Back when Anarchy Online was released, there was also a novel released called Prophet without honour, referred to as the first chapter of the Anarchy Online story. This was something I never read back then, but as I resubscribed to the game recently I decided to read it.
I was not sp sure what to expect and did not have any high expectations – would it be a somewhat independent story perhaps explaining some game elements, would it be some kind of teaser or advertisement for the game or something else?
The answer is a bit of a mix. It is no stand-alone story in that it has a definite ending and conclusion – it leaves a number of story threads open and in the very last sentence it points to the game for continuation of the story. It does provide a background for Omni-Tek and the Solitus race and some hsitorical as well as contemporary characters – at least contemporary back when the game was released. I have no idea yet what the situation is for Philip Ross (who was leading Omni-Tek back in those days) in the current time for the game, for example.
Prophet without honour was a better read than I expected though. It spans over 27000 years, starting from 1949 until present day Rubi-Ka, with each chapter providing a shorter story along the timeline and providing a link between the previous story/chapter and the next. I liked most of it and the kind of multi-layered puppeteer/puppet elements of the story. There is a clear notion what is the good side and the evil side in the conflict (from a human perspective) both ultimately being controlled. It kind of reminds me a bit about the philosophy of the two opposing sides in Babylon 5 (Shadows vs Vorlons).
The novel will not get you any particular benefits or advantages for the game itself; if you are the type of player who rather enjoy the journey than reaching the end, then this book might be something for you. If you are more of one than want to get to the end game as soon as you can, then this will not be for you. This novel really just about a more in-depth journey of the prologue to the game.
There is a TL;DR version of the story and more than that on the page The Story So Far; the story of the novel is essentially covered under the headline Earth and the other sections explains some parts that are left unanswered in the novel itself – probably because that page have been updated a few times as new expansions (and story elements) have been released.
I do not know if I will learn what happened with some of the characters in the novel that did not quite end there; I guess that some of these were probably covered back in the early days of the game with the live events they were running then. Other pieces may be in the game, just need to find them.
Usually when I get engaged in some MMO I tend to look up the company itself for some information. If it is a public company I have a look at the financial reports – sometimes a bit boring info, but may sometimes also provide some interesting insights.
I took at look at the Funcom Q1 2011 financial report that were released a few days ago, as well as the report before that. For The Secret World there were a few bits of information availble, which included:
- Over 400K people have signed up on the games web site so far
- The game is now in limited beta testing, on schedule
- 170 persons are working on the game currently
Perhaps there is some longing back to old times in MMOs; as I sampled a bit more of Anarchy Online I find myself getting hooked again. Lately I have started to explore Shadowlands a bit. This was the first full-fledged big expansion to Anarchy Online and as such it split the AO community in two – the ones who loved it and the ones who hated it. Part of the reason for not liking it I believe was that it felt too much like a fantasy game for many and played a bit different from the classic Anarchy Online. Those who like it seem to like the storyline and story focus, plus that there is good xp and some extra bonuses to play through Shadowlands also. I found the official good trailer for the expansion and regardless of what I may end up thinking about Shadowlands, I think the trailer was pretty good.
I only sampled a little bit of the newbie zone when I first bought the game. Now I have ventured there again, bith with a new character starting there (a Shade) and another (my Meta-physicist) going there pretty much right after the newbie Island (ICC Shuttleport). So far though I must say I like it; the timing is better now for me to appreciate the content I think now than it was when I originally bought it – I did not appreciate the fantasy style back then. Now I think it is quite nice actually.
Going back to Rubi-Ka again in Anarchy Online brought up some old memories, things I had forgotten about. First was of course the introductory movie played when you first started the game. It was a quite nice piece introducing you to the backstory of the game. Nowadays it seems it is no longer in the game client (choosing to play does not do anything), which is a shame. Fortunately it is preserved on YouTube:
Back when the game was originally released, Funcom did a few different things to on the basic MMO experience and the world of Rubi-Ka.
They published a novel, Prophet without Honour, as a starting point for the story and events of this world. Nowadays it is available as a PDF file form the game web site. I did not buy the book back then, but will download it to my e-reader for something to read when there is time.
Another thing that they did was to produce a number of animated short movies – Anarchy Online, the animated series. These were a set of a story which were then also supposedly combined with in-game live events as well, telling some other parts of the progressing story. I say supposedly, since I never had the chance back then to actually participate in one of those live events.
As I recall they suffered from what most live MMO events have suffered from – either you only reach a very small group of your total audicence and the others feels left out. Or you have too many players in one place that performance goes down and it becomes a bit painful for the participants instead.
But the strong foundation backstory have nourished and supported a role-playing community within the game. I do not know to what extent it is alive and kicking today, but at least reading some old posts from a few years back indicates that it was something special.
I have always liked MMOs which has provided an interesting backstory foundation that I may care about and perhasp even some progression of an overarching story in the game. Going back to the game after these years reminds me that a good story foundation is not something new – it is rather something MMOs may have lost for a while and which may be coming back a bit more now in some newer releases.
Almost 10 years ago I started playing MMOs and Anarchy Online was my first MMO game to play. After my initial year with the game I have had some brief re-visits, but really never more than a few hours each time – almost to the point that it is negliable.
But with the 10 year anniversary it was time to jump in again and this time put a bit more effort into it. I am happy to say that I probably will get hooked into the game again for a while; learning and re-learning the game systems and mechanics is quite fun, as well as a few frustrations.
From time to time I read the Friday With Means community news on the Anarchy Online web site, from game director Colin “Means” Cragg. I like the general community and daily life-type tone of thee posts and some posts like the one about the The Tale of The Secret Nerf Table made me smile (it may help to have a developer background).
Through numerous posts this year the 10 year anniversary of Anarchy Online has been mentioned and it for some reason it just recently struck me that it is actually the 10 year anniversary of Anarchy Online – the first MMO I played and also not that far off my own 10 year anniversary in MMO space. The loading graphic with its musical tune still triggers that feeling of excitement and going into a new world as it did the first time I started the game.
Last Saturday was my 117 month anniversary as an MMO player; I started to play Anarchy Online on August 14th 2001, about 1 1/2 month after the game was launched. I realized I cannot really miss this, so I reactivated my subscription to the game. At the very least I intend to be around the game’s 10th anniversary in late June as well as my own MMO anniversary in August as a subscriber.
In a few days Anarchy Online will celebrate its 9th birthday. It was the first MMO I played, starting roughly a month after the initial release. So I have sort of a nostalgic spot for the game and even though I do not play it currently, I try to keep an eye from time to time on the game.
The graphics update work is still in progress, although it is taking longer time than initially specified – not unusual in the software business…
While the game graphics definitely looks dated today, it is a game with character and with what seems to be a thriving RP community and a lot of storyline, lore and content.
Happy 9th birthday, Anarchy Online!
Another year has past and Anarchy Online is now 7 years old.
This is celebrated by giving all current subscribers 700 service points to spend on in-game items. Players of the free version of Anarchy Online can upgrade to all the expansions for 7 Euro/USD and gets 7 days of free game time.
They mention that an offer is going to be sent out to previous subscribers by email. Since I am one of those but I have not received any email yet I had a look at my AO account page and there is an offer there for 30 days of game time and 700 service points for free. (actually 0.00 Euro, plus 15% VAT…)
I will probably pick up this offer; I tend to go back to Anarchy Online from time to time – with it being my first MMORPG I do get nostalgic every now and then.
There is also a video here with some of the former and current game directors and designers talking about the game, which is a pretty nice piece. Mirror links and links for download for offline viewing is here.
Happy birthday, Anarchy Online!
Anarchy Online was my first MMOG and for that it has always been a bit special for me. From time to time I get back into the game, if only for a short period of time.
About half a year ago I saw the game engine update mentioned for the first time, which at that time just sounded that they would take better advantage of the newer graphics cards to offload some of the work that the CPU(s) had to do in the game today – but I did not really expect any real changes to the graphics itself.
Funcom has released a teaser video of the new engine and this actually looks better than I hoped for. There were some old familiar environments shown in that video in a new light and that looks promising. No characters were shown, but hopefully those will get a similar update. The new engine release seems to be planned for late 2008.
As a lot of other bloggers have added their take on top 10 MMOGs inspired from the thread at F13.net, I decided I’d put in some comments in the same spirit here. I don’t read those forums normally, so I did not jump in and register. I found the different motivations people wrote more interesting than the actual order and who put in their votes – I am sure there are a couple of celebrities in the game world there judging by interest sparked for this particular list, but I did not notice.
The motivations are interesting since it shows in my opinion it is a bit difficult to get some coherent criteria that everyone would agree with, making such list pretty much useless (as it also says in the original post) for anyone outside to get a good view of what game is better than another.
Worth noting is that the only game in the top 10 that is actually reasonably new is Lord of the Ring Online and 7 of 10 are fantasy MMOGs.
My own top 10, which is pretty much all MMOGs I have played for at least 2 months:
- City of Villains/Heroes
This is the game I played played actively the longest (almost 19 months and counting), mostly on villain side. It is not the most feature rich game, but what has been implemented usually works well. Best character creator I have seen so far, separation of looks and character abilities, good variety in powerset selection, great mechanics to enable people to team with each other and good fun fast-paced combat in groups.
It gets a bit grindy at times (big hurdle around level 30) and there is a lot of similar content. Good content updates that comes at regular intervals without extra cost. I have loads of characters in this game and enjoy most of them. Played witha good group of people here which definitely contributed to the enjoyment of this game.
- World of Warcraft
Second longest game I have played, spent around 11 months, got 1 character to top level, which was 60 at the time and a bunch of alts in 30-50 range. Fun to explore, solid content. Main reason for staying that long was the guild I was in and when that fell apart my interest in the game pretty much vanished. Among the least amount of annoyment factors in a game that I have played, which is one reason it is high up in list. Decent mixture of skills in the different classes.
- Final Fantasy XI
Spent around 8 months in this game. Loved the concept of jobs and subjobs, did not like that some combinations there where pretty much forced in practice. Hated the camping. Loved the cutscenes, some of the story line and the general feeling of a dangerous world. Fighting my first dragon there was a rush like I barely had in any other game. I loved the beastmaster job. Did not really like the forced grouping in certain areas at certain levels, which which was abonus for the beastmaster – that did not really apply in that case. Had good fun with the BCNM fights (Burning Circle Notorious Monster) I was in. The linkshell I was in was good at the beginning, but after the general maturity and common ground with the other members faded, the interest in the game also faded.
- Everquest 2
Lots of features, some nice storylines and mixed graphics – some great some so-and-so. Loved Brigand and Coercer and had some decent fun with some other classes also, highest got to mid 40s (brigand). Have played the game in 4-5 periods, total time perhaps 8-9 months. Too much master spell farming and grouping for XP for my liking.
- Star Wars Galaxies
Mainly for the game as it was during the first 5-6 months, to a bit after player cities was introduced. This was a time where many higher level creatures could be considered dangerous. Loved the skill-based structure, hated the grinding necessary for some of these skill trees. Hated the one character per server restriction. Loved the versality in classes, crafting mechanics although did not like htat you pretty much had to be a master crafter to make any money on your work (and the grind to get there). Ended up as a ranger/creature handler eventually and I loved the pet handling, collecting pets and raising them and go hunting for material that I sold later. Player cities was an intersting concept, but I thought it actually destroyed a bit of the game and later changes destroyed it more. Never was interested in getting into Jedi.
- Anarchy Online
My first MMOG. Spent perhaps 10-11 months in total there over multiple periods. Have all the expansions, but has not really touched much beyond the original game content. Had plenty of alts, only a few got above level 50. Due to real life circumstances (i.e. work), my first 10 months in the game was mainly a couple of hours each weekend, the only time I was home in Sweden. Great mood setting in some areas and good fun back then. Cannot really back into the game nowadays though.
- Tabula Rasa
The game has not been out after release for 2 months yet, but I also played some in beta. Great combat and immersive environment, good storyline. Crafting is a bit crappy at the moment and some of the mission bugs gets annoying. Playing it with a good bunch of people, which adds to the fun. If I make this list again in a couple of months I suspect this game will be ranked higher. I just need to put some of the games I played for a longer time ahead of it, the postion is rather low due to the short time it has been around. A couple of months from now it may be in top 3.
- Earth & Beyond
My second MMOG and the first game in space, played for maybe 9-10 months. I loved the concept of a changing world and the grand story arc and the first 30-40 levels had some nice missions and story lines in addition to the story arc. Combat with space creatures was fun. Crafting was ok, trading part (a chat channel) was horrendous. A lot of the time towards level 150 was one of the worst grinds I have had in an MMOG, which lowers its position.
- EVE Online
Wanted to really like this game and have a complement to Earth&Beyond initially. Played in two periods, totalling maybe 2-3 months. Never got into a company I liked and after a while space felt a bit empty. I like a number of the game mechanics and it is a bit stimulating, but not so much fun after a while. Probably would have worked out better with a good company.
- Lord Of the Ring Online
Pretty game environment, some of the start quests and the main story arc was good. After a while it felt really uninspiring and grindy, quests, combat and pretty much everything except the environment itself. Highest character got to mid/high 20s, loremaster. left after about 2 months, even though I had bought a pre-order with 6 months subscription.
Some of the positions here is pretty much impossible for me even to agree with myself and if I am asked again in a short while some of the positions may change. And if I was asked about a list of games I would like to play now and order them, it would be a quite different list. It is a rather futile attempt at comparing my enjoyment and frustration at different periods in time when it comes to MMOGs.