Today we wanted to update you on something which has been a lively debated topic recently, namely our server set-up and our Beta progress.
We therefore wanted to give you some in-depth info on what you can expect when we launch in March. We would like to point out that this is how we plan things today, and that some of this may change.
First of all, when it comes to our main server centers for launch we are splitting them into two primary territories; North America and Europe. This is the core divider. This means that your primary server destination will be decided according to where you buy your retail box. So, North American gamers will only get the choice of North American servers, and vice versa. It is important for us to mention that this is done in order to ensure a best possible experience for US and European players respectively. We are aware of the fact that many would like to play with their friends across the ocean, but we have decided on this approach for the overall performance for the largest amount of players. Should you play on a server on another continent it would mean a potentially poorer gaming experience, latency wise, and we would like to avoid that at all cost. As most of you are avid MMO gamers you are well aware of how important latency time is in a genre like ours (not to speak of FPS games;), and this comes as a consequence of that. We are therefore not doing this to set up artificial boundaries, but to give you all the best possible time in Hyboria. If there is an absolute wish for you, or your guild, to play on another continent you will need to do so at your own initiative, meaning having to secure copies from abroad.
When it comes to the various languages we will support next year we have announced three; English, German and French. In addition we are looking into Spanish. This naturally also involves customer service and community in the localized languages. Due to many reactions on our forums in regards to “lock-down” based upon the language-zone you live in, we also wanted to give you some updated info. With our new, and current, approach it now means that the French can play on the German servers, the Germans on the English servers, the English on the German servers and so forth. We are hence NOT setting any limitations to what kind of language, and server, you can choose if you live in Europe as we have previously mentioned.
What is a fact, however, is that the primary language version on your install disc will be according to where you live (French in France etc.). However, when you choose a server you can now select one outside your language. As a result of this we are currently evaluating if we should include all languages on the various install discs. If we don’t include all languages on the install-discs we will at least aim to make additional languages available through downloads. The main unsolved challenge for us in this regard is the North American Quebec region, whom are French speakers. We will find solutions for this region as well, but if you live there you will probably have to play on US servers with a French language version (should you choose to).
This naturally leads us to the various rating boards of the world, and what this means in terms of the decision above. In order to give you the above we have therefore worked on a technology which is made with the various rating boards in mind. As you may understand, our approach to “mature and brutal” has given us certain challenges, which we have a technology solution for. As of now, this means that we will control content with a server-side tool. Say then, for instance, that you perform a move which might be legal one place but illegal another place (heads will roll, right;). Then that move will be displayed according to which region you are from. If you are “within” the legal boundaries you will see it, whereas a “custom” animation will play out in the region where that particular content is potentially banned. Since this is controlled server side we can therefore adhere to the rating boards of the world, while still making sure that players from various European countries can play together. We would like to point out that you, our community, have been a part in making us choose this decision, and this development.
At the same time we are now deploying a large amount of additional machines to our main server structures. This means that we are getting ready for larger-scale Beta deployment! We now have the hardware, the set-up (and an awesome game;) ready for larger scale testing! As a result of this we are also getting ready to start inviting thousands and thousands (and thousands) into our Beta programs. As we progress with this new stage of the Beta we expect to get lots of constructive feedback on the general gameplay, and we hope that the testers will also love this iteration of the new combat system. This testing will in turn lead to adding tens and tens of thousands of testers as we move over to the new year. This is surely great news, and for you in the community it means that we are escalating our invitation process. For those of you we have defined as “veterans” (which have not gotten a Beta invite yet), we are looking to send an invitation within the next few weeks. As we have stated before it is a goal for us to give you, our loyal followers, Beta advantage as we move into larger scale testing, but we can’t promise everyone access. It is still a matter of focused testing, not “open beta”.
As a part of this we would like to state that it is not a goal to move beyond several thousands of Beta testers at the stage we are now moving into. The needs of the game and our development team will, and must have, first priority. This means that we are not looking into any form of “open” Beta activities before next year. The Beta for Age of Conan will almost all the way up to launch be defined by development needs, but we have also planned a few surprises along the way ;)
We hope that this Friday gave you some answers on many of the questions you have been wondering about lately. At the same time we understand that it might bring up many questions and discussions, which we will follow. We do, however, hope that this insight will give you a better understanding of where we are, how it will relate to you as a gamer, and what you can expect in terms of servers and Beta in the near to middle term. Suffice to say, we really can’t wait to share Hyboria with all of you.