joel bylos

Conan Exiles isn’t going the lockbox and battle royale route – for now

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.”

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Conan Exiles turns one, teases combat overhaul stream and biome progress

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.”

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Funcom promises better communication for Conan Exiles

Get ready for a flood of information from Conan Exiles. Funcom admitted that it had been dropping the ball on talking with fans about what’s going on with the game — a fault that it wants to correct starting post-haste.

“Unfortunately haven’t been the best at communicating recently, something we’re going to be addressing (and hopefully improving upon) today,” Conan Exiles’ community manager posted on multiple sites. The post went on to promise a weekly meeting with the entire dev team, during which notes will be taken and compiled for a regular Monday post to the community.

If you can stomach even more communication about the early access sandbox, check out this Gamasutra interview with Creative Director Joel Bylos in which he talks about Conan Exiles’ Zelda influences, the rocky rollout of the Xbox One version, and the studio’s decision-making process.


Conan Exiles developers dive deep into The Frozen North expansion

Never before have we seen players so eager to contract frostbite in the middle of summer as we are with the situation that’s going on this month with Conan Exiles. Next week on Wednesday the 16th, The Frozen Throne biome expansion will launch for this early access title, bringing the snowy lands of the north into the barbaric world that previously hosted only deserts.

As a follow-up to the expansion’s announcement this past week, the developers went on a “deep dive” into The Frozen North and its offerings. Creative Director Joel Bylos and company show off the new region and discuss the other changes and additions coming in this free update, including combat tweaks, new building elements, and a grand summoning of Ymir the Frost Father. Always helps to have a giant god on your side during fights, eh?

The full hour of deep diving delight is yours after the break!

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Conan Exiles announces The Frozen North expansion coming August 16

Just because they aren’t known for wearing shirts doesn’t mean that barbarians mind a little cold now and then.

Rugged and bloodthirsty player fighters will be forging into new territory later this month, as Conan Exiles is planning to release The Frozen North for the survival sandbox. Funcom announced that the expansion is coming out on August 16th, the same day that the game will go live on Xbox One. And as a reminder, this particular expansion is free for all owners of the game.

The Frozen North will greatly expand the game’s territory by 70%, adding icy biomes, rain, and snow. Players will explore this land while fighting new enemies, making a best friend of the god Ymir, brewing up strong drinks, cooking tasty meals, and — most important to the barbarian culture — taking care of honeybees.

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Conan Exiles might do a jungle biome after its next update

Funcom’s Joel Bylos answered another round of Conan Exiles’ questions over the weekend, several of them on the new biome and beyond. “We combined two biomes in this coming update (highlands and mountains) and we have plans for one or two more,” Bylos says. “Now depending on our assessment in August of what needs to be done for launch we might scale down or up our ambitions. For example, jungle requires a lot of foliage and 4.15 is supposed to have improved foliage optimizations. Assuming this all works out as planned, then it becomes more likely we do a jungle area next. But if foliage is a huge problem…we might try something else.” What else?

  • New music is coming with the new biome, along with at least one new “larger” dungeon.
  • Optimization work on the game continues.
  • The settlement update will arrive following the mounts and sorcery updates.
  • Instruments for both players and thralls will likely arrive with the thrall update.
  • Bears are coming, as are warpaints. Tattoos are a maybe.

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Conan Exiles delays climbing patch to update Unreal, talks guilds and more in Q&A

If you were hoping to begin your climbing career in Conan Exiles sooner rather than later, hold that thought. Funcom announced earlier today that the Unreal upgrade is effectively delaying the climbing patch a wee bit.

“We’re upgrading from Unreal 4.12 to 4.15. It’s a pretty big leap,” Funcom says. “What this means for the game is that the next update, which adds climbing to the game, won’t be released before the Unreal 4.15 version is ready to roll out. We were hoping to do this some weeks ago, but the process of moving to 4.15 has taken more time than initially anticipated and so you’ve had to wait a little longer for the climbing system to come out.”

The upside is that the new Unreal version is expected to provide “optimization of both server and client, which should result in a smoother experience for all players,” as well as blueprint nativization, which’ll help out modders in the long run.

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Conan Exiles addresses weather system, accusations of slow content rollout

Conan Exiles has another new Q&A thread up on Reddit over the long weekend, and the first takeaway is invest in a coat and some sunscreen. Funcom’s Joel Bylos says the team is still working on the weather system, including new weather types in the new biome and maybe some fixes to sandstorms. “Weather will affect temperature, and Exiles will need to start worrying about temperature in the next biome,” he explains. In fact, the new biome has a lot of new content; expect things like fishtraps, crabtraps, beehives, and fiber harvesting tools.

Bylos also promises custom stamps, shoots down a foundation placement request, gives advice on how to defend against climbers, and reminds players that Funcom isn’t making a “community consensus” game. And then there’s this from a player:

“What are you going to do about the game? Its so riddled with bugs, and exploits even the RPers are leaving. Most of the servers are at 0/0 people logged in, some are shutting down. Even viewer count on twitch is low. You’re game is basically dead and its not released. Content is coming to slow, bug fix’s too slow. For a game that saved your company, you sure are royally screwing it up.”

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Conan Exiles on environmental siege effects, pets, trade, and Zelda-like climbing

In case you missed the Conan Exiles Twitch stream Friday, and you probably did because who stays home on a beautiful May Friday to watch 50 MMO companies doing video game streams, then you can catch the recap video. Funcom’s Joel Bylos, Jens Erik Vaaler, and Nicole Vayo spend quite a bit of time lobbing exploding orbs around, showing off temporary effects (water is on fire at the moment, but eventually it’ll douse existing fires!) and oil bombs that’ll make sieges really interesting.

The team also posted up a new Q&A on Reddit this weekend; Bylos notes that the planned list of pets might be cut down to fit the development timeline, hostile NPC camps are taking a back seat to The Purge, an installer tool for community mods is on the agenda eventually, proper trading isn’t in planning at all, and the climbing system is a “game changing system” that will shift how people build, siege, and explore:

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Conan Exiles tempers player expectations while vowing to fix combat

Funcom is working its tush off on Conan Exiles’ combat, a new Q&A with Joel Bylos suggests, but make sure you understand the end goal. “We don’t ever expect combat in Exiles to be on par with an action game like Dark Souls,” he cautions players. “We want combat to be fun and interesting in its own right, but without years to invest in the combat system we are not going be creating something that competes with Chivalry. Our ambition for combat, clearly stated pre early access launch, was Dark Messiah/Skyrim (modded) levels of combat.” But he admits the team hasn’t “achieved [that] ambition” yet — and that means a heavy focus on eliminating “clunky” combat feel, weapon balance, and sorting out where the game should rely on action vs. roleplaying elements.

Bylos also says Funcom is working on map improvements, creature AI, expanding the dye system, respawn rates, drawbridges, NPC looting, container ownership, thrall rescue, and character customization.

That’s gotta be good news for fans of the game, who’ve seen its playtime popularity on Steam fall sharply since February (by comparison, ARK: Survival Evolved has held relatively even; its current monthly peak is 10 times Conan’s).

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Conan Exiles’ Joel Bylos talks about butt sliders and blunders

If you’re looking for candid and enthusiastic answers to burning questions to all things Conan Exiles, you can do no better than hit up Creative Director Joel Bylos with your queries. Bylos tackled another Q&A session on Reddit, talking about everything from butt sliders to the team’s biggest blunder on the project so far (which, if you’re curious, was a failure to clearly define certain features that later required more fixes).

Bylos said that combat and artificial intelligence has been the greatest challenge of development so far: “A lot of the polish needed to make a combat system ‘feel’ right is missing, but also much of the depth that makes combat interesting. It takes a lot of iterating to nail that stuff.”

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Conan Exiles moves to biweekly patch cadence, reshuffles development priorities

You might have noticed there was no Conan Exiles patch this week. That was intentional. Funcom says it hasn’t been happy with the quality of its patches on a quick turnaround; indeed, Joel Bylos apologizes. “In an effort to increase the quality of our patches we’ve made the call to step back from releasing a patch every week and instead hold patches back until we are certain they reach the bar of quality we’ve set for the game,” writes the studio.

It’s all part of a dev blog detailing the results of the game’s recent player survey. Turns out a majority of players prefer private PvP servers, play weekly, care most about combat and building, and want the exploits wiped off the map. And as for features? Conveniently, players want what’s already being worked on: mounts, thralls, and sorcery, followed by The Purge, exploration, farming, and sieging at the bottom, which surprised Funcom as sieging includes Avatar fixes, highly requested by players. “This could be a failure on our end to emphasize that this feature was included in sieging. In any case, Avatar defense is close to completion and we expect to roll it out soon, which hopefully covers the part of sieging that people have desired the most.”

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The Soapbox: Lessons Secret World Legends failed to learn from Final Fantasy XIV

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.

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