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  • unmanneddrone 1:34 pm on July 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: The Secret World,   

    @angryjedi And fair enough, too. Plus, let’s be honest, this isn’t Silk Road Online we’re talking about here.

    Speaking of personality and world-building, this is an utterly fantastic history of the WipEout racing teams. I love this kind of stuff, especially when it all feels so deliciously well-structured and detailed. Even if you’re not a fan of the games, the legitimacy of the backstory is pure nerd-fare and might even tickle the fancy of corporate/sports/racing pundits.

  • unmanneddrone 12:06 pm on July 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: The Secret World   

    @angryjedi Cheers for that delightfully detailed response. I ask primarily because when I hear impressions of TSW, it never really sounds like the actual MMO aspect of it comes into play – which is obviously NOT the case, given the ability to quest in groups and whatnot, but from what you’ve been saying, it really does seem like this could have conceivably been just an awesome single-player Cthulhu-themed action/adventure-RPG of sorts with AR elements folded into the experience.

    Very curious. Glad you’re digging it.

  • Pete Davison 10:21 am on July 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: The Secret World   

    @UMD I believe the subscription in this case is to ensure the game keeps evolving and changing on a regular basis. There are planned monthly content updates which, if they can keep the momentum going, is an exciting prospect. If they regularly provide big expansions as part of the subscription fee (like what City of Heroes used to do) then I’m all for it; if they do subscription fee AND separate expansion packs a la Warcraft I’ll be slightly less understanding.

    I agree that I would rather follow the Guild Wars “pay once, then pay again for expansions” model, but I don’t object to paying a sub for something that is going to get substantially updated regularly as part of that subscription. We’ll see how it goes. The player base seems pretty happy at the minute — the few who came in expecting Warcraft with draugir are generally getting pissed off with the 7 equipped skills limit and buggering off again, leaving behind a mature community, most of whom can spell properly. It’s gratifying to see anyone posting spoilers for investigation missions in chat being harshly dealt with, too.

    You’re right, a subscription fee is a bit of a gamble these days with the rise in free-to-play, and The Secret World already includes the infrastructure necessary to make it F2P in the future — it has a “cash shop” that at present just sells cosmetic clothing items (there are also plenty of cosmetic clothing items that can be bought in-game). I’ll be interested to see how it develops over time. If they can keep up the production quality (fully voiced cutscenes with characters that actually move like humans rather than standing around woodenly) then I’m happy to keep paying. I realise this may seem a little hypocritical given my thoughts towards skeezy DLC plans, but I still accept it as part of the MMO model. There’s a noticeable difference in quality between F2P and sub-based MMOs — though Guild Wars is the wild card. Still, there’s an argument that Guild Wars isn’t really an MMO at all, it’s Phantasy Star Online. (I believe Guild Wars 2 is handled more traditionally, but I’m not sure.)

  • unmanneddrone 3:40 am on July 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , The Secret World   

    @angryjedi I’m curious as to why The Secret World necessarily needed to be a subscription-based MMO, instead of something like Guild Wars. What’re the components that necessitate such a model? I’m not anti-subscription, it just seems like a bit of a gamble at this point…and having Guild Wars-esque expansion packs seem like a great way to craft fine booster experiences down the line.

    I’d hate to see, especially in the wake of Funcom stock dropping after the CEO stepping down, such an apparently innovative title lose traction on account of the current MMO landscape despite itself.

    @beige Fair points, all of them. I think, as discussed with comrade of the stars @angryjedi, I draw my world-building satisfaction and thus “personality” via the emergent, self-determined narrative of such a minimalist universe. Endless Space was actually one of the main talking points in the most recent Three Moves Ahead podcast on the very topic of world-building, with Rob Zacny coming to the same conclusion as your fine self. For me, personality…or closer, accessible anthropomorphisms…aren’t nearly as exciting as the sheer concepts of terraforming or the notions of fleets quietly thrumming through the starlanes, the outpost developments, finding a bountiful planet locked beneath the dangers of Kessler Syndrome. It’s more the inference of civilisation than actual civilisation.

    And like many of the post MoO2 titles, it does appear to take a few expansions for 4x developers to begin injecting heavy-duty “personality” into their games. GalCiv2 needed two hefty expansions to really ‘world-build’, and some say Sins of a Solar Empire, though not really a 4x game in the classical sense, has finally arrived at the point where you can totally get a feel for factions and for the universe. It’s a big call, especially when it’s a game not inferencing or referencing history. You’d think a fantastical slate would be the easier option, but I daresay it’s far harder to weave in the narrative or personality tenets into non-historical titles. Paradox titles are dry as hell mechanically, but they’ve got more personality under the hood and through the regular historical and player-driven ahistorical timelines than most other games – in the genre and out.

    I’m taking a quiet break from it until the Mac release; have a friend currently in a holding pattern waiting for that release date and we’ll kick off again from there. But magical game.

    I don’t much care for Civ, but gee I’d like to read any squaddies’ opinions and experiences with Gods & Kings.

  • Pete Davison 12:55 am on July 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Pendulo, The Secret World,   

    @feenwager Pendulo are doing some good stuff. Their newest project just went up on the new Gamesplanet Lab platform (worth keeping an eye on if you’re into unusual games — it’s like a quality-controlled Kickstarter) and sounds pretty cool.

    The Secret World still has its hooks in me deep. I’ve been playing for about 22 hours now and I’m still in the first main “zone”, which I’ve now got to know very well — it feels very well-realised and not at all like simply “somewhere to run through”. There are three large “hub” areas in the game — the “Not Innsmouth At All, Honest” town of Kingsmouth, an Egyptian area called Valley of the Sun (I think) and… Transylvania. Awesome. Each area is made out of three large “zones”, each with a bunch of quests to do in each. Each hub also has a lengthy and very involved “story mission” to complete, and the game is designed in such a way that you will naturally come across its objectives as you complete other quests.

    The cool thing I’ve found is that surprisingly little of the game feels like “filler”. MMOs are usually rife with filler content to help you grind, but most things you do in The Secret World feel meaningful. This is helped at least in part by the fact that “main” missions start with cutscenes, but even the side missions (which you just find on discarded objects and things lying around the world rather than from people) have a sense of purpose to them.

    The investigation missions continue to be the game’s highlight. I did one tonight that required me to visit the website of a company referenced in-game, look up product information and then use said information to find the appropriate items to solve a puzzle. Subsequently, I found myself translating morse code (with the assistance of an iPhone app — my Morse transcribing is not what it could be) and deciphering the message to find my way to my objective. And that was a simple one.

    Even the combat-heavy missions are pretty neat, too, though. There are a few “kill [x] [y]s” along the way, but these are usually tied in to another objective at the same time — for example, in one, you’re hunting down mass graves and making sure the dead bodies therein stay dead. For the most part, though, the “action” missions involve some lateral thinking and environmental puzzles, too — it’s rarely as simple as “go to this part of the map and kill shit for half an hour”.

    The levelling system is probably the most interesting thing. You have a wheel of skills, and nine different disciplines — pistols, shotgun, assault rifle, swords, hammers, fist weapons, blood magic, chaos magic and elemental magic. You can assign ability points to any of these disciplines at any time, so if you’re getting fed up with a particular build, simply switch it out. In order to facilitate this, many of the less important side quests are repeatable, allowing you to effectively “grind” them to respec if you so desire — alternatively, you could take your existing deck of abilities into a higher level area, gain AP at a much more rapid rate and spend your vast quantities of points on new low-level abilities. It’s a really nice, flexible system, with the only slight issue being the lack of an explicit “level” sometimes making it difficult to judge whether or not you’re “strong enough” for a particular challenge. It’s certainly a different approach, though, and it works very well.

    I did a “dungeon” tonight, too. This was slightly more traditional MMO fare, though it still has nice things like cutscenes to give it a sense of narrative. The boss fight at the end of it was pretty spectacular, as well.

  • Pete Davison 12:57 am on July 8, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: The Secret World   

    Further thoughts on my own blog, but after a good few hours with The Secret World… whew. This is some seriously impressive stuff they’re doing here with game structure, levelling mechanics and alternate reality gaming. Also, who hasn’t wanted to play what is effectively Arkham Horror: The MMO?

    Beige and/or Rampant, you two need to get on this. I have a 24-hour trial code if either of you want to use it.

  • Pete Davison 2:42 pm on July 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , The Secret World   

    Hello everyone,

    Just thought I’d share the fact that I have picked up a copy of The Secret World (or World of Lovecraft as I have decided I am going to refer to it). Reports from the front to follow.

    I’m all for the “set-top PC” model. Works great for me, even if my tower case is a little bit obtrusive if we’re being honest. If I thought about it a bit harder I could probably secrete it somewhere more discreet, but it works fine for me. Easy access to YouTube, Netflix, and indeed all the video on the Internet. Console ports work great with an Xbox 360 pad, PC-specific games work well too (though in the case of some, you have to sit a little bit closer in order to be able to actually read the text).

    It’s also basically the way around the “I Just Can’t Play Games On PC” argument. If your PC is effectively fulfilling the role of a console, no problem.

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