The Soapbox: Lessons Secret World Legends failed to learn from Final Fantasy XIV

I’ve mentioned many a time that I like Funcom quite a bit. I want to like Funcom quite a bit. Heck, I want to be excited about Secret World Legends, but every day or so I get reminded that such a course of action will be very difficult at the least. Because quite frankly, Secret World Legends seems to want me not to be excited about it, as evidenced by… oh, every single thing that Funcom is doing around it.

Which is odd, because Funcom literally has access to a playbook for a large-scale reboot.

Secret World Legends is coming off of The Secret World, which was a cult MMORPG classic with a mighty fan following. Final Fantasy XIV was coming off of… well, its initial version, which had a fan following full of people who admitted that it was halfway to Stockholm Syndrome. And yet that game managed to get people excited and earn fans, while Funcom seems dead-set on alienating people or making them just plain nervous.

Preen for success.Let’s start with the obvious elements by pointing out the stuff that Funcom definitely cannot do. Unlike Square-Enix, Funcom cannot continue updating the “old” version of the game regularly while developing an entire new version. The money just doesn’t exist for that within the company. I mean, we barely got updates for TSW before, so it’s not exactly creating a new problem. They also can’t match Square-Enix in sheer volume of press releases. And they’re never going to have the sheer personal charisma of Naoki Yoshida to serve as an anchor to the game in the same way; the dude cleans up like a rock star, and that certainly helps.

But there’s lots of stuff that they can do, starting with one of the most important things that players were told about from the start: progress is not lost.

One of the first promises made about FFXIV‘s reboot was that you weren’t going to lose anything. You would retain your levels, your skills, your items, all of that stuff. Yes, there would be adjustments, but players knew right from the start that you were not going to be floundering about and redoing everything. Funcom dropped the ball on that immediately, stating in no uncertain terms that players were going to lose everything right off the bat.

Not that it matters quite as much, because players still aren’t really clear on how much is changing, or how, or why. That’s another important thing; Square-Enix was eager to talk up all of the cool stuff about the game, enough to really improve player engagement. SWL seems reluctant to even mention what’s going on or changing, and while we’re told that it’s “too early” for some of these mechanics to be discussed, there’s currently nothing to discuss, as everything is locked down behind the closed beta and NDA.

Remember, in the time leading up to FFXIV’s rerelease, Yoshida repeatedly talked about the philosophies going into the game and what he wanted to deliver. The result was that even though we didn’t always have mechanical details, we always had an idea about what the game would be like. A vague one, sure, but an idea just the same.

Of course, there’s also the fact that FFXIV’s rerelease plans suggested the devs knew exactly what was wrong with the game. That’s another area which was clearly and transparently discussed. By contrast, SWL has just… given us a couple of big changes, some of which addresses actual problems, others of which address problems no one has ever actually had with the game.

I think it’s interesting to discuss this in light of yesterday’s bevvy of statements from Joel Bylos about survival sandboxes vs. MMOs, which sound like insight… but they’re really not.

“[In] The Secret World, we focused very strongly on making really cool and interesting content and story, and the idea was to make it interesting to play. The thing is, with an MMO, a lot of focus goes into repeatable content. A lot of focus goes into things like ‘I’m gonna run this dungeon six times’ or 20 times or 200 times, right? So we need reward systems that give you tokens, that let you build or buy better items. There’s a lot of itemization discussion in MMOs. In a game like Conan Exiles, people are going to lose stuff, and we know that. We need to make it so that they can keep rebuilding stuff, keep creating stuff, keep progressing in the game, but not necessarily wanting them to go, ‘Oh, I want you to go grind this dungeon 50 times so that you can do the next dungeon – slightly harder.’ So [Conan Exiles] is not so much about this very small percentage of power increase to increase your character’s progression. That’s what I would say is a big difference in these type of games.”

The comments might, however, serve as insight for where things are amiss.

The specter of learning the wrong damn lessons.

See, when you design a game that people are going to be playing for an extended period of time, you are intentionally designing repeated content. That’s just as true for survival sandboxes as it is for MMOs. No, Conan Exiles doesn’t have the same sort of repeated content as, say, a Final Fantasy XIV dungeon, but it’s still repeated content. “I lost everything and need to rebuild” is different from “I need to go through this dungeon and kill things,” but both are 100% repeated content meant for doing over and over.

According to Bylos, the problem was that The Secret World had so much story, but you need to have a focus on repeated content. That’s not actually the problem. The problem is that while the story in TSW was (and is!) fun, the repeated stuff is… less so. It requires leaning a lot on the game’s combat (which isn’t good) or re-doing steps of a mission you’ve already done (trivial or obnoxious, and neither fun). There is not a whole lot of repeated stuff to produce long-term investment. There’s little to no crafting, no methods of long-term investment beyond repeating the same stuff.

When FFXIV was being reworked, there were a whole lot of polls for current and former players and lots of discussion about what the game got wrong. Combat was fiddly and not very fun. The UI was outdated from the moment it launched. Crafting was too incomprehensible, gathering was far too random, and working together as a group wasn’t enjoyable. Those areas were things targeted as specific problems to be reworked.

On the other hand, the strong focus on lore and story? Not a problem, and if anything, it was a strength. No, you couldn’t repeat all of it, but you didn’t need to make it repeatable if there was a lot of it to do and if players enjoyed the actual mechanics of the game for the stuff that was repeatable.

Why does anyone like anything? Who knows any more.I get the sense that Funcom doesn’t know what was actually fun about TSW, and now it’s developing SWL without really understanding why people got turned off from the game in the first place. And so it’s alienating the existing fans while doing nothing to attract new ones.

That’s the last big lesson, right there: FFXIV did a lot of work to make sure that existing fans wanted to come back and got benefits, while new fans didn’t feel screwed out of the gate. SWL has yet to really do much to incentivize old players to come back – you keep the stuff you bought, but not your character, not your progress, not anything beyond those actual money purchases. Meanwhile, new players don’t have a clear picture of the game beyond “isn’t it that buy-to-play title that had awful combat? Is the combat better? Is it still an MMO?”

And that’s what baffles me the most. FFXIV made it clear that when you’re doing this kind of reboot, you need to know who your audience is and what new audience you intend to court. Darkfall, for all its failings with its reboot, did a good job of that at the very least (the fact that it didn’t work is, in this case, not really the point).

I don’t know who the target audience for Secret World Legends is supposed to be. I suspect it might be me, but considering that the MMO properties of the game were something I considered a positive, I might be wrong. And if I’m unsure about this – me, a dude who more or less lives and breathes this stuff – what’s going to happen when someone who doesn’t do MMO journalism for a living steps into the field and asks about this game?

It’s a whole lot of work to revitalize a game that really just needed a major combat rework and maybe a free respec. That would have done it, and we wouldn’t be arguing about this now.

I want this to be a success story. But I saw all the work that went into the relaunch of FFXIV, and even that was something of a wild throw that wound up landing well. Funcom doesn’t seem to be doing any of that work, and what work they are doing doesn’t inspire much confidence. That, in turn, doesn’t inspire much confidence about how this reboot will shake down.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!
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181 Comments on "The Soapbox: Lessons Secret World Legends failed to learn from Final Fantasy XIV"

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karrion_nightstalker

I dunno, i didn’t play the original FFXIV or Secret worlds.. However what i get from this “article” or whatever it is that the writer says, “FFXIV” good “Secret Worlds” bad.

As far as FFXIV, you really don’t want me to go on a huge rant about everything that is wrong with it. It can be summed up with a couple phrases, “cut and past programming” and “boring” the only reason it’s actually lasted as long as it has is no one has come up with a new way of doing thing, add in the fact that your forced to walk through this story line that consists of about 20 or so hours of cutscenes, each of which to be honest if it was presented in text would take about 30 seconds each to read. Then you go on to the way it’s monetized and you get the very clear picture that square enix really doesn’t care about the game or creating content. It’s all about the cash shop, its the only thing that matters to them, doesn’t matter that people are paying a subscription already which is what pays the bills and one should be focusing on making more creative things to keep people interested SQENIX is only interested in the cash shop.. Now that’s the short version of my rant on FFXIV… and writer, don’t force me to get long winded, you will regret it.

Now on secret world legends, i knew nothing of the original game… So i can’t speak on that.. I will say on the rant about the character wipe, suck it up, wipes happen be happy they saved the stuff you bought, here are some kleenex wipe away those tears. You brag on ffxiv managing to not do it, but seriously ffxiv was so easy to level it wouldn’t have made a difference last class i did to 60 took 4 days.

However here are the things that drew me to secret world legends and why i am going to play it come the 26th of this month. Two primary reasons, first it does not seem to have forced pvp, hate the trend that games are going these days.. I like to pvp when i decide to, not when some stupid wanna be ganker decided they are going to pk newbies.. Second is the way they decided to do the cash shop, game is totally free to play, no purchase, no subscription, and anything you buy on the cash shop can be bought with in game currency. Basically player 1 buys a second type of currency with real world money, and because he’s too lazy to get the in game currency he puts the bought for cash currency up for sale on the auction house where a player with in game currency can purchase it and then buy items in the cash shop with it. I first saw this type of thing in eve online, loved it. Think it’s probably the best way to monetize a game and great thing about it is, it discourages farmers from selling the currency on websites. Now i just want to hit on the little stab this original poster made in his rant, saying that there was no crafting system in this game. I can’t say if there is or if there isn’t, i don’t know, and this will come as a big shock to anyone that knows me… I don’t care if there is one or not.

Here is why in games like ffxiv and many others there is a single point of sales. Which ends up causing it to be me and 2 or 3 other players like me (or to be a bit more correct 2 players like me and 2 currency resellers) totally owning the market and being the only ones that actually benefit from the crafting skills and the in game economy. In most games the vast majority of players that actually bothered to level crafting end up not even using it beyond supplying alts with gear or close personal friends… So if your going to create a system where there is a single point of sales it becomes a matter of why did you even bother? And that’s why it doesn’t even really bother me if they have a crafting system in this game.

So you know if SWL takes me a week to get through and i enjoyed doing it, I will gladly thank the makers of the game for the free game and move on.

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Godson69

I’m a lifer or as they like to say a GM with TSW. I’ve played all the way through Transylvania, and did lots of PvP back in the day. I haven’t played in a couple of years, but always planned on coming back to catch up on all the stories.

So now they do this Legends crap. If it had been a “Major” overhaul of the combat system and included major graphics updates, it still would not justify a new game with the same content.

The more that comes out about the changes (very minor) in Legends, the worse it makes Funcom look. I refuse to redo content again that, I already did a hundred times.

TSW is a great horror genre MMO that could of used a major revamp of the combat system and graphics/animation update. Fix those two things and keep pumping out the stories and you would have plenty of people playing.

I’m just frustrated were this is heading, and mostly because so many people see it coming, except Funcom.

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Tithian

SE had an immense budget and a huge Final Fantasy following that they could utilize to feed resources and hype to their reboot. Letting FF14 fail could very likely kill the entire franchise, or at least damage it beyond repair, and who does that with his main money-maker?

Funcom didn’t ‘learn from those lessons’ because they couldn’t utilize them. It’s ery easy to say “do it like SE”, when you’re an armchair analyst and not the one that is actually paying millions of $ for the project.

And frankly, even if they allowed people to keep their stuff and characters, those would have to be relegated to a completely different and inaccessible ‘veteran’ server (just like FF14) so as to not screw with the new people coming in. Which might not even be a possibility, if they are going for a single shard per region. Oh wait, they are doing this already, by keeping the original server up anyway.

xpsync
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xpsync

I know i’m still going to play it, i really want to get on with the stories. I love the atmosphere and feel of the world, the characters, stories are memorable. These were always the best parts of this game, at least that all looks to be intact still.

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socontrariwise

Mighty following? TSW? That is probably the reason they decided to completely overhaul and reboot it as a non-MMO?

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Kevin McCaughey

I’m still going to play it on release. I think maybe people should give it a chance before putting it down.

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Witches

Final Fantasy is SE flagship product, if a FF game fails at launch SE will just redo it and relaunch it, Funcom doesn’t seem to have aclear idea of what they want to do with TSW, either that or they simply lack the funds to do anything AAA, honestly i was expecting them to invest everything on the survival genre and launch a SW survival game, while i enjoyed The Park and Hide n’ Shriek, both were very small projects, both could have been event inside TSW.

Basically i don’t think they are really relaunching the game like FF, they are just resetting it and they are taking that opportunity to change some features, but it’s more PR than anything else, i would say Funcom did learn from SOE and NCSoft, instead of making an NGE or closing down a viable game and alienating the playerbase, they treat the redone game as a new game and keep the original alive (at least for the time being) maintining good will from the players, even if SWL fails, they will not have to carry the fallout for many years like SOE/Daybreak and NCSoft.

arcaneshards
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arcaneshards

I’m someone coming from ESO, and I have to say that the conditions are worse than what people are painting SWL and Funcom are. You haven’t seen the closed beta for Morrowind yet. It’s shit.

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Arngrim

How much different can the expansion be to ESO though, i stuck around from launch to it’s “f2p” change, and it’s just not good enough for me to stick around. I never saw anything “new” in morrowind that would change the game in anyway, other than adding new areas and a new class. So saying that Morrowind is shit just shows how bad ESO is as a game anyway. IMO. I’m not saying ESO is a shit game, i enjoyed it enough for what it is, it’s just not enough of an Elder Scrolls game for me to get the experience i want or was hoping for. They have come long ways since launch, but lately it just seems like they are working on the lootboxes etc like most cash shop games seem to end up doing anyway.

arcaneshards
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arcaneshards

It’s pretty different now. If you wanted balance, you didn’t get it. Phase 1 of the PTS is pretty much a screw you to any low to mid range raiding guild. The NDA was partially lifted because of this. Instead of listening to their community, they talk down to us and when we get pissy like this, we’re overreacting. They don’t have fun on their livestreams anymore. It’s a job to log in. This article is bitching about the lack of news and ‘repeatable content’? I’m cp 831. Want the BiS gear to survive the patch? Run vMA 10000 times and hope you get lucky. Reroll races because Redguard got screwed over, but most of us don’t want to spend the money to do it so we have to grind up another character. All of that changes the game. Heavy attacking your way through a normal dungeon when you facerolled it before is not how I want to play the game. Oh and lack of content, news, and anything from the developers because they rarely actually post in the forums. CMs, PRs, and mods do. Dev tracker masks them as devs so it looks like devs are actually posting when in reality they are not.

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Sally Bowls

From a stock analysis’ report:

In our opinion, Funcom seems to have found a sweet spot with the open world survival segment. Almost all of the competitors have been small developers with very limited budgets. Funcom’s previous competitors were large well developed companies with gigantic budgets.

I could even see a salty Funcom retort to this article being “Things SE has yet to learn from Funcom: don’t do MMOs.”

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thickenergy

Everything I read from Joel Bylos suggests to me that Funcom doesn’t really know what they’re doing. Maybe that’s just due to coyness on his part, in which case he needs to stop because nobody finds that endearing or acceptable. Maybe it’s because Funcom hasn’t actually decided exactly what they’re doing yet, in which case they need to just STFU and get to work. Really, if Bylos’ job is so focused on giving meandering statements to press, I know where Funcom can save some budget.

I’m usually not so harsh on developers, but Funcom seems to have a particularly bad case of “dev bubble”, with theirs having a mirrored surface on the inside.

Crow
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Crow

Yep.

I was floored by this exchange.

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TomTurtle

My initial excitement has disappeared, and I think the best we can hope for is that it keeps a relatively moderate playerbase while chugging out content on a regular basis. Better than what the game was doing beforehand.

Regardless of this reboot tactic, the game had been bleeding for a while and would still be even without this idea by Funcom. It’s obvious that it’s not a full reboot akin to FFXIV’s and to be fair, what FFXIV did is an outlier for what usually happens in the MMO space. SWL is on a smaller scale, and it can only accomplish so much.

That all said, I’m not necessarily grim about the game’s outcome, but everything points to it not being a superb outcome, as Eliot has pointed out so well here.

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Maggie May

I loved so much about ffxIv but it was the repeatable content that did me in. The same dungeons repeated multiple times for books, the crafting grind at high lvls, camping nodes at certain times of the day, I got burned out. I miss the game and the great guild I was in but the lack of real exploration and the repetion, was a killer .. at the same time it was the most fun I have had in a mmo.

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socontrariwise

I gave it another shot recently and JUST COULDN’T DO IT. Was perplexing, I’ve never left a non-indie MMO so quickly (not even a day before I was forcing myself to do the next quest). No idea what people find about it, was so rail-roaded and repetitive “kill x of y” and “bring a to b” without any deeper story or whatever … this is the much hyped “awesome, re-done FFXIV”??

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Warking

Agreed, I feel the same way about FFXIV, its a great game if you love the classic WoW formula but otherwise it isn’t. I personally outgrew the repetition and the tunnel claustrophobic worlds of WoW style themeparks. When the majority of your game is about dungeons/raid dungeons there is only but so much time I can stay there without wanting to strangle myself. It’s high time that overworlds get as much attention for the explorers. Its also time to bring in new gameplay mechanics like ArcheAge’s trading and caravan systems to encourage said exploration. Aside from the p2w the game has a lot of great things about it in regards to world exploration and the sailing really needs to be stolen.

Crow
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Crow

I can’t believe I didn’t consider this sooner, but Funcom keeping “old TSW” up is 100% so they can double-sell to subs.

It legally suffices to meet conditions of GM and sub agreements while they make a “new” game.

pepperzine
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pepperzine

I’m pretty happy to not have a dog in this race. Ill try TSWL, if it’s good I’ll stay, if not, oh well. Didn’t like TSW the times I tried it, so them abandoning it for this new project is no big deal to me either way, regardless of if this new project sinks or swims.

If I was a fan of the original TSW though, I’d be livid. From an outsider looking in, it seems to me they don’t really care to keep your business and would rather try a new revenue source who they think will be more profitable.

Crow
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Crow

What people don’t understand was that the moment Ragnar Tornquist left, it was never going to be a fulfilled world.

The game was done in Dec 2012. We just didn’t see it.

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Rolan Storm

It’s not easy to admit, but without him TSW has no real storyline backing. After all it is his characters that make atmosphere unique and alluring.

Game’s not ‘done’ in my opinion, but you have a point.

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Sally Bowls

I tend to disagree with the “they need to communicate more.” IMO, if Funcom accurately communicated more info about the future, the people here would be even more upset and less likely to spend money.

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Jeffery Witman

Then they would have accurate feedback from their target audience. You can’t just ignore your customers, or potential customers, or their complaints, and then blame them for your game’s failure. TSW has been propped up by a small and dedicated fan base for years. They were kept revenue positive by those people, despite the game’s flaws. Now they’re making a naked cash grab on the heels of the flash in the pan success they had with Exiles and searching for a completely new audience because they seem to be doing everything they can to push away anyone who liked the original game. Maybe it makes sense from a business perspective, somehow, but I doubt it.

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Sally Bowls

We disagree on TSW fans being Funcom’s target audience for SWL. IMO, the TSW customers are not financially interesting enough for Funcom. They need to find more people; if the majority of SWL customers are TSW customers, my guess is that Funcom will not consider SWL a success.

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Jeffery Witman

I don’t know who else they’re thinking is going to come in and spend that kinda money, though. The current (pre-relaunch announcement) player base had kept the game running through a lot of turbulence and shake ups at Funcom because the game’s setting, story, lore and look was worth it. If that’s not what brings you to TSW, I can’t imagine that SWL, with the same art resources and game engine, will be what you’re looking for. Horror is a niche genre in every medium. Even the giants of horror don’t get recognized in mainstream circles very often, if at all. If they’re trying to capture the CoD players, or Candy Crush players, or people who want a single player game, I think they’ll be disappointed.

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Sally Bowls

I agree with you, they will probably be disappointed. I.e., sunset TSW and not do SWL would probably be a better decision. But my guess is either would be better, financially at least, than investing further in TSW.

Crow
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Crow

So during their earlier livestream I was kind-of disgusted to see they set a bot to count players who begged for a “!key” (which they told them to do) by counting how many people “Nightbot : Grab the legend! Users have begged Tilty 35 times.”

No one had even gone live.

This is the mentality they’re encouraging. They knew not giving subs keys would cause a stir, but they knew that that stir was better for them than just giving keys.

I’m pretty sure my own actions have made myself, a GM, go on the “no key list”.

Which is just crazy.

No one cares anymore. Vike was right to abandon TSWDB when he did earlier this year. He doesn’t post here anymore and hasn’t for months. We all thought he was being overdramatic.

How is this different from CoH or SWG? It isn’t.

For those of us left who played MUDS and UO and EQ and then WOW and got… lost… no one is coming for us other than the games that are going back to hoping for pre-EQ numbers. I’ve been estimating back, even, lately, because I don’t think any studio will be willing to back another MMORPG for a long time.

Our playerbase never got higher than UO/EQ numbers. WoW was a fluke. The last decade has been a study in how to advantage and then burn a whole demo easily.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Lol, are you new to twitch? Its their usual giveaway system that EVERYONE uses. And it works well. Blaming Funcom for using it to give away some keys is just silly

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Paragon Lost

It’s why I’ve returned to tabletop rpg gaming after many years break. They aren’t designing mmorpgs with us in mind.

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Jeffery Witman

It’s because the console crowd came in and wanted console games. So they made console-like MMOs. These are not games that are meant for consoles, single player, or even high action. Twitchy action play used to be a niche, but then it became the only thing around because the game companies figured they could get COD weekend warriors involved and spending money if it looked similar enough. The Freemium models quickly followed, adding with the collapse of anything resembling a civil community in most games.

We’re old, and no one cares about what we want in a game anymore. They don’t care that they could make a physics engine and let us sandbox for years with each other and not have to pump out hours of content every month. They don’t care about the original promises of a world that changes with your actions and decisions, not just a static world of NPCs and dungeons that never change. They want a quick return on investment and then to squeeze the customers for as much cash as they can before putting the game into a new skin and selling it to the same people again, like so many Madden games.

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rafael12104

Ok. The article, from my perspective, is on point as it relates to what Funcom could have done with the reboot of TSW, to TSWL. But, comparison to FFXIV and Square Enix misses the mark and derails the conversation.

I think Eliot did a good job up front stating what Square Enix could do and Funcom couldn’t do. Money, resources, etc. are all a factor and Funcom can’t even compete with what is possible for Square Enix.

Where things go awry is not in describing the things that Funcom could have done, but rather in not acknowledging that Square Enix and Funcom by the very nature of who they are will respond differently.

For SquareE, it was all hands on deck. Their FF brand was at stake, the very reason the company is a success, and they were not going to leave anything undone. They could rebuild the game from the ground up with no constraints. Getting and reacting to fan input was easy then because everything was possible.

For Funcom, because their financial woes, they could not start with a blank slate. They have to work within an existing framework with limited resources. Appeasing fans is more difficult and most of their decisions are forgone conclusions.

So you can’t escape the vast difference in approach because of their respective places in the gaming industry. If Funcom had the wealth and breadth that Square Enix has currently, TSW would be “self-actualized” and live up to expectations.

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Jeffery Witman

Funcom has decided to start from scratch, though. They’re not changing much from the looks of things, but nevertheless, they’re building up a whole new game from the still warm corpse of the old one, like some kind of zombie Frankenstein. Fitting for the genre, but not a great way to relaunch a game. It’s the worst of both worlds in that it pushes old players away and does little to attract the new ones they’re going to need to make this a success. They can’t afford marketing like Square Enix, but they had a rabid fan base that would have made for a great viral marketing campaign. Build it into the game as veteran players recruiting new players on social media. Have them able to mentor and assist new players with various things that reward both parties. Use that base of players and helpful people to get you the new players while the devs work on new content and combat changes. There’s a dozen different ways to overcome those limitations, and the original development team knew how to do it. These guys don’t. The social media campaign, ARG, and viral hype for TSW before it was launched was more than I’ve seen for any game that wasn’t attached to an existing IP.

Estranged
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Estranged

They failed to have a major IP in which a certain portion of people will play. Automatic advantage to FFXIV.

We also haven’t played the launched product.

I’m apples and oranges on this thing.

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Ysayle was right

Do you know how many people actually bothered to play FFXIV 1.0? It was certainly less than I’d expect an MMO of similar budget with an entirely new IP from a less storied studio. I remember Vanguard having more positive buzz and people talking about going to play it at launch. A big name is not necessarily an advantage.

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Michael18

I’m afraid SWL will end up being not enough MMO for MMO gamers and too much of an MMO for others.

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Suikoden

I like your points Eliot. I don’t see why they didn’t make TSW into TSW Legends. I think a lot more people would have been excited about a reboot, versus a separate game.
I was one of those people that got the free play time in FFXIV 1.0 because I was a sub when they announced the reboot,and I got to play 6 months for free and then got a closed beta key, and that whole process made me a bigger fan of the game. They could have done the same thing here and I bet it would have been epic. Like you said, they had it laid out right in front of them and didn’t take advantage of it.

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Jeffery Witman

I think I figured out why they did it during today’s Livestream. There going to be selling loot lock box keys that will give you more upgrade materials for your gear. Without rebooting it, they wouldn’t sell enough of those things because of how many people are already in 10.x.x gear (and they know new players to a freemium model don’t spend much money). If gear progression is gated heavily by that mechanic, I don’t see many people sticking around. It will be at least as off-putting as bad combat.

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Suikoden

Good point. I don’t mind lockboxes per se, but when it gates upgrades, skill points, feats, progression, etc. not good.

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dm_jim80

Assuming that more story content ever actually arrives…do they ‘streamline’ that as well to make it more ‘accessible?’ I’m not just talking about the cinematics and VO work, which was often cited as being the most expensive part of making an issue and might get completely dumped going forward.

I’ve been looking at some of the comments here and on reddit. Yeah, TSW combat often gets panned…but sometimes it was ‘the NPCs talk too much’ because a cutscene longer then 10 seconds is too much to pay attention to. Sometimes it was ‘Don’t force your politics on me!’ because NPCs were something…other than white and male and straight. Sometimes it was ‘Why does my society treat me like a peon!?’ when they’re used to ‘Saving/ruling the galaxy’ in SWTOR or ‘negotiating with gods and working for monarchs’ in ESO.

I dunno. Might be mountains out of molehills but I wonder how expansive ‘streamlining and accessibility’ is going to be.

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BalsBigBrother

SWL saved we will be able to change reticles or not even have one o/

Can’t say I agree with every thing in this article but I think Eliot is on point about the lack of clarity. I am certainly getting mixed signals from the SWL streams as to where they want to go with SWL or even who they are aiming at with these changes.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I feel like I disagree with every single article where Eliot tries to analyze something about MMOs. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Like that line where Funcom doesnt know what was fun about TSW. They arent dumb. They know TSW’s strong points. And they know their audience. But when Square Enix decided to revamp FF14, they invested millions into such revamp. They kicked out previous game director and everybody who was in charged, fired half of original FF14 devs and replenished them with new team who had a clue. Now tell me, how big of a team TSW has now? Like 3 or 5? With how many writers? One? That isnt even working on TSW full time?

Funcom doesnt want to invest into this revamp and hopes to reap cash from reboot using minimum effort. Thats the main problem with Secret World Legends and the reason why there are barely any changes or improvements compared to original game.

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theblackmage75

I’d argue that SWL isn’t really a reboot or relaunch or repackaging or anything that we have previously seen before. The closest equivalent would be if SWG had released the NGE as a “new” game and kept the original pre-NGE servers intact (and frozen) for players to still putter about in. Thus, I have a bad feeling about this.

I also don’t understand who the new game is meant to entice: veterans who are willing to abandon their progress in the former game and start anew, doing the same puzzles and content all over again? New players for whom the many, many sales were never enticing enough to drop in and try the game? Whenever games try to chase a new market at the expense of their current players warning flags ought to go up.

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Oleg Chebeneev

They obviously aim for new players who didnt want to buy the game but now can play it for free. You would be surprised how much bigger potential audience is when you go from B2P to F2P

django857
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django857

This is probably right. I don’t think Funcom gives a dam about the people that played the old game. This is them starting over. They just can’t come off like jerks about it. They are leaving the old game up just for that reason. But it won’t get one new update. I’m sure it will still have the cash shop updated though.

Crow
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Crow

They have zero interest in retaining players. This is about going after the current hot demographic that is secondary to survival games.

styopa
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styopa

If “…it’s “too early” for some of these mechanics to be discussed,” then it’s too early to drop the announcement about the flipping game.

It’s fairly reasonable to expect long time players of your current game are going to have serious questions about wtf is going on when you tell them the game’s going to basically be totally reset…That response is a SURPRISE? REALLY?

If you’re not ready to have that conversation, don’t start talking about it like it’s an already-done deal.

I’m not sure who, if anyone, is advising these companies about how to handle corporate communications, but they SUCK at it.

Crow
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Crow

I’m not sure who, if anyone, is advising these companies about how to handle corporate communications, but they SUCK at it.

Funcom actually had a huge shakeup in their controlling board members by stake recently. This is probably one person making demands, to be frank.

I’d short FC stock if you can. The company won’t win overall.

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Jeffery Witman

Sounds like a scheme the Dragon might have come up with. Or maybe Orochi.

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ogged451

Lessons learned from the show on Twitch that just finished : Funcom really embraces randomness and gating progression. And I think Tilty tries to emulate Paul Barnett and fails.

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Wolfyseyes

I think the very core of all of this concern is the lack of communication. Of a vision shared with players. Ideally, the livestream later today will offer some of that up and better form a stronger impression.

I’m in the wait and see camp.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

How long do we keep giving away the benefit of the doubt? TSW players have been idling for a really long time already, even before they were told their game is being gutted.

Crow
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Crow

How many “TSW” players are even out there anymore?

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Nathan Aldana

a lot of us are. I havent played in over a year specifically because of a lack of shit to do, but if you’re only counting current players as people who play a game, then i guess i dont count

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Utakata

You seem to be making the troll assumption that no one plays this game…and everyone has long abandon its ship. It’s seems to be same assumption made of SWG or CoH by it’s executives and their apologists. And one perhaps being made of WildStar even. Shuttering those games down quickly shows that assumption is entirely false.

Perhaps Funcom should of taken a cue from Square Enix with FF XI in how to put a game on ice. That is, they make sure that ice is continually refreshed, lovingly and with care.

Crow
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Crow

I don’t like to make assumptions. Here are the Steamcharts: http://steamcharts.com/app/215280

For a baseline I’ll give you Wildstar: http://steamcharts.com/app/376570.

Very similar medians. Especially month to month.

Just compare that with ESO: http://steamcharts.com/app/306130. Or even Marvel Heroes: http://steamcharts.com/app/226320. Or Path of Exile? http://steamcharts.com/app/238960.

This isn’t a “troll” anything. It is based on careful analysis of the data available to us. Any surface examination of TSW’s playerbase shows that it is struggling. Or I guess it WAS struggling.

So the same with all these games’ metcritic score. Then go into available open google metrics. Then you’ll be at a place where you can actually understand why I hold the opinions I hold because that is MINIMAL to understanding this stuff.

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Koshelkin

Armchair analyst.

Crow
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Crow

Armchair analyst.

I hate constantly having to say this. I’m a strategic analyst by profession. This kind of stuff is literally what I do for a living, though the majority is in other tech industries.

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David McD

To be fair the majority of the “die hard” TSW players probably started earlier in the game’s life cycle than its steam launch. (The steam launch was 3 years after the initial release.) Especially the grand masters such as myself. So the steam charts don’t really reflect the true population of the game. All one has to do is play it to see it has MANY players.

Estranged
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Estranged

David – I don’t play a single game on Steam.

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Robert Mann

Yep. I’m not one of them, never really felt like they were going the right direction of ‘secret’ in the world for me. Always felt like it was too much horror, too little wonder.

That said, many people absolutely wanted that. They were hooked, solid fans, that with a little effort by Funcom would likely be looking at TSWL with eagerness… instead most of those I know sound bitter.

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ThreeSpeed

Of course no one is playing TSW now, why would they? The game has dropped most of it players since SWL was announced.

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Utakata

I am pretty sure there are some folks that are playing that game. As I am pretty sure there are players to still playing Guild Wars 1 and FF XI. A new version of the game does not guarantee everyone will switch to it or remain switched to it…if they don’t like the new version.

Crow
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Crow

Look at the links, they go back much further than when SW:L was announced.

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James Crow

most of the players in TSW not playing on steam because:

1. you need to buy it again.
2. steam have region lock for tsw.
3. not everybody love to play with steam.

also most of wildstar not playing on steam.

also PoE is STEAM Only.
those games have to most players peak on steam.

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Sorenthaz

Agreed, there’s so much uncertainty and lack of info/communication that no one really knows what to think or expect.

Crow
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Crow

We know exactly what to think and expect. Our MMO is not only being shut down, but the assets being moved to a NEW game where we don’t even keep the characters we’ve become attached to in the last five years.

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Koshelkin

“The Secret World, which was a cult MMORPG classic with a mighty fan following.”

Eh, not sure If you’re being serious here but mighty fan following is exaggerating it a tad. Just a tiny bit.

They weren’t able to fund episodic story content just from the purchases of the prior ones and that was the big, big elephant in the room.

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John Mynard

To be fair, you don’t have to be playing a game at the hardcore level to be a fan. I only have the DLC up to issue 11 or 12(the one with the tower that effectively concludes the main throughline story with an Angelic reward), but I consider myself a fairly huge fan of the game and talk it up ALL the time when the topic comes up.

Crow
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Crow

Not at all. From 2012-2014 TSW was the underdog darling of the industry. Makes all this even more crazy.

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Koshelkin

Bullshit. TSW got mediocre reviews and it was no one’s darling except for a few, small outlets. It was neither a financial nor a critical success. The only people raving about it, mainly, was a core of veterans(like me) most comment sections were chiding the atrocious combat first and foremost and weren’t filled with glowing reviews of the game at all.

http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/the-secret-world

Estranged
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Estranged

Atrocious combat = I can’t figure it out within 3 mins.

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John Mynard

Can’t figure it out? You select a target and press your preferred attack. How is this difficult? Now the depth of the skill wheel is daunting, but there are plenty of builds that will get you through the main part of the game. I myself still use an affliction buff build that raises my Penetration chance to absurd levels. This is a build that anyone can have within probably 10 to 12 hours of play time(much less most likely) with your starter skills serving just fine until then. This is not WoW or something where you have to be top level competitive dps 2 seconds after you start. I suppose you couldn’t figure out WoW’s combat either, seeing as they are virtually identical.

Estranged
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Estranged

John – you obviously wrote a wall of text before thinking about possible sarcasm on my part. Congrats.

I’m a GM sub level and have been playing off and on since beta.

My point is most people aren’t interested in such, or WoW wouldn’t be culling their classes.

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Koshelkin

That was an opinion which was mentioned often if you go back to old articles on massively and on other sites.

It isn’t my opinion per se, I spent over thousand hours in the game.

The question I’m asking myself is if defending a game in such a passive-agressive way helps a game or rather hurts it. You won’t win anyone over by trying to counter and insult someone in the same breath. Basically what you do is giving a bad impression of the community.

Estranged
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Estranged

Kosh – I prefer to say what I think. My comments are not insults, they are an observation. My evidence is the numerous claims of having broken builds or the Blue Mountain wall.

That isn’t passive-aggressive to me.

If difficult games were popular, we would have more of them.

The drop in games are popular for a reason. Quick fun.

For each their own. I just wish people would be honest and say that TSW was too difficult for them (just not their cup of tea), considering what they are wanting out of a MMO.

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Koshelkin

It’s aggressive to accuse someone to be too stupid to figure something out. If I’d call you too stupid to hold a civil debate how would you react? You’re making assumptions and act on them. I mean you can try to make your point but usually you will do better by not attacking the person you’re trying to talk to or contradict.

Estranged
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Estranged

I am tired and don’t feel like playing chess today. Does that make me stupid or just not interested in using my mind in such a fashion?

You don’t have to be stupid to avoid complex tasks. Who wants to solve TSW riddles after being at work all day? Some, but certainly not all.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I had the impression Crow was talking about the MMORPG industry, not the broader gaming industry, which has always shit upon MMORPGs and MMORPG players, always. TSW took home a lot of underdog awards the year it launched — from people who actually play MMOs.

Crow
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Crow

Not the impression. You’re right there.

Crow
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Crow

So by this logic we shouldn’t make games unless they’re in the strict WoW model?

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Koshelkin

WTF. Should I even answer to that?

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Greaterdivinity

Where the fuck did you get that from?

Crow
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Crow

You don’t seem to get that what you ask for when you talk about what gets people to buy games is that people don’t want to play MMOs other than WoW. At least not in a larger demographic sense.

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Greaterdivinity

That’s a whole lot of words that don’t really form a coherent thought…

Unless your argument is, “WOW IS THE ONLY PROFITABLE MMO” or something. The person you’re responding to made no mention of WoW or hinted at it, so your initial response is completely out of the blue.

Crow
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Crow

Have you considered that instead of other people not making sense you can’t understand it?

In which case that is fine. I’ll stop explaining this shit to you because you obviously can’t understand it.

My response is based not on YOU but on them making money, which is SOOO different from making consumers happy… which just dovetails into how no consumers are ever happy.

Like… just stop claiming you understand things when your position is, “LOL mental work is silly!”

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Sorenthaz

I don’t think you understand what cult followings are.

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Koshelkin

“Mighty fan following” is exaggerated as it implies a *large* fan following and that’s stretching things a bit.

Crow
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Crow

Care to give numbers? because the numbers provided by Funcom over the years makes a statement like this just seem like a joke. Which it is.

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BDJ

The bottom line is , is that if it were doing better it wouldn’t be on life support and having to have SWL done at all.

Crow
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Crow

I never said it was a critical success. I said it was an industry darling.

Sites like Kotaku and MassivelyOP did a LOT of content for the game, and further really supported the game on the game’s benefits rather than anything else.

Ask MJ why she covered TSW almost exclusively for a number of years.

Just… take my word on this that TSW was seen as a great-but-underplayed game for years. The articles on MOP support this 100%.

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Schmidt.Capela

Unfortunately, great-but-underplayed doesn’t pay the bills.

Not being sarcastic, BTW. There are numerous great games that never reached commercial success, and thus they — or their franchises — were discontinued. To this day I still scour Home of the Underdogs (a site specializing in digging up unappreciated gems) to find good games to play.

Crow
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Crow

I’m super into the idea that EQ was a cultural phenomenon while now when a game gets less than a mil it fails. That’s a seriously legit question to explore.

EDIT: UNDERDOGS! That was a long-time favorite for me! They’re still going? awesome :D

Crow
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Crow

And as such, you know that commercial success doesn’t mean quality… and vice-versa.

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Schmidt.Capela

Yep.
The unfortunate consequence is that quality doesn’t imply viability.

Crow
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Crow

So the big thing is that EQ was a surprise at 500k subs… so why can’t modern games find a way to at all recreate that? Some aspects are easy to see and others are less so.

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Schmidt.Capela

If you mean having a game similar to EQ and with a similar number of subscribers: basically, choice.

EQ rose to be the second most played MMO on the planet back when there were few choices, so players had to put up with “features” that back then every developer considered essential in the genre, like forced grouping and forced downtime. Nowadays, though, if a player dislikes one of those “features”, there are other similar games that won’t force those on the players.

It’s akin to how many people don’t think the early Ultima Online experience can ever be replicated. That experience relied on people that didn’t enjoy being attacked by PKs, but that had to put up with it in order to play a MMO, continuing to play and interacting with PKs and PKKs; nowadays those players just leave for games where they are protect by the game rules.

Also, do keep in mind that to this day EQ still holds one of the largest subscription numbers in MMO history; I believe less than a dozen games ever surpassed it, and even fewer managed to sustain such subscription numbers like EQ managed. Regardless of anything else, recreating that degree of success is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

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ogged451

SWL will get worse reviews :)

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Melissa McDonald

I gotta be honest with everybody, most of the time when people complain about combat? I don’t even know what you are talking about. They’re almost all the same to me. Target, click buttons. Target, click buttons. Clicking buttons in the right order, sequence, timing, synergy? That’s what it means to know how to play a class.
It’s so same-same to me in every single game I play that I barely even know what’s to complain about there. It’s like saying Pac Man isn’t responsive enough around corners. But I am a newbie gamer mostly. I burn out around level 30 or so in almost every game I play, EQ and LOTRO being the big exceptions. I want(ed) to see it all in those games.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, most people seem to mean ‘animations’ and ‘impact of those animations’ when talking about this stuff (from what I have read.) I personally don’t notice animations as much unless it is really out of place… I notice more that all my attacks cut through people but don’t really show signs of that (but that’s standard.)

The thing is, a game could well please them for combat, and leave people like me hating the combat. I value a little strategy, some difficulty, and requiring more than just mashing the right buttons to overcome challenges. So I’m happy with things that some others absolutely detest. For example, ESO combat in beta… where it required strategic use of abilities, had high difficulty, but had some issues with animation not feeling “clean and weighty.” They worked on that, nerfed the difficulty per majority request, and now I feel like the combat is no longer one of the best systems out there, but on equal footing with the all too common “I can go take a nap and still win this fight” combat of MMOs. *I also hate the ‘agility’ meta of flashy spinning attacks all over the place… but that too seems to be ultra-popular.*

I usually don’t complain too much, but man does that other side of things seem vocal!

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Rolan Storm

The way I remember it TSW at launch was hardcore. Story is grim, realistic, open (and breathtaking). NPC are interesting, memorable. Progression – unforgiving. You have to implement every mechanic of the game to progress further, including emotes. You need to upgrade you gear or you are eaten (zombies, duh).

Combat was hard.

‘It is dull’, heh. Now – maybe. Back then it wasn’t so much dull, it was blasted hard. Wrong positioning made me frustrated every time because my character pulled another mob and with two of them on me he did not survive (I hated those moths… and feared them :D). And of course there were people who found right decks and had it easy, but I didn’t. I hit that blasted “Blue Mountain wall”, and I had to grind to get things right. In dungeons you had to understand what you do exactly – or you cannot finish it. You are not doing it poor and get some chart with your low DPS from other players saying you are not trying hard enough. You just wipe one time after another, that’s it. With wrong crowd you just don’t finish dumgeon at all. I can go on and on.

‘Dull’, heh. My opinion: harcore got nerfed and when you do that you get ‘dull’. Mechanic did not change, but characters became much more potent as combatants. Result – ‘meh’ combat all talk about.

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rafael12104

Well, as a fan of combat, it is much more than targeting and clicking. You aren’t wrong, that is what you do, but the results of that, the animations, the responsiveness, the strategy, and the sounds, all shape the feel and experience.

For many it is what drives them to play certain genres of games that weren’t traditionally MMORPGs. That has changed. Now, the expectation of great combat has crept in to this world and has found great success. The clicking and targeting now makes a difference for many. Tera, BnS, BDO, etc. keep driving that train onward.

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Ailsa Nordstrom

I agree with you Melissa. When people complained about the combat in TSW, I never really understood what exactly was the problem. Pretty much every MMORPG has some sort of “rotation” of abilities that can seem repetitive so that can’t be it. Was it the animations? Fixing that wouldn’t require a complete overhaul of the ability system. Was it how slowly you acquired new abilities? Again, not a problem that needs a complete overhaul to fix. If it had to do with the abilities/synergies themselves then I wish people had been more clear about that. It’s like a few vague complaints about the “combat” (whatever that means) was all that Funcom could hear so they think they need to change everything. But without context and an understanding of the complaints, they could be making combat worse. Time will tell, I suppose, but I kind of wish those squeaky wheels had been more precise in their feedback.

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Koshelkin

I think the difference is that TSW’s combats gets much better with time but plays definitely worse than most competitors early on.

Crow
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Crow

I’ll just say that if you think combat is the focus of TSW, then you’re missing the whole point.

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Nathan Aldana

In fairness thiough, the fact its combat can be insanely lethal and requires basically knowing how to optimize builds or else die horribly over and over does not make the story more fun.

Crow
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Crow

That was how it was at launch and it DID make the story better!

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Nathan Aldana

How? What part of the story was made better by the inability to see it because you wanting to have a build you liked meant you were doomed to failure and death?

Crow
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Crow

Having to work hard to progress makes the success sweet.

If you don’t think so wait another decade. You will.

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Schmidt.Capela

Nah, it’s unrelated. It does make the game as a whole better for those that enjoy the story, hard combat, and experimenting with builds (like me), but it makes the game far less enjoyable for those that just want the story.

It’s why offline games often offer multiple difficulty settings. That allows players that don’t care for the combat (or whichever systems are tied to difficulty) to still enjoy the game, without making it boringly easy for those that do enjoy hard games.

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Koshelkin

TSW actually never was that hard when you knew what you do, regardless of the weapons you picked.

Crow
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Crow

You obviously never played at launch before EPE.

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Schmidt.Capela

I don’t disagree with Koshelkin even when it comes to the original version, though. All it took to beat TSW combat was mastering the telegraphs and choosing a reasonably good build, which I put under “know what you are doing.”

And, BTW, I actually liked TSW’s combat more than that of other MMOs. It was not perfect, of course, but I really liked how the most important part was not standing in the (figurative) fire. I particularly enjoyed fighting Ak’ab before my character became powerful enough to ignore their attacks.

Estranged
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Estranged

S.C – I enjoyed having to plan my build and focusing on the combat area to prevent extra pulls. Felt so rewarding.

However, Blue Mountain seems to be a huge wall for most.

Regardless, I enjoyed my time.

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Nathan Aldana

see, I dont mind planning a build. I mind that there was basicaslly no room at all for experimentation. You either played an extremely powerful build, or you didnt bother.

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Robert Mann

True, but the number of people who consider that difficult is… surprisingly high.

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Koshelkin

TSW beta player here. I was playing TSW from launch onwards. I spent over 1400 hours in the game. I brought 4 characters through the whole story up to Tokyo. 3 through Tokyo. I have a Grandmaster account since launch.

Before that I was playing Age of Conan for 3 years.

Your telepathic abilities failed you.

Crow
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Crow

Nothing addresses that you found TSW combat too hard. Sure, you played a bunch of hours but that is the issue… playtime does not equal advancement.

Crow
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Crow

If you played TSW before EPE you know it was the furthest thing from an “easy” game. That’s my only point. Though I’ll give that going from AoC (also a player) to TSW was probably simpler. Funcom never pulled punches with difficulty until EPE.

styopa
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styopa

I think the combat complaints have to do with the build-build-build-spend, repeat forever clumsiness. Aside from the RSI inducing repetitions, it’s BORING.
Honestly, I don’t know which was chicken and which egg: You don’t have enough abilities in your bar to do anything but that simple list, with the occasional heal or interrupt; then again the combat mechanics were so dull and uninteresting there wasn’t ever anything else you NEEDED to do.
Don’t get me wrong, it IS a distillation of any other mmo (particularly of comparable generations). But at the point where the genre was figuring out and implementing mechanical concepts like chains, situational attacks, vulnerabilities, and multi class synergies, TSW went simpler and that was simply the wrong direction.
That simplicity wasn’t helped early on by far too long time-to-kill for even common world mobs, FORCING people to experience that repetition so many times…

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Robert Mann

HP bloat is a terrible problem in a number of games in the industry.

Estranged
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Estranged

Oh, this line of thinking (that I have read so often) is rich.

The dominant game in the industry has 3-4 button rotations at the max.

styopa
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styopa

Your naked defensiveness aside, the simple facts are:
– despite being a niche favorite, it wasn’t a commercial success. I’m not saying it was BAD, I’m saying it didn’t appeal to enough people to make sufficient $. Maybe people didn’t feel standing around agartha with a horse head was worth $15/mo?
– MANY people claimed it was the stilted dullness of the combat that turned them off. It may have perfectly suited you. It may have largely suited me. But the “rap” on the game was that combat sucked…And where there’s smoke, Funcom probably perceived a need to address the expected fire.

Estranged
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Estranged

Not defensive. It had plenty of content for months and months. No sub was required after a certain point.

The game was difficult. I believe that is the underlying factor.

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ogged451

Are there combat systems that are not repetitive ?

styopa
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styopa

That’s a loaded question. The point isn’t the repetition, it’s the DULLNESS.
Chess is “repetitive” – you only have 6 sets of moves. I’d hardly call it dull.
I’m sure some people would disagree with me (this is the internet, OF COURSE people will disagree), but I’d call checkers dull.
Both are repetitive.

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Ailsa Nordstrom

But what specifically about TSW’s combat ability rotations (which are pretty par for the course in MMOs) made it dull compared to other games’ combat ability rotations? Why is a rotation in TSW dull but a similar 2-4 ability rotation in WoW or GW2 NOT dull?

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ogged451

so is “rotation” or “priority queue” combat less dull then TSWs “builder/2x consumer + 4-5 utility” ? if not what is less dull or how do I measure dullness ? If I recall my Warrior days in DAoC, it was basically “queue block style with anytime style as backup” plus the occasional “Slam, pull out 2h hammer and try to get behind target for Conquer or side style”, but all that was barely 50% more keys than TSW and with weapon swings only happening every 2-4 seconds, it was way more relaxed (and partially clickable :)

Crow
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Crow

By this prior claimed logic you’re right… chess is dull.

Chess is only dull for people who only see moves and can’t understand strategy.

Crow
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Crow

There are a million games out there with twitch combat. I do not at all understand why it is necessary for MMORPGs.

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Robert Mann

I don’t think it is, but it is… popular. So that’s where most games go. I don’t mind well done twitch combat, but for goodness sakes if a game is going there I want full slasher style and not some hotbar mish-mash that pretends to be about action. Bonus points if you can give me DBTS (Die By The Sword) combat with some more refined controls for action systems.

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Schmidt.Capela

I, particularly, prefer more tactics and less twitch. When choosing the right counter to the opponent is more important than choosing it quickly or than having good gear.

Which, BTW, tends to make combat less repetitive as long as the opponents themselves don’t simply repeat the same old attack pattern.

Crow
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Crow

Melissa, you are NOT a newbie gamer at all. You’ve been playing game for years and frankly this is the kind of thing I was afraid of happening with all the “action-or-die” games.

This just sucks. Seeing someone who I have known has been playing games for YEARS now thinks she’s not a “real gamer”?

I’m not sure what else to say other than if this makes you think you’re not “real” then screw them.

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Melissa McDonald

No, I didn’t mean that. I am just admitting that the early game content is what I like the best.
Maybe what people don’t like is animation and graphics when they say they don’t like the combat. I admit I hated “blood magic” in TSW because it looked like a rubberbanding problem on my screen, red taffy.

Crow
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Crow

There is nothing wrong with not wanting to engage in scripted content. I’m with you! And instead of saying that you only like the early-game, isn’t there a place where that “early-game” can be the whole game when one isn’t needing to be better than their neighbor?

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Robert Mann

Not in the current market, so much, sadly. Let us hope indie innovations keep producing some new ideas… because we have long needed them!

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Paragon Lost

Great write up Eliot. Nailed it right down the line. Funcom has totally lost me. They just seem incapable of “getting it” on so many levels. :( So much potential, so much wasted.

Mattaui
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Mattaui

Funcom is a tiny company with 100 employees and is bleeding what little cash it has. SE is many times bigger and more profitable. While there are lessons to be learned in abstract, most of what was possible for SE was because they had the resources to do it.

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Robert Mann

Problem is, they didn’t take action to mitigate or improve over a large number of years. I agree, they can’t really do some of these things… but they could have worked on fixing some big problems and diversifying a little. (I mean, I’m all for niche, but they locked themselves into a niche in a niche in a niche! Story focused Shock Horror in MMOs with low combat and other options?!)

Crow
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Crow

I seriously get little bits where I wonder why I read a site where stuff like this is suggested. It isn’t even legit from a realistic standpoint. And this is our expert journalist?

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Nathan Aldana

This, really. You know why to this day i play ff14? Because after what a mess it was, they were transparent about the mess, asked players for input, even sent out early passes for everyone before official launch, and in doing so, gave me reason to give it a chance

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Greaterdivinity

Which is odd, because Funcom literally has access to a playbook for a large-scale reboot.

Totally different situation. Funcom doesn’t have major financial backing to give them the breathing room like Squeenix did/does, not to mention they don’t have the strength of the IP to fall back on.

What FFXIV did was a gamble, but it was a calculated risk with them having a lot in their favor (including console launches that hadn’t yet occurred, something Funcom doesn’t have announced…yet), primarily their brand which counts for an insane amount.

I’d love to see them do a FFXIV-esque reboot, with a proper budget and carrying over character progression while keeping the MMO elements.

Maybe I’m being far too charitable/forgiving for Funcom, but I feel like one of the only people who doesn’t have major issue with TSW becoming SWL (and I say this as a GM).

Is it ideal? Hell freaking no. Is it the best shot the game probably has of achieving a higher level of success than TSW has right now, allowing them to continue the storyline? Probably, yeah. Could it be way better if they had more budget, time, and player feedback? Absolutely! But the reality is that’s impossible with their current financial situation.

It’s a whole lot of work to revitalize a game that really just needed a major combat rework and maybe a free respec. That would have done it, and we wouldn’t be arguing about this now.

While I’d be pretty happy with that, I can’t disagree strongly enough with you on this point.

TSW as a MMO is dead, it needs something new/shaken up like what they’re doing with SWL to keep the core identity of the brand but move it away from the baggage that comes with TSW. There’s no chance of revitalizing it again, they already did that with the B2P transition and then again with the “new player experience” changes part 1 and 2. There’s really no bullets left in that gun if they want to see meaningful improvement to their playerbase/revenue.

It sucks for the vets that love the shit outta TSW as a MMO and have massive amounts of time invested. I know the feeling (and I’m lucky that I’ve only got like 300ish hours played, according to Steam, so I’m not losing THAT much…just about 2 weeks worth of my life : P). But I’d rather take this “bastard” version of TSW if it means we’ve got a shot of actually seeing more content, over them sticking with the original TSW and likely seeing little to no ongoing support (as we’ve seen over the past year+).

Yeah, I’d rather they did a FFXIV-esque reboot too, but it’s painfully unrealistic to the extreme.

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Schmidt.Capela

Totally different situation. Funcom doesn’t have major financial backing to give them the breathing room like Squeenix did/does, not to mention they don’t have the strength of the IP to fall back on.

Another important thing is that Square Enix wants to preserve their Final Fantasy lineup. They absolutely don’t want players to be able to point to any of the main installments and say, “yup, that was a bad one”; keeping Final Fantasy as a franchise where fans can trust every of its core games to be good is very important for them.

That means they are willing to take a loss in a game in the franchise, if needed, if by doing so they can prevent players from seeing it as a bad game.

Crow
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Crow

This is the shitty part about gaming going mainstream. We’ll never see Bioware-levels of risk-taking again unless on the shoulders of kickstarter consumers.

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Nathan Aldana

welcome to all forms of entertainment ever.

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Schmidt.Capela

The corporate-controlled side of it, at least.
Look at indies for true innovation and fresh ideas.

Crow
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Crow

Except that indies get throttled through things like Kickstarter which acts in all aspects like a publisher.

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Schmidt.Capela

Indies resort to things like Kickstart when they either need extra resources to complete the game or want to use it as a sounding board to see if their idea can be successful. Very different from a publisher demanding the studio removes every element of the game that can push potential players away.

And then there are the indies that never resort to those things, bringing the game to fruition without external help (or influence). Which is nowadays easier than it ever was, particularly if the game uses easier-to-produce retro style art; Stardew Valley, for example, was created in the course of 4 years by a waiter that at the start had no experience in coding or creating art assets.

More unfiltered ideas are becoming finished games than at any time in history, you just need to know where to look (and to accept cheap- or old-looking games, as those people usually have no money to pay for better art).

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Schmidt.Capela

We see it all the time, but only with the small budget games.

Large budget games, on the other hand, are designed to be as risk-free (from a business perspective) as possible, and that has always been the case. To do otherwise might not even be legal in an open capital company (i.e., any company that has publicly traded shares).

Crow
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Crow

The history of gaming is really complex on this front. There have been real large swings between support and derision over the years.

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Schmidt.Capela

Big financial support is something fairly new, a XXI Century thing. Most games from up to the 90s are cheap enough endeavors that modern indie studios often have as many resources as the studios that created the gems of old, or even more.

So, yeah, it does look like old games were more daring, old devs more willing to take risks. But there wasn’t much in the way of big budget games back then; a game costing as much to make as a movie was absolutely unthinkable back then. The rule doesn’t change — risk-taking is almost exclusively done in cheap-to-make games — but since just about all games were cheap risk-taking was very common.

And that is where nowadays it looks like there aren’t many daring designs anymore. Advertisement, and public perception, is dominated by the biggest budgets; with the rise of big budget, commercially safe games, advertisement became dominated by them, pushing the smaller but innovative games to the sidelines

Crow
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Crow

That isn’t true. Plenty of games got big budgets.

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Schmidt.Capela

When, and how much?

Take, for example, the Super Mario franchise. The largest dev team for a NES-era Super Mario game was 12 people, the smallest ones being 5 people, well within reach of a modern indie. For the SNES era dev team sizes ranged from 16 (Super Mario World) to 22 (Super Mario World 2), still relatively small.

The same is usually true of other publishers back then. Games as a whole, even the ones we often think as the “blockbusters” of the time, were cheap to make.

There are a few exceptions, of course, like installments of Mortal Kombat after the first one. But those exceptions conform to the “no business risk” rule, usually being new entries in ongoing successful series where anything revolutionary is kept to optional systems the player can ignore.

Crow
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Crow

As soon as Voice Acting was a thing budgets ballooned to accommodate.

TSW was killed by this… nothing else. I was amazed they’re re-launching the game with ZERO addressing of what caused the game to fail: the cost.

miol
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miol

I know this sounds naive, but I can’t shake the feeling Snail Games has maybe learned a thing or two from Square-Enix and is applying that now to Dark and Light!

Crow
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Crow

The reason TSW failed was because of the cost of content. If TSW had gone from b2p to monthly content they’d have a game everyone was playing. Because content stopped people started talking about the combat again.

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Greaterdivinity

Monthly content updates were never sustainable for this game. Ever.

Unless you wanted like, 2-3 new missions per month and that’s it. And even then, the game’s never had the level of success to be able to deliver on a cadence that quickly. Not at launch. Not at its transition.

Crow
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Crow

They did it for the 8 months after launch, and then for Issue 6-9, too.

The point being that the game couldn’t ever “win” after they laid of more than 3/4 of the original launch staff.

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ogged451

err, they did what for I6-9 ? I6 was in March, I7 in July, I8 in November (2013) and I9 came out in June 2014 …

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Greaterdivinity

Agreed.

But they could never have kept those staff without generating more revenue. So clearly, the updates weren’t enough to maintain that level of staffing and support.

Crow
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Crow

I don’t see that as a straight line. A lot of TSW’s issue was from looking “bigger” but also because they… well… they made realistic plans based on having a 200-person staff. Try to do anything planned for a hundred employees with only 20 and you’ll release why this becomes a boulder running downhill.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

“I get the sense that Funcom doesn’t know what was actually fun about TSW, and now it’s developing SWL without really understanding why people got turned off from the game in the first place. And so it’s alienating the existing fans while doing nothing to attract new ones.”

This completely.

Crow
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Crow

I think Funcom knew exactly what was fun about TSW. What was fun were the new stories and new content.

When that content ended, people bailed. TSW had a more than year-long content stop before this. Prior to that TSW was constantly lauded as one of the best MMORPGs out there.

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Paragon Lost

Well, I was a fan but I was highly critical of it from day one, just like I was of AoC. Funcom makes crappy, buggy UI’s, they buggy mmos over all. They tell a great story but they don’t seem to understand “how to” make a fully fleshed out living mmorpg.

They do some things so much better than anyone else but otherwise in my opinion are an utter failure and heartbreak of wasted potential. They design a narrow slice of the mmorpg pie so damn well…(sigh)

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Nathan Aldana

thats the thing though. updating ythe combat a teeensy bit and forcing us all to do blue mountain again isnt going to fix that

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Greaterdivinity

There’s more than that coming, to be fair.

I agree, it’s not particularly attractive to longtime vets. Again, I think the inability to carry over character data (just as simple as your character/gear and unspent skill/ability points) is a massive mistake/miss.

But it’s clear that the game can’t really continue to survive, and definitely can’t thrive, off of its existing playerbase alone. They need new blood, very badly, if they want to continue to produce content. And that means gambling that their angry vets will shout and grumble, but will come back for SWL and eventually become paying players again, alongside the new crop of fresh faces they’re hoping to pull in.

For a game in a position like TSW, it makes a lot of business sense to take this risk/gamble. A lot more than trying to do this relaunch and aiming it at vets, which would be infinitely more popular with existing players, but also dramatically limit the growth potential for the game, and they need growth.

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Nathan Aldana

I guess. Either wasy. I have no reason to bother coming back, so if they get new fans, great, I guess. Though part of me just wants SWL to burn to the ground out of spite.

Estranged
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Estranged

Yeah, what I want is for people to lose their jobs out of spite.

Crow
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Crow

Me too. I want to watch Funcom burn, burn burn.

Crow
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Crow

Man, BM and CotSG were what glued me to TSW in the first place. First time since pre-WoW I was actually asked to do some of my own work to progress.

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Nathan Aldana

See, Me? it was Innsmouth academy and later transylvania. Blue Mountain was just some ridiculous stereotypical Magical Native uses native wisdom of yore to save us all bullshit and egypt in general was a chore.

because to me, difficulty is part of what I never liked about ysw, but I could soldier through it for a good story. I thought the whole Ami legend thing was frustrating, hard, and the most stereotypical “medicine man give good medicine to drive out evil spirits via peace pipe smokum to white man” story ever.

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Greaterdivinity

Prior to that TSW was constantly lauded as one of the best MMORPGs out there.

By MMO fans, sure. But it wasn’t raking in revenue and wasn’t any kind of smash hit. It landed with a thud at launch, and while B2P was a big success for them and a great boost for the game, it was still far from what anyone would call a major success overall.

As for the yearlong drought, that’s more reflective of the games current financial status (i.e. not good) than anything else. They were likely laying the groundwork for SWL over this period in time, but that’s due to budget they likely got specifically for the relaunch, it’s not budget that would have normally otherwise gone towards normal content updates.

I’ve been one of the ones obnoxiously singing TSW’s praises to everyone I can, but I’ve never for a minute believed that it was a big success for Funcom, especially in recent years. Because the reality is that while it was their biggest revenue generator for a while, that was more a reflection of the terrible state of Funcom than anything particularly positive for TSW.

Crow
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Crow

I think your idea of a “success” is loged in 2016 and not in 2012. It was a very different mentality and thinking we should have known better is a losing proportion because we never do.

luxundae
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luxundae

I think that’s a very good point. The reason I am most concerned about SWL isn’t anything to do with the game, or even my personal beliefs as to whether Funcom has a good handle on the pain points in TSW that should be relieved in the reboot. My biggest concern is that Funcom is *acting* and *talking* as if they are trying to pull off some sort of con. They’re not acting or talking as if they have something great that they’re confident in and excited about.

That is not to suggest they really are trying to pull a fast one. I think it’s probably some combination of not having a great PR strategy and not having enough money to build something they’re truly proud of. But they’re definitely not trumpeting a compelling vision for the future. Instead, they’ve stated all the bad (TSW is in maintenance mode and characters won’t carry over to SWL…), and steadfastly refused to state any of the good (…but SWL is great! because x, y, z). It’s somewhat baffling.

Crow
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Crow

SW:L is a dead game. It’ll be dead within 6-months… and I think Funcom rushed that expiration by killing TSW-proper.

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Oleg Chebeneev

SW:L will be much more active and populated then TSW now. Because it will be F2P and even garbage F2P MMOs get big crowds. What will be dead for sure is original TSW.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I hope not but I fear the same.

Crow
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Crow

I stopped playing TSW when it became the grindfest it was never, ever intended to be. Bylos talks about grind, but what is missing was the expectation that every month there would be new missions and new stories in addition.

If TSW had retained their crew and they had, somehow, been able to continue making content monthly I bet we’d be in a very different place.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Sadly between quality writing/storytelling I think that was too expensive to maintain. Honestly, most mmo storylines could be written on bar napkins.

This is also why I suspect in the coming robopocalypse when everyone loses their jobs to machines, we all become online actors/scriptwriters. Making stories and creating ‘content’ for one another.

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Schmidt.Capela

Sadly between quality writing/storytelling I think that was too expensive to maintain.

That is one of the reasons I tend to prefer when games don’t have voice overs or expensive cutscenes. Without the things that make storytelling expensive, games are able to have far better stories without increasing the budget.

Crow
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Crow

I really prayed around Tokyo that they’d drop the VO. They paid a lot of money to produce content was was never used when they couldn’t afford to do so.

Crow
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Crow

No, that’s spot on. They couldn’t maintain their schedule.

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