The official Age of Conan website has posted a letter to the community from the new Game Director, Craig Morrison. (I believe you already heard about him replacing Gaute). It's a very long, informative and down-to-earth letter; having read through it all, I really can't help but think that "Silirrion" will do a lot of good to the game.
Here are the main points of interest:
- Ymir’s Pass: this large new zone will stay on the test server through several updates on live in order to test and polish it as much as possible before releasing. I don't care about it too much personally, since it's a level 55-60 area; I think they should be adding more high level zones instead.
- 2nd part of PvP system update: the consequence system will add repercussions for killing low-level players and other "evil" acts like that. A player who gets "murderer" status won't be allowed in towns, but they will be able to use services of NPCs in new "criminal camps" (although it might cost more than services of "honest" vendors). Nice to know that murderers will be able to use the NPCs as well.
- Items to become more powerful: currently the items account for a maximum contribution of 25% of your characters total in any given statistic or ability, but they are aiming to increase that closer to 50%. They are also adjusting the formulas so the statistics, such as STR or INT, will add more to the visible abilities like your Health and Mana pools. I find that to be the best news of all, since I always felt that increasing your character's statistics through gear did very little in actually making him stronger.
- Changes to Kingship and Powerpoints:
- Powerpoints are still coming, although there will be a name change (always thought the name was silly - thanks for that, Craig!) and it will be a loyalty program that will backdate and reward you for your active Age of Conan subscription you've had ever since the launch.
- Kingship, on the other hand, is being looked at and will probably be redesigned from scratch. It might also include some form of alternate advancement for your character, or "lateral progression" as the Game Director calls it.
- Server merge: yes, it will happen, and both with North American and European servers in order to maintain healthy population on every server. Great desicion, and just about time, too!
- DirectX 10: it's almost ready to be released in Test servers; how soon we'll seen it on Live depends on the results of the testing.