This week Anarchy Online is six years old and I wanted to take some time out this week to mention a few things about Anarchy Online in terms of its past, present and future.
It’s been quite a ride. I am sure there are many of you out there that like me remember all the thrills, trials and tribulations of having spent the last six years on Rubi-Ka.
Everyone here is genuinely honoured to now be in the position to be able to continue improving and adding to the game. Most of the development team has come here from being players and it’s the greatest testament to the community around the game that I can think of that its future is in the hands of those who appreciate the game from a player’s perspective.
So what exactly are the plans? Where will we be going over the current year and beyond?
There are a few things to mention here that I think will make for some exciting updates to the world of Anarchy Online.
Firstly we are very glad to announce that we will be moving Anarchy Online to a totally new server environment in the near future. The game will be moved onto brand new server and database hardware. This will bring the games live environment right up there with the best technology currently available that will help us ensure we can keep the game running for many years to come.
We see this as an important commitment to the continued development of the game. Now in the short term that does mean that there will probably be some significant down-time coming up when we actually make the switch (the technical folk tell me that we will be looking at having at least one downtime that will probably be between 24 and 48 hours long, but we will bring you more details on that at the time)
Next up, also looking to the long-term future of the game, I’d like to cover something that we have alluded to several times in the past and confirm that we are currently starting work on upgrading the rendering engine for the game.
What does this mean? In effect it means that we will be bringing the game engine up to date with more modern graphics technology that will, amongst other things, allow us to utilize the power of modern graphics processors. It doesn’t mean that the game will suddenly look amazing different overnight, but it does mean that we will be able to utilize the more modern technology to improve performance and introduce new effects down the line.
This is a long term project and it will most likely be next year before we are in a position to start to test the upgrade (as there is obviously a lot of work involved in such a process) but we wanted you all to know that the process is under way and our coders have started to work on the upgrade.
So now on to the really exciting stuff, news of what we have planned for new game content!
One thing that we have focused on of late is speeding up our development cycles and providing more content more often. We are very glad to see that this has been well received and plan to continue that cycle for our great free content updates. We are also though going to be releasing some great new paid content in a similar fashion.
Developing large expansions is often a time consuming and very resource expensive process. We felt that after Lost Eden, and with everything that its development taught us, that we wanted to try something different in terms of providing expansion style content.
To this end we have been developing a back end system to support the release of smaller paid content packs more often, and I am very pleased to be able to announce, not just one, but the first two such packs and what they will contain!
First though, a quick explanation of the new system that will support this. The back end system will allow players to purchase points that can be used on our billing pages to purchase these booster packs as well as various other items (like previous pre-order campaign rewards) and pay for account services like character transfers and name changes.
You will even be able to transfer these points into the game where they can be used to purchase individual parts of these booster packs if you would rather do that then get the whole lot in one go!
A lot will no doubt be made about the pros and cons of so-called ‘virtual item’ sales and the pre-conceptions that go along with it. We genuinely feel that done correctly this new system gives us the opportunity to provide more optional content for players while ensuring that the game continues to fund its own development and success.
The ability to try and develop more frequent booster pack style content means that we can make more focused content as we don’t have to try and capture every possible player with each pack. In addition it even allows us to take a few more risks in terms of trying new things as its far easier to justify three months production ‘to see if something works’ then it is a year or more on an expansion.
This means that as a development team we get to try and do some things that we might not otherwise have been able to. Personally I am very excited with the content we have lined up for this system so far, and think that it demonstrates exactly what we have in mind.
The first booster pack that we plan on launching in late August is a vehicle booster pack. The booster will bring with it some very cool new modes of transport to Rubi-Ka in the form of jet bikes and some very sleek hoverboards!
There are several designs of each type, complete with a wide variety of skins to pick from that mean you will always be travelling in style. What’s more there are even a few eye-catching tricks that you can use to impress your friends while on the hoverboards! Today sees the release of some cool concepts, screenshots and footage of some of these in action so you can get a sneak peek of what they look like!
You can find a first preview of the pack here on the site
After that, the next booster pack will be a playfield adventure pack called ‘Legacy of the Xan’ that will feature five brand new playfields that contain a great story driven experience for high-level players. Players will get to discover the answers to many questions relating to the ancient Xan and their link to the invading aliens as well as one of the most lingering questions in Rubi-Ka history – who is behind the Dust Brigade?
There is no firm launch date for this pack just yet, but we hope to be able to release it late this year.
So that’s the battle plan! Quite a bit to digest there I know, but we hope that you are all as excited as we are with where we can take Anarchy Online over the next year!
Lastly I’d like to personally thank all the players for the tremendous support and interaction that I’ve received since taking over as Game Director for the project. I know that it’s somewhat of a cliché, but it really is you, the players, that we make the game for and all of us here appreciate being able to share the journey that is Anarchy Online with you!
We are all really looking forward to the exciting places that we will be able to take Anarchy Online in the future. So the toast today on our birthday isn’t just to the success of the last six years but to another six successful years ahead!
See you on Rubi-Ka!
EDIT: You can download some movies of the boards and bikes in action: (right click and select 'save target as' to download)