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Welcome back to the Anvil of Crom, dear readers. After the content explosion of the past couple of months, it seems almost strange to be relatively relaxed when it comes to Age of Conan. I'd gotten so used to scrambling around re-writing columns at the last minute -- and polishing up interviews and impression pieces -- that I had almost forgotten what it feels like to settle into a comfortable gameplay groove.

In looking around for interesting topics this week, I realized that it's been quite some time since I turned the column over to the community. So without further ado, join me after the cut to see what's on the minds of Hyborians at home and abroad as we power through the week's hot topics.

Age of Conan - AA page (and a bare-chested Demonologist)
Korea gets AA resets?

This post qualifies as the flame thread of the week, but if you look past the crying and name-calling, you'll see a very real issue that needs a better solution. In a nutshell, American and European customers have asked for alternate advancement resets for quite a while now. Funcom has steadfastly refused, so imagine the furor that resulted when fans discovered that the resets may be available in the game's Korean client.

Age of Conan game director Craig "Silirrion" Morrison weighed in on page six of the resulting thread, but unfortunately his response wasn't so much a soothing balm as it was a giant can of gasoline poured on an already hot fire. Much of the anger stems from the fact that AA points are relatively tedious to acquire, and they're also necessary for competing at endgame. It follows, then, that if Funcom made sweeping changes to class balance (which it recently did), then it should allow players a free respec. Not only is Funcom denying the respec, but it is also hinting at charging for it should it ever become available.

"It [the respec] is not something we see as necessary given the ongoing nature of AA gain, but in terms of adding it as an option for those that really want it -- in the shape of a store inventory item -- then yes, we may consider adding that in future," Morrison said.

Put another way: Keep grinding guys; you'll eventually get the functionality back that you ground for already.

That said, I do sympathize with Funcom's position a tiny bit, since the devs are clearly more interested in working on new content than on worrying about what might happen if mass AA resets became a reality. From a player perspective, it's easy to say "just spend 10 minutes and add the code," but doing so may impact other systems in undesirable ways.

Age of Conan - hey look, more armor that we can't make yet
Tell us about tradeskills

You didn't really think I was going to go a full week without mentioning the tradeskill revamp, did you? Anyway, another contender for both the longest and the most flame-inducing thread is a little ditty that implores Funcom to describe the upcoming tradeskill revamp. Though the first page or so is your typical AoC forum mud-slinging contest, there are some good points to be found lurking in the bowels of the 19-page (as of press time) threadnaught.

Chief among them are the fact that harvesting is as problematic as the lame crafting implementation (particularly the drop rates on "common" items like leather) and the fact that there is no in-game economy to speak of. Stop me if you've heard this before...

Silirrion weighs in here again, this time with a reiteration of the fact that this will be a big deal. He also makes a pretty sensible plea for patience:
If things go as intended this will be a major revamp, and we have not been holding back. This is intended to provide a major change to the system, not just tweaking and poking of the original one. It will be a while before we go into the details, but the work is in progress. It is a lot of work to do properly, and we do want to do it justice so that it becomes a good, solid, tradeskill system that offers some depth and fun for those that like to create as well as destroy.
And there was much rejoicing.

Age of Conan - zomg PvP
Hardcore PvP servers stagnating?

Moving over to the European forums for a moment: A user named rawconan asks why people have stopped playing on the Rage server (which is the Euro equivalent of the American Deathwish shard, if you're wondering). The responses are pretty predictable, and whether you're talking about a reluctance to go through AoC's post-80 AA grind a second, third, or even fourth time or social concerns like friends not wanting to reroll, it seems like the end result is a bit of a declining population on the hardcore PvP shards.

Suggested solutions include adding actual PvP content (rather than simply removing guards and adding limited corpse-looting options) and adjusting the grind. It's also a commonly held belief that the lion's share of AoC PvP takes place in minigames regardless of your preferred server type, and several users note the fact that the game's PvE servers have much higher minigame populations than the FFA shards.

This hearkens back to a concern I had when the subject of Blood and Glory was first broached, and it seems as if AoC's PvP community is in fact quite small. Unfortunately for Funcom and its few remaining PvP die-hards, separating the PvPers by server in this manner has only made that community look even smaller. The lack of open-world PvP objectives conspires to funnel players into the same PvE activities that can be had on the normal servers, and all the FFA PvP does is provide opportunities to be ganked, griefed, and otherwise inconvenienced while you're trying to PvE.

Don't get me wrong -- I think a dedicated hardcore PvP shard is a great idea. This particular recipe needs a bit more time in the oven, though, as well as a few more meaningful ingredients.

And that's about all I have for you this week. While those three topics are pretty high up on the community's list of concerns right now, they're by no means all-inclusive. If there's something else AoC-related that you'd like to discuss, let me know in the comments.

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Jef Reahard is an Age of Conan beta and launch day veteran as well as the creator of Massively's weekly Anvil of Crom. Feel free to suggest a column topic, propose a guide, or perform a verbal fatality via jef@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
Global Chat: October 2-8, 2011