Eurogamer: What do you think about where Age of Conan is today, three years after launch?
Craig Morrison: We're really happy with how things are going. We went through a fairly rocky period after the game's launch, but the Rise of the Godslayer expansion we released last year was very well received by the players and brought people back to the game. MMOs mature; you get to add more content, address issues. It becomes easier to retain customers because there's more content and there are more things for them to do.
We're in a good place, and the movie puts us in a perfect place to raise the profile of the game.
Eurogamer: Are the Age of Conan servers full?
Craig Morrison: It depends which server you look at: some populations we consider very healthy and exactly where we want them. Some are above and then there are always one or two for whatever reason... It's the same with any MMO that runs multiple dimensions: not all the servers have the populations of the others.
Eurogamer: Why didn't you develop a full expansion to tie into the Age of Conan film?
Craig Morrison: We already had a very, very busy schedule. We're in the middle of a content push, and by the end of this month we'll have done six new dungeons in the last three months, including a full revamp of the crowd control abilities and faction progression. We already have a very full plate. And we wanted to do something for the movie. But we also knew that we couldn't do all the improvements that we wanted alongside a fully-fledged expansion pack on the side. We'd have to shut down everything else and only focus on that. And we really didn't want to do that. We wanted to provide content to tie into the movie and be able to do the constant updates and the tweaks and the fixes the players want.
"We're in a good place, and the movie puts us in a perfect place to raise the profile of the game."
This adventure pack has something for everyone: a large outdoor playfield, solo instances, team instances and raids, all linked by a unified story. And it ties into the characters from the movie and also a couple of Robert E. Howard's books.
Eurogamer: The new solo instance - what's that called?
Craig Morrison: We're still working on which of the different instances we'll open to teams and solo. There are three main instances that we're doing. One is called The Dead Man's Hand, which is an island infested with pirates. The second one is called The Island of the Iron Statues, which Conan fans will actually know from the lore and from Howard's original stories. It's actually one of the only locations in Howard's writing where Conan almost met his death. That's probably the dungeon that will end up as the solo instance, because it's a very cool storytelling narrative.
One of the solo instances will be maximum level, which means you'll need to be level 80 to do it. One of them will be an auto-content generation dungeon (an ACG), which adjusts to the level of the player.
Eurogamer: The new raid instance - what's that called?
Craig Morrison: This will take place in a temple location: The Temple of Elric in Ardesia. That will involve the storyline where players meet Ela-Shan, the master thief that Conan uses as an ally in the movie. The players will be catching up with him and going through quests as part of the solo play in the outdoor playfield. The raid is the end of the conspiracy at the end of the questline.
Eurogamer: Who or what is the final boss of this raid? Does it tie into the film?
Craig Morrison: It's actually a surprise for the players. It's a nice treat for fans of the Conan lore. It's tied to Howard's original stories. We're taking an old enemy that Conan faced and placing it in a different context. It'll be a cool discovery at the end.