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Joel Bylos and Dag Scheve Interview

By Jon Wood on May 27, 2011 | Interviews | Comments

Joel Bylos and Dag Scheve Interview

Click the image above to watch an exclusive developer diary about Story & Missions in The Secret World

You say that you want to give meaning to everything in the game, including crafting. how is crafting in the Secret World more meaningful than that system has been in many of today's leading MMOs?

Joel Bylos:

We're not really ready to talk about crafting yet. Kudos for slipping that one in though!


How will you deal with the fact that MMO players will share the answers to the various in-game puzzles online as soon as they are solved? Doesn't this take away from the experience?

Joel Bylos:

Collaboration, in my opinion, is one of the great strengths of the multiplayer genre (probably the human race). Why discourage people from sharing their knowledge? While I think intentional spoilers (like somebody spamming global chat with answers etc.) will receive some action on behalf of customer service, I see no problem with external sites that contain spoilers. Players would need to spoil themselves.

Part of the problem is the emphasis most games put on progression. If people are doing something *only* to be rewarded, then they will search for the path of least resistance. The aim is to make the challenges enjoyable enough that the players feel rewarded simply for overcoming them. This is something we are encouraging in every aspect of The Secret World - no levels and classes takes the emphasis off *acquisition* and hopefully puts it back on *enjoyment*.

I think players who are stumped by tough riddles will appreciate the help and support of their fellow players, and no, I don't see this as a problem as long as people need to actively search for spoilers. You can do this on any single player game, as well.

Will players be led from one story point to the next in order, or is TSW's story somehow crafted in a way that allows for real, player-driven discovery rather than "on rails" revelation?

Joel Bylos:

Story missions are more of an "umbrella" mission. For example, one of the early goals in the story mission is "Investigate events in Kingsmouth". Through exploration and completing other missions in the area, the player will come upon the trigger which updates that goal in their own time - we don't tell them where to go or what to do.

The Story Mission has a nice mix of these open-ended moments and also tightly scripted linear sequences. This encourages good flow and allows people breathing space between big revelations.

The dev diary makes mention of the fact that all characters in TSW are motion captured and voice acted. Will this be the case at launch or will it only extend to the opening parts of the game as was the case in Age of Conan?

Dag Scheve:

We're putting a lot of emphasis into making characters in The Secret World believable, and giving them a voice is one aspect of that. Our aim is to have all characters in The Secret World fully voiced at launch, from the start of the game and all the way to the end game content.

You say that the most important story in The Secret World is "your" story, meaning the story of the players. With that said, how is my story, as a player, going to be different from the stories of every other player?

Dag Scheve:

When we're talking about your story, we're talking about the one you'll create for yourself. How you experience the game, the friends you'll make and the alliances you'll forge. Your experience will be different because you're you, with your unique point of view. Everything you experience in the game is part of your story, and your experiences are always the most important.

How do the specific mission types mentioned in your dev diary differ from the standard MMO missions that exist in nearly every other game?

Joel Bylos:

I think that all missions in every game (single player included) can be boiled down to a certain number of mechanics. So it is my firm belief that it is the wrapping of missions that matter. It's not what you do, but *how* you do it. That said; let's talk about the main mission types in TSW.

Action Missions - These are the closest in style to what we see in other MMOs. However, the team is encouraged to come up with mechanics that feel fresh. How about instead of killing 10 monsters, you fire a flare which lights an area so that a sniper can take things down for you? What about a mission that first asks you to collect the ingredients for various bombs, creating them and then has you setting up a tower defense style gauntlet to lure monsters through? Action missions cover the usual suspects, but with a twist that will surprise you.

Sabotage Missions- Sometimes in TSW it is necessary to recover information covertly or complete a mission without revealing yourself to outsiders.

To this end we have created mechanics that encourage an unorthodox approach to problem solving. Security systems that must be bypassed, enemies who will incapacitate rather than kill you, environmental hazards and triggers which ask the player to react. Sabotage missions usually have open ended goals. Instead of "Use the Keypad, Open the Door, Enter the base" we simply say "Enter the Base". One player might go over the fence. One player might use a passcode to get through the blast door. One player might just blast down the blast door. Hell crafty players might just wait until *someone else does the work* and then sneak through the still-open door. The idea of Sabotage missions is to encourage players to find creative gameplay solutions in line with their playing style.

Investigation Missions - These missions are really the connecting line between the real world and The Secret World. Your character needs answers, answers that can often only be found through searching the vast annals of human knowledge. Instead of trying to include all of the knowledge of human experience inside the game world, we simply acknowledge that answers exist on the outside. And then we let players research and uncover these things to solve in-game problems.

Some investigations are informational - you have to search for the right information which clues you into what to do next. Some of them are logical - figure out a sequence of numbers or a series of events. Some require very specialized knowledge - hack this computer using a series of commands only a hardcore hacker would know or translate a riddle from this language which is only spoken by 300 people on earth.

Will groups of friends be required to be a part of the same secret society in order to participate in the story missions that relate specifically to the secret societies?

Joel Bylos:

The story mission is keyed to the individual player. You cannot share the story mission, though you may share similar goals sometimes with someone in another society. So yes there are times when banding together for a common purpose is possible...just don't ever trust anybody from another secret society!

One of the biggest problems facing new MMOs today is the expectations game, with player expectation often reaching well beyond the developers' original scope for the game. As of right now, are there any myths or misconceptions floating around about The Secret World that yo'd like to take this opportunity to correct or address?

Joel Bylos:

I would simply encourage our future players to get themselves out of a treadmill mindset. There is progression in TSW, and your character will become more powerful through diversification and gear, but don't make the mistake of thinking we want people running through the world looking for the endgame. In a very real sense, TSW is all endgame.

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