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Anarchy Online

The Game Archaeologist: Anarchy Online turns 12

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Free-to-Play, The Game Archaeologist, Anniversaries

The Game Archaeologist Anarchy Online turns 12
Most MMOs rolling into their 12th year (what few of them there are) live pretty quiet lives. Sure, there's the odd EverQuest expansion here and there, but for the most part the development has simmered down, the team trimmed to a handful of folks, and the best hope for the future is maintaining the status quo.

Anarchy Online, however, is not angling to molder in some nursing home. As the 2001 sci-fi MMO turns 12 this month, it's looking back at a year full of exciting developments, scary moments, and hopeful visions. It might be the smallest arrow in Funcom's quiver right now, but I see it as a scrappy underdog that isn't willing to lie down and be ignored.

So what happened this past year and what do Anarchy Online players have to look forward to? Glad you asked!

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The Game Archaeologist: Checking in with classic MMOs

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Checking in with classic MMOs
What's this, you say as you rub your eyes in disbelief. Is it... The Game Archaeologist, long since thought lost in his expedition to Atlantis (and the trials therein)? It is indeed, my friends. TGA has been a long-running passion of mine on Massively, but I needed a break for a while to recouperate and refocus. However, as of late I've felt the call of neglected classic MMOs and wanted to make sure that they were getting some column love here on the site.

So going forward, expect to see The Game Archaeologist pop out of his hidey hole once or twice a month to talk about our old favorites and perhaps pontificate more on the history of MMO development. Sound good? Did you miss me at all? You totally didn't, did you.

If you've been out of touch with classic MMOs, I've done the legwork this week to provide you with the 10 important and relevant news items that are sweeping through this aging yet still vibrant community. Read on, McDuff!

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Funcom Q1 sales and restructuring keep studio moving forward

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Legal, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Funcom restructuring, good Q1 sales keep studio afloat
If it's not the best news ever, at least we've got some good news from Funcom today. The studio posted its first quarter financial report, showing that it had solid sales and "significant" operating expense savings because of the recent restructuring of its organization.

Funcom made over $6.3 million of revenue in the first quarter, mostly thanks to sales and subscriptions of The Secret World and Age of Conan. The studio said that it saved almost $1.2 million of operating expenses in the same period thanks to the restructuring. Also, The Secret World made more money in Q1 2013 than Q4 2012 thanks to its new business model.

In terms of game news, Funcom is pushing forward with its LEGO Minifigures MMO, the new Anarchy Online graphic engine, a summer release for Issue #7 of The Secret World, and development of several smaller titles. Both LEGO and Funcom will be working to "establish closer integration between the physical product and the game." Finally, thanks to recent decisions by the studio, both Anarchy Online and The Secret World are boasting larger numbers of players than in the previous quarter.

Jukebox Heroes: Battle music!

Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Battle music!
It's time once again to take a week off from looking at specific MMO soundtracks and open ourselves up to a theme instead. The topic? Battle music. Yeah, it can be some of the most obnoxious music in the game, especially after hearing it for the 3,000th time, but every once in a while I hear a piece that has some merit to it. These are the ones we want to examine today.

What makes for a good battle music track? I think it has to get you excited without being annoying or grating and not so loud or incredibly noticeable that you can't help but get tired of it sooner rather than later. It was actually pretty tricky to pull together six such tracks for this column, but I managed to do with with the help of Colonel Bugle up there. He's got the best MP3 collection around.

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The Perfect Ten: Cutest creatures

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Wizard101, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Cutest creatures
I vividly remember a conversation I had with my then-girlfriend's parents back in 1996 about the potential of this growing "internet" phenomenon. With my limited understanding, I made it sound downright noble, a Library of Congress available at the fingertips of the average Joe or Jane. What I really should have said that it would be a tool for the distribution of pornography, nerd rage, and cute animal pictures.

I have no idea how big the cute animal picture industry is, but there have got to be millions of aspiring photographers daily who prod little baby critters with encouragement sticks in the hopes of eliciting a few "awws" out of strangers. Even when the serious business of MMOs came a-calling, cuteness infested fantasy lands near and far.

Whenever I see something absurdly cute in an MMO, I always smile because I know that somewhere, some uber-elite, way-too-serious player is developing facial tics from being in the same game world as it. So twitch away, as here are 10 of the cutest critters as seen in-game!

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One Shots: Views from a beta

Betas, Screenshots, Anarchy Online, One Shots, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, Firefall

One Shots Views from a beta
It's hard not to turn into a total tourist when you're checking out a new beta. Out comes the fanny pack, the giddy delight of a new world, and most importantly, the camera.

Reader Michelle kicks off this week's One Shots column with a screenshot of the first Neverwinter beta weekend. It's a shot of her character Nora overlooking the edge of aptly named Neverdeath Graveyard. We're guessing that the caretaker down there has his hands full.

Would you go into such a place if you saw it in real life? I guess that's why we have our avatars to be bold where we would flee! Let's take a look at a few other places where angels fear to tread.

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One Shots: Dancing with my homies

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Culture, One Shots, The Secret World, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous

One Shots Dancing with my homies
First of all, thank you guys so much for responding to our One Shots rallying cry and absolutely flooding us with screenshots! My cup overfloweth, and that's a delightful change of pace for this column. Even though we're quite literally set for months now, please keep sending in your favorite old or new screencaps!

To kick us off this week is Jerry, who's showing off how Anarchy Online can party down with the best of them: "This is Yardsale, a level 220 Trader, dancing with his trader pets in Borealis."

At first glance, I almost thought we were in the Matrix. But even with polygons so sharp that you can cut yourself on them, this title definitely has a style all its own. Hit the jump to see this and other wonders of the screenshotted world.

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Funcom's Joel Bylos on the centralized TSW, AoC, and AO team

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Interviews (Massively's), Sandbox

Massively Exclusive  Bylos expounds on the centralized team for AO, AoC, and TSW
By now, most MMO gamers are pretty familiar with the fact that Funcom underwent restructuring. But what does that mean; what exactly did it entail? The term "restructuring" in itself signifies changes but does nothing to actually enlighten folks on what the changes are. Other than the fact that Joel Bylos was named creative director for all three of Funcom's titles -- Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, and The Secret World -- and that the team will be in one centralized in location, we know little of the details.

How many developers survived the restructuring and relocated to remain on the team? Is this move foreshadowing one or more games slipping into maintenance mode? How will the coveted dev attention be divvied up? What does the future hold? Devoid of facts, players are left left wondering about how these changes will impact their favorite games.

While chatting with Joel Bylos in an exclusive interview, I was able to ask some of these very questions.

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Funcom's Bylos named creative director on AoC, AO, and TSW

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World

Bylos named Funcom creative director, overseeing TSW, AoC, and AO
Funcom has announced that The Secret World creative director Joel Bylos is now the creator director for all three of the firm's MMORPGs. This includes TSW, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online. Bylos has penned letters from the game director for TSW and AoC, while AO's Dave "Ilaliya" Williams passes the torch via a forum post.

Bylos' TSW letter talks additional content plans up to and including Issue #12 (the live game currently sits on Issue #5, with #6 scheduled for early March). Bylos has a special place in his heart for AoC stemming from his time as the lead designer on the Rise of the Godslayer expansion, and his initial game director letter reflects on both coming home and the opportunities for expanding Hyboria. He also talks a bit about the pros and cons of having a single production team working on three live titles.

Finally, outgoing AoC producer Craig "Silirrion" Morrison recaps his four years at the helm and hints at a "new opportunity within the MMO world."

[Thanks to David for the tip.]

Anarchy Online set to finally merge servers

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, News Items, Free-to-Play

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.
How do you get together after 12 years of separation? That's a question the Anarchy Online community is going to have to answer tomorrow as the game undergoes a server merge, bringing together two communities that have been apart for more than a decade. PvP will be chaotic, the state of community relations will be chaotic, cats and dogs will be living next to one another... you get the idea, general mass hysteria.

Both servers will be brought offline at 5:00 a.m. EST on February 26th. The maintenance required to merge the two servers is expected to run for 24 hours, with the usual caveat that it may run longer depending on any issues encountered during the process. Afterwards, players will be able to log in to the new combined server and start welcoming their new neighbors... or start shooting them in their faces for property rights. As we said, general mass hysteria.

[Thanks to David for the tip!]

Funcom game directors talk relocation, effects on TSW, AoC, and AO development [Updated]

Fantasy, Horror, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World

Funcom logo
Funcom has published game director letters for all three of its MMOs this morning, and one of the topics on everyone's mind is of course the studio's reorganization. As it turns out, the dev teams for The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online will all be operating out of the company's Raleigh, North Carolina facility which was previously the sole domain of the Funcom customer service team.

TSW's Joel Bylos notes that the move will cause some "development turbulence," and that the game's DLC and update schedule will slow down temporarily as a result. He has more details on both the game's Issue #6 update and veteran rewards in his letter. AoC's Craig Morrison says that the fantasy title isn't going anywhere, although he also acknowledges some staff turnover due to the relocation. He also notes that having the game's dev team and community team in the same building will be a huge benefit. Finally, Anarchy Online's update echoes the first two, but game director Dave "Ilaliya" Williams writes that the engine upgrade, server migration, and new player experience are all still on the table.

[Update]: Funcom has also published an update on the restructuring process on its main website.

[Thanks to David for the tip!]

Jukebox Heroes: Eleven MMO soundtracks you can get for free

Anarchy Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EVE Online, Ryzom, RuneScape, Global Agenda, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Atlantica Online, Giveaways, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Eleven MMO soundtracks you can get for free
Collecting MMO soundtracks is a scattered, scavenger-like experience. Releasing video game soundtracks isn't exactly high up on studio and publisher to-do lists (although we're seeing more love from digital stores), so whether or not a title will get a music release is really a crapshoot. What does get released is never in the same place twice: Some game soundtracks are released as special editions only, some only as CDs, some as full MP3 album releases, some directly from the composer, some are buried on websites, and so on.

So I'm constantly looking everywhere trying to beef up my MMO soundtrack library, and as a result I've uncovered several scores that the studios are giving away for free. I'm all over free (legal) music, especially when it's in my area of interest!

If you've been looking to start an MMO soundtrack collection or are looking to add to what you have, I've put together a list of 11 MMO scores that you can get today free of charge. Sound good? It does to me!

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Funcom restructures Montreal branch, keeps games operational

Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, Miscellaneous

Rumor Funcom closes Montreal branch
Funcom is taking hedge trimmers to its Montreal offices today. Senior Game Designer Tanya Short posted the following this afternoon on her Twitter account: "When your branch shuts down, I guess it's less like being fired and more like honorable discharge. Thanks for going down with the ship! Bye!"

Massively contacted Funcom for an official statement. Director of Communications Erling Ellingsen confirmed layoffs but assured us that Funcom's games will continue on: "We are currently in a restructuring process and the Montreal office is part of that process along with our other branches. This process unfortunately involves a reduction in staff, but the studio is not closing down. It will continue on, but in a different form and function than today. Anarchy Online, as well as The Secret World and Age of Conan, will definitely continue to operate and be an important part of the company's focus going forward." He said that the studio would provide more details when it had finished with the process.

Funcom previously stated that it was restructuring the company to make it more profitable. The Montreal office was established in 2009 and employed 110 people.

The Game Archaeologist: How to return to older games

Anarchy Online, Opinion, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Overcoming obstacles in returning to older games
Let's face it: It's just not that easy to either try out or return to an older MMO. It defies logic because you would think that these games would explicitly crave people to come play them, but it's almost like there's a chest-high wall topped with itchy fiberglass shreds warning people away. It's not impossible to surmount, of course, just inconvenient and a little daunting. And so we log back into World of Warcraft or (thrashes around for a random title) Champions Online instead.

However, this column doesn't care about them fancy games with their exclamation marks and free-to-plays, no sirree. We're all about the love for classic MMOs, and it would behoove us to consider supporting that which we love.

It's that time of year when I feel the call to return to one of my first MMO loves, Anarchy Online. After tangling with the account page, looking for a subscription variant that apparently no longer exists, and mentally adjusting to the extremely dated graphics, I started to wonder if it was even worth it. But a little perseverance paid off, and I wanted to share a few lessons learned about overcoming obstacles when it comes to diving back into the past.

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The Game Archaeologist's top MMO stories of 2012

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, City of Heroes, EverQuest, Final Fantasy XI, Meridian 59, Culture, MMO Industry, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Shadowbane, Everquest Online Adventures, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist seals up 2012
As another gaming year spins to a close, we here at the Institute for Digital Interactive Entertainment have been holding our archaeological department hostage with a trained buffy-tufted marmoset until it delivered a final report. After hours of begging and infected monkey bites, the head of that department, Prof. Justin Olivetti, Ph.D., handed us a scrap of urine-soaked paper with the following article inscribed.

While the Institute strongly suggests that you ignore this report and instead work on your button-mashing exercises, the board of directors stated that all such papers must be posted for the public to see.

This report is presented in the Yetbari typeface and contains a sequential series of items that number between 11 and 13.

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