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Age of Conan Community Updates.
Community Update – April 15thEdit
This week, the first iteration of Update 2.2 has been made available on the test servers including the two new group Paikang district instances T'ian'an and Ai. The T'ian'an district is all about boss encounters and offers an actual speed challenge to see how many of the half dozen encounters can be completed by your group. The Ai district is more like an outdoor adventure zone including two bosses. If you haven't already, hop on to the test servers, group up and check these two new instances out.
In the near future there will also be the Faction Progression changes and the Crowd Control Revamp available on the test servers. More information and details about these will follow soon.
In addition the teams are also investigating and working on fixing some of the remaining issues reported by players after the previous updates to the live servers.
Improving the Advocate ProgramEdit
Next month, we will incorporate new improvements to the Advocate Program. Our goal is to broaden the scope of the entire program to make it more accessible to the players of our community. That way we can open the flood gates on what ground we can cover for a return of more player community involvement with the program. In return, we are aiming to have a greater focus group of community leaders and experienced players within the program.
How we plan to do that is by allowing more General Advocates to apply and get involved. We want to recruit experience players who offer something more than just knowledge of our class system, but also other aspects of our great game. We want to involve those who love to raid, those who love to kill and those who simply love to socialize or role-play in Age of Conan. The sky is the limits, and we feel simply opening up the program more will allow us to have a greater tap on you, the players.
That being said, we will start recruiting new Advocates at the end of this month and the beginning of next month. We plan to change the requirements some in order to make it clear we are seeking a broader range of expertise for the program on top of seeking leaders of our player community. If you feel this may be you and you can bring something to the table that covers something in scope of the game, whether it’s PvP or PvE, then please consider applying when our official recruitment is up!
Glen 'Famine' Swan
Senior Assistant Community Manager
Community Update – February 11thEdit
The last week has seen a lot of good progress with the Dreamworld technology version. The issues we mentioned last week with the poor performance of the anti-aliasing feature have been resolved with a little help from our friends at NVIDIA, and the introduction of a new form of anti-aliasing known as FXAA. The first versions with this solution have now been deployed to the test server and are being put through their paces.
Our Lead render coder Fred Richardson was happy to elaborate a little more about the new option:
"We are actually one of the first games to get access to this new solution. FXAA is a new anti aliasing technique developed by NVIDIA which provides highly effective edge smoothing, based on image luminance variations. It is designed to be extremely compatible with deferred engines, by avoiding the issues traditional hardware MSAA presents with regards to retrieving sub-pixel depth buffer samples. In addition it has much lower video memory requirements, while still producing extremely high quality results and avoiding slight image blurring which is common to other image based anti aliasing solutions."
That testing means we should now be in the last leg of testing for the engine update. We felt it was worth the few extra days to ensure that there was an Anti-aliasing option available when the update goes live. We have now checked through most of the important performance indicators, and are very pleased with the progress. Memory handling has vastly improved so that those running 32 bit operating systems should no longer suffer from out of memory issues. The DX10 version runs much smoother, and is in fact now slightly faster than it's DX9 counterpart. For it's part the DX9 version now has a far more fully featured visual suite of effects, which have been introduced with minimal impact (for most there will be no change, for lower end machines trying to run higher settings you may notice a slight dip in fps due to the enhanced visuals now available in DX9. Likewise the reaction from testers has reflected that improvement as we have worked through the versions, so we are looking forward now to the deployment stages of the update.
So with a little luck the next week will see the completion of the Dreamworld testing, presuming the FXAA doesn't require further tweaking, and then we will be outlining the plan for deploying the update to the live servers.
Community Update - February 4thEdit
Dreamworld Engine Update
Nearly there! We are in the final stages of testing now, really down to the last stretch and the last few tasks and testing
Work on the Dreamworld integration is going on and there was another update to the test servers two days ago. As some of you have noticed, in the latest version deployed to the test servers the Anti-Aliasing option has now been disabled. With the new technology used in the Dreamworld engine upgrade, Anti-Aliasing provided by graphic cards is not working with the new Deffered Shading. This means there will be an integrated AA solution provided by the Dreamworld engine. During our current internal testing we saw that the performance and stability of this solution is not where we want it to be yet. Because we don't want to release a feature that is not working or performing in an acceptable manner, we decided to deactivate AA for now until the implementation of this solution is working with the new Dreamworld technology integration. We are now looking at other options for a different implementation, and hopefully the render folk will be able to find a good solution, even if it may not come in the launch version.
As we are now close we wanted to thank everyone who has helped test this version so far on the test server and would love to see you all come to the test server over the last week so that we can get these final set of tests wrapped up. New Community Features coming up Last week we mentioned that we have some community features in the pipeline for 2011. One of those involves that we put the spotlight on some of the most important people related to Age of Conan ... you the players. We will speak to some of you guys directly and give you the chance to introduce yourselves to your fellow Hyborians. Among other things (like introduce your guild or name your most awesome moment in Hyboria) that will mean you'll also get the chance to say what you like about the game and what you think should be improved. We start to contact the first of you guys before the end of February and we will surely try to include players from all language territories. New Item Packs on the Billing Page As we have seen positive interest towards the virtual packages that have been for sale until now, we have decided to extend these forms of offers, and are today launching several new packages with virtual items. These range from social pets to powerful teleport teachings and many types of experience potions. These packs are intended to provide all players with the option to benefit from the items included in the previous offers, and to allow newer players a chance to get some of the older exclusive items. We hope these will work well in conjunction with the veteran award system for new and old players alike. The offers are all available for Funcom points, and are available on your account page.
Community Update - January 28thEdit
Since the community update last week, there have been two more versions deployed to the test servers. Besides the further improvements to the Dreamworld engine integration there are always also changes of content and gameplay mechanics, some tweaks to classes, PvP mini-games as well as addressing some of the remaining issues to test their efficiency before they are considered to be brought to the live servers. There is for example also a new addition that will let all classes use Quick Dismount while moving on a mount. Pending testing, we should know more about when we can expect the engine integration to be ready for the live servers and will let you guys know as soon as possible.
Besides this production update, we also want to point out that we are planning a couple of new community features that will be available in 2011. Those will include interviews and behind-the-scenes information as well as highlighting some members of the community plus a few competitions with prizes to be won. More information on these activities and plans will be revealed in the weeks to come.
Also don't miss the "Monthly Development Update - January 2011" that was published earlier today. It contains information about upcoming content.
And on a side note ... the Funcom website at http://www.funcom.com has been overhauled and given a fresh new look and feel. Go check it out if you haven't already.