In a short editorial regarding Funcom's The Secret World posted here a week ago, Suzie mused about how engaging in a bit of “ADHD MMO roulette” was something that was growing more commonplace as a result of having many different online games available to the public now. I will admit that I'm one of those roulette spinners myself, but my fascination with TSW isn't simply about playing the game: it's about how the game excites my imagination with its setting and how Ragnar Tornquist keeps in touch with the playerbase and maintains a healthy perspective on how to grow TSW.
The Positive Outlook
One thing I like about last week's State of the Game was that it did its best to quell fears by positively framing and understanding the nature of the business. By acknowledging the bad (the reshuffling and establishment of a “cost-efficient live team”) and reinforcing the good (saying that TSW has a bright future ahead, mentioning the high user score), it did what it could to be honest about the realities of what TSW's development team was facing with the minimum of PR speak to look stronger in front of investors.
More than anything else, recommitting to the goal of monthly content updates is a big step towards people developing a positive idea of the game's development cycle. By being consistent, they are not only fighting the negativity surrounding the game, but also the stigma surrounding Funcom.
Spinning the Wheel
Ragnar's sense of fair play was also a good show. He basically gave a wink and a nod to the current high-fantasy MMO competition that occurred on August 28 while reiterating the strengths of The Secret World. More importantly for the game hoppers and MMO enthusiasts out there, he said something few companies are willing to put to words.
Let me quote the state of the game so we're all on the same page:
The Secret World is actually unique and different, and even if our players go off to dabble in a bit of high fantasy, we'll still be here when they come back, doing what we've been doing since launch, offering a deeper and more complex experience, a game that's truly original, mature and challenging. A game for gamers.
What Tornquist has basically done here is he's acknowledged the prevailing MMO landscape in its current form, and he's responded to the reality of the situation by saying, “It's okay to try other things.” By focusing on growing the game's content, he's also allowing folks who want to revisit the game to experience new things on a continuing basis, which is ultimately good for maintaining a steady trade of MMO hoppers while appeasing the gamers who enjoy the now niche nature of TSW.
Maintaining the Vision
Speaking of appeasing gamers, the upcoming additions should also be an exciting treat for many players, depending on how we read their development pipeline. Tornquist mentioned that they aren't going to play it safe by compromising the game's inherent awesomeness to draw in new players. Instead, they're going to add more content and toys for people to enjoy mastering and experiencing.
Aside from the Digging Deeper update and the development of rocket launcher technology, Tornquist mentioned a ten-man raid, more auxiliary weapons that may make us switch from rocket launchers to heaven knows what (please be Arnold Schwarzenegger-styled miniguns), new decks and clothing rewards, and the potential introduction of vampirism into the game, depending on how you parse his cryptic hints.
One thing that's also very exciting is the possibility of returning to Tokyo's Ground Zero area, which means we may see more of the subway-slash-transdimensional whatchamacallit from the game's tutorial. To this I say, “Domo arigato, Mr. Tornquist.”
In any event, we should see the arrival of some new content next week. Hopefully, the rocket launcher and new missions will provide something fun for everyone. Till then, of course, let's hope that Funcom fights the good fight.