Get Anarchy Online’s full soundtrack for free!

Just wanted to share this. One player worked with Funcom to produce an expanded 56-track, four-album soundtrack and put it out there for free. Some of it has been released before and other tracks are new (well, new to an MP3 release, at least).

You do have to install AO on Steam and get this DLC, but when you do that you can grab all of the tracks out of the folder for safekeeping and then delete the game if desired. Just really cool stuff, this OST is one of my all-time favorite MMO scores.

5 most immersive MMOs I’ve played to date

fallen

Game immersion is perhaps one of the most subjective and indefinable qualities when it comes to MMOs. We know in our gut when we feel more drawn into one virtual world over another, yet it might be difficult if not impossible to explain why.

So instead of fiddling around with definitions, today I want to share five MMOs out of my entire resume that were the most immersive that I’ve played — and why.

Fallen Earth

There’s no doubt that Fallen Earth is a messy title that’s perhaps a little too rough around the edges. It never broke into the big time, that’s for sure. But even so, I was so in love with this game and its breathtaking ambition to create a living, breathing post-apocalyptic world. From the black humor to the mounts that stayed put where you left them to the weird factions and the vivid sunsets over the desert, I always felt drawn into this title like no other. Plus, crafting everything you end up using made those items feel more precious.

Lord of the Rings Online

One of the reasons that I stuck with LOTRO for so long was that, unlike so many other MMOs, it felt like a cohesive world that played by a predefined set of rules instead of ones that the devs made up on the fly. I’d argue that having to fit under the umbrella of a rich IP actually helped to create a world that felt “real,” so to speak. So many times I would lose myself in traversing the lands where it wasn’t just endless packs of mobs, but civilization clashing with the wild and with evil. And I can’t discount that incredible music for drawing me in as well!

The Secret World

TSW’s brilliance is not just in its storytelling (which is magnificent) but in its meticulously crafted world that bleeds over into ours. In fact, the myriad of ways that the developers blurred the line between game and reality broke down that fictional barrier in part and allowed me to believe (or at least pretend very hard) that I was actually part of what was going on on the other side of the screen.

World of Warcraft

Maybe we’re all like this with MMOs that we’ve spent so much time in, but my previous passion for World of Warcraft and the countless hours that I poured into it took my understanding of Azeroth beyond a mere game and into a much more personal space. The little details — the sounds, the animations, the locations, the music — swirled together to form a world that was vividly immersive for years. I miss feeling that way about it, I won’t lie.

Anarchy Online

I’ll probably chalk Anarchy Online’s immersive abilities up to it being one of the first MMOs that I played, even though I felt pretty lost in it at the time. It’s “alien” nature set it apart from fantasy CRPGs and made it feel other, different, and alluring. At no point was I looking beyond the immediate details of the world to number crunch or break down mechanics, which is a sign that I was pretty content just being instead of mastering.

So those are my five. What are yours?

Anarchy Online: Wherefor art thou, screenshots?

Believe me, I was diligent. I looked up the screenshots key. I took many pictures. And yet this morning, I cannot for the life of me find the Anarchy Online screenshot folder. Maybe I confused the game with all of my hard drives. But you have to trust me that I took them and that they would have blown your mind.

Blown.

Your.

Mind.

OK, probably not so much. It’s Anarchy Online, a 2001-era game with a 2005-era paint job. But I did want to poke my head in and say hi, mostly to satisfy my curiosity over the graphics upgrade and the new beginner experience.

I think — think — I installed the new graphics engine right, but without having been in the game recently, I had a hard time figuring out whether or not I had launched it or was looking at the old engine. It looked fine, I guess… Anarchy Onlineish. My character still had a body that was made of about 12 polygons, the world done up in that blocky but futuristic style that I used to love.

As per long-standing Syp tradition, I rolled up a new character, the same character I always do: a Solitus female adventurer. Having a self-heal plus dual pistols plus the ability to morph into creatures is too appealing to look elsewhere. Right off the bat I got a leet morph, because how awesome is it to skitter around as a tiny leet?

Oh, and I had a great screenshot of that. It would have brought tears to your eyes, truly.

I’m of mixed feelings of the new beginner experience. The old one took place on this tropical beach (n00b isle or somesuch), but the new one is a series of industrial platforms. It’s definitely uglier than the previous setting, although it was far more linear and easier to track.

I spent some time trying to beat up malfunctioning droids with my fists before I realized that my inventory had a ton of gear that I should, y’know, probably equip. It took an embarassing death before I discovered that. Oh yes, I screenshotted the death too. You would have written poetry if you’d seen it.

Every time I return to Anarchy Online, I have to fiddle around with the UI to make it look like a more contemporary setup. That takes several minutes of adjusting the settings and turning off some of the more screen-hogging elements. No, I don’t want a GIANT CHAT BOX right in the lower center. Who does that? I mean, post-2002?

The quests were pretty rote, an endless series of “kill a bunch o’ stuff and occasionally use this special item” tasks. That didn’t matter so much, because I was rolling in the nostalgic hay — the familiar music, the sound and backflip of a level ding, the slow-paced combat, the AO art style.

But man, I wish I had those screenshots. It would have brought this entire blog post together in a way that would have left you standing and applauding wildly at your screen. As it is, it’s probably going to leave you depressed and pondering the meaning of life to any and all who wander into earshot. My apologies.

Good Thing, Bad Thing: AO, WoW, WAR

sun1One quick exercise that I engage with my teens is to go around our circle and do “good thing, bad thing” — in other words, to share one good thing that’s happened to them this past week and one bad thing.

As it’s a holiday week and I have some family-related activities to engage in, I’m going to forgo my normal posts and schedule to do an entire week of good thing, bad thing with the 22 MMOs that I’ve played for a decent length of time.  Let’s get cracking!

Anarchy Online

  • Good Thing: I loved the atmosphere and music, especially in the Shadowrealms.  It truly felt like an alien planet that wasn’t just another fantasy clone.
  • Bad Thing: I really had no idea what I was doing most of the time.  It’s not only that it was my first MMO, but it was (and is) a fairly complex one that offers little guidance.  I never did find a guild or community to bond with.

World of Warcraft

  • Good Thing: I adored a guild that I fell in with during the Burning Crusade era, Time Well Wasted.  They made me an officer, encouraged me to start blogging, and did all sorts of crazy stuff with me.  I miss that gang even to today.
  • Bad Thing: The absolutely horrible, abrupt burnout that I encountered about six months after Wrath of the Lich King launched.  The day that I realized I couldn’t log in any more left me feeling lost.

Warhammer Online

  • Good Thing: Being part of the awesome blogging community that arose around this game.  Say what you will about WAR, but it prompted a lot of great bloggers to start writing, many of whom are still around today.
  • Bad Thing: The lackluster support for PvE (especially dungeons and high-level zones) couldn’t bear the weight of our interest after it was apparent that the RvR wasn’t all Mythic made it out to be.

Five MMOs on the endangered list

473I think that City of Heroes’ (and to a lesser extent, Glitch and perhaps Lucent Hearts) shutdown has caused some people to pause and wonder which MMO will be next on the chopping block.  Not to get maudlin or delight in “failure,” but let’s be honest: We all do think about it from time to time.  Whether a game’s shut down because of a lack of players and funding or because there’s a legal issue or a studio closing, it can and will happen.

So what MMOs do I think are most in danger of being sunsetted?  Five titles come to mind:

1. PlanetSide

Honestly, there’s just no reason for SOE to keep this game running.  It’s the only title in the studio’s library that hasn’t been converted to free-to-play, it has a F2P sequel that just launched, and it’s pretty long in the tooth.  Maybe SOE will keep the lights on for the sake of the dedicated few that stick around (and keep coughing up a subscription fee), but I don’t see that happening.

2. Warhammer Online

It pains me to say it, but I really don’t think WAR is long for this world.  Mythic is helming a leaking ship with no apparent hope for its future.  BioWare’s siphoned off several of its devs, DAoC is really old at this point and not going F2P, UO is even older, there aren’t any new titles in the works that we know about, and WAR feels like a game that they’d rather you not notice.

The fact that Mythic has outright said that it’s just not financially realistic to convert the game to F2P speaks volumes about its future.  Then you add on the fact that the studio also said that its MOBA version of the game will probably never leave beta status because of a terribly small playerbase, and I just don’t see WAR pulling out of this tailspin.  It was a great if flawed game in many ways, but there’s no hope left.

3. Guild Wars

NCsoft isn’t known for its bleeding heart, and if it sees that most of the Guild Wars fanbase has made the jump to GW2, their accountants are not going to look at the continued cost of operating GW1 fondly.  Hey, maybe those are very minimal costs and why not.  But GW1 can’t have much of a future making money for the company, and that leaves me with a bad feeling about it.

4. Final Fantasy XI

This one might be a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.  Not only is FF11 nearing senior citizen status in MMO years, but the studio is really desperate to make FF14 work.  Could it see FF11’s closing as a way to “encourage” the remaining players to make the switch?

Really, I have no idea what Square-Enix is thinking most of the time, and considering how volatile FF14’s history has been so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if the studio just tried to back out of the online space altogether.

5. Anarchy Online

Gah, it hurts me to even suggest this — especially considering I’ve just put it back on my computer.  But with Funcom’s recent staff layoffs and the rumors that it might be shopping around for a buyer, I have to wonder just how stable AO’s future is.  I mean, it’s not just old but there’s little left to draw new/returning players back in until or unless the team can pull off that graphics update.  And raise your hand if you think that’s honestly going to happen?

I don’t think all of these games are destined to be shut down in the next couple of months, I just think that these are the five titles I’m most concerned about right now.  Put them on the “endangered” list, so to speak.  What do you think?

Where to get MMO soundtracks

Yesterday on Too Long; Didn’t Listen (you know, that podcast you so adore!) Dodge and I were talking about MMO and video game soundtracks, a topic which I quite adore.  I wanted to follow the podcast up with a quick post about some places that I’ve found legal ways to obtain these scores:

Free MMO soundtracks:

Amazon MP3 downloads:

Direct Song:

Blizzard Store/iTunes/misc.:

Let me know if I missed any and I’ll add them to the list (I’m not looking to list/link torrents and CDs, however)!