Wednesday, December 3

Shopping in Anarchy Online

My first and last post so far was about my idea that it would be nicer to have level restricted shops in cities. The idea is to have shops, and auction house accespoints, scattered around a city.
The benefits would be twofold. You'd get a better spread of players, assuming not eveyrone rushes to the end-game within three weeks, across the city-scape which would be better for lag. And, you'd have people with more or less the same interest-range congregate in the same spot.

Well, of late I've been playing a game which does this to an extend.
Over the last two, three weeks Phè and I have been 'trocking' in Anarchy Online. We're actually having a blast with this game and its pretty dated Engine. It helps that Phè remembers a lot of details and best practices as I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer number of stats to track.

So it was Phè who came up with the idea to manufacture a brain Implant to boost her Navigational skill so she could read certain Maps. She'd then swap out the implant for one helping her Shoot Stuff which has a more frequent use in MMO's. Especially since the Maps stay read. She was also kind enough to shove the thing into my avatar's brains for a spell so I too could enjoy the benefits of higher Map Reading Skills. She's full of those kind of tricks and gimmicks.

In a Second or Third generation game this probably would be (considered) a bug and highly abused. In Anarchy Online it's abused just as much but it's part and parcel of the gameplay. For you see, Anarchy Online isn't a high action game like its creator's follow up game Age of Conan. In fact if you pick the right class, you don't have anything to do in a fight for stretches of 30 seconds straight. In most current day MMO's you have to press a button every 3-4 seconds. With AO this is a lot less. Atleast for the first 30-60 levels or so. After that I don't know, but I bet Phè does. It's very nice to have her be the more experienced player. I loved it when I could hide behind her coat-tails in CoX and I'm loving it here.

Anyway, to get back to Anarchy Online and its shops. These are 'Consoles' by the way. Kinda like ATM's that spill out anything from Clothes and Armor (A DirectX 7 game and it has Social clothing) to guns and swords, implants and Nano's and lots of tools and Maps as well. Everything is Stat dependent and you'll frequently discover that the implant you just swapped out for something better was actually allowing you to use that Uber Gun you just bought and now can't equip anymore. This is a game where you need spreadsheet skills. No, you don't need those for WOW, WAR or CoX. Unless you're really tweaking the margins of your top-level character. With AO you start dusting off the printer while you're downloading the free to play version of the game or else...

What's nice about AO is that stores are somewhat arranged by tier and you'll find high level characters (200+ even) run around the same area's as lowbie players. This is nearly 8 years into the existance of the game by the way. Even though it's just three servers, these feel more alive in the three main capitals than Age of Conan does in central Hub of the World, Old Tarantia.
This despite there being a single Auction House access point in each city. I haven't really delved into the player market yet. I shudder at the thought what 8 years of Mudflation have done to the prices of rare items for my Tier. Especially as you can shut down your XP gain for as long as you want and just run missions for the money, or Blitz Missions for missions that reward you with that special item you need. So maybe it won't be so bad afteral. Can't drive the price up so far that people prefer to (have a Funcom approved third party application) spend hours finding that correct mission for you.

All in all, Anarchy Online is actually a pretty fun game for all its age and dated engine.
We've got something to look forward to, a revamped DirectX 9 Engine around June 2009, but that was before the big lay-offs at Funcom so who knows.


  1. I can remember our discussion about shops/auctioneers by level range, but why I never brought up AO at that time is lost on me. The shop system works indeed very well. All the available items are useful, or at least within reach almost all the time.

    And I like the feeling you get when entering the high level store. You look at awe and the brave fighters there, and at the same time feel a n00b for entering. But you know one day you will be a big boy too, and then you can enter it with pride.

    The splitting up of stores is one of several neat tricks they managed to put in the game that really motivate to play and get stronger. And because there are so many small victories to celebrate there is less need to real rush to get to 200 (or 220).

  2. Oh, and the subject of implants. I actually have two containers in the bank filled with implants and clusters that are not useful when out fighting, but essential when upgrading. Implants that boost stanima, psychic etc. are perfect to wriggle yourself into some spiffy piece of armor. Comp Lit., Treatment and Nano Programming implants are essential to get high QL belts, implants and nanos fitted.

    All random drop implants that boost IPs in Abilities, Trade&Repair or Nano&Aiding are worth saving up. You will definitely need them at some point.

  3. I find I have to consciously break away from a "what you wear is what you are" mentality. I'm familiar with having a second set of armor for a different team-role or to wear in town/RP, but the whole swapping in and out of Implants for temporary boosts with lasting effects...
    That's pretty new to me even though I played this before and it's been around for nearly 8 years now.