Funcom Full Youtube Link (Starts at 7:59): 04/30/20 - Written Summary
Welcome to the first official stream of 2020! Though we did have a sorta unofficial, official Q/A over on The Cursed Sands discord a couple of weeks ago. If you missed that, here is the recap I wrote for it.
Covid-19 obviously threw things through a major loop in terms of official dev streams, along with Jens departure to say the least (who, in case you were wondering, landed in Britain to work for Frontier Developments. Congrats Jens!). Speaking of Jens, he stopped by in Twitch chat during the stream. Can’t have a Conan stream without Jens around!
Today’s Funcom Staff Sightings for this stream were:
- Nicole (Community Manager) - On stream
- Scott (Executive Producer) - On stream
- Natascha (Partnership and Engagement Director) - In chat
- Joel Bylos (Creative Director for Conan Exiles and Chief Creative Officer for Funcom) - In chat
- Ignasis - Funcom Handle (Community Support) - In chat
- Hugo (Community Support) - In chat
- Robert (Senior Designer) - In chat
Unofficial Funcom Staff Sightings for this stream were:
- Taffeta (Kitty cat of the Nicole) - Sleeping in the chair behind Nicole.
- Calipso (Doggo of the Scott) - Hanging out behind Scott for much of the stream.
And for you cat lovers, don’t worry, Taffeta got much love from Nicole throughout the stream (as seen in this gif here)
The doggo also got loves during the Q/A session, but you couldn’t see her get her pets as she was off camera.
Today’s stream focus was on the upcoming patch that is currently going through final stages of testing on Testlive. Along with that is the official announcement for a new DLC (Architects of Argos), and some Q/A at the back half of the stream. One particular note is that Nicole pre-recorded all the game footage seen in today’s stream because they were doing the dev stream from their homes.
Here are the updatest to Testlive so far, in case you want to see what’s been worked on and haven’t already seen or read them yourself (patch notes are in order of their release).
One thing I want to mention is that the gifs and screencaps I took are pretty low quality in comparison to what we are used to. I did the best that I could with what I had, but a lot of the finer details of the various weapons are simply not visible. With that, here we go!
For the first time, we had Nicole and Scott heading a stream. For Nicole, this is her 20th billionth time doing a Funcom stream of some sort, while Scott this was his first time on stream for Conan Exiles. Scott was promoted to Executive Producer for Conan Exiles in January of 2020. He was actually supposed to move to Oslo, Norway in April, but that had to be postponed due to Covid-19.
Many game developers, like Funcom, were fortunate to work in an industry where working from home creates less impact on the quality and timing of work completed for their games when compared to other industries. Though, as Scott goes on to say, there has been some impact due to Covid-19 and working from home. In particular the internet is much slower than the internet speeds they utilize in their actual offices (and internet reliability in general is impacted because of everybody working from home).
This of course can lead to disconnects and having access to their internal servers and tools. However, Scott says that the team has been continuing to hit their deadlines despite the internet challenges. He recognizes that things could be better if they were working at their offices like normal instead, but it could be a lot worse too.
During the Q/A session towards the very end of the stream (at 55:06), a question was asked about when were more dev streams planned.
Nicole said that they are working on something, but didn’t specify what. Scott elaborated again that Covid-19 messed up their intentions with the stream schedules, as they were hoping to do a stream in February or March prior to everybody going into lockdown. Also ideally, they would prefer to do it from their official offices, rather than from home. They would ultimately like to be more consistent in the future about dev streams then they have in the past.
Funcom, as you may or may not have noticed, has made changes with how it uses Testlive. The last two major patch cycles have seen improvements with community engagement in terms of responding to bug reports that players find on the Testlive client. This gives the community more of a role and chance to be involved in the development process. Scott also added that they are committed to having builds be present longer on Testlive so players can have longer to test things out as well.
They use external partners and in-house testing, but having players test patches increases their testing resources much more then the could ever do internally or via their partners. The downside to all of that means the development process is longer between each patch period. The end goal of course is to have higher quality patches, with less of a need to scramble to release hotfixes.
As for the current Testlive branch, Scott said that we are expected to see another patch go out to Testlive sometime soon, which will be the release candidate for the upcoming patch.
The next revision for Testlive is now out, and is linked above.
Scott also thanked everybody who has contributed to testing, as he feels the patches were greatly improved because of their contributions.
Nicole did a quick recap of the changes seen with the Followers 1 update, which was released back in early March. I’m not going to spend much time on that portion of the recap since the patch has been live for some time. You can read about those changes in the below patch notes as you desire.
The only particular note I want to add is that Scott mentioned that, while he is pleased that people have been able to locate long lost Followers using the Followers Tab, they are still committed to addressing the various bugs that can lead to those Followers being lost in the first place.
Funcom is still working on the final version of what the Follower Limit will be. Since the first announcement went out a few months back, Funcom has made a couple of changes to the system. Though Scott only elaborated on one when he discussed those changes.
There is now a soft limit that will be implemented instead of a hard limit. The example given on stream was a scenario in which you have a 100 Follower limit due to the clan size, but somebody leaves the clan. Instead of losing 5 Followers immediately to reduce to 95, those extra Followers will remain part of the clan. However, the clan cannot recruit more Followers until the number is reduced below the intended number for a clan of that size.
When the Follower limit is in its final stages, Funcom will post all the necessary details ahead of time of course. The Follower limit is due to come shortly after the Followers 2 patch is live.
Part of the work that has gone into AI improvements has been optimizations on the back end. The end result, they hope, is that it will allow them to have a little bit higher of a Follower limit then previously proposed. Obviously there aren’t any guarantees, but that’s the goal.
The AI Optimizations for the Followers 2 Update also includes NPCs in general. The end result should result in server wide performance improvements as a whole.
What is shown in stream here can also be viewed in the previously linked Testlive patch notes. I encourage you to visit those links to see the various screenshots and information posted there. Rather than repost that same information, I’m going to focus on what was said that can’t already be read.
Scott mentions in the stream that part of the fantasy of the game they want to create with Conan Exiles is controlling a kingdom or a town. Giving players commands and control over how their followers behave is important to achieving that goal and creating a more immersive experience.
Towards the end of discussing what is coming with the new update, Scott reiterates that various bug fixes and improvements are also coming that are not related to AI Improvements or Followers.
Here are a couple of gifs of the new Command System in action. You can point and direct your Followers to attack a target, return to you, or move to an area on command.
Return to You
The Command System can be used via radial, or via shortcuts. The shortcut keys are configurable in the settings.
Scott adds here that, like another game he won’t mention it’s name that is one of his own personal favorites, “the dream” is to command an army (Note, he says dream here, not a promise or a concrete feature they are working on). While he is happy with where this ordering system is as of today, they may revisit this in the future to make the feature more robust.
At (50:09) during the Q/A session, it was asked if adding more than one follower would be a feature that could be added. Scott further elaborated that they won’t be doing that in the current version, further eluding back to his dream of being able to command multiple Followers some day. He added that various Follower improvements have to come first though.
Mod wise for those on PC and who can mod, there is the option of Better Thralls by Testerle that players can use.
A quality of life feature that was much requested after the mounts update, is the ability to drag an NPC while on horseback. This feature is coming with the next update, and a brief preview of that is seen below.
Finally, another highly requested quality of life feature coming is to allow you to ride your mount and have a Follower tag along. Here is a quick gif example of that.
Link here (for some reason this particular gif refuses to embed, so sorry for the extra work)
PvP and Balance
During the Q/A portion (41:50), it was asked if Funcom would consider limiting this feature for PvP. Scott answered that it is not something they have currently planned right now. They do want to hear your feedback after the update goes live. If they feel a feature is detrimental to the game experience, they will react as appropriately.
Funcom is aware of some of the various balance issues with regards to Followers. Scott didn’t want to give an ETA, but said that a balance pass is for sure coming. One teaser Scott revealed for this balance pass is that they intend to let the players be the hero’s, not the Followers.
At 43:36 during the Q/A, it was brought up again. Scott doesn’t feel that the current system where a Follower can one shot another player isn’t fun. So Follower balance is the first thing they want to look at. The first balance pass will be the next major patch after Followers II. He identified that particular patch as a first step towards where they want to be balance wise.
The intended release date, for all platforms, is Thursday May 7th. Along with the Followers II update being released, there will also be the latest DLC to come to Conan Exiles. More of that below.
This new DLC, as previously mentioned, will be coming out on May 7th along with the Followers II update. It’s theme is based around the Conan culture of Argos, which was largely influenced by ancient Greek cultures.
The armor, Scott says, was inspired by Greek sailors and Hoplite warriors. While the Argos culture is based around the seas, there are no boats or a boats system coming with this update or DLC. Scott talked about it during the Cursed Sands Q/A, but there simply isn’t enough water to justify implementing such a major system in terms of boats.
The DLC was built intentionally to work hand in hand with the Jewel of the West DLC. There are 49 building pieces, 18 placeables, 3 new saddles, 3 armor sets, and 9 new weapons. Warpaints are not part of this DLC. It was asked during the Q/A if you could dye the armor sets, and neither Nicole or Scott personally tried to see if you could dye the armor. But both suspected that you could, just like every other armor set to date.
Finally, this DLC is not a part of the year 2 DLC Pass. They also don’t have any news or announced plans to reveal about a year 3 DLC Pass at this time.
Light Armor (Strength)
Medium Armor (Grit)
Heavy Armor (Vitality)
Here are some screencaps and gifs of the various buildings shown in the stream. The fountains shown can be used as a water source as well. It was later asked if fish traps could be used in these new fountains, but neither Nicole or Scott knew the answer to this.
Stairs, Pillars, Ceilings, Fences, and a Fountain
Another Fountain, Statues, Torches, and Foundations
Roofing, Banner, Carpet, and Walls
Another Cool Statue
Pillars come in three types. Single style, bottom or middle, and a top. Scott said that a modular system like this is something they have needed for a long time.
Here are gifs of the Horse Armor coming with this DLC.
The below Q/A sections are out of order, and are instead lumped together by category. I also included questions and answers that were done via chat only. Special thanks to @Testerle for his assistance in gathering all the data necessary in order to include the chat quotes.
The following features/questions were asked a lot, but Scott would only say that they are not ready to talk about them.
- The New Map/Expansion
- City System
- New Dungeons
- More Mounts
Scott joined Funcom in 2001. He started off on the Customer Support and Q/A teams. He later moved to the business and development side of Funcom when they opened the Montreal office to work on the “Secret World” MMO. Before Conan Exiles, he ran the three MMOs (Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, Secret World), and was working on an unannounced project.
Scott answered that he loves the RP community, and plays on one of the RP servers himself. He added that he feels that the Followers I and II patches work well with various RP goals.
Nicole answered that she loves RP, but she always ends up playing the same style of character.
Natascha added in chat that they love the RP community.
It’s not something that they can promise right now.
Chat Question: Will you ever have an official mod sponsorship program?
Natascha: We are looking into that.
Chat Question: Is Alex (Lead Designer for Conan Exiles) still on the project?
Funcom: Alex is still alive and kicking.
Chat Question: Who is the April “Chosen of Asura?”
Funcom: That will be revealed early next month.
Chat Question: I’m excited about the new Dune game. Is there any news about that?
Natascha: We are very excited too, but we can’t really comment on anything regarding the Dune game just yet.
Bugs, Exploits, Improvements, and Other Fixes.
They have a live team that is in charge of working on fixing exploits as they come up. It’s something they are often working on. This next Testlive update has some exploit fixes in it as well. Scott added that server optimizations was something they were working on to improve the overall player experience, which also goes along with the new official server rulesets which can be read below.
There is an anti-undermeshing system in place on Testlive right now that has been going through testing for some time. It effectively detects when somebody builds in an area they don’t want you to, and destroys it. It will also kill the player if you are in an area you aren’t supposed to be. However, it is in Testlive for a reason, as it currently produces false positives (such as hopping onto a random rock and dying from it).
It is something they are really interested in hearing back about on Testlive in particular. They increased the logging details for Testlive to gather more data on it specifically. Scott also encourages players to purposely undermesh on Testlive, and send the results to the team for them to look at. Of course when they feel this system is ready, it will be pushed to live servers. Until then, they will continue to try and improve the system and reduce the number of negative false positives. The more data they can collect, the faster this system will be implemented and improved.
As previously discussed, they have multiple teams working on different things. They have bug fixes coming out with the next update, as per usual (see previously linked patch notes). Scott added that not all bugs are created equal, as sometimes they are hard to fix, or hard to reproduce internally (crashes on consoles was a listed example). He once again added that they are currently working on optimizations and improvements for both the client and the server, on PC and consoles.
Finally, Scott said that something they have been doing since he joined the Conan Exiles team is that the feature updates revolve around a specific theme, and that many of the bug fixes are aligned with that theme as well. Ultimately, this improves specific parts of the game in both advancing features, and improvements in general.
Scott says that they are working on it right now, but it’s too early to say when exactly they will be coming back. However, he adds that it is a high priority item for him, and that they should be on official servers.
Scott says here that the first thing they need to do with the Purge, is to generally fix the Purge. They are currently working on new systems to make NPCs attack buildings more consistently. These new systems are hopefully being added after the Followers II patch. From there, they need to make sure the Purge is triggering properly on a more consistent basis. They want to make it an enjoyable PvE feature, and it is something they want to work on. Funcom just has other things they need to work on as well.
They try to fix instances of pathfinding issues when they find them.
Scott says that Armor temperature is something they are looking at, but they don’t have a date for yet. Building wise, he wasn’t quite clear on the question at the time. He thought maybe the person asking was referring to bugs in general. Scott said that they will fix bugs with the building system as they can, but added that the building system is quite complex.
They are aware of the issue, but it’s not something that will be fixed in the upcoming update. Scott encourages players to post reproduction steps if they are able to identify steps in which they are successful in having the bug repeat itself.
Chat Question: When will there be optimizations done for PS4?
Natascha: That’s an ongoing task.
Chat Question: Is the gorilla pet fixed on PS4 yet?
Hugo: It’s fixed in the upcoming patch for PS4.
New Feature Requests and DLC’s:
Before they start working on a culture based DLC, they look at what types of culture or themes they feel are lacking or missing first, based around the Conan lore. There is some Nordheimer stuff in the game now. Scott mentioned that Joel would be angry with Scott if he didn’t mention that there are no actual “Vikings” in Conan lore. They also look to see what the players want, so they encourage players to leave feedback on what they hope to see. As far as the future, it is too early to reveal what is coming next.
Nothing planned right now. Before they add new hairstyles or other character customizations, they want to give players the ability to change their character’s appearance first.
For PC users who can mod their games or servers, there is a mod called Fashionist that lets you do that now. Funcom can’t always do what other modders have done for a variety of reasons. These include lore reasons, exploits, performance, infringing on modders and what they have worked on, and etc. They do look to see what players like and use to see if there is something they can integrate, but most often comes down to time and resources to commit to new features.
Scott believes the material is set up to be tintable, and could have just been an oversight. He’ll look into it.
No plans currently.
Not right now is the current answer. Scott adds that “NPC’s in water is scary” (Multigun Note: He probably means in regards to the development side and performance).
Scott says probably not. He doesn’t believe they will work very well due to how pathfinding in water works with the engine (UE4 version 4.15).
“Don’t hold your breath,” Scott says. Ya, he went there. Though Scott did say he was a dad, so he’s allowed to get away with it.
Scott wasn’t clear on the question context. If it’s in regards to a clan faction system, his answer to that is not right now.
Scott seemed pretty eager about this question. He says that changing Thrall emotes is something they should definitely do, in particular for the RP community. Nicole added she would like to see being able to hide your helmet, along with changing Thrall dances was on her specific wish list.
Armor displays are currently not a feature of the game as Scott said that it at least partially has to do with performance reasons. Some of the armors are quite expensive, and can lead to issues if a player were to have tons of them. Scott recognizes that it is a frequent request amongst the community though.
Modding wise, there are two options available for players. Fashionist and Pythagoras (Multigun note: Since I work on Pythagoras with Testerle, I’ll note that armor displays are not where we want them to be with Pythagoras as they currently have issues. I encourage people to use Fashionist’s versions instead for the time being until Testerle and I have time to revamp Pythagoras’s versions).
Scott says he doesn’t know and isn’t familiar with the event itself, as he wasn’t involved with Conan Exiles when it launched in October of 2018. He says that if they have something, he doesn’t see why not.
Scott wasn’t really sure on this one.
Scott says “oh…I cannot say at this moment.”
Not right now. If it’s something you would like to see, make a suggestion on the forums and it will be something they will look into.
As previously mentioned, they are looking at the temperature system as a whole so it’s not as strange or punishing in the future. No plans for something like an Igloo though.
At this point, “probably not” is the answer Scott gave. Followed by Nicole’s heart shattering into a million pieces.
No plans right now.
For players on PC who can mod their games or servers, they may check out the awesome SnowstormEx mod by hades.
Nothing in the Architect of Argos DLC.
Nothing planned right now.
Neat idea, but not at this time.
Chat Question: What about boats?
Natascha: Nothing planned at the moment.
The current player population number is based on performance, and it isn’t something they are looking to change right now.
They will only increase the decay timers for specific events, such as holidays. The decay system plays an important role in maintaining server health, as the more structures there are, the more server performance degrades.
Scott says that they could look into it, but there are no current plans. Their focus right now is on the next patch, coming out on Thursday, May 7th.
Scott says possibly and that they would look into it. Nicole added that it was a good suggestion. The system is the way that is now to prevent exploits. But it’s a nice suggestion for private servers.