Norwegian studio Funcom has developed online games for years, including Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. The developer is now working on The Secret World, a modern-day online game in which players join one of three secret societies headquartered in the US, Europe, or Asia to root out ancient and occult evils. One of the three societies will be the Dragon, which is headquartered in the bustling metropolitan city-state of Seoul, South Korea. Game director Ragnar Tornquist discusses some of this group's abilities and characteristics.
GameSpot: Now that more information is being revealed about the secret societies in The Secret World, give us some more information on the Dragon secret society. For instance, even though the game will not have strictly defined character classes, surely belonging to this group will confer certain advantages and bonuses that will differentiate it from other secret societies. In which specific weapon, crafting, questing, and dialogue skills will members of this secret society excel?
Ragnar Tornquist: It's important for us to make each secret society as distinct and unique as possible, but also to ensure there's no major imbalance in player-versus-player combat or adventuring in general. There will be plenty of unique content, however, and the philosophy of each secret society is going to be radically different--which affects the storyline and the central themes of the game--but the three secret societies will remain pretty evenly balanced across the board. We don't want one secret society to be massively more popular than another, and we want players to pick the society they want based on their ideas, philosophies, aesthetics, location and story--not because they have the best powers or weapons.
Having said that, there will definitely be other fun incentives to joining a particular secret society. But we're not going to reveal everything quite yet. Secrets, you know.
GS: Give us an idea of the combat specialties of Dragon characters. We've seen a trailer in which a character, presumably belonging to the Dragon secret society, uses a katana-like sword to battle a demon. Will the Dragon character specialize in melee skills?
RT: It's really all up to you: the player. We don't want to restrict your choices because of your choice of secret society. Having said that, there will definitely be weapons--and perhaps even special powers--associated with the Dragon that the other secret societies won't have access to. And it's going to have an Asian flair, for sure, given that the Dragon has its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.
GS: And in the trailer, we watched the character ignite the sword and attack her foe with the flaming blade. What kind of occult powers will Dragon secret society characters possess--weapon enhancements, for instance?
RT: Players will be able to do the exact same thing in the game. The trailers may not be in-game renders, but they accurately reflect the kinds of powers, weapons, monsters, and locations players will find inside the game. As for what occult powers the Dragon possesses…that's going to remain under wraps for a little while yet. But there will certainly be weapon enhancements and upgrades galore…and plenty of monsters to play with.
GS: We understand that the Dragon characters tends to prefer subtlety and patience when looking to achieve their goals. How will this tendency be reflected in their adventuring and dialogue abilities? Will they have bonuses to bluffing and lying their way through conversations? Will they have enhanced investigation skills?
RT: The Dragon is an orchestrator of chaos, and this will be reflected in the story mission. Dragon players will approach events and non-player characters using that mindset--the Art of Chaos--and that makes their story very different from the other secret societies. Of course, they would never call it "lying." To the Dragon, the truth is flexible and ever moving, like the ocean.
GS: What sort of player will most enjoy playing as a Dragon character?
RT: Anyone who likes a bit of anarchy, I reckon, though the Dragon still believes in order emerging from chaos. They're a bit of a puzzle box--hard to understand until you really get under their skin--and high up in the ranks, which is going to take a long time. Their ulterior motive won't become clear until the game's launched and players have settled in. I guess people who like a bit of mystery…players who think the Templars are too rigid and old fashioned and the Illuminati are too gung-ho and individualistic. The Dragon has patience. Not that playing a Dragon initiate is going to be boring, though if you're looking for clear answers [from this group], you may end up a bit frustrated.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about this secret society?
RT: The Templars and Illuminati may be easier to get to grips with--easier to get a handle on--but the Dragon is an interesting addition to the mix, particularly in terms of playing up the rivalry between the other two.