funcom

Veteran Norwegian studio behind The Secret World, Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, and LEGO Minifigures Online.

Perfect Ten: MMO experiments in transmedia synergy

We’re not going to argue that MMORPGs are the dominant form of media entertainment these days, but they do have endurance and a devoted following among gamers. And whenever a crowd of players have been paying into a game for a long time, it will attract the attention and interest of marketers who start wondering what else they could do to siphon off a few more bucks.

Enter “transmedia synergy,” a stupidly awesome term that represents links between two or more forms of media that are connected through the same IP. The thinking here is that fans of one of these forms of entertainment will cross over into the related media and vice-versa, growing an audience together.

Today we’re going to look at 10 experiments in transmedia synergy, for better or for worse, that have attempted to cross over from MMORPG to something else entirely. To make things more challenging, we’re not going to include novels, since we’ve already done that.

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Global Chat: World of Warcraft’s wild frontier

How is World of Warcraft like the wild west of American history and legend? Something about Barrens chat might come to mind, but blog Coffee Cakes and Crits has another view on the connection between the two.

“One of the ‘codes’ of the Old West was that you did not have to tell where you came from or why you were in the West,” he writes. “This code is exactly the same in the World of Warcraft. You don’t have to say what you do for a living or your military background or level of education. You don’t even have to claim a gender. It is what you do in the game that matters and you can go as far as you dare to try and, hopefully, try again. This is a very good thing.”

Continuing on with our tour of the MMO blogosphere this week, we’ll see a gut reaction to  the Secret World TV series announcement, impressions from the Path of Fire preview weekend, and more!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 132: Filth TV

On this week’s show, Justin and MJ speculate about the weirdness of a Secret World TV show, get ready for World of Warcraft’s Patch 7.3, celebrate Ultima Online’s 20th birthday, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Conan Exiles is getting a retail box release

Just in case you weren’t clear on the point that Funcom considers Conan Exiles to be the wave of the company’s future, this should drive it home for you. The studio announced that it has signed a deal with Koch Media to bring the survival sandbox to physical game shelves in the future.

This means that when Conan Exiles officially releases early next year on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, it will also be showing up in retail stores, giving the title extra presence and (hopefully) additional sales. Koch and Funcom previously partnered to sell box copies of Age of Conan back when that was the current golden child of the studio.

Funcom CEO Rui Casais expressed confidence in Koch Media: “Their experience as a world-leading publisher combined with their extensive retail network will help bring Conan Exiles to an even wider audience. The fact that they know and understand Conan is also a huge benefit that will ensure all aspects of publishing the game will be executed in the true spirit of the Conan the Barbarian brand.”

Source: Funcom

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Chaos Theory: What we want out of the Secret World Legends TV show

Wow. So I had no intention of crafting another Chaos Theory this week. I had plans. Other plans. But then the Secret World Legends announcement hit the airwaves on Monday and all other thoughts left my head as I sat there, stunned. I just couldn’t think of anything else. Could it be real? Was SWL really going to be made into a television series? Holy guacamole, it is! A pipe dream I have wished for five years is actually announced and in the works.

I’ve been pretty vocal about how much I want more story from SWL. Story is what this game does so right, and I just can’t get enough. I’ll probably never get enough! There are so many characters I want to know more about, so much history in locations that I’d love to delve deeper into, and so many fascinating events that we know only know the aftermath of that I’d love to witness firsthand. The IP is so rich with possibilities. I knew that the game would never, ever be able to sate my appetite for more, so I had wished long and hard that other avenues might present themselves: short stories, graphic novels, movies, and yes, television series. I can’t even describe how excited I am for the development of more story from this world. Is there risk? Yes, I get that. But the possibility of so much greatness is there! I seriously can’t wait. Imagine it, 30 to 50 minute cut scenes!

With so many possibilities, what could/should the TV show focus on? I have my opinions. Here are some specifics I’d love to see developed further for our viewing pleasure.

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Secret World Legends allows players to convert Funcom points into Aurum

If you were sitting on a Scrooge McDuck pile of Funcom Points back when The Secret World announced its switchover to Secret World Legends and were steamed at all of that wasted money, don’t fret. As of today, you’ll be able to convert the premium currency from TSW into SWL.

By using the Aurum exchange, players can make a one-time conversion of Funcom Points into Aurum at a 12:10 ratio. Yes, it’s summer, so let the website handle all of that math for you.

Naturally, there are all sorts of restrictions and requirements, one of the biggest of which is that “bonus” points — the ones given to subscribers every month — aren’t eligible to be carried over to the newer game.

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Massively Overthinking: Alone together vs. forced grouping in MMORPGs

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has at some point seen the xkcd called Isolation, but if not, there it is. No matter what the age and era, someone’s always preaching that people were more sociable in the long long ago. In this comic, however, Randall Munroe isn’t even contesting that. His point is basically no duh and so what. Yes, we become less sociable with random people in our immediate vicinity as we gain more and more access to ideas, entertainment, and people not in our immediate vicinity thanks to technology. Ultimately, replacing impromptu stranger interaction with the amusements of our choice appears to be what a lot of people wanted all along.

MMORPG players surely see where I’m going with this because we have the same eternal struggle when it comes to in-game socializing, grouping, community, and stickiness, the tug-of-war between the people who want to play alone together and the people who think that forced grouping is the only true path to enlightenment.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to reflect on the alone together vs. forced grouping spectrum, to talk about where they stand on it, whether that position’s changed through the years, which games are addressing the divide the best, and how the two sides can move forward in a dynamic MMO genre.

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The Stream Team: Following Secret World Legends’ Tyler Freeborn into the sea

Massively OP’s MJ has followed the trail Tyler Freeborn left behind in Secret World Legends all the way to the edge of the sea. Now, it’s time to wrap up this story. MJ knows what is coming, and she’s excited to take you there. You don’t want to miss this (unless you don’t want spoilers, of course!). Join us live at 9:00 p.m. for the conclusion of one of the best mission arcs in SWL.

What: Secret World Legends
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.

But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…

Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?

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Tokyo is now open in Secret World Legends

Secret World Legends continues to refill the content pool to bring it back up to the level of its predecessor. Today, the conspiracy reboot opened back up the doors to Kaidan, a section of Tokyo that was ground zero to a black Filth bomb that began the main storyline of the game.

Not all of Kaidan is ready to experience, it should be noted. While there are plenty of reworked missions available to players who have been chafing at the end of Transylvania since launch, the team still has two more batches of Tokyo content to add before bringing the game back up to The Secret World’s levels.

Update 2.1 also added weapon skins for the cosmetic dressing room, elite difficulty levels for scenarios, adjusted XP rewards in dungeons, and reworked spirit blade mechanics. You’ll probably want to pour over the patch notes to make sure that you absorb all of the pertinent info.

And no, it wasn’t a dream: There really is a Secret World TV series in the making. Will it be all about you? Probably! Why would it not?

Source: Patch notes

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Johnny Depp will produce a TV show based on The Secret World

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, though I did a double-take too: Deadline is reporting that The Secret World aka Secret World Legends is getting a TV adaptation produced by Johnny Depp and his company Infinitum Nihil.

“It will center on a team of undercover agents and the shadowy war between secret societies: the Illuminati, Dragon and the Templar. Central to the plot is their battle against the supernatural in an adventure that spans across our world, and incorporates the realms of ancient myths and legends, as well as today’s conspiracy theories and headline news.”

There are several notable writers and producers attached to the show already, including Gudrun Giddings, who apparently optioned The Secret World’s media rights several years ago.

Well OK then.

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Secret World Legends to re-open Tokyo on Wednesday

Ever since Secret World Legends went live earlier this summer, there’s been a large, Tokyo-shaped hole in the reboot’s content offerings. Part of this gap, at least, will be filled this next week.

On Wednesday, August 16th, Funcom will be pushing out the first of three batches of Tokyo content. This patch will contain six story missions, 11 main missions, and several side missions, but it won’t be seeing the return of the controversial AEGIS system (at least for now). The devs said that the update will also make several changes to spirit blades, add a tougher scenario difficulty level, and give players the opportunity to collect and use weapon skins.

Coming in the near future are the second and third parts of Tokyo, a reworked New York City raid with a “story” mode, and revised Tokyo dungeons. Past that, the Agent system and Dark Agartha content are in the works for the end of the year, and the team also hinted that it is giving some attention to a new gear manager, lair megabosses, and additional PvP modes.

Source: SWLRPReddit. Thanks Sophiskiai!

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Massively Overthinking: Is the popularity of small-scale co-op games hurting MMORPGs?

Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”

He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?

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