AoC fansite Assassin's Hideout recently scored an interview with the elusive developer, and it's an interesting read thanks to tidbits about the game's setting and its unique combo combat system. As for the former, Godager says that while Funcom considered many IPs -- including George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire -- the Conan property made the most sense because it lent itself to the "stylized HBO-like grown-up game" the team desired. It also helped that Robert E. Howard's Hyboria license had recently been acquired by Funcom partner Paradox.
Age of Conan's combo system is indebted to a 1993 fighting game called Samurai Showdown that served as one of Funcom's very first projects. The developers all took a fencing lesson, during which the instructor said that "all sword fighting [is] based around only six attacks. Up left, up right, straight down, down side up left, down side up right, and stab." Godager says that the explanation stuck with him and ultimately had a significant influence on MMO combat. "Look at EverQuest and draw a line to Neverwinter," he explained. "You will see Conan in there directing the speed, intensity, and flow of combat."