The Purge is coming to Conan Exiles. And that’s not even the scariest thing in this week’s newsletter! “The Purge mechanic will spawn in creatures and NPCs to attack your base in order to destroy things, even when you’re not logged in,” Funcom says. “You’ll need to consider the placement of traps, walls, thralls and other defences to protect your stuff. The Purge mechanic will be active on all official servers. On private servers an administrator can customize and configure the Purge or turn it off completely if they so choose.”
Three more weeks until content lock, and then the game launches for real in May! The newsletter also talks bow mechanics, the latest stream, armor tiering, the combat overhaul, and yes, there’s a gif of a scorpion, so maybe don’t click it and just hit the summary. I’m not judging you.
Funcom’s had a big week, am I right? A whopper of a financial report, a brand-new game reveal, a patch that went haywire in Secret World Legends… OK, maybe let’s put that last one to the side for now and just talk about Conan Exiles. The game is prepping for a real launch in May, but in the meantime, Funcom says in its latest newsletter, the teams are working on the combat system (which is on the test server now), plus the feats UI, better cinematics, culturally themed NPC drops, new NPC populations and bosses, creature animations, and the new type of thralls that basically serve as “item carriers” for the player.
“You’ll find them in camps, just like regular thralls. Once broken they’ll have a much greater inventory space than other thralls, based on their tier level, letting you take a lot of extra stuff with you for when you go out on expeditions! This was another reason to have mounts and we have found an alternative by implementing carrier thralls.”
With significantly higher revenue and sales coming in 2017, Funcom announced to its investors that it just came off the most profitable year in the studio’s history. The studio made $23.2M in revenue and $6.64M in profit during the period, a massive increase over 2016, during which it only made $7.3M in revenue. Even better, Funcom said that it has significantly reduced its debt and strengthened its position.
As for its games, Funcom said that Secret World Legends’ new story content is coming in the first quarter and is expected to bring back players and push user acquisition. Conan Exiles’ May launch is a source of particular excitement, and Funcom is planning on several marketing initiatives to push sales. Anarchy Online and Age of Conan were not mentioned in the report.
Of course, the studio is particularly excited about today’s announcement of its publishing Mutant Year Zero.
Welcome back to another edition of our informal business roundup, where we wedge all the fun MMO industry tidbits that pile up in our newsroom.
Remember EA Spouse, the EA developer’s wife whose initially anonymous article busted open the doors on EA’s culture of abusive crunch back in 2004? Rolling Stone’s Glixel blog (via Gamasutra) has a 14-year retrospective and a sum-up of the state of “crunch culture” since then. Intriguingly, EA Spouse herself – Erin Hoffman-John – declined to comment much on how she got the ball rolling, but other developers gave Glixel conflicting accounts. Some believe that EA has made an attempt to change and is no “worse than anyone else,” while one producer scoffed at the pushback against crunch, calling it a “disruption.” According to him, hustle is just the patch to greatness.
You might remember Massively OP’s MJ giving the Black Keep dungeon a go in Conan Exiles a few months ago. It was, like all dungeon diving, an interesting time! As it turns out, there is one dungeon that she has yet to see. Tonight, the group gears up and ventures forth on this new adventure. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. to watch MJ and the Temple of Frost. Will there be snakes?
What: Conan Exiles
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 23rd, 2018
It was the best of early access, it was the worst of early access. We needn’t even stop there: It was the age of wisdom and it was the age of foolishness as well! I venture to say that Dickens didn’t know he would be so on point in relation to video games. As much as I know players are disappointed about the announcement from Conan Exiles that multiple anticipated features will not make it in for launch (trust me, I’ve been looking forward to them as well!), I actually really appreciate the decision. You see, I have already experienced the maddening delay of “just a few (hundred) more features before launch” and I lost heaps of respect for the studio that went that route. A studio, I might add, that was the epitome of doing early access right for a long while.
In this week’s edition of The Survivalist, I’ll juxtapose these two examples of early access in the survival sandbox genre and show how Conan Exiles’ latest announcement secures this game the title of doing early access right — a position once held by the other.
May 8th seems pretty far away to me, but I bet Funcom is feeling Conan Exiles’ impending launch is rushing up to meet it. In its most recent newsletter, the studio says its various teams are hard at work on memory leak repairs, UI fixes, the temperature system, new clothing and outfits, first-person perspective animations, engine optimizations, the monster revamp, and of course, the combat system.
“The old combat system was more like an MMORPG than an action game, where a creature would stand in front of you and attack. Under the new paradigm we plan to make creature attacks more varied, with better anticipation time and ‘tells’ so you’ll know what comes next. [… ] We have a vision of what Conan Exiles should be, which might differ from your vision of what Conan Exiles should be, and our job as a developer is to merge the two into a coherent whole. Game development is normally a closed process, but because we opted for Early Access we also had to make sure that the community had a voice. The new combat system is a direct consequence of this interaction that fits in with the Conan vision.”
Are you a little sick and tired of lockboxes everywhere and all of these games desperately trying to jump onto the battle royale bandwagon? It might be of some small comfort that Funcom has no immediate plans to add either to Conan Exiles (although “never say never” and all that).
Creative Director Joel Bylos addressed these issues and more in an interview with PC Gamer. Now that Conan Exiles is just two-and-a-half months from official release, Bylos said that the team is working hard to making the whole package work, even if it means cutting content.
Bylos was asked several questions about the success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and how it could impact Conan Exiles’ profile. “You just do your thing and make things that are unique and interesting,” he said. “In terms of press attention, it’s always hard to get press attention when there’s a pretty girl at the ball. PUBG is definitely the pretty girl at the ball this year.”
Funcom is forging ahead with its plans to launch Conan Exiles for real and for true on all the things come May 8th. And, as the latest dev blog explains, to make that date, the company’s probably going to cut some features from that launch build.
“In the past couple of months, we’ve had to make some serious decisions as to what will be in for launch,” says the studio. “We’ve been going through every aspect of the game (including things still in development) and we have evaluated everything based on a range of criteria. Some features or content simply ended up not being good enough, some things have ended up not making sense for the game, some things have been replaced with other features and content, while some things just turned out to be out of reach from a technical or development capacity standpoint.”
The team behind Conan Exiles has been working hard over the past week, but a lot of that work has gone to the art team over the past week. Sure, it’s important that the vanguard team has been working on making sandstorms do damage to players while also fixing issues with NPC weapons, but the art team has been hard at work giving creatures more expressive telegraphs to work with the combat system.
And that isn’t all the art team is developing; creatures in the world need to feel more expressive in general, so they’re getting more idle animations and environmental interactions to boot. So you’ll see fewer critters just hanging out and more of them doing things that make sense for those animals.
There’s also work being done on the UI to make everything feel immersive, fun, and easy to understand at a glance. Check out the full newsletter to see all of the ways in which the team is working hard to make the game the best it can be.
Happy birthday, Conan Exiles! Yes, Funcom’s blood-and-guts survival sandbox is turning one this week, or more specifically, one year in early access on PC. Funcom’s Joel Bylos thanks players in a brief video on Twitter and teases the game’s new combat system, which has been the subject of much chatter over the last few months while it’s been undergoing overhaul. It’ll be demoed on the studio’s Twitch stream this coming Friday for the first time.
The game’s latest newsletter also explains what’s up with the new biomes; Funcom says it’s all about polish.
“The Jungle biome has about two-three people working on it on the Terraformers team, and they’ve built pretty much everything from the ground up. The layout, the size and shapes of buildings, the size and shapes of the trees, the way the light is filtered through the trees, it’s all them. The art team helps out with textures, creatures and the general building blocks, but actually creating the entire biome is done by a small number of people. It’s a big area, built up from nothing, and it even turned out bigger than we initially planned. Which then adds more time to development. The content rebalance will also have an effect on resources (like what you get when you use certain tools on specific resource nodes), NPCs and creatures in the Jungle, and it’s a time-consuming process.”
It’s hard to imagine barbarians without gigantic weapons that take a whole lot of muscle to swing. So it’s good to see Conan Exiles introduce massive two-handed swords (which come in everything from stone to starmetal). While these weapons won’t be available until launch, the team is planning to add back in sprinting with weapons and tools in hand sooner than that.
The team said that getting Conan Exile’s gold disc finalized is of maximum priority, after which its attention will turn to the day one patch. Work is being done to hit requirements from Microsoft and Sony, shaping up the new perk system, and of course, making sure the hyped volcano and jungle regions are ready to go.
Funcom said not everything will be available on Day One: “The new combat paradigm will roll out on PC before May 8th. Project Content Rebalance will hopefully make it to PC players pre-launch, but may be moved back depending on when the work is finished.”
Sometimes you really want to stick around to the very end of developer livestreams for any surprise announcements. In Friday’s dev stream, Funcom shocked and probably pleased many fans with the announcement of brand-new forum software for all of its titles.
“Moving forward, we’re going to be launching new forums for all of our games,” the studio said. “We’re going to be using the Discourse platform. All of our games will eventually be under this system, so we’re unifying all of our games under one single umbrella.”
Age of Conan should see the new forum software very soon — if not already — with other titles to follow. And yes, Funcom specifically confirmed that this announcement includes Secret World Legends and Conan Exiles.
The lack of official forums has been a particular sticking point with the Secret World Legends community, which has been forced to scrounge around on Twitch, Reddit, Twitter, and the occasionally updated website for official information and discussion.