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Video Game: Age of Conan
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game set in the universe of Conan the Barbarian, originally created by Robert E. Howard; and developed by Funcom. It was originally released on 2008. As of July 2011, it has moved away from the original subscription-only model to a hybrid "Freemium" model, with a combination of free and paid content.

The world is remarkably faithful to Howard's original stories; with notable influences from both film versions (the original by John Milius starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the 2011 remake by Marcus Nispel starring Jason Momoa). Needless to say, it partakes of many of the tropes present in its source material; as well as many specific to MMORPGs. Nearly all of the background music in the game is taken from the soundtrack of the first movie.

The original release of the game met with considerable critical and public reaction, both positive and negative, for being more frankly and explicitly violent and sexual than was typical for MMORPGs up to that point. It was notable for being the first MMO to deliberately aim for a "Mature" rating; which was played up strongly in the advertising and promotion for the game. The "mature" aspect was similarly played up as part of the conversion to a "Freemium" hybrid model; with the original name for the update billed as Age of Conan: Unrated. The "Unrated" was changed to "Unchained" by release time.

One of the earliest criticisms of the game was the lack of story or character-development driven content available for mid-level players; with most quests consisting of extended grinding sessions. The game developers explained that they had not expected players to advance so quickly; and had delayed development of content beyond the beginner areas. However, from other sources, it seems equally likely that Funcom wanted to delay development until they were able to gauge the player reaction and membership numbers. Subsequent expansions have released a considerable amount of mid-level and high-level content; but the drop off in subscriber numbers after the initial release is thought to be a large part of the impetus for the move to a free/paid hybrid model.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: There are plenty of commodities in the player market which are prohibitively expensive to low level players, and of course they are most useful and necessary to low level players to advance.
  • Age of Titles
  • Allegedly Free Game: Although a lot of the game is now free to play; less than half of the character types are available for free, and large amounts of the mid- to high-level content is available only to paid subscribers, or as a separate purchase. This includes the entire Khitai region outside the hub city; as well as Khitai character models. Certain gameplay mechanics and abilities are also limited to paid subscribers. Nevertheless, the advertising really pounds on the "Free To Play" thing.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Played pretty much straight, with many classes falling into the traditional roles. However, there are also some uncommon hybrid classes as well.
  • Arcadia: It's hard to wander the rolling hills and fields of Poitain without feeling relaxed and content. Even the Random Encounters that happen from time to time are hardly more than a nuisance.
  • Back Tracking: There is an enormous amount of this in the game; especially at beginner levels. Some quests consist predominantly of running back and forth over long distances carrying messages between NPCs. Others consist of chains of running back and forth between the same area, because the quest NPC couldn't be bothered to tell you everything you needed to do there up front. (Some character dialog choices lampshade this frustrating bit of activity.) Particularly frustrating at early levels, before mounts are available.
  • Beef Gate: The Vanir Ymirish warriors are one of the earliest and most notable examples. At first glance they appear to be the same level as other Vanir foes, but hitting one is like punching a brick wall that punches back hard. They are practically unkillable by a single player that isn't at least 20 levels above them. Their purpose is to force team play to take them down for better rewards and XP which are nigh useless to a high level player that would otherwise be able to solo kill them.
  • Black Knight: The Dark Templars are heavy armored warriors wielding Black Magic provided by demons or dark gods.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Much more than was typical for MMO games when it was released.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A lot of the content in the premium shop will provide substantial advantages to gameplay, especially at low levels. This is particularly true for the weapons and armour available to beginners.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Stygia has pyramids that are far more impressive than the ones in the world today, yet they are meant to have been built over ten thousand years before the "modern" ones in Giza.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Averted, oddly, as the comic adaptations were the trope namer. Although there are items of clothing/armour that fit this trope's appearance, the effectiveness of such armour is realistically low. The more effective the armour, the more it covers.
  • Commonplace Rare:
    • Most npcs wear cool armor and it can also be seen on armor racks. Can you buy it? Nope! You'll usually be stuck with what you can afford, which will be the crappy looking stock vendor armor with half a dozen different texture variations. The really cool armor all comes from rare loot drops and raids.
    • Horses and horse training are expensive. So are bags for extra inventory space.
  • Darkest Africa/The Savage South: Stygia is this, being full of death-loving cults who worship dark gods and practice Black Magic; a population that will willingly sacrifice themselves in whatever way their evil masters tell them to; all ruled by an Evil Sorceror whom only King Conan himself could possibly hope to face and survive. It is a land regarded with awe and fear by most npcs. To drive the point home, two of the player factions (Aquilonia and Cimmeria) are under constant invasion, despite the great wealth and power of Aquilonia and the legendary reputation Cimmeria has for its warriors. Nobody but nobody is trying to invade Stygia.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: You can play as a assassin, Dark Templar, necromancer, warlock or Tempest of Set and still be as heroic as anyone else.
    • Many stygian npcs are quite decent, despite living in a land governed by a evil theocracy.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying means a short debuff; but it also allows you to teleport to any previously-located respawn point, making it a useful way to travel at times.
    • Lampshaded in one quest that requires you to be cursed in order to retrieve an artifact. The curse will "kill" you in ten minutes if you don't get the MacGuffin and give it to the quest giver who lifts the curse. If you die, respawn and return to the quest giver to try again, he asks how the hell you can be alive again. Your only reply is It's a Long Story.
  • Disc One Nuke: The store that sells ingame items for real cash is replete with overpowered low level gear that will make a player extremely effective for a long time. The cash store low level gear usually have stats that are 10-15 levels above the standard ingame low level gear.
  • Door To Before: Averted in many, but not all dungeons. An Escape Rope teleport is available once every half hour, otherwise Back Tracking is often your only option.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: The most badass looking armor and weapons are almost always top level raid and pvp reward gear and are all better than the generic looking craftable gear.
  • Escape Rope: The "Path of Asura" is a free teleport you can do from any location in the game that will take you to a safe location, usually one of the starter towns for each character race. You can set your home point to any one of these preset locations at any time you like, but you can only use the ability once every half hour.
  • Fake Longevity: Especially during the initial release; before expansions with more story and character driven content were released. Mostly involving Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequests looking for Twenty Bear Asses, with a whole lot of Back Tracking.
    • Crafting quests invoke this trope quite strongly. In order to advance in the gathering skills necessary for crafting, players have to spend exhorbitant amounts of time farming for extremely rare drops. Locations for the drops are highly limited in lower-level areas; or surrounded by strong, aggro monsters in higher-level areas.
  • Fanservice: Characters can be played completely naked, with the exception of genitalia, which is covered by a sort of unremovable g-string brief. Fighting this way is generally not a good idea, given the importance of armour in the game.
    • There is an option, in your inventory screen, to use "vanity" mode. With this active, you can cause select pieces of your armour to turn invisible, but you still get the full protection from it.
  • Fighting Irish: Robert E. Howard wrote the Cimmerians as ancestors of the Gaels: the stone age clans that would later become the Irish and Scottish people. Hence the Cimmerians in game have strong Irish/Scottish accents, art and architecture with a strongly Celtic aesthetic, and a talent for battle.
  • Finishing Move: Depending on your class, this can be anything from a decapitation to dragging your opponent to hell.
  • Forced Level Grinding: This was an enormous problem for players at launch trying to get past level 40 after all the questing content had dried up. Players were forced to grind the "Villas" which were repeatable quests involving killing mobs in a npc mansion over and over and over and over and over and over and over just to level up. This was one of the major contributing factors in the early downfall of the game. Player numbers evaporated to almost nothing in the first year of release because of the content-less grindfest that didn't even reward anything except experience points.
  • Ghibli Hills: Poitain, the Lacheish Plains and the Purple Lotus swamp are all these for Aquilonia, Cimmeria and Stygia respectively. Random Encounters are common but not overwhelming. Poitain even reaches Arcadia levels of beauty.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: The resource gathering quests require you to hand over the resources you've gathered, including the quests for the ultra rare resources that take forever to find. The npcs demand you fork them over, rather than let you hang onto them for use in crafting later.
  • Have a Nice Death: Among other things, "The maidens question your virility."
  • Hotter and Sexier: This was perhaps the first MMORPG to feature female nudity. Additionally, prostitutes can be found in several locations throughout the game world.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: There are many of these for each character class at endgame, to the point where it's hard to tell if there is an Infinity+1 Sword somewhere amongst them.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Par for the course.
  • Magic is Evil: All three mage classes use some form of Black Magic.
  • Money Spider: Despite the prevalence of Vendor Trash, animal mobs that drop loot when you kill them still drop money too.
  • No Budget: Very apparent when the game first launched in 2008. Most of the maps were beautifully designed and the storyline and quests were masterful up until level 40, at which point it became obvious to players that the money to develop the game had simply run out. There were practically no quests or playable content between level 40 and level 70 with a smattering of endgame quests filled out. This problem was mostly fixed by "Rise of the Godslayer" and further expansions that filled out the sorely needed mid level content.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Four years after the game's release Thoth-Amon is still stuck in his black citadel, trying to call upon dark powers to help him conquer the world.
  • Organ Drops: Most animal mobs will drop claws, teeth, tails, venom sacs, etc. All of it is Vendor Trash.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The "Ymirish" half-giant elite warriors of the Vanir stand roughly ten feet tall and are very hard to kill due to their heritage and magical nature. At higher levels they appear next to their full giant brethren, the smallest of whom are are twice as tall.
  • Perpetually Static: Despite all the adventures a player will embark on, the game world never really changes. The Vanir are still always on the doorstep of Cimmeria, ready to invade. The Nemedians are still always trying to subvert Aquilonia and have Conan assassinated, Thoth-Amon is still on his throne in Stygia, trying to call forth whatever dark gods will help him conquer the world.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender Temporarily subverted: A short period after the game's launch, females did less damage in melee combat, due to slower attack animations. Otherwise, the trope is in full force; to the degree that even the more "mature" dialog choices are available regardless of character gender.
  • Real Is Brown: A common complaint during the early days of the game was how dark and muddy the artwork appeared compared to other games. Some improvement has been made, but it is still a strong example of this trope.
  • Revenue Enhancing Devices: A whole lot of functional and purely cosmetic stuff in the premium cash shop. See Allegedly Free Game and Bribing Your Way to Victory, above.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Many of the endgame armors look incredibly intimidating, yet not quite as effective at physical protection as their stats suggest.
  • Shining City: Tarantia, capital of Aquilonia is incredibly beautiful with shining white spires and spacious buildings with beautiful facades of enormous pre-Greek columns. The whole city is made out of gleaming white limestone and is by far the most impressive city in the game.
  • Socketed Equipment: Craftable weapons and armor have sockets for gems that boost their stats. This is as an alternative to endgame gear drops which are still almost always superior anyway.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Averted with item vendors: the top level vendor gear is usually available at the same place that the low level gear is available, players just can't use it until they have levelled up. Played straight with npc drops. The tougher enemies always drop higher level gear.
  • Squishy Wizard: Applies to varying degrees to all Mage classes. Particularly bad with the Herald of Xotli; a hybrid melee/mage class whose magic is limited to buffs and close-combat attacks, with some damage limiting abilities, and which is limited to weak cloth armour.
  • Stat Sticks: Some weapons have these effects, like boosting a player's intelligence or stamina/mana regen. The weapons themselves are still class-locked and cannot be wielded by players with the wrong class type.
  • Take Your Time: In full effect with all but a precious few timed quests. Sometimes your quest journal will tell you that that time is of the essence and you have to race to get the task done. You don't.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One quest in Tortage involves you killing an army of Children of Acheron. But they're immortal and will only revive after you kill them. How do you bypass their immortality? By obliterating their bodies completely by sabotaging a ritual that keeps the local volcano at bay. Incinerating the whole bunch!
  • Twenty Bear Asses: A whole lot of the quests are this.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: 99% of all enemies do not drop the armor off their back when you kill them. The ones that do are very rare indeed, but their equipment is usable depending on character class.
  • Vendor Trash: Not as much as some MMOs. Mostly used to avoid Money Spiders, and the drops are reasonably realistic. Monsters still drop body parts that you can sell for cash, and human mobs sometimes drop chunks of semi precious metal and semi-rare gems in lieu of money.
  • We Buy Anything: All that Vendor Trash has to go somewhere. Just about every npc shopkeeper is happy to take it off your hands.
  • Wheel of Pain: One appears in Cimmeria. It might be the same from the 1980's film.
  • World of Buxom: The models provided don't even allow for female player characters with a modest bust size, even using the advanced customization feature. Even the smallest-breasted women in this game would be considered stacked in real life.
    • As of the "Unchained" revision, a premium shop item was added that allows females to significantly increase their bust size (temporarily); well into Gag Boobs territory. A similar item allowing males to enhance their physique is also available.

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alternative title(s): Age Of Conan
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