chaos theory

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

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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Chaos Theory: Making your (cosmetic) mark in The Secret World

When talking about The Secret World, one topic that can’t help but come up is the contemporary setting. As far as MMOs go, TSW pretty well corners the market on having a modern-day, real-world environment — which is awesome! It’s definitely a plus in many ways, from immersion to relatability. However, there is more to it than just feeling like you can fit in the world: There’s also actually becoming a part of the world. And since TSW can already seriously blur the lines between reality and game, making players a permanent part of it is not a stretch.

In a way that few others could emulate, Funcom has found seamless ways to give players ways to make their mark on the game, to naturally incorporate them into the world. Back in 2013, this started with a musical contest that brought the winners’ compositions to the in-game airwaves; to this day players wandering into Kingsmouth’s The Ravens Knock and Susie’s Diner, Seoul’s PC Bang, and London’s The Crusades nightclub (just to name a few) will hear these melodies piped out of radios. Later that year was the introduction of a clothing design contest to introduce new fashions into the mix. More recently, players were able to enter a contest to craft the 2015 August item of the month. Beyond this, you can find plaques and banners emblazoned with player and cabal names, and there are even fashion magazines — with players characters as the models — to peruse scattered in certain establishments in New York and Seoul.

And now, there’s the new monster t-shirt design contest.

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World survival game

I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous pastime, I know!) And I think I have come up with a solution to a number of the things plaguing The Secret World. Now this isn’t a “what I want to see” list for my favorite conspiracy-laden horror game — I’ve shared those thoughts many times before — but an idea to build up the game and just keep its goodness coming for a good long while. Heck, this idea even addresses some of those long-desired features that players have clamored for.

So what are some of the issues? Well, everyone is concerned about Funcom’s financials. Add to that the fact that a number of folks are underwhelmed with the implementation of PvP; it also feels like the faction system has no meaning beyond clothing rewards and deck names. And then there’s the combat period, which plenty of players are unhappy with. Then there’s that painful downtime while fans wait for the next issue to dig into the awesome story. Feature-wise, we’re talking housing, pets, and even mounts.

What idea can possibly help fix all of these? A survival game! Now before your groan disturbs your coworkers or wakes the neighbors kids, hear me out.

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Chaos Theory: Is The Secret World best when binged?

Binge watching. You know the practice when it comes to your favorite shows, but what about your favorite games? While this certainly isn’t the most profound question or vital of topics in The Secret World, it has been on my mind quite a bit this week — especially as I eagerly (and impatiently) wait to continue with the Issue #14 story line live on OPTV. Is TSW best experienced by binging, or can it be fully appreciated at a slow, steady consumption rate? And if binges truly are best, how does that effect the health and longevity of the game? These are a few thoughts I found worth exploring this week.

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Chaos Theory: Tomb-raiding The Secret World’s Issue #14 with Funcom

Remember that Indiana Jones-inspired outfit from The Secret World’s Issue #6? Today is a great day to dust it off and slip it on because Issue #14’s release returns us to the tomb-raiding life, complete with temples and doom!

Called Call of the Nameless, this newest adventure not only returns to Egypt but returns to the epic self-contained story line style found in Issues #5 through 7. There is little argument that those issues are some of the best storytelling in TSW and encapsulate the heart of the game, and it is precisely this that Game Director Romain Amiel wanted to return to.

So how does Call of the Nameless measure up to to the likes of The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn? Is it dark? Oh, yes — it is quite literally dark. Does it have story? Yes — it even has a literal story. Although I haven’t experienced the full thing (that’s saved for my OPTV stream series starting tonight at 9:00 p.m. EDT!), I did get a decent taste of the story, the atmosphere, and the mechanics during yesterday’s tour with Amiel and Community Manager Andy Benditt. And yes, I am hungry for more. Read on for my impressions of Issue #14 before it launches today, sans significant spoilers.

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World really needs player music

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man. Except, you can’t — not in The Secret World. That’s because there is no player music system in this conspiracy-rich horror game. How can that be? A world that is top-notch for ambiance and using sound doesn’t have a robust system in place to celebrate the awesomeness that is music? I’m here to say, it really does need one. We know it is possible to some degree: We already have some missions that utilize flute and organ playing in the game. So let’s expand it a la Lord of the Rings Online, or even ArcheAge.

Now, I can fully appreciate the argument that listening to the players pounding out out-of-tune pieces could very well ruin the ambiance the game has carefully cultivated. That’s true. But I believe there are ways that instrumental abuse can be mitigated.

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Chaos Theory: In The Secret World, membership has its benefits

By now, you’ve probably heard me mention a time or three that The Secret World overhauled its membership benefits and loyalty rewards. As a TSW fan, I was very excited to see these changes heading our way; I am totally in favor of getting more bang for your buck, and the new system is meant to deliver just that. As a Grandmaster myself, I couldn’t wait to log in and get my hands on all my cool new goodies. Bring on the bling! It all sounded pretty dang cool on paper, and anything that brings in more players and makes current ones happier is a total win/win. But we all know things don’t always go as planned. Now that the new system has launched, how did it play out in practice? Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the golden.

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Chaos Theory: Figuring out The Secret World in 2016

Behind you, it’s totally dark and the way has closed off. There’s simply no going back. Up ahead, everything is in shadows. You creep forward. If only you could see what’s up around the corner; if only you knew what was there, awaiting The Secret World in 2016.

If the answer as to what to expect were as easy and obvious as poking your head around a corner, it wouldn’t be The Secret World, now would it? In a game steeped in mystery, discovery, and revelations, answers are never just handed to you. Knowing exactly what is going to happen in the next 12 months is about as likely as making it through The Cost of Magic perfectly the very first time. But we do have clues! And those clues point us in certain directions. It’s just a matter of piecing them together and solving them. And that, my friends, is very Secret World-y
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