Anarchy Online Developer Blog #3: Becoming a Game Writer

Updated Sun, Dec 20, 2009 by Cody Bye

By Nina "Aythem" Sund, Content Designer/Writer for Anarchy Online

Happy New Year from Rubi-Ka!

I hope that all our readers had a great New Year’s Eve and that Christmas was nice and relaxing. Personally, I had a great holiday and got to meet with some friends I don’t see very often. It’s always nice to get up to speed with old acquaintances over parties or at the favorite café rather than only over an instant messenger.

Now it’s back to the office and into the right frame of mind for getting down into the challenges ahead. Just before the holidays we had internal presentations of the early builds of the new rendering engine that is being developed for Anarchy Online, so it was a great motivation knowing how great our gameworld is going to look when it’s released later in the year. As someone who first and foremost loved Rubi-Ka as a player I can’t wait to start to show people what our graphics gurus have been conjuring up! (I think the first teaser trailer isn’t too far away so keep your eyes peeled!)

A screenshot from The Longest Journey.

So now that 2008 is well and truly greeted, it’s good to be back at work as well. Having followed the Ten Ton Hammer forums, I am only too happy to address some more questions you guys have asked.

What other games/game genres do you like?

Apart from MMOs, my favorite games are usually in the RPG and action/adventure genre. Some of the most precious memories from games come from Planescape: Torment (the first game I could be bothered to actually finish and that moved me to tears), the Tex Murphy series and Funcom’s own The Longest Journey, which I played before I even knew Funcom was Norwegian and to this day stands as a pinnacle of storytelling in games.

I have also to an extent, and quite self-torturingly, enjoyed some ‘horror’ games where I must list Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh and Silent Hill (for Playstation 1) as my all-time favorites. In recent years, I’ve enjoyed console games a lot too, and I’m currently playing Mass Effect, another game that scores high on storytelling.

You may notice the lack of FPS games here, which is solely credited to the fact that I am absolutely rubbish at them. I have played some Quake Wars though, and enjoyed it. Plus, I see how popular Team Fortress 2 is among my colleagues, so I might give it a go sometime. Just don’t expect me to ever hit a Top 100 list of players. Hah!

As a writer employed in the gaming industry, do you need much technical knowledge to be successful? Did you have any technical knowledge before entering the field?

I was a gamer before writing stories was part of my job, and I don’t have any official background as a writer, so I see myself more as a game designer that writes than a writer that designs games. I wouldn’t say you need a lot of technical knowledge to be successful. Of course, you must have some computer literacy and be able to use whatever tools you use in your work, but don’t let any of that stop you if you want to write for the game industry. I know people who are great at their jobs (writing, art, designing) who aren’t wiz-kids with technical “mumbo-jumbo”.  

I’ve always had an easy way of understanding technical stuff, so learning the tools in my current job was very smooth. I did already have knowledge about the game and Funcom tools, so I guess that came as a benefit.

Some tourists taking advantage of the ARK program.

How did you land the job at Funcom in the first place?

When I started playing Anarchy Online myself, I was immediately hooked on the story, which to this day is the richest and most immersive in any game in its genre. Of course, I’m not very objective, but it caught me so deep that I eventually joined AO’s volunteer program, ARK (Advisors of Rubi-Ka).

In ARK, I ultimately joined the Events department, which produces and plays out events of every kind on the servers, allowing players a nice break from their daily routine or a chance to get involved with the story.

I was recruited into Funcom directly from ARK, and joined our QA department. A year later, I was recruited into the AO development team as a quest designer. There is no doubt in my mind that my knowledge and deep interest in the game itself was the catalyst to me being where I am now!

I think I’ve plowed through today’s share of questions and I wouldn’t want to go on forever either. I hope you have enjoyed reading and found it interesting. Keep checking in for more journal entries! Until then, smooth sailing!


Did her answers to your questions help you in your own quest to write for video games? For future developers journals, what would you like her to discuss with you? Tell us more on the forums!

Ten Ton Hammer is your unofficial source for Anarchy Online news and articles!
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