conan Exiles, people are going to lose stuff, and we know that. We need to make it so that they can keep rebuilding stuff, keep creating stuff, keep progressing in the game, but not necessarily wanting them to go, ‘Oh, I want you to go grind this dungeon 50 times so that you can do the next dungeon – slightly harder.’ So [Conan Exiles] is not so much about this very small percentage of power increase to increase your character’s progression. That’s what I would say is a big difference in these type of games.”
Facing new foes is always a learning experience, and Massively OP’s MJ and the group learned quite a bit the first time they took on the final boss in Conan Exile’s dungeon. Having figured out the fight and after preparing again, they are ready to dive back into the dungeon and squash that acid-spitting menace. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. to watch them slay the overgrown slug (or die trying).
What: Conan Exiles
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
OK, so maybe the deserts of Conan Exiles don’t really have a pirate ship, but there is an area filled filled with what amounts to pirates. And it is dangerous. What better reason for Massively OP’s MJ and the crew to go have a look? There tend to be good pickings for new thralls there too. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. as MJ raids the pirate ship. Arrrr!
What: Conan Exiles
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 14th, 2017
It’s been a whirlwind spring for Conan Exiles, with the survival sandbox racking up hundreds of thousands of sales while pumping out updates left and right. Funcom would apparently like more sales as it’s beginning its first sale event starting today:
“Funcom is excited to announce that the studio has just kicked off its first ever discount sale for Conan Exiles. Gamers can now get the Standard Edition at 20% off and the Barbarian Edition at 10% off through Steam, Green Man Gaming, and other online stores. The Steam Midweek Madness Sale runs until April 14th.”
While the devs have slowed down the updates from a semi-daily to a weekly cadence, the team has made a lot of progress so far with the early access title. In a new dev blog, the team takes a moment to recap some of the major systems and features that it has added to Conan Exiles since its early access launch. These include in part the new Dregs dungeon, a dyeing system, the trebuchet siege engine, more gear, the ruin system, additional server settings, balance passes, and a bounty system for players to target and rat on exploiters.
After over a month of voting and counting down, we’ve arrived at the final six picks for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time. It’s been absolutely illuminating seeing the formation of this list and the placement of certain tracks, and I’m glad that everyone who wanted to got to participate.
Before I reveal the top six themes, here are a few honorable mentions:
Are you ready? I know I am! Here we go!
Last time, Massively OP’s MJ delved into Conan Exiles’ first dungeon but ran out of time before completing it. The group has figured out some of the secrets, and is determined to discover them all! Hopefully, there will be treasure involved as well. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. as the crew sacrifices another soul to dive back in.
What: Conan Exiles
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 10th, 2017
What do you think about Conan Exiles so far? Because your opinion matters to the development team. Not in a vague, abstract sense, but in the real and immediate sense wherein the team wants your input. What do you want to see in development next? That’s the core of the survey the Funcom team has up, and so now is the time for you to speak up and have your voice be heard.
Please note that the survey itself is multiple choice and is focused on features already announced, so odds are low that the team will cede to your wishes and start developing a pony hair-braiding system. (Not that it’s out of the realm of possibility anyway, to be fair.) If you’ve got some strong or even lukewarm opinion on what you want in the game next – or what you definitely don’t want in the game next – you should probably take a moment to fill out the survey.