chaos theory

Chaos Theory is a Secret World column by MJ Guthrie. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

EverChaosing: Giving thanks for The Secret World and EverQuest II

I agonized all week over which of my favorite titles, The Secret World or EverQuest II, would get the honor of being the subject of my gratitude post for Thanksgiving. And then I decided I didn’t have to pick! After all, we already had one combined EverChaosing column, so why not have another? So in honor of Thanksgiving, a time when I reflect even more on those things I am thankful for, I am focusing on both games.

Some might wonder why be thankful for a MMORPG? After all, it is just a video game. When compared to family, friends, health, housing, etc, a game seems like a paltry thing to expend gratitude efforts on. Is it though? How many have developed deep, meaningful relationships through a game that have extended their circle of friendship or even family? I know it has happened for me. What about for those who have found solace, joy, and social connections living in a pixel world for a time when health prevented doing much in the real world? Again, been there, done that. What about just having a fun pastime to enjoy? But it goes much farther than that.

For me, expressing gratitude is a way of life — for small things, large things, and any thing in between. And not just because of how it changes my view of the world and how I relate with it; showing appreciation has a positive effect on everyone. When you know that your time, efforts, ideas, and work are appreciated, you are uplifted, aren’t you? Doesn’t receiving thanks and appreciation make you want to continue with what you are doing and even do better? Why wouldn’t we show appreciation to the devs of our favorite games and those features we really like. So here’s my little letter of appreciation. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

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Chaos Theory: The disappointment of The Secret World’s Samhain

The season to end all seasons has come and gone. The Secret World’s Samhain has faded back into the fog, and it will be another year before it returns. So how was the event that everyone looks forward to throughout the year? I have to say Samhain 2016 broke the mold — just not in the way I was hoping. No, the mold that broke was Funcom’s streak of topping itself every year with better and better Halloween missions. It was bound to happen. Just look at last year’s The Seven Silences; that set the bar pretty darn high. The whole year I have found it hard to believe that devs could possibly out-do that phenomenal mission, even though I still believed they could because each year, they have pulled it off. It set a precedent that was impossible to keep up indefinitely. Sometime, it had to stop.

Sadly, this is that year.

To say that 2016’s event is a disappointment to many is an understatement. The teases and lead-up that had players speculating on clues and puzzling things out were pretty cool. Then the event itself started, and the unhappiness spilled forth on the forums. What’s The Rider Cometh got — or not got — that had folks in such a huff?  Here’s the lowdown on the event.

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Chaos Theory: A guide to The Secret World’s Samhain 2016

Well, there you have it. After 12 months of anticipation, the 2016 Samhain event in The Secret World is here. And I most definitely have a few things I want to say about it… but right now is not the time. One, we have not quite reached the conclusion yet, so what happens between now and then could change things a bit. It would be fairer to reserve full judgment until the entire event unfolds. Two, the event is ending really soon, so to make sure everyone can take advantage of it, I have to get a guide out now! The Rider Cometh ends on November 8th, so you have less than a week to try to get all the loot and all the lore before it gallops off until next year.

And don’t forget during that time you can (and totally should!) do all the previous Samhain missions as well. We’ve got nifty guides to The Seven Silences, The Broadcast, Spooky Stories, and The Cat God to help you finish them up before they too are gone.

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Chaos Theory: First impressions of Funcom’s Hide and Shriek

Have you been hiding and shrieking? I have! Hide and Shriek, the 1v1 Secret World spinoff that pits the much-loved Innsmouth Academy against the newly introduced Little Springs High in a PvP scare off, is now out for players to test their spook skills. Who doesn’t love a good scare, especially this time of year?

Like The Park, Hide and Shriek was an exercise in learning to program a game on the Unreal engine, except this time it was for the US-based Funcom office. Upon completion, the fruits of those labors were offered up to us to enjoy; I’ve been playing matches all week myself. So how is it? What do I think of the game? Is it worth the price tag (currently $4.79, going up to the full price of $5.99 November 1st). I say a resounding yes! Believe it or not, it is going to be encroaching on my Samhain event play time. The game isn’t for everyone, but I am finding it fun. Want to see more of the game for yourself? Tune into OPTV tonight at 9:00 p.m. EDT as Justin and I square off. (You could also win a copy of the game!)

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Chaos Theory: Hide and Shriek in The Park of The Secret World

October is finally here. That means Halloween is this month! I can’t even describe how excited that makes me. I know I’m not alone in having been waiting with bated breath for any word about The Secret World’s Samhain holiday event. So when Romain “Titly” Amiel, game director, started teasing chunks of an image, many of us thought it would an announcement about the best Halloween celebration ever. It turns out it wasn’t, but maybe it was. The announcement is related to TSW. However, it might also be a tease for what will actually await us in TSW as well. It’s all about a new Secret World spin-off game.

Can Funcom’s upcoming Halloween title Hide and Shriek top last year’s The Park? Does it even need to? And what will it have to do with The Secret World? If these questions are floating around in your head, you’ve come to the right place for answers. They are:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Good stuff

OK, so maybe you’d like a few more details than that. Can do! Of course, we mainly have speculation at the point, but following the path that the past has laid out brings us to these very answers.

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Chaos Theory: Tips for returning to The Secret World for Halloween

It’s almost that time of year — the best time of year! It’s the most wonderful time of the year in fact, especially in The Secret World. Halloween is coming! And if there was ever a time for folks to return to the game, this is it. The Samhain missions are arguably the most looked-forward to events, and every year Funcom tops itself with a mission that’s even more awesome than the year before. While you can do all the previous Halloween missions every year, they are all are only available for about a month between October and November. That gives you about one month to prepare yourself so that you don’t miss out on the experience of the year. Because if you do, you have to wait an entire 12 months for Samhain to return! And that wait is excruciating.

To help you with that, this is a guide to prepare you to make the most of the Halloween season in TSW. The slant here is toward returning players who’ve just been gone for a (possibly very long) time. There’s definitely stuff that has changed! If you’ve been gone for many years or you are brand-spanking new, you might want to also check out our series: six tips for new players part one and part two. To ensure you don’t miss out on the holiday, keep reading!

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Chaos Theory: Is it possible to complete The Secret World’s Doomboard challenge? Maybe

When The Secret World’s devs teased the Doomboard, I was pretty excited. I was totally on board for getting that sweet ride even though I hadn’t ever actually done any challenges yet. I mean, who wouldn’t want a flaming hoverboard? All I needed to do to earn it for free was complete 70 total weekly and daily challenges on a single character before September 21st. The question is, could I actually accomplish this in the given time frame?

In a word: no. Or most likely not. Not me, anyway. For the first time, I really looked into what the challenges entailed, and I became disheartened. I can’t see how I can possibly manage it. I’m not alone, either; other folks have expressed sadness at the impossibility of it. It’s not that people don’t want a challenge to be a challenge, but this one seems aimed only at the most extreme hardcore players, and PvPers at that. Forget attempting it at all if you are newer to the game. And without graduated levels of rewards to help those who want to participate but aren’t at a level to reach the ultimate goal, it is really all or nothing. You could put in tons of effort and hours over the next month and still walk away with nothing. That is beyond a bummer.

Despite the disappointment, I am still plugging along doing whatever I can. (I have mentioned before how stubborn I can be in the face of a challenge, right?) Perhaps I will at least get close. Just maybe I will be able to squeak in a win. I’ve devised a few tips and tricks to help me check off a number of challenges, and they may help you, too. Here’s a breakdown of what all is involved and a look at some ways of getting it all done.

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Chaos Theory: Death becomes you in The Secret World

If all else fails — die! That’s my friend’s new mantra when it comes to investigation missions. Why? Because in The Secret World, death really can solve your problems! It’s true. And totally awesome. Admittedly, it can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around; the fact that death is a mechanic that is actually necessary to the game goes against pretty much everything players have learned about MMOs over the years. In other games, death is to be avoided at all costs. But in TSW, not only can you miss out on a lot of awesome stuff but you actually will be unable to complete missions if you insist on remaining alive. The game uses death to bring the history and stories to life. So embrace death with me!

Note: I’m going to avoid naming names as much as possible so I do not spoil too much, but be advised that there are spoilers ahead.

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Chaos Theory: The 80s invade The Secret World

One of the best things about The Secret World is how it is set in the modern day. But that doesn’t mean the game is totally restricted to the here and now; various missions send players to numerous points in the past, from different decades to previous centuries. You can wander through the Franklin mansion in various decades in the 1900s, including the flower-powered psychedelic 60s, and even meet a young, pre-mummified Said in ancient Egypt. But now, my favorite game is bringing my favorite decade to life. TSW is bringing on the 80s!

Sadly, I can’t report that some grand new mission chain, a whole issue, or even a zone is going full-on 80s. Too bad. But this is a step in the right direction. What we are getting is 80s-inspired clothing and what looks to be an appropriately 80s sprint: roller skates. (I am totally getting that sprint no matter what is involved!) These additions were revealed during the last Streaming Ones livestream as a surprise right at the end. And even if we only saw a few outfits, I am encouraged that we might see this flamboyant decade in game more in the future, as Game Director Romain Amiel openly admitted that this theme is near and dear to him. I am sure hoping we see more because as Amiel said, “The 80s are the best.”

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EverChaosing: Adapting Pokemon Go for The Secret World and EverQuest II

So there’s this thing right now. It’s kind of a craze. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Pokemon Go? Yeah, I thought so. The thing is, I myself am not even slightly tempted. As much as folks are flocking to this game, I don’t even have an iota of interest. I did watch the cartoons when I was younger, but the game doesn’t grab me.

But the idea of this kind of gameplay technology does.

When the Pokemon Go discussion turned to using this game style for other things, my interest was piqued and my imagination took off! You might say that Pokemon Go is singularly popular because of the IP and the way it transitions so well into the real world. Well, I know (and love) another game that is seamlessly integrated into the real world: The Secret World! The thought of hunting down investigation missions or lore from TSW got me pretty excited. And what about EverQuest II? Take its collection of shinies and strew them around the world, and suddenly I’m poised to buy a new smartphone. I may not want to hunt and capture pokemon, but hunt shinies and lore? I may never be indoors enough to even play other games!

Both ideas were simultaneously so awesome, I couldn’t decide which one I’d focus on first — hence this week’s mash-up of both the EverQuesting and Chaos Theory columns.

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Chaos Theory: Loot bags and golems galore for The Secret World’s fourth birthday

There may have been moments over the past 12 months when fans feared this time would never come, but it has: Happy fourth birthday, The Secret World!

It’s been quite a roller coaster year; there have been ups (the 2015 Samhain mission was phenomenal) and there have been downs (financial woes are the worst). Through it all our favorite conspiracy game not only persevered but continued making progress.  I am glad to have been on this wild ride — ups, downs, and all — and I am looking forward to what Funcom brings us for TSW’s fifth year. Especially with better funding, things only look to get better.

But there’s plenty of time to focus more on the future later. Right now, I just want to spend a moment on the memories of this past year. Oh, and get in all the AP and goodies I can during the anniversary celebration, of course! Last year’s guide covers many aspects of the festivities really well (including where to find all of the various anniversary lore collections), so we won’t dwell on that too much here. But there are some new things you won’t want to miss out on! So stroll with me down memory lane, then join in this year’s birthday party before it ends on Wednesday, July 13th.

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Chaos Theory: Happy handstands for Funcom’s funding

Things are looking up! I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly feeling more relief– and not just a little extra excitement — when I consider the future. Even though I have always had an optimistic outlook for The Secret World, there was no denying those clouds of troubles that would creep in and try to overshadow things. A bit of uncertainty would tug at me here and there as I pondered the fate of my favorite game. The one cloud that tried its darndest to encroach on my hopes was the whole financial troubles ordeal at Funcom. So I can’t even express how happy I was to hear that the studio secured some major funding! (I might or might not have flipped a few happy handstands in celebration! No, there’s no video.) I see the game flourishing in the months ahead. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some misses, but I truly think the future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.

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Chaos Theory: An exclusive look at The Secret World’s Museum of the Occult opening June 15

When Game Director Romain Amiel first revealed the Museum of the Occult for The Secret World, you better believe I was excited. I wanted mounts, and the game gave me mounts; I wanted housing, and now the game is giving me housing of sorts on June 15th. Now it may not quite be the typical idea of housing, but when is anything this game does typical? In true TSW style, both of these systems have a unique twist that is fitting for the world, and I am pretty happy with the results. With the museum, I get a personal space I can hang out in, decorate and personalize, and share with friends — and it keeps in the theme of the game. What more could I want? Well… how about a personal tour before the doors open to the public?

I was given my own set of (temporary) keys to check out the museum in person with Amiel and Community Manager Andy Benditt. I heard more about this fantastic feature while I poked around, opened doors to new wings, built a centerpiece, visited the gift shop, and reveled in the atmosphere. I seriously can’t wait for this to go live and move myself in permanently!

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