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Old school hooked

June 5, 2011 4 comments

Lately I have almost exclusively played only one MMO – Anarchy Online. The only other game that have received a bit of time i Star Trek Online and my Klingon captain. But the other games; Rift, City of Heroes, Black Prophecy etc have not had any gameplay.
I have had a number of incidents that perhaps would not happen in the more modern MMOs:

  • debuffed myself so I could not use any skills on my hotbar, because my nano target was aimed at me rather than the enemy
  • temporaily lost most of the XP for a level when dying
  • picked and recieved missions really out of my league – initially
  • chased across an entire zone by one or more mobs – sometimes with a successful escape, sometimes not
  • tried to run past enemies much too high level for me that were next to a mission location

but I have also:

  • enjoyed some really witty NPC and mission dialogue
  • have had help and buffs from really nice and friendly fellow players
  • seen some really fun outfits
  • explored some neat scenary and good music for setting the mood
  • travelled and explored across big land areas
  • played some fun and enjoyable missions
  • played some fun professions

Many of the things on the first list are in some way negatives, but have also done something more positive. I have learned to be more aware of where I have the two targets (fight target and nano target). The zone chases have been kind of a rush when I successfully escaped and also memorable when I did not escape – I learned a few things from the experience and saw some more views I would not have seen otherwise ;)

Enjoying the scenery of The Brawl and its Lovecraft-inspired inhabitants, while being chased by a group of Weavers of Decay (I died in the end)

The XP loss can be annoying, but is not permanent – everything is pooled and added back as extra XP when going at it again. So while one has to start from an earlier stage the leveling speed is increased though, which is kind of a nice pat on the back compared to an XP debt which slows you down after death. Since you can at most lose what you earned during the current level and the levels are fairly quick, there is not necessarily a big deal.

Since the experience is not so smooth and streamlined like some more modern games, the leveling experience can vary quite a bit. I was on a mission to hunt Shy Eremites (no shy old men in desolate places, but rather sandworm type creatures) and were placing thumpers on the ground (very Dune-inspired) to attract them. Initially fighting one of these eremites were a bit daunting – it took a couple of bites of me and I was pretty much done. And I had a mission to track down and kill 5 of these – and my nearest resurrection spot was not close.

My Meta-Physicist pets - Donald the damage dealer, Harry the healer and Marvin the mezzer

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Categories: Anarchy Online

Prophet without honour

June 3, 2011 2 comments

Back when Anarchy Online was released, there was also a novel released called Prophet without honour, referred to as the first chapter of the Anarchy Online story. This was something I never read back then, but as I resubscribed to the game recently I decided to read it.

I was not sp sure what to expect and did not have any high expectations – would it be a somewhat independent story perhaps explaining some game elements, would it be some kind of teaser or advertisement for the game or something else?

The answer is a bit of a mix. It is no stand-alone story in that it has a definite ending and conclusion – it leaves a number of story threads open and in the very last sentence it points to the game for continuation of the story. It does provide a background for Omni-Tek and the Solitus race and some hsitorical as well as contemporary characters – at least contemporary back when the game was released. I have no idea yet what the situation is for Philip Ross (who was leading Omni-Tek back in those days) in the current time for the game, for example.

Prophet without honour was a better read than I expected though. It spans over 27000 years, starting from 1949 until present day Rubi-Ka, with each chapter providing a shorter story along the timeline and providing a link between the previous story/chapter and the next. I liked most of it and the kind of multi-layered puppeteer/puppet elements of the story. There is a clear notion what is the good side and the evil side in the conflict (from a human perspective) both ultimately being controlled. It kind of reminds me a bit about the philosophy of the two opposing sides in Babylon 5 (Shadows vs Vorlons).

The novel will not get you any particular benefits or advantages for the game itself; if you are the type of player who rather enjoy the journey than reaching the end, then this book might be something for you. If you are more of one than want to get to the end game as soon as you can, then this will not be for you. This novel really just about a more in-depth journey of the prologue to the game.

There is a TL;DR version of the story and more than that on the page The Story So Far; the story of the novel is essentially covered under the headline Earth and the other sections explains some parts that are left unanswered in the novel itself – probably because that page have been updated a few times as new expansions (and story elements) have been released.

I do not know if I will learn what happened with some of the characters in the novel that did not quite end there; I guess that some of these were probably covered back in the early days of the game with the live events they were running then.  Other pieces may be in the game, just need to find them.

Categories: Anarchy Online

Funcom and NCSoft info

May 30, 2011 1 comment

Usually when I get engaged in some MMO I tend to look up the company itself for some information. If it is a public company I have a look at the financial reports – sometimes a bit boring info, but may sometimes also provide some interesting insights.

I took at look at the Funcom Q1 2011 financial report that were released a few days ago, as well as the report before that. For The Secret World there were a few bits of information availble, which included:

  • Over 400K people have signed up on the games web site so far
  • The game is now in limited beta testing, on schedule
  • 170 persons are working on the game currently
In a way I think The Secret World is a bit of going back to their roots in terms of game philosophy – I think the game is closer to Anarchy Online than it is to Age of Conan in a few different ways, except that the underlying technology is using the same as for AoC. WHich is also something Anarchy Online supposedly will get also, any year now
They have 3 launched games which are profitable and 4 other games in development; the latter eating up the profits from the former so that in total they are making some losses in last quarter. Revenue for Age of Conan and Anarchy Online was about 2.8 million USD for the first quarter, with a profit of about 800K USD.  That could be estimated to a bit more than 60K subscribers for both games – most of them would be AoC subscribers.
This is roughly the same revenue that is reported for City of Heroes by NCSoft in their Q1 2011 earnings report (after currency conversion).  In NCSoft case this number a minuscle part of their revenue – about 2%. Aion accounts for 44% of their quarterly sales and Aion + Lineage 1 and 2 in total for 94% of the sales.
If one looks at regions then Europe and North America contributes to 9% of NCSoft sales, while their domestic sales is at 65%. With a population of almost 49 million compared to to the over 1 billion for Europe and North America I think they might see a market growth potential, but with the exception of Guild Wars perhaps have not seen any big numbers there yet. I wonder what their expectations are for Guild Wars 2 here.
Sadly the NCSoft report is very dry to read, the Funcom one is a bit more fun to read, as they do provide some game information and also some general market view.
Another piece of information from the Funcom report was that their Bloodline Champions arena PvP game have over 600K register users and provided 555K USD in revenue (63K USD in profit) for Q1. At least the game is the only one in that segment that have launched, so I assume those numbers are for just that game. So on average a registered user have spent almost 1 dollar on the game in the first quarter. My guess that is a reasonably ok number, although remains to be seen how that evolves later – there could be a spike in sales close to launch.

Shades and Banshees

May 29, 2011 Comments off

Perhaps there is some longing back to old times in MMOs; as I sampled a bit more of Anarchy Online I find myself getting hooked again. Lately I have started to explore Shadowlands a bit. This was the first full-fledged big expansion to Anarchy Online and as such it split the AO community in two – the ones who loved it and the ones who hated it. Part of the reason for not liking it I believe was that it felt too much like a fantasy game for many and played a bit different from the classic Anarchy Online. Those who like it seem to like the storyline and story focus, plus that there is good xp and some extra bonuses to play through Shadowlands also. I found the official good trailer for the expansion and regardless of what I may end up thinking about Shadowlands, I think the trailer was pretty good.

I only sampled a little bit of the newbie zone when I first bought the game. Now I have ventured there again, bith with a new character starting there (a Shade) and another (my Meta-physicist) going there pretty much right after the newbie Island (ICC Shuttleport). So far though I must say I like it; the timing is better now for me to appreciate the content I think now than it was when I originally bought it – I did not appreciate the fantasy style back then. Now I think it is quite nice actually.

Shadowlands newbie area

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Categories: Anarchy Online

The story of Rubi-Ka

May 25, 2011 2 comments

Going back to Rubi-Ka again in Anarchy Online brought up some old memories, things I had forgotten about. First was of course the introductory movie played when you first started the game. It was a quite nice piece introducing you to the backstory of the game. Nowadays it seems it is no longer in the game client (choosing to play does not do anything), which is a shame. Fortunately it is preserved on YouTube:

Back when the game was originally released, Funcom did a few different things to on the basic MMO experience and the world of Rubi-Ka.

They published a novel, Prophet without Honour, as a starting point for the story and events of this world. Nowadays it is available as a PDF file form the game web site. I did not buy the book back then, but will download it to my e-reader for something to read when there is time.

Another thing that they did was to produce a number of animated short movies – Anarchy Online, the animated series. These were a set of a story which were then also supposedly combined with in-game live events as well, telling some other parts of the progressing story. I say supposedly, since I never had the chance back then to actually participate in one of those live events.

As I recall they suffered from what most live MMO events have suffered from – either you only reach a very small group of your total audicence and the others feels left out. Or you have too many players in one place that performance goes down and it becomes a bit painful for the participants instead.

But the strong foundation backstory have nourished and supported a role-playing community within the game. I do not know to what extent it is alive and kicking today, but at least reading some old posts from a few years back indicates that it was something special.

I have always liked MMOs which has provided an interesting backstory foundation that I may care about and perhasp even some progression of an overarching story in the game. Going back to the game after these years reminds me that a good story foundation is not something new – it is rather something MMOs may have lost for a while and which may be coming back a bit more now in some newer releases.

Categories: Anarchy Online

To Rubi-Ka (again)

May 23, 2011 2 comments

Almost 10 years ago I started playing MMOs and Anarchy Online was my first MMO game to play. After my initial year with the game I have had some brief re-visits, but really never more than a few hours each time – almost to the point that it is negliable.

But with the 10 year anniversary it was time to jump in again and this time put a bit more effort into it. I am happy to say that I probably will get hooked into the game again for a while; learning and re-learning the game systems and mechanics is quite fun, as well as a few frustrations.

Hi Rubi-Ka, missed me?

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Categories: Anarchy Online

Going back to my roots

May 16, 2011 2 comments

From time to time I read the Friday With Means community news on the Anarchy Online web site, from game director Colin “Means”  Cragg. I like the general community and daily life-type tone of thee posts and some posts like the one about the The Tale of The Secret Nerf Table made me smile (it may help to have a developer background).

Through numerous posts this year the 10 year anniversary of Anarchy Online has been mentioned and it for some reason it just recently struck me that it is actually the 10 year anniversary of Anarchy Online – the first MMO I played and also not that far off my own 10 year anniversary in MMO space. The loading graphic with its musical tune still triggers that feeling of excitement and going into a new world as it did the first time I started the game.

Last Saturday was my 117 month anniversary as an MMO player; I started to play Anarchy Online on August 14th 2001, about 1 1/2 month after the game was launched. I realized I cannot really miss this, so I reactivated my subscription to the game. At the very least I intend to be around the game’s 10th anniversary in late June as well as my own MMO anniversary in August as a subscriber.

Categories: Anarchy Online

Happy Birthday, Anarchy Online!

June 20, 2010 2 comments

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!

Categories: Anarchy Online

Anarchy Online 7 years

June 28, 2008 Comments off

Another year has past and Anarchy Online is now 7 years old.

This is celebrated by giving all current subscribers 700 service points to spend on in-game items. Players of the free version of Anarchy Online can upgrade to all the expansions for 7 Euro/USD and gets 7 days of free game time.

They mention that an offer is going to be sent out to previous subscribers by email. Since I am one of those but I have not received any email yet I had a look at my AO account page and there is an offer there for 30 days of game time and 700 service points for free. (actually 0.00 Euro, plus 15% VAT…)

I will probably pick up this offer; I tend to go back to Anarchy Online from time to time – with it being my first MMORPG I do get nostalgic every now and then.

There is also a video here with some of the former and current game directors and designers talking about the game, which is a pretty nice piece. Mirror links and links for download for offline viewing is here.

Happy birthday, Anarchy Online!

Categories: Anarchy Online

Anachy Online graphics update

January 29, 2008 Comments off

Anarchy Online was my first MMOG and for that it has always been a bit special for me. From time to time I get back into the game, if only for a short period of time.

About half a year ago I saw the game engine update mentioned for the first time, which at that time just sounded that they would take better advantage of the newer graphics cards to offload some of the work that the CPU(s) had to do in the game today – but I did not really expect any real changes to the graphics itself.

Funcom has released a teaser video of the new engine and this actually looks better than I hoped for. There were some old familiar environments shown in that video in a new light and that looks promising. No characters were shown, but hopefully those will get a similar update. The new engine release seems to be planned for late 2008.

Categories: Anarchy Online
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