Posts tagged secret world

The Secret World January Game Director Letter

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Joel Bylos put out another Game Director Letter today and there’s a good mix of the good and bad, but one thing I love about Joel (and the whole TSW team) is that they’re not shy about admitting what’s going on.

He starts off with describing what’s going on with corporate Funcom and how it relates to The Secret World.  I really appreciate this transparency into not only what’s going on but how it has impacted the TSW team specifically.  Essentially Funcom has decided that it wants a single studio for all of its live games based in North Carolina.  This means that many of the teams supporting TSW, AoC, and others will either have to move or find other jobs.  I’m sure there will be some turnover with all of the teams but it sounds like the core of the team will continue on the game.  However, once again this is another corporate shift that will cause issues and delays in how TSW roles out content.  Hopefully this is just a small near term hurdle that they team can power through.  They’ve been through bigger and worse hurdles, so I am confident that the team will push through.

I know many will (and already have) indicate that this is a sign that TSW is in trouble and will shut down.  It is still quite early for that kind of talk since this move is just part of the restructuring that they announced back in December BEFORE TSW made its business shift.  This move is a corporate decision and has nothing to do with TSW specifically, granted it will have an impact but it isn’t a move based on the performance of any specific game.

I don’t like talking about this kind of stuff and I’ll admit it really bugs me when people jump to poor conclusions based on at best incomplete information or at worst inaccurate or stale information.  I prefer to keep things on what we actually know and what the studios are actually releasing as opposed to rumor-mongering.

On to more fun stuff, what about Issue 6 you say?  The bad news is that we are still a month out for when we’ll see it as it is slated for late February.  With all the corporate restructuring this doesn’t surprise me, but still I was hoping for an earlier release date.  I’ve loved the existing Egypt story, so the updates there and the inclusion of an “Indiana Jones” theme is great.  I’ll be curious how the Whip works as an auxiliary weapon, especially from a graphical perspective.

In addition to the new story stuff, there are also some VERY cool system changes coming too.  I love that they’re showing love to the Cabal system, and not just the standard things (logs, custom ranks, notes) but also adding a Cabal news feed which sounds quite intriguing.  Also key is that this is just the “first step” on improving the system in response to community response.  I’m consistently impressed with how well this team is able incorporate what other games have done with their community feedback and roll it into the game.

PvP is also getting some updates, but we’ll have to wait for the upcoming Developer blog to learn more about what’s planning.  I haven’t done too much out there, but I’d really like for this system to do well in TSW as I think it could be a huge factor in overall game enjoyment.

Finally, Joel confirmed that the Veteran rewards will first appear with Issue 6 and that it will be a system they consistently add to and improve.  Personally I’m most excited about the repair consumable, the portable vendors, and of course the new cosmetics and pets.

Overall I think this is a positive letter from Joel and once they get through this corporate mess, I’m confident they’ll continue to pump out quality content.

 

The Secret World Announces Store Changes and Veteran Rewards

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Joel Bylos, the Secret World Game Director, has been out of pocket for a bit since he was head down with the team over in Montreal.  His first post clears up a couple of items that had been kicking around, and so far from the initial glance I like them.

First up, he talks about the changes to the store and this relates to new pets and the ability to make those pets account bound as opposed to character bound.  This doesn’t apply to me (I’m only playing one character now) but this is a nice and welcome change.  Essentially if you pay 100 points (I’m making up that number) for a character bound pet, you would pay 125 points (25% premium) to make that same pet account bound.  You’ll also see in the store an option to unlock a previously purchased pet for the 25% difference.  I really wish other games would take this approach and hopefully they’ll expand this idea to cosmetic items as well

In addition, they had announced the whole concept of a veterans reward system when they made the business model change and are now starting to flesh out the details.  It is still a work in progress but essentially there will be a new set of currency that will be available for GM pack owners (lifers) and subscribers as well.  Each month you’d get an allotment of these points in addition to your allotment of TSW points for DLC and the like.  I don’t expect there to be any way to convert from one currency to the other, but that would nice too Smile  This is another nice perk and the items they’re talking about are things that I would love to use and aren’t anything game-breaking (IMO).  Some examples are:

  • repair consumables – these would be awesome for cases where you don’t want to pop back to town, a bit more painful on some missions then others now with the increased death penalty
  • Bank/AH/Mail cosumables to bring these items to you
  • Faction flavored Combat dummies
  • Veteran outfits, titles, and pets
  • secondary conduit or region teleport
  • mission cooldown reduction consumable

Certainly this system will all hinge on how many points we get on a monthly basis and how much the items cost but I can think of cases when all of those items would certainly be helpful but not overly powerful that they hinder gameplay for those that don’t have them.

I’m also excited to see what all Joel has up his sleeve for his next “State of the Game” post slated for later this week.

I’d be curious to hear what others think of his post, especially those who aren’t subscribers or lifers.

 

Talking About The Secret World Ability Combinations

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It has taken me a while to really start to dive in and understand the depth and complexity of the ability system in The Secret World but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.  When I first started playing I mainly just grabbed things that looked cool and didn’t really think or look too much into how things work together.  However, the Blue Mountains zone was quite a step up in difficulty and I started re-thinking how I was set up.  I’ve been spending the next couple of zones looking for a good combination of skills and weapons.  As I’m working through the City of the Sun God, I’m finally settling in on a combination that I’m really enjoying.  I’m still probably going to tweak my equipment a bit to better maximize this build but I’m pretty happy with how my character feels so far.

I’ve been pretty much a solo player in TSW as I just haven’t had the time available to really contribute reliably to a group.  So my build is set up to be very survivable as I do tend to jump first and look second, which can at times cause a few problems.  All along I’ve been down the Blade line and looking for a good way to compliment it.  It took a number of attempts as I started with Pistols for a ranged attack, then Elementalism for more damage output, but have settled on Blood Magic for self healing.  I now need to do a little better balancing with my equipment as I was just stacking health, but now look to add some more attack rating as well as heal rating since I don’t need as big of a health pool.

I’ll include the specifics on what abilities I have slotted as I go through this post but will describe my general attack plan and how fights normally go.  My main attack skills are all blade focused and I have an AoE builder (Blade Torrent) and an AoE consumer (Clearing the Path) with my two other attacks being impair skills both as an AoE (Stunning Swirl) and single target (Trial by Swords).  My other 3 active slots are dedicated to heals with an insta-cast HoT+Shield (Blood Shield), a channeled HoT+shield (The Scarlet Arts), and an oh-crap channeled heal (Point of Harmony).  For the most part I’ll alternate between my builders and consumers and use my impair abilities to disrupt any inductions the mobs are preparing.  If I start to get into trouble, I’ll start with the HoTs and shields but I’ll also use them during directional AoEs that I can easily avoid.

Where all builds (including what I’ve put into this one) really start to take form is in the picking of the passive abilities to maximize the utility and strength of your active skills.  I’ve mainly set mine up to take advantage of Penetrations and Impairments as I wanted something other then just impairments since those are quite often immunities that mobs will have.  My builder is traited (Perfect Storm) to also afflict mobs with a DoT when it hits.  I then chose my consumer that exploits this afflicted state by always penetrating any afflicted target.  Once I penetrate, I’m traited for the following:

  • HoT from Immortal Spirit
  • Builds a counter that provides another AoE impair (Five times a charm)
  • triggers a defensive shield (Donor)

I also mentioned that I also look to exploit the impair state as well, which you see from above that I not only include abilities to impair but passives to build towards it as I get the following from hitting impair targets:

  • HoT from Tipped Scale
  • Just setting a target to the impaired state (I don’t have to hit it) gives my next shield a buff from Omen

My last passive ability is Clotting which each time I apply a shield it progressively makes the shield stronger and provides a defensive buff.  So as the battle goes on, I’m constantly triggering heals and building up defensive shields.  Those shields also get progressively stronger the longer they stay active so I find myself stringing them together to provide a chance for my HoTs to actually heal myself as opposed to just cancelling out the incoming damage.  Pretty much whenever I see a shield go up, I kick off my insta shield as not only is it quick but is gives another chance for clotting to go off again and further increase my shield as well as that defensive buff.  I usually save the bigger shield/HoT for either when a mob does a directional induction or when I impair things and also try to either precede or follow it with the insta-cast version to further that clotting tick.

We’ll see how this build works out as I move into Transylvania (almost there) but so far I’m quite happy with it.  I’ve seen other builds that focus on HoTs and I feel like combining the HoTs with shields provides a more survivable build.  I also think this will be an interesting group build as a front line support member or an off-tank kind of role since the shields go to my defensive target.  I’m guessing I could probably swap out reasonably easily enough into a more heal focused support build, but I just haven’t had a need to go that route yet.

That’s my thought process and implementation, any suggestions or ideas on how I can make it better?  I’m probably going to replace one of the two impair abilities with something, most likely a ranged attack but I haven’t decided yet.

 

Furthering my Secret World Addiction

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Lately my main MMO of choice has been The Secret World and I wanted to highlight 2 quest chains that I think really show off the reason why I’m so addicted to TSW.  I will try to keep this post spoiler free as much as possible as although I’m still quite early on in the game I’m sure there are some who haven’t done those specific missions.

The first mission arc I wanted to talk about is the Tyler Freeborn sequence, which is new with the Issue 5 update and actually the focus of that issue.  You’re essentially following the journey of a blogger during the start of the events leading up to all the craziness going on.  You get pulled into all the other factions in the game trying to prevent Tyler from publicizing what’s going on while also trying to uncover what he figured out.  This quest has all the best Funcom has to offer with great storylines that hook into everything else in the game as well as enthralling voice acting that just seems to be getting better!  The climax of the quest is the last portion which is a dream sequence of sorts and once again not only had me on the edge of my seat but actually had me jumping in my chair a couple of times.  This sequence brought me back to various horror movies and got me wondering what else might happen or what will jump out at me.  While there are lots of horror elements in this game, I think missions like this really highlight the suspense part of the genre that they’ve done VERY well.  This mission is the first content of the new business model, and might be a little tough for people questing in the zone for the first time, but I would certainly recommend buying this DLC as it is probably the best quest arc I’ve done so far.  One thing I’ll point out that threw me a bit off-guard was that it showed that I didn’t have access to the quest (I’m a Lifer) but clicking on the quest brought me right to the store where it was shown to be available at zero cost (just like it was promised).  Not a huge deal, but a little added step that I wasn’t expecting.

The other mission I really enjoyed was out in the Scorched Desert (where I’m currently questing) called The Last Legion.  There’s a ton of back-story on this one and a really cool “Oh &*%#” moment that I went through but I won’t spoil it for folks.  I progressed my way through to the end stage of this mission and get my butt absolutely handed to me.  I ended up trying the last fight a couple times just to see if there’s something I’m doing wrong or if a different rotation would suit me better.  At this point, I’m traited mainly AoE with swords relying on Impairing mobs with a couple Elementalism damage skills tossed in there.  I then decided that I should look at what skills I have available and look at a different tactic.  I basically switched over to a “turtle” build pushing my defensive skills in the sword line and self healing via Blood Magic, which after a couple attempts I was able to tweak it enough to breeze through the mission.  I love this kind of mission for a few reasons:

  • there is no “I Win” build, there are lots of successful ways to play the game
  • there are challenging missions in TSW that require you to actually think things through
  • you have full ability to flip your build completely on the fly whenever you want to
  • your build can become so much more powerful when you like abilities together to leverage and stack bonuses

For me, this combination of amazing storytelling and depth coupled with the gameplay mechanics continues to keep me addicted to this game and I am really enjoying my journey through this world.

 

2013 LOTRO and TSW Predictions

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I do find in interesting and enjoyable to not only look forward, but also take a look back at what we’ve done in the past.  I’m going to limit my predictions to the two main MMOs I’m playing these days (LOTRO and TSW).  Before I look ahead, lets see how well (or poorly) I did predicting 2012.

I ended up not doing too badly with many of my predictions but did miss on a couple:

  • The Warden class did get some love, and post Update 9 I think they’re in a pretty darn good place
  • I thought we’d get more content in 2012, but I think we were more or less on par with 1 expansion and 3 other updates.
    • I was VERY close on the Rohan release date as I said October but it launched in September.
  • I was also really close with the Mounted Combat idea and really only missed on the mass battles part
  • We didn’t get any more classes like I said, but we also didn’t get any new session play options like the uber champ dwarves in Moria.
  • I was flat out wrong about not increasing the level cap, although the Mount system did give some semblance of more horizontal progression.
  • Overall I think I split on the store aspect as I did say no raid armor and more ways to help with alts (universal crafting tool for example) but I also thought they’d include some sort of gating mechanism to allow you to more quickly level alts.

Overall I’d put myself somewhere in the high C range or low B range if I had to grade my predictions for 2012.

Continuing forward with LOTRO, here’s what I’m predicting for 2013:

  • The current content pace will continue, no increase and no decrease
  • Only one other story (epic line) update in addition to the Expansion
    • there might be other story quests (similar to the In Your Absence line) but not tied to the Epic
  • Based on Rowan’s Producers letter we know the In Your Absence instances are getting a scaled treatment and I also expect to see a similar treatment for the Moria instances.
  • There will be another new festival (like the Farmer’s Faire) and all future festivals will share the mechanics put in place with the Yule Festival
  • As for the expansion, here’s what I’m expecting
    • September/October timeframe
    • Finishes off the Rohan landscape
    • Helm’s Deep will NOT be included
    • 10 level cap increase with some upgraded skills, just like Rohan and Isengard
      • I’m even thinking this will be the class updates Rowan talks about in the Producers letter
    • No new classes nor a PvMP zone
    • Again, the instance cluster will be separate from the expansion for release either in late 2013 or early 2014
    • There will be Hytbold 2.0 which will be bigger and more expansive then Hytbold
    • Mounts will get another 10 levels and maybe some new skills but not much else, especially not instances.

As for TSW, here’s what I’m thinking for 2013:

  • the new modified Buy to Play model will be a significant boost for the player base and Funcom’s financials
    • TSW will still be a niche game because of the difficulty and setting, but it will have significantly more players
  • The monthly update schedule will continue and I expect at least 10 issues in 2013.
  • These issues will have a mix of quest content and system wide changes
  • We’ll see another ARG event as it was such a huge success and PR boost for them
    • They’ll probably even push further on real world interactions.  The whole “call you on your cell phone thing” was very cool and I expect them to expand on that.
  • They’ll release a mobile app of some sort
    • either tied to the ARG or something like WoW and Rift have
  • We’ll see either Housing or Mounts introduced, and Joel has talked about both of these recently.  Although I did think this even before I heard him talk since they’ve done such a good job of cherry picking from other MMOs all along.
    • Check out the Beyond the Veil Podcast for more info
    • The mount discussion is around the 1 hour 8 minute mark
    • The Housing discussion is around the 1 hour 35 minute mark

In looking at my predictions, I’m probably a little down on LOTRO and a little high on TSW so the reality will probably be in the middle somewhere.  I also am specifically choosing not to talk about either game’s store as I don’t want to get too negative and there’s always the potential one of them could do something stupid.

What do you guys think of these, or do you have others that I’m missing?

 
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