We recently had a chance to run a few questions past two members of the Funcom team responsible for Age of Conan in varying capacities. The first three are answered by Jorgen Tharaldsen -- Product Director at Funcom -- while the rest of the interview is taken care of by Glen "Famine" Swan -- the US Community Manager for Age of Conan.
Jorgen Tharaldsen on the User Interface
Curse: What immediate plans does Funcom have for the User Interface? What improvements are you expecting to be able to add?
Jorgen Tharaldsen: We are fixing bugs and smoothing out the experience for players wherever it is needed, we are closely monitoring the forums looking at what players are requesting. Further we are looking at all the exciting new playermade GUI modifications that are surfacing and seeing what they are changing. This we use to improve the default GUI.
Curse: Will there be further support for developing addons, like options to reload the UI within the game, without having to restart?
Jorgen Tharaldsen: Yes, we are dedicated to allowing players to modify the GUI. We will add better support for players to enable player modifications and we will try to give players the tools needed to make it easier for them. reloading of UI is among several things we are going to unlock for the players.
Curse: LUA is a very popular language to use in order to develop addons for MMOs and games in general. Will you add support for this within the foreseeable future?
Jorgen Tharaldsen: We can confirm that we are working on making alteration to the GUI system to make it easier for players to create addons. What we are doing and when it is coming will be informed about at a later point.
Glen Swan on his Age of Conan Community experience
Curse: First of all, please introduce yourself to the readers of Curse.
Glen Swan: My name is Glen 'Famine' Swan and I am the US Community Manager for Age of Conan.
Curse: What do you do at Funcom?
Glen Swan: As Community Manager my job is to maintain the official Age of Conan community and everything else that it entails. All communication from the players or the developers come through me. So you could say that I am like the middleman between the developer and the player. In addition, I also help manage the volunteer moderation program and soon to be class lead program. It's a very exciting and demanding position but I couldn't see myself doing anything else that didn't have to do with the online community!
Curse: Have you worked long within the gaming industry? What did you do before working at Funcom and with Age of Conan?
Glen Swan: I've been in the industry for 3 years now. To most, this isn't considered long but to community management it seems qualified. Although I haven't been here for say 10 years, I have been following the genre and playing similar genres since I was 15 years old. So it was only destiny that I ended up in the game industry and continued to strive to my 3 year mark.
Before I came to Funcom I worked for my father in the family business with machine work. We did everything from building other machines to just doing basic metal works. Over time, I knew that this line of work really wasn't for me. So I decided that I would try to get into something that I was really passionate about, like game development. Luckily enough my parents embraced my dreams and supported my transition into the game industry. Now it's like every time I go home, game development is all we talk about at the dinner table. It's been a real dream come true...
Curse: How did you end up working for Funcom?
Glen Swan: Well I ended up in Funcom like most people. I wanted to get into the industry and I wanted to work for a studio that made online games. I had already been playing online games since I was a teenager and there was a local studio around the corner that developed massively multi player online games (MMOG). So I took a gamble and applied to be one of the new QA testers for Dreamfall. Luckily enough, they liked what they had seen and gave me a shot. Till this day, I still can't believe I work in the game industry. It's like one of those dream jobs you think about as a kid. It's even worse when you have a hit and everyone knows your game. So I'm still in the denial phase where I think I'm still back in the garage working for my father.
Curse: Let's talk workdays -- what's a typical day for you?
Glen Swan: My workday begins right when I wake up from bed. I wake up and head right to my computer and check my messages for the day. I receive so many that it's a good thing that I go ahead and get a brief summary of what I will be addressing later on during the day. Eventually I make it to the car and suffer through the wonderful morning traffic on the way to the studio.
As soon as I get in, I head straight for my desk and check my messages to see if I missed anything on the drive in. The workday normally depends on the fluctuation of the community. If things are happening in the forums then I'm normally running all around the office like a wild animal and getting answers for the community. If everything is smooth then I'm normally writing emails, private messages, or working on some feedback to the developers from the players. Overall I would say that my workdays are pretty hectic since the launch but I'm truly loving every minute of it!
Curse: Tell us what the time up until now since the release of Age of Conan has been likeâ€¦ I'm assuming very busy and probably somewhat chaotic, but what else can you share?
Glen Swan: It has been a very exciting and exhausting ride up until now but there is no time to rest when you are pushing out such an exciting game as Age of Conan! So as you would expect, the teams haven't really changed that much from when we were preparing for launch. All teams are still very busy with crunching and making sure we iron out the remaining issues that the players have conveyed to us. The upcoming months will surely show no signs of mercy but neither will we!
Community wise, we have been on a real ride with all the communities. We have had no real time to do anything but focus on the community, feedback, and online portals that surround the game. Me personally, it has taken up loads of time but it's all worth the sacrifice just to get out there and see our work in action.
Curse: What are your thoughts on the overall launch and results of Age of Conan so far?
Glen Swan: The launch had been everything that we had hoped for and I'm glad we're finally here! Now that I look back on it, we prepared so much for every possible situation just so we could be ready to address any possible problem that got in our way. I mean we had already launched one MMO title with Anarchy Online along with every expansion that followed. So when it came to our second MMO launch, I think we really had the ace up our sleeve that help guarantee a smooth launch.
Now that we have launched, I believe that most would agree that it has turned out smooth but now is the time to step up to the plate and push out the updates. So that's exactly what we are aiming to do in the coming weeks and months from launch. We will be pushing out the updates once a week from the original plan of twice a week. This will help reduce the amount of downtime we have per week and of course get the update on our test server a bit longer to ensure that everything works before pushing it to live.
Curse: Do you have a favorite class in Age of Conan?
Glen Swan: I don't really have a main favorite class just yet but I do have a couple that appeal to me. Those that have appealed to me so far have been Assassin and Barbarians. I've always loved the cloak and dagger type of classes in any game. So it's only a given that Assassins or maybe even Rangers would appeal to me the most. Barbarians on the other hand give me some type of addictive itch that I have to keep scratching every time I see game play footage. I don't know what it is but when I see any class smashing away on something in game, it makes me want to log in a Barbarian and kill everything in sight.
Curse: Community management has always been a difficult job, how do you think the community for Conan will continue to evolve?
Glen Swan: I believe the community will continue to evolve into something much more than what is today. The community team is really dedicated to addressing any and all problems that we face in our communities So if there is a problem with the forum moderation in example, then we will surely step up and ensure we improve the forum moderation for our online forums. I think the main thing here is that we are dedicating time to ensure the current concerns get as much attention as possible. In time we feel that this will help build a stronger and robust community for the future that will continue to evolve in the direction that everyone would be happy with.
Curse: There's many complaints about the official forums lacking moderation, have you heard anything about this?
Glen Swan: The community team has picked up on the moderation concerns in all of the communities. As it has been hinted before, we are set on addressing this concern with tweaking the current systems in place to better adapt to the massive community overall. In the coming weeks, you will see this improving greatly as we push into the next updates. I think the first change you will see is the increase on the overall moderation on all forums and then some minor revamps to the guidelines in which everyone follows when posting in the community. It will be a hard bridge to cross but we are set on ensuring the community is place where all players want to be.
Curse: For fans of Conan, what things in the pipeline do you think will really make people want to stick around?
Glen Swan: The first thing that comes to mind is the focus on fixing the major issues with our game. We will always continue to address the major issues reported through all channels until the end of days. Some of the more specific things in the pipe line would be the current updates and fixes to the current PvP systems. We will be overhauling the PvP systems and adding additional enhancements like PvP levels, ranks, and gear. We will also be adding a new PvP system called the "Fugitive System" that will take on the role of PvP consequences in Age of Conan.
On top of that, we will be adding more content to the specific areas that need it the most and staffing up on Customer Service, Quality Assurance and Community departments. So we have a lot of things on the current agenda and more on those updates will be revealed very very soon.
We would like to thank both Jorgen Tharaldsen and Famine for taking the time to answer our questions! If you'd like to check out other Age of Conan content here on Curse, you can do so over on our Age of Conan Portal.
Also don't forget to check out our other Curse Network sites supporting Age of Conan -- like the Age of Conan Armory to take advantage of our maps database, feat calculator, and check out some of the feat builds the community has submitted so far since the release of the game -- or AoCSource, where you'll find intelligent discussion about Player-Vs.-Player gameplay, and many other topics!