Hello everyone. It's another week and that means it is time for another Wayback Wednesday recap. This past week I had the pleasure of playing Anarchy Online with Fia Tjernberg and Dave Williams of Funcom. Fia has been the Game Director for AO since January of this year and Dave has been the Executive Producer for AO since November of 2011.
For those of you not familiar with AO, it is a Sci-Fi MMORPG set on the world of Rubi-Ka. AO turned 11 years old this year and is still going strong. While most MMOs start winding down by this point in their life cycle AO is getting a shot in the arm with a new engine stim. While no release date has been set, AO is in the process of updating all of its assets to work with the DreamWorld Engine. The DreamWorld Engine can be seen in two other Funcom titles: The Secret World and Age of Conan.
Even though AO has passed the decade milestone you can see many modern features in this game. There are daily quests, open world dungeons, instanced dungeons, and recently raid content was introduced. They also have flying mounts that look amazingly good (they have a higher polygon count and are textured very well). They were one of the most visually striking aspects of the game. In the first video you can see quality footage of the new flying mounts at 3:30.
Two of the more impressive features I found in AO are the ability to twink your character and player cities. While twinking is nothing new in MMOs how you go about it in AO is. Items are not always assigned a value that directly corresponds to a player's level. Items are given an item quality level. Players can equip these items based upon their skill level. In order to increase your skill level you can gain natural levels that increase your stats, you can purchase implants that increase your stats, and you can have other player characters cast buffs upon you that increase your stats. Once you achieve the required skill level to equip the item you can equip and use the item. As long as you do not remove the item you can keep it equipped even if the original skill level needed to equip the item is no longer maintained. If you remove the item and decide you want to re-equip it you will have to buff yourself back up, which you can see is not always an easy process.
I also found the player cities in AO very interesting. You can strike out into the wilderness and basically stake a claim to certain areas. From there you can build a city with your friends that can do almost anything that a fully functional Funcom created city can. There are merchants and transports and if the protective gas runs to low they are able to be attacked by warring groups.
AO has a hybrid payment model. The original client is free to download and you can level up your character without having to pay. If you want to take part in the Shadowlands content or the alien levels you will be required to make a purchase. You are able to try the game out and decide if you like it before you have to make an financial investment.
In addition to the engine upgrade, Fia and Dave are working diligently to recreate the new player experience for AO. AO is a feature rich game with a lot of content. The UI is robust but can be complicated at first. With these barriers in mind Fia and Dave are working to make it easier for new players to jump in and become part of the Rubi-Ka world. With a new player experience and an upgrade to the DreamWorld engine this Sci-Fi MMORPG is receiving a second lease on life and will be around for years to come to entertain us.