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Letter from the Game Director - June 2008

Here is the newest letter from Game Director Craig 'Silirrion' Morrison. Full text after the jump.

Here we are, seven years on from the week when bold pioneers took their first steps on Rubi-Ka and I couldn’t think of a better occasion to talk a little about the past, present and future. This letter might be a little longer than our usual messages but given the anniversary you’ll have to forgive me the chance for a little retrospective of the game as well as a little peak to what’s ahead for the future!

I, like everyone else outside the development team, first experienced Rubi-Ka as a player. Despite the issues at the game launch, I saw - maybe even felt - something very unique in the game’s setting, characters and world that drew me and very quickly had me under its spell. It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since we all took those first tentative steps into the world of Rubi-Ka.

From running from Mini-bulls in Athen Shire (don’t laugh, they were really vicious to a poor newbie back then!) through wandering and fighting outdoors at Bully Bridge and the cyborgs in Avalon the early experiences barely hinted at what would come down the years. Exploring the Shadowlands for the first time really excited me and brought with it a whole new world to explore (and came as quite a pleasant break from Broken Shores missions!) before the alien invasion brought with it an entirely different type of challenge.

As a player I enjoyed the game for quite a few years before the opportunity arose to head to Norway and become part of the team here. It’s really an honour to be here addressing you all on the occasion of the seventh anniversary. It’s a testament to the talent and ability of everyone that has worked on the game down the years that we are where we are today. On a personal level, being able to work with this group of people has been fantastic and creating the content with the current development team sometimes makes me think this might just be the best job in the world.

Hopefully we have been able to leave our own mark on the evolution of Rubi-Ka and you are all enjoying the content and updates that we shape and craft each and every day.

Looking back now, I am very proud to be able to review all the additions to the game that have happened down the years and realise just how far we have come in the seven years of the game’s existence.

I can’t talk about seven years of the game without mentioning the true heart of the game, and that’s the players! From the many thousands that have volunteered for ARK down the years, tirelessly giving up their own play-time to help others (for which they have my eternal thanks!) to all those that have contributed to the player communities down the years, the effort of all those people has shaped Rubi-Ka into what it is today.

From the parties to weddings and every form of player interaction in between, it’s sometimes a little awe inspiring to witness what an online community like the one around the game can accomplish both for each other and for us as developers. It is that level of community that really breathes a whole different type of life into the game that goes beyond missions, hunting, pvp and character advancement.

That community also does drive the game’s development, and I don’t mean just in terms of feedback and testing. The community around the game and its development down the years is why I have ended up here working on the game, and that goes for almost the entire development team as well. All of the developers that work on the game now are here because of what Anarchy Online was, is, and will become. It is with a real degree of pride that I sort through the applications whenever we advertise for open positions on the team. Each and every time I see so many great applications from so many talented people, be they artists, coders, writers or designers that are all tied together by one defining note – an honest and genuine love of the game. It comes out in the applications and it comes through in those we interview, quite apart from making recruitment much less painful it is fantastic to know that the game promotes such passion and support from those that play it.

So what about the future?

The next game update will be the addition of a true raid interface for the game. As I mentioned in the last letter this new functionality will allow for up to six groups to be linked into one raid group that is considered a single entity and allows for its own chat channels, loot rules and visibility of member’s health and nano status. It’s currently very close to being ready for the test dimension where we run it through its paces and get players feedback on it. This will be released as a 17.10 update sometime over the next couple of months, pending the results of the testing of course. With a new tool like this the key stage will be the user feedback and making sure it’s a fitting tool for the intended purpose. With it will also come a change to some of the existing playfields to make them into true raid instances that bind to the raid group and allow players to take on these challenges on their own timetable and schedule. The first playfields to be converted in this manner will be the first three alien playfields. We are also looking into the viability of instancing Pandemonium, but no promises there just yet. We would like to make that playfield a raid instance but it’s also a more complicated set-up that might mean we have a few challenges to overcome to convert it.

The next big content addition will be the 18.0 update that will take the form of a new Booster Pack for the game. This pack will contain a story driven set of playfields in the Outzones of Rubi-Ka that continues the alien, Xan and Dustbrigade storylines and starts to reveal some of the long held secrets of Rubi-Ka. What is the relationship of the aliens to Rubi-Ka? Exactly how do the ancient Xan relate to the planet itself and what have the Dust Brigade got to do with it all?

In terms of game-play the pack will contain several new playfields. Players who purchase the booster pack will get access to a new mission and quest ‘hub’ deep in the Outzone where a dramatic discovery has been made. This will then lead on to two larger scale areas with quest and mission content. Completing objectives and missions in those areas will then open up three new team instances where players will take part in great new boss encounters.

There will of course be new items of various descriptions to collect from the new areas, but we will be saving the details on those for a little closer to the booster pack’s release.

Lastly, but by no means least, we are still working on the render engine upgrade. As I also mentioned in the previous letter we are currently in a lengthy part of the process where we are stripping out the old engine entirely and integrating a new one, and testing that all the game’s key features still work! The development continues to be good, though, and we will be sure to keep you all up to date as we progress. It’s quite a formidable task and we won’t rush it out.

So that’s a little overview of what you can expect to see over the coming months. What would a birthday be without some presents, though?

There are also a series of great offers being made to celebrate the birthday so there has never been a better time to dive in and experience everything that Anarchy Online has to offer.

All existing players will be receiving 700 paid points as a special gift from us to celebrate the anniversary and of course there are some nifty in-game gifts as well. Make sure you locate one of the Party Planners who will start to appear on Rubi-Ka on the 27th and will be around offering birthday gifts for an entire week.

You can find all the details here.

Seven years have certainly provided a lot of twists and turns in the development of Anarchy Online, and it’s great to be able to look back and see exactly what the game has come to mean to so many people. If I was to toast to anything on this occasion it’s to everyone who makes the game what it is today, be they current or past developers or current or past players. I really hope that in seven years time someone will be able to be sat here writing another message like this!
 
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