Conan Exiles has so far enjoyed an early surge in popularity, most likely thanks to its bloody melee combat, expansive open world map, and persistent MMO elements. That’s why we spoke to the team at length about their plans for future content updates when we met during GDC last week.
But during that same meeting, we just had to ask: why did the team decide to allow players to adjust the size of male characters’ penises during the character creation process? And how did they feel when the internet basically lost its mind upon discovering the feature? Creative director Joel Bylos graciously provided some answers and, in the process, revealed that the infamous “endowment slider” likely won’t make it to the eventual PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game.
Clearly there had to have been some discussion before the endowment slider was included. How did that thought process go?
Joel Bylos: I remember pretty clearly because I was the one who had to go and tell the character modeler afterwards that she had to put penises in the game. And we had a discussion in the [project] leads meeting about nudity in general. We were talking about character creation and we were talking about Age of Conan, which we launched a few years ago, and it had a breast slider.
And we said, “What about nudity in this game? Like, how much do we care? We don’t have to get a rating because it’s going on Steam. We’re not worried about the rating boards.” And we went, “Yeah, dicks fit. It’s Conan. Like, we could do it.” And then we discussed it, and I said, “Oh, we should add a slider because that would be funny. People will laugh. People will think that’s great.”
And the thing was, we laughed about it a little bit, and then nobody cared about it after. It was six months before we launched the game that we did this. Everybody laughed and chuckled the first time they saw it, and then we just kept working on the game and it became normal. And then I remember we talked about it with the marketing team for the game, and we were like, “Well, it’s not a big feature. There’s no need to talk about it.”
We were actually quite surprised–I was, at least personally, I was very surprised. I was expecting journalists to sort of go, “Oh, there’s dick slider. Whatever. It’s funny,” and then mention it in their commentary on the game. What I didn’t expect was people to write full articles about it. It kind of blew up. I wasn’t expecting quite that reaction, but it was fine. I was happy with it. It was a great reaction.
And the cool thing is that everyone sort of embraced it, right? Like, there was no one saying, “Oh, we hate nudity.” Everybody was like mostly, “Oh, it’s about time somebody did this. Why not?” So that was cool.
So your attitude has been to kind of embrace it?
Yeah, I think it’s fine. I mean, I’m Australian but I live in Norway. It runs very liberal about nudity there. No one really cares.
Well, I was thinking more, it didn’t bother you guys that the dicks got almost as much attention as the game itself?
Oh, well, I think the game got more attention than I expected anyway, so I’m just really happy with how everything’s gone. I don’t really differentiate between them. It’s part of the game, so I thought it was really funny.
I watched some of the Twitch streams the day we launched, and it was really funny to watch the Twitch streamers in character creation. They’d be sliding the endowment slider, and they didn’t have nudity on, which doesn’t do anything. And then they’d see the nudity button and they’d push it and go, “Oh God!” And then they’re like, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to show this in Twitch.”
So yeah, I don’t know. It doesn’t bother us that people like that part of our game more than maybe other parts. That’s fine. As long as it’s not the reason that people bought the game, because I don’t think buying a game to play with a dick slider is probably the best use of your money.
That’s fair. One final question: You’ve mentioned that part of this decision was, “We’re going to be on Steam. We don’t have to get a rating.” But if you’re eventually planning on releasing on consoles, you will have to get a rating. What does that mean for the dick slider?
It means that on consoles, it won’t work. The nudity filter will be off. You won’t be able to choose it. I haven’t been in the process with Xbox for a while, but I think maybe boobs are okay on Xbox? So maybe we’ll get partial nudity in? But, I don’t know. We haven’t started the process.
The thing I think is quite interesting is, it’s not a sexualized game–there’s not a whole lot of focus on the sex part. So I don’t know. It’s seems quite innocent to me. I know we talked about it, definitely. That’s why we have the “turn-off” on servers, because A, some people don’t want to play and have their kids see dicks in the background, and B, we knew that one day on consoles we’d have to set them to off anyways.
It’s the least of our concerns, realistically. But there are some good mods for it, which I think is funny.