"Anarchy Online" Doesn't Just Describe the WoW PvP Servers!
Third in our series of MMOG profiles, we examine the 2001 Sci-Fi blockbuster MMO Anarchy Online this week. AO introduced a slew of revolutionary changes to the genre after a turgid, buggy start; ideas such as instancing and player housing that soon became staple additions to any rising star.
Who said MMORPGs had to have a fantasy backdrop of orcs, elves, gnomes, and magic? When Anarchy Online busted onto the scene in mid-2001 with its massive 50,000 player-per-server approach, the initial enthusiasm in a true Sci-Fi themed MMOG was tempered by a period of crippling bugs and technical glitches. Funcom was quick to make good on its first MMO, and by the time Dark Age of Camelot was released in November 2001, AO was releasing its first expansion ("Notum Wars") to compliment a polished, unique, and fun-to-play package.
AO's differences aren't purely thematic or technical. When I first logged onto AO and was muddling through the fairly-steep learning curve of a combat and advancement system (steep, despite a brutal assault by popup tips), I realized I was being followed by a player character. Being fairly used to other MMOGs, where newbie zones are sort of a terrorist playground, I didn't pay much attention at first. When I turned around, I realized this player, "Greeter Mitzuharu" was trying desperately to get my attention. Wait a sec..."Greeter"? This was an actual, true-to-life person, welcoming me to the game, and asking me if I had any questions. I was almost too surprised to reply!
Far from eulogizing games like AO or boxing them up as "past their prime", we honor them as "going concerns" in the only genre for whom constant improvement is a way of life for the developers. MMOGs are truly gamers' games.
Check out our writeups on EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot too!