Warning: this post contains gifs of, and makes reference to, digital genital customisation as it features in Funcom's Conan Exiles.
Conan Exiles is fast approaching its first Early Access anniversary, having entered Steam's pre-release initiative on January 31, 2017. Which means Mr Weebl's NSFW music video celebrating the game's dong physics is also almost one year old. Good luck getting it out of your head if you followed that link.
Chris' explicit gif-filled report on Exiles' endowment slider was PCGamer.com's most read news story last year. As such, while catching up with director Joel Bylos about the state of the open world survival game one year on, I felt it only right to, ahem, swing back round to its genital simulation.
"When we decided to do it, when we discussed it internally," Bylos tells me. "We asked: 'does it fit the setting, should we do it, and is it problematic?' We basically decided that there's nothing sexual in the game, it does fit the setting, and it was like: 'who's done dicks before? Sure, why not, let's do it'.
"We then talked about it with marketing and they wanted to make a big deal of it. I said, no, let's not, let's not talk about it at all, let's have people find out about it the day they play the game—let's not say a damn thing about it in our marketing. I got them on board with that.
"Our marketing team is pretty good at playing up the features in a game—to have something that big not be advertised, I think just took a lot of people by surprise. It then became a big thing for us. The problem is, of course, we can't top it with anything."
NSFW but Conan Exiles has an endowment slider. Big dong, little dong, big dong, little dong pic.twitter.com/MNgGsmlv32January 30, 2017
Bylos explains that while the ESRB (America's Entertainment Software Rating Board) agreed Exiles wasn't sexual in nature—"they understood it wasn't a porno game"—it does not allow genitals to be shown as a rule. PEGI (Europe's Pan European Game Information system), on the other hand, thought it was fine and were perhaps more concerned by the game's gore and violence. Steam of course bypasses these restrictions.
Bylos continues: "I was really happy because it could be controversial, right? It seemed mostly that women were like: 'finally, a dick slider, which is like a boob slider that games have had for years'. Women were happy, then, and men thought it was hilarious, so it was completely fine. That was the only thing I was worried about beforehand, that someone might be upset. But nobody was upset, so that worked out particularly well."
Exiles' endowment sliders may not be sexual in nature, but the idea is nevertheless a wee bit out there. I ask Bylos how he and his team first responded to the idea.
"I think we all just had a chuckle," he says, "and everyone just looked at each other and said: 'who's going to tell our artists?‘ They thought it was hilarious, too, and had reference dicks on their screens for about a week. Every time people walked past they would have a screen full of dicks, which was kind of funny."
Look out for our full interview with Joel Bylos on Conan Exiles next week.
NSFW, more cock & balls from Conan Exile. I hope this is earning me XP pic.twitter.com/159udrkgIpJanuary 30, 2017