Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Funcom to Cut 20% of Workforce

Funcom is reducing its work force by about 20%. The planned launch for Age of Conan Hyborian Adventures in Korea will continue as planned, but the development of The Secret World has been extended by several months as the company adjusts its schedule. The Norwegian-based developer will be cutting jobs mostly in its Norwegian subsidiary. Our best wishes go out to those affected by the change and potential loss of their jobs.

Cost reductions and forced leave in Funcom

Funcom N.V has initiated a program of cost reductions, reductions in head count and use of forced leave (permittering) to better align the Company's operations to the current marketplace.

Around 20 % of the staff of the Company will be affected by headcount reductions or forced leave, mostly in the Company's Norwegian subsidiary.

The Company's development of the Age of Conan expansion pack and its preparations for launch in Korea will continue as planned, as will the preparations for the limited beta of its first free- to-play MMO scheduled to take place during Q4. The development of The Secret World will be some months extended due to the initiatives with even more focus on ensuring the delivery of a game that is fully in line with the high expectations amongst fans and gamers across the world.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

A Latecomer's First Impressions of Age of Conan

Two reasons for the timing of this review. The game is officially a year old - yay go Age of Conan! Secondly, I've had the game a couple of days now. After hearing how buggy and awful the game was by the usual pack of naysayers, and a couple of generally reliable sources, I decided to give it a burl myself.

Ok, firstly, to point out my perspective. Currently I'm experienced in a number of MMO's (WoW, Tabula Rasa, Fury Online, WAR, I even had a short stint in LotRO among a week or two in countless others). Machinery wise - my rig should be able to handle pretty much any MMO throws at me - Quad Core Q6600, 4gb DDR2, Geforce 9800GT 512mb, 1.5TB total internal HDD capacity, 1TB external, 24" primary LCD monitor @ 1920x1200 res, 17" secondary LCD @1280x1024 res. All on Windows 7 RC1 64bit.

Oooh nasty a beta OS and 64bit to boot :O With a beta version of DirectX (11) installed by default. Surely I'm asking for trouble.

Ok, fresh from the box, I install it, it gets up to patching, informs me I need to upgrade from Directx 11 to Directx 9. Points me at the appropriate Microsoft download site. After boggling at this and trying to find any other solution than lose 4 years of DirectX upgrades, I bite the bullet and install Directx 9. Heh, turns out it's happy to run side by side with 11 and let each game choose which to run on.

After this it was just a matter of downloading the patches, approx total of 3gb worth of downloads later (ooh a year's progress in this game = 3gb, not too shabby, the dev's have been busy). I log into the game, notice that like WoW, they have "Oceanic" servers, boxes physically located in the US, but designed to run on upside-down time, and have raid clocks reset appropriately. On the recommendation of Mikes I roll on the Oceanic PvE server.

I get to the character creation screen, I'm greeted by a boat with people rowing on it. Three people tend to stand out, the slaver near the aft cabin, a scantily clad concubine looking woman inside said cabin, and one guy who's meant to be rowing, halfway down the crowd, that instead is busy daydreaming. The game asks me to pick male or female. Being that I wanted to make a big brutal melee character to follow along my tastes in other games (I like tanking, but I like giant weapons even more) I choose male. The camera zooms to the daydreamer who now stands up. It asks me to choose a number of options Race/Class etc, but more importantly, it allows me to customise my character to levels completely unseen in most major MMO's. The customisation is phenomonal. I can adjust the proportions of arms, legs, waist, chest, smile, brow, eyes so on and so forth. Brilliant.

After finally deciding I was happy my Cimmerian Guardian looked brutal enough, I accept, the boat crashes, I fall overboard, the boat sinks, I sink to the bottom of the water, but shock horror I come back up to the surface, and wash up on a beach.

The obligatory welcome happens, with an old guy, and a particularly fan-servicey lady who's tied up in a very skimpy outfit with a Russian accent to boot. I begin my adventure on the island of Tortage.

I work my way up through some quests, and come across an option to go to nighttime - as it turns out, all my story-driven questing is to be done at nighttime, solo. Like the new "phasing" system thats starting to take off in certain other major MMO's *cough WOW*. The first place I came across this concept for use of early levelling was LotRO. Worked wonders.

Turns out I didn't like the guardian as much as I'd hoped. Didn't seem right. So there he sits on my character selection screen, stuck at lvl 12. I'm sure I'll come back to him. I decide to roll something completely different, but generally my 2nd choice in fantasy games - the nasty, evil caster archetype - I want to roll a Demonologist. I choose female, camera zooms to the lady I thought to earlier be a concubine, but everything else works out the same.

I play my way through Tortage, following all the quests I can get, loving how this caster works. She's everything I dreamed my Warlock in WoW to do.

The city of Tortage really seemed alive to me. The npc's flirted, or poured their hearts into everything they said, the quests all meant something, you got to really hate Strom and Mithrelle. Every word spoken by an NPC had voice acting to it. It was truly a complete experience.

I complete the Tortage quests and get sent back to my homelands of Stygia. With designs heavily borrowed from the Egyptians. (yes I realise REH based Stygia on Egypt) The NPC's are silent. I'm sent to every corner of the world by the different NPC's - I have troubles grouping anything more than 2-3 quests to take me to the same area so I can bowl them over in succession.

The whole experience that was Tortage just did not seem to follow onto Khemi - the major port of Stygia. NPC's could not care less about me unless they had a quest for me, and then it was "I need this. Go get it.". The writing seemed to take a downturn. I'd heard among early reports that things beyond Tortage weren't completed by launch. Granted, it was by no means game breaking, but definately immersion shaking.

I had one quest that took me into an area, that while my quest was yellow to me (approx right for my level) - I died within a few moments there, and the graveyard I was sent to was surrounded by mobs 4 times my level. I hearthed, ditched that quest and found some more.

I traveled to Cimmeria, the landscape boggles me still - definately the most beautiful in game land I have ever seen. Green valleys and snow covered mountains, a rolling brook, pine trees, wolves, badgers and people with red hair I have to kill. Truly heaven.

It would seem that my fears were all misguided, as I found myself exploring smaller towns, they seem to be completely written, with well planned quests but still lacking some bits of voice acting, and nobody trying to get in my pants yet.

As with any MMO, one of the important factors is the community. Right from the word go, I noticed there was a "New Player Help" global channel, and a global general channel. I kept my eyes peeled for both. People requested help in the NPH channel and received solid, timely and friendly help from people at or near the level cap. I rubbed my eyes. I've never seen this in any MMO. Not one outburst of "Lol, noob, RTFM" to be seen. To even more amazement, the furthest general seemed to descend was when somebody tried to start an argument about how WoW was the only mmo worth playing. He didnt get any response. He shut up pretty damn quickly.

Some people were whinging about graphical errors and memory leaks. I've been monitoring my CPU and Ram load while ingame ( having a second screen with the gadgets on top of my G15 screen displaying them as well) with nothing really to report. There was use of the cpu. There was use of ram. Neither got particularly tough. I turned everything up to maximum on the settings and still no troubles. Granted I wouldn't want to try and run photoshop, maya and a hard drive defrag in the background.

All in all, I can see myself falling head over heels for this game, I'm currently lvl 22 with my main and absolutely loving it. Would I recommend somebody play it? Absolutely, grab a copy if you see it on the cheap, or if you're free to download 13gb, give the trial a whirl. You'll see what I'm talking about.

I will report back when I've tried group content, some pvp and/or hitting the level cap. Until then, I've got some leveling to do, and only 10 days left of being unemployed to do it.

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Article Source:
Vangsoe, Mads "A Latecomer's First Impressions of Age of Conan." A Latecomer's First Impressions of Age of Conan EzineArticles.com. http://ezinearticles.com/?A-Latecomers-First-Impressions-of-Age-of-Conan&id=2880389
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Warping back up a cliff

In order to help players who get stuck in the Geometry, Funcom made a /stuck command that "Rewinds" the players movement so that they can get unstuck without having to call a GM to help.

This can be exploited to warp back up a cliff where enemies cant reach you.

First, go to top of desired cliff and drop off. Don't move from this spot and just nuke or range dps your enemies from where you landed. When it gets too hot for you down there, simply type /stuck and you character will warp back up the cliff.

If you think this article kicked ass, subscribe to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter! Share with your friends, or leave a comment below (or better still, do both!) My entire concept of self-worth is in your hands, so that makes you kind of a big deal. Srsly.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Solomon Kane!

Okay, first of all I need to get something off my chest.

ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG They're fricking doing a Solomon Kane movie and it doesnt look like it's going to suck! Oh sweet jeebus yes!


Yes, the next most well known of Robert E Howard's characters (first being Conan) is going to hit our lovely cinemas soon in what looks like a truly epic scale film. No cheesy Ahhhnowld, but unfortunately also no James Earl Jones.

James Purefoy is taking up the title role. If you don't know him, he's the one you have to do a quick double-take to make sure it's not Christopher Lambert but younger.

IMDB Linkage

Official site

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trader "Dirty tip"

When someone does a search for an item on the trader, it will give a page of results. For example, do a search for Beguiler Blood and it will show various amounts from different sellers.

If you don't like the competition and want to own the market on Beguiler Blood, break up all your stacks and sell them individually 1 at a time. This way when someone does a search, only yours will show up (assuming you have that many to sell).

People can still use the advance search feature to find other sellers, but you would be surprised how many people are too stupid to do this.

It's also handy if you have an alt with a bank guild just to use as extra storage if you plan to flood the market with something.
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