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.
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.
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.”
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:
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).
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
DualShockers has a new interview out with Conan Exiles’ Joel Bylos. It’s from GDC, but it’s still worth a look given that it includes info on this week’s patch. For starters, expect to see the new decay system (it’s been renamed as the “ruins system” now), the planned dye system, new weapons, and the promised thrall updates — eventually, players can expect alchemists, engineers, sorcerers, and beastmasters as thralls. Don’t expect mounts until summer, though. Crafters, a heads-up for you: Since crafting progression is getting a revamp, “players will get to repick all of their recipes.”
The Purge is also a hot topic for future updates — basically, it’ll be a massive AI invasion with special thralls and an eye toward wrecking your server’s best stuff. Can’t let that happen, now can we.
Meanwhile, following player outcry over the excessive duping and exploiting going on there, Funcom has announced it will partially wipe the official servers.
As it stands right now, players in Conan Exiles may stride across the land with mighty swords or short stabbing implements held high in the breeze, and also you can pick up a sword if you want to. But it appears that players on Xbox One (commonly shortened to “Xbone” because sometimes life loves irony) will be unable to thrust forward into the unknown. According to creative director Joel Bylos, the team was told outright that there were to be no rods dirtying up this game of filthy, scrabbling violence.
Bylos is unsure whether the ladies will still be able to go tits out for being exiled in a wasteland and trying to kill other people, but he knows that the dongs will be gone as surely as they are omitted from LEGO games. There’s also no word about whether or not PlayStation 4 players will be able to enjoy the simple joys of having their digital bits flapping in the breeze. Of course, you can enjoy that in the PC verson, so if that’s a selling point, you needn’t feel limp and weak.
Though it’s fun for the broader industry, GDC has been a bit of a dud for our genre for years now. If you’re willing to expand your horizons past pure MMORPGs, however, there’s plenty of juice. Exhibit A: Funcom’s Conan Exiles presence at the show. PC Gamer has a report out today on Funcom’s plans for the game, including the clothing and armor dye system (coming this month), mounts and taming, PvE purge events stuffed with iconic Conan NPCs, better thrall micro-management, a lush foresty biome (bring your warmer clothes!), trebuchets that hurl rocks and dead bodies, and a new sewer dungeon.
Funcom’s Joel Bylos even sneaked in a dig on unspecified games that launch early access and linger there indefinitely while charging for DLC. Conan, of course, has vowed to launch by this time next year and has promised to avoid paid DLC during early access.
Massively OP will be meeting with Funcom at this weekend’s PAX East, so stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, check out the videos below.
The hype meter is rising for Funcom’s Conan Exiles, which launches early access tomorrow. Community Manager Jens Erik and Creative Director Joel Bylos ran another stream this past weekend, showing off the world and desert setting, character inventory, recipes, object interaction, in-game maps, swimming, and even underground lairs. It’s definitely worth a skim through if you’re still on the fence about whether to jump in early.
We’ll be streaming the game ahead of time — check back in on our Stream Team’s antics later this afternoon! For now, here’s the archived dev video and a peek at the art book.