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Secrets... Revealed

Jon Wood Posted:
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The Secret World: Secrets... Revealed

In this article we look at the GDC presentation of Funcom's upcoming MMO, The Secret World, and unwrap the mysteries of the game's core design and story.

When I wrote my overview of the things that we saw at this year’s Game Developers Conference, there was one game that I couldn’t talk about. Information about The Secret World, Funcom’s new upcoming MMO, had been embargoed until this morning.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of the game, I’ll give you a quick overview:

Imagine that the world isn’t how we think it is. Imagine a world where monsters and demons, magic and curses, conspiracy theories and those who fight the darkness are all real. That’s the story behind The Secret World. These things actually exist all around us, and more and more people (players) are becoming aware of not only the darkness and strangeness around them, but also of powers inside of them that will help them to fight it.

It’s a popular theme: people fighting monstrous and even mythological forces of darkness to keep the world safe while the rest of us go on with our lives blissfully unaware. While the ideas behind the premise might be familiar to some, Funcom hopes to bring the dark, mysterious feelings to the game.

“We wanted to create a world that was our own, and yet still familiar to people,” Tørnquist said.

The Secret World was actually conceived of during the late 90s, according to Game Director Ragnar Tørnquist, when he was thinking about why no one had tried to bring this popular story archetype into the world of MMORPGs.

“We don’t want this to feel like any other MMORPG because this is not Medieval Europe, this is not a feudal society,” he said, “Our society is not a class based society and that’s why our game doesn’t have classes…”

Deciding to move ahead with The Secret World as a classless, skill-based game not only gives players who have been asking developers for just this kind of design reason to celebrate, but also separates the game significantly from the company’s two other MMO titles, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan.

Though there may be significant differences in the design and the setting, the major thing that both TSW and AoC will share is a newer version Conan’s engine; a piece of technology that the team over at Funcom has had the opportunity to work on in a live setting and that has improved significantly as a result.

Heading back to the game’s core design, a classless system with no levels gives Funcom the opportunity to let the players come up with their own “classes”, crafting their characters into what they think they should be.

During the presentation, Ragnar talked about some of the elements that would be available to players: ranged weapons like shotguns or automatic rifles, daggers, swords, black magic, wiccan-style light magic, martial arts, and the like. The game will encourage players to re-invent themselves as well, experimenting with different combinations and learning new skills.

“We don’t want this game to be about grinding to level 70, we want you to jump in and start enjoying the game from day one.”

The director was also quick to point out that while they want people to be able to just jump in and have fun, there will still be character progression: characters who have been around for a while will have more options, more customization, more available skills, upgraded weapons and more.

Tørnquist told us that while classes and the roles that they fill might be appropriate in a fantasy setting, they just don’t hold up in the real world, and a game that’s set in the real world needs to give players a more open sense of character.

The story, Tørnquist said, is an important part of the game, but the linear storyline isn’t the be all and end all of you experience. The game will also encourage exploration, travel and the like.

The game also promises a fast-paced combat system that is different from any other MMO, bringing magic, swords, guns and other weapons into the mix together.

Progression in the game, we are told, isn’t going to be restricted to killing monsters, exploration, talking to people, solving puzzles, bounty hunting, and a host of other options are intended to give players numerous flavours of gameplay to choose from.

Check out this exclusive interview with Ragnar about TSW behind the game’s first trailer:

Ragnar Tørnquist on The Secret World

We recently had the opportunity to talk to Ragnar Tørnquist about The Secret World, Funcom's upcoming fantasy horror MMORPG set in the modern day.

 Ragnar Tørnquist on The Secret World

You can learn more about The Secret World from our video interviews with Ragnar Tørnquist:

How is The Secret World Different?

In this GDC interview, Secret World Director Ragnar Tørnquist discusses the similarities and differences between The Secret World and other Funcom MMO releases.

How is TSW Different

Setting, Character Development and more!

The Secret World Director Ragnar Tørnquist, talks about the game's modern setting, classless character development, and more.

Setting and Character Development


Jon Wood