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:

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.

The great free-weekend illusion

As Syp over at BioBreak pointed out the Funcom celebration weekend was a brilliant marketing move that was a free trail weekend in everything but name. Plus what better way to increase the population than by having a completion/give-away and encouraging players to spend more time in-game, a brilliant tactic and seemed to work quite well.

My wife decided to play over the free weekend so I joined her in Kingsmouth area running missions while I got used to the hammer powers. The mechanics of the game allow teaming to be a achieved very easily and reminded me of days in City of Heroes trailing behind a Level 50 while side-kicked.
Replaying the missions is an enjoyable activity and I found myself picking up on details related to other lore in the world. Kind of like watching Fight Club or Six Sense a second time.

Sorry to any twitter followers as I was promoting the free-weekend over the last week, hopefully it wasn’t too annoying and those that fancy giving it a go managed to try it out.

Points of interest

I recently purchased a 3 month subscription and got some bonus points (720) thrown in for doing so. Over the recent weekend if you completed 30 missions you were rewarded with a massive 1200 points, which is quite a decent amount and worth about £8.45/$13.15/€10.60 (at the time of writing) if purchased from the TSW website. I maybe worth noting that cash earned via promotions have expiry dates, I guess it’s to avoid player stock-piling large amounts to spend on future sparkle ponies.

Funcom seem happy to dish out the coins perhaps to get people in to the cash-for-clothing mindset, as the choices on the store aren’t that massive at this time, but there are some pieces that only appear purchasable as part of an outfit, that maybe to entice players to drop more cash.

I’m holding out for the extensive hat collection that surely is on the cards. Surely? Funcom?

More Secret World

Secret World has been out for 2 weeks now and the overall opinion seems to be generally good. I’ve caught up on a number of bloggers posts focused on Secret World, who shamed me into finally getting this blog post done, I’ve linked them for reference.

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Effective Communication

I have to admit I find the flow of information coming from FunCom has been rather good. They have been good at releasing detailed information about future content and been honest about problems that have been encountered thus far. Additionally update 1.0.2 was released yesterday proving they are wanting to minimise impact of bugs on the player-base, I hope they can keep it up

Here is a list of the recent updates from FunCom:

  • Buddy Key – A rare move this early in a games lifecycle but a nice idea, a 24 hour pass you can give to a friend so they can join in the fun.
  • Chronicle – An online Character and Cabal profile tool
  • State of the Game – A post by Ragnar Tørnquist outlining the future content starting with the first issue on 31st July. A detailed post that shows that FunCom are planning on keeping us entertained.
  • Chat Problem update – A frank update on the chat problems that have been encountered.
  • A Developer live Stream – Hopefully the first of many giving insight into the game and it’s development.
  • More Issue #1 news – A blog entry detailing Issue #1 content, with a comic style image as the cover.

Mr. Bounder of adventure

We all have fond memories of certain missions in our MMOs that were enjoyable and a pleasure to play. However once complete they are usually lost forever in the completed missions list. With a few exceptions (main story & investigations) all the quests in Secret World are repeatable and you often find yourself drawn into doing so.

As you spend more time in these areas you stumble across side-quests that are positioned off the beaten path, I encountered two over the weekend that I had never seen before. This is a nice touch as it encourages you to wander of into the unknown and utilises more of the map so there is less dead-space where nothing happens.

What rush?

The most frequent comment when I hear when gamers are talking about The Secret World is that they don’t feel rushed. There is a natural progression to the game but with no levels limiting your adventures you can merrily take your time to play through missions, find lore items and hunt for other goodies.
An additional benefit of being able to replay missions is that it allows you to team up with friends and get the enjoyment of grouping without the juggling of levels or alts.

I think that covers everything I wanted to discuss, I leave you with a screenshot of Dok and I rocking out with Cannibal Corpse
Singyle_picture053

A secrets secret

 

Hello dear readers,
This post will be my usual mid-year post explaining what’s happening and why I haven’t  posted in ages, but I’ll throw in some other news as well so keep reading.

I spent a lovely week away with my family towards the end of May, it was very refreshing and a must needed break.

Annoyingly since returning home my work has been rather draining, as I take on more responsibilities, this wasn’t helped by losing my mobile. I was surprised how much not having the device would impact my day to day activities such as checking email.

Naturally I’ve directed a number of hours in to playing Tribes:Ascend, World of Tanks, Marvel:Avengers Alliance and Secret World when possible.

Speaking of Secret World I’ve been busy working on a community website for a group/clan/guild/cabal purely for The Secret World. After looking into how the game is designed it struck me as limiting that a Cabal can only be aligned to one Society. Yes the cannon dictates that each society is at war with the other two, but the game mechanics contradict this and allow member from all societies to team together.

It’s called the BlastShield Consortium and we are aiming to act as a central location to help facilitate the grouping of like-minded players who wish to play regardless of Society.

You can access it  by clicking on the image below or browse to the URL http://blastshield.co.uk/

BlastShield Consortium