Anarchy Online Developer Journal #4: Every NPC is Special
by Nina "Aythem" Sund, Content Designer/Writer for Anarchy Online
It’s been about a month since my last journal, which is
longer time between updates than I want, so I am going to make an
effort to write more often!
The first preview video of Anarchy
Online’s updated graphics engine has been out
for a couple of weeks and the reception of the early images has been
nothing short of fantastic. People have used grand words when
commenting the video and we are very happy with how the work is going.
It really does look stunning, and it’s extra nice to see how
well the community has received it, even making fan videos already,
one. It’s a boost to know that what
we’re doing it eagerly awaited by both old and new players!
For those who haven’t seen the preview render video yet, you
can find it available for download href="ftp://ftp.funcom.com/media/ao/newEngine2008/">here
or check it out at Ten
Now, as per usual, I’ll answer some questions posted by the
readers of the Ten Ton Hammer forum. I really appreciate the comments
and interest, so please keep posting, and I’ll do my best to
reply to them all in the course of this journal.
How do you name your
style="font-style: italic;">Every NPC has a
handcrafted name that's special in some way.
I like this question! First off, I want to say that I don’t
use name generators and would never think of using them. Each NPC ends
up being special to me and that means they must have names that are
I usually name them after real people or use variations of real
people’s names. For example, we often name NPCs after
co-workers. Take "Corporal Morrison" after our Game Director, Craig
Morrison, or "Dr. Aleksander Koumas" after one of the guys in QA. Just
a few months ago I named an NPC "Heath Bridges" after the actor Heath
Ledger, who sadly passed away recently.
Other times, the process is more random but no less thought through.
There is an NPC called "Andre Bottle", whose first name is the same as
one of our coders and last name came from staring intently at an empty
water bottle while trying to find a fitting surname... And then there
are the odd cases of humour ("Scott Free") or pop culture references
("Priest Atalas" or "Marvin").
Monsters have, for the most part, a naming convention based on what
type they are. For example, we have a monster type called heckler in
AO, which is basically a large golem-like rock monster. The variations
of their specific type names are stuff like "Heckler of
Stones/Metal/Earth/Harmony/Dreams/Life/Hope" and such. I think most
would agree that a name like “Seasoned Robust Heckler of
Flower Poison” would be a little outside the naming
Items are usually named by their purpose or another descriptive name,
and hopefully unique, name.
Where do you find
inspiration for some of the content you create?
Books, movies and computer games are big sources of inspiration for me.
I read a lot and I would like to think that my ability to picture a
written story like a movie before my inner eye is well developed. I
mostly read English books, which helps me both in developing my
vocabulary and the way the language is used in storytelling.
Movies give me inspiration for plotlines as well as interesting
characters, settings and situations, and playing computer games enables
me to see different ways obstacles in games can be overcome.
I also find a lot of enthusiasm within the style="font-style: italic;">Anarchy Online
community. Whether it be suggestions, fan fiction/videos/art, comments
or questions, I find that seeing the deep love players have for the
game is a huge motivation and inspiration, as I’m sure it is
for anyone working in the game industry.
What profession and breed
are your favorites in Anarchy
style="font-style: italic;">Nina's has some
love for the Nano-Techs and the Nanomages.
From a game mechanical standpoint I, as a designer, don’t
have a specific in-game profession that I prefer over any other. I
haven’t played all 14 professions equally, but I have played
all of them. Sure, there are those professions that suit my style more
and that I find myself more at home with, but I think that’s
the case for most people.
From a story point of view, there are a few professions that I like
more than others, strictly from a sci-fi and story point of view. The
Nano-Technician is a profession ripe with content from AO’s
story, an interesting mix of the classic mage and the futuristic
technophile. The way they use their nanobots and their cyberdeck to
script the most destructive actions is very interesting as part of a
setting like AO’s. Another interesting one is the Fixer.
Hacker, smuggler and programmer all bundled up in one. Their ability to
code themselves into the huge network system on the planet is so
awesome. It’s almost like the style="font-style: italic;">Matrix!
As for what breed is my favorite... Again, speaking only from a story
point of view, I have a special place in my heart for the nanomages.
The way they are described to perform any nanobot operation very well
at the cost of being physically fragile, and how they are so dependent
on the notum saturation on Rubi-Ka that they cannot live anywhere else
in the Universe makes them unique in many ways. That, and their
physical disfigurement caused by notum being infused into their cells
makes my heart beat a little faster for them.
That’s all I have for you this time. Keep asking those
questions and I’ll keep answering them! See you soon!
a comment for Nina, make sure you post it in our ongoing href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=21779&page=2">developer
diary forum thread!
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