Chaos Theory: Small steps – The Secret World’s progress

    
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It’s certainly been a week of expansion news! More than one game that had sworn off expansions in the past has circled back to them. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself because expansions are pretty awesome! Not everyone, however, is celebrating: Such news has some Secret World fans feeling left out (and maybe even a bit jealous) as they, too, would like a big, meaty expansion to fill their favorite game with oodles of additional goodness. But even without expansions, TSW is still steadily moving ahead. In fact, this past week has delivered a few more small steps along the road of progress. Between soliciting player opinions to new cosmetic mounts to new currency, Funcom shows that you don’t have to have mega expansions to keep delivering — and that’s not even counting the latest DLC issue.

Small steps, big sprints

Perhaps the biggest little news was revealed during The Streaming Ones, a Friday night dev stream: Hail to hoverboards! This is the sprint customization that Lead Designer Romain Amiel told us he was personally looking forward to the most back when sprints were first revealed. (Sorry, but back then I couldn’t spoil the surprise!) And who can blame him? Who doesn’t want to ride around on a hoverboard a la Back to the Future? Amiel then teased a clip of the hoverboard in action on Twitter, and a longer video soon followed highlighting its cool stealth feature. The stealth may last only 20 seconds, but that’s plenty of time to get past some of the troublesome aggressive obstacles littering the various lands.

Officially called the Hover-Tech Stealthboard, this new sprint is available in the item store right now for 1440 Funcom or Bonus points for a single character or 1800 for an account-wide unlock (for Grandmasters, that is; add 20% more for free players, 10% for subscribers). With such a deal on the account, why wouldn’t you nab one for every current and future toon? I did, and I don’t regret it. I am having a blast zooming all around. I can’t wait to see the skate park in Kingsmouth populated with daredevils trying some aerial stunts.

But the coolness doesn’t stop there. The hoverboard will be joined by yet another new sprint showed off during that livestream. This time, it’s a military motorcycle. This will make the fourth motorcycle skin available between the quest, the item shop, and the event goody bags. Players can obtain the motorcycle randomly from a military duffle bag in the item store or from the London merchant Mr. Knickknack for 50 lucky coins.

I’d like to note here that I actually like the addition of the dev streams and various teasers to the mix of information dissemination; it lets us see that work is indeed progressing.

Your opinions matter

No matter what stage a game is in, I like to know that player opinions actually matter in the minds of devs. Admittedly it may not always be about giant things, and player opinions may not necessarily affect the outcome of certain stuff (we know what players say they want and what is possible do not always coincide), but just knowing that devs are thinking about players’ desires and concerns is heartening — especially in the gaming environment. Admit it: You have to wonder whether developers of some games would even recognize their playerbase if they were in a room surrounded by it! That’s why demonstrations of such an attitude are always welcome, such as the recent poll the TSW team put out.

In this case, the poll is in regard to what items people would like to see implemented in the item store. Yes, this is about the cash shop; as the community manager posted, “This will begin our new series of community feedback regarding items, services, or other things you might want to see in the store.” Better to have offerings that are desired than trash no one cares about, right? This round is asking players to choose three from the following list: hair, body modifications (like tattoos), weapon skins, accessories, sprints, animations, pets, veteran items, and services (like name changes). If you want your voice heard on the matter, jump over and chime in.

Just to be clear, this poll is not the first time I have witnessed the team actively listening to player feedback, solicited or not. One big example is the whole housing issue in the not-too-distant past. When devs remarked that in-game housing was not on the map to becoming a reality, plenty of players expressed disappointment. And the team listened! Producer Scott Junior revealed in an interview shortly thereafter that the reaction “made us reevaluate housing, and the team has been tossing around other ideas of different ways to do it and add it to the roadmap at some point.”

Another way I see devs listening is with the introduction of the new Lucky Coins. Why? I can totally understand when players are frustrated that they can’t get the one item they want from the special event bags (currently the military duffle bags) even after buying tons of them. So when players asked for a way to get the most coveted items they wanted, the team came up with something that didn’t diminish the value of those rare items yet still made them available. Basically, each bag a player buys rewards one or more coins — hence the item store loyalty program comment Amiel made. Using the coins, players can then buy the most coveted items directly from the London vendor. Amiel also noted that the coins can be given away at other special times, and I hope that devs follow through with that, else I can’t really see how anyone could save enough coins up! There was also mention of previous bags’ wares becoming available. While that isn’t the case right at the moment, I am looking forward to when they are; there’s a pair of hippy pants I am dying to get my hands on!

Does that mean there haven’t been occasions when devs decidedly didn’t listen? I am sure players can rattle off an example or two without even thinking about it. And I don’t disagree — except with the New Player Enhancements, which I think do show that devs were listening. I also realize that just because devs listen does not mean they can always act on what is said; there are tons of other factors involved. (Just for the record, I know in the case of one particular instance involving a bright green mankini, the devs themselves were not the ones not listening to players, so that one I won’t lay at their feet.). But I like the precedent that devs take players’ thoughts and feedback into account.

Digging the DLCs

As much as I would also like content that continues indefinitely in The Secret World, I know it isn’t feasible, especially with a game whose studio is struggling. I’d love for the spookiness and story that the game is famous for to continue unabated no matter how fast or slow I consume content (and I purposely go slowly because I don’t want it to end!). It just can’t happen. But I’ve been digging the DLC model that TSW uses. It may not be as much content as I want with each dose, or as frequent; it never could be. I’d be all for having new issues weekly if I could! But not having to wait a full year between releases is so much better and more fitting for a game so focused on story. We’ve had 12 issues spread across three years — that’s not too bad.

I spoke earlier about how I appreciate the devs taking time to care about the opinions and feedback of players. I also see this exhibited in the DLCs. As much as I love investigation missions, spooky stories, and housing, I am happy that the DLCs actually cater to the broader spectrum of players. Not every DLC is going to contain what every player wants, and I sincerely appreciate that the team is taking time to add content for the different groups. You can see this in the most recent Issue #12 that is all about dungeons and raiding. Those certainly aren’t my two favorite pastimes in the game, but there are players who really enjoy it. They want/need more for their playstyle, and devs are providing. Even if that means I have to wait longer to get more of what I really want, I wouldn’t trade their current system for one that benefits me personally more as it would then feel as if they are turning their backs on part of their playerbase.

In all, while I’d like an expansion for The Secret World as much as the next fan, I won’t weep for not having any. I think the DLC model works for this game. I am pleased in the small steps forward and confident that development is still progressing, promising me more conspiracy goodness. It won’t be long now before we have the remainder of Issue #12 to sink our teeth into.

Besides, Halloween is almost here, and that’s even better than a DLC.

Is it real? In The Secret World, rarely is it not. Conspiracies, ancient legends, paranoia, secret societies, chaos — they all swirl together in a cacophony of reality. In Chaos Theory, MJ Guthrie infiltrates this secret world, exposing the truths that lurk beneath the surface. The big question is, can you handle the truth?
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Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

mbbrazen Zardoz1972 I have 16 tattoos in real life. I would love to put some on my character. I would definitely pay for that.

mbbrazen
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mbbrazen

Zardoz1972 Exactly. I don’t PvP, but I want the PvP’ers to have just as great a time in TSW as I do. If that means I have to wait a little while for content, I’m ok with that. I can do and have done the NM content and raids with the exception of the Facility and Manufactory, and the new Flappy. I don’t love it, but its good group content, so yes, devs please give love and attention to that.  Yes, sell hover boards in as many styles and colors that people will pay for. have some basic tattoos in game and then sell specialty ones, etc. In the long run, we all win that way because a game we all love gets to stay alive.

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

It’s all about having a diverse playbase. With something there for everyone. I do all aspects of the game. But I specialize in PvP. While Raiding is of least interest to me.

JaredBuck
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JaredBuck

Zardoz1972 I have little interest in PvP myself, so I am glad Funcom has tried to have different gameplay types that appeal to different tastes.

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

A solid mindset that I agree with. Not every Issue will be 100 % tailored to you. Story Questing, Dungeons, Raids and PVP all have a place in the game. Each should get some attention. I am not an RP’er but a Housing and RP focused Issue with Guild/Cabal Halls would be great too. As to money, again I agree. Make cool visual things, vehicles even Prestige Housing and sell it on the shop.

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

I had seen skins for factional motorcycles and I have heard we will get a new mini. Shambala or something else. But I have not even heard rumors of anything more. I would love new uniforms for higher PVP Ranks and a reason to care about your PVP Rank in general. There are no incentives after PVP 24. In the past it took about 8 Ranks to get a level 5 suit. All 3 you’d have at PVP 24-25.

mbbrazen
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mbbrazen

The discussion below on hover boards is interesting and at points down right hilarious. I didn’t buy the $20 sprint upgrade, because I don’t care about motorcycles, but many players loved it and they purchased it and hopefully FC made some money off of it. I am a GM also and always have enough points to get whatever is being promoted (except the $20 motorcycle) without putting up any cash. At first I wasn’t going to get the hover board… I really like running around the world in TSW and to me if you know how to path correctly, you can get around most mobs, even in Tokyo. But the grand kid was here yesterday and we decide to try the hover board. It was a blast! He loved it and I had a great time also. For folks worrying about an aggro reset, trust me.. if you are in the thick of some mobs far from an escape route, that 20 seconds won’t help you (as we learned yesterday in the midst of some ak’habs), and the recharge time is significant, far too long to allow a safe retreat without some fighting. This month I’ll throw some $ at FC because the hover boards were well done. People will eventually tire of them, but for a fluff item, it’s just well done.

I am all for TSW selling fluff stuff that the players want. They should sell more stuff in the item store and that is what the survey is about. Our players want to spend money to help FC see that TSW is stable (which it is now) and can be even more profitable. And thank you Joel Bylos for trying to add some sanity to that discussion below. It kind of reminded me of when Ragnar left and everyone blamed Joel for the “change in direction.” When we get to story expansion (perhaps Issue 14 or maybe a renamed side story pack) I will be happy to see it, but for the moment, I’m fine with the DLCs to help group content, raiders and PvP’ers. Those who like to just do solo story content are important, but so are the other constituents groups in the TSW community.

BrainAdams
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BrainAdams

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mbbrazen
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mbbrazen

fishtempura Ok, I don’t understand why some people keep saying you have to grind to upgrade Aegis. Even the second part of Tokyo where mobs are denser and stronger than at entry, does not require a player’s Aegis to be very high. If one does the entire story line of the first Tokyo part and the second missions from the crazy tank guy (repeating one of them twice), a player would be able to upgrade one Aegis controller  to the level needed for the second part of Tokyo. This is particularly true now since the costs of the upgrade kits were slashed. I do believe people are under the false impression that all six controllers and a player’s shield must be at 1.9 and this is simply and completely untrue. 

Tilty took over after Tokyo was introduced so I don’t see how anyone can blame him for the story moving forward slowly. Joel mentioned what the content of issues 12 an 13 would be before he left to work on The Park. There are things Tilty can be criticized for but slow development of the story isn’t one of them. 

I agree with MJ here, given the resources Funcom has made available for TSW, the DLCs have been well done.

groo the wanderer
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groo the wanderer

I prefer the expansion model because the DLCs in my opinion in TSW offer very little gameplay for what they cost . Also the uncertainty over Funcoms future would make me reticent to invest money in game that may or may not be still around in 2-3 years time . 

I think the first DLC in TESO has got much more gameplay in it than any Funcom has put out for TSW . If they can keep it up TESO is a far better bet than TSW as a buy to play game ( it also has yet to have its base game content diminished or as Funcom put it “enhanced” )