Articles - Inside Anarchy Online #9
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this editorial are the views of the author alone and are not representative of the views of AO Universe.
Hello again fellow gamers!
My name is Luis Odicio, mostly known as Windguaerd among the roleplaying community in the Atlantean Server. If you don't know who I am, then read my first editorial at AO Vault in which I introduced myself.
In my previous editorial in November of 2004, I shared my thoughts and ideas on how to improve Anarchy Online, some of these ideas were sent directly to Funcom back then, some where implemented, and others were not. Part of those suggestions were sent even before Alien Invasion was part of the game, some were obviously from the time right after Shadowlands went live, other ideas were related to Alien Invasion and the Classic AO.
This editorial is Part 1 of a review on the changes that have taken place since my last editorial, what Funcom actually changed since I wrote it and a few additional suggestions to improve our gaming in AO be it through gameplay changes, design or otherwise.
Official Site Content:
The Timeline was finally updated after over a year of being outdated. Thumbs up to Funcom (specially Silirrion, because I know he was behind the effort).
There is SOMETHING new to read, now they feature the Editor News forum (roleplaying reports) at the AO Launcher and at the front page of the official AO site. A good step to make the official and player run storylines visible.
No changes on the Animated Series, neither on the suggestion of a comic book. I'm a bit dissapointed, since it would take very little resources to make a continuing series to update the players regarding the AO storyline as a whole to the point that I think they could even delegate this to ARK (that happens to have some talented graphic artists)
The suggestion about short stories apparently was also passed. The idea was for each one to be written without a 'final' ending, but an open ending, making the reader wonder what happened to the characters or how the story would end?
At the end of each story they could add "How will your story be in Anarchy Online?quot;
ARK released info about the NINE Legacy (official story related) clans (part 1, part 2), but the AO site only shows two, and old information....here. This is still yet to be updated, and it's been a long time since the info was released..
Same with the information about the Omni-Tek Departments.
The suggestion of a voice-only story to finish the Animated Series using the original actors from it, was also probably not taken. After some thought, I think it was not something they would consider within AO's budget to track down the people they hired years ago, and then pay them (probably a few thousand dollars) to do a 20-30 minute audio chapter.
The idea of a contest with the theme "Write your own AO story in 1000 words or less and we'll feature it at our front page and 6 free months of AO!" (which would have made a lot of players happy) apparently was not taken either; but thinking about it now...it would take a lot of resources to do this, for the simple reason that if there is even just 300 entries for this (or 3,000 if a lot of people want 6 free months)...it would take a whole team of people to read and judge it...which could take from weeks to months to do. Such individuals would be better off doing something else.
However here comes a variation of the contest which would be easy to use (it was used before in the past).
Feature 3 questions regarding the AO Timeline, those who got the right answer are in a raffle for the 6 free months. This would get more people to read about the storyline and make it easier to manage since there will only be 3 correct answers, anything else would be disqualified and should be able to find a winner within a few days by 1-2 people.
Classic AO (Rubi-Ka) & Notum Wars
Most mobs which have an 18hr spawn are still practically owned by powerplayers (uber through SL/AI perks and items) that can solo them and kill them in 10 seconds or less, leaving the fr00bs no chance at the loot (and selling them for outrageous amounts of credits).
Many of these mobs carry items which are not as precious or valuable as they were after SL and AI came out...but because of the spawn time their value on the market is still very high making it available mostly to powerplayers.
I still think that reducing the spawn to 2hrs + a 20% chance every 20 mins (like Trash King) for most of these mobs would be an acceptable solution so that the newer players (who only have classic AO) have a chance at it. Another possibility is to 'clone' these mobs and place them in other places in the same zone...or even separate them at different zones to make it harder for a single person to just pwn them all.
The old mobs outside most towns like Omni-1, Tir and Newland are still not viable to level. However after some reviewing this idea, perhaps it should remain that way. After all most players don't want to get attacked as soon as they leave a safe town. However creating a safe 'Zoo' for new players to check out what they may face when they begin to walk outside an RK town is still a good idea.
There are still areas in RK where there are large (and I mean 30+) mobs in a very small area...making it difficult for low levels to level up...too many adds (additional mobs) would engage and are likely to smack someone to reclaim without a chance. SL has these type of groups...but then it's intended as that 'dimension' is far more dangerous than RK. My suggestion was to either spread out these mobs a bit more, or reduce their numbers. Too many mobs...equals lag. There are players who are in AO meeting the basic requirements to run the game....on some not even on broadband. I speak from experience, since I've been on 56k for the past few months due to my personal budget, however even when I was using cable, this was a problem.
I had suggested some changes to the Notum Wars towers so that the organization owning it wouldn't lose it overnight (what fun is it to get something, and lose it in a day?) These days powerplayers, and SL/AI-twinked characters can almost singlehandedly take down a whole base. This brings frustration to orgs and their members. I'm not saying to make it super hard or close to impossible to take down a base....but just hard to break a sweat and enjoy a well deserved victory....not a 5 minute killing fest.
The idea was that the towers themselves needed to be tweaked, the debuffs needs to be higher, have more hp and attack power...but NO changes to buffs to their owners. Of course these changes should bring the cost of these towers at all shops to be higher by about 5 times it's current price (a worthy investment for any organization). If a tower is going to really withstand punishment to give an org a chance to gather their members, call friends and organize a defense...it should be worth that much on credits.
Everyone pays more for a car with an airbag...it's called insurance (a bit of reclaim humor). You want the insure that you will get some time to fight back, to keep your base.
I was hoping FC would take up on the suggestion to duplicate the 'exhibition' at the arrival hall which shows an Eremite and 'statues' of rubikans fighting it and put it in every town. It would be a nice display, but you can't have it all it seems.
The old entertainment establishments in RK (Baboons, The Cup, Neuters r' us, Happy Rebel) needed to have more 'interesting' NPC's...a drunken soldier, a romantic singer, an off duty guard, a dancer who doesn't want to dance...because there is still a lack of 'athmosphere' in these places...sure there is a bartender...good to get a drink but not in a mood to talk even to his own mother...and we have the few 'mute' dancers who do the same moves over and over...a bit more 'essence' would go a long way. There is no need for intrincate interaction...a short 'Im here because of X' or a simple 'Hey, don't ya see I want to be left alone? get lost!' attitude adds to the place. I truly wish FC would take this idea to heart, since it has gotten so boring that the clubs are rarely visited even the weekends.
My suggestion to add Whom-Pahs to places that were made for PvP which are practically abandoned due to being too far to reach or just so obscure that you know once you get there that it will be empty is still up for grabs. They just need a little 'jumpstart'....or removal. When was the last time anyone PvP'ed in the 'Beer n' Booze' bar in Mort...two years ago?
Adding Whom-Pahs would increase the use of these places. How many times people want to do a 1-on-1 duel..maybe for fun with a friend and then getting ganked in the arena? (and don't have AI to enter an org's private PvP arena) making a shortcut to other PvP indoor locations lowers the likelyhood of ganking, and makes it more exciting...the arena is square...some PvP places are quite large and good for PvP training. And this is coming from someone who rarely does PVP, but know quite a few who do.
Also some places meant to be 'outposts' or 'bases' (not NW related) mainly from clan and omni side still have guards with outdated gear and weapons. Yes I know there is a penalty when you attack a guard, you become 'PvP flagged' for a certain amount of time and open to attack by players of other factions...but there are players who enjoy the 'conflict' this way. If players updated their gear with SL and AI, why not the NPC's?
I recently purchased a cheap Neo Concept Manta vehicle (the black one), and it is a fun vehicle to ride around town, to the point that I got a lot of /tells asking me where I got it, if it was a new yalmaha (hehe) and how much I paid for it. Everyone liked the look of it, but when I sent a reference of it on a chat...seeing the HeavyWeapons requirement and knowing the price, it turned people off to getting it.
The Manta was one of the most hyped things from NW, but since the booster pack went live...I've seen maybe two players in those vehicles, one in the red sporty one and the other using the neo concept. We're all used to seen a hundred yalms flying around...thanks to NW and AI at least there are in different colors and models...but who wouldn't like to see some ground hot rods? By turning the Manta series into a CHEAP ground vehicle and removing it's combat stats (and HeavyWeapons requirement) it could easily change the enviroment of RK towns....I'm not saying it's going to be the 'corvette' everyone will want...but who wouldn't spend a few hundred thousand on a cool red & white Manta Sportline without having to waste IP of at least 200 HW requirement which we all know you will never use in combat?
Also paint kits for the Manta and other ground vehicles would add more diversity.
AI brought more models of yalms...cool, yeah...but that is more 'fly-by' vehicles...blink of an eye candy. Now a few mantas on the road and in player cities...now that would be a nice sight to see.
Note: A few AI yalmahas like the Dusk and Obsidian models which were the hottest yalmahas ever made were never released, will FC fix whatever glitch they had and give us those awesome yalms? I wonder.
There are also a few existing ground vehicles in-game that could be 'recycled', there is a 'taxi' and a 'limo' parked in Tir, I can tell you, those would be EXCELLENT additions for players to enjoy.
And again, please FC, consider removing 'The Mid' from the game...I have not seen anyone since 2001-2002 use it...and it's texture is identical to certain mobs...not very flattering to the owner.
Well..this is as much as I can say about good old Rubi-ka. Now to SL!
Jobe Platform/City & Shadowlands
The storyline, and all NPC's support that Jobe itself is ON Rubi-Ka...yet it acts like a shadowland playfield...meaning that it won't show on the regular RK Map (it's not in the SL map because it's not a shadowlands 'zone'). You can't use RK healing kits, or execute RK nanos. This is not noticed by most players...but if you added a city (floating....but a city still) that seems to be somewhere in RK and people can Whom-Pah there...why wasn't it added to the RK Map?....the fact that it acts like a SL zone...could be explained that the portals in Jobe are open 24/7 and they affect the enviroment of the city which makes RK tech just...not work. Neither the Jobe Platform/City is shown in either the RK or the SL in-game Map, adding that to either Map would make sense for any new players traveling SL.
It has been some time since the RK Map was updated, and since AI's release many had hoped it would be redone (hopefully by the same artist who created the SL Map). Now it wouldn't be as big a deal, if it wasn't that additional zones were added to RK to make more city plots available to the playerbase. When you go to those places, they're past the border line of the existing Map. Many know of the very popular SL Map which was modified to show places and mobs in each zone (Spheremap), so why not do the same with the RK Map? Make a new one with the basic points of reference (Tir/Omni-1/Newland) and then let the playerbase play with it. Those who have been around a few years will remember Dovve's Map, it was a beauty, and from it other players created more detailed and innovative Maps. But things have changed quite a bit since those days.
Note: Patch 16.0 seems to update the RK Map to include the "Coast of Peace" and "Coast of Tranquillity" zones which were added after AI, however that doesn't quite mean we're getting a new map, just that the original is being ammended it seems, let's see what they do. Remember "content of planned updates may change before they reach the live servers".
An interesting issue remains after almost 2 years. When you travel SL...you see notum fields, their names, their QL...just like in RK's Notum Wars plots...yet...they are closed? I do recall an article, "RPG Vault - Anarchy Online: Shadowlands Peek of the Week #8" (http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/393/393391p1.html) which focused on Land Control and Notum Veins in Shadowlands.
They were sort of supposed to 'link' up with the RK fields owned by the same orgs to increase the bonuses. I would think they put this on hold because it could not be worked in due to other priorities of the expansion (SL is HUGE) and release deadlines. Well...SL was launched in 2003...AI has been released and it's pretty much finished...so maybe this feature can be worked on? if not...just change it so the 'notum veins' are no longer visible...at least we'll know it won't be a feature ('cause teasing or saying 'maybe later on' is not good CR).
The same applies to the monument in gardens which were supposed to warp you to your SL notum base.
Note: FC is currently working on the next expansion, "Lost Eden". So what happens to the remaining 'bugs', unbalance and what appears to be abandoned places/ideas which the developers hyped up before and during the launch of the previous expansions?
Yeah, I know ARK does surveys and polls...but with the limited number of volunteers, an automated system would be better to get feedback from the community across both servers.
Imagine a building in Tir, Newland and Omni-Trade where the players can enter and using a terminal they can select yes/no or from a selection of answers to questions?
Use the same layout as the omni shops (3-4 floors) -but not the omni theme, maybe neutral- with terminals in every level for players to use.
Only one character per account can use a terminal, and unless the entire survey is filled and a button is clicked it won't be counted/sent to the system.
Also polling building would only open when there is an active poll going, and otherwise it will be closed...people who logoff in a building trying to stay inside, will find themselves outside after a building closes...like when you finish a mission and have no key and logoff inside a mission.
The billboards in the game to advertise expansions, and products are great...but how about going a step further and make them 'live feed' boards...well, they would be pre-made looped small video files that will give it a more futuristic live feed...think New York's Times Square with all the large video screen showing news & commercials. You can show a newscast, weathercast, advertising, etc.
Note: Looks like FC took me up on the idea, since they now feature short video commercials on the billboards, sure they are not all 'futuristic', but it's more fitting to have video feeds than large posters in the 30th millenia, hehe.
Adding things like Crypt of Home, Inner Sanctum...THAT was quite original (with sort of a horror theme), and well done (even tho a lot of mobs 'mesh' were recycled)
Work on already established places, add new quests...the pyramid in Home (Broken Shores) for example, open it up and make it a new dungeon.
Oh....if you don't know, there are NW fields which never opened. You need to activate those too, and the sooner the better. I know one location for sure...in The Longest Road.
Article written by Windguaerd
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