Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is one of the most bloodstained MMOs on the market - and fiercely loved by its community.
Since its release in 2008, the title has has evolved to attract a dedicated fanbase - despite some trouble on the way - with developer Funcom receiving wide acclaim for pulling off a very ambitious project.
This year sees the release of expansion pack Rise Of The Godslayer. Set in the Eastern empire of Khitai - a mysterious setting within the world of Hyboria - ROTG promises a wealth of new features. The pack also introduces the Khitan - an all-new character race.
CVG caught up with Funcom Game Director Craig Morrison to get the full story...
What's been the biggest challenge and the most satisfying parts of working on Rise of the Godslayer?
The challenge is most definitely the scope and size of the expansion. This is a major addition to the game, and has been in production for over a year.
Personally it is the largest production implementation I have lead, so everything that comes with that has been a challenge, I think though that the result will be worth all that effort. The team have crafted a really believable and interesting expansion to our existing content that I think players will enjoy.
REH's The Tower of Elephant has been mentioned as a major influence on Godslayer, but in the original Conan stories not a lot else is written about that land. How difficult has it been to fill in those blanks? What other Conan source material have you been able to draw on?
It's true that the original tales only very briefly sketched out Khitai and that is part of what was appealing in approaching it. Having more of a blank slate as it were allowed us to craft a new world while keeping the elements of Howard's world that make it resonate so long after it was originally described.
The Khitai we have created for the expansion is every bit as dark, dangerous and filled with intrigue as the original settings. So we have kept focusing back on those core tenants of Howard's lore, and his disdain for how easily society is corrupted. Khitai is the perfect example of an empire on the road to ruin.
Will the legendary Black Lotus play a role in Rise?
Yes, it's a fairly important backdrop to the story of one of the factions in the game. We couldn't go to Khitai without mentioning it... Players might even find that some of that factions rewards have a distinctly 'lotus-imbued' flavour to them.
You've also drawn quite heavily on Chinese and Korean mythology to influence the expansion, how has that fed in? What kind of places, creatures and magic have been plundered for Rise?
The beauty of Howard's world was that it was loosely based on our own history, so we were able to immediately draw on elements like the great wall in China, the Mongolian inspiration behind the Hyrkanians and the ancient temples and scared sites in Korea. I think the team have done a wonderful job bringing those inspirations to life in Khitai.
You've talked a little about some of the early dungeons like Pillars of Heaven, but what other major dungeon challenges await Rise adventurers?
I don't want to spoil too much for the players, but each of the gameplay regions beyond the Gateway to Khitai each has a selection of encounters.