Anarchy Online my closing thoughts

I guess game blog posts are the most fun to write. I played Anarchy Online for about 2 years, then quit. Later I rejoined, but after about 4 months lost interest again. I know this time around I won’t be going back. During my time off I’ve done some objective thinking about gaming, particularly MMOs and I’ve had enough time away from AO to look at it from all angles.

This post is for people who have actually played AO for an extended amount of time, if you’ve never heard of AO, this post gets specific about game issues you may not understand.

Firstly lets commend Funcom for having created this outstanding game. I believe in the beginning Funcom really lived up to its name. The MMO scene was cutting edge. Back when AO was released, the DX7 engine was advanced enough to offer amazing character customizations, besides this RK is huge and AO can keep you amazed for at least the first year of playing it. I can imagine the game designers were exceptionally proud by what they produced initially, but were unable to keep the game as current as they would have liked.

The initial game direction is fantasic. The futuristic sci-fi theme really works, and the ability to create robots and have pets is another appealing factor of the game. RK as a planet is quite diverse, and its easy enough to get around. Unfortunately instead of enhancing the sci-fi aspects of the game, FC decided to go in a totally new direction with it, and instead add more fantasy real estate along side more religious lure. So once you hit SL the game stops being a sci-fi and instead turns into a fantasy where some classes have ranged weapons.

I guess it only took so long before the staff and/or game directors started seeing the success of WoW, and so decided to release a WoW clone, something that would be able to compete with WoW or at least take a slice of that huge player base. FC’s edge was they were building a game from the ground up. They marketed AoC as a game with awesome graphics, revolutionary combat system and outstanding P2P.  I think they were a bit over confident, because at the same time they started the development of TSW. Unfortunately neither AoC nor TSW have become huge hits, I guess because AoC was one of the most disappointing MMOs ever launched, and once bitten twice shy, as they say. This post is not really about these games, but I’m making this point because FC effectively left the development of AO behind, and I question this decision.

You see in my mind, this is where the company stopped being a “Fun Company” and instead started producing if anything bog standard MMO’s, one of them (AoC) an obvious WoW rippoff. How fun can it be to be writing clones, or living in the shadow of a far more successful game (WoW).  There are more than 50 WoW clones on the market, and AoC, now FC’s flagship product is just another WoW clone, and somehow I think they know this. I have to guess its not a huge success when I find emails in my inbox begging me to come back to the game, offering me some rewards and incentives.

What should they have done? Its a pretty obvious answer, they should have capitalized on their existing monopoly – the sci-fi genre. Instead they left a huge gap in the market for games like Eve and now the emerging sci-fi’s coming out this year or next, for example Star trek online. The short answer – they should have released AO2. Take a great idea and progress with it. Instead they hung AO out to dry, and abandoned their player base, so to speak.

AO is getting less and less love every year. The graphics engine is a joke, and I don’t think it will ever launch. I’ve personally been waiting for it for 2 years, but some people have been waiting for it for over 5 years. Read some forums if you don’t believe me. FC have yet to release any tangible evidence that it can actually be implemented. A few screen shots here and there and 1 or 2 vids are all they’ve managed to produce.

Bottom line, unfortunately the game is dead. Its still around but the hosting servers are all merging into 1, as the player base shrinks, and eventually it will just fade away. I’m expecting that in the next 2-3 years the servers will be shut down, but this is just me projecting. I could be wrong.

Now for a more positive side of the post. I enjoyed playing this game, and because of this I will remember the good, and not forever think about how great it could have been. Its a game you play for a while then you should stop, otherwise you get too involved in waiting for changes and updates that don’t happen quick enough.

Overall these were my best memories in AO.

1. Landing on RK.

There are a lot of starter quests, and you meet some interesting people. Learning out how to use the maps, and click saving was also fun. Back then your run speed is so bad, getting to the missions and completing them is a real challenge. Heading down the longest road trying to avoid over powering mobs. Picking up loot and selling it in the shops. Then finally making some friends and heading into the sub way, then you feel more informed I guess, and starting to find your way.

2. Finding out about yalms, and doing an insane amount of missions to be able to afford one.

I worked for every cred, and could only afford a yalm at around level 60. Before that I had this one friend who owned a yalm and used to demonstrate its potential. When I finally got one, the whole game took on new meaning. Getting around was much quicker, and the whole map opened up. Adventuring became safer too.

3. Finding my first (and only org)

No matter how you look at it, there are 2 stages of playing AO. Life before and after an org. Before an org, you’re all alone, and wearing crap gear, and just generally lost. But because of this, the game is fun. Once you join an org, you get higher levels who will kit you out, and take care of you. This is great in a way, but it also subtracts from the overall enjoyment of the game, unfortunately by the time you realize this its too late. Being in an org is overall a good experience though. And people help you out with impossible boss quests, its great. You also learn a lot about the game.

4. The Shadow lands

Jobe looked really cool the first time I saw it. SL was always a dark and mysterious place, but in the beginning so much more. Tiggs and Hecks, first time around also added a whole new level of enjoyment to the game. Before I played AO, I had no idea what a tank was, I was clueless, so team work was pretty new to me. You level quick, and finally get through to Pen, then Inf.

That’s about it really. There were lots of encounters with great people, but I think after I got to around level 210, the game stopped being enjoyable for me, and became an endless grind.

Can’t really say I ever enjoyed BS, I’ve played lots of better PVP games, and the action in BS is totally crap. To this day FC hasn’t bothered upgrading it.

Anyways – enough said. Farewell to AO, DX11 is coming out and I’ve got a new i7. I can’t wait to see what games are coming out this year for this platform.