Fia Tjernberg's interview: Anarchy Online graphical update (english version)
JeuxOnLine : You show us the graphical update with a new video (thanks!). Can you explain us what we see here?
Fia Tjernberg : This video is showing off the features that we feel already look great, specifically dynamic grass, shadows, water, and god-rays. The recurring desert zone starring in the video is Wartorn Valley, an area that for me really captures the nature of this game; a post-war era ridden by sandstorms, robotic scavengers and horribly mutated lab experiments.
All the footage is captured in the game client in real time, and we're planning to release more videos focusing on features like character detail, environment effects and shaders as we're getting closer to releasing a beta client.
JeuxOnLine : The DreamWorld engine is presented as a "competitive advantage for Funcom" and an "advanced MMO-tech at lower cost". Does it mean you could plan significant content updates (or booster pack) for AO in a near future? And can you tell us how many people work on Anarchy Online today?
Fia Tjernberg : We definitely pay a much lower cost due to the benefit of a company-wide technology team, and all the expertise and knowledge we can draw on from the other projects. So in this sense, we genuinely use the Dreamworld technology as in-house middle-ware, which allows the Anarchy Online core development team to really focus on just the game.
There is so much going on in AO, and as a developer you always find yourself wanting to improve everything! But because we have to pick and choose where to put resources, we decided to focus on the three most important things to us. This year we're aiming towards releasing not only the engine, but also a new player experience which includes a new starting area and a tutorial, and a massive overhaul of our systems mechanics and content interaction in order to pave the way for the next expansion to the game.
One of our first contributions this year is a new player market! A browser based trade market, making it possible to buy and sell things to other players directly by utilizing the in game mail system! It will be available with the next update. Patch update notes and release date is to be announced.
In reference to how many people work on Anarchy Online, that's a very hard question to answer, because Funcom shares resources between projects for certain support professions (QA, Marketing, Billing, DBA, Operations, Community, Core Technology teams), but we are about a dozen core developers that are strictly focused on AO and nothing else.
And by the way, we are hiring!
JeuxOnLine : At launch, Anarchy Online was not very easy and accessible. Today, it seems you work on a new starting area. Can you tell us a bit about it? Are there still many new comers in AO and is it easy to begin today?
Fia Tjernberg : We still have many newcomers, and although it's a lot easier to begin today than it was when it first launched, the game has improved so much these past years, so we feel the starting experience should be updated to reflect this and do AO full justice and make it more accessible.
So two new areas are being built right as we speak, where you will master your chosen profession and take a stand in the conflict between Omni-Tek and the Clans. You'll get to drive hovercraft vehicles, customize implants, loot a massive amount of stuff, use duct-taping skills to improve your equipment, duel your friends - and much, much more!
Choose your allies carefully!
Part of making Anarchy Online more accessible will be the systems changes that I mentioned in a previous question. We want even more of the game mechanics to be visible to the player, more choices when it comes to customization, and to better support all different play styles.
Anarchy Online was a pioneer in many ways (first science-fiction MMO for example), and especially the first western subscription MMOG playable for free (with ads). Today many MMO choose the free to play model. In retrospect, do you have an opinion about this movement and do you think free to play is here to stay?
Fia Tjernberg : I was a free player myself the first couple of months, working two jobs to be able to afford rent while being in school, so I can relate to free players all over the world. The free-to-play model has been very popular since it started, I definitely want us to keep it.
Free-to-play gives you access to Classic AO, science fiction set on the planet of Rubi-Ka. You will be able to team up and level in dungeons, randomly generated missions, or through outdoor hunting, and if you for some reason want to keep on your own you can choose to take on daily missions as well. You'll have access to massive multiplayer PvP, team PvP and duels.
Having given this a lot of thought, I do think we could improve the experience by bringing everyone together. Currently free players are limited where they can go in the world, and I'd rather see us limiting the free-to-play experience in some other way than isolating the free to play and subscriber player base from one another in the future.
And to conclude, do you have a message for French-speaking gamers of Anarchy Online?
Fia Tjernberg : While we don't localize the game to different language markets, we are extremely supportive of having players from all across the globe. Our community is very open to making friends! (:
Thank you for spending time to answer our questions!
Fia Tjernberg : You are welcome, I'll see you on Rubi-Ka!
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