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Funcom | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 06/27/01)  | Pub:Funcom
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New Engine Q&A and Video

By Jon Wood on January 23, 2008 | General Articles | Comments

New Engine Q&A and Video

Can you give us a little bit of the history of Anarchy Online?

Craig Morrison:

Anarchy Online is a Sci-Fi MMO set in the future. Humans have traveled throughout the galaxies looking for new planets to colonize. One of the many planets that were colonized contained a previously unknown substance (called Notum) granting humans extraordinary powers. This is the planet Rubi-Ka where the game takes place.

A war is now being fought on Rubi-Ka between a corporation named Omni-Tek and small rebel forces trying to overthrow Omni-Tek in an attempt to gain their freedom. Since the launch in 2001 the game has developed with a lot of new content and expansions. Players have discovered the mysterious, almost metaphysical world known as the Shadowlands and had to confront a full-scale Alien invasion as a hostile race of unknown origin descended on the planet to try and wipe out humanity. The last expansion called Lost Eden added new missions aboard the alien mothership and new PVP battlestations in orbit around the planet that players battle for possession of.

For players who may not have been in-game in some time, what are some of the most recent changes and additions to the game?

Craig Morrison:

We have spent the last year adding a lot of new gameplay content. Included have been the new single team locked instances in AO, and we now have three of those tailored to higher-level players. We have also added a massive new alien playfield for mid level players as well as dozens of new quest across all zones in the Shadowlands. We have also started new free player friendly items into the mix as well. The last update saw a new quest line added for high level players that finds them tracking down and fighting elements of the mysterious Dust Brigade faction across Rubi-Ka. There really has been a ton of new content added to the game in the last year. We will also shortly be implementing a whole new PVP system that allows players to gain ranks in three different types of PVP with separate solo, team and duel based progression.

What was the rationale behind developing a new engine for a game that launched all the way back in 2001?

Craig Morrison:

We still have thousands of new players every week through the free player offer and we realize that while we are very proud of the games art direction, it is starting to look its age compared to modern titles. With so many players still signing up and trying the game every week we felt it would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t bring the engine up to date and little and improve the visuals. We know we have a great game with a lot of depth so in doing this we hope we can also attract people with a modern looking engine.

How long have you been working on this new engine?

Craig Morrison:

We have been working on the engine for some time in terms of research and preliminary work, probably close to a year already (as we have to also focus on the live product as well), but we are now in full production with it and dedicated resource assigned to it.

Do you have a timeframe for release?

Craig Morrison:

We are currently close to what we think is a good alpha version internally and our QA teams will soon be going over it. This version is feature complete as it were, but without the gfx effects incorporated, as all of the effects in the game need to be converted to work in the new engine. That is the next phase of development that we hope to complete over the coming months. We haven’t set a firm release window yet as with an update like this a lot of testing is required. We hope to start comprehensive beta testing sometime in the late summer and then we will assess when we might look to release it to our live servers. The team is definitely aiming for later this year.

What, in your opinion, is the most dramatic change brought on by the new engine?

Craig Morrison:

Technically the biggest change will be the optimizations afforded by being able to update to utilize the GPU as the current engine was designed before there really were GPUs to utilize! That will hopefully bring the most benefit to our players. Visually of course the game world will look so much more dynamic as we can use a lot of new features to create the types of effects seen in the teaser video.

With Age of Conan on the horizon and Secret World coming up behind it, is there a fear that AO will take a back seat at Funcom?

Craig Morrison:

Not at all, we have managed the teams separately for some time now so they don’t impact on each other in that way. Last year we moved AO to an entirely new server farm with modern servers and infrastructure that should allow us to continue development for years to come. We are firmly committed to continuing to support AO as long as the players are there and enjoying life on Rubi-Ka!

How will this new engine effect the system requirements for the game?

Craig Morrison:

We can’t say for sure just yet. It will certainly raise the requirements. The current game can run on some pretty old hardware. We will though be doing our very best to ensure we get the right balance between making the new engine and adding new features with not wanting to totally raise the specs through the roof. As much as possible will be optional and while it won’t be possible to run ‘the old way’ once we go live we are focused strongly on optimization. The last thing we want to do is to deny too many people who currently play the chance to keep playing.


Anarchy Online - Engine Video

Check out this video featuring AO's new engine

Engine Video


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