TSW – Dig yourself, Lazarus

I’ve been meaning to cover the Secret World Issue 2 (Digging Deeper) update that will be landing in the next week, but got a little distracted. So here it is better later than never.

Issue 2 has been delayed due the Funcom restructuring, Ragnar took some time to explain this in the recent “State of the Game” post. I find that Funcoms attitude to communications is one that doesn’t try to hide behind figures or bold statements, but rather talk about those games they know will be pulling on players free time and purse strings. I’m glad this is the case and they know that they next few months maybe tough due to this fact.

First up in Issue 2 is the Plastic Surgeon and Barbershop : expanding beyond the usual character creation screens is a favourite in MMOs, Funcom are looking to introduce new features and a selection of new heads, but like any good supplier the first time is free but future use with cost you. Peter Stormare is playing the part of Dr Anton Aldini in an abandoned abattoir.

New missions : The focus looks to be on adding more action and investigation missions.

Auxiliary weapon slot:  The new feature looks to be adding an 8th power to the toolbar, the initial weapon will be the rocket launcher with a hint towards chainsaws as future possible weapon choice. Obtaining this extra weapon sound like it will take the player to some different locations and with different factions.

Looks like issue 3 will have some Halloween content built in too.

If you want to add me in TSW my avatar is called Singyle.

And now for the song in the title:

City of disappointment

“Be warned this post is about City of Heroes/Villains and maybe a little fan-boyish in places.”

I’ve spent the last few days catching up on various post around the web and decided that I would link to some of them here.

  • Rock, Paper, Shotgun – A great post detailing how it was a favourite long before RPS came into being.
  • Broken Toys – Scott has to bite his tongue a little on responding to the news but is proud to have work with Paragon Studios.
  • The Wild Boar Inn – A nicely written piece that details how the game was the stepping stone into the MMO scene, always mentions the Captain Dynamic videos.
  • Kill Ten Rats – Zubon talks about his time has been well spend in the game, after all he is the CoH guy
  • A Ding World – Sente talks about the key factors of the game not being the setting but the community and developers, his post has linked to a number of the Red name farewell posts and “removing the mask” community post with player posting real life pictures.
  • Biobreak – Syp the keep of the MMO timeline relates how the closure is the first that he really cares about, with it being their to draw him back for the fun.
  • KIASA – I saved this one until last. In the non-traditional way you need to read, watch, then read the final quote. It manages to sum up what I could never hope to write.

I’ve enjoyed reading posts by so many people saying that it was their first MMO or the one that they have the fondest memories of. The fact that many hold it in such high regard, despite not having played for many years, speaks volumes about the title.

Final link I promise, I wanted to send you to read this entry that was posted a week before the closure news, but does a great job of highlighting just how much the game managed to bring people together.

What now?

I have been pondering how I can best use the time remaining to capture elements of the game, so far my list is this:

  • Grab some friends and tackle some missions or tasks forces over the remaining time.
  • Character database – A index of all my characters powers, bios, badges etc
  • Capture some in game footage – for a farewell video and for short clips
  • I may join my wife and plan to get a tattoo of some variety CoX related.
To any one the knows my wife and I, you will be aware that unlike many CoX players we pretty much played Villains 98% of the time this is realised by the Arachnos Cape that hangs on the kitchen door and a Lord Recluse Statue in our living room. One day we’ll pack them away but not just yet.

The pleasure was all mine

There has never been gaming news that has impacted this household as much as NCSofts recent announcement regarding the City of Heroes franchise and the Paragon Development team.

When Rachy and I started playing the game it was a instant hit with us both. We enjoyed everything from the costume customisations to figuring out the best build strategies. We would take part in the seasonal events, badge hunting, Giant Monster take downs, Raids, it was a big part of our gaming life.

I was trying to pick one thing that I found most enjoyable but It’s very difficult to name just one so I’ll go with community/choice/storytelling/lore, I really can’t decide.

Part of the community

In 2008 we had the pleasure of meeting up with hordes of UK players at Omega Sketor in Birmingham, this fantastic event was the hard work of RockJaw and his community team. In addition we got to meet and talk with Melissa “War Witch” Bianco. We UK based players pretty much never meet game designers from the MMOs we play and I will always remember the effort that was made to make us feel like part of the bigger CoH community.

Of course we had no idea that we would be immortalised in the game world and it’s something that I still find quite odd but strangely comforting, with War Witch to thank for this small but fantastic gesture.

Friends

We’ve met some fantastic people via the game,  I follow many on twitter, read their blogs, some even get added on Facebook (which is not a usual activity for me), there are some that we have become very close to, so much so that they are godparent to our son.

The the bonds of friendship that are forged in games like this can be as strong as those made in real life. To people looking at this it must seem rather strange and I would agree if I’d not experienced that type of friendship first-hand.

Final Farewells

I see people are planning on how to spend the last few months in the game, Samuraiko is planning on making one last video, some want to say thank you to the development team via twitter and forums, others are signing a petition to try and keep the game going, some are recording footage of the game to remember it by.

I think I shall aim to try and save as much information about my characters as possible so I can look back on all the fun that I had creating, designing and levelling them up.

I leave you a link to this forum post by Melissa “War Witch” Bianco.
EDIT: and one from Matt “Positron” Miller.

 

Cry of the Ravens

So the recent news about TSW was aired for all to see in the investor note, it told everyone that the game had hit two main problems. Firstly that the performance tracking sources (reviews) scored the game lower than expected. Secondly that the financial scenarios for the game were unlikely to be met within the next 12 months post launch.

Reviews

I really dislike how review sites have become so instrumental in companies/share holders perceptions of games, yet I know of very few gamers who would reference score such as MetaCritic when it came to making a judgement on purchases. I often worry that we could see a re-run of the DarkFall fiasco but then you read a bit deeper and find contradictions appearing within the same review, this kind of thing it’s a sign for me to close the browser:

“the intricate combat system needs better documentation”

“The combat is your usual MMO button clicking while waiting on skills to refresh”

It does kind of feel like being given racing horse tips from an old drunk man who decides to “befriend” you at the local pub. I find it difficult to take reviews blindly without knowing more about the reviewer, their gaming origins and other examples of their work. Each person gives reviews based on personal preference and experience and that’s what makes them unique and ultimately tricky to try and reduce down into an overall score.

Perhaps I’m too biased to understand how these things work but I do know that the real life gamer reviews in my RSS feeds have been fair even by those players who have decide not to purchase the game at this time and those who never will, but that leads me nicely into my next topic.

revenant

Expectations

FunCom were very unlucky with the timing of the game launch and many gamers seemed to have a decision to make, purchase The Secret World or pre-order Guild Wars 2. Going up against a known title with a completely new IP and different game mechanics wasn’t going to end very well.
Throw the fact that World of Warcraft has been slowly drawing players back in preparation for it’s new expansion that has been in Beta and it could be considered very bad timing indeed.

A number of folks during the beta weekends seemed to be put off by the fact that EA was linked to the game, of course they are purely the publishers but the vibe about the link was certainly something i picked up on as a bit turn off for some.

I have to that I like may other gamers are watching our gaming expenditure alot more give the economic climate and if it were 6 years ago we would have bought into a new MMO and kept a secondary one on the go too but this isn’t the case anymore.

Player base Dilution

I have been pondering if Funcom may have been a little naive with the expected population figures for TSW. Just comparing the MMO landscape of 2008 when Age of Conan launched to that of the here and now, it’s clear to see that a great deal of things have changed.

The number of MMO Games is increasing as companies choose not to close them but opt for the payment model shift. Previously a mass of players would suddenly have to hunt for a new home when a title closed, now players can remain active in multiple MMO games, paying small amounts and spreading their time between them all.

My experience

I am really enjoying the game and I’m pretty certain that I made the correct decision for me between TSW and GW2. FunCom are rumoured to be looking into layoffs as a result of these recent figures and I hope that the game/support/community doesn’t suffer too badly as a result.

On the plus side the second content patch has been announce for August 28th and it brings a new auxiliary weapon system, a paraplastic surgery (barber/Facemaker) for redesigning your avatars face and a chunk of story content too. For some the content maybe coming too fast, for others it’s not an issue, some are looking forward to the challenge and changes due to arrive.

The game has recently been made available on Steam which could be a good move but currently if i try to view it I get the “This item is currently unavailable in your region” message.

In case you missed previous free weekends, you can sign up and download the game right now for a free 3 day trial.

She’s in Parties

I’ve been following the development of the game SpyParty for some time now and I received my beta/purchase invite recently so I thought it would be good to tell you a bit more about the game.

If you aren’t aware of the title, it is labelled as an asymmetric multiplayer espionage game. It revolves around an ambassadorial party (not a Ferrero Rocher in sight) where a spy is attempting to achieve a predefined number of tasks, simultaneously a sniper is trying to identify and eliminate that spy before they completes their tasks or time runs out.

spyparty

This is a games that requests your complete & undivided focus, attention to detail is very important and could result in you winning or losing. Additionally the game has tension by the bucket load no matter which side of the scope you are on, it is a game of skill where players continually learn from previous matches.

Sniper

You have a room full of people and you need to keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale signs of a spy. Your rifle has a red laser that gives the spy some idea of were you are focusing your attention or to maybe misdirect them. You have only one bullet so you need to be 100% sure before you pull that trigger.

Spy

You have to blend into the party and work toward completing your missions, watching for the most opportunistic moment to spring into action while avoiding doing something silly that could bring that single sniper round hurtling towards you. You have to navigate between the other guests and use them to mask your actions.

As yet SpyParty has no release date as it’s still in early beta, but if you are looking for something that’s not your usual shooter title, this certainly takes a step in the right direction.