In a few days Anarchy Online will celebrate its 9th birthday. It was the first MMO I played, starting roughly a month after the initial release. So I have sort of a nostalgic spot for the game and even though I do not play it currently, I try to keep an eye from time to time on the game.
The graphics update work is still in progress, although it is taking longer time than initially specified – not unusual in the software business…
While the game graphics definitely looks dated today, it is a game with character and with what seems to be a thriving RP community and a lot of storyline, lore and content.
Happy 9th birthday, Anarchy Online!
This weekend I mainly spent some with my earth dominator Dirtmonger and my electricity stalker, Dr Charge. There was also some time for my bard Pelimanni in Stormwind, but that is for another post.
Both of them spend some time to play player created missions. This is really great – playing the regular content too often and you start to feel sick & tired of it. Playing some quite new/different in the same world keeps it more fun and enjoyable.
I thought I’d mention a few of the story arcs I played this weekend whichI found quite enjoyable.
First out is The Decryption (arcID 188282):
This is a cold war:ish story with spies and infiltration. You get to fight some strange Soviet troops, gather intelligence deep inside the Soviet Union and stop a global threat. Of course, no-one will admit any knowledge of your actions.
It is straightforward story, some pretty cool characters and which of course speak in Russian, very nice touch the last part. It has been more than 25 years since I studied Russian, so I have forgotten most about it, but did understand some words. Definitely playable and enjoyable.
Next arc is A.E.’s Premium Quality Mission: “guarranteed qualityyyLOADING ERR (arcID 148476):
As the name of the arc implies, this one has a bit of humor in it… As a customer of Architect Entertainment (A.E.) you are presente to try a premium virtual expeience, going into a cave full of Rikti – only that the “Rikti” are not actually real Rikti and various flaws of the software shows up. The sales guy tries to compensate you for the flaws by providing another virtual setting, only the problems only get worse. In the end you go in to save the day for the poor software guys handling the AI of Architect Entertainment.
Some of the parts are absolutely hilarious, although it probably helps being a software IT guy to get some of the jokes. A very enjoyable arc!
The third and last one I mention in this post is As if you Saved the Entire World (arcID 416094):
The story starts with that old friend of yours who is part of the Midnighters Club, Deidre, has vanished. The first part of the arc is a kind of flashback of things that has happened before, how you met Deidre and she became the person she is. Then the story moves on to present time and you go to rescue Deidre from an evil cult.
The story format and pace is excellent. The story part from present time is well written, but not unique. However, with the flashbacks in the first missions there is a very well executed build-up of the story which makes the end result much better. Definitely thumbs up for this one!
The last arc mentioned here is a good example that good arcs do not get automatically played. The author had published his/her arc and no-one had played or rated it for over a month, so he/she posted in the City of Heroes forums that could someone please play and comment the arc. The arc has now received a few good comments in the forums and have had a number of top score ratings.
With the recent news about LOTRO going “free to play” that seem to have started some discussions in other subscription-based MMO forums about the risk/chance of their MMO of choice doing the same thing. In some places there is a fair amount of negativity against the whole “free to play” thing.
However, worth noting is that currently for DDO and later for LOTRO Turbine does not remove the subscription option for the games – Turbine adds the F2P option and changes the subscription option.
By introducing the F2P option they have also made it possible to make the subscription option more valuable to a larger audience.
In the old model, which most subscription-based MMOs use today, your value from the subscription is not easily seen. There is generally no statement or promise what kind of updates is included in the fee and about the only guarantee is that the game is for the most part available to play.
But in DDO and later now LOTRO the subscription becomes more clear in what you actually get for your money. You do not only get the access to the game, you get other stuff that is more explicitly spelled out. And you get Turbine points. This means that players can choose for themselves what to do with these points from what is offered, rather than implicitly pay for content that may not matter so much to them. If you do not play that often you still gather the Turbine points for use later if you pay the subscription fee. While I did not see anything in the LOTRO FAQ, I hope that Turbine points are also interchangeable between DDO and LOTRO. That way one could pay a subscription for one of the games and get Turbine points that benefit for both games.
I have seen comments that DDO subscription numbers (i.e. people paying $15/month) increased after they changed DDO. I am not surprised. They have provided more payment options to players and made the existing one valuable and worth paying to a larger audience than before. And at the same time they have also lowered the barrier of entry and re-entry to the game.
Those who argue about F2P vs subcription as two distinct and the only two options are missing the point.
For a long time I have had a regular flow of view on a few posts I made about the game Jade Dynasty. I have always wondered why, I only posted a few posta about it and never got particularly far in the game before I got extremely bored with it – too much grind, even if it was somewhat automated.
Recently I added a tag so that I could get some statistics from Google webtools about searches etc to the site.
It turns out that, not entirely surprising, the jade dynasty traffic is coming from searches for the most part. And many of them come from some pictures I posted. For example, if I search on “jade dynasty lupin” (lupin being one of the classes/archetypes in the game) then 2 out of 4 pictures shown directly on the result page are mine.
The pictures have also been linked from some posts in Jade Dynasty forums, also ending up here.
It it a bit weird that one may write a lot of posts about other MMOs, but one which I did not give much attention ends up generating a more regular stream of traffic here…
Earlier this week I reached sort of a milestone in City of Heroes/Villains – I got the Battle Hardened veteran reward badge, which is what you get as a four year veteran of the game. In addition to the badge, one gets an extra character slot and also a buff pet.
The pet can have one of four different appearances (fairy, wisp, oscillator and drone) and can either give a slight buff to damage and damage resistance, or to defence and recovery. Which types of buffs are chosen when the pet is chosen (no regrets possible).
This pet is available for every character on the account to pick.
For the stalkers the pet was a bit of a failure. Since it follows you around and is visible, the first thing that happens if you sneak up on a mob is that the pet will generate aggro and get killed immediately…
For the other characters it is a nice little addition though.
So it has been announced that Lord of the Rings Online is going “free to play”. Good for them, if it works out. It does not make me want to play it, so I am more interested in the impact it may have on other publishers and developers.
How does this affect CodeMasters? They have been the European operator for both DDO and LOTRO as pay-to-play games. After DDO changed its business model I did at one time try to get the new DDO through the European DDO site. But looking at that site there was no “free to play”, just the normal subscription thing as far as I could see.
So of course I jumped over to Turbine’s own site instead. In LOTROs case though they seem to be part of the picture in some way, will they get a percentage of items sold in the store?
If this attempt is successful as well I do hope that other subscription-based games will look more into this approach, games that might struggle a bit with keeping many regular subscribers, but which could potentially do well with a lower barrier of entry (waves to Cryptic, Paragon Studios and SOE).
I am a hopeless altoholic and last weekend a new character saw the light of day, Dr Charge. The good doc is a stalker – not the creepy kind, but the Rogue Isles sneaky kind.
The Stalker archetype has always been a bit of an odd one in the world of super heroes and villains, sometimes finding his/her place in the world (or a team) a bit challenging at times.
But also because it is a bit different, it can be a refreshing change to play at times also. While I already have two stalkers at around level 30, they are in a way a bit too similar to some other characters I have. So I decided to make an electricity based stalker – electricity powers is something I have rerely used before.
Playing Dr Charge both solo and in teams last weekend I have had a great fun time with him. The electricity effects fits nicely with his metallic appearance I think and playing with some quite nice people added to the fun, of course.
Dr Charge was far from my first name choice though and here I wish the game had the same name feature as in Champions Online – you characters can have whatever name they want, even if other character happen to already have used that name. The game already have global names separate from character names to identify the players, but probably not an easy thing to change still.
The doc is not the only character I play either, as an altoholic I do like to rotate and get some variation, be it with different characters in one game or different characters in multiple games. Lately it has been much into one game though.
Amazingly an old game like this keeps pulling me back. Or it is perhaps not that amazing really. New games include new nice features and different content, but old games keep also up to some extent, adding to what is already there.