It's been a crazy two weeks for the history of The Secret World. I felt that, instead of further obscuring any points I may have regarding TSW by returning to the Twitter investigative alternate reality game, I could simply talk plainly about the latest bits of news that's been made available to us regarding the game, as well as my reaction to the information I've found.
The short version: I'm excited for the game, and thankful for Funcom's team.
Sensing the Sixth Issue
For fans of TSW, news on in-game development looks rather positive.
The sixth main content update to TSW, Last Train to Cairo, provides a new storyline set in the Egypt area of the game world. It also introduces the Whip, which appears to be a support-type auxiliary weapon that brings additional buffs and crowd control effects to anima users.
Quests are one thing, and quality of life additions are another. Issue 6 attempts to provide a little something for everyone in that respect. The Issue 6 reveal also announced a rewards system that provides incentives for people who purchase a membership or recruit new players into the game.
PVP players will also be intrigued by an update to the PVP systems. In a separate TSW blog post, System Designer Tim Donks introduced the concept of Battle Ranks, which allow users to acquire new ranks and currency for purchasing PVP rewards. Uniforms will be the first reward iteration for this new incentive system, and with better participation rewards and matchmaking changes, Funcom hopes to entice more people to get into PVP and keep at it even in a losing battle.
The Future Ahead
One of the notable announcements coming meant for gamers and Funcom fans everywhere was the repositioning of Joel Bylos as creative director for Funcom's three MMOs: TSW, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online. In the TSW Game Director's letter for February, Bylos also made a bid to reassure players of a long-term direction for the game. Bylos outlined the future ahead, providing some insight into what issues 7 through 11 will entail.
While issue 7 starts a new event for the game, and issue 8 introduces what looks to be some form of repeatable content system, issues 9 through 11 will provide a new zone for explorers to romp around in, Tokyo, as well as new missions, a new lair and an associated dungeon for the zone.
Issue 12 will continue the storyline presented in the Tokyo zone, and will reportedly introduce a new adventure zone as well.
I think one of the things that, personally, gets to me about the MMO industry is knowing that when a shakeup happens in a company, people have to move on and move forward despite being disheartened by some developments.
I'd like to take some time to provide special mention to two members of the Funcom team who have worked hard to provide people with safe spaces to play and enjoy a world beyond their own. I'm sure there are more people who aren't going to join in Funcom's relocation effort, so if you could go on the TSW forums and post a short thank you message to the people behind the games you play, even if you don't know their names, that'd be awesome.
First, I'd like to thank Age of Conan's Craig Morrison, who is known as Silirrion on Twitter and the AOC forums. Joel Bylos will be overseeing his duties as AOC's creative director, and as far as I know, Morrison does have a new job in the wings somewhere.
I thought It important to make special mention of Age of Conan, which introduced me to action-styled combat in an MMO. With the new team in place, it seems Funcom will be able to capitalize on using TSW's capabilities (including its voice actors) to provide new content and game improvements.
From his letter at the end of the February 2013 AOC Game Director's Letter, he writes,
There are always those who are quick to the nay saying, and whether you wish us well or are glad to see the back of us, I am sure that we can all agree that this world is an amazing and visceral telling of the world that Robert E Howard imagined all those years ago. While I will be moving on to a new opportunity within the MMO world, the world of Hyboria will always, always, have a very special place in my heart.
I personally look forward to seeing what he'll be up to next, and I hope even the TSW folks can appreciate his service with Funcom. /salute
I'd also like to give thanks to community manager Amber “Morteia” Skinner and community coordinator Reuben "Yarruka" Anders for their work in maintaining a healthy community for Funcom fans to come back to.
It probably isn't easy maintaining a rowdy, opinionated bunch of forumgoers and game players, especially during rather turbulent times, but I do feel they've done a good job. As Morteia mentions in her announcement letter,
This community is incredibly strong and tight-knit, without being completely exclusive. You welcome new people with open arms and help them enjoy this game just as much as you do. That is not something you see often, nowadays.
That is, indeed, true. /salute to the two of you. In any case, that's about as much time as I have to discuss the game's developments with you folks. We may see the new update soon, so watch out for the update, and feel free to share your ideas for the next TSW column in the comments.
Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and The Secret World columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.