It’s time to get (cues 1950’s narration voice) lost … in … space!
Yes, Anarchy Online is going into space. Lost Eden will give new vehicles to Anarchy Online, as well as mechs – yes, the crowd-pleasing walking tanks that everyone loves – and artillery. You’ll need the mechs in order to damage towers in land based battles and you’ll be able to use them on the orbital battlestations, too.
Battlestations are open for fully open PvP based on faction. When one team conquers one, their whole side will gain benefits such as orbital laser strikes.
You’ll also be able to board alien motherships, in smaller teams. They won’t be intended for full org raids, but instead for single teams.
Having talked to Mr. Morrison – and he gave me some other info I’ll get into later – I went to one of FunCom’s panels in order to see what else I could glean from them about Lost Eden.
When it comes to the mechs, there won’t be huge costs involved for them. They’ll be based off PvP and research. But they won’t be freely available, and you won’t carry them around in your backpack. Instead, they’ll have a set duration, and you’ll only use them in basically two places: on battlestations, and in the Notum Wars on the ground. In other words, they’ll only be used for PvP.
There will be a lot of new art in the expansion. In fact, so much more that the art department said if anyone “mention[s] organic one more time we’ll shoot him” as well as “no more tentacles”. That’s because of the alien motherships; the aliens have a very organic feel to them and exploring their depths will be a creepy experience.
(And don’t expect to play as an alien, either, that’s not in the cards.)
Also, you’ll have a beautiful view of the planet from the battlestations. The planet goes through a full orbital cycle, day and night, etc. As you view out of the portholes of the battlestation, you’ll see a real-time view of the planet, accurate down to the day-night terminator.
That being said about Lost Eden, I asked Craig Morrison what might bring back players who’ve quit in the past. He mentioned in particular the new content – there’s a ton more content now, as well as a lot more quests. The original Rubika is completely free right now with no restrictions. You also have groups like Gridstream Productions who do internet radio and in-game nightclubs.
(Speaking of the original game, the AO panel also mentioned that they’re thinking of revisiting the original new player lands in the next expansion to add content and make the experience even better. Right now, though, they’re not looking at a graphics makeover thanks to the sheer number of models that would have to be completely redone – there are over 10,000 models just for clothing.)
The panel actually went into quite a bit about the original design of the game, and for good reason – it was the ten year anniversary of the design doc! Originally the game was expected to launch in 1997, and it was a much different game – more like Diablo, in fact, and not expected to be called Anarchy as that was the team name. It would have a different setting, no story progression, player-created levels and worlds, and in-game advertising. It actually started as a research project into Internet games!
The story of the launch is well-known in the MMORPG community. At the panel they joked – or perhaps it wasn’t a joke – that they had 12,000 server crashes in the first three days. Before the launch, they’d had the illusion of stability – but they learned their lesson. There were lean years, but they’ve worked hard to bring up stability and increase the player numbers. Last year they had around 500,000 players, both paid and free.
Free players – sometimes called froobs for free noobs – make up some of that number. As mentioned, the original game is completely free. They added the free trial to be synergistic with WoW’s free trial – and it’s worked so far. They’re working to keep track of everything – for instance, they keep careful track of how many credits in the game to help keep problems with farming and credit selling down.
If anything, DragonCon showed how tight the Anarchy Online community can be. The new expansion looks to add even more PvP fun into the game. If you’re into AO, you should definitely try to meet up with them at DragonCon next year!