The Secret World: Do I have the energy to do this all again?

One of the best perks of my job at Massively OP is that every so often I get to interview MMO developers directly and ask them any old thing that pops into my mind (I do prep beforehand, of course). For an MMO player, it’s a treat to have this direct line to a developer, even if for a short period of time.

You might have seen that last week I had the opportunity to sit down with two of the guys in charge of The Secret World and ask them some point-blank questions about the game’s transition to Secret World Legends. Ever since the announcement was first made, I found myself waving my arms and sputtering in frustration and anxiety over all of this. I didn’t find Funcom’s initial round of interviews satisfying, so it was great to have this chance to dig into this decision. When you genuinely care about a game, you are concerned about its future and want honest answers instead of fluff. That’s what I was after.

You can tell me how well it all came off. I didn’t get to every question I had and there were a few topics that the team danced around (such as how they’re going to make money with F2P, which wasn’t answered to my satisfaction in retrospect). But at least it was good to hear about the process behind this decision, the rationale for the move, and the thought that was going into some of these decisions. I may not agree with all of them — I think the reticle combat is a dumb idea that nobody was asking for — but I appreciated the responses. TSW just wasn’t making money and the studio feels that this is the only way to avoid shuttering it and to keep the stories coming. It’s a weird pill to swallow.

And the question for me is, will I swallow it? As I told them, I’m a weird mixture of anxiety and excitement over this relaunch, but the anxiety is definitely winning. I’m seriously worried about all of this, about how this decision affects their core playerbase and how the new game will handle. If it doesn’t work, then this will be the end of Secret World in any incarnation; Funcom isn’t going to pay for Season 2.

But excitement? Sure, there’s a bit. It’ll be nice to see a spotlight back on this game (although the timing is terrible, as June is already packed with big MMO expansion releases). If the game looks, performs, and plays better, then wonderful. And I was pretty geeked to hear that we will be seeing a development roadmap soon for post-launch plans, including an AEGIS rework (yay) and the next chapter of the game’s saga.

I’ll play it, I know I will, but there’s part of me that is intimately familiar with the mountain of content that I’ve gone through — twice — and quails at thinking of having to do it all over again, build up a whole new character, just to get back to where I was. It’s the price that all TSW vets are going to have to pay to see what comes next, and I’m sure for some, it’s a dealbreaker.

Then again, I’m Mr. Altoholic, so maybe I can get into a mental space to think of this as just another one of my alts. I miss my shotgun build, so I’ll definitely be going back to that and the Templars, and maybe I’ll start shopping for a cabal come June. There’s some time left, after all.

Oh, and I also want to hear some details about what subscribers/grandmasters are going to be getting, since I have a $150 package invested into this game. Hard to walk away from that, too.


5 thoughts on “The Secret World: Do I have the energy to do this all again?

  1. Isey May 15, 2017 / 10:20 am

    I am very interested. I might be the type of player that is on their path to income – I played only up until Egypt so most of the game I have left unexplored. I wanted to play it. I liked everything about it except the MMO elements. I am really hoping this is a hit for them, for some the same reasons as you – the gaming world is better off with a Secret World than without. If they can pull this off there is a nice spot for it to be an original gaming space.

    I will play and I will keep track of if (and how much) money I spend, as I am that casual TSW player who remained very interested but not invested (financially or time wise). Will be fun to see if they can push me over the edge in the investment side (time and financially). Either way, I will be blogging about the results!

  2. Sylow May 15, 2017 / 11:39 am

    Several random points on this:

    1. Unlike many others, i am not that bothered by loosing my gear and skills. Everything around combat is reworked and i understand that the transition is complicated. And this is from somebody who had full 10.9.5 equipment, purple signets included, for healing, leeching, DPS and block-tanking. Only my Ankh-specific tankset was still a tiny bit behind, as i never bothered for it that much.

    Despite getting this gear was a long way, it would he hard to translate that into the new game and would always result in some disappointment. The same is true for the skillweel. So while it doesn’t make me happy, i can handle it.

    2. Already more annoying is that i loose achievements, lore and the likes. After all, there’s some things in there, which are historical and probably never can be collected again. It would be great if that could me moved over.

    3. Even more annoying, this whole thing kills our friends list. And actually it wouldn’t be that hard to create a transfer for the friends list. A simple two-liner triggered when an account of the new game is connected to the old account would do the trick. Just query all already linked accounts, where the account in progress was friends to. Then just befriend all the found accounts. As bonus, add the character names of the linked account as comment field, so people know who they’d be dealing with.

    As long as any halfway reasonable DB, no older than about 30 years, is being used it’s really as simple as that.

    4. I understand that the whole “new game” thing is borne from desperation. I understood that already before this interview. After all, MMO history holds a few examples of such moves, and usually they ended in disaster. The most famous one goes by the name of NGE, and the very only time where such a complete rework seems to have been a success is Final Fantasy 14. (And considering how FF14 crashed and burned at launch, for that one up was the only remaining way to go. )

    But in the end no matter what the intention for the producer is, the game stands and falls with the most important factor: fun.

    I mean, the current move is a surefire way to shed a good part of the old playerbase. Just enter TSW at the moment and watch the tumbleweed roll by. Before SWL was announced i could get a dungeon group within minutes. Now i can sign up for random dungeons and for all roles and it won’t pop for hours. Our previously buzzing cabal is derelict. The very only place which still seems to be there, albeit also on life support, is the RP community.

    During my girls radio show i still see people. They also already have become less, but some people still turn up. I also understand why: RP doesn’t rely on progress which will be “wiped” with the transition. What people can take along are their names and thus their reputation. Even when the friends list is killed, as long as events like the RFG shows continue, this group will find each other again.

    But this is the only part of the community which still is somewhat intact, while everything else is being kicked into the dirt. Unfortunately i have some doubts that the new game will be able to compensate for that.

    5. To be able to attract new players, the reworked system needs to be fun. I think that this is the most essential part. I mean, i played a number of reticule combat games, even at times when that term was not known yet. (E.g. Neocron, Face of Mankind, a little post-NGE SWG, a lot of DCU and now some ESO. ) Not only do i not mind this kind of combat, but i generally even like it.

    Despite that i believe that (unless a miracle happens between now and release) SWL will die in no time and we won’t see season 2. Just watch the lifestream of SWL. Then watch some video from DCU or ESO. See the difference. If that’s not enough to judge, go to reddit and look at the leaks from the game.

    I would party for days if they’d decide to make things a bit more interesting. If we should use the mouse for combat, then it would be nice if we actually could do something there.

    I mean, DCU gives you 7 abilities and a trinket on the toolbar. (And more if you have the expansion.) Additionally every weapon has 10 or more combos on the mouse buttons! There is a reason why i once every other month log into DCU for a few hours just to enjoy the combat. (To then log out again, as i would have to grind for better gear for weeks to be allowed to get into new content, but that’s a different matter. )

    Similarily, ESO gives me two bars of 5 abilities each, along with some combos on the mouse. And what do we get in SWL? Four abilities on the bar. Including limitations of what you can actually put there. Another two on the mouse, which again are limited to a small selection of the abilities you have. Nono combos and it’s all click-click, for even holding down the mouse button to repeat an ability is not feasible.

    When i just look at the leaked (and recently updated and basically confirmed that they are true) infomations from reddit, the player is chained and shackled. Sure drunk John Doe and his dog profit from this, as they finally can both be successful. If there are no options, there also is no option to make a mistake.

    But when i see that i could for example on the AR can only put either a damage or a healing attack on the mouse (and those don’t go on the bar, so don’t get your hopes up!) i feel let down. In DCU i can switch between two roles (determined by class) with the press of a button. In ESO my usual setup (non-dungeon) allows me to switch between damage and heal on one character and between damage and tank on the other one, just by pressing the weapon switch button.

    In contrast, while we enjoyed a lot of flexibility in TSW, we’ll now get locked down in SWL. Unfortunately i believe that minimum-options combat also results in low-fun combat, which dooms the game. I really was looking forward to see season 2, but i don’t believe in that any more. 😦

    6. They actually were very lucky to have you interviewing them and not me. They openly admitted that they decided already in 2016 to completely drop the game and make a new one. I would have directly asked why they lied to us about new content on the way throughout 2016. There were lifestreams and stuff, where they oninously were talking about “great new things” on way for TSW.

    Considering that actually the “great news” was that TSW was left to die, i would really like to ask them that question. For i think the only honest answer would be that they still wanted to milk the existing playerbase for as much as possible, knowing very well that the transition will dispose of a lot of us.

  3. Athie May 15, 2017 / 4:31 pm

    I guess I have mixed feelings here.

    1) AEGIS was just such a deterrent that I never really played Tokyo. IF they actually rework or abandon AEGIS and rerelease Tokyo, that’s effectively new content for me.

    2) I recognize that the game was dying anyway.

    3) It seems evident that the combat changes make the game worse for existing players without being different enough to attract people who didn’t like it before. There is still time to revert this, Funcom!

    4) The game goes from having about the most flexible progression and build systems in MMOs to among the least flexible. Removing unique selling points is a plus now somehow?

    5) Obviously a huge number of veteran players have already permaquit over this, and there’s a huge risk that many more will leave at launch. This *could* work financially even so if tons of outsiders get sucked into the game. But! The new launch has zero visibility. Right now in the middle of the SWL PR push, the game’s Google Trends score is bouncing along right near WildStar (where nothing in particular is currently happening). So the most likely scenario for the launch is — not much.

    6) All in all, this is risky, but not like a roulette spin is risky. It’s risky like driving drunk on New Years is risky. We all hope nothing horrible happens, but really the best-case scenario is pretty much the status quo. Just call a taxi, Funcom!

  4. Tom Doughty May 16, 2017 / 5:40 am

    I’m filled with the same feelings.
    In fact after SWL was announced it sapped all of my desire to play Secret World. I’m going to lose still my progress anyway.

    I desperately hope they know what they’re doing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s