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AO News: Behind the Scenes

Posted by Craig McGregor on Apr 24, 2003  | Comments

AO News: Behind the Scenes -

This just in from the most recent AO newsletter:

Missions Upgrade

Behind the Scenes

Hi, and welcome to the latest Anarchy Online newsletter. This time around the focus is on the mission upgrade which have hit the live servers today. This upgrade is one of the largest in Anarchy Online so far, both in terms of content addition and technical improvements. In short, the mission system has been getting a total revamp to make it more fun, diverse, and not the least, a lot better looking.

As you might know, the mission system in Anarchy Online is totally unique when it comes to MMORPGs. The "camping is not so fun" attitude has always been central in the design, and mission terminals with personalised content on demand has been at the core of this. With more than 15 million missions completed so far, they are most definitively a vital part of the gameplay experience in AO.

The upgrade introduces new looks, better layout, improved view distance, mines, turrets, cameras, new loot system and so forth and so on. And not to forget; all brown looking caves are now gone :-) I therefore introduce Game Designer Tom Erland U. Ekenes who provides an interesting summary of the mission upgrade and the design goals behind it.

The Mission Upgrade

Hi everyone, the most striking and immediate part you will encounter in the new system is the elaborate layout inside the missions and a greatly improved view distance. This adds up to an exceptional ambience and a genuine "mission like" feel to the environment. By increasing the height and width of the rooms and adding the "modular hallways" system, it expands the space for players and monsters. The added headroom provided an opportunity to design a really authentic layout. At the core it's all about extending variety and unsettling the predictable.

Anyhow, it's not all about looks. New chests and more varied loot have been added. Mines, cameras and turrets introduces new gameplay factors. In team missions, mines and different controllers are a special treat, giving the whole team bonus if disabled. A proximity warning sound and a flashing frame around the mini-map will be most helpful, making it possible to sneak past mines and avoid them going off. You can even see cameras and turrets scanning the environment for intruders on the mini-map with the right map upgrade! Disabling one of the sentries controllers in a mission provides a great tactical advantage as they "knock out" all cameras or turrets in the dungeon.

So-called "Blitzing" is going to be affected by the upgraded mission system. Pet pathing, getting a major upgrade in the previous content update, made monsters move smarter. Now, with the introduction of cameras, turrets and new layouts in this mission upgrade; be prepared for the unexpected! To reassure those who have "blitzing" as a way of life: No, it does not mean the end of "blitzing". Changing the difficulty? Yes. Making it impossible? No.

By pushing current technology to its limits, the goal was to add as much new and exciting gameplay variety as possible. Anyhow, this first mission upgrade will definitely not be the last you will encounter in Anarchy Online.

Yours truly,
Tom Erland U. Ekenes
Designer - AO Live Team

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