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8th Year Anniversary Interview with Means, Game Director of AO

Hello Means and welcome to my personal torture chamber. Let's begin with the tough questions.

Are you really a vindictive, heartless, ruthless bastard? because so far that revelation has increased your popularity with the players.


Only when pushed beyond what reasonable discussion and warnings can accomplish. Forgiveness in the right context can be much more effective long-term than crushing punishment. The main offender in the incident that incited this discussion was unintentionally causing this issue and was extremely helpful in helping us isolate and prevent this kind of issue in the future. Despite the inconvenience and embarrassment to everyone, heartless destruction of an individual had no real place in that particular interaction. I don't take pleasure in nasty countermeasures of this nature...but I will do what is necessary in the most permanent and painful ways when I feel there is no other option. Thankfully this is a rare occurrence in my new chosen profession. I work on games and like to have fun and make fun experiences for others...it is a great way to live and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Except maybe my own big silver jet, 10 million dollars, and a chocolate couch.

How goes the progress on the new orbital content and is there an approximate launch date yet?

The new orbital apartment or "Luxury Residence" will be coming this week in the 18.1 update. The artists are working hard on designing and building our first new nightclub in many years. I didn't want to rush the nightclub out, so it will be coming in a "soon" update...as soon as we are certain it was worth the wait :P .

You mentioned on FC's irc chat channel #anarchyonline that the official AO website had been taken off the hands of the Marketing Department, who is currently working on the redesign of the website and is there any estimate as to when the new site will be launched?

There is no current date for when this is going to be complete as we are still in discussion about what exactly we want from the new site. The old site is painfully lacking in many ways...we want to make sure those shortcomings are addressed and the function clear and designed before we begin the work. Any reasonable suggestions would be appreciated. I am thinking it would be great to incorporate some art from the community on the site...we'll have to talk about this soon.

The decision to switch from the Ogre engine to FC's own Dreamworld Engine/Cheetah engine has been well received by the community; will the requirements to run the game change to those similar that Age of Conan players since it's the same engine?

Initial work will be to simply "make it work" then the harder task of "optimization for older machines" will begin. It is not our intention to leave some of our players with older machines out in the cold. That being said some of our players will probably need to upgrade their ancient systems at some point...as just running some of those old graphics cards probably qualifies these users for archeology scholarships. It is the goal keep this upgrade as minimal as possible...display options will keep this to a minimum.

Will the new engine bring the possibilities of features which you did not expect to be available with the Ogre engine?

Yes. With the new engine being developed in-house for our future titles we will get the benefit of improvements over time. Eventually we might get to see a DX10 version of AO with "Godrays"...this kind of support and advancement was very unlikely with Ogre. Ogre is an excellent engine with a fantastic community...but it ended up being in the best interests of AO to go with an in-house engine in the long-term.

Last I heard the date for the new engine launch is sometime in November of this year, is this accurate?

I am still hoping for "This year" but it will be tight, and difficult. Every effort is being made...either way this is not going out until it is done. Walking into the "new" AO will be glorious and worth the wait...or it isn't finished. We all love this game too much to let anything else out of the building.

With the original plans for AO to run for only 4 years and now reaching twice that number, do you think Anarchy Online will be the first sci fi MMORPG of it's kind to hit the 10 year mark?

I can't see any reason why not. AO is a great game...there is really nothing like it. We will do everything we can to keep it actively developed and running for as long as possible. With the support we receive from the company (eg: funding new engine, new servers, new character models) I do not see any reason why we shouldn't last another 8 years :)

What goodies will be around this time for the 8th year anniversary of the game?

This years birthday brings a raft of fun social items to help celebrate our 8th amazing year. VP presents will be dropping on the Battlestations, new social costumes including long requested wings and placards are just some of the new toys this year. Two new hoverboards will be available in the PP vendors, with one now being available in the Veteran's vendor. Celebratory fun like the "I Win" buttons and party ducks will also of course be making an appearance. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at this year's events!

With the upcoming patch introducing the Serenity Islands there is a new set of social clothing coming with it. The suit reminds players of one of Ricardo Montalban's legendary characters (may he rest in peace), any chance we'll see a Khan outfit in the future?

I think we'll leave the other Sci-Fi legends where they really belong. Stealing a legendary character outfit from another great sci-fi universe would feel as wrong as adding "Vulcan ears" to the game.

Have you ever considered a server-wide notum fields reset to reboot the NW aspect of the game?

Who know what the future may hold...once we have better pvp balance it might be fun for everyone to wipe the slate clean and ramp up the conflict again. There is no immediate plan for this kind of action...but never say never.

This is a question I always wanted to ask. There is actually a taxi vehicle in-game, last time I saw it, it was in Tir, I even have a screenshot of it somewhere. Will it ever be available for players to use? if we can have funny arrows, cowboy outfits and a fantasy island suit, why not a taxi? So, what do you say?

I think we'll stick to adding new vehicles...I think we can do a lot better than that old model.

What is the last decent/good sci fi movie you've seen either at a theater or at home?

The last film I watched is an old favourite of mine..."Outland" starring Sean Connery as a wild-west style sherrif on an off-planet mining operation fighting corruption in an "Omni" style huge corporation. Considering when it was released it holds up really well for its age. Sean would be a great clan-leader in the AO movie I'm sure he would want to make :) .

Are you a book reader? and if so what are your favorite titles?

I love reading but rarely find the time nowadays with children and work keeping me very very busy. The last book I read was "Fight Club" in Swedish. One of my favourite sci-fi title would be "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein...amazing vision of the future from 1966.

How do you like living in Norway? and are the women there hot? (don't worry about your wife, she is unlikely to read this, and if so blame it on the Marketing department).

The vast majority of Scandinavian women are gorgeous in a manner that is completely unfair to the rest of the world. It is obvious that the culture spent a century stealing beautiful women from other countries. It is strange to see women that wouldn't be out of place on the cover of Vogue writing parking tickets or serving pizza in restaurants. I am very fortunate to have married one of them.

Your wife loves horses, what animal do you like if any?

My favourite animal is cow. They taste great.

Where do you see AO a year from now?

I see a bright future for AO. With a new engine coming and improvements to the game coming steadily with every update the game keeps getting stronger and stronger. Huge thanks go out to everyone who is working with us in the community to help us move in the right direction.

Years ago FC had Dev chats in IRC, that attracted a lot of attention, specially when they answered live questions from players. Is there any chance at that happening again? maybe once a year.

I'd love to do this again...it has been a lifetime since the last one. We'll have to arrange for one of these chats in the near future.

Keep up the great work guys! We appreciate everything you do for AO!

Last updated on 12.07.2011 by Khuri
Article written by Windguaerd
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