Funcom has utterly failed The Secret World

I don’t think anything raises my blood pressure as quickly or vastly as when I see Funcom tweet that the Secret World team is doing some piddly livestream or in-game promotion while failing to talk about the game’s actual future. Because, let’s face it, there isn’t one. Funcom has virtually abandoned The Secret World — not once, but TWICE — and is running its corpse into the ground without putting in any more effort or resources.

Remember how Funcom was talking a big game about how the revamped Legends would not only deliver a more compelling combat experience (ha… no) and help fund the further development? That was a massive pill for TSW vets to swallow, to restart and go through a huge amount of content just to be able to access new story.

Since Legends’ launch in summer 2017, Funcom rolled out most — but not all — of the previous content that it hauled over from The Secret World, reworked the scenario system, and tossed in a whopping one story update (South Africa). The South Africa update was spring of 2018, and since then we’ve had pretty much nothing.

In fact, let’s look over what Funcom’s done with this game in 2019 to date:

  • It added a group mode to the Stonehenge occult defense mode in February. It also tried to sell a 12-month patron bundle that month.
  • In March, Funcom announced a Secret World spin-off single player game named Moons of Madness for a future release.
  • In April, there was a joke patch pushed out. Or was it.
  • The anniversary event was dug up to run this summer with activities, parties, prizes, and a scavenger hunt.
  • In June, Funcom also started selling a new epic cache key.

That’s it. That’s the whole year to date. That is not the picture of a game that is healthy, it’s a game that has been quietly unmoored from the docks and pushed out into a black ocean while the remaining community does what it can to keep itself occupied and cheered. It hasn’t stopped the quiet exodus of players who have seen the writing on the wall.

What really rustles my jimmies about all of this isn’t that Secret World may have turned unprofitable and not worth further development. That would be a tragedy, but it happens and it would be understandable. What upsets me is that Funcom has yet to address the failings of the Legends relaunch, has yet to really make good on all of its promises for the future of this game, and has shown that it is more than content to feed the delusion of the community that all is well and that there is hope.

Funcom leans hard on the community to run its own events and activities, because it’s far easier for that to happen and the studio to simply throw some promotion behind it than do anything new itself. It’s the appearance of staying busy without really doing anything significant.

But. Y’know. Thank heavens they got that epic cache key in the store. That was the important move right there.

The community isn’t completely oblivious, of course. That right there is what pops up on a simple Google search of the reddit, and it’s indicative of the wariness and despair that’s creeping into an MMO that hasn’t had its world change in any real way since a year and a half ago.

This is one of the most innovative MMOs and imaginative game worlds I’ve ever experienced, and it bothers me to no end that the studio running it is showing such a lack of responsibility and communication concerning it.

Funcom, you’ve failed Secret World. Twice. Shame on you.

Syp’s top 90 cartoon themes of all time

I love me a good cartoon theme song and collect about all I can find. The idea’s been brewing in my head to make a list of what I consider to be the all-time best themes — personal favorites rather than popular ones (you won’t see Simpsons on here, for example, because I find it shrill and annoying even though it is well-known). Indulge me and enjoy some awesome tunes!

90. Transformers — There’s a difference between how identifiable a theme is and how actually good it is. I think the separation is really wide on this one. Barely made the list, but it is here.

89. Sealab 2021 — Short and weird. Just how I like it.

88. Malo Korrigan and the Space Tracers — New discovery, including it because the drums and weird robotic repetition drive it over the line.

87. Wallace and Gromit — So very old-timey and British, but this is a classic that I actually enjoy. Wish they had made more of these shorts!

86. Chalkzone — There’s like three wildly different elements coming together for this theme, and darn it if it doesn’t work.

85. Challenge of the Superfriends — So cheesy. So badly animated. And yet it’s hard not to love the enthusiasm that’s clearly behind this theme. I actually like it for about two seconds.

84. Captain Planet — Let me be honest: Every time I hear “he’s a HERO gonna take pollution down to ZERO,” I want the evil polluters to win. I never liked this show. But… yeah… it’s not a terrible theme song, even if it was lazily written.

83. The Mighty Ducks — Ducks rock? Yes they do.

82. Clone High — This kind of gives me a headache but it’s one of those weirdly crazy concepts that makes for a strong pitch via theme song.

81. Ulysses 31 — Anytime someone asks me why the ’80s were so rad, I’ll point to theme songs like this.

80. King of the Hill — Sometimes all you need is a triangle, a few guitars, and a very excited drummer.

79. Tales from the Crypt Keeper — If it’s Halloweeny and even slightly appealing, I’m there.

78. Hammer Man — As you can deduce from much of this list, the goofier and dorkier the track, the more I might find myself attracted to it. Basically, it’s MC Hammer rapping to himself about himself.

77. Fanboy and Chum Chum — The little kid in me piped up to say that this is exactly the sort of tune that makes him absurdly happy.

76. The Lion Guard — It’s faintly reminiscent of one of Disney’s greatest animated films, so yes, I have to like it.

75. Extreme Ghostbusters — Oh, everyone HATES this theme. It’s the worst of the 90s style. Yet… I kind of dig it. A bit.

74. Ruby Gloom — The bah-bah-bah-bright side of the dark side. It’s happy goth!

73. Kim Possible — I think it’s important for us as a society to remember that there was a time when teenagers were beeped when someone wanted to reach them.

72. Pokemon — My kids would disown me if I left this off the list. Also, it’s not a half-bad theme even if it is about animal slavery.

71. Scooby Doo — I’m really not a fan of most cartoon themes pre-1980, but I’ll let this one pass because I watched it a lot back as a kid and find the music mellowly enjoyable today.

70. The Magic School Bus — Please let this be a normal theme song (NO WAY!).

69. Astro Boy (2003) — I have no connection with this anime series, but the guitar riff and heavy synth is hard to ignore. I felt it had to be on this list.

68. ATOM — If you’re making some sort of superhero teen cartoon show, you might as well go big or go home with the theme. This goes really big.

67. Donkey Kong Country — Horrible animation. Silly lyrics. Banana-slamma!

66. Super Chicken — I need to memorize these lyrics and perform it at a talent show.

65. Justice League — Never watched this, but I’ll give this some kudos for a stirring superhero theme.

64. Wunschpunsch — What is this I don’t even… hate it. I like it. I just wish I knew more about it.

63. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe — Dorky narration and sound effects… and yet the music is wildly fun. It’s the kind of music that should play any time I do something awesome, which is often.

62. Samurai Pizza Cats — At this point, television creators were just throwing darts at a board full of random words. It’s still a toetapping ditty.

61. Flying Rhino Junior High — Got to say this: They really pack in a whole lot of exposition into about a minute. And they make it fun.

60. Ben 10 — It took about one listen for this song to get etched onto my memory. I like the slightly older punk sound of its singers.

59. Phineas and Ferb — I’m all about theme songs that enthusiastically embrace an imaginative summer vacation.

58. Octonauts — Normally very little kid theme show songs are forgettable, but this one has a great energy to it that I never got tired of hearing.

57. Krypto the Superdog — The actual lyrics are beyond dumb. And yet they won’t leave my head. Why is that so?

56. The Legend of Prince Valiant — Back when they used to pour just so much effort into making super-epic cartoon theme songs.

55. Talespin — This one gets overlooked in comparison to Disney’s other classic afternoon cartoon themes, but I find it ridiculously fun. Should get more press.

54. Milo Murphy’s Law — Weird Al Yankovic did a cartoon theme song? I am so there!

53. G.I. Joe — It’s a very iconic theme, but it’s got a muffled, older sound to it that sounds a smidge like something you’d hear in the ’70s rather than the ’80s. Still does the job of getting you pumped up for the action to come. Definitely liked the movie version better.

52. Silverhawks — That hawk screech is distinctive but kind of pierces the eardrum. Still, this track and the animation has some serious style.

51. Pinky and the Brain — “What do you want to do tonight, Brain?” How fun is this to sing?

50. Heathcliff — Way, way better than Garfield. They did a good job with the lyrics. I mean, when you rhyme with “superiority” you’re on fire.

49. Spider-Man — Admit it, you watched this 1967 cartoon and know this theme by heart. It might sound old, but it’s got a zippy set of lyrics that keeps it moving quickly.

48. The Snorks — A far superior theme song than The Smurfs. When this comes on my MP3 player, I will sing along with it as loudly as I can. You should too.

47. Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors — I’m not a big fan of the heavy narration that precedes a lot of these themes, but I do like how some of these ’80s cartoons have a rock theme. That’s just not something we have today.

46. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic — Great energy to this one while casting off the syrupy thickness that ’80s girl cartoons tended to have for their themes.

45. Animaniacs — I have a love/hate relationship with this theme. It’s kind of annoying but… it’s also a lot of fun to sing at full speed. And it’s stuck in my head forever. I feel much the same way about Tiny Toon Adventures.

44. Bucky O’Hare — It’s a funky fresh rabbit!

43. Dave the Barbarian — I think the Conan parody schtick is really really old at this point, but I’ll forgive what seems like a fun and irreverent TV show. “Buh-buh-barbarian!”

42. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends — I like how this track slowly spins up into this out-of-tune piany theme. Fast and frantic, that’s the idea!

41. M.A.S.K. — It doesn’t get more ’80s than this! That singer really is going all-out, and I respect that. I’m always on the fence as to how much I like it, but I do like it.

40. Castlevania — This is way darker than anything I remember from the Castlevania games (or Captain N), but it’s got some real style.

39. Captain N — OK, this isn’t so much of a theme song as… I don’t know. A weird commercial? But I always got pumped up watching it. A cartoon about video games in the 1980s felt cutting edge.

38. Alvin and the Chipmunks — They got a lot of mileage out of “high pitched talking,” didn’t they? It’s a much better theme song than they deserve with a heavy ’80s pop bent.

37. Widget the World Watcher — Watching this makes me feel like I’m trying to explain a dream… but my dreams never are this melodical.

36. The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest — Just a lot of epic adventure music… but sometimes that’s more than enough.

35. Galaxy High — Why not just pipe a whole bunch of vaguely sung exposition through a voice synthesizer? It’s a silly premise but, c’mon, what wasn’t in the ’80s?

34. Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers — Disney had some sort of black magic in creating a seemingly endless streak of poppy, catchy theme songs.

33. The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers — “No Guts No Glory” by John Van Tongeren and Phil Galdston takes center stage with this wonderfully animated intro. It’s definitely growing on me.

32. We Bare Bears — This is a favorite in our house, and the groovy theme helps get us in the mood for another great episode.

31. BraveStarr — I’m not that keen on the narration here, but the animation and pounding tempo has me hooked even so. Love the “dum dum dum” bit right at the beginning. Gets you so psyched. Here’s a pretty awesome fan remake of it.

30. WildC.A.T.S. — A surprisingly decent (if overly ’90s) superhero theme. Could have done without that mid-theme rap though.

29. CatDog — This is insane. Insanely MARVELOUS. I want this to be sung at my funeral for some reason.

28. Lilo and Stitch: The Series — How is Disney STILL making such amazing theme songs? I thought I had a crush on Stitch before, but after this, he might be my favorite Disney princess.

27. Batman the Animated Series — This hews very close to the 1989 movie theme but somehow makes it tighter and even better for television. Love that driving beat.

26. Bob’s Burgers — I watch this show religiously, and the opening strains of that ukulele does something wonderful to my brain.

25. The Adventures of the Gummi Bears — This is another cartoon theme that I know word-for-word and will sing it for any reason in any situation. Maybe not funerals.

24. Futurama — I rewound and watched this intro on VHS when Futurama first aired, just because I thought it was one of the best themes I ever heard. Still do.

23. Darkwing Duck — Another terrific Disney theme. It was a pretty terrific show, too — I’m glad it got a shout-out on the modern DuckTales.

22. Dinosaucers — The first time I watched this, I became an ardent fan of what was a mash-up of every ’80s trope ever. Can’t deny how incredible the synth theme is, though!

21. Star vs. the Forces of Evil — It’s just a goofy, upbeat song that has a great hook. I’m getting really tired of the CalArts style being in all of these new shows, though.

20. The Real Ghostbusters — Hey, it’s the Ghostbusters theme. That’s going to ensure a spot on this list, even if the sound effects keep intruding. Great animation, too.

19. Gravity Falls — Another seductive ear worm, this one uses whistling and what sounds like banging on those baby xylophones to establish its very strange setting.

18. C.O.W.boys of Moo Mesa — There just aren’t enough western theme songs about cow sheriffs taming the west (and presumably doing human cattle drives). I only found this one recently and felt like I had missed out on something I would have liked back as a kid.

17. Beverly Hills Teens — I kind of feel like I have to defend liking this as much as I do… but I don’t have to explain myself to you. This is why the ’80s ruled.

16. Bots Master — Remember when people used to rap like this? For like sixteen minutes in the early 1990s? I’m so glad this show was made then, because this song is pure nostalgia fuel for that era even if you never saw this show.

15. Inspector Gadget — Forget the horrible theme from the newer version, the original had a powerful hook and one of the best openings to a theme song ever.

14. Denver the Last Dinosaur — There is nothing cool about this intro. There is EVERYTHING cool about this intro. And you’ll never unhear these lyrics.

13. Invader Zim — A crazy alien martial march… and one that used to be my all-time favorite TV show intro. Those opening notes still give me goosebumps.

12. C.O.P.S. — Every cartoon intro in the ’80s looked so amazing… and then the animation quality took a severe dip with the actual show. Still, I never got tired of seeing these oddball police carve up a city for supervillains. “It’s crime fighting time!”

11. Beetlejuice — Such a zany and utterly Halloween/gothic-soaked intro… all with one of Danny Elfman’s best film themes. I actually like this better than his film version.

10. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes — For a while there they made every movie into a cartoon, no matter how obscure. And I *loved* this one, especially with the repurposed theme from the second film. It’s so dorky and I am proud to say that I tape recorded it off the TV so I could relisten to it.

9. Pole Position — Amazingly underrated cartoon theme from the ’80s. The cartoon itself looks kind of lame, but… man, that theme. Also, check out this theme cover.

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — The original. The best. A perfect marriage of lyrics, good animation, and a catchy riff. Honorable mention for the “Rise of” theme song version.

7. Amphibia — A newer discovery but an instant hit with me (just ask my kids how often I play this and do a little dance to it while they groan). There’s a great energy to this track.

6. X-Men — In my opinion, this is the best animated superhero theme song of all time. Fight me.

5. Saber Rider — Listen to this once and you’ll be singing it FOREVER. It will convert you. Just give it a chance. Also, how many cartoon theme songs get a genuine guitar solo right in the middle?

4. Huntik — I’ve had a serious man crush on this Italian cartoon theme ever since I first heard it. It is so. Freaking. Epic. I think the visual editing does a disservice to the final product, but the music? The music is perfection.

3. DuckTales (original or new version) — Ridiculously catchy and easy to sing along with. It’s also indicative of an era where the cartoon theme songs were a lot longer than they are now. Woo-hoo!

2. Thundercats — This theme simply has to be played at the loudest volume on your TV, and even then it’s NOT LOUD ENOUGH. Feel the magic! Hear the roar! Ugh this is awesome.

1. Jem — As if there would be another number one on this list! It’s outrageous! Contagious! Excitement! Glamour and glitter! It’s always been one of my all-time favorite TV intros, and I’m cementing it as the best cartoon theme of all time right here.

Sunday Serenade: Flashback, Cool World, Battletoads, and more!

Time for another Sunday morning dose of random songs that I’ve been listening to this past week! Welcome to Sunday Serenade — now let’s crank the jams up with…

“Gravy Yard” from Blazing Beaks — No idea what this game is, but the tune in particular is a heavy, thudding dreamscape that I want to lose myself in. Reminds me a smidge of the Bastion OST.

“Stage 1” from Battletoads and Double Dragon — It was a really weird team-up that resulted in a really fun game… and some rockin’ tunes. This one’s simple but I lapped it up.

“Ice Ice FX” by FX — I’ve been sifting through a LOT of keygen music, which is basically chiptunes with a sordid past. It’s sometimes a while before I find something worthy, but catchy little ditties like this that make me think of the ’80s make the hunt worthwhile.

“You’ve Been Notified” from Cool World (SNES) — This is a trippy, bubbly track that is both soothing and addictive.

“Credits” from Flashback (Sega CD) — I take it that this is a rarer version of the end credits, which is a shame because it’s really well done. Lifts my spirits to hear it, it does.

World of Warcraft: Druids with bones to pick

When I finally got flying back on my World of Warcraft account and cleaned up the rest of my Death Knight’s quest log, I had that immense feeling of satisfaction that comes with concluding a lengthy project. Not only did I have flying in Battle for Azeroth now and forever but I also had the freedom to choose what I wanted to do next in the game.

That actually proved to be a more complicated question than I had first anticipated. Originally, I figured that I was going to get my Gnome Hunter out of dry dock and get her caught up while doing some Engineering with her. For several days, that’s just what I did, hitting level 120 and enjoying the sensation of casually questing and looting around the islands. Yet I wasn’t that satisfied with her, and I think it’s because she felt redundant to my main character — in terms of being a pet class — and less effective in terms of AoE damage.

I realized that I wanted something much different for an alt, and that led me to consider a few different options, including resurrecting some other level 100+ characters or rolling a Dark Iron Dwarf Shaman. But one night I pulled the trigger on a Kul Tiran Human Druid — something I had been thinking about for a while — and there was no going back from that.

The Druid gave me a much different experience than the Death Knight while offering me some new twists on the old formula. Most notably was the ability to be a human when not shapeshifted, which is something I always wanted in the game, and the neat wicker-bone animal forms that are radically different than the other Druids. Looks and visual style are important, and that could go a long way to keeping my interest.

The actual Druidic playstyle is another major benefit. The Druid is the only healing class in WoW where I feel like I am not underpowered while questing and leveling in a healing spec. In fact, I stay in restoration 100% of the time, choosing whatever talents I can to augment my DPS while keeping my healing toolkit intact.

Here’s another twist for my experience: I’m not questing. At least, I’m not questing for right now. I haven’t ever gone through the game once Blizzard put in that level-scaling tech, so now I’m finding that no matter where I go, mobs and quests stay on-level with me and I don’t have to go hunting around for XP. Instead, I’m doing two things with my time: I’m running around zones farming ore nodes (and heading back to town to work on engineering) and queuing up for dungeons. Between those two, I’m getting plenty of XP, great gear, and enjoying a relaxed, laid-back experience. Plus, I get to heal in dungeons, which is something I’ve greatly missed in WoW.

The long-term goal is to progress her through all of regular engineering, then to the other tiers as I work my way up without any huge rush. If I’m not 120 and ready for the next expansion in a year, oh well, it’s not a big deal. This is my alt in every sense of that word — an alternative experience to simply enjoy rather than to feel like I have to follow the same deep ruts that Blizzard and players have established for main characters.

LOTRO: Into the valley of Minas Morgul they rode

I wasn’t really expecting a full-blown expansion announcement last week for Lord of the Rings Online, even though we knew it was coming. In any case, I rolled with it and started to wrap my head around heading back to Mordor for Minas Morgul later this month.

I guess the time frame is what threw me — in my mind, we’re still in August, so I don’t know where October came from all of the sudden. I guess I should’ve known when I started seeing pumpkin spice everything in the grocery store. Pumpkin Spice Bengay? It might exist. Would smell way better than regular Bengay.

Anyway. Minas Morgul. I guess my only major complaint with the full expansion announcement is that it doesn’t have any major new feature to grab the attention. Instead, it’s more of the same — a lot of hopefully reliable, solid, and enjoyable questing in more corners of Middle-earth. In this case, the city of the dead with an excursion to deal with an oversized spider outside. I’m down for that, as long as it isn’t a horrible slog the way Mordor was. I hope SSG has learned its lesson there.

This means that I’m kicking the pants of my Lore-master to finally finish up Vales of Anduin (I’ve mostly been playing on the progression server). At the very least, the expansion represents several months of content to experience and another rung on the ever-growing LOTRO epic story ladder that my Minstrel is struggling to summit as we speak.

As for the pre-order packages, I don’t see a compelling need for any of them other than the base edition. The cosmetics aren’t grabbing my fancy and I certainly don’t need another level 120 lolling around on my character select screen. I am very glad to see that SSG included the Stout-Axe Dwarf race in every edition, which not only skirts the controversy that the High Elf-less Mordor packs had but encourages people to pre-order right now to get access to them. Again, I’m not that interested in rolling up new characters, and these Dwarves don’t seem that much different or more exciting than the regular variety to justify the interest, but I suppose SSG has to do what it can within the boundaries of the lore at its fingertips.

Should be an exciting month, all things considered. I’ll try to drink in all of the beauty of the Vale of Anduin now to last me through what promises to be a macabre journey ahead.

Battle Bards Episode 154: Death and decay

Get an early jump on Halloween with the Battle Bards, as they grab the nearest shovel and start unearthing all sorts of morbid and macabre tunes from MMORPGs! In this grim grinning episodes, Syl, Steff, and Syp explore the musical side of the afterlife in online games. Listen to it… at your own peril.

Episode 154 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Paths of the Dead” from Lord of the Rings Online, “Graverobbing” from RuneScape, and  “Dead Forest” from Vanguard)
  • “Crypt of Decay” from EverQuest
  • “Secrets in a Shallow Grave” from Fallen Earth
  • “Graveyard” from World of Warcraft
  • “Silent Death” from The Secret World 
  • “Korriban Tombs” from Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • “Lullaby of Death” from Runes of Magic
  • “Graveyard” from Neverwinter
  • Which one did we like most?
  • Listener notes: Mark
  • Jukebox Picks: Summer Day” from Radical Dreamers, “Create-a-Sim” from The Sims 4: Island Living, and “A New Adventure” from Hytale
  • Outro (feat. “Death” from Ryzom)
  • Stinger:

Syp’s gaming goals for October 2019

September 2019 in review

  • I knew in advance that this was going to be a far too packed month in my life, especially with exams, so gaming time took a hit with that. Still got some stuff done, just not as much as normal.
  • WoW Classic was the huge title of the month, and within the span of September I went from being downright obsessed about it to letting it slip out of my hands (at least for now) due to goals I wanted to pursue in other titles. I very much enjoyed hanging out with the guild we formed and revisiting an earlier era of World of Warcraft, however.
  • Speaking of, I made great strides forward in World of Warcraft on my Death Knight. I finally unlocked flying, finished up Mechagon, and wrapped up just about everything I needed to… at least until Patch 8.2.5 hit. I rolled up a new Kul Tiras Druid that I’m head-over-heels about (you’ll hear more about her soon) as my new project for that game.
  • I gave full Lord of the Rings Online priority to leveling up my Minstrel through the progression server’s latest expansion. In a month, she went from level 65 at the tail of Mirkwood through all of Enedwaith and into Dunland to be level 70. When news of this month’s expansion hit, I knew I had to get my main finished up in Vales of Anduin, so I started weaving my Lore-master back into the gaming routine in the final days of September.
  • I finished up The Dagger of Amon Ra in my retro playthrough series. It was fine.
  • While I had intentions to do some non-MMO gaming, very little came of that due to the time restrictions.
  • I did try out Apple Arcade on my iPhone but mostly played my trio of Clash Royale, Bloons 6, and Battleheart Legacy while I did my morning stationary biking.

October 2019’s gaming goals

  • Let’s start with LOTRO here, because that is at the forefront of my mind. Assuming that Minas Morgul does launch on October 29th, I absolutely need my Lore-master to be fully ready to step in there. The good news is that she’s mostly caught up and only has some interlude quests to do. Other than that, I’ll push to see how much I can get done of Rise of Isengard on my Minstrel before the expansion starts sucking my time away.
  • Over in World of Warcraft, I’m working on getting my bee mount (of course) and then going through the remainder of the War Campaign on my Death Knight. Apart from that, I’ll be leveling up my Druid and enjoying healing for a change.
  • I’m very seriously contemplating purchasing ArcheAge’s buy-to-play version when that comes out. I’m teetering toward it but still haven’t committed to the thought. It’s not the price tag so much as making internally sure I’ll play it enough to justify the purchase.
  • Torchlight Frontiers needs to get here already. SWTOR’s Onslaught expansion looks solid but it’d have to get huge word-of-mouth to pull my attention back to it. Never say never, though.
  • I have a couple of single-player RPGs on deck: Fallout New Vegas for my retro series and The Witcher 3 because I’m shamefully behind the times on playing this acclaimed title.