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Anarchy Online Developer Journal #7: Rediscovery

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 2008 by Cody Bye

by Nina Sund, Content Designer/Writer for Anarchy Online

This time I’m going to put on my designer/marketing hat and answer Ten Ton Hammer’s own Cody “Micajah” Bye’s question. He asked what an old Anarchy Online player would enjoy in the game today if he/she was to return. Thank you Cody, it’s a brilliant and difficult question!

Over the years, the Anarchy Online developers have made hundreds of improvements to their game.

We see old players returning to AO all the time. Some have been gone for years, others only a few months. Those who haven’t played the game in several years and return now probably spend the first time just to re-familiarize themselves with the controls, the game and the classic content. Once they have that, the fun of re-discovery begins!

The last year and a half we have done a lot of changes, improvements and additions to Anarchy Online. That is really the beauty of having an online game of this nature, there is always the opportunity to add new stuff!

I think that different parts of the new content appeals to different people but I think over time there is always something new that will appeal to you regardless of the way you like to play the game.

The most significant update to AO is the availability of team instances.

Probably the most significant update, especially for higher level players is that there are now several team instances in the game. These are small playfields that are locked to one team so that in any situation, a maximum of 6 people can be in the same instance. It provides a lot of freedom, both for the monster encounters and for the experience as a whole. A limit on how many people can go in at a time makes for a more fun challenge and there is no danger of negative things like kill stealing for example. The team instances have been an unsurpassed success and returning players are very happy about it.

Of the major changes the next one I think is significant is the rebuilt PvP system. We understand that PvP in AO used to be unapproachable for a lot of players. We wanted to change that and improve the structure so that it would be easier for more people to have fun with it. Today, the PvP system has three different ladders; one for solo achievements, one for team achievements and one for duels. This means that if players aren’t interested in mass PvP but would like to duel one-on-one without the interference of other people, they can. We added several new titles with the new system, and without promising anything specific, we may even offer some sort of PvP rewards in the future!

Hundreds of new quests and rewards have been added.

We have also spent a lot of time adding in hundreds of new quests with new rewards we have added. Every patch cycle the last year has had a number of quests added to either Rubi-Ka or Shadowlands. When AO launched a lot of the focus was on the auto-generated content, which is great for repeatable content, but didn't allow us to tell the story of the game as much as we could have, so we have addressed that with these new quests. We mean to continue this practice both in regular patch cycles and in booster packs in the future. Our focus on storytelling and quests will continue, as we improve the game play and game world.

Of course there are always a lot of other changes and improvements include hundreds of exciting new items, changes to PvP balance, awesome hover bikes/hover boards and correcting problems within the professions.

We have improved the social aspect of the game recently by enabling a social tab so people can hide their armor and show their clothing style instead. We are also adding a command that will let people visually show their fellow players that they are role players. All of these are fun sides to a game where combat in one form or another is usually the main focus of gameplay.

Bikes and hoverboards are also a major addition to AO.

Everything we have done the last year and a half should hopefully be tempting in one way or another to former players who are considering returning to AO. For those who come back after a short break, the difference may not be so big, but even they should notice a bundle of new content added to the game.

As I mentioned in my first journal entry, Anarchy Online was the first MMO I played, and this is the situation for many of our players, old and new. People have made close friends with people they met in the game, found their real life soulmate and started a family, and amassed tons of good memories from playing. These things are valuable beyond any measure and will always be important reasons for returning.

At the end of the day, it is the personal feelings people have about AO that brings them back. No one would want to play a game they dislike, no matter how much content has been added to entice their return. Old love never dies, as they say.
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