Developer Diary: Storytelling in The Secret World
Story is the heart and soul of The Secret World. Inspired by myths, urban legends, fairy tales and real history, the story provides context to everything the player does in the game: from missions to dungeons, from player vs. player combat to monster encounters. Everything is influenced by our story, and everything plays a part in communicating the story to the player.
In The Secret World, we want players to discover the story. We want players to dig, and to always dig deeper, to assemble the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle at their own pace, and to begin to see the bigger picture: the deep back story, the intriguing characters, the exciting narrative that will bring players through the game’s content and into the future.
There are several key ways in which the story in The Secret World is communicated.
Firstly, every key mission in the game begins with a fully voiced and motion-captured cinematic sequence that sets the scene and establishes the characters. The cut-scenes focus on characterisation and atmosphere, but will always contain clues to the mission ahead. All missions -- aside from the main story mission -- can be played in any order, allowing players to discover the story at their own pace, from different perspectives.
Secondly, through exploration, players will find pieces of the story embedded in the game world. Lore -- bits of story that combine to create a complete narrative -- can be found everywhere, and dedicated players will be able to piece together a large part of the back-story through lore, and be rewarded for that in multiple ways.
Thirdly, players will be able to communicate with non-player characters through a dialogue system, learning more about their individual stories in the world and their histories and personalities, unlocking clues to the bigger picture, and perhaps discovering some interesting and intriguing facts about the secret world along the way.
Last but not least, the story plays a big part in the game mechanics. Every monster, every location, every player power, every weapon, every magic school -- they all carry a part of the story, a part of the jigsaw puzzle. When players discover that the walking dead of Kingsmouth are attracted to the sound of car alarms, they learn something about the nature of these undead creatures. When they observe the Draug invasion in Kingsmouth harbour, they learn how these aquatic beings have turned the people of Solomon Island into mindless zombies. And when players infiltrate the vampire strongholds in Transylvania, sneaking past the sentries and their magical wards, they learn that there’s a greater intelligence behind it all, one that hints at the ultimate darkness in The Secret World. The story is everywhere, and observant players will learn to identify the pieces of the jigsaw and to put it all together.
But the puzzle won’t be complete, not for a while. The story in The Secret World will carry on past launch and into future content, and we’ll continue to reveal more and more of our intriguing and fascinating back story as time goes on.
In The Secret World, everything is true, and everything is part of our story. Everything.
Ragnar Tørnquist Senior Producer & Creative Director Funcom