Chaos Theory: The lowdown on The Secret World’s motorcycles

Ever since The Secret World’s debut dev livestream two weeks ago teased motorcycle mounts, players have been abuzz with anticipation. The desire for vehicles in the game stretches way back; more than two years ago I mounted a campaign to bring scooters, bicycles, and even motorcycles to the game. I just knew it could be done, and now it is happening! From the moment that first screenshot was shown in the last minutes of The Steaming Ones accompanied by the promise “This is coming to TSW,” speculation has run wild. Perhaps the mounts will be scenario-based. Maybe they will be time-based, with the motorcycles effectively running out of gas and stopping. Some suggested that the bikes will be nothing more than an advanced sprint.

Amid the excited conjecture, a number of fans have also voiced concerns about how the machines will affect the immersion and player-experience in the game. Will the scenery fly by at a rate that players can’t soak up the nuance? Will the ambiance be ruined by the revving of hundreds of engines on the streets?

Now, much of that conjecture — and hopefully the concerns — can be laid to rest. I spoke with Lead Designer Romain Amiel to learn more about these new mechanics, which aren’t actually mounts. Better yet, Amiel says that players will be able to experience the feature, currently dubbed the Custom Sprint system, for themselves next week.

Mount mechanics

Two years ago I argued that not having the ability to snatch that 10-speed bicycle you walk by was actually quite immersion-breaking in a game dedicated to atmosphere. When running from filth-infected monstrosities or giant bugs, who would pass by a bike and think, “Nah, I am faster on foot.” I asked how many fans have come upon a bicycle or a scooter in TSW and had the instant urge to hop on and take it for a spin, and pretty much everyone had had that thought. Heck, I’ve even wanted to ride that little red tricycle (*cue Dr. Demento*). I offered a number of ways for the use of vehicles to be a fun addition without sacrificing what is great about the game, from having them be occasional spawns to limitations on time or zones. Great minds must think alike because we’re finally getting vehicles, and devs have taken care to make them fit with the theme.

How will the system work? To start with, it is not technically a mount system; it’s a sprint system. We (sadly) won’t be grabbing a bike someone left lying around in the world and making a fast break for it. Instead, we’ll collect special visual effects to accompany our current sprint level. These customizations will be stored in a special UI — just as the pets are — that players can access to change at will. Basically, it’s another way to give players more customization opportunities. If you have too many cool customizations and are a bit decisionally challenged (as I am!), you can also let the game randomly choose from among your collection or a selected favorite few.

The effects themselves include new animations, optional FX, and vehicles. Players will earn these various sprint customizations as achievements and pick them up as loot drops. It’s another way to reward players. Some customizations will also be available for purchase via the item store.

In addition to the effects, two additional sprint upgrades will be available to buy for pax from the Advanced Faction Fixer in the hubs. Level V will increase your sprint speed to 125% of normal speed, and level VI will increase your sprint speed to 150%.

Immersion, FTW

Just as it is to us, fitting in with the TSW theme is important to the devs. That’s why you’ll see various restrictions on the three different categories of the customizations: on foot, classic, and extraordinary. On top of the default sprint animation, on foot will include new animations and special effects that will work anywhere. The classic type contains vehicles, including the motorcycle from the screenshots, that can be used anywhere except inside buildings and dungeons (+10 for immersion!). The final type is contains special vehicles that will really stand out and can be used only in adventuring playfields (read: not in stating cities), in Fusang, and in Agartha. Another +10 for immersion here.

Think about it: The starting hubs are still out in the real world, and we wouldn’t see anything like jet packs or hoverboards on the streets of Seoul or New York now, would we? However, it wouldn’t look too out of the ordinary in Kingsmouth where things are anything but ordinary! As Amiel put it,

“In order to keep the mood of The Secret World and preserve the Lore, we created the Extraordinary type. Those vehicles would probably raise too many eyebrows in the otherwise quiet street of Seoul or London. Players can still show off those more extravagant looking machines in Agartha or in any open playfields.”

What kind of vehicles are we talking about? My money is seriously on hoverboards! Not only did Amiel say, “I seem to remember one of those vehicle types being used in Back to the Future II maybe?” in the announcement post, but he also mentioned in our conversation how he’s always wanted one since he saw the movie. Who hasn’t?! I am right there with him, and if we can’t have it in the real world, why not in our Secret World?

For now, however, we know only that the motorcycle is on its way. Amiel assured that many other vehicles are in the works.

Born to be hog wild

Now, about that bike! We know the motorcycles can pop wheelies thanks to Amiel’s tweet, but some players might be disappointed that the motorcycle physics do not realistically mimic the real world in all respects. Amiel told me that this is intended to boost the fun factor:

“We went for usability over realism, so you can jump and you can turn really fast. The first iteration had more of a slow-turning vehicle style, and no jumps… meaning it was fun for two minutes and then extremely frustrating.”

In other words, all customizations are designed with usability in mind, so players can jump and turn swiftly even when using a vehicle.

How do you get one? While a few sprint customizations will be released with next week’s update and more later, only one classic will be available immediately, and that will be through the item store. For $20, those who don’t want to wait until they can acquire a motorcycle in-game can purchase the Premium Classic customization pack that includes:

  • a special mission (with cut scenes!) from Moose to unlock the bike,
  • this exclusive bike as the mission reward,
  • a unique Nitro Boost with its own animation, and
  • Sprint VI.

If you don’t want to buy and are patient, there will definitely be other Classic and Extraordinary mounts — including motorcycles — available outside of the cash shop either as achievement rewards or as drops (and so forth) in the future.

I don’t know about all of you, but I am so stoked to jump in and get my own set of wheels. I am looking forward to have a reason to put my motorcycle helmet on! But as Amiel said, the bike is only the beginning. There are many more customizations planned, and he’d also like to hear your suggestions! He said, “If you have any cool run animations or vehicles you think would fit TSW, feel free to let me know, or have your readers submit ideas.” You heard him: Submit those ideas!

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56 Comments on "Chaos Theory: The lowdown on The Secret World’s motorcycles"

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MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

Kaaz OMG…I just thought..I need a revenant plushie on my bed!!!

mysecretid
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mysecretid

BigMikeyOcho Estranged groo the wanderer  CultOfXtc 
I hear you, Mike, but Blue Mountain … well, if you and I had a dollar for every first-run player in The Secret World who got kicked in their gentle bits by the old Blue Mountain zone, we’d be having this conversation on your private beachfront in Hawai’i :-)

Blue Mountain needed smoothing out, I agree. 
It’s not that the idea of a “graduation zone”, where a new player finally steps up with all they’ve learned, is a bad idea … but the old Blue Mountain could hit like a freight train if you were an unsuspecting new player just learning as you went along.
I know it floored me, at the time.
So, yeah, I suspect they lost too many players who might have otherwise happily stayed on.
As you say, the curve of it was all wrong in the original version — you went from swimming in the shallow end of the pool, to wrestling sharks, without so much as an “oh, by the way …”
Cheers, pal,.

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

mysecretid Estranged groo the wanderer  CultOfXtc It was a reduction in time, and also a smoothing out of the difficulty curve. The wall many players faced in Blue Mountain, for example. But I’d be hard pressed to call that “dumbing down”.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

BrotherMaynard paragonlostinspace   Ah but you see, there are a lot of long straightaways out there. Which makes for excellent full throttle acceleration!  After that you could  leave Egypt and head over to the Carpathian Fangs and do some serious carving on those twisting mountain roads!  Basically a muscle bike for Egypt and a sports bike for Romania. :) All is good in the world.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

Estranged groo the wanderer  CultOfXtc 
While I refuse to step into any sort of “Is Not! Is Too!” argument, I recall that the main intention of the changes behind TSW’s combat was to make individual combats take less _time_ to complete, rather than to make them easier.
Even as a long-time fan and enthusiastic player of the game, I also noticed that the time spent taking down individual mobs under the old system could border on the tedious. 
It wasn’t that the enemies were especially difficult to beat — the outcomes were never in doubt — but you could eat a sandwich and do a crossword puzzle while waiting for many of your foes to inevitably fall over.
Did the changes make certain mobs in the game easier to defeat? Sure. But some of them are just as difficult as they ever were.
My point is, any increased ease is merely an intermittent side-effect of the attempt to shorten the length of individual combats in The Secret World
From all I’ve read, at least, intentionally making the game “easier”, as a matter of course, was never in the plan.

My take anyway,

Cheers,

Kaaz
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Kaaz

i NEED the motorbike….

(and if the achievement vendor has a Revenant pet on it i shall be very happy with issue 11 ^^)

BrotherMaynard
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BrotherMaynard

Nordavind BrotherMaynard I have, 1 to 1.5 episodes – but that probably doesn’t count. After that I took the side of Sheldon Cooper and decided to spend my TV series time elsewhere.

BrotherMaynard
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BrotherMaynard

paragonlostinspace BrotherMaynard Damn, another one that I forgot! Is there something like TUTSWGFAPSE(*)? Anyway, the one in the Scorched Desert should not count, the roads in that zone are all broken and driving there is driving local people mad.

(*) That would be The Ultimate The Secret World Guide For All Petrol Station Enthusiasts

wild_abyss
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wild_abyss

BigMikeyOcho Bees. Powered by bees.

Nordavind
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Nordavind

BrotherMaynard You’ve never seen Babylon 5, have you? ;)

wild_abyss
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wild_abyss

I am absolutely psyched but can we have smog masks for Agartha conductor now?

Ekphrasis
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Ekphrasis

Niiiiiice.

It looks like Funcom are starting to pick up the pace with TSW content (even if it’s stuff that some people will complain about as micro transactions). They’re B2P and have to make money somehow!

No issue paying for this as I think it’s great value and enjoyment for the money.

I might have missed it, but is this character specific or unlocked at the account level?

Loving the idea of adding other cosmetic sprint customisations – I want rollerblades/skates, skateboards, a segway… and maybe a unicycle if I can make a scary clown costume… :D

BRB – going to see what costume options are available to make something like this image, in anticipation for my Lummie being on rollerskates!  *Squeeeeeeeeeeee*

ZenDadaist
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ZenDadaist

Sadface at no hoverboards in cities – c’mon, it’s not like I’m asking for the flying train from BTF3 or anything!

At the moment Agartha city entrances are already full of idiots spamming the gaudiest and noisiest abilities they have, so I don’t see how vehicles are going to change anything.

Really hoping PvP areas will add in speed boosting to Equal Footing.

(Pssst Funcom, this would be a great way to sneak in some Phasefront crossover! I want my Flaming 8ball board and my Deathrider, even if it just hovers over the ground and doesn’t actually fly.)

groo the wanderer
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groo the wanderer

CultOfXtc Even after they dumbed it down with the enhanced player experience ? lol . 

Also your I.Q. can change over a substantial period of time but over the course of a year or two the score even though it may fluctuate with probability very slightly in each test you take the score will remain the same to a substantial extent . Playing a game or doing puzzles would not improve your I.Q in the relatively short time period that you might play this game . 

That said the puzzles are well thought through and fun still its just the rest of the game they messed up with EPE ( very much Funcoms version of NGE ) . If you like  casual game with hard puzzles TSW might be for you but if you want a bit of challenge look elsewhere because these days TSW is lacking in that department .

ArtemisiaWS
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ArtemisiaWS

Mh I don’t see it so good in Agartha and Fusang. I imagine Agartha with everybody going in circle on their mounts just to show off, and if Fusang….we have uniforms so that the system doesn’t have to load unique models and can save fps, I can’t imagine it with everybody running around on unique mounts (also faster speed will probably make the catching game even harder, especially for low level people).

mysecretid
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mysecretid

Estranged mysecretid 
What, pray tell, is a Lummie? :-)
(A time distortion apparently turned me into a C19th gentlemen just now, according to my phrasing above — I think I shall call on on my friend Sir Malcolm Murray, at his home in London, presently …)
(you are watching Penny Dreadful yes? Wouldn’t want to waste the reference :-) )

CultOfXtc
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CultOfXtc

Go and buy this game.  It improves your I.Q.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

BrotherMaynard There is also one out in the desert area. I’m rusty right now but it has some zealots praying nearby and a repair garage as well.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

Oh heck! Gonna lure me back with an in game motorcycle to go with my RL one? One that won’t cause me lower back pain? Sold! LOL Darn it.

Gavaevodata
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Gavaevodata

Knew Moose would unlock the bike for you.

Now we just need a scene of him and Andy riding off into the sunset.

BrotherMaynard
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BrotherMaynard

Tomium BrotherMaynard I’ve heard that Tesla was a Templar. Very secret, top officers only kind of secret. I’m not sure what went wrong with his plan to dominate the motor world through electricity on behalf of the London HQ, but I suspect it had something to do with Edison’s local illuminati branch. Dark times those were…

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

mysecretid You better believe I will keep championing for it!!

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

Estranged TheDonDude BigMikeyOcho MJ Guthrie Speeders inside don’t make a lot of sense, yeah, but it’s one of those things where it’d be rough running around the fleet on foot.

Making local travel a) fun, b) immersive, c) logical, and d) take “just the right amount of time” is a surprisingly tough problem to crack.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

Now, on to the player housing options! One of those doors in London will lead to my flat!
(Oops. Too soon? :-) )

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

crawlkill I know — who can resist a Moose cut scene?

Wakkander
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Wakkander

Hmm, mount ideas… Well from a secret world perspective I wouldn’t mind seeing wonderfully twisted mounts. A hell horse for example to name one. Beyond that most of my ideas wouldn’t fit what they have in mind. A black silent helicopter would be a cool conspiracy theory-esque option but obviously outside of the scope of this, as are the likelyhood of things like a black SUV.
So, yeah, a hell horse, maybe a magic carpet could be a 3rd age relic of some sort, but a motorcycle works just fine for my tastes. I do wonder if the purchase will be account wide, or per character?

crawlkill
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crawlkill

bah, attaching a mission to it makes me infinitely more likely to buy it. bastards.

Tomium
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Tomium

BrotherMaynard I wonder if any of the bikes have converted to a more Tesla-like engine?

crawlkill
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crawlkill

melissamcdon that’s…none of that is remotely likely, convenient or anything like the system described above

Wakkander
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Wakkander

ogged451 BrotherMaynard Now I have visions of a TSW meets mad max road warrior crossover… and i am not entirely unhappy at the concept.

BrotherMaynard
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BrotherMaynard

MJ Guthrie BrotherMaynard Oh right, I forgot that one! But that’s just a place for local conspiracy theorists to exchange bits of valuable information, isn’t it? Surely, it wouldn’t really be a petrol station…?

ogged451
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ogged451

BrotherMaynard There are plenty of crashed Orochi planes and trucks you can pilfer gas from. Also, the Vampire standard war machine also comes with “one gas tank, highly flammable”. Do not worry about running out of gas.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

BrotherMaynard There is one on the main road in Savage Coast across from the Black House.  I’ll be going there while you wait in line =P

BrotherMaynard
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BrotherMaynard

There is a serious problem with this design – the only petrol station in the whole TSW is in Kingsmouth. Can you imagine the lines there? Bring a book or two, because not only is it the only petrol station, the folks running it seem to have taken an awfully long lunch break!

ogged451
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ogged451

If Funcom names their hoverboard manufacturer “Phasefront”, they could advertise in AO with “serving hoverboards for 27500 years”.

solaralune
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solaralune

TheDonDude solaralune MJ Guthrie well we haven’t seen TSW’s mounts in action yet, so we can’t comment on the quality of the animation it uses. SWTOR’s animation is fairly simple, but then they’re hover bikes and speeders, that don’t require intensive animations as per the movies to begin with. obtaining mounts immersively would also be a plus, but again, we don’t know what kind of mission Moose will give us, so we can’t really comment on that either.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

BigMikeyOcho TheDonDude MJ Guthrie Agreed.
That said, regarding whether TSW gets immersion points for this, I dunno if anybody looks at WoW’s (or SWTOR, WAR, etc) mount system and considers it to be immersive :-)

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

TheDonDude BigMikeyOcho MJ Guthrie Right. Here, I could buy the upgrades to Sprint VI (using in-game monies), and then just ignore mounts entirely, and be moving at the same speeds. Doesn’t mean there probably still won’t be 1000 motorcycles  or bicycles everywhere you go, though, but because it’s based on character customization, it’s a fully optional system. That’s the main difference. But you’re right, everything else mechanically about them will probably be very similar to other games.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

I wanted to be able to use the abandoned vehicles from day 1 myself.  the more of that they introduce, the better.   I think any motorized vehicle should be have to worry about gas, and there should be quests to obtain it.   I wouldn’t make it easy in a future hell-on-earth place like TSW though.  Bikes should be more or less easy enough to grab at some point, but maybe only 5-10% run buff, tops.   Make them useful, but not game-changing.    Fast mounts would come with cost – pricey, hard-to-get gasoline.   introduce a little road warrior stuff.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

solaralune TheDonDude MJ Guthrie You are definitely correct that MMO’s are not particularly innovative when it comes to mounts.  WoW, SWTOR, WAR, W*, and now TSW all do it about the same.

There are minor things you can do to help out, though.  Having mounts move like mounts (such as in ESO) would be a good example, and Eliot’s idea of being able to grab mounts off the scenery would be cool too.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

BigMikeyOcho TheDonDude MJ Guthrie Though you could technically play without mounts, I would say that for all intent and purposes mounts are not optional in SWTOR and WoW.

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

TheDonDude MJ Guthrie Are mounts in SWTOR and WoW entirely optional? These mounts are literally only for extra character customization, they don’t grant any benefits (as far as we know). I mean, they could be more like WoW and add flying into the game, selling flying mounts and all, and then restrict flying in the top level zones. :P

solaralune
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solaralune

TheDonDude MJ Guthrie How else are you supposed to handle mounts? You use an ability or press a button and your character looks like they’re sitting on something. Also they’re now moving faster. What other mount systems are there?

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

MJ Guthrie TheDonDude That isn’t my point. My point is that this system looks virtually identical to the SWTOR/WoW method of handling mounts.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

PurpleCopper The sprint system is just the name for buying buffs that allow you to run at higher speeds except when in combat.  You can buy various buffs, each one faster than the one before it.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

TheDonDude Um no, that’s for the realism factor which is a pretty big thing in a game all about the atmosphere. It would have been horrible if people could ride their motorcycles into the shops.

Theryl
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Theryl

PurpleCopper Sprint meter? TSW doesn’t have one of those, you can sprint until you get into combat or otherwise take damage.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

I’m getting the hankering for some old-fashioned roller skates!

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

I could understand the sprint system being used for bicycles (gotta expend energy to pedal after all).

But why would motorcycles use a sprint meter? Why not use fuel consumables?

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

Here’s an idea. How about something elementalism based? I’m picturing in my head like how Iron Man flies, like pushing our hands down and using anima to propel us forward. Could be anima fire, like a rocket, or create a magnetic field we can ride on, our feet mere inches off the ground.

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