Firstly I would like to compliment you on bringing the first and only truly decent Sci-fi or futuristic MMORPG to the scene. Anyone who has ever played Anarchy Online knows exactly the level of detail this game has, even though its an old title now, it is still the most involved and complex MMORPG ever to be released.
Its kind of sad, that when gamers think MMORPG, they’re already thinking about World of Warcraft, or all the other games trying to be WoW (EQ,EQ,WAR,Age of Conan, Age of Camelot, LOTR, etc). The actual MMORPG genre can encompass ANYTHING. Funcom was the first company to break the mold and bring us a futuristic MMORPG.
Anarchy Online starts off really interesting. You know you’re involved in a war, the sides of the conflict are explained, and you’re presented with a moral dilemma, either fight for freedom, or fight to maintain control and power. Its easy to tell, the game designers put a lot of effort into the initial game experience, but due to the scope of the game, it was impossible for them to keep up the same level of quality on such a grand scale.
Once on RK, the game does remain playable till around level 50-60. After this, you’ve pretty much seen the whole of the planet, and the gameplay turns into the endless grind problem that ALL MMORPGs face. Still in my experience WoW starts off feeling like a grind, right from level. At least AO only starts feeling grindy later. I guess this is because in WoW you start off questing, and don’t stop questing till you’re level , when you raid and do instances. In AO, you alternate between questing and instances. From subway to quest running to TOTW, back to questing. Another feature of AO which I like is that experience is not shared when you form teams, you get the same experience in a team or out of a team, so you have motivation to team for quests and instances. WoW and the clones despite what you might think actually discourage teaming because players quickly learn they earn 1/4 of the experience. MMOs are supposed to be social games.
After, its in your best interests to buy the SL and AI expansions, then you can continue getting the max enjoyment out of the game till around level , and this comes quicker than you might think! Especially in the SL region where sometimes killing mobs gives you a ding. After level , the game again turns into that endless grind cycle.
What I really enjoyed about AO, is that its not a game for idiots. You have to think a bit harder than in other MMOs. Most items you want to equip won’t just slide on, twinking is hardcore, and the game has built in calc scripts to help you out with planning – yes it involves some maths. The game really eases you into twinking. In WoW you don’t twink, if you’re the right level or class, you can equip that item.
AO has lots of good futuristic game elements, like automatic weapons, personal space ship, player shops, implants. etc. Like I said before for a sci-fi experience no other game comes close.
But towards the end of the game planning you can see the development team heading off in a sidewards direction and starting to copy WoW.
the whole SL region, is not futuristic at all, suddenly you’re in some kind of spirit world, fighting well – evil stuff. In RK, the original game had you fighting mechanical robots, etc. I won’t talk much about the AI expansion, but I will say most players only enjoyed it because of the extra stats and drops. So the whole game just went sideways. SL had this dark, evil kind of feel to it, and although you were still using machine guns and modern equipment, the enemies got all WoW-ish, that WoW fantasy theme all over again.
Anyways. So you developed the foundation for a great sci fi- that could easily have come out with a brilliant sequel based on the original. Instead, you guys for what ever reasoned decided to release AoC, and as the word goes – You’ve released a WoW clone.
You had a great community of players in AO, most of them really into sci fi type games, because like I said, its the only sci-fi mmorpg of its kind on the market, and then you just yank that away from all these players by essentially leaving the game to rot and age.
Sure it’s a good game, it was in its time, but games do age, and need to be revamped, thats why games sequels come out. You’ve been promising a graphics update for so long most players don’t believe it will happen, and no one even talks about it anymore. But you’ve missed the point, graphics update would have been good in 2004, whats now needed is a new sci-fi, some variety to the MMO world again.
I am baffled why you decided to release a WoW clone, copying so many game elements from WoW. Instead of reusing your original sci-fi game elements, and creating a new futuristic sci-fi game instead, I believe it would have been a success, instead now you have AoC which I hear is a “flop” and gamers are not really playing it.