Chaos Theory: A changing of the guard in the Secret World Legends

As a fan of the wonderful world that Secret World brought us, do you cringe or grin with excitement when Secret World Legends news pops up? Do you waffle between tell me more and no news is good news? I’ve been on both sides. Who can blame us? We’ve weathered everything from financial woes and the corresponding closure concerns to a complete reboot. And now, we’re experiencing yet another changing of the guard. The Creative Director position that has migrated from Ragnar Tornquist to Joel Bylos to Romain Amiel has been vacated, and a new lead designer is taking over; Amiel left Funcom last month to pursue different endeavors, leaving Chris “Nirvelle” Meredith in charge.

You can’t have a big change like this without people worrying that something will happen to their favorite conspiracy-laden game; it’s inevitable, like the sass of Kirsten Geary. The big question is, will this latest development in the structure of developers ultimately fall on the fear or cheer side of the fence? Will the recent momentum be lost? Is this just one step on the continued track of new content, or will the train be totally derailed?

Only one month in, I think it is too early to tell. But there are some hints of a positive direction. And if words turn into action it will be even better. I will definitely miss Tilty and the passion he had for developing this game, but I can’t blame him for leaving the management side of things; creating is so much better than managing! I wish him all sorts of goodness in his next endeavors. And I look forward to getting to know Meredith better and learning his vision for this world I love.

Tell me a story

Whenever there is a shift on the personnel working in SWL, one of the big concerns I see expressed is whether or not the story will suffer. Will the new crew be able to continue the plot? The same question was asked back when Amiel took over, and I asked about it. As Amiel shared way back in 2015 when Joel Bylos left TSW, the direction of the story was already mapped out for many years to come. Amiel described how a trio that included he and Bylos created this roadmap that included multiple seasons, even after the recent Season 2. So we do know that the base story line is still there, ready to be expanded upon and delivered. And as for delivery, we also know that Joshua Alan Doetsch was back writing for the game, so that is all kinds of positive.

So I am not necessarily worried about the story, but I have to admit that I’d feel a bit more comfortable if we knew that the third person who was a part of developing that entire plot arc was still with Funcom working on SWL. That way, we’d know that one person who was responsible for creating that vision was still there to keep it on track. Could Amiel have been referring to Doetsch? If so, we are good. (I wish I’d pressed him more to get a name!) Even if not, we may still be good, but my concern that the story could derail is much higher if everyone involved was now gone. This story is a long game, and missing pieces or a really altered the course could definitely diminish one of SWL’s greatest assets.

Tell me what’s on your mind

One thing that I nodded in appreciation of was when the newly appointed lead director asked for the community’s input on what things the game needs. I thought this was a good move, and could be a valuable step in placing this situation on the cheer side of the fence of change. That is, as long as it is acted upon. Soliciting feedback is all well and good unless it is ignored; acting on said feedback is the real test. If Meredith doesn’t deliver something tangible in relation to those comments, he’ll fall on the other side of that fence.

So what do players want to see? When asked what new things they want to see in game, many put their votes in for a return of old-but-new-to-SWL items. A large chunk of players would like to see the dungeons and raids that were present in TSW to finally be implemented in SWL. I find it sad that Hell Fallen, The Facility, and Slaughterhouse elites as well as Manufactory A and B were still not in game at the conclusion of the Tokyo storyline. We are also missing two Nightmare raids. There is also a call for a return of PvP and auxiliary weapons. I definitely want my chainsaw back! Long, long ago we were also promised more scenarios and modes, which players would definitely like to see. A number have also raised their voice for housing and an account bank, both of which I heartily support!

Yes, players want story, but they also want content they miss from before, even if that means newer content comes a bit slower. By all means, don’t abandon new stuff — we are already waiting for the new main and side missions Amiel said were on their way for South Africa. (I can’t wait to see what the investigation will be.) But we can bring back these other parts while slowly peppering more story content like these missions. Maybe a couple new NPCs can appear once in a while, or a new mission at an old favorite location. New content doesn’t have to be only involved expansions, just little morsels to add more flavor.

Tell me more

When the feedback thread closed, Meredith said, “We’ll be all these suggestions in mind while planning out new (and possibly revitalized old) content.” Part of Meredith’s reign of the reins will be judged by how much he actually acts upon the feedback. Another part will be how much content makes it into players hands. In his introduction note as lead designer he already mentioned the new Morninglight missions as well as alluded to what could be the Dark Agartha we’ve heard mentioned before. Of course, I am not sure how dark his imagery of a custodian carrying a balloon is, but hey, stranger things have happened in this game! (And I hope more do.)

What Meredith does, however, is still only part of the equation; what he says also matters. Another key factor in whether or not this era of guard-changing is viewed as successful will be based on communication. Meredith acknowledged the content droughts have been rough, but communication droughts are difficult, too. When things go silent for too long, we worry. We’ve had cause to! Keep the fans abreast of what is going on, even if there is a lull in development. (But please, don’t make it a long lull!) If you run into trouble and need a delay, let us know. Tell us more about what’s going on. Remember, we love the game and want it to succeed too! Maybe something like Tilty’s teases are not quite your style, but find what is. Communication goes a long way.

Is it real? In Secret World Legends, 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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