funcom

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

Secret World Legends still hopes for a spring release, will expand beta to include Egypt soon

Our latest glimpse at the reworked universe of Secret World Legends came yesterday courtesy of an hour-long livestream on Twitch. For those of us on the outside of the NDA-slathered beta, it’s pretty much the only glimpse we have into what’s going on as testing continues.

A post on Reddit contains a helpful summary of talking points from the stream. Funcom confirmed that it is still aiming for a spring launch, saying that the testing pool will be widened with more invites and that Egypt is coming soon to the beta. The team discussed the fluid nature of testing changes, including reticules (which can be adjusted), quality-of-life improvements, hints of a “clothing closet,” dungeon lockout timers, and the elimination of the least-used combat skills. Rewards for subscribers (patrons) are still being figured out, so no official word on that yet.

You can watch the stream after the break!

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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.

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Massively Overthinking: Disassembling MMORPGs for parts

This week’s Massively Overthinking comes to us from Xijit — and I think you’ll agree it’s quite timely.

“In light of The Secret World getting reworked into more of a single-player or online-but-not-actually-an-MMO title, what other MMOs would you like to see downgraded from the full MMO format and turned into a single-player-focused or limited multiplayer title?”

I’d like to say I can speak for everyone and say NONE ZERO NEVER STOPPIT. But I bet our staff — and you — can probably think of a few MMOs that might be better suited for a different format. Let’s dive in to this pool full of poop jello and fight it out.

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Funcom’s Joel Bylos on the difference between MMOs and survival sandboxes

Funcom’s Joel Bylos features in a Twitch interview on Gamasutra this week talking up Conan Exiles and explaining the core difference between server-based survival games versus Funcom’s “old MMOs,” as the interviewer put it. Bylos’ answer actually makes a lot of sense.

“[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.”

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Perfect Ten: Time travel in MMORPGs

Over the years, I’ve been fascinated with the concept of time in MMORPGs. It’s one of those things that developers probably don’t want you thinking about too closely, since it could create a crack in the world illusion that they’ve created. But really, how does time work in these games? Are you forever frozen in the same fixed point in history, advancing only to a new era when a patch or expansion releases? Does the timeline advance only as you go through new quests and hit arbitrary milestones?

Even more fascinating is when developers decide to have a little fun with their storytelling by throwing players into the past and future via time travel. It’s not even strictly for science-fiction games, either; plenty of fantasy MMOs work in time travel at one point or the other. It can be a great way of expanding upon the game’s lore and giving players an insight into events that led up to the modern era.

Today we’re going to look at 10 instances of how MMORPGs have used time travel with reckless regard to paradoxes and splintering the world into millions of alternate universes.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?

In each of our articles about Black Desert’s upcoming graphics upgrade, there have been a slew of comments about how the game doesn’t really need it, puzzled remarks that the game is already pretty enough, and hopeful requests for Pearl Abyss to tone down the lens flares or at least allow us to turn off all the bells and whistles. It’s been interesting to witness — I know we’re still in the middle of a massive renaissance for retro graphics, but in general, hardcore MMORPG players are total graphics snobs, to the point that many older games, from Ultima Online and Anarchy Online to World of Warcraft and EVE Online, have all taken a stab at improving their graphics (and in some cases, adjusting their art styles too).

Not all of them have done so successfully, of course; many City of Heroes players, for example, couldn’t make use of the upgrades, and Ultima’s Kingdom Reborn was plagued with issues.

For today’s Daily Grind, I’m wondering: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?

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The Stream Team: Racing to finish The Secret World’s Unseen achievement

It’s definitely a day for racing. Massively OP’s MJ is running out of time to complete The Unseen achievement in The Secret World before the focus pretty much flips over to Secret World Legends. This is one achievement she really wants to complete before the new game starts, so it’s a race against time complete the sabotage missions. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. to see how successfully she can sneak tonight.

What: The Secret World
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 13th, 2017

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Massively Overthinking: MMOs, from hardcore to casual and back again

Massively OP reader Suikoden wrote this great question to the podcast — too good to let just Justin and me answer it. It’s a two-parter!

“Back when I used to be a hardcore MMO gamer circa 2000-2010, I felt that MMOs of that era were designed more toward the hardcore gamer and even catered to us more. Within the last 5 years, I’ve had to develop into more of a casual player. However, I now feel that games once again cater to me and my current playstyle. Did the MMO genre evolve alongside me, from a more hardcore-centric genre to a more casual playerbase? Or is it the same as it always was and I just feel that it caters to me because it’s designed to feel like it caters to all playstyles? And if there was a change, do you feel it is for the better or for the worse for the genre?”

I posted Suikoden’s questions to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 112: Heroic measures

Since it takes a superheroic effort to put on a podcast every week — so many words! so many Star Wars Galaxies references! — Bree and Justin consider themselves in equal company with this week’s superhero news and discussion. From Ship of Heroes to Marvel Heroes to City of Heroes, it’s 300% of your RDA of spandex in one hour!

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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Jukebox Heroes: Your top six favorite MMO music themes

After over a month of voting and counting down, we’ve arrived at the final six picks for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time. It’s been absolutely illuminating seeing the formation of this list and the placement of certain tracks, and I’m glad that everyone who wanted to got to participate.

Before I reveal the top six themes, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Glitch by Vexia: “”As proof this is the ‘main theme’ since the game is closed, my soundtrack CDs have some variations of the Groddle Forest music that are titled ‘Glitch Theme (Demo),’ ‘Glitch Theme (Rook’s Woods),’ etc.”
  • EVE Online: Empyrean Age by Alex: “EVE has, like, DOZENS of theme songs. They make a new one for each expansion. It should win on variety alone. Or be in a different category. If I had to choose one, it would probably be the Empyrean Age login theme.”
  • Phantasy Star Online by Totakeke: “Boom, nothing can beat PSO’s theme. Period.”
  • City of Villains by Colonel Zechs: “Who wouldn’t like this song?”
  • SkySaga by Socontrariwise: “Just so cheerful!”

Are you ready? I know I am! Here we go!

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Conan Exiles wants to know what you want, what you really really want

What do you think about Conan Exiles so far? Because your opinion matters to the development team. Not in a vague, abstract sense, but in the real and immediate sense wherein the team wants your input. What do you want to see in development next? That’s the core of the survey the Funcom team has up, and so now is the time for you to speak up and have your voice be heard.

Please note that the survey itself is multiple choice and is focused on features already announced, so odds are low that the team will cede to your wishes and start developing a pony hair-braiding system. (Not that it’s out of the realm of possibility anyway, to be fair.) If you’ve got some strong or even lukewarm opinion on what you want in the game next – or what you definitely don’t want in the game next – you should probably take a moment to fill out the survey.

Source: Twitter, survey

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Secret World Legends dev stream showcases tutorial, character creation changes, and combat

With Secret World Legends in closed beta, many fans are unable to get in and see what is going on with the changes. For those without access, devs hosted a livestream today to show off a few features, such as a revamped character customization, a peek at the new tutorial, and some combat. There was also mention of the possibility of cross-faction cabals, but it isn’tt for sure.

Character customization has added new faces, new hairstyles, and even added facial tattoos as well as beefing up the starter clothing selection. The tutorial, which is actually interwoven with the beginning cutscenes that veteran players will be familiar with, puts players in a graveyard and tosses them into combat and option much sooner than The Secret World did. Devs then demonstrated combat, showing some leeway in where they target reticle is as well as the overheating feature of elementalism. Game Director Romain Amiel emphasized that weapons have different levels of difficulty now (for example, the shotgun is more complicated than elementalism). See the combat for yourself and listen for other tidbits in the full video below.

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Massively Overthinking: It’s the end of The Secret World as we know it

I think I can speak for most of our staff in saying that in November when Funcom first promised a “major upgrade to both retention and acquisition mechanics and content of the game to counter the declining revenues” in The Secret World, no one expected this.

Ditto in February, when Funcom said it was going “relaunch to broaden the appeal of the game through [a] redesigned new player experience, major improvements to gameplay including combat, [the] introduction of new retention systems such as daily rewards, [and] adjustments to the business model, including allowing access to the story content for free” — people murmured “NGE,” but no one even considered that the studio would dump MMO players overboard in pursuit of ARPG fans.

But in retrospect, the cagey language and lack of actual updates in the game were right there all along, as was the casual maintenance-moding of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan.

For this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to consider Funcom’s plans here — not the rumors and leaks but the set-in-stone plans — and reflect on what they say about the studio, the game, and the genre on the whole. What do you think about Secret World Legends?

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