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“Guild Wars 2” vs “The Secret World” – Part II

October 4, 2012 3 comments

I received a ton of a comments, and although GW2 seemed to be winning earlier, TSW has seemed to creep up in the number of recommendations. The following are what some of the readers of this blog has to say about the two titles:

Guild Wars 2

“GW2 will entertain you for 80 levels.”
– Drew

“The fact it is buy once, play forever is certainly a draw.”
– Drew

“The sPvP is fun and engaging. The PvP [in TSW], however, is awful.”
– Drew

“It should certainly be noted that GW2 is far more “populated”. In the starter and ending zones, you will see lots of folks, and you’ll work with them without having to group with them.”
– Drew

“Hmm I actually think GW2 story telling is decent but more so in the open world, especially if you follow dynamic events and spend time listening to chatter in towns, villages and cities. Haven’t tried TSW yet due to advice from my gaming buds who warned me not to touch it with a shitty stick.”
– Pitrelli

“If I had to pick I’d go GW2 simply for nostalgia reasons as GW was my first ever online (MMO) game and I played the crap out of it- plus no subs is a winner imo.”
– Gank

“You must play GW2 because I am a GW2 fanboy.”
– anon4ec

“I pre-ordered GW2 before pre-ordering TSW.”
– Winged Nazgul

“[After switching to TSW, no] idea if I’m ever going back but at least the option is always there.”
– Winged Nazgul

The Secret World

“But if story truly is paramount for you – then go with TSW. GW2′s story-telling, quite bluntly, is terrible. The personal story is awful. Awful. The NPCs in general are completely forgettable.”
– Drew

“TSW, on the other hand, has a cool skill system and really good voice acting and story-telling.”
– Drew

“But from a pure “story” standpoint, the game is fantastic. Reminds me of a horror-version of Fallen Earth – the game with bar-none the best “world” I’ve ever played in. GW2 just feels ‘plastic’ in that regard.”
– Drew

“My suggestion – give the TSW free trial a shot when you have a good chunk of free time. It’s three days, but can be extended based on some parameters (30 quests or something) to five days. Try before you buy!”
– Drew

“I ended up getting the TSW lifetime sub because I feel this is an extremely good value for my money.”
– Winged Nazgul

“GW2 didn’t stick with me and I returned to TSW after about 2 weeks.”
– Winged Nazgul

“To cut a long story short I was bitterly disappointed in GW2 primarily due to poor storytelling and its extremely monotonous ‘heart’ quests.”
– Rob

“If you love storytelling then you honestly can’t go far wrong with TSW. As others have said it’s by no means a perfect game (actually Drew summed it up perfectly) but from a storytelling point of view there is no stronger MMO in the market right now.”
– Rob

“GW2 is a good game, but TSW is fantastic, and story-wise it really can’t be beat. In my opinion it’s the best written MMO out there, and this is from someone who previously thought SWTOR storytelling set the bar. But TSW just blows it away, I’m afraid.”
– MMOGamerChick

“But if you don’t mind something different, and you’re looking for some fun in a horror-themed story-driven MMO, I say go for it.”
– MMOGamerChick

“As for me, I’m still subscribed to TSW at the moment, though I haven’t been playing so much because I’m also juggling GW2 and WoW, but I know TSW is a keeper. My guild is having TSW nights, because every month Funcom updates the game with new content and new quests and there’s always going to be a ton of things for me to do.”
– MMOGamerChick

“Played TSW and loved it so much I bought the life time subscription. Try the 3 day trial first (which extends to 5 days) so you can give it a go.”
– OneShard

“Get TSW! Playing TSW for just a month (before subscription kicks in) will already allow you to live out a wonderful story. ”
– Phedre

“I’ve been playing MMOs since Ultima Online, and nothing has captured my interest and imagination like The Secret World has. I’m a Rank 13 Illuminati with 65% of the skill wheel completed. I’ve located every hidden lore item in the game, have several Quality Level 10+ (10.4 being the highest in the game) pieces of gear, and I have over 1,000 kills in PvP. Still, even in the end-game, I can recall the names and stories of NPC’s from the very first zone. I know every area like the back of my hand, not because of how frequently I’ve visited them, but because each zone I quested in was so unique and richly detailed that I couldn’t keep from exploring every inch. The dungeons are unlike any other. Each one features its own story, and the bosses are more like puzzles than tank-and-spank throwaways, requiring every member to pull their weight and work together. Few games have given me the same satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. I have the lifetime mebership, and I’ve never regretted it for a second. I bought Guild Wars 2 a few weeks ago because a few of my cabal members were giving it a go, but I don’t have a single character over level 5. Compared to The Secret World, Guild Wars 2 feels so bare-bones, rudimentary, and forgettable. But the price is right. The subscription model doesn’t sit right with a lot of people, but I think the monthly content updates absolutely justify it. This month’s update will add new missions, the games first raid, a theatre where players can put on shows while players in the crowd cheer them on or boo them off stage, and more. Try the trial. I don’t know you personally, but based on your post, I think you won’t be disappointed.”
– Landiien

“Guild Wars 2” or “The Secret World”

October 3, 2012 27 comments

I thought I could resist, I thought I was done with MMOs for a while. But I keep reading these amazing stories about both of these titles, on gaming websites, on peer blogs, at my local flower shop (don’t ask). The point is I am itching to play an MMO again, and I need your help to determine which one I should invest in. I only have enough time for one.

Story is paramount to me, so The Secret World is a clear winner. But I am also tired of the subscription model, and Guild Wars 2 has everyone beat in that department. Help me? And for the love of god, don’t confuse me with suggesting a third. I am looking at you Gank!

“Secret World’s Secret’s Out” or “Raging Ragnar”

August 29, 2012 2 comments

It is a sad day when an MMO, especially one that has been in development for almost a decade, that generated so much hype, and that had so much potential, seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.

According to Funcom’s Q2 2012 financial report, The Secret World has been purchased by over 200,000 players so far, a number far below the 700,000 sold for Age of Conan in its first months. The report claims several initiatives are being launched to attract a bigger base to the game, but the ugly truth is self-evident: The Secret World has failed to garner the following that it frankly deserved.

It is unfortunate really. I have yet to try The Secret World. This is not because I am waiting for more reviews, or because I am trying to sidestep the early adopter blues. I simply don’t have the time to invest in another MMO. I was hoping that post-summer I could clear up my schedule a little and give this and Guild Wars 2 some time and see what all the raving lunatics are scream on about. The Secret World has been given a very respectable mid-70’s overall score by critics, and a more grounded mid-80s score by players on MetaCritic.com. Clearly, years of hard work and dedication to creating something unique yet familiar, novel yet adaptable, organic yet linear has paid off. But despite everything that the studio did, somehow it was not enough. I suppose that is the nature of the business, sometimes no matter how hard you try, it simply won’t stick.

I will do a full-blown review and try to dent what I can when I try it, but as it stands, it seems that The Secret World is done for. And it is yet another nail in the paid subscription era’s coffin.

“Mists of Pandaria Release Date” or “Pandas Are No Longer Extinct”

July 26, 2012 2 comments

On September 25th, 2012, Pandas will invade and the world will forever remember the day the near-extinct species rose out out of the fog, and invaded the world of mortals.

In other words, Mists of Pandaria will be out.

Will I get it?

I don’t know. I am pretty occupied with life at the moment, and the very limited time I have is consumed by the likes of DayZ. Then of course, I have to consider trying The Secret World, a title that I have been rabidly excited for, but have not invested in simply because I have no time. I suppose only time will tell!

“GW2 Information Overload” or “An MMO After My Own Heart”

February 23, 2012 1 comment

The NDA for Guild Wars 2 was lifted this week, and the information poured forth, an unending tide of opinions, impressions, videos and screenshots. Perhaps not coincidentally, The Secret World also revealed its launch date, June 19th, 2012. Smooth Mr. Tornquist, real smooth!

Since I am not in the closed beta, my impressions of what it plays like is based entirely on the plethora of online previews that popped up between the beginning of this week and now.

Kotaku’s Mike Fahey listed 10 things that he learned from the Guild Wars 2 beta. It is an interesting read, full of promise and praise, so take it with a grain of salt. Fahey’s post has no new screenshots, but there are a few interesting videos, one of which highlights the absolutely massive scale of the game’s cities. It also appears Fahey may be a little suicidal with his digital avatars. Massively’s Elizabeth Cardy and Shawn Schuster put up their own impressions of the press beta event from over the weekend. Cardy focused on marco-level concepts, such as leveling, grouping, combat and healing, whereas Schuster spent more time with the character creator, questing, classes, skills, items, look and feel of the game.

Several bloggers also had their impressions of the game:

  • My dwarf brother Werit naturally only focused on the  PvP aspect, and how he feels it compares to WAR.
  • Spinks is prudent, and feels that we shouldn’t expect something drastically different, just the next step in the MMO evolution.
  • Syncaine feels that the game will fuel the biggest e-peen measurement races in MMO history, and that may not be the worst thing!
  • Keen was kind enough to rummage through the mountain of videos from the event, and come up with the most informative, entertaining and useful ones.
  • Ravious might need a towel!
  • Syp is glad that his feelings about the game are being reinforced though all the glowing praise from over the weekend, but he is focusing on two aspects that stand out for him: character creation, and the lack of reliance on the “holy trinity”.

Massively also put up this new piece today, detailing how crafting works in Guild Wars 2. Being able to gather everything at any time from the get go (no more collecting copper nodes in noobland for three hours before moving higher up the ladder), a lack of node competition, and salvaging all seem like great ideas on paper, and drastic improvements on the “Everything. Takes. Longer. ™.” formula every MMO is guilty of. I am excited, not as much as I am excited for The Secret World, mind you. But I am very excited! I will most certainly be trying this out when it releases.

“The Secret World ARG” or “33, Elder Futhark, And 1001 Interpretations”

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Here is something interesting that is making the rounds today. A forum user accidentally stumbled across this, and put up a thread here. Try it yourself:

  1. Go to Funcom.com
  2. Click on any part of the landing page (once fully loaded) that isn’t a link
  3. Type in 33

The screen goes blue, then this image appears. It has already generated about 8 pages of discussion on the thread. It could be an homage to Funcom IPs. It could be part of a lost ARG that was never fully realized. It could be anything. I have this strange feeling that this ARG will reveal the launch date for The Secret World.

I suppose time will tell…

Categories: The Secret World

“Se7en Reasons to Look Forward to The Secret World” or “The Stuff of Nightmares”

February 14, 2012 1 comment

Have I mentioned that I am eagerly anticipating the release of The Secret World? I think I have. On more than a few occasions I might add.

The game first caught my eye some four years ago, and it has been in development for the better part of a century decade. Much like any other upcoming MMO, the game promises to change the genre, but unlike most of the competition (with the possible exception of Guild Wars 2), The Secret World has some features and mechanics that really does set it apart.

.:: THE ATMOSPHERE ::.

"Will you be my valentine?"

There are a multitude of reason why this game has me giddy as a schoolgirl (are all schoolgirls generally giddy?), but allow me to demonstrate it with a simple example. I am not faint of the heart. I laugh through horror flicks, yawn through scary video games, and thoroughly enjoy scaring the hell out of my friends at winter bonfires with ghost stories. And herein lies my point. See the image above? For some reason, it creeps me out. And this is just one image. The Secret World is chock-full of visuals like these, and then some. This particular screengrab is from an area in the game called Blue Mountain, which is extensively detailed here.

The second CGI trailer is a great example for the atmosphere that is to be expected in The Secret World. An abandoned playground. A sinister foe that can shapeshift. A sole hero. It’s gritty, its dark and it looks delicious!

.:: THE SETTING ::.

The Secret World is set in the real world, not some high-fantasy location like Azeroth, or deep within the infinite reaches of space like New Eden. It is earth, as we know it, circa now. The game’s three factions are based in the very real cities of New York, London and Seoul. Now, granted, the game will make use of fictional towns and imaginative mythic locations where players can face off against the forces of evil, but the world is our own, the heroes ordinary human beings, the conflict very human.

Kingsmouth (Kingsport + Insmouth) is a fictional location within The Secret World. A trailer for the zone was released quite some time back, and it paints a chilling image of a picturesque, idyllic town where nothing is as it seems, and something terrifying lurks just below the surface.

.:: MENAGE-TROIS ::.

The traditional MMO features two opposing sides. Be it Alliance and Horde, Light and Dark Side, the choices, exceptions excluded, are fairly binary in nature. The Secret World, however, has three separate and distinct factions, all sworn to defend the world against the coming darkness, but at odds with each other in their separate pursuits of power.

There are the Dragons:

A whisper of a rumour of a shadow, this Asian group is the most secretive of societies. With no fixed territory or structure, the Dragon have dissolved and reformed throughout history. They believe that a closed, controlled society is a sick society. Only through collapse and rebuilding, the natural chaos of life, can the world be in harmony. Recently, they have taken root in a nameless district of Seoul, Korea.

The Templars:

Proudly tracing their royal lineage back to Babylon, the Templars are the lions of the secret world. When they roar, everyone listens. Old Europe is theirs, and the Templars’ marble hall dominates the old London borough of Ealdwic – historic capital of the secret world. It’s not just a show of strength. Nothing is just for show with the Templars.

And the Illuminati:

The Illuminati may have ancient roots, but they remain forever young and hungry. In every growing empire they have played for it all. And they play for keeps. Stealing the Americas from under the Templars’ noses, they grew with the United States to become a shadow superpower. Their corporate headquarters, the Labyrinth, is in an undisclosed location beneath Brooklyn, New York.

.:: MONSTER MADNESS ::.

To say that The Secret World is full of terrifying and unique enemies would be kind of like saying: “The Atlantic Ocean is damp.” The Secret World is designed around the idea of the stuff of nightmares, legend, and myth brought to life and running amok.

There be monsters, and they be aplenty.

Here are few examples, pilfered directly from The Secret World website.

.:: THE FOURTH PILLAR ::.

The game is the brainchild of one Ragnar Tørnquist, who has been lauded for his story-driven approach to video games such as the award-winning The Longest Journey. Featuring a complex, overarching story that weaves together the bizarre events and monster infestations around the globe, The Secret World explores the terrifying mysteries from history, myth and legend (urban or otherwise). The game won’t be a new set of dungeons, and a new global threat emerging with the latest content patch, it will be a seamless experience, rich in context, broad in scope and terrifying in detail.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying other MMOs don’t try to be story-driven. The latest entry into the foray, Star Wars: The Old Republic has established Guinness-documented world records for script with hundreds of hours of dialogue recorded. A review actually stated that from a single-player point of view, SW:TOR was 8 complex, interwoven storylines in one epic game. All I am saying is that my initial fear was that The Secret World would follow the formulaic pattern of introducing a new zone, with new threats, and new enemies every few months without regard to the larger story. It seems Mr. Tørnquist has already circumvented that by creating a story that ties everything in the world together.

.:: THE END TO CLASS WARFARE ::.

This is the big one. MMOs, by design, feature a personal progression system. Your character gains experience from questing, defeating enemies and completing tasks. This experience accumulates to the point where you graduate from your current level to the next, gaining additional abilities, specializations, talents, etc. The Secret World does away with this system altogether. There are no levels, there are no classes. You can choose your abilities as you see fit, without ever feeling the need to re-roll. There are over 500 skills to choose from, and you can slot them into your character abilities as you see fit.

But wait a second, with 500 abilities to choose from, how will you ever make an informed decision? Just yesterday, Funcom revealed the skill-deck templates. These are recommended skill-decks that you can mimic to create a particular type of archetype. To quote Massively:

The Witch Hunter focuses on big damage spikes and represents the Templars, the Warlord is your basic swordfighter from the Dragon faction, and the Thaumaturgist is the Illuminati’s answer to the gunmage archetype.

This not only gives you complete freedom over your character, but also help new players to the game (or genre) to comfortably get into a pre-determined, tried-and-tested set of abilities as they learn the ropes enough to make their own decisions. Additional details can be found here.

.:: LOCK AND LOAD … AND CAST FIREBALLS ::.

The no levels and no class system lends itself to the game’s varied arsenal. You can use melee weapons such as swords or bats, or firearms both small and large, or even use destructive magic to your advantage. The lack of class also implies that you never have to stick to one type of weapon or damage build. You can mix and match as you see fit, leveraging the wide range of havoc-inducing abilities, weapons and skills to your heart’s content and your enemy’s demise.

Additionally, your costume and look does not have to reflect your progressions through the latest content. You can wear what you want, acquiring apparel from missions, factions or shops in the main cities as you see fit. There are literally hundreds of options for you to discover.

Well there we have it folks, those are my top 7 reasons for looking forward to The Secret World. If you have any additional reasons, please feel free to share them in the comments below. Please also let me know if there are any factual errors.

Categories: Preview, The Secret World

“Patch 4.3 is the End for Cataclysm” or “The Monks Must be Meditating”

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The Pandaren monks must be meditating for a long time because it seems that they will be the next major content patch in WoW. That’s right kids, 4.3 is the end of the line as far as Cataclysm related content goes. I initially thought they might do something like “Sunwell for Cataclysm” to hold on to their player-base, considering especially that they have lost nearly two million subscribers in the last year. But no, good old Blizzard is sticking to their guns and maintaining Deathwing as the final major encounter in Cataclysm.

This effectively implies a few things for me as a player, roughly divided into two broad categories.

Category A: Quit until Mists of Pandaria

Fairly self-explanatory.

Category B: Prepare for the Expansion, Fluff and PvP

In this category I will certainly not be raiding. I have tried LFR, and the guild does weekly runs with 7/8 of Dragon Soul on farm status. But for me, that is just insufficient. I see little point in my character acquiring the top-tier gear when it will go obsolete next patch when a whole new ball-game begins. Instead, I’d rather focus on the things I have been meaning to wrap up. These include, in no particular order:

  • A proper secondary and tertiary alt
  • Level Archeology to the cap and go after some of the rares in that profession
  • Level my second profession, Blacksmithing.
  • Transfer the mining profession by leveling it through smelting on my secondary character, and pick up Engineering on my main.
  • Expand my companion list. I have 46 so far, with little effort. I wonder how well prepared can I be for Pokemon with any actual effort.
  • Do some of the fun little fluff achievements.
  • Loremaster (*shudder*)
  • Go after some of the rarer mounts, or mounts that take a great deal of effort and/or time
  • PvP my heart out, especially with the guild

At this point I am not sure. Any suggestions?

And no I don’t seem myself switching to another MMO, free or otherwise. Unless they announced when The Secret World was coming out.

“The MMO Gold Rush is Dead” or “But the F2P Rush is Just Beginning”

August 28, 2011 2 comments

About a week ago, Tobold spoke about how he feels that the MMO gold rush is over. In the wake of the phenomenal and unprecedented success of World of Warcraft, several MMO developers popped up all over the map, and the market was flooded with clones, underfunded or badly designed (original) ideas, or incomplete products as studios rushed to capitalize on the MMO gold rush. Tobold goes on to argue that the F2P model actually forces developers to make better games because otherwise the player will not move past the free content.

While I am not entirely in agreement with the last statement, for we have seen several games that purposely restrict content and box it into “paid content”. These models, which limit what the players can experience in the start, at least for players like me, have no appeal. Free-to-play to me implies that I should be able to experience the game in its entirety at the start. I should not be subjected to archetypes that I am not interested in, or a class that I have no interest in playing. Sure give me the content in paid categories higher up in the levels, with more areas opening as I opt to pay for them, but if you show me limited content in the very beginning, I will likely leave in the very beginning. This is probably the reason I cannot move past the first few levels in Champions Online: Free for All. Because the only archetype that I thought I would enjoy, I am having next to no fun with.

That being said, I think the F2P gold rush is just beginning. With the resounding success of several games that switched from a subscription model to F2P (hello LOTRO), more and more studios are producing AAA titles that are free-to-play with cash shops. Just today, one of the most hotly anticipated new MMOs and one of my favorites, The Secret World revealed its payment plan. There will be a subscription (which I will pay gladly), but along with it, the game will feature a cash shop for “clothing and convenience items” to avoid the pay-to-win slippery slope so many other studios have been accused of. I thought this was interesting. They are not F2P at launch, but depending on the success of the subscription-based model they have a cash shop all set and ready to roll at launch. Shrewd Mr. Tornquist, very shrewd.

The bottomline is that the MMO genre is in a constant state of evolution. Old, anachronistic and archaic concepts are beginning to bore the pants off of veteran players. WoW, despite constant innovation, an accelerated timetable for endgame content and now with more Vitamin C, continues to lose subscriptions. Now granted they still have over 11 million active subscribers, but the dip is noticeable, tangible and quite possibly a herald for the coming times. F2P is the latest gold rush in the MMO-sphere, and it is here to stay a while, because it allows developers to milk more doubloons out of their players with with every single content update, cosmetic or otherwise. I don’t expect this gold rush to change any time soon.

Categories: F2P, The Secret World

“An Hour to The Secret World’s Beta Information” or “I Better Get in This Beta!”

August 26, 2011 6 comments

Update (an hour later): Of course it is a little annoying when the timer runs out to 000:00:00… and nothing changes on the website and no new information pops up. Damn you Funcom! Damn you Ragnar!

Second Update: The developers update us with this tweet:

The Council of Venice has intervened and are delaying the start of the first phase of the Secret War by four hours. Stay tuned.

Funcom – The Secret World Twitter Account

Categories: The Secret World

“The Secret World ‘s Latest Cinematic Trailer Brings People Together” or “Dragon, Illuminati, Templar: Unite”

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The three protagonists from the first three trailers can be clearly seen in this latest video (the Asian katana chick, the shotgun-totting demon-hunter, and the trench-coat-wearing pisser dude), first battling each other, then the forces of evil in a united effort.

But who the hell is the black dude?

Categories: The Secret World

Weekly MMO Crockpot: “APB, RIFT, WoW” or “LOTRO, GW2, and a Very Secret World”

January 11, 2011 6 comments

Every once in a while I accumulate too many things in my reader that I want to talk about, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Most often I just end up deleting those things after a week or so, and other times, I just mash them together in a crockpot and put up this post. Now granted this isn’t a weekly segment by any definition, but it helps me square away a plethora of information that I think is important enough to share.

APB Closed Beta Information

APB was a great, ambitious project gone horribly awry. Mere months after launch it was shut down due to a wide range of issues and acquired by GamersFirst. The game will now ship as an F2P MMO titled APB Reloaded. A twitter post last week claimed that closed beta could begin as early as February. You can sign up here. I avoided this title because of… well… I suppose you could call it intuition, or sixth sense. Some prefer to call it lessons learned from open beta! I played the game for a few level pre-launch, and I knew right there and then that it needed some serious re-tweaking. Milamber tried it, I don’t think he’s too happy about the eventual outcome. That’s a good amount of money down Realtime Worlds’ bankrupt gullet!

CEO Bjorn Book-Larsson, in his latest blog post claims that nearly 20,000 people have signed up for the beta, and they expect to leverage the input from 6,000 to 8,000 players during the first round. Bad news for fans/players of the original title though: nothing will carry over from the original game, even if you had the highest level character. Sorry! Here’s to hoping the second time around will be met with boast-worthy success.

RIFT Launch Date and Design Principles

Rift will launch on March 1, 2011. WoW. I did not expect that. Given that they are just going through their closed betas, I honestly expected the game not to launch any point before the summer. I guess they are a lot more ready than I imagined. More accurately, they believe that they are a lot more ready than I imagined. So Rift hits in March. Will it be the next WoW-kil- oh forget it!

There are countless unwritten rules for creating an MMO world that successful designs in past games have impressed upon the entire industry. No monsters on the roads; never stop the player from questing or doing what he plans to do; group content should always be separate from solo content. While I will acknowledge that these sorts of rules of thumb are the guidelines that we designers live by, challenging them is where we have found a lot of success in RIFT.”

Will Cook, Trion Worlds’ content designer for Rift (RIFT?), RIFT challenges unwritten rules of the genre in a new dev diary, Massively.com

1. We like it when you surprise us. We don’t it when you surprise us with something that we can’t even wrap our heads around.

2. Is it Rift or RIFT? And wasn’t it Planes of Telara at some point? Or Excalibur Tractor or something?

What the WoW?

In shocking news of the week (not really though), Cataclysm sold 4.7 million units in one month. That is ridiculous. But also curious. If WoW has 12 million players worldwide, does that mean 7.3 million people were simply not impressed enough by the game to actually buy the expansion? 60% of the alleged WoW base never actually bought the expansion. Is it me, or is that just a little strange?

Either way, nearly 5 million active WoW players in Cataclysm is impressive as hell, especially when you consider Cryptic was ecstatic over 200,000 players in Star Trek Online.

Second, as is the case with all systems in WoW, the Dungeon Finder tool was met with resounding success and was one of my favorite additions to the game. It seems Blizzard isn’t hanging up the old towel, and is at it again to further improve the dungeon finder tool.

“Groups could benefit if they knew they didn’t wipe because the healer didn’t manage mana well enough, but because the DPS wasn’t high enough, or boss adds weren’t properly rounded up, etc.”

– Zarhym, Dungeon queue should be performance-based

Now that is smart. Educating the player why their group failed will go a long way to alleviate the tensions in pugs. As someone who has played a Holy Paladin for over six years, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I heard this. That is fantastic, let’s finalize that and put it on live servers ASAP!

Three Times the LOTRO

Turbine tripled their revenue by going with the Free-to-Play model in Lord of the Rings Online. You hear that Afrasiabi? *sigh*

Make Love, Not Guild Wars

10 years of Guild Wars have passed if you include the development of the title as well. The team has come a long way, and some of their most glorious and touching moments are highlighted in this short and sweet video that goes over the last 10 years.

The Secret World, as Forced Upon us by Ragnar Tornquist

I hate you Ragnar. Months of wait for some but of information My face lights up when I see the title mentioned in my feed reader. And what do I get? EA will be co-publishing The Secret World. That’s it. You suck Ragnar, you suck.

It does take one red flag though. EA has previously published The Sims Online, Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond and Hellgate: London. Do you know how many of those were successful? I’m nervous now.

“10 Questions About the Secret World” or “Funcom Keeps on Sharing!” – Part II

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As promised, the second part of the the-part community-asked Q&A session with one Ragnar Tornquist was released today. Again a lot of information was shared, some of it redundant, and some of the answers were drowning in rhetoric or marketing gibberish. An example is below:

Q: Will Agartha be a variety of environments or purely subterranean caves?
Agartha will be something very surprising and fresh and different – inspired by the myths, built on plenty of research into hidden tomes and forgotten lore, and recreated in a way that’s going to be intriguing both from a gameplay point of view and from a purely aesthetic point of view. We will, in essence, open the gates to one of the world’s strangest, most arcane and most enduring mysteries. But the true nature of Agartha won’t be revealed even at launch: we have much, much more in store.

Notice how smoothly Tornquist avoided the question altogether?

There were, however, some interesting bits and pieces of information. You can read the entire Q&A series further below, or go to The Secret World forums and read it there. You can also find the first part here. But why would you when I have compiled a short list of the most important and interesting tidbits of information in the handy bullet-point list below?

  • PvP will be designed to cater to both large-scale conflicts, and smaller skirmishes to please both organized hardcore PvP’ers and casual players
  • The three factions can band together to fight evil and Barbara Streisand (he probably didn’t mean the Barbara Streisand bit)
  • There will be crafting… or something similar.
  • In groups, different combos can be activated by players using several powers in succession, playing the ‘Holy Trinity’ in TSW will put players at a distinct disadvantage. What I glean from this is that you can play the tank, damage-dealer or healer role exclusively, but only in combining the three roles and further strengthening it with party combos will you achieve your true potential.
  • There is loot. Lots of it. It isn’t wardrobe based, your wardrobe is purely cosmetic, but you will have amulets, rings, necklaces, specific passive powers and even tattoos that will grant you stats. Remember the first CGI trailer Funcom revealed? The tattoos on that Asian came alive as she took on Smiley.
  • Powers can be acquired in many ways, but primarily through purchasing. Go go Capitalism!
  • There will be traditional end-game content. Sort of. *sigh*

Q1: Will Agartha be a variety of environments or purely subterranean caves? (Samsbase)

Agartha will be something very surprising and fresh and different – inspired by the myths, built on plenty of research into hidden tomes and forgotten lore, and recreated in a way that’s going to be intriguing both from a gameplay point of view and from a purely aesthetic point of view. We will, in essence, open the gates to one of the world’s strangest, most arcane and most enduring mysteries. But the true nature of Agartha won’t be revealed even at launch: we have much, much more in store.

Q2: All the PvP in Agartha will be oriented to large cabals (defend or conquest cells), or there will be also some “casual-player friendly” pvp content? (Croshin)

We’ll have both. We’re going to include PvP modes that allow for quick and easy fixes without having to be part of a permanent group or a cabal – although you’ll still be fighting rival secret societies.

Q3: Is TSW’s PvE gameplay design so that PvE players have reason to play after 30 days? (Liliane)

Absolutely. We don’t expect everyone to migrate to PvP after racing through the game’s missions. There will be plenty of reasons to stick around and play for non-PvP players, including – but not limited to – a huge amount of powers to accumulate, achievements, **** and the ********. Oh, sorry, I’m not supposed to talk about those two features yet. We also expect to add content to the game on a regular basis after launch, and the story will continue in content upgrades and expansions.

Q4: Will different secret societies be able to play together in PvE? (Unknown)

Yes. The secret societies may be divided in pursuit of power, but they stand united against evil – at least for as long as strictly necessary. It may only be a friendship of the surface – in more ways than one – but none of the secret societies want to see our world succumb to the darkest of days. After all, if that happens, what’s left to control?

Q5: Is there going to be crafting in TSW and how will it work? (Liliane)

There will be crafting – or something similar – but we haven’t revealed any details yet.

Q6: Is the game still going to focus on a classless skill based system or will it be designed to have players focus on filling different rolls in a group? (Malkov)

Both. Players can create their own hybrids with any combination of powers, but it’ll also be important to put together teams that can function as efficiently as possible. To that end, we’re building combos that require the use of different powers by the various team members, making the choice of powers – and the composition of the team – into a sort of meta-game. I think players gravitate towards specific roles, regardless, but the beauty of our system is that you don’t just have to be a tank; you can also be a damage dealer and a healer. You don’t have to get stuck with one job. Of course, our monsters will also challenge players in new ways. If you play TSW like a purely class-based game, you might find yourself at a disadvantage.

Q7: Martin (Lead Designer) previously mentioned that the game was still item heavy because of the RPG genre, could this be expanded on? How for example will the paper doll be set out so that whilst clothing provides no stats we can still min/max or have progression via items? (Luna)

While clothing has no stats, there are plenty of other things that do – including occult weapons, magic rings and necklaces, ‘passive’ powers and mystical tattoos – and The Secret World will have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of items for players to play around with and configure to their heart’s content.

Q8: And of course this was mentioned already but 300% want to know HOW we will be obtaining skills. Will they be quest rewards, something we learn through grinding “proficiency points” to advance down a skill tree, or will they be something acquired with a WoW-esque “talent points” system? (Quanyin)

Powers are acquired in a couple of different ways, but mainly through purchase. As you gain experience points, you also earn the currency needed to procure new powers – though these powers vary in cost, of course, based on how powerful and unique they are.

Q9: You’ve mentioned before that playing TSW will be like starting at the end-game, because there are no levels. Does this then mean there’s no actual end-game either, because there will always be something new to achieve? (Kasama)

Yes and no. Of course there will be something like the traditional end-game content, since that’s something players enjoy – be it PvP or PvE – but there will also be achievements (and other things) to keep players engaged for – hopefully – years and years. And that’s not counting the content we’ll be releasing post-launch. We have some extremely exciting things in store.

Q10: What kind of incentive is there to kill things apart from just killing them? (loot? knowledge?) i.e: are the rewards more mission based, loot based or something else? (SA_Avenger)

You mean, apart from the pure satisfaction of slaying a powerful demon? Loot, of course; experience; mission rewards; points for (and from) your secret society. The love and appreciation of a world on the brink of the eternal night. What more could you ask for?

Categories: The Secret World

“10 Questions About the Secret World” or “Funcom Keeps on Sharing!”

May 23, 2010 1 comment

The official forums for The Secret World have a new post from Funcom answer some of the questions asked by the community over the course of time. Ten questions in all were answered, but closer scrutiny reveals that some of them for repetitive in nature, so it’s really only 8 questions or so answered.

Here is a quick summary of what I thought were the most interesting sections. There is other information detaling how awesome the story is etc., but that is marketing lingo than anything else. You are really interested in the buttel points below:

  1. There may be mounts.
  2. Every in-game NPC is fully voice-acted.
  3. There will be in-game social events, but the exact nature is not confirmed yet.
  4. There will be arenas for PvP action. This information is brand new, and was revealed through these questions.
  5. You can create at least one character per account. You may be able to create more. Once you are part of a society, even thinking of joining another is treason. Your choice is for life.

Also: this is Part 1 of 3. So stay tuned as more information unfolds.

It’s still an informative read, so head on over to the forums for the thread, or just read the whole post copy-pasted below!

Q1: Will TSW provide an abundance of Social Events (like current ARGs but in game) and social locations to party/etc? (FaithLove)

Our hubs are social arenas where players can engage in non-combat activities. As for what, exactly, those ‘non-combat activities’ will be, we haven’t revealed yet, but we want to create a world that isn’t just about serving your secret society or slaying demons. We want to give players tools to do more than that, and we’ll probably talk more about this soon.

Q2: Will there be ‘mounts’, like horses, bikes, cars or dinosaurs? (Lorr)

We haven’t made any announcements yet – although dinosaur mounts would clearly be awesome. Anything is possible.

Q3: Can you make a Templar and Dragon and Illuminati character? (Shoval)

Your character can only belong to a single secret society – and switching societies isn’t possible. Whether you can create a new character in a different secret society on the same account or server is something we haven’t communicated yet.

Q4: Will it really be impossible to switch secret societies? (Annihilator27)

As above, your choice of secret society is for life. To even think of joining the enemy is treason.

Q5: When you make a game that’s very lore and story driven, it can be easy to fall into a linear structure, because you really want to be sure that the player knows the full story. How do you find a balance between telling a main story and at the same time, giving players the freedom to explore? (Kasama)

Players can jump in and out of the main storyline as they please. They don’t have to follow it. Exploration is both encouraged and, sometimes, required, since you may not yet be ready – or powerful enough – to continue on your journey. To uncover the entire story, every little piece of it, you really do have to explore the world and discover its secrets – that’s a key element to the game, and something we’ve created mechanics to support. In The Secret World, story IS gameplay.

Q6: In one of the first interviews, you mentioned that TSW would have extensive voice-overs, with at that time over 100 voice-actors. How is this coming along? Will the game have full voice-overs, or only the “main” quest lines like in Age of Conan? (Ardanwen)

All non-player characters will have full voice-overs, for all missions – not just the main story mission.

Q7: How will the character creator be like? (AlexanderFG)

It will be fun and flexible! I can’t really say more than that. Character creation is obviously very important, and we’ve tied some cool story elements to the process, making it part of your journey into the secret world.

Q8: Is there going to be any “battlegrounds” or arenas for PvP or is it all going to be open world? (Scooch)

We haven’t really talked about this yet, but what the hell: there will be arenas for PvP matches – in addition to the ongoing society battle for world domination.

Q9: The Secret World exists so far from the mundane world… how elaborate/visual will the magic in game be? How varied? (Azaris)

The Secret World isn’t very far from our everyday world at all; we just tend to look the other way. It’s the world down that dark alley, beyond the tall fence, through the door of the rundown house on the edge of town. It’s the world that we glimpse when we take a shortcut home one night and see shadows lurking off the beaten path.

It’s the world we see in the corner of our eye but are afraid to acknowledge because it would make us question everything we hold to be true. It’s the world behind the curtains, where puppet-masters pull strings, making governments, religions and corporations dance to their tunes. It’s our world, without the coat of white paint, and it’s right here, right now, if you only knew how to look.

There’s going to be tons of variety in terms of what kind of magic players can learn and how they can use it – both in terms of visuals and gameplay – and that also goes for the magic weapons players get to wield. But it’s still magic of our world, not a world of elves and dwarves and dragons (well, um, sort of), and it’ll feel as such.

There’s voodoo, illusionism, demonology – magics that belong in the darkest corners of Earth, not in some high fantasy world.

Q10: Would you say TSW is more of a story-driven MMO or an action-based MMO? (Ironfeet)

I’d say it’s a heavily story-driven MMORPG with tons of cool action! Obviously, the setting and the story are incredibly important to us. We’re putting a lot of work and attention into the universe, into the characters and the voice-overs and the lore, into all those game mechanics that are geared towards immersing the player in the storyline, making them feel part of something grand and ancient and secret, part of these age-old conspiracies and powerful secret societies. But you also spend a lot of your time fighting creatures of darkness – that’s what the story is about. It’s about the rising tide of evil, about these normal, average people being granted incredible powers, and about how they use those powers to battle darkness – in service of their cabals.

Source.

Categories: The Secret World

“Weekly Crock Pot” or “APB, Moonlight, Torchlight, Red Dead Redemption, Ghost Recon, oh my!”

March 27, 2010 2 comments

APB Screenshots

The more I find out about this game, the more excited I get about this title. The truth of the matter is that APB is one of three MMOs I am excited about in a market that recently seems over-saturated either with shameless clones (I am looking at you Alganon) or disappointing novelty (*cough* Champions Online *cough*). The other two being The Secret World and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Click on the gallery below to check out the latest screenshots, courtesy Destructoid.


Vampire MMO

Via Massively, IGG has announced Moonlight Online, a vampire MMO. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the recent American obsession with vampires seeped into the MMO industry as well. I guess this one won’t have any day/night cycles! Oh well, at least it isn’t based in the Twilight universe. Right IGG? RIGHT?

It is slated for a late 2010 release. Considering it is almost April and we haven’t heard anything about this before, that sounds like a bad omen. Has Cryptic taught you nothing?

Light Your Torches for $5

Torchlight is on sale on Steam for a mere $5. If you still need a reason to buy this brilliant game, you are about as satiable as a Saudi Prince on Friday. You know that diet you have been thinking about? Don’t have your second Big Mac for today and buy it instead. ‘Nuff said.

Read Dead Multiplayer

Weeks before the release of GTA IV, it was announced that the game will have sixteen freaking multiplayer modes. Say what you want haters, but GTA IV multiplayer was a blast!

History repeats itself with Rockstar announcing that Red Dead Redemption will also feature multiplayer in a ‘surprising’ manner. What’s the surprise? Will there be cake? THE CAKE IS A LIE!

More details coming April 5th!

Ghost Recon Features Male Human level 80 Rogues

Just watch the trailer. It’s part cool, and part absolutely fucking ridiculous.

“Tornquist’s Teasers” or “Witcher Harder”

March 23, 2010 1 comment

I came across two videos that I was quite excited about.

The Secret World

I have been anxiously gobbling up any pieces of information offered by Ragnar Tornquist over at Funcom, developers of Age of Conan, about their upcoming MMO, The Secret World. Two teaser trailers have been released in the last two years, short CGI flicks that show ordinary-citizens-turned-heroes battling terrifying monstrosities and abominations. We also saw a website about Kingsmouth, a fictional town in The Secret World‘s universe, that featured, surprise surprise, a teaser for the Zombie infestation that has ravaged through the town’s population.

Now there is a new teaser (sigh), a short 40 second video (32 seconds if you don’t count the compulsory logo at the start – yes I am that obsessive!) shows actual in-game footage of a gruff-looking cowboy with an ominous sounding statement: “I thought I had the measure of the darkness of this world. I was wrong.” Are people like you ever right about these things? The short video also teases the viewer with March 25th, a day when secrets will be revealed. I’m hoping those secrets aren’t more teasers. I just might burn down Funcom Studios.

The Witcher 2

The second video is a bitching new trailer for Polish-based CD Projekt‘s 2007 smash hit, The Witcher. You know what the trailer for the second game is blissfully devoid of? Teasers! Yeah, take notes Tornquist, ya wanker!

The original game won over 100 game of the year awards, a feat that is made all the more impressive by the fact that it was CD Projekt‘s debut project. The trailer features some vicious combat, some fantastic graphics, and pixelated pre-coital bathing.

No, I am not kidding. Enjoy!

“Build me up, Buttercup Baby” or “Only to Let me Down!”

March 5, 2010 2 comments

IGN recently posted an interview with Ragnar Tornquist, Game Director and Executive Producer for Funcom’s upcoming MMO, The Secret World. To say that details about TSW are kept strictly under wraps would be sort of like saying World of Warcraft has seen some mediocre success. Having followed the game closely for well over two years, it seems every time Tornquist comes out with a new interview, he pre-meditatively shares only the most microscopic smidgen of information just to keep the hype going. It is either an ingenious marketing strategy, or just a sadist’s self-gratification agenda.

With the recent unveiling of the website for the town of Kingsmouth, Maine, a fictional location based on sleepy sea-side New England towns, it seems the Funcom team has finally started to unravel the mystery surrounding the title, and what it has to offer. However, even in this interview, despite tackling a large number of questions, Tornquist refused to share any significant information. For instance, I learned from the interview that:

  • dark freaking days are coming, like really dark yo!
  • you get to fight against the forces of evil, and you are the chosen one (in addition to about a million other people)
  • the game will feel familiar to an veteran MMO player, and look better than Age of Conan did
  • most locations are real-world based, but not accurate renderings of any specific city or landscape
  • the zombies will ‘not be your average shambling variety’, and enemies may ‘attack you, ignore you or run away’, and every monster revealed so far is tied to the New England location
  • the list of features, soon to be unveiled, will excite an already rabid fan following
  • there will be a ton of loot

Aaaarrrggghhh! Come on Tornquist, give us something real, something tangible! I am already hooked, just reel me in man!

Don’t get me wrong, there were some morsels of useful information, but a lot of has was regurgitated from earlier sneak peeks, such as the three factions, and the level-less skill-based system, or that the combat will be fast-paced and action oriented. In short, we still don’t know much about The Secret World than what we already did. I would like to see some real answers to some of the most pressing questions.

For instance:

  1. The leveling system is skill-based. Will the skills train in real-time, like in EVE Online? Or can you invest the in-game currency to improve and expand your skill-set? How will you ensure each player has equal and fair access to the skill system? Is there a cap on the number of skills a player can acquire, or, as is the case in EVE Online, are skills directly proportionate to the amount of time you invest into the account (not necessarily the game)?
  2. For all its flaws and drawbacks, Champions Online has some fairly explosive combat that is thoroughly enjoyable. What makes the combat system in TRW special or stand out from the crowd? Just as an example, Star Wars: The Old Republic recently introduced a cover system in the MMO, which is an innovative and novel feature for MMO combat mechanics. Watchoo got Tornquist?
  3. How about sharing some details regarding immersion and logical consistency? Most MMOs use a ‘popping out of thin air’ re-spawn system. Oddly enough, a non-MMO, Borderlands, provided a solution, that while not perfect, was adequately rational for it to maintain a sense of immersion. If you killed a beast, its kin emerged from a nearby cave that was inaccessible to the player, not materialize, as if by magic, from the air around you. Will TSW attempt to change or challenge any of these norms, and bring about a better, more holistic sense of immersion?

In a way Tornquist has already answered the third questions, especially regarding re-spawns:

“MMORPGs are certainly difficult beasts in that sense. The player can never be The One, capable of defeating – permanently – the enemy and saving the world from darkness. That would be quite silly and very unfair to everyone else. Besides, when does that really happen? Heroics come from being part of something bigger, not a lone wolf. That’s why we’ve made that a central part of our story and theme; to be one of many heroes, a soldier in an army of light fighting the forces of darkness. And we do make an effort to explain why your actions may not change the world completely. When we launch the game, players are there to put a stop to evil spreading, and make sure the outside world doesn’t find out what’s going on – protect the ancient secrets, uphold the conspiracies and prevent widespread panic. After launch, however, we do intend to introduce change to the world, to make players feel as though the war progresses and grows, that the players actually impact what happens.

“As for an enemy like Jack O’Lantern – it would be quite disappointing if only one party of players would be able to bring him down – so of course, like any good villain, he pops up again. But we explain it and make it part of our own mythology. As most people know, it’s really hard to kill off a good villain. I mean, have you ever watched Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street? Those dudes keep coming back!”

– Ragnar Tornquist, Game Director and Executive Producer, The Secret World, IGN interview

*sigh*

This gives me an idea for a weekly (perhaps fortnightly) column discussing all the things that break the sense of immersion in contemporary MMOs, and how crafty, risk-taking developers may bypass and even improve upon these stagnant, stale formulas.

In the meantime, enjoy some excellt concept art from The Secret World in the preceeding post!

Categories: Opinion, The Secret World

“Roided Undead!” or “That Zombie has Crabs!”

March 4, 2010 Leave a comment

A variety of concept art shots from The Secret World.

I hate you Tornquist, I hate you for baiting me like this!

Categories: The Secret World

“She got no Class!” or “Tørnquist is a Funny Name!”

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

she-got-no-class-or-tørnquist-is-a-funny-name2One of the upcoming MMOs that I am very excited about is The Secret World. It’s not fantasy, it isn’t set in space, you don’t get to be a superhero, and the world hasn’t destroyed itself by firing a couple dozen nukes up its own ass.

The Secret World is set in our present time, in the real world. The twist? Ancient prophecies are coming true and all manners of beasts and monsters that are the stuff of children’s nightmares are coming to life in alarming numbers. And it is up to a few individuals, ordinary human beings initially, to save the world. Players then assume the role of developing supernatural heroes who fight the textbook battle against the rising evil. It is being developed by Funcom, developers of the popular Age of Conan.

If you have not heard of the game at all, I would recommend you watch the following two trailers first. And perhaps read up a little on the game.

You can play as one of three factions, The Illuminati, The Dragons or the Templars. The game incorporates pieces of ancient mythologies, real and false history, urban legends, and pop culture, and ties them into an original back-story.

“We have three playable factions: The Templars, who are based in London and who are on a crusade against evil. They don’t let anything stand in their way, and they’re willing to raze a city to the ground if it means defeating the evil within. Then there are the Illuminati, based in New York, and these guys are more interested in gaining occult power and wealth. They’re more secretive and prefer working behind the scenes to control the world. Of course, they’re also fighting evil, but their motivations are different from their mortal enemies, the Templars. Finally, the Dragon is the joker in this deck of cards. They’re based in Seoul and appear quite innocuous on the surface, but they like playing the other guys up against each other, and they believe in creating chaos in order to achieve balance.”
Ragnar Tørnquist, Producer and Director, The Secret World

she-got-no-class-or-tørnquist-is-a-funny-name1Universal Gaming Database’s Evoker recently had an interview with Ragnar Tørnquist, the producer and director of The Secret World. While Tørnquist was careful not to divulge any significant information, he did elaborate that the game will not have any classes or levels. Additionally, you don’t have to grind to get through the game, but you can if you so choose. Tørnquist insists that you get to create your own experience, but doesn’t conclusively say how.

“You’re going to have fun! Our goal is to make sure that players can sit down and play this game and enjoy themselves from the very beginning. You don’t start out fighting rats with a rusty sword. You get cool firearms, black magic, occult weapons from the outset – and you’re fighting demons and the undead, not wild boar or petty criminals.”
Ragnar Tørnquist, Producer and Director, The Secret World

You can find the full interview here.