AO 4 Free 4 Me

[Anarchy Online] Got this in my email today:

Have you missed Anarchy Online lately? Funcom now gives you the perfect opportunity to revisit the ultimate sci-fi MMORPG, completely free of cost.

Since you last played Anarchy Online the basic game has been offered free of charge until 2006.

As a previous customer you can now continue to play on your old Anarchy Online account, and participate in the free part of the game.

This means that you can revisit Anarchy Online without any financial commitments! As a returning player you will find your old characters, equipment and credits waiting for your return to Rubi-Ka.

Free is free, I’m going to have to give it a shot.

– Ethic

Test Server Blues

Back when I was playing Anarchy Online, I mostly played on the test server. It was around the time that the new Fixer grid was being implemented. Many people poured onto the test servers to try to get a head start on figuring out how to do the quest that would grant you access to it.

The quest required that you locate and terminate three different mobs (among other steps). They would spawn in certain positions but they would not always be what was spawned there. So sometimes you needed to kill a few other mobs in order to have the proper mob spawn. Players had found the first and second locations but had no idea where the third one was.

Let me take a step back. Besides players, there were also employees (?) known as “Bug Hunters” that would be on the test server. They would take reports from players that found bugs as well as trying to track down problems on their own.

One of them made a mistake. Over the global chat channel, he typed out what looked to be a teleport command and some coordinates. Oops. I went into the normal grid and started popping out at different locations to see my coordinates. When I found a location that was close enough, I popped into my yalm and flew the rest of the way. There was the Bug Hunter and the NPC. He just gave away the third location. He saw me and struck up a conversation.

I imagine I was not the only one to see those coordinates, but I promised the Bug Hunter I would keep my mouth shut (and I did until today, hehe). Sadly, I did not see that guy around any more. Perhaps he was fired, perhaps he changed his character name.

As you can see, there are issues to consider when thinking about a having public test server. Should you put new quests on the test server? Should you have employees testing the quests on that server? This is just one example of what could go wrong.

I think these and many other issues are why most games do not have a public test server. In fact, even games with private test servers (Asheron’s Call 2 Vanguard Program for example) have problems with leaks getting out to the general public. It’s a sticky issue and I’m not sure that I have seen a good implementation of a test server yet.

AO For Free, Shadowlands Too?

Just got this email regarding my free Anarchy Online account:

UPGRADE TO SHADOWLANDS FOR FREE!

Special offer! Upgrade your account with Shadowlands prior to February 7th with no client fee! Notum Wars included! You save EUR 19,95 / $19,95. Subscription fee as low as $7,95 per month.

So I can get the expansion for free, but I will still have to pay a monthly fee. AO is bound and determined to get me back as a regular customer. I like what they are doing.

I am almost there. Almost.

AO? Hell no!

I signed up for the free 7 days plan in Anarchy Online. 15 minutes later I cancelled my account. Yeah, it’s that bad. I tried, but I couldn’t get past the first 3 bugs I encountered. 3 bugs that have been in the game since I left it a long time ago. Nice work there Funcom.

I’d rather play Asheron’s Call 2. That says a lot.