CONAN EXILES – a journey into a virtual Hyborian Age of possibilities

Funcom, the creators of the award winning MMO Age of Conan have done it again. Their dedication to the Hyborian Age and the CONAN license is at this point no secret to Robert E. Howard fans, and they have a track record to pushing Conan to new audiences. Their newest creation CONAN EXILES, a survival type game in the vein of ARK, Rust and even Minecraft entered into Early Access on Steam today!

All would be barbarians be warned though, Early Access is not for the faint of heart. It’s a step into an unfinished version of the game, a version that will twist and turn and change with each update. Depending on your view, this can be a thrilling and interesting experience or a frustrating one, with server wipes (where your progress can be lost), broken characters and the like.

But if you are like us and you can’t wait to explore the newest virtual iteration of the Hyborian Age by Funcom’s creative minds we say: Crom laughs at your bugs! Bring ’em on and we’ll slay them together.

Conan Exiles drops something big!

The newest trailer from Funcom’s survival game Conan Exiles has dropped on Youtube and across the web. It shows more impressive scenes from the recently visual upgrade Conan Exiles received after having run roughly on basic Unreal Engine shaders since the beginning of the development. It certainly paid of and the game seems to coming to its own.

Aside from general combat in glorious slow-mo, flying limbs, spraying blood and all that jazz, it shows something huge. A metal figure stands up tall and huge, walks through walls and seems to battle some other giant snake curling around a temple. We can only make an educated guess, that this is an avatar of Mitra fighting a giant personification of Set the Great Snake.

Animations still seems to be a bit rough, but the game is still Pre-Alpha so there is ample time to polish those some more. Overall the game looks like a lot of fun already and I personally can’t wait to check it out in January 2017, the timeframe Funcom plans to start their Early Access program on Steam for Conan Exiles.

Conan 2d20 rules introduction with an animated story video

The Kickstarter campaign for Mödiphius’ Conan 2d20 Roleplaying has been on a roll since it’s beginning, barbariously slaying stretch goals left and right. But we felt something was missing from the campaign, a visual introduction to the quick and savage rules of the Conan 2d20 system. To illustrate the world aspect of the Hyborian Age we’ve used Screenshots from the first quest of the MMORPG Age of Conan, animated and underpinned by a narrator telling a short story.

If you were still on the fence about the project because of the rules, check out this video and you’ll get an easy, visual grasp of how simple the rules really are in practice compared to how complex they sound on paper. We hope you also enjoy the short video and leave us a comment on the video.

Explore a world undreamed of – CONAN RPG

It has been a while since we heard news from the Conan RPG front since Mongoose lost the license to make Conan RPG products and Modiphius got the rights to take over. They had to push the start of their Kickstarter a couple of times, because they wanted to get it right from the start. Judging by the rooster of talented people working on the project now, they certainly did. Now their Kickstarter for the Conan RPG has started!

3803344_origSimply titled CONAN, this project is one of the most ambitious and well set up RPG projects we’ve seen to date on Kickstarter. An impressive list of incredible art talent, combined with a list of established and experienced RPG writers – some of which have already shown their passion for Conan working on the Mongoose titles, like Vincent Darlage – bodes well for all supporters of the Kickstarter campaign.

Unique is their approach to product design. Instead of doing the well known approach of releasing a sourcebook, that holds all the core classes and stuff to start the game and later extending the universe with regional sourcebooks, they’ve chosen to create sourcebooks – of course there is one central sourcebook that is all you need to start playing – based on the careers that Conan went through in his own life. A thief, a reaver, a slayer is what players will also be able to be in their adventures; all sourcebooks supporting, explaining and furthering a certain type of gameplay, from thievery, piracy, military to being a king by their own making. This twist to product design has us intrigued.

conan_black_colossus_rpg_game_cover_by_liamsharp-d9ra8mj

Another central design philosophy is the focus on Robert E. Howard’s Conan exclusively. They aim to construct their world, their stories, adventures and regional descriptions as closely as possible to existing REH material and extending only from that base, instead of using the plethora of pastiche, that has been created over the past decades. This approach was chosen not only as a sign of respect for the author’s creation, but also to create a cohesive world, harking back to one solid, core idea and tone, which made Howard’s stories so great and his character so interesting.

If you’ve read this far, it should come as no surprise that The Hoard is ours 😉

A first glimpse into a much bigger world

Yesterday Funcom announced that they are going to build an open-world survival game set in the time of the Hyborian Age. Today they’ve already talked to IGN about Conan Exiles, giving them some more exclusive information on the details and the structure of the experience, that Early Access players will be able to experience in the coming summer.

Naturally the details are still vague and sound grandiose, but that is to be expected in a game, that is trying to carve its niche and build the hype for Conan Exiles Early Access release. Here are the bullet points we’ve extracted from the well written piece on IGN:

The World

  • Conan will only be in the game at the beginning, setting/leading the players into the patch of land that is the game world
  • The game world is not part of the known Hyborian Kingdoms
  • It stretches from Cimmeria to Stygian lands (with jungles and other areas in between)
  • The map will be 53 square kilometers big (twice as big as Skyrim) and grow from there
  • There will be old ruins and mysteries
  • Nudity will take place

The Crafting

  • Players will be able to craft buildings and items inspired by different Hyborian Age cultures
  • Different buildings will use different materials found in the different areas of the game world
  • Focus on freedom, you can build anything, anywhere, but it will be harder – due to different resources available for “unfitting” types of buildings

The Combat

  • Fast paced, supposedly First Person with an external Third Person view existing
  • Bloody and brutal
  • Focus on production values of the combat (animations, sound etc.)
  • With something like combos, but not Age of Conans combat system

New to the survival genre

  • Gods gameplay mechanic – sacrifice players on the altar of the different gods to gain advantages
  • NPCs attacking this “border kingdom” from the outside trying to purge the up comers
  • Storytelling through items, locations and mystery (comparison: Dark Souls)

The Tech

  • Servers can be configured by the hosts in detail
  • Most likely Unreal Engine (we guessed that ourselves from the screenshots)

All in all we think these details outline the potential for a great open world game. One that might even achieve, what none of the myriads that live in the harsh worlds of Steams Early Access have done: longevity. Most of the games there ride a hype wave, drag players with them and when the boredom kicks in they wander to the next game.

We can only hope that Funcom has the game design chops to solve the dark mystery of the Second Day Problem, that plagues all the Indie titles. Crom, I’ve never prayed to you before… and because I don’t want you to ruin the game out of anger, I will not start now. Leave the game alone, let the game designers carve their own niche with the strength you’ve given them at birth. Make it so! (I hope we have enough movie references in this article to make everyones eyes roll)

Conan takes care of future exiles!

Funcom, the company behind the acclaimed MMORPG Age of Conan, has announced that they are working on a new game in the Hyborian Age, featuring our most favorite barbarian: Conan. In Conan Exiles, the players takes on the role of a survivor in a barbaric wasteland. The game very much sounds like a more brutal version of ARK – a famous open world survival game and this guy couldn’t be happier about the news.

If you are not familiar with those types of games, they are mostly about the experience of being thrown into a – usually – unforgiving world, that you have to survive against all odds to succeed. Your character starts off as a fragile, often naked, understaffed, nameless creature in a random place of a virtual world. You have to fend for yourself, fight off increasingly more difficult enemies and harvest resources to basically survive. That is the jist of almost all survival games (Savage Lands, The Forst, ARK and even Minecraft, although it’s technically not only a survival game).

Most of those games were inspired by Minecraft, which offers much more than the sub genre of survival games, but its core design is what brought the sub genre – by now a genre itself – to live.

Conan Exiles now wants to bring a barbarian perspective to the table, and I am sure will also sprinkle the otherwise very free form open-world game with pieces of lore and background – why else would you make a game based in such an amazingly detailed and rich world without using some of its splendor.

The first screenshots and an introductory trailer look pretty good and my wild guess would be, that they are using the Unreal Engine, just like they did with their other MMORPG spin-off The Park. The game is supposedly coming to PC and consoles in the summer of 2016 and I am sure, I will meet many of you on the sandy hills of Conan Exiles, to SURVIVE. BUILD. DOMINATE. *wink*

Honest interview with Fredrick Malmberg (CEO Conan Properties Holder)

Howard enthusiast, author and general nice guy extraordinaire Patrice Louinet got together for an interview with the newly crowned CEO of all things Robert E. Howard and all things Conan – Fredrik Malmberg. Mr. Malmberg was once the CEO of Paradox Entertainment, the company that held the rights to Robert E. Howard’s works and was the mother company of Conan Inc. He also was one of the producers of the Conan The Barbarian film from 2011 and was involved in the creation of several prestigious Conan licensed projects like the new line of Dark Horse Comics and the MMORPG Age of Conan.

The goal of the interview was to get down and dirty with the facts of the newly formed Cabinet Holdings – that took over the REH rights from Paradox – and their plans for our beloved Barbarian. Patrice couldn’t help but to wink at TheArnoldFans reporting every second week that the film Legend of Conan will finally happen. Thankfully Mr. Malmberg was quoted in full and we have a definite – albeit vague – answer on the state of the film.

Fred Malmberg: The fans are really supportive of the idea of this new Conan film, and have been since we announced it almost two years ago. Until we have a greenlight from the studio, there are no solid facts as we are still in the development phase. The script needs to be finished. Of course the whole team behind this project is working really hard to make it happen. That includes my producing partner Chris Morgan and his entire team, Arnold and his people, as well as Jeff Kirschenbaum and Universal who have been big supporters from the start.

It gives me hope to see Mr. Malmberg up and about with the license, because even though I wasn’t the biggest supporter of the 2011 Conan the Barbarian with Khal Drogo – Jason Momoa – as Conan, I see a genuine interest in the works of Robert E. Howard in his actions and I hope that he will succeed in his quest not only to build a strong, sellable Conan license, but also in bringing to life a pre-ancient Hyborian Age in all kinds of formats, that we all yearn for.

Arnold Conan movie script is finished!

According to TheArnoldFans.com, the new Conan film has taken the next step to becoming a reality. One of the producers and Conan license holder Fredrik Malmberg told TheArnoldFans that the newest iteration of the script – which already had three different writers assigned to it – was met with great excitement at the production company Universal. There is no shooting date set yet, but understandably Mr. Malmberg wants to start earlier rather than later. Although Arnold recently said in an interview about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s future plans, that he is not sure to have time to film it this fall as it was planned by the studio.

The film officially has no director assigned to it yet, nor is there an official shooting date planned. According to different sources there has been location scouting in Spain, NewZealand, Colombia and other locations, but since Universal has experienced scouts, it is hard to tell where the movie will ultimately take place. The original Conan the Barbarian from 1982 was shot all across Spain, utilizing the unique aspects of the landscape and even some medieval cities as the background for model extended scenes (entry of the first city Conan and Subotai enter after he has freed him from his shackles).

At this point the talks of a great script have been going on for more than two years and it is hard to tell if this is just yet another interview of the producers trying to keep the hopes up and the excitement pumped so the studio doesn’t lose hope or interest in the projects realization, or if they really reached a level of script quality where the project can be fast tracked and be on its way. As usual with Hollywood there is a lot of speculation and it will be some time until we have official word on if, when and how the project will come to live.

On a related note: Check out this well done Conan The Barbarian fan film from the eastern part of Europe! We would like to seem more honest efforts like this to bring our favorite Barbarian to the albeit smaller screen. Keep them coming guys!

Conan is dead. Long live Conan.

It feels like it was yesterday when we left the cinema wondering, if we would ever see another Conan film again. While Momoa as Conan did a pretty good job, the vehicle he was transported in left most of the movie goers wanting. The movie was unsuccessful and a sequel was not to be expected. The rights fell back to Paradox.

A couple of days ago a rumour started circling around. The former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told an interviewer, that he would be pursuing the Conan role again, a role that was dear to his heart, since it kickstarted his world fame as a movie star in Hollywood. Heated discussions abound in the Robert E. Howard fan circles if this was a good thing, a bad thing, disastrous or maybe even a chance.

The uncertainty is over. It is official: Arnold Schwarzenegger will again slip into the tight pants of Conan the Cimmerian, a hero invented in the 1930’s by american author Robert E. Howard. This time around it will tell the story of Conan as the aged king.

“The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make,” Malmberg told me. “It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.”

Many of the details that are connected to the movie are still uncertain. One of the producers could very well be the writer of the movie, since he – Chris Morgan, writer of Fast and the Furious – is not only passionate about producing the epic, but also has a heightened interest in the franchise itself and considers it his dream project. It remains to be seen how many cues the movie will take from Robert E. Howard in comparison to the 1981 movie, which deviated from the original character, world and story quite a bit.

We will keep you posted on the details of the project right here.

Age of Conan: Unchained – The Hyborian Age MMORPG goes free-to-play

Hello fellow Conan movie fans (Waldgeist here :))! Since Funcom will be releasing a movie tie-in for the upcoming Conan Movie, I thought it would be a good opportunity to inform you, that Funcom has changed the business model for the MMORPG Age of Conan and renamed it to Age of Conan: Unchained. It’s now a hybrid model with an item-shop and a free-to-play component!

Funcom has been working together with Lionsgate to promote the movie and they’ve been likewise pointing people to the virtual version of the Hyborian Age, so I’d thought I’d share this little fact with you too, just in case you want to jump in and try Age of Conan: Unchained and be ready for the Savage Coast of Turan movie-tie in later this year, to follow in the footsteps of Movie-Conan to the land of Turan, to meet characters from the movie some twenty years later.

A little teaser for you: our very own Taranaich has also sent out a couple of questions to the Funcom Team about the movie-tie in, which we hope to get back after the summer break (some time in August).