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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 11:44:01   #1
Silirrion
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Letter from the Game Director

This week Anarchy Online is six years old and I wanted to take some time out this week to mention a few things about Anarchy Online in terms of its past, present and future.

It’s been quite a ride. I am sure there are many of you out there that like me remember all the thrills, trials and tribulations of having spent the last six years on Rubi-Ka.

Everyone here is genuinely honoured to now be in the position to be able to continue improving and adding to the game. Most of the development team has come here from being players and it’s the greatest testament to the community around the game that I can think of that its future is in the hands of those who appreciate the game from a player’s perspective.

So what exactly are the plans? Where will we be going over the current year and beyond?

There are a few things to mention here that I think will make for some exciting updates to the world of Anarchy Online.

Firstly we are very glad to announce that we will be moving Anarchy Online to a totally new server environment in the near future. The game will be moved onto brand new server and database hardware. This will bring the games live environment right up there with the best technology currently available that will help us ensure we can keep the game running for many years to come.

We see this as an important commitment to the continued development of the game. Now in the short term that does mean that there will probably be some significant down-time coming up when we actually make the switch (the technical folk tell me that we will be looking at having at least one downtime that will probably be between 24 and 48 hours long, but we will bring you more details on that at the time)

Next up, also looking to the long-term future of the game, I’d like to cover something that we have alluded to several times in the past and confirm that we are currently starting work on upgrading the rendering engine for the game.

What does this mean? In effect it means that we will be bringing the game engine up to date with more modern graphics technology that will, amongst other things, allow us to utilize the power of modern graphics processors. It doesn’t mean that the game will suddenly look amazing different overnight, but it does mean that we will be able to utilize the more modern technology to improve performance and introduce new effects down the line.

This is a long term project and it will most likely be next year before we are in a position to start to test the upgrade (as there is obviously a lot of work involved in such a process) but we wanted you all to know that the process is under way and our coders have started to work on the upgrade.

So now on to the really exciting stuff, news of what we have planned for new game content!

One thing that we have focused on of late is speeding up our development cycles and providing more content more often. We are very glad to see that this has been well received and plan to continue that cycle for our great free content updates. We are also though going to be releasing some great new paid content in a similar fashion.

Developing large expansions is often a time consuming and very resource expensive process. We felt that after Lost Eden, and with everything that its development taught us, that we wanted to try something different in terms of providing expansion style content.

To this end we have been developing a back end system to support the release of smaller paid content packs more often, and I am very pleased to be able to announce, not just one, but the first two such packs and what they will contain!

First though, a quick explanation of the new system that will support this. The back end system will allow players to purchase points that can be used on our billing pages to purchase these booster packs as well as various other items (like previous pre-order campaign rewards) and pay for account services like character transfers and name changes.

You will even be able to transfer these points into the game where they can be used to purchase individual parts of these booster packs if you would rather do that then get the whole lot in one go!

A lot will no doubt be made about the pros and cons of so-called ‘virtual item’ sales and the pre-conceptions that go along with it. We genuinely feel that done correctly this new system gives us the opportunity to provide more optional content for players while ensuring that the game continues to fund its own development and success.

The ability to try and develop more frequent booster pack style content means that we can make more focused content as we don’t have to try and capture every possible player with each pack. In addition it even allows us to take a few more risks in terms of trying new things as its far easier to justify three months production ‘to see if something works’ then it is a year or more on an expansion.

This means that as a development team we get to try and do some things that we might not otherwise have been able to. Personally I am very excited with the content we have lined up for this system so far, and think that it demonstrates exactly what we have in mind.

The first booster pack that we plan on launching in late August is a vehicle booster pack. The booster will bring with it some very cool new modes of transport to Rubi-Ka in the form of jet bikes and some very sleek hoverboards!

There are several designs of each type, complete with a wide variety of skins to pick from that mean you will always be travelling in style. What’s more there are even a few eye-catching tricks that you can use to impress your friends while on the hoverboards! Today sees the release of some cool concepts, screenshots and footage of some of these in action so you can get a sneak peek of what they look like!

You can find a first preview of the pack here on the site

After that, the next booster pack will be a playfield adventure pack called ‘Legacy of the Xan’ that will feature five brand new playfields that contain a great story driven experience for high-level players. Players will get to discover the answers to many questions relating to the ancient Xan and their link to the invading aliens as well as one of the most lingering questions in Rubi-Ka history – who is behind the Dust Brigade?

There is no firm launch date for this pack just yet, but we hope to be able to release it late this year.

So that’s the battle plan! Quite a bit to digest there I know, but we hope that you are all as excited as we are with where we can take Anarchy Online over the next year!

Lastly I’d like to personally thank all the players for the tremendous support and interaction that I’ve received since taking over as Game Director for the project. I know that it’s somewhat of a cliché, but it really is you, the players, that we make the game for and all of us here appreciate being able to share the journey that is Anarchy Online with you!

We are all really looking forward to the exciting places that we will be able to take Anarchy Online in the future. So the toast today on our birthday isn’t just to the success of the last six years but to another six successful years ahead!

See you on Rubi-Ka!


EDIT: You can download some movies of the boards and bikes in action: (right click and select 'save target as' to download)


Vehicle Movie

Board Variations
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 11:47:42   #2
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We should also have a cool extra present for you a little later today with some in-game video footage of the boards and bikes in action! Keep your eyes out for that later today with any luck!

EDIT: this thread is open for comment / questions etc, and I'll try my best to clarify or answer what I can
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:07:02   #3
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This truly seems to be a whole lot of interesting new changes and aswell as a comeback of the booster packs. Maybe i'll go as far as installing AO again.

Hurray for Sil!
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:07:52   #4
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Just to confirm...

The idea behind a "Booster Pack" is a one-off charge, or an ongoing monthly cost to maintain the use of these booster packs?
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:11:01   #5
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Originally Posted by Zeephonz View Post
Just to confirm...

The idea behind a "Booster Pack" is a one-off charge, or an ongoing monthly cost to maintain the use of these booster packs?
Its a one off charge yes, but in addition when possible, like with the vehicle pack there will even be the option to buy only the parts of the booster you want - it will of course be cheaper to buy all the contents as 'the pack' but the option will be there.
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:13:48   #6
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This open letter brings out some very good news, and seems to be very popular from reading the discussions on the official IRC-channel. Everyone, and me included, seems to love the fact that you mention that you will move servers, and that you will start upgrading the engine. Looking forward to seeing this.

However, what worries me is the second half of the letter. I get the feeling that if we want to enjoy the new big changes like we have seen in the last few patches, ofc thinking about Albtraum and sector 10, we will have to start paying for that?

Where does the line go between a new patch that people with all current expansions can enjoy and having to buy another small expansion/booster?
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:16:19   #7
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However, what worries me is the second half of the letter. I get the feeling that if we want to enjoy the new big changes like we have seen in the last few patches, ofc thinking about Albtraum and sector 10, we will have to start paying for that?

Where does the line go between a new patch that people with all current expansions can enjoy and having to buy another small expansion/booster?
Free content updates, like the recent quests series will not stop. That's something we are committed to, there will always be good free content in addition to paid content. The two will be produced side by side (as we have already been doing for a few months now as we have prepared the vehicle pack) so you don't ever need to worry in that respect. There will always be new free content added to the game as well.

The playfield boosters allow us to do larger experiences then we could fit in a regular content update. So whereas say a content update fight include Albtraum or a Sector 10, the boosters allow us to build an experience that might span four or five new playfields, without having to go to the expense of a fully fledged expansion. So the type of content you have seen in the free content updates will still be the type of content you will see in those updates in the future.
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:19:03   #8
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Well, Im impressed so far with the new stuff u guys have planned. I take back 90% of the bad things I've said about FC, (ok, maybe 85%, but u get the idea )
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:22:06   #9
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Purchasing items for real money makes me feel sick
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:33:00   #10
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What does this mean? In effect it means that we will be bringing the game engine up to date with more modern graphics technology that will, amongst other things, allow us to utilize the power of modern graphics processors. It doesn’t mean that the game will suddenly look amazing different overnight, but it does mean that we will be able to utilize the more modern technology to improve performance and introduce new effects down the line.
10 thumbs up! the items for rl money tho... ew
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:33:36   #11
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In previous release notes, some birthday week presents were mentioned. Is this still on? when will they be released?
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:34:31   #12
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In previous release notes, some birthday week presents were mentioned. Is this still on? when will they be released?
Yes, there will be NPCs arriving on Rubi-Ka shortly that can be found to get your hands on some neat birthday presents
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:35:20   #13
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Even though i dont actively play any more, and probably wont again.... i still applaud this.... a new/updated gfx engine is something that has been wanted for quite some time. And the combination of that, and more content = very good.

Infact, AO might get a fair bit of new life into it, if you do some promo/advertising of it when the new engine is ready.
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:46:44   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silirrion View Post
some very sleek hoverboards!
Similar to Flyff's ?

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Originally Posted by ironreet View Post
Purchasing items for real money makes me feel sick
Stealing to live makes me sick But i'm sure you meant Virtual items

It depends on the items that are on offer, if it is similar to pre-order loot (like the leet, snowballs etc) then it doesn't harm the game. if it is items like armour/weapons etc that is actually needed to be a viable character then yes...
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:53:20   #15
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Purchasing items for real money makes me feel sick
quite funny really, unless you are a froob you are already paying monthly for all the items ingame and you pay money for an upgrade like LE or SL, so why is this paying for items be any diffrent? the only thing im wondering about is when i buy an item does it counts for my complete account or just for 1 toon?
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:55:01   #16
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It depends on the items that are on offer, if it is similar to pre-order loot (like the leet, snowballs etc) then it doesn't harm the game. if it is items like armour/weapons etc that is actually needed to be a viable character then yes...
*cough* You have to pay quite a lot of money for ai armor/ofab weapons, you know... Sil mentioned booster packs (like mini-expansions), why shouldn't they contain usefull items?

I only hope they won't be priced as high as full-expansion
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 12:59:19   #17
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i vote for not paying rl money for virtual items.
virtual items should be obtained w virtual money.


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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 13:01:18   #18
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Originally Posted by macbecky View Post
quite funny really, unless you are a froob you are already paying monthly for all the items ingame and you pay money for an upgrade like LE or SL, so why is this paying for items be any diffrent? the only thing im wondering about is when i buy an item does it counts for my complete account or just for 1 toon?
i did not pay for items, i pay for playing a game that is fun not a game that is about paying for items.
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 13:01:20   #19
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Good news, at least most of it.

Only point that makes me nervous is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silirrion View Post
... as well as various other items (like previous pre-order campaign rewards) ...
Could you please explain this part in more detail?

Will there only be 'Style-Items' (Preorder Leet, new Yalm with same stats but different optics, etc.) available for money or will there also be 'high end' items like RBP or CSS armor available? Or will there even be new 'high end' items _only_ available by paying for them?
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 13:06:08   #20
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I would like to say that it's already great content in-game. Awesome even. For a passionated gamer there's enough to spend AT LEAST a year to discover everything, and for those who are not in a rush there's enough to spend more then that. Either by improving one or more characters, either for various rp/social/org related tasks.
Most players at the moment are not up to date with the new content. Either didn't finish gathering VP, either didn't finish gathering stuff from Albatrum, or they didn't get all they needed from Pande, whatever. There's a lot more to do for a lot of people. That good, even though it is yet another grind.
However, and this is what concerns me the most, with all the new playfields coming in it's becoming harder and harder to find team mates. Everyone is so spread out in AO world that I think for the most time is hard / time consuming to do a task you set out for yourself. On the other hand, on group Raids (such as beast - well mostly beast) there's too much population. Still way too much.
I was thinking that something should be done in order to fix the player distribution in AO. For instance, instancing pande would fix the overflow of people there. Would also give orgs a chance to grow bigger. If this problem is fixed, maybe something can be done to stimulate mass pvp org vs org. Perhaps new rules to tower pvp where only org participants can attend. Or perhaps a special bs where orgs could compete with greater vp rewards then global BS. I don't know about RK2 but clans on RK1 are kinda dead atm from a pvp point of view. Many complain about lack of morale, many complain about omni sb + nukes. many complain about unequal numbers. Think this should be fixed somehow on Funcom's end. PvP rules/principles are kinda old as well, since Nw. Other then orbitals nothing really changed except the players.
And IF that is also fixed perhaps we could look into a more aggressive marketing for players. We loose more then we bringing in. Or we don't get the same kind of players at TL7 as we used to get a few years ago. I don't know if they quit before they get to the end, or they just don't participate in global events but it's starting to hurt us. Maybe you guys could look into a server merger (rk1/rk2). Am sure this ain't done over night and am also sure it will bring a lot of drama over cities and lands and so on. However i think something should be done to improve the actual life on AO from an organizational point of view. Not RP, not events although it was so nice to have random ai attacks in city, DB attacks, some omni-pol whatever attacked OA at one time - those were great. simple things, like instanced playfields for orgs. And by orgs I mean players which are under the same flag, and org based pvp. One way or another orgs lost their value over time and that is not good for anyone.

EDIT: Thank you for proving wrong the rumours that funcom is trying to close down AO in favor of AoC.
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