Developer quotes Edit

We're looking into item decay, and there might be some, but details are to be decided when we see how the balance pans out.

Gamespy, 17th May 2005 (Gaute Godager)

There are many, many sets of armor, weapons, rings and other types of earthly goods to be gathered by the persistent traveler in Age of Conan - Hyborian Adventures. The key guide to the uniquely slanted Hyborian loot is the darkness and violence of the universe. No pink trousers, no fairy-tale equipment. Realistically gritty or darker is our murky guiding star.

IGN, 11th July 2005 (Gaute Godager)

The requirements for wearing any type of equipment in Conan are locked by the feats given out every second level, and a massive chunk every five levels. These feats yield the different classes at various levels. As in any RPG, you can acquire equipment through quests, loot from monsters, shops and making them.

IGN, 11th July 2005 (Gaute Godager)

Items in Age of Conan will have different properties and give various bonuses. A sword is a sword, but some swords are better then others.

What we strive for is that the bonuses should make sense. Well balanced and sharp edged weapons do more damage then crude and dull ones. Cimmerian wool should give better protection against cold then Stygian silk. An archers ring will help him to nock his bow better, and a rouges dark cloak will help him blend silently into the shadows... while chainmail will be bad for any sneaking attempts and wearing a heavy helmet will lower your perception abilities.

We do not want the skills and attributes of a player to be completely determined by what he has equipped, but it will be a factor. IE the majority of the attributes will come from the player himself, but he will be able to equip himself to enhance them.

Availability of powerful items is a tricky balancing thing, and it is too early to go into details on it. However, we want to reward players when they have done something difficult, and items are a good way to do that. We aim to spread out the availability of the wanted items tho, so players can aquire a good polearm from several different sources, be it from tough mobs, quests, tradeskills or something else. We also want to avoid having a single item being superiour to all others, there shouldn't be an end-all-be-all sword that is always best, but several swords, axes and scimitars that are better for different situations. Tradeskills will play a part in this of course, more on that below.

Currently we are not pursuing an encumbrance system. In my personal opinion it slows the game experience down and isn't very fun. Forcing archers to have a pack mule with them to carry their arrows is perhaps an extreme example, but you get the point. You always have to skip on realism for the sake of fun gameplay, and then the realistic purpose of encumbrance is gone.

Forums, 11th August 2005, (DaveDread)

From a practical gameplay point of view, it makes sense to make the best of the best equipment in the game go solely to the person who earned that piece of equipment. If such things are not put in place, twinking/farming can become farm more dominant than I think I would prefer.

Forums, 12th August 2005 (Jayde)

To address the concerns about "loot whoring" and the quest for better and better loot--to some extent, this will be somewhat unavoidable. Certain types of players will always be driven to min-max, optimize, or otherwise go to great lengths to gain the smallest advantage whatsoever. So, unless you removed all progression in the game (obviously not an option) this element will be present. That said, we will certainly attempt to balance the availability and allocation of items so that players do not feel "required" to "camp" for this kind of thing. A can assure you that Dave and myself are no particular fan of camping, so you will probably see this point of view filter into the game. So, while we cannot eliminate the element of optimization, we can strive to make the situation far more balanced and enjoyable for all.

Forums, 12th August 2005 (Jayde)

Also, just as a practical matter, as someone who has trained with and owns many swords, I can certainly say that a sword is not "just a sword." There is a rather huge difference between a low and high-quality sword. Certainly, a master swordsman could use a lesser sword to some degree based on his skills, but with a good sword he would only be that much more effective. Poorly crafted swords don't cut as well, have blades that chip, fall apart due to the rigors of battle, have poor balance, and usually weigh too much. This type of progression needs to be reflected in-game, as a character just starting out on a journey would not have nearly the resources to aquire a sword crafted by a master swordsmith--made with the finest materials Hyboria has to offer.

Forums, 12th August 2005 (Jayde)

As for the on-going discussion in regard to how much a role items play in a character's stats, I would say that it's always a struggle to balance these issues for everyone. On one hand, a player does not want to feel powerless against another play because the other player has more "phat l00t" and is thus invincible. On the other hand, players who struggle through the game and accomplish difficult tasks should be rewarded in a perceptable way and not just given a pat on the back and a cookie.

Balancing this will be an on-going struggle, I'm sure, but it is something we will be keeping a close eye on as the game develops.

Forums, 15th August 2005 (Jayde)

We will have stats on items because we want to connect them to the RPG system.

Anyways, say that we have a well-balanced weapon. The weapon speed is a fixed stat on the weapon itself, so it would be equally quick in the hands of a characters with high or low dexterity. Now, we could modify the attack speed depending on the current dexterity of the character. This could be a weighted calculation so that you get dimininshing gain when you have very high dexterity on your character to counter min-maxing, and it could also lower the attackspeed if the character has very low dex. So, if we add a dexterity bonus to the weapon, it could change the attack speed dynamically depending on how the character wielding it is built, equipped and buffed and what feats the player has chosen. Thus the weapon wouldn't do X damage/sec, it does X (+-Y) damage depending on character stats. This is strictly controlled by a DPS budget that all weapons need to stay within for balance reasons. So, we can use the stats on items to enhance the players ability to create his own character and play it in different ways.

Dexterity would also modify other things, like dodging or the ability to avoid traps etc. In some cases this is something we want, we would like to give the player something that enhances several of his/hers abilities. We could do it by attaching bonuses to the all the specific skills themselves, or add a generic bonus by attaching an attribute bonus. Having a generic system helps to avoid the need to have items that boost every specific skill, IE a rouge wouldn't need to swap between his "boots of lockpicking" and "boots of sneaking" if the boots had a dex bonus. This is of course something we control carefully and have measures to keep under control, noone wants stats on items to take over the game experience.

Not that this is just an example to explain how we think. I seriously doubt that we will have attribute bonuses on weapons and the RPG system does not work like this in game. We will not divulge our game mechanics in greater detail tho. It's our little secret for you to figure out in-game later.

And again, we will hop through hoops to try to make all stat bonuses make sense as well as having the in-game effects we want.

Forums, 18th August 2005, (DaveDread)

We will have tiers of items depicting their general quality. We will also have a an extra level of quality (state of the item if you will) within the tiers themselves, IE we can have a "dull, used, regular quality axe" and a "sharp, used, regular quality axe". (edited for clarity)

Depending on your characters class, level, feats etc you will have the ability to equip different tiers. This is to provide a framework for the players skill to work within, and for balancing reasons. We don't want stygian sorcerers in full plate armor with a cavalry lance, nor do we want a level 20 character to equip a too powerful weapon and go and pwn people in pvp with it.

Forums, 18th August 2005, (DaveDread)

As for handling damage output etc and moving it to the character instead of the item, the main reason we control it from items is balance. Tho we are taking strict measures to keep things under control, there will always be a combination of skills/stats/items/spells etc that is overpowered or underpowered. That's the nature of MMO's, they are so complex that noone can really keep track of all the interdepending things. Now, if we find that a certain combination of things is over- or underpowered and we have the damage output tied to the character, we'd have to alter the character to balance it. That would not be very appreciated imho. Imagine logging in one day and performing worse then you did yesterday and there's nothing you can do about it. Much better to alter the stat of the items/spells/stats involved so the player has the choice to stick with the fixed version or swap to another item.

We could have a system that enables a low level player to have a high-tier weapon and dynamically nerf it down to an appropriate level, but that's a roundabout way to go methinks. It's logical, but it's not very fun. There wouldn't be much work for the tradeskillers nor a very active player economy if characters only use one weapon throughout your career.

Forums, 18th August 2005, (DaveDread)

Personally, I find that there is a mix of "player skill" and statistics in almost any truly competitive game. Take FPS's, for instance--being that when it comes to player-only skill, they are an obvious example--the weapon you use always has certain "stats", some are stronger than other, some are faster, some are longer range, etc. Even with the genre so focused on actual "player skill", there is still plenty of room to have equipment play a part of the process.

Honestly, though, simply removing items would not change anything in terms of the competitive environment. Most people look at items as a time-sink, required to be at the level of "everyone else." However, players with the most time will often also be the "best" players, even in a 100% skill-based system. Practice makes perfect, and the more time to practice the better a player will be. The best CounterStrike players are not the people who play casually a few times a week, but the folks who spend hours on end every day playing the game. The same goes for sports, tests, or any other competitive atmosphere.

I also personally hate the idea of being able to use the same weapon from start to finish... the fact is, if there is no incentive to upgrade most people won't. I really don't want to see a game where 95% of the players are running around with Generic Shortsword v1.0 and Leather Tunic A at leve

Forums, 8th September 2005 (Jayde)

We item designers will do our very best to keep the amount of useless weapons to a minimum. Same goes for all other types of items of course. AO contains a lot of underperforming items, part of it is because AO has been around for a while and a LOT of items has been patched in, but even at launch there were lots of items that was only good for selling really. You'll see a lot less vendor-food items in Conan.

Forums, 14th September 2005, (DaveDread)

Nah, of course there will still be items that are underperforming compared to other things a player can get access to, the game is too complex to keep track of everything... A easy-to-complete quest reward might be better then low level vendor bought items etc. They should really only be emergency items, for when you absolutely must have a spiked polearm NOW gdangit!½. We'll do our best to make sure that even Dirty Pict Loincloths could come in handy sometimes tho.

Forums, 14th September 2005, (DaveDread)

While all game designers love putting in timesinks for the players forcing the player to constantly repair/replace equipment is not very fun imho. It's possible that we'll have some form of item degradation, but we want to keep the game fast paced and furious... thus it will most likely be simple and quick.

Forums, 2nd October 2005, (DaveDread)

Well, to clarify what to expect from Conan somewhat...

There will be notable improvement in the equipment you find at level 1 and the equipment you find at level 80. Likewise, there will also be notable improvement between equipment you find off easy mobs and equipment you find off harder mobs.

That said, I think you will find the gap of item progression to be somewhat smaller in Conan than the average game. To use WoW as an understandable example: epic weapons generally are as powerful as a superior item 10 levels higher, while rare weapons are 5 levels higher. The gap in Conan between "epic" types of items compared to superior items will be considerably smaller, as the base weapon damage between those weapons will not change. The main difference is that "epic" (boss) drops have a higher mod budget, and thus may have slightly higher modified damage--but not dramatically so.

Rare items may also have access to different types of mods not available on more common items. For instance, a "superior" type weapon you find off a sub-boss may only have access to some simplistic mods, like "+Taunt" (barbed) or "+Attack Rating" (sharpened)... whereas an "epic" drop of more distinct nature may have something more magical about it. Standard drops shouldn't be found with a magical attribute enchatment, but drops from very difficult bosses--and thus items being protected/horded by the boss--may be of a (slightly) magical nature. That said, the raw base DPS of the weapon should be very similar.

Forums, 8th December 2005 (Jayde)

To respond to some of the concerns, I would say that to some degree there will be "farming." I think, in many ways, it's usually going to be this way to a certain extent if you wish to provide a level of predictability in rewards vs. effort. e.g. you want the Ranger to have a general idea of "if I go do X, I can get Y benifit." Perhaps not a 100% sure idea, of course, but at least some notion so he just doesn't end up wandering around aimlessly, disappointed that he hasn't gotten any new toys in a while.

< That said, I'm no fan of typical farming or typical grinding. Sure, there will be rare stuff...but I think the goal is to avoid pain at least.

Some of this is ofset by the nature of weapons/armor that I mentioned before--sure, it may be nice to get the magical item, but it shouldn't be required. If you someone doesn't want to go to lengths to get some rare drop from a boss, I don't think they will feel "gimped" in the current proposed system. Sure, the guy with the other weapon will have an edge, but not such a massive edge that it skews the "need" towards rare drops.

I think most players will *want* the more powerful drops--just because that's the way people are--but that's another issue.

< In regard to "realism" of the mods I mentioned (e.g. the "taunt" thing)...I would say there is a line to walk with being lore-centric and also playable. To me as a designer, I like the ability to make a specific weapon that has a bonus towards the ability of the wielder to hold hate and/or protect his team. Sure, maybe it's not 100% realistic, but I think it's within acceptable bounds when presented correctly. As anyone who's RP'd a great deal can attest, many a thing can be explained with a cleverly crafted explanation.

As I've expressed before, I'm of the opinion that if every sword was just a sword, there wouldn't be much need to pick which one you use very carefully. I like the concept of allowing players to choose their equipment in a "tactical" manner, and to accomplish that the items must have some kind of bonus and/or detriment that differenciates from another item.

Forums, 9th December 2005 (Jayde)

From everything I've seen so far coming from the renderers and artists, I don't think people will be disappointed with the graphical style of items. Furthermore, we are shooting for as much variety as possible--Dave and I just got done compiling a list for this milestone of all the different cultural types we want represented in weapons and armor, for instance...and I think we ended up with about 14-15 specific cultural styles in addition to the larger chunk of "generic" regional (Aqulionian/Stygian/Cimmerian) styles.

Forums, 17th December 2005 (Jayde)

Equipment will be locked based on feats trained.. there are 10 tiers of items in the game, as well as respective feats (some autotrained based on class, some optional.) When you come out of the NPE at level 20, you will be in Tier 3, so the amount of different tiers shoudn't be so bad.

Forums, 21st December 2005 (Jayde)

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