Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Secret World Legends First Devstream

I am totally including this as a DAW entry, because I love The Secret World, and Romain "Tilty" Amiel, is one of the few MMO developers I had the pleasure of personally interacting with, thanks to my stint on the Beyond the Veil webcast.

So, back at the end of February, Funcom announced through a quarterly financial report that they intend to relaunch The Secret World with new combat systems, a reworked new player experience, and a free-to-play business model. Concerned voices raised the specter of Sony Online Entertainment's "New Game Engine" for Star Wars Galaxies. Relaunch activities were set to begin in late March. Bloggers at the time assumed this meant an actual relaunch of the game; however, it was apparently only a reference to the start of closed beta on 28 March.
I've adopted a wait-and-see approach to the news. I've been resubscribed as of early February, but have only been able to play a few times in the intervening weeks. So I totally missed last Wednesday's Letter from the Producer. Having a little time today, I logged in to play me some TSW, and discovered the beta had started already. They did a devstream on Twitch that I had just barely missed by a few minutes. Of course, I was able to watch the recording, which featured community manager Andy “Odonoptera” Benditt, newly promoted community team member Nicole "Spynosaur" Vayo, and game director Tilty. The stream was fairly informative and included a bit of character creation and gameplay.
The most striking thing I learned about the new Secret World Legends (SWL) is the forced reticle combat mode, where there is a small target circle in the center of the screen which represents roughly where the player character is aiming. I say roughly, because the actual target box is much bigger than the reticle itself (which many people in the chat felt was too big as it was). If you're not sure what reticle mode is, think of how you might play, say, Call of Duty on a console. Belghast once called it "Action mmo perma-mouselook interface." The Elder Scrolls Online uses reticle mode (or, it did when I tried it a few years ago), as does Neverwinter Nights.
Now, TSW already has a reticle mode option that can be toggled by hitting the "T" on your keyboard (by default). But I generally stick with the regular MMO (read: "WoW") style of moving and controlling my camera and cursor. I haven't really liked reticle mode in the past, so I am skeptical about it being the only mode for movement and combat in SWL. But I signed up for the beta in hopes of checking it out.

But not so hidden in the Producer's letter mentioned above is the following:
"This will not erase your progression in The Secret World though! Secret World Legends will exist on a different server than The Secret World, meaning you will still be able to play your old character on The Secret World server."
In many ways, I still feel woefully uninformed as to the direction Funcom is taking with their IP. It seems that they'll be putting TSW into maintenance mode; that is, all new content will be presented in SWL instead. But they seem to have learned at least one thing from SOE's NGE debacle: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe I'll get LoneStarBelle to Panoptic Core after all.
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  1. "It seems that they'll be putting TSW into maintenance mode; that is, all new content will be presented in SWL instead. But they seem to have learned at least one thing from SOE's NGE debacle: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe I'll get LoneStarBelle to Panoptic Core after all."

    What's the advantage? They give us the choice to move to the new game (and loose all we had) or stay on the sinking ship.

    I don't really see much actual choice there.

    1. As Isey said, I'll bet there are plenty of people around who would love to have their favorite canceled game back—if only in maintenance mode. Or vanilla versions of games as expansions changed them inalterably. Frankly, MMOs seem to be the only genre that change from expansion to expansion with no way to go back and play the game that we used to play. I hardly ever play TSW or WoW or any other game with anyone besides Scooter. TSW will be not be much different to me whether there are thousands or only dozens playing.

    2. I should say, as well, that I sympathize with those who feel like the population of the game is very important. If I remember correctly, you have a lot of fond history with TSW. I hope the game in both of its incarnations lasts for years to come and Funcom finds success with them. I loved the complexity of the progression system, but I know a lot of people were turned off by it and left the game. Honestly, I may be turned off completely by the reticle. I know Scooter will never want to play that way.

  2. I agree for the long time players maintenance mode is not ideal. But, ask any CoH player I'd they would take a maintenance mode of that game right now.. or the thousands playing P1999 - an expansion locked EQ emulator. Accepting that it won't grow doesn't mean it can't be an amazing world for the people who support it.

    1. I agree. There were a lot of people in the chat of that stream asking about RP. The RP community in TSW is the strongest I've ever personally experienced. I don't see them moving over to the new game more than half-heartedly.

    2. I would guess for strongly community oriented gameplay, maintenance mode isn't that bad. After all, if you make your own stories, every time you login will grant a different experience anyway. It seems better at least than shutting down the old version completely, now that would be a great loss.

      LOTRO knew a couple of years of near maintenance mode, in which new content was added slowly. There you could clearly see that the RP and casual player base stuck while raiders and others left. Interestingly, last year new group content was added after all, and the community is changing once more.

  3. I'm not sure I'd enjoy this reticle mode the way you describe it, indeed the classic camera/movement setup is prefectly fine and doesn't really need fixing, but then again Secret World is a completely different style of MMO.

    1. I don't think it's necessary. If you've ever played The Elder Scrolls Online (or Skyrim, I believe), or Neverwinter, you've experienced reticle based targeting and movement. To me, it seems designed for a game controller rather than a keyboard and mouse setup.