Articles - Interview with CraigThese were questions given by the entire AO Universe Staff, as a whole it represents different points of view from the community they are part of.
AOU: Sil, did you ever dream that you'd be GD?
I think if you’d ask me that two years ago I’d have made a quiet call to those men in white coats that make people ‘disappear’ quietly! It has certainly been quite a journey from being part of the Anarchy Community to being in this position, but one that I have definitely enjoyed and feel lucky to have been able to take.
AOU: With every new expansion game director changes. Why?
I don’t think it necessarily linked to the release of expansions specifically more that in any creative industry there is a natural progression and people look for new challenges. In general I also think that when you have a live product like AO that runs for many years, a fresh injection of ideas that comes with a change of Game Director helps the longevity of the game.
AOU: AO is almost 6 years old, the longest MMORPG sci-fi online...do you think it will reach a decade and be the first of it's kind in gaming history?
I certainly hope so! I don’t see any reason why we can’t continue the success of Anarchy Online and continue to develop the game for years to come.
AOU: How often do you have a meeting with all devs? How many devs are currently working on AO?
We have daily meetings, and as the team itself is relatively small (compared to, for example, a game in development like Age of Conan or The Secret World) we have the advantage that communication is very easy and natural. The Anarchy team has a great family feeling to it. In all there are around a dozen developers with another dozen people or so working in QA on the title. There is also of course the server, network and customer support staff on top of that.
AOU: Who is currently the writer responsible for the AO Storyline?
There have never really been single writers attached for just that purpose. It’s generally a shared responsibility that’s collaboration between the Game Director and the quest designers as that’s where most of the story aspects play out. It’s very much a team effort.
AOU: When will AoC be released and will we get devs back then?
The development teams are run as totally separate development teams so Age of Conan (that is scheduled for release in October this year) doesn’t really affect the Anarchy team at all and never has. So that won’t have any bearing at all on who is working on Anarchy Online.
AOU: Can we expect better communication between FC and playerbase now that former community manager is behind the wheel?
I am pretty proud of our record there (yes, of course I am totally biased on that subject!), and have always felt that we have had very good communication with the playerbase. I certainly don’t see that changing now! I have always sought to keep working and improving on that area and that won’t stop now.
AOU: There has been lots of new content recently and even more planed. But bugs and storyline are neglected. What's planned on those two fields?
I don’t really think its fair to say either of those areas is ‘neglected’ at all. In fact I would strongly argue otherwise. I think we always strive to strike the right balance between addressing old issues and adding new content. Almost every game update includes a good quota of both new content to keep people engaged and a bunch of stuff that gets tweaked, fixed and resolved. It’s something we work very hard at to ensure that we manage to find the right balance between both.
Likewise as far as the story aspects go I think the recent content updates have included a huge amount of story development. From the events last year on Rubi-Ka leading up to Lost Eden and the arrival of the battlestations, through to the great story information that is unfolding through the quests we have been adding to the Shadowlands. Item descriptions, quest dialogue and even update content itself, are all tools we use to develop the storyline of Anarchy Online and release more storylines, background and lore into the game.
I think those recent updates have added a lot of new and interesting story elements for players to discover and enjoy.
AOU: Would you consider making a playfield where players ONLY use mechs against eachother (no turrets) for a FFA battle with a "steal the flag" theme with either no vp or lower vp reward than the battlestation?
It’s something we might consider at some point in the future but it isn’t something that we have any firm plans on at the moment.
AOU: Will ground vehicles like the Manta series be modified to actually be of use in PvP/Notum Wars? (this would make froobs very happy)
Again, it’s not something we have any plans to look at right now but it isn’t something I’d rule out as never being possible.
AOU: Is FC knowingly forcing players into PvP? New items can be only bought for VPs and those doing lots of PvP gain advantage in PvM as well.
I don’t think it should be seen as ‘forcing’, its providing an incentive to PVP yes, but incentive and risk versus reward is a central premise of the MMO genre. Almost all activity is incentivised in some way, be it levels, items, perks or research. There is almost always an incentive to do any given activity in the game, and the battlestations are no different.
We don’t really force anyone to do anything. We offer the rewards for a given activity and the players decide for themselves if the activity is worth those rewards. If you see that as ‘forcing’ then you could argue that for any given activity in the game!
AOU: Any chance the cool yalms that were supposed to be released with AI expansion be finished and released?
We did look at those some time back but there were a few issues with their textures and meshes that were never ironed out and might take some time to resolve if we did look at them. Again, its one of those ‘maybe in the future’ answers!
AOU: Will the devs consider making more use of video card ram rather than cpu and motherboard ram?
That would more then likely require an upgrade to a newer version of DirectX and that would be a major project that would almost certainly drag resources away from developing new content. It is though something that we have spent some time evaluating. I can’t say right now whether, or when, it might be viable. It’s definitely ‘on the table’ at the very least though.
AOU: Heh, silly question...when you look out from BS players see RK and the Moons and even the spacestation orbiting...however, where are the hundreds/thousands of alien ships which are supposedly around RK holding a siege on the planet?
We did think of adding some more in while making Lost Eden, but it was one of those ‘would be nice’ things that had to give way to more important priorities when it came to the effect coders time.
AOU: Any plans to either add more emotes or make the combat moves of character looks cooler?
While we would like to at some point, new animations are one of the most time intensive things we can do so its possible but probably not on any mass scale. More likely you might see the odd one sneak in now and again (for example some of the Military bosses in the 17.2 update had new animation files)
AOU: Most of the new content is level locked. Will this trend continue, or can we expect less restricting game play? There are suggestions for quests that would enable players to experience those playfield they currently can’t travel to (key to open high GS instance, where they wouldn’t bother lower chars)
Level locking content is unfortunately a necessity in some cases to be able to provide content that works for certain level ranges. While a nice idea to have higher-level ‘versions’ of some of that kind of content (or indeed lower level versions in some cases) the work required to do so would almost be the same as adding new content. This means that invariably it makes more sense to add new fresh content that players can enjoy for themselves rather then spend the resource ‘rehashing’ something they have seen before.
AOU: Will droprates be improved on some SL dynas or their spawn time improves (no, we're not talking about beast...which made a lot of people happy btw).
Those are the kinds of things we evaluate from time to time, it’s possible some might change over time. Again though, as with the animations its not something we would likely sit down and dedicate weeks to doing in one ‘sweep’, its more that some might change as game updates continue.
AOU: The billboards are great, especially to keep the froobs around. However I wonder why does FC run org ads which are specific to one server, on both Atlantean and Rimor. Can't you set them to display in the proper server and when will be the next billboard contest?
That’s mainly due to the technology that powers the billboards, it doesn’t distinguish between any of the dimensions so what shows in one shows in all. I would imagine we might have another billboard contest in the not too distant future. I love the player made billboards and think they add to the gameworld in a very cool and unique way that really builds on the games community.
AOU: Will we get an (video) interview on the Gamesconvention (GC) in germany this year, if you should be there?
If I am there then for sure!
AOU: Favourite pie filling?
I guess at the end of the day though good old apple pie has always done the trick for me!
AOU: What’s your favorite computer game to play when you aren’t working on or playing AO?
I play a lot of games whenever I can, and many different types. Recently Final Fantasy 12 kept me occupied for a good few weeks and was a great gaming experience. I play a lot on my PSP on the way to and from the office (great for idling away the tram journey!) and recently played through Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, which was a great hand held adaptation of the series. I often worry when established franchises make the jump to a hand-held version, but they did a great job on Portable Ops to adapt to the format in a way that felt really natural to anyone who had played it’s big brothers on the consoles. Lumines (and Lumines II) rarely leaves my bag though and is possibly the most addictive puzzler I have ever played. I’ve also had a lot of nostalgic fun with Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins recently (damn hard game though!)
AOU: Can I have your stuff?
Article written by Windguaerd
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