Hey everyone! It’s mid-March already (time sure does fly) and we’ve been preparing for a trip to San Francisco and the Game Developer’s Conference. Two people from Funcom will be on the show floor presenting Conan Exiles and Mutant Year Zero: The Road to Eden*, which was announced at the end of February. Community Manager Jens Erik will be at Epic Games’ booth to demo Conan Exiles on consoles. If you’re at the event and want to have a chat, feel free to reach out to us.
If you haven’t tried it yet, the new combat system and content revamp is available for trial on Testlive. We once again want to thank everyone for participating and for giving us feedback As mentioned last week, there are additional builds coming that introduces some new changes and bug fixes. The next time we update the Testlive servers we will also review the number and configuration of all Testlive servers.
Over on the console side of things we’re still wrapping up certification. We know this has taken a while and that the wait has been frustrating for our Xbox community, but we still intend to roll out the next Xbox patch after certification is all wrapped up.
*Funcom is only publishing Mutant Year Zero. The Conan Exiles team is fully focused on Conan Exiles, to fully wrap up the game and prepare for launch. Only people from Funcom’s management and marketing teams are going to GDC.
We recently did a big performance and compatibility test with our external QA partner, Testronic, and we’ve started going through the results of this test. It’s given us a lot of really helpful data that we can use to improve the game.
There are many different types of QA (Quality Assurance). There’s Functionality QA, which is making sure all of the game’s features are working as intended while also rooting out bugs and glitches. There’s Certification QA, to see if a game meets the requirements and standards set by the platform creators. We go through this when releasing patches for Conan Exiles. Localization QA checks how a game handles displaying different languages.
Compatibility QA means we’re testing the game on several different types of hardware. This is usually done externally, since you need a lot of computer parts to do this kind of testing. It also takes a lot of time to assemble, configure and run tests. Big developers like EA and Activision have the capacity to do this in-house, but for us it means using an external partner.
For this test we set up different testing scenarios for both single-player games and dedicated servers. We defined hotspots around the map that affect CPU and GPU performance (based on internal testing and community feedback), places like the Black Hand Pirate ship and other highly populated areas with a lot of activity. Over 70 different configurations were tested, mixing up CPUs and GPUs from Intel, Nvidia and AMD, on all settings, from Laptop Mode to Ultra.
One of the things we found was that due to the optimizations we’ve done for the console versions the game uses a lot less system memory on PC now than at the start of Early Access a year ago.
The Unreal Engine doesn’t use all processor cores efficiently, which is why Intel processors appear to be running the game better, even if an equivalent AMD processor would be more powerful if all cores were utilized. Consequently, we noticed that newer Intel I3 Dual Core CPUs managed to run the game quite well. There’s a limit to how much we can change without incurring huge engineering refactoring costs. We might change our system requirements accordingly, though nothing’s been decided just yet.
In the table below, we have summarized our findings from the compatibility tests. The results are relatively conservative and should allow you to have a good experience if you have similar configurations. Obviously, if you’re playing in a stressful scenario with lots of players and buildings, performance will be different. If your game performance is severely different from our estimates in the table below, please get in touch with one of our community managers, as there may be some compatibility issues that we’re not aware of.
Every Friday, the development team meets up to highlight and talk about what they’ve been working on recently: New content and features, bugs that have been fixed, and things to come down the pipeline. To not make this newsletter overly long we’re only sticking to the highlights. Even if something isn’t explicitly mentioned things are still being worked on “behind the scenes”, and we’ll mention these when they’re relevant.
Our intrepid monster hunters have been tweaking creature attacks and behaviors, working closely with the Berserkers team to prevent players from simply stunlocking creatures during fights. This week in particular the rhinos have gotten new melee and charge attacks, which will force players to be more active when fighting them. We’ll have gifs of this very soon, after it’s gotten some additional polish.
And now, some gifs of creature taunts:
Last week we mentioned some changes to the decay system and now we can talk about what those changes mean for the game. Placeables are meant to decay the same as buildings, removing themselves from the overworld once their timer runs out. We’re introducing a change that will make placeables attach to a building’s decay score if it’s inside the building’s land claim bubble. Anything placed outside the land claim bubble will get its own decay score and become abandoned at its own pace. Lone placeables decay much faster than if they’re in the proximity of a building.
The Vanguard has also been working on Testlive bugs, specifically an exploit that would allow players to run incredibly fast. This fix will be rolled out in the next Testlive build, along with over 300 other changes and bug fixes we’ve been working on internally.
RCON support will roll out with the next PC patch. We’ve already seen a lot of feedback from server moderators since the announcement, which has been incredibly helpful for sussing out what kind of functionality you expect from an RCON feature. Please continue to provide us with feedback.
Finally, our lead programmer has been testing out ways of improving building replication, making the game load in buildings much faster. This should also improve server performance and take care of some exploitative play along the way.
As always, it’s all about combat balancing and changes for Team berserkers. Specifically, dodging. The new combat system was designed to be more tactical, forcing players to think a few moves ahead and choose when to go in for an attack and when to get out of the way. It’s about looking for an opening and striking at an opportune moment.
What we noticed during combat test, and what our community has told us via Testlive feedback, is that there’s a lot of dodging being done in all fights. If your Grit Attribute was high enough you could dodge roll circles around your opponents and never get hit. So, we’ve changed dodging to have a percentage-based cost. This restricts you to dodging 4-6 times before your stamina runs out, forcing you to be more selective with your evasions.
We’re streaming again this Friday, at 5pm CET. This will be our first re-streamed dev stream, broadcasting to both Twitch and Mixer. We ran a quick test on Tuesday to see if everything was working properly and we might do some additional tests before we go live on Friday. Joel will be back to answer questions and talk a bit about new stuff making it into the game.
There might not be a traditional newsletter next week, since our community manager is in San Francisco at GDC, but maybe we’ll be able to do a quick update.