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The Secret World Dev Journals: Joel Bylos’ Game Director’s Letter

By Guest Writer on December 20, 2012

I'm sitting in the dark, covered in a blanket, writing this by the fitful flickering of LCD. I fear that the end grows near, my friends, and the human race will walk the slow spiral into darkness. December 21st is soon upon us and mankind is heading toward its inevitable doom. It’s quite depressing.

Let's get the big one out of the way first - we recently made the subscription fee for The Secret World optional. We moved the game to a buy-to-play model which allows new users full access to the game for the price of a client fee. You can read up on all of the changes here.

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One of the great strengths with The Secret World is our ambitious post-launch update plan. So far we’ve released five strong updates, called Issues, chock full of content, storylines, features and improvements. Having something new to play around with, something that keeps the game fresh and alive is important for us and we remain fully committed to releasing regular Issues. As part of the move away from required subscription, there will be some components of these issues that are free, while the other components will be paid DLC content. Though it will most likely differ from update to update, content such as new storylines and new locations will usually be part of the paid DLC.

But what do these kind of changes mean for the development of the game going forward?

I think that it puts the responsibility on us to deliver high quality, consistent content that is worth paying for. It puts pressure on our team to make sure that we create memorable experiences bundled in a way that people feel is worth their money.

I won't lie though; it also gives us a lot of flexibility in the way we do our designs. We've moved away from the "shotgun" approach to missions, that is, rather than spreading all of our missions across the entire game, each update will target a specific storyline.

This means that we can create long and compelling experiences that are diverse and offer something different every month. Join me, if you will, in imagining where we can take these experiences.

For example, in Issue #6, the storyline will take place in Egypt. A series of missions that leads you through a war between the Cult of Aten and the Marya, before slinging you backwards in time to steal artifacts from the Deus Sol Invictus and then returning to the present for the climax as you fight your way along a moving train, desperately attempting to stop it from reaching Cairo carrying a bomb like the one that was released in Tokyo.

These are experiences worthy of an entire single player game, delivered to you as DLC regularly. And the beauty of it all? This is your character (or characters). They are persistent. They don't disappear. So one month you are going all Indiana Jones in Egypt, the next you can be doing your James Bond thing in the Carpathian Fangs and then you head to Tokyo for a bit of Ricky Pagan style (we're hoping Ricky becomes as popular as the other two I mentioned, he deserves to!)

But don't let the comparison to single player games scare you, this is still an MMO through and through and all of these experiences can be played and shared with friends. In addition we will still be building upon the feature set of the game; more zones, more raids and dungeons, more social features and events and yes, the ever-promised puzzle raids are still on the books.

I think about all the things that we can do with The Secret World going forward and I get really excited. And then I remember we are all going to be dead in a few days and I get a little depressed.

But then I remember that people are already playing Issue #5: The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn which we released yesterday and I get excited again. It's the little things.

Tyler Freeborn started his blog about Solomon Island, almost 3 years ago. It is really exciting to allow players to finally follow his story through to its conclusion. Along the way, you will find out more about how the Fog is affecting Solomon Island and the grim future for the inhabitants of the Island.

Then there is Said and Tanis. Those two are wrangling again in Egypt, though of course Said is the bigger mummy when push comes to shove.

Finally, Alina is having trouble escaping her past with the Morninglight. Players can do a little sleuthing to find out more about their involvement during this investigation mission.

And speaking of the Morninglight, they have been preparing for the upcoming apocalypse in The Secret World. I warned Tanya that having the same chaos in the game as in the outside world might be a bit jarring, but she assured me that training players to beat down the Mayan zombies within the game would be preparing them to beat down the Mayan zombies who attack them in the real world. She actually wrote about all this in a blog posted the other day, check it out.

The event was originally planned to run from the 21st until the 7th. But we cannot promise that the world will not end earlier. After all, all research shows that the world is actually going to end at 11:11 UTC on December 21st (which I was kind enough to inform you all about in my first end of days video log). I’ll be in my bunker, waiting for whatever comes. Zombies. Solar flare. Mr T. Who knows.

Oh, by the way, I just put out my second video log showing you what you need to be packing for your bunker on December 21st. A sort of Martha Stewart guide to the apocalypse. You’re welcome.

So that is it then. My last real communication with people who have been playing the game. I salute you, one and all. May your end of the world be a brilliant one. 


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