I am not a MMO gamer, I prefer games like Syberia and TLJ/DF - but i really want to try this!† It will be my first MMO. The story and mechanics sounds great.† Elder Scrolls RPG games I find extremely boring, more over - I am not 20 years old any more and do not have the time to roam endlessly in a game wasting time, so i like a concise, almost linear story ala Mass Effect, even open world but without the endless 'levelling up'; i have been wanting to try a MMO with modern settings and as a mature gamer (I'm over 30), I look for more story than play. I support Funcom and will see if this can change my mind of MMORPG. Any older gamers here? Opinions? Cheers. † †
Ragnar Tornquist divulges details on (almost) everything you'd want to know about the upcoming supernatural MMORPG The Secret World.
After getting a guided tour of The Secret World's premier dungeon at this year's Electronic Arts Studio Showcase, we were left with more questions than answers. To help shed some light on The Secret World's secrets, we caught up with Ragnar Tornquist, senior producer and creative director at developer Funcom (Age of Conan). Tornquist talked us through everything from character progression to social media integration to surviving in the massively multiplayer online marketplace. As for a release date, well, that's one secret we've yet to crack.
GameSpot: Making a massively multiplayer online game without leveling must be a challenge. In what ways will players feel a sense of progression, and how will experienced Secret World players prove their superiority to less-seasoned adventurers?
Ragnar Tornquist: Progression is vitally important in a role-playing game, and particularly in a massively multiplayer role-playing game. You're spending hundreds, potentially thousands, of hours in our game, and you want to feel that your character is growing and learning and becoming more powerful and versatile. Without levels, of course, we need other progression mechanics, and in The Secret World there are plenty.
First off, players will earn points in order to purchase powers. You get experience from everything you do: missions, PVP, monster slaying, crafting, lore, and achievements--everything. There are over five hundred completely unique powers in the game--at launch. We will add more postlaunch, and while you don't necessarily need all of these powers, the more you have, the more flexibility and choice you'll have. And The Secret World is all about choice. Powers are generally grouped by weapon type, and weapons have different properties, strengths and weaknesses, and unique characteristics. Having access to a wide variety of powers and, consequently, weapons makes you a more versatile and flexible player, and you'll be able to take on more of the content in the game. Players build decks consisting of seven active and seven passive powers, and the way these are combined and the interplay between both the active and passive powers is key to the role-playing and combat mechanics in The Secret World.
Secondly, gear--from loot, trading, crafting, rewards--is hugely important in our game. How you equip your character, and how you equip your character for a certain deck of powers, is crucial in having the optimal character build for any given situation. The player character has a number of slots, including magical amulets and trinkets, as well as occult implants called "chakras," that affect the player's stats, and a large portion of the character progression in the game comes from gear.
Clothing, of course, does not have stats--you can look the way you want to look, all the time--but since a lot of the clothing choices and outfits in the game are unlocked through missions and achievements, players will be able to show off their accomplishments by wearing these clothes; be it a stylish Soviet-era uniform gained by completing a dungeon, or a Stetson hat given as a reward for finishing a challenging mission, players can choose themselves what to brag about, how, and when.
In addition, players will increase in skill within weapon categories, meaning that someone who just starts out with a shotgun will not be as strong or versatile as someone who's been playing with a shotgun for dozens of hours. All players will also increase in rank within their secret societies, climbing the conspiratorial ladders from the basement up. These ranks open up new content and access to secrets, as well as things like vendors and unique items, and special missions that bring players deeper into the ancient mysteries and conspiracies of the secret world, and the ongoing conflict between the three factions.
There are other ways to progress--and to show off your progress--in The Secret World, and we'll reveal more as we get closer to launch.
GS: Music has always been an important part of Funcom's games. How is music being used to intensify the player experience in The Secret World?
RT: Both music and audio in general play a huge role in The Secret World, and we're benefiting from having a highly experienced audio director on our team (Simon Poole, who was responsible for Dreamfall: The Longest Journey) and a fantastic composer (Marc Canham) together with some very talented sound designers. Music in particular is being used as a tool to build atmosphere and tension, when needed. In fact, we've implemented a really powerful and unique combat music AI that analyzes the environment you're in, as well as every encounter with a monster, and modifies the music to fit the encounter.
Let's say you're moving through an area with a lot of roaming monsters. The AI will pick up on this and start what's called "tension music," creating an atmosphere of impending danger, which immediately segues into combat music--completely seamlessly--if you're spotted and attacked. During combat, if you're fighting a single undead creature, we might stick with low-intensity combat music, or perhaps even just sound effects, while battling a crowd of undead would up the tempo and intensity of the music. Fighting stronger bosses kicks the music up to a whole new level of intensity, and you'll really be able to tell when you're in trouble: the drums kick in, the volume rises, and your adrenaline with it. It's a really effective tool to illustrate game mechanics through music, and it's also an intriguing and original feature that I think players will appreciate.
In addition to the combat music, of course, we have tons of orchestral and contemporary music befitting each locale in the game--from New England to Egypt, from London to Seoul, from hellish dimensions to secret Soviet research facilities. Every location has a different sound to it, with unique music and effects that bring everything together.
Wow this is the first time I saw this game, and it looks amazing. Will def keep up on this, really interested in this because of the trailer.
I'd be most excited to see this on the 360, but the online gaming market is a tough one. SW:TOR will likely see a large surge at launch (as does most MMO's), so one can assume that TSW won't launch in competition with it. But TSW seems to be bringing something new to the table, stepping away a bit from the WoW-formula, so I'll keep watching in anticipation for further information and gameplay. It looks quite interesting right now and not like yet another WoW-type game (meaning similar gameplay, different world).
i just hope that despite all the marketing; when it comes down to the basics, the player will have great freedom of movement and an intuitive interaction keys and options
I am seriously rooting for this game, and I hope it does actually find it's way to the Xbox 360. I don't have a gaming PC anymore [weeps] so if this did actually reach the Xbox, I'd be very grateful.
Ragnar tornquist is a legendary visionary , i am really looking forward to this. The longest journey was one of the most epic Storylines told in Gaming history. I hope they learn from the mistakes of Age of conan
@Zloth2: Agreed - death penalty should be standard question fodder for MMO design discussion. The mechanics of death makes a huge impact on how MMOs play over the long haul. I myself like stiffer penalties. Some people like light penalties. Neither is right or wrong. It's all about preference. But which is in this game?
senior producer and creative director at developer Funcom (Age of Conan) need i say more. this is already in fail mode. AoC died now they trying to get more money.
Looks great! I love their creature designs. Looking forward to getting lost in conspiracy. I do hope they improve the player character models a bit more. They don't seem as detailed as the creatures and the player animations could use a lot of work. Still hopeful though!
looks interesting, bit of a break from the usual dungeons and dragons - but i wonder what makes this so different from hellgate gameplay wise?
@Crystal-Rush look at EVE, huge worlds, completely player driven. The economy is based on supply and demand, you can pretty much do what you want. The battles are huge in space and require some tactics. Heard about this along time ago but lost track of it.. The design of the creatures and settings looks amazing, i hope they don't screw this up. What i really want is a mmo shooter, it would combine the action/skill of a shooter with the creation and openness of an mmo. There was Huxley, but i don't know what happened with that. This seems to be moving in that direction, but we will see how it turns out.
im really sick of this type of gameplay....."Secondly, gear--from loot, trading, crafting, rewards--is hugely important in our game" that kind of gameplay is boring me to tears in todays gaming. Especially the loot and rewards part... my god. Maybe its time for MMO's to get innovative maybe? rather than just loot loot loot, reward, achievement then rinse and repeat and grind and grind!!! Im so over it.
†@nyran125 I agree.† I really wish these games could have gameplay options that are actually more than just difficulty settings.† I wish there was a story mode, made from the already existing content.† I would play Elder scrolls if i could choose a linear main mission mode that includes automatic content discovery that side missions provide in free roam mode; as opposed to doing side missions like 'go catch ten fish'.† Innovation is key. A Linear RPG content mode is not a contradiction to the RPG, as it is a modality of personalising an experience - innovation in tailoring.
The visuals and monster designs look fantastic, and Tornquist really does a great job of talking up the various aspects of the game....but i too have half an eye on SWTOR already. Im going need to do some hands on investigating to see how the combat feels, better get signing up to any Beta testing thats going on then.
I have been semi-following this game for a while, and I like some of the unique approaches they are taking, but I remain guarded. I will be picking up The Old Republic when it releases, so I am already going to be paying one subscription. Now, I don't mind paying a second subscription, but this game needs to show me that an extra 15 dollars a month is worth it... I am not sold quite yet, but my attention is definitely in their court.
@Zloth2: is there really a strong link between death penalty and audience type? Of all the MMORPGs I've played, Dofus had the most severe death penalty, yet it was definitely aimed at casual players and its servers were full to the brim with obnoxious immature people. RIFT barely penalizes death at all and, at least on the server I joined, has the best gaming community I've known to this day.
After years of following it, I have huge expectations for The Secret World... which makes it oh so likely that I'll be disappointed. From what they showed at E3, most of what Tornquist describes here has really been attempted... but for combat involvement. The combat system they showed was exactly what I've seen in every other MMORPG out there: click, click, click, OMG I'm in AoE, move, move, click, click... It's not a bad system per say, it works in every game out there that works... But I wish they'd either show us something really new, or drop the pretentious "we are made of awesome" talk.
This is starting to look like a really cool game. Been following it now since it was first mentioned. Its good to see companies now trying to look at a different way to give players progress in the game without levels and skill trees.
Well, it looks like the monster designs are cool enough. That giant skeleton thing on the first page sure looks creepy.
Dang, I wish they had asked about what penalty you get if you manage to get yourself killed in the game. Are we actually going to be punished for stupid play or will we just be slapped on the wrist at pushed back into the battle? Or maybe a small penalty that stacks if you keep dying over and over? That kind of thing tells me a lot about what sort of audience they are aiming for.
@Crystal-Rush Why? The MMO genre has hardly gotten tapped, most games in the genre til now have been carbon copies of each other. The definition of an MMO can be broadened to any massive, constant game world where many gamers play. It doesn't have to be another WOW clone if that's what you're thinking.
This game has been in development for a while now. I remember it being talked about in like 2009. The atmosphere seems original.
Tournquist already said The Secret World is not coming to Xbox 360 unless it's a "huge success on PC" first, and even then it will be a drastically different game than the PC version ( read: GIMPED ). So unless you have a PC, try not to get too excited about this game.
Great interview. Alright, tornquist got me interested in this game. The concepts sound great and the monsters look nuts.
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