Q: First off, let’s introduce you to our audience. What is your position at Funcom and how are you involved with Shadowlands?
My name is Gaute Godager. I am the Anarchy-Online Game-Director. This means that I am responsible for the creative aspects of the game, balance, overview, vision and creative direction.
Q: Shadowlands is becoming one of the most exciting expansion packs of the year. What went into the development process, did you take any feedback from Anarchy Online players, and what is the overall outcome you wish to accomplish?
Many inspirations always go into the development of a new product or an expansion pack. The target for this expansion pack was among other things to offer a new visual standard for Anarchy-Online. We also wished to create the Shadowlands as a totally new and otherworld experience. On the gameplay side we wanted to focus on making the landscape have meaning and challenge all steps on the way, making the playfields, or zones, play more like an ordinary “level” where you learn and master the challenges of the gameworld.
Q: For gamers who aren’t familiar with Anarchy Online or Shadowlands, how would you summarize the past few years in the land of Rubi-Ka, and what would make a newcomer want to join in on the fun?
Rubi-Ka is a very important planet due to its central role in producing stable nano-bots (tiny, tiny robots that do almost anything). The game is set about 30000 years into the future, and the galaxy is divided into bits controlled by different hyper-corporations. Rubi-Ka is leased by the biggest of them all, Omni-Tek. On Rubi-Ka the clans fight for independence from their owners, and bid to rule themselves. As players enter the game, they are forced to choose the side to play on.
This independence war has been raging back and forth, when it now suddenly takes a radical shift. Brilliant scientists from the flying city of Jobe have opened a portal into another dimension, the Shadowlands. A place that seems to contain remnants of the very distant past of Rubi-Ka, indeed mankind itself. There is a sense of anticipation, of Klondike on Rubi-Ka at the moment. Everyone is waiting for the portal to be opened for everyone.
Q: Getting in on the specifics about Shadowlands, what is so significant about the Redeemed and Unredeemed temples and how will they play out for the future of Rubi-Ka?
The so called temples were places of planning and knowledge in the ancient civilization. The also served as a place of burial and worship, hence the temple term. The Redeemed and Unredeemed can have up to two temples each in every theme. They will be areas where the players can summon, challenge and possibly vanquish the servants of the ancient civilization. They will be places of battle, quests and information.
Q: It’s been said that you can unlock your inner powers called a Shadowbreed. What can you tell us about unlocking our own Shadowbreed and what will it allow us to do?
Hm, this I want to be a bit more sketchy about, actually. Not only do we still balance this, but this is almost godlike powers. There will be 3 Shadowbreeds for those who follow the Redeemed and 3 for the Unredeemed for each breed (race) in Anarchy, or a total of 24 different powers.
Q: The AI has also been tweaked and enhanced in Shadowlands. What changes can we expect when encountering new and old enemies?
There aren’t many old enemies in the Shadowlands, really. Some old friends will appear though, and you will learn of reasons for actions that might have seemed beyond understanding in the old world. When it comes to the AI, the monsters will be more challenging, they will understand the type of profession they are fighting, the layout of the land and the friends they have around them. In addition we have done even more improvements on the pathing of the monsters.
Some big bosses in the Shadowlands will have different fighting behavior than any other in MMORPG. They can be likened with bosses in the good old Shoot-em-ups, in the sense that they will require different forms of tactics during the fight. In (almost) predictable patterns they will move through their various stages of fighting forcing the players to learn and adapt to these.
Q: Specializations and perks have also been added in the Shadowlands expansion pack. What is the difference between the two, and how many of each can we expect to have access to.
Specialization comes as a result of missions gained from the scientists of Jobe. They are enhancement of current knowledge and profession focus. They will give the players nanos from mid-high levels all the way to the new level cap of 220.
The perks are innate abilities that come as a result of leveling. Every 10 levels, or every 1 level above 200, will offer the player a new perk. The player can chose from profession specific, profession group specific or general perks. Everything from skill bonuses to new special moves will be included here.
One of the most exciting aspects of the perks, is how it encourages the player to cooperate in a more detailed and specific manner. Certain very powerful special moves, for instance, will only be unlocked if another player with another profession uses on of his first. Hopefully this will take combat to a more interactive and “active” level.
Q: The graphics and music of Anarchy Online are some of the best I’ve seen/heard in any game created. What changes can we expect to see and hear? How many minutes of new music has been composed for Shadowlands?
There are several hours of new sounds, ambient music and music composed for the Shadowlands. All the new monsters have new, specific, sounds with higher quality giving them believability. Every area has been defined as having specific ambience enhancing the feeling of that area. There is also new battle music.
Q: Can we expect to see any new features that will allow the Anarchy Online community to further interact with each other (houses, clubs, etc)?
There are new social moves (kissing ;p among others), new apartments in Jobe and several areas in the Shadowlands that will have a social purpose as well as a more “businesslike” reason.
Q: Finally, Anarchy Online was a game that allowed the players to shape the story. Is this still the case, and if so, what kind of choices can the players of Rubi-Ka expect to make when Shadowlands is released.
With the Shadowlands comes the ability for the player to have what they do to the world matter more to the NPC’s with a custom made faction system groomed for the setting and story of the game. There are some new plans for how the story will progress after the gigantic leap forward with the Shadowlands, but I would like to hold those secrets close to for now ;)
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