Running old versions of Conan

I’d like to see the ability to run prior versions of Conan, for the sanity of mod server operators. As it stands with Steam currently, you can’t run an old version of the game client. Even if you have the binaries, when you launch the .exe it will check if it’s the latest, and if it’s not, it will patch you before you can launch the game.

This behavior is fine for folks who want to play on official servers, but the mod community is hampered by it. What we’d like to be able to do is control our exact client and server versions, so that we can upgrade when we decide to.

That way, we can have a test server where we try out our mods with a new Conan patch. If it breaks stuff badly, we’ll just hold our players back on the current version of Conan until the mod authors and/or Conan itself fix their broken stuff. This ensures players never have a “broken” experience.

I am not sure if Funcom is actually able to control this behavior of Steam; if you are, please allow old Conan versions to run; if you aren’t, please petition Valve for a feature that would allow you to give players the option of running a different version of Conan.

The community can then write an out of band patcher tool that would sync the player’s Conan binaries with the server’s and allow us to stay on an older build indefinitely. This is, in fact, something that me and a friend are working on right now.

This is far preferable to crossing our fingers and then dealing with unhappy players every other week when our game breaks in arbitrary ways (some of those ways, as evidenced by the latest patch, are completely unrelated to mods and will happen even if you run zero mods).

Isn’t testlife get patches before stable game?

testlive does get pre-releases of patches before they’re rolled out to everyone on Steam. However, that doesn’t actually mean much, and isn’t a solution to the problems presented in my post at all.

In the recent patch, Funcom made some late breaking changes very soon before releasing the patch to all players. It turned out that the changes they made broke a lot of stuff, both with the vanilla game and mods. They did not give adequate time for their updates to be tested to identify these problems, so when they rolled out the patch, it really broke the game for a lot of people, both on official servers, modded servers, and singleplayer.

What I am asking for is the opportunity for server operators and players to decide if they want to switch to the latest patch or not. I am saying that we need to have a choice, when a patch rolls out, to either take that patch, or refuse it and remain on the prior version.

As it stands, this choice is not really there, because the game is so dependent on Steam that it refuses to run without automatically updating.

One way that they could support running old versions of Conan is to supply a separate “beta program” for each major patch. There is really no cost to Funcom to do this; it is a built-in part of the Steam platform. So if we tried a new patch and found that it’s broken, we could switch to the “beta branch” referring to the prior release. Don’t get caught up on the name of the feature saying “beta”; you can, in fact, use the feature for supplying old versions of the game too.