Daily Archives: April 7, 2009

Keep it secret, keep it safe.

More exciting MMO news, Massively has the scoop on the latest astonishing game to be revealed to the world before it really should have been. This time it’s Funcom’s The Secret World. Here are some quotes from the article with a little KiaSA commentary:

If you’ve been waiting for a chance to see what lies beyond the curtain and fall into the elegantly dark setting of The Secret World, then get ready

For the hype machine to start lumbering its way out of the dank cavernous pit where it has slumbered for an age, in search of human hope to feed upon and sate its hunger?

for your first glimpse of what lurks beyond.

Same difference.

At the GDC we got the chance to sit down and discuss The Secret World with Funcom and lay our




on a

Close to final copy of the game, that’s been through several testing stages and is almost ready to be previewed by the general public in what we’ll all laughingly refer to as a ‘beta test’?

few cinematics of the game.


While we were unable to get our hands around

The developers’ necks for starting the hype with nothing more than a CGI screenshot of some virtual boobs wrapped in a tight vest accompanied by some hand waving marketing waffle that would make the OnLive people jealous?

a playable version of the title,


we were treated to many of the game’s basics and concepts. This may not be the tidal wave of information, but it is a start to the flow of The Secret World’s river of fresh ideas.


[…] First and foremost, TSW will be an action/adventure styled MMO appearing on both the PC

and some random console – probably the 360 because it’s from Microsoft, as is Windows, so how hard could a port be – to show that they’re hip with the gaming fraternity, even though we all know that it’ll just hit the PC and be “Coming soon” to the console for the next ten years, assuming the game lasts that long.

and Xbox 360.

Bingo. By the way, how’s that Age of Conan port for the Xbox 360 coming along, Funcom?

There is no release date yet, although there are internal milestones that the team is attempting to stick to.

Translation: “We have no idea when this is going to be out, we only came up with the idea yesterday. Geoff has a few design goals written on the back of a cigarette packet, and we got Clive down in graphics to whip-up a CGI video to show to the Hype Waiters [*]. We’ll have some forums soon too, to allow speculation about anything and everything to do with the game, so that there will be maximum disappointment when, funnily enough, the game turns out to be nothing like the wild and unrealistic designs of a bunch of rabid fans.”

The concept of TSW was officially started in 2002, but was unofficially created by Ragnar in the late ’90s.

Honestly, they’ve been working on it for years. Tens of years. Almost, TOO MANY years, for something that they can’t show us any game-play for. Now, let’s all sing the Tabula Rasa song.

The idea was to take

White Wolf’s World of Darkness and make an MMO that was exactly like it, but with a different name?

our universe and overlay it on a world of contemporary dark fantasy. A game with urban locations that takes place in today’s world with fantastic qualities that include the stuff of legends and myth.

Meh, close enough.

Bored now. You can read the rest at Massively. Then I’d recommended a steaming hot bath and an all-over body scrub with carborundum grit and methylated spirit, in order to get yourself clean.

[*] Hype Waiters: People who serve hype to consumers.

Public (Quest) Convenience

With patch 1.2 in Warhammer Online tempting Melmoth back to try a Slayer, a few other people have also been returning to WAR. I rolled up a new character to hook up with them in the lower tiers; figuring the massed Slayer ranks would just about have DPS covered it was down to a tank or healer, and though I imagine a healer would be very popular on our side, I had a bad feeling it would be equally popular with hordes of healer-targeting Choppas, so I went with the tank and started a Knight of the Blazing Sun. I’m rather enjoying it so far, he definitely feels more robust than the ol’ Bright Wizard (“Armoured Knight in ‘more robust than bloke in a dress’ shocker”), able to round up and hold the aggro of a good 5-10 mobs, so long as they’re a level or two lower and I’ve got some backup to either keep my health topped up or nuke them down, and the damage isn’t too shabby either, especially wielding a two handed weapon.

When levelling up my Bright Wizard I spent much of my time in scenarios. Unfortunately the server has got a bit quieter since then and scenarios don’t pop quite so frequently any more, which is a bit of a shame as they were perfect ad-hoc small-group content. As per that post, the usual MMO collection of “Go. Hunt. Kill boars.” quests are great when solo, but can be a right pain to co-ordinate in groups. Group-wise, at least in WoW, LotRO, WAR and their ilk, you get group quests and instances (or group quests in instances); the trouble with these is they’re typically fixed for a certain size and composition of group. This sort of ties in with a Tweet this morning from one of the WAR players we’ve been grouping with: “MMO Questions: Why a group size limit of 6?”, which I started to reply to, but had only made it as far as “It is incumbent upon us to investigate the historical aspects of social, and utilitarian, grouping in a number of contexts to fully apprecia” before the 140 character limit kicked in.

In pencil and paper games it’s down to the Dungeon Master to tweak encounters to suit, and he can adjust things for the number of players in a party and any particular strengths or weaknesses they may have, so a party of six containing three barbarians who all managed to roll 18 for Str, Dex and Con don’t have to face the same two kobolds (one with a slight limp) that might be more appropriate if the players had decided to roleplay a small party of pacifist academics. MMOGs generally work the other way around, the encounters are fixed and you’re expected to bring a group of 1, 5, 6, 10, 24, 25 or whatever other lottery numbers seemed like a good idea at the time, with (in the aforementioned diku-style games) a suitable balance of yer Holy Trinity of tank, healer and DPS. I suspect they’re done that way as it’s easier for designers; not “easy”, but at least it’s one less variable when you’re trying to pitch content for players of different levels, classes, character builds and gear. It doesn’t have to be that way; City of Heroes, as I’m sure I’ve banged on about at tedious length before, scales encounters to suit parties of 1-8 by mixing the number, type and levels of the enemies you face, but then City of Heroes isn’t especially loot/achievement-centric and doesn’t tend to stand up terribly well to fierce mathematical min-max scrutiny. It’s great fun for jumping into with any number of friends (so long as it’s eight or less) and beating up a bunch of thugs while dressed spandex, though.

Scenarios in WAR were a really great way of easily grouping up with varying numbers of friends, and running bite-sized chunks o’ fun. Public quests were always fun in busy zones and easy to drop in and out of, but as players thinned out across later tiers (and scenarios, and open RvR) they got a lot quieter. A couple of tweaks since launch have made them a handy ad-hoc group alternative to scenarios: firstly they’ve added easy public quests, aimed at a group of two or three, so even if there’s just a couple of you there’s something to aim for. Secondly, you can fly to any zone; that wasn’t always the case, and if you and a friend were stuck in the middle of different flight-master-less zones and wanted to group up, it would take literally quite a long time just to travel. If you’re in a guild that has recall scrolls, you can now get to any zone for 30 copper and a couple of loading screens (although depending on the zone there may still be a sodding great RvR lake and enemy warcamp slap between you and a sensible destination, but still). If there’s a couple of you, you can head for an easy PQ and give it a lash. If it’s a bit too easy or hard, you move up or down a chapter; if another person or two joins in, you can move on to normal PQs. It’s been a really handy way of jumping on and playing for the odd hour here and there.