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The Secret World Column: Seven Years of Content

By William Murphy on May 05, 2011

Just a few weeks back, Ragnar told the folks at Eurogamer that the team already has seven years of content lined up for The Secret World.  Part of me wants to leap for joy and say, “hooray steady flow of content!” while the other part of me shakes me head and wonders why they’re putting any effort at all into post launch content when they should instead be focusing on the game as it will stand at release.  It’s an ambitious thing to say, and altogether something different to prove once people are in there and begin eating up all the content you can throw at them.  As I’ve become fond of, let’s spend this week’s column weighing the pluses and minuses of Ragnar’s claim.  It’s a fun game, and hey it helps me sort out all the random things going on in my brain meat. 

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The Pluses

  • Seven years of planned content means a whole crap load of new places, people, and things to explore any way you slice it. 
  • Even if they only have actually realized the basics of each content update, it’s exciting to think a developer is that proactive about where they want to take their game’s story.
  • Strength of vision is a great thing when we’re talking MMOs.  You want a studio to have goals, and ideas for the future, rather than just trying to “play it by ear.”  Sure there’s got to be that element too, but a true “vision” is necessary (regardless the outcome). 

The Minuses

  • All that time spent designing and conceptualizing stuff that’s not coming for ages kind of worries me.  What if too much time is spent day dreaming about the future, and when the game launches that lost development manpower will be noticed?
  • A “Vision” may be a great thing to have.  It’s sort of your game’s Ten Commandments.  But MMOs by nature must be malleable in form to adjust with the change of seasons and players’ whims.  The core of the game may always be the same, but the future content I would think should be a much more ever-changing beast.
  • The expectations are sky-rocketing fast with TSW.  The classless system, the modern setting, the lack of levels… and now a purported seven years of future content.  Maybe we’re doing to ourselves, but the hype train is riding full steam ahead into E3.  Can Funcom shake the curse Anarchy Online and Age of Conan lived through during their launch?  There’s a whole lot of “never before seen” in The Secret World, and I hope it all plays as good as it sounds or we’ll never see those seven years of content.

There, I feel better.  It’s like my brain had a baby and that baby has bullet points.  Truly, my inner gaming geek is nothing but excited that Funcom and Ragnar are planning so far ahead.  There’s a huge weaving storyline I’m sure they’re just itching to tell with TSW, and as gamer that puts story above most everything that makes me a happy camper.  I just hope that the rest of the game gets as much tender love and care as the world and lore are no doubt seeing. 

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