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Interview

The Secret World Game Director Interview

IncGamers recently got to chat with The Secret World’s game director, Ragnar Tørnquist, about Funcom’s upcoming MMO The Secret World. See what he had to say about several gaming features including levelling, instances, factions and more:
 There are several MMOs which, when first announced, were supposed to have console versions alongside the PC one. Is the 360 version of The Secret World still going ahead? The development team is currently focusing one hundred percent on the PC version. We do feel that The Secret World is uniquely tailored for a transition to consoles, but we’re taking a cautious approach to the market. The console version – or versions – would also be tailored specifically to those platforms; they wouldn’t just be direct ports. How will the game differ for members of the three different factions? Will they get many alternative quests, a unique levelling experience, or mainly different customisation options? The game will differ in a number of ways. First off, each faction has a unique story and progression arc that takes you through the ranks of that faction – from initiate to master – and as players rise in stature, they are submerged deeper into the secret societies and the hidden truths of each organisation as they begin to unravel the larger conspiracies at the heart of the secret world. Secondly, players are required to fight for their faction in the battle for world domination, and the factions have different goals that need to be accomplished – based on their basic philosophies. Thirdly, yes, there’s lots of customisation that’s unique to each faction, and that also translates into gameplay – without revealing too many details. The choice of faction is important – and it’s for life – so it’s something players will need to take seriously and deliberate on. It matters, in a lot of ways, and the future of the world depends on it. Will the game follow Age of Conan’s business model and require a subscription fee? We haven’t made any official announcements yet. How will characters get around in TSW? Will there be player-controlled vehicles, taxi services, or can they travel to places instantly? Maybe a mix of all three? There will be a number of ways to travel around our world. We have – cryptically – mentioned Agartha as a place that holds unique properties related to traveling, and players can journey quite seamlessly from London to, say, Egypt without prolonged loading screens or maps with red dots representing abstract travel. We want the world to feel coherent and whole, and as physically connected as possible, and Agartha plays a large part in that. There will be ways to travel within locations as well – let’s call them ‘taxi services’ – which make sense for each location. As for vehicles, we haven’t made any announcements yet, but players won’t be able to hijack cars and drive around recklessly – and there are good reasons for that, both technical and in terms of lore. Does the game feature one large playing field with smaller instances tacked on like WoW, or is it more like Guild Wars with small communal areas where players can meet up, but the majority of the world is instanced? The majority of the world is not instanced, so in that sense it’s more like WoW, with large open outdoor locations, smaller instances tied to missions, and, of course, dungeons. We want players to feel that they’re in a big world together with thousands of other players, not playing a single-player game. Will players be able to have more than one character on each server in different factions? Good question! And we’re not talking about that yet! There are apparently no levels or classes in TSW. How do players advance their characters? There are tons of ways to advance your character. First off, and most importantly, players gain points and use those to buy powers. Powers vary in cost based on how powerful they are, and it’s going to take a long, long, long time to get all of them – but that’s possible. Players can equip fourteen powers in total when they venture out into the world to battle evil: seven ‘actives’ – your typical button-press powers – and seven ‘passives’, which are always ‘on’ and provide benefits to the player and augment the active powers. Playing the game, you also increase your skill in specific areas, which alters your character’s ability to fight and defend herself. Players also rise in stature within their faction, and they do this through accomplishing certain goals in the game – be it points, missions, achievements and so on. Items, of course, are extremely important, and equipping your character with the right weapons and accessories – including tattoos – is an important way to augment your character, and you’ll get increasingly more powerful equipment as you move through the game world. We are striving to make The Secret World feel as open and accessible as possible – to allow people to create and customise exactly the type of character they want – while retaining the feeling of progression that’s so important to all role-players, and we feel we’ve found a good balance between the level-and-classless system and a distinct and very visual advancement through the ranks. Can we expect small group instances and raids for large groups of players and, if so, how will that work if there are no character levels? Can players of different factions mix in these groups? Players from different factions will be able to play together in the open world setting, working in unison to defend the world from the rising darkness, and putting their differences aside for the greater good. As for dungeons and raids, we haven’t announced anything regarding how they will work yet, but we have mechanics in mind to ensure that there’s balance. How will PvP between the factions work, what will it consist of? Open battle on the streets, or more like espionage? The PvP between factions is a very important part of the game, and one that we’re currently iterating and improving upon, to make players feel part of these secret armies fighting for control over powerful magical resources and ancient relics, all across the world. It will be all-out battle – but behind the scenes, so to speak, in places where the average Jane and Joe would never venture. The factions believe in secrecy, in keeping their war behind closed doors, and that’s part of the setting and the gameplay. What sort of economy will there be? Will players be able to craft items and trade them, or sell items that we pick up? We have mentioned previously that trade-skills will be an important part of The Secret World – and yes, players will be able to create and augment certain items, including weapons – but we haven’t revealed any details…yet. 

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