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Anarchy Online: The Notum Wars Interview
Interviewed by Andreas Misund Berntsen

Hi, please introduce yourself and your company to our readers.

Hello! My name is Gaute Godager. I am the Game Director on Anarchy Online, a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. I work for Funcom, an Oslo, Norway based game developer and publisher.

Could you summarize the storyline for this addon, and how you came up with the idea?

Hm. Ok. “The Notum Wars” is a add-on (we call it a “booster pack”) to Anarchy Online where players are allowed to build towers and control land areas in Rubi-Ka. This ties very well in with the existing setting of AO. On the red planet of Rubi-Ka two factions struggle for control. One is the hyper-corporation Omni-Tek. The other are the freedom fighters calling themselves “the Clans”. In this conflict, wars are raging back and forth.

In The Notum Wars you see this struggle escalating. The players are fighting over land and the rights to mine the precious substance called notum. (Thus “The Notum Wars”) This notum has special enhancing properties and gives special benefits to the people mining them.

What content has been added to this addon, and what has been changed in terms of gameplay, graphics and audio?

In addition to the ability of the players to control land, quite a lot of extra content has been added. A new sound-track in the controlled area is in. You can see huge improvements in the graphical quality with new environmental effects, a new light system for project realistic sun light on the world and new huge spaceships drifting through the skies.

There are also quite a few additional vehicles and personal robot-towers for you to build.

How will casual players be able to have as much fun the more hardcore players?

Funcom realizes that casual players have always had a disadvantage to the more hardcore players. In a game where players interact like Anarchy Online, or i.e. Counter Strike or Quake, you will always have a huge difference between the most dedicated (professional players) and the hobby players. This is the same in all games, I would say. Meeting David Beckham in a Penalty Match would be very tough for most hobby players of football. (Soccer).

Does this mean that hobby players of football have less fun? I don’t think so. The essence of the difficulty of casual players isn’t that AO necessarily takes a lot of time to get into. It is relatively (at least comparing to competitors like Everquest) easy to play alone (solo). The methods of travel are many. You can use the Whompa teleporting system, the Cyberworld travelling system called “The Grid” or even Vehicles. Fights with monsters are pretty fast, and in addition you can as often as you want get missions suited just for your power level at any time from so called mission terminals.

The problem is often I think that many of your friends get much more powerful than you, very quickly, and you end up alone when you are a casual player. Just as my friend who got picked to the A-Team in football very quickly became too good for me, and it became boring for him to play ball with me :).

This is also the case in AO, and one of the reasons why many think MMORPGs are only for hardcore players. There are lots of things you can do as a casual gamer, and The Notum Wars added gameplay for everyone. Even from lower levels such as level 15 or so, you can control your own areas and have fun with that. You will not be wiped out by higher level players because they cannot attack you or your tower because the level difference is too great.

What has been included that should be of particular interest to hardcore players?

Hm. There is a lot of additional content added just for the higher levels. (Which is where the hardcore players end up.) They have in the time up to The Notum Wars gotten many high level monster camps. They have many quests, new pieces of armor and weapons. Naturally the possibility for owning land and getting lots of bonuses is even higher at higher levels.

What kind of limitations will be put on people who haven’t bought the addon?

The biggest difference between players owning The Notum Wars and those who don’t, are that only owners can build towers and get bonuses. All players can participate in the gigantic battles raging due to this. (See attached exclusive screenshots...)

Only the players owning TNW can get the new visual upgrades and vehicles. I think, though, all players will appreciate some of their friends having TNWs as they can get the sense of accomplishment it is to build your first land controller.

Did anything especially funny happen during the development?

Hehe – lemme think. Yeah I think the highlight of the whole development was when one of the graphic artists staged a big pvp land control session for the whole company. We were all sitting around in the offices hooting and shouting having a real blast. Other than that the development is often very tirering and lotsa late nights ;)

How do you feel the competition is in this Christmas season?

It is good. Lots of new exciting games coming out, and people having a good time. Xmas is the perfect time to spend indoors playing games. At least where I live it is extremely cold now... A freezing -10 degrees Celsius.

Is another addon a possibility, or a sequel?

Absolutely! We are working very hard on the next expansion pack right now! It is called “The Shadowlands” and is a brand new set of playfields set in a parallel dimension. There will be lots of gameplay improvements and other exciting things. We’ll start giving out more details on that after the new year.

Is there anything else you’d like to include before we wrap this up?

You should try out The Notum Wars and the PvP focus in it. Players are reporting having a blast, so we would like you to check it out .) See also our homepage: http://www.anarchy-online.com. You can also try out our 7 day free trial found here: http://www.anarchy-online.com/content/downloads/tryout/. The free trial doesn’t include The Notum Wars though, and TNW includes the full game...so you may want to do the trial for a few days but then purchase TNW in stores :-) .

Cya all!

Gaute Godager
AO Game Director