Funcom announced a while back that veteran designer Joel Bylos of Age of Conan and The Secret World legend has stepped up to take on creative leadership of the company's newly formed, centralized live team.
“Having one centralized live team responsible for both the health and the future of each online game means there will always be fresh ideas, years of design know-how and invaluable skill with our tools flow freely between each project,” says Creative Director Joel Bylos. “I am very excited to have been given the opportunity to lead this team going forward and we have already started mapping out a very exciting future for ‘Anarchy Online’, ‘The Secret World’ and ‘Age of Conan’. Stay tuned, great things are coming!”
We had a chance to get in touch with Bylos and ask him some questions about the new direction and goals for The Secret World, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. Here's what we've found out:
What is your primary goal as Creative Lead in terms of both these games and the company?
As a general goal I want to grow the community of The Secret World, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan by providing more of the experiences that our gamer have come to expect. That's obviously a very different proposition for each title and they each have their own associated plans.
To me it's also very important to have an open dialog with each of the three communities, and I will spend as much time as I can being on the forums, filling players in on our plans, listening to their ideas and engaging in active discussions with them. These are live games, which means they're not only our games, they also belong to the players which inhabit these worlds.
How will a unified team benefit these games? What can players look forward to in terms of progressive changes?
The biggest primary advantage of a unified team is through shared game improvements and features due to the shared code and design resources. That can mean something as simple as Age of Conan players being able to get all of the minor improvements that we made in The Secret World (area loot button, mappable dodge key e.t.c) and it can apply to larger features like the Lore and Achievement systems.
What it means for players is that they will (hopefully) see more regular updates on their title of choice and those updates might be slightly smaller, but will hopefully contain a good mix of both features and content.
Especially for Age of Conan and The Secret World, which shares a common technology platform, it's going to be a key priority for me to see what we can do on the feature side that can benefit both games. I think that's a great aspect of having one team working on all games, being able to not only share expertise and creative brain power, but even actual feature implementations.
For Anarchy Online it's a bit different as the technology isn't shared with Age of Conan or The Secret World, so we need to do more bespoke stuff there. I still really want to make sure that Anarchy Online takes full advantage of the shared pool of creativity, knowledge and tools know-how that exists within the live team, though.
Do you have any concern that, as a result of a unified set of minds and tools, these titles may become too similar?
Funcom has always been incredible about creating atmosphere in our games. We build worlds that have *texture* and each one of these three games has a personality of its own. I don't think there is much chance of those running together into something bland.
Besides the development team are a rowdy and passionate bunch. We have people from every project and they will let me know, loudly, if I make any calls which jeopardize their games. I think it will be a good thing if the technical side of things becomes more unified such as patching processes and quality assurance.
Now that you have these titles under your wing, all of which take place in vastly different worlds, what's next?
For now the plan is to give those games the focus and love that they need.
For Anarchy Online our main focus is getting the new graphics engine out. That's going to make a huge difference for a lot of people, especially new players coming in. For The Secret World our focus is now on Issue #7 and all the great content that comes with it. For Age of Conan we have a lot of plans that we'll be revealing soon, but one of the things I'm really excited about is the new Conan movie with Arnold Schwarznegger! I look forward to learning more about it so we can look at what sort of good stuff we can tie into the game!
Hopefully we'll continue to see great things from the team! Stay tuned to Curse for more from Funcom, and if you're a Secret World fan don't miss out on The Secret World Wiki, which contains all the knowledge you need to succeed in the unforgiving world.