Funcom Full Youtube Link (Starts at 8:00): 12/12/19 - Written Summary
Hello everybody. Apologies for the delay in the stream recap, I’ve been dealing with some sick stuff, so it slowed me down a bit today. Thanks to @Wak4863 for helping me out today, I am very grateful for his assistance.
Here is the written recap for the latest stream. I apologize for the wall of text, since this was a Q/A stream, there wasn’t a lot of visuals to help break it up. As usual, if something during the stream was covered, mentioned, hinted, or any other thing of substance, I will have it written here to the best of my ability.
Today’s Funcom Staff Sightings were:
- Jens - Community Manager - on stream
- Alex - Lead Designer - on stream
- Joel Bylos - Chief Creative Officer - Seen in twitch chat
- Andy B - Community Manager - Seen in twitch chat
- Funcom Tag - Probably a Natascha’s, Ignasis’s, and/or Nicole’s
Today’s stream focus was about mailbag questions, though a good portion of the time was having Alex fully explain the reasonings behind the new movement mechanics, how they are listening to the players, and how they want to improve communication in the future.
A day after the stream, the PC patch was also released.
With that, onto today’s summary!
Alex found himself in another universe today from his usual station in Norway. Also known as North Carolina in the United States. He spent today’s stream doing so remotely while Jens handled things from the Norway side of things.
One of the very first things Alex mentions is that Funcom isn’t, and doesn’t want to be perceived as a corporate monolith that doesn’t listen. Feedback has, and continues to be important to the development of Conan Exiles.
Movement Changes Stuff
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Funcom has received a great deal of feedback (across all social media platforms) of what players think about the new acceleration changes. A great deal of the dev stream today was in response to that feedback.
Below is my summary of Alex’s explanation into all of it. But I fully encourage players to click the available timestamps to listen to Alex’s explanations for themselves, as I believe the information given is best heard from the source himself in this instance.
Alex also said a few times during the stream that he is writing a document for both the dodge and acceleration changes that will be released at a later date. This document will go into further detail about the design changes and the why.
In combat, when you commit to an attack, you are largely locked into that animation until a certain point. The opposing player is able to freely move during this process to a high degree. Players with good to very good latency to the servers, even more so. The combat experience between a player with 30 ms latency versus another with 100 ms latency can be significant.
The result of that, prior to the Riders of Hyboria patch, was that players could combat groups of other players by themselves. Alex used an example of 1 player versus 10 players. The one player obviously is very experienced in using the available game systems in this example. Alex believes that, while the one player is probably having a fun gaming experience, the 10 other players are probably not. Funcom has to look at the experience of the 11 people as a whole, and weigh that entertainment value. With the movement changes, the PvP experience is now more skewed towards favoring the group of players, rather than the individual.
Alex later talks more about this 1 versus 10, or 1 versus 5 dynamic. He once again clarifies the point that Funcom needs to look at the overall gaming experience, and not so skewed towards the individual as it was before. He said that the cause of that to begin with was Funcom did not do a good enough job of providing the tools necessary for handling the individual. That is through a combination of mechanics, systems, and often (as Alex puts it) bad oversight on Funcom’s part.
Before the changes to the movement feature, Alex argued that the previous system made it so that players were never really in a great amount of danger in PvE. At any point, you can turn around, and run away from the fight without consequence (save for a couple of isolated examples, like being stuck against a wall or collision).
And players are of course used to this. A previous change that Funcom did a long time ago, was that they added snare to Hyenas. The result of that was a lot of feedback that came back from players of their inability to run across the Exile lands safely. Conan Exiles isn’t meant to be a safe game, which this is the first of a few times that Alex brings up this point. Alex goes on to say that it is unfortunate that was the system they had in place for such a long time and players have grown so accustomed to.
When a player is (or was) able to be this safe in PvE combat, Alex argues that it devalues the PVE content. It also challenges the idea of the amount of worth it is in developing new PVE Content when it’s so easily navigable to counter, or even exploited.
Players of course, are used to this system and how it’s been in place for so long. Alex begins to explain how when they make design choices such as the acceleration changes, it can lead to a lot of push back. Alex recognizes that though, if he was only a player, he would play the game in the exact same way. Players naturally follow the path of least resistance.
It sounds a bit heavy handed in the way Alex is trying to explain his point, but it’s more about his frustrations of the failure of Funcom on implementing balance into the game in ways that makes it challenging and enjoyable. He wants to change how they have handled that goal up to this point, and knows they have the responsibility of rectifying it.
Funcom knows that the economy isn’t equal in terms of gathering rates and production. Alex used Black Ice gathering as an example. How this relates to the movement changes is that by slowing down the rapid movements of the player, it also translates to slower gathering.
Alex admits that their approach to the three pillar issues discussed was too heavy handed. He further says that Funcom “absolutely failed” at communicating the intent of the changes and their purpose. Later on as he was concluding his thoughts, he also said that the acceleration changes alone wouldn’t be enough to address all the issues he brought up. That will require more thinking, planning, and a term he used frequently throughout the stream, a lot less hammer and more use of the scalpel when they do implement changes.
Alex talked a little about the history of the game, and how it’s history clashes with itself. Conan Exiles was once a First Person combat game. Now, Conan Exiles is more of what you would come to expect out of a Dark Souls type game. The two systems are nearly polar opposites, and as Conan Exiles continues to evolve, the old clashes with the new.
Jens discusses here on the changes that they are implementing based on player feedback, and shown during the stream. If you are currently jogging, the build up to a full sprint is much quicker than the current system allows. There is also a smaller buildup from a standstill to a full sprint, along with very little hesitation from a standstill to a jog.
Here are some gifs from the stream of the acceleration changes coming in the next patch.
Overall, they are making the system less restrictive to the player. Alex once again says that they used too large of a hammer, and are responding to the feedback that’s been coming in. They do feel though that, overall, the acceleration changes are what’s best for the game. Funcom recognizes the shock that it caused in the community, and recognizes their failure at communicating the changes.
On that note, Alex briefly brings up plans to address economy balance in the near future. It will be done so, like the acceleration changes, for the betterment of the game.
The main point for bringing that up the upcoming Economy change is Alex recognizes the players don’t know this, because Funcom hasn’t told anybody. Alex explains that they are often trying to implement so many new changes or features, that they “almost always fail to preemptively communicate things they would like to change.” Alex mentioned Firespark and his feedback about Funcom’s inability to properly communicate, and Alex agreed with it.
Now, a failure to communicate isn’t because Funcom doesn’t want to. The biggest reason for this mistake is that they don’t always know if a feature or change is going to make it into the final build, until it is in the final build before the patch. Sometimes things break, or features don’t make it in. If Alex said that the Economy changes were coming in next month, and then it didn’t, Funcom would be at risk angering the players in that capacity too.
However, Alex called this a big learning experience. He said that going forward they will go out of their way to be more openly communicative to the playerbase of upcoming or new changes they would like to add. Alex does recognize there could be a risk whereby, a change doesn’t occur and he is called a “liar” for that, but it sounds like he is willing to accept that.
Alex briefly mentions they are going to add server settings options to allow private server admin’s to control the settings. Even so much as disabling the acceleration completely. There aren’t any other details at this time to provide on that setting feature.
They also might consider doing different settings for different official servers. It’s an idea that hasn’t fully formed and hasn’t been discussed internally. But as an example, do PvE servers need the same settings as PvP? Maybe, maybe not.
Based on player feedback, they are lowering the cost of Trebuchet boulders from 250 stone, to 150 stone.
At (47:20), Alex mentions that Fire Barrage a bit more useful by pulling it’s damage up a little bit so it’s more comparable to the resource investment.
Then Alex went into a discussion into the build times and the feedback they got about how long it takes to build a Trebuchet now. They didn’t want players to be able to run around, immediately build a Trebuchet, and attack another player’s base with little consequence. This gives a defender time to prepare and retaliate with the build times increased to an hour minimum.
As far as why they did this to the Trebuchet, and not something like explosive jars, it comes down to resource cost. Explosive jars are more expensive to build, versus the Trebuchet resource cost is relatively small (he added that Explosive Jars are another problem they need to address but would talk about in another stream). For the Trebuchet, they felt it was better to make sure the player commits to building a Trebuchet, rather then just inflating the construction cost.
Alex concludes the discussion by saying that there are some other issues with the Economy, but would leave that for another stream.
Prior to the Riders of Hyboria patch, dodge wasn’t useful enough in PvP when wearing Heavy Armor. Which meant nobody used heavy armor. Light armor dodge was so much better than medium, that nobody used medium armor. Light armor even had iframes throughout the entire dodge, making it so you were completely invulnerable during its use. That, along with being able to travel great distances, allowed players to get out of danger with little effort.
Then, you add in the new mount system. Alex talked about how they could have just created mounts, gave them a buff, added a speed boost, and called it a day. And that would have, fairly, been poorly received by the playerbase. Funcom wanted to make a meaningful mount system, nor would it deliver on the immersion or the experience that the players would want. Having the dodge system as it was, “radically devalues” the mount system (a keystone feature as Alex called it) that was added in for the Riders of Hyborian patch.
Thus, to make dodging an engaging system, and to give it the proper roles for each armor set, dodge had to be scaled back. Each armor type has a different set of iframes. Heavy armor having the least amount, medium in the middle, and light having the most. They wanted to give players the ability to customize their playstyle through itemization, and progression. Which is why they linked the agility stat to the dodge system.
Alex debated on getting into the deep details of the dodge system, but Jens felt like it was time to move onto the mailbag questions.
They can’t talk about an if or when about upcoming major feature updates.
No comment other than that it exists.
Multigun Comment: I tried to look for it in the dev kit, but nothing stood out to me. Sorry @Shadoza , I tried.
Jens wanted to mention a few things in particular that they know about and are working on (list is not complete, just what was mentioned on stream).
- Xbox Crashing
- Arrow Armor Penetration Issues
- Paperdoll Issues on the PS4
- Stables breakdown resources
The Decay system is meant to control and demolish unused buildings that players do not use. Does it work fully? Alex would argue no because of things like foundation spamming. The intent of the Purge is to give players meaningful, challenging content to create usefulness of their buildings and forts.
Alex doesn’t believe the Purge in its current capacity achieves that objective. Alex again alludes to stuff they may or may not be working on that they can’t talk about that touches the Purge and systems like the Purge. Further discussion will be left for another stream or blog post.
Dragging Thralls by a Horse is something Alex really wants. They tried to implement it, but it proved to be problematic. Alex doesn’t know when it will be done, but he absolutely wants to do it.
Thralls on horseback is a different matter entirely. Alex talked about the problems with the AI in its current state. Spending energy on adding Thralls on horseback now would be a misuses of energy if they ignore the other issues with the AI first. He recognizes the fun in having that implemented, but there are more pressing issues that need to be handled.
There were some technical difficulties to implementing this to begin with. But Alex defined those issues as low key, and that they should implement that as a feature in the future.
Before Conan Exiles, the dev team hadn’t ever worked on an Unreal Engine based game. It was also, as previously discussed in the stream, a different game then where Exiles is today. Thus, the company as a whole learned to work with the engine and the technology as they have worked on the game. What that means today is, the decisions they made back in the early days, is “arguably considered bad decisions in terms of implementation of certain features.”
To fix those issues, it’s expensive. Alex uses BasePlayCharacter and AB_human_male blueprints, which are viewable to modders in the dev kit, as examples. They could spend 3 months working on improving them, but that means no other new features are made. Is it worth it? Well, maybe, as far as long term betterment of the game. But it doesn’t translate to a near future feature that players would benefit from.
Alex gave a shout-out to the coder who pushed the hardest for mounts, Paul. Paul, along with designers, other coders, artists, and etc, had to change a lot in order for mounts to work and feel right. Because of the legacy issues, a lot of things had to radically change. To say the least, this was a very difficult challenge for the team.
Alex didn’t want to define it as cuts. He talked about the movement changes, and how they want to change their approach with having less hammer, more scalpel. An example he came up with is implementation of a new change or feature, that is disabled in a server setting, and invite players to try and experiment with it on. Then have those players relay feedback later.
Alex has what he calls, a pet-hate of that perk in particular. He explains that it’s generally something that players like, but generally speaking, not very good for the game. Alex would personally like to change that perk altogether.
Instead of making the perk available on mounts, he thinks there should be specific mounts or saddles that are balanced for transportation and harvesting.
Alex ends the discussion on that the progression system is something else they should be looking at in the near future as far as changes that need to be made in order to make it more engaging.
Currently not on the books. They could do it, but they need to evaluate it’s value compared to other features they are doing and want to do for the game. Right now, it’s a lower priority.
They are working on it, and will have it out soon ™ .
Now for the Alex kind of answer. When they were working on Mounts, they had to cut (temporary or otherwise) certain features (and sometimes uncut them) in order to get everything out in time. Lances and Bows were at one point, on the cutting block because they didn’t think they would get them done in time. So the Dev Team crunched, and worked extremely hard, to get them added to the game.
Alex says that some stuff happened, and that they have some plans, but aren’t allowed to talk about those plans. But he says that one of the things that can most benefit the game is having a look at the AI, and that they will. On the when, Alex can’t say because he honestly doesn’t know. He hopes it will be soon, but he doesn’t know.
No, it is subject to change. They are looking for feedback, and want to experiment with the system as it evolves, and see where that takes them.
Are there any kind of inherent technical restrictions in regards to armor itemization and how the system was designed, specifically temperature resistances and bonus stats, that would make it too unwieldy to make them more customizable (i.e. using two types of lining to make a heat/cold resist version of any given armor style)? (43:11)
Alex says that some cool stuff is happening with the temperature system, for another feature they may or may not be working on.
Additional properties for armors is something Alex calls a slippery slope. He uses weapons having perks, like many other games use, as an example. Does Conan Exiles want to add the same? On one hand, Alex says, it’s interesting. But on the other, is it really Conan Exiles, that is meant to be a survival sandbox game. It’s something that is discussed, and is a constant challenge to go up the ladder of making items more and more interesting.
As far as technical difficulties of adding something like perks to weapons, there isn’t anything technical holding them back. The things holding them back would be the price of development, the theoretical return value of the feature to the playerbase.
Alex believes that presenting too much information to the player can turn the game into something else. For example, he personally likes to explore the system for himself to figure out tricks and hidden gems.
Alex said that there may be such a hidden game that people may or may not find, using a potion they may or may not know about. That said, off the top of his head, he doesn’t believe there are any hidden features that will have a great impact on a person’s followers.
Not currently. Does Alex want to do that? Yes. Is it expensive to do? Absolutely. Are they going to do it soon? He really hopes so, but he doesn’t know.
Conan originally didn’t have a progression system to start. It was added in, and Alex says that they haven’t really, fully, looked over it since. For a Fighter, Accuracy doesn’t do a whole lot. For the player, Accuracy affects crosshair accuracy. In mounted combat, Accuracy on a Horse in combination with the players Accuracy will make hitting targets easier.
As far as the original question, Alex got sidetracked, as you can tell.
For the immediate upcoming patch, that is unlikely to happen. They do have a plan for a feature that will resolve some of these types of situations, but not in the immediate future.
Speaking of the upcoming patch, Alex has his fingers crossed that it will be out before the new year.
Alex says that he will investigate that question, as he doesn’t know off the top of his head.
While Jens hunted for the next question (pun intended), Alex talked about his recent experience of shooting guns while he has been in the United States. Jens also chimed in with a small story of his time in the Norweigen Army. Give the timestamp a click if you want to hear about how Alex received a shell casing burn mark.
Alex has to actively avoid having chocolate in the house, otherwise he will eat it all.
Jens said there will be more Q/A streams in the future, as they feel it’s an important way to engage with players. Alex adds that they don’t live in a bubble, and that they do read the forums, they do play the game, and they do watch videos of the game, in particular one’s that make fun of them.