The GameSNAFU staff interviews Funcom about this upcoming and intriguing MMO.
The Secret World
Interview March 2011
1)I think it is safe to say that the MMO world and its players are really looking forward to the secret world. With the launch of the website can we look forward to a more even flow of information about the game, its progress and ultimate release?
Erling Ellingsen: We have definitely been living up to the game’s name by keeping things relatively secret. We’ve kept mum for most of the time, only occasionally emerging from our damp and dark developer cave to shed a little bit of light on what we’re working on. With this year’s GDC we took the next step. We showed the game live for the first time, we released our most elaborate trailer video yet, and with the launch of the new website we have secured a platform for future updates and reveals. We’re in the process of increasing the frequency of our communication, with many more videos and information reveals to come. It’s a busy, but very exciting time to be working at Funcom.
2) I have yet to read much about the size and structure of the world. Will there be mounts or travel powers? Or does the size and the way you travel in the world not warrant them?
Erling Ellingsen: We’re not quite ready to talk about specific transportation options yet. As you know, The Secret World features locations from all across the globe, and creating all the real estate between for instance New York and Seoul would simply be impossible. So we have devised a way for players to travel from location to location relatively quickly, without necessarily compromising immersion. We look forward to revealing more details on this as we go along.
3)I know that it is probably too early to ask this question and judging from what I have read and heard so far I can of course make my own assumptions, however I want to know about death in The Secret World. It is a heated debate no matter what gaming forum you read these days. I will use a couple of examples here, Conan being one example where people actually used death as a way to travel from one end of a zone to another. With a penalty free death system I find that it is often abused in this way. The same goes for tactics when playing the game whether it is against NPCs or in a PvP environment people tend to be more careless and they tend to take unnecessary risks. Of course there is the other side of the coin where a death penalty is far to harsh and you lose every thing in your inventory and a huge chunk of experience when you die such as in the original Everquest. What will the Death system be in The Secret World and how will it be handled. Will a PvP death differ from a PvE death? Also will players gain experience for killing another player? I always find it strange when games do not award experience for killing a player as it is often far more difficult to kill a player than it is to kill a NPC.
Martin Bruusgaard: We haven’t gone out with detailed information on the death system yet, but I’ll try to answer the question in a bit broader terms. We will not implement a death system that can be exploited as a fast travel system, because dying in The Secret World should be a sign of failure, and not optimization in any way. We don’t want to punish the players in a form where they can lose stuff, neither items nor experience, but rather penalize on time. Having said this, we don’t want a situation where our players will quit playing because they feel the time penalty is too harsh.
The PvE and PvP deaths are different. I already talked a bit about the PvE deaths, but it’s a bit hard to compare it to a PvP death because there is no standard PvP death. It all depends on where and how you are participating in PvP battle. Sometimes it’s a last man standing fight, which means no respawn (unless you’re resurrected by a team mate), sometimes it’s a wave respawn (all team members resurrect on intervals at the same time). We have a few other scenarios up our sleeve as well.
4) Will it be possible to duel other players, or do you have to participate in the PvP battles in order to fight other players?
Martin Bruusgaard: In every hub city there will be a fight club. This is a free for all PvP area where people can try out different tactics on their buddies, duel or even gank. Some of you might be a bit surprised when I say that ganking is allowed, but what we usually see in games like this is that these areas are being self-policed by the players. If a player plays dirty, he will be punished by the other players. Another fantastic part about the fight club is that we will probably see a band of for instance Illuminati players coming into the Templars’ fight club and occupy it. This creates a great sense of rivalry, and we will likely see a band of Templar players forming to kick them out.
5)The questing system looks great so far, I especially like that fact there there will be intricate story lines that often do not include fighting but mysteries and puzzles that need to be figured out. When it comes to the indoor quests will they have traps of any kind similar to other dungeon crawl games? If so will these traps move around in the dungeon if you were to repeat the quest again at a later time with a friend or new character?
Joel Bylos: Actually we have a mission type called Sabotage which we haven’t spoken a lot about yet. These missions share a similar gameplay style to the original Deus Ex game – avoiding security cameras, disabling traps and hacking computers etc. Generally the traps are dynamic only in the sense that players can disable/enable them in the world. This becomes interesting when other players can accidentally trigger an alarm in the camp you are sneaking through!
6)In the coming months, will be be learning more about the three non-player factions that were mentioned a year or two back? Question provided by Phaeton of The Secret World Community.
Joel Bylos: There is a fine balance between revealing too little and revealing too much before the game launches, and when it comes to revealing the story and the other factions we want to tread very carefully. Isn’t it more interesting to dig into the conspiracies and intrigues of the game while playing it? I can assure you that they are there, and the player will interact with them throughout the game. It would be a shame to tell you too much about them beforehand! But do keep your eyes and ears open, you never know when bits and pieces of information suddenly pop up!
7) Will I be allowed to create an Illumninati, Templar, and Dragon character on the same server?
On the same account, but separate server? As much effort as has been expended in trying to encourage us to align with one faction or another, it seems an answer to this fundamental design issue would be in order. Question provided by Torrent of The Secret World Community.
Joel Bylos: It is still a question which is under discussion. There are advantages (mostly gameplay related) and disadvantages to restricting players based on their “first chosen” secret society. This is also affected by things like number of character slots per account (do you really need many when one character can do everything eventually?) and so on. So no comment on this until we have had a chance to nail down certain other decisions and especially as we gather beta feedback moving forward.
8) I'm very much looking forward to The Secret World, but I wonder will there be a specific set design on character creation, like some limited MMO's. Or will it be free form and very customizable? So your character is unique, will we be able to write up Bio's for our character for other's to read? Basically, how unique can our character's become? (Not just skill wise). Question provided by SayuriKanboku of The Secret World Community.
Martin Bruusgaard: We are saving the detailed information on the character creation for a bigger reveal in the future, but it is very important for us that the players feel unique in every way, not just in regard to what skills they have equipped. We know that players like to feel connected to their avatar, so customizing your looks is something the players can do quite freely in The Secret World. One thing I’m particularly excited about is that player clothing have no stats, so you can wear exactly what you want to wear. I keep teasing Ragnar about him playing as a tank in a pink dress, but it is fully possible without gimping yourself in any way. The items that do have stats are body modifications, and they are of course important, but also invisible. This also means that in The Secret World we don’t end up in the same situation many traditional MMOs end up in, where there is one optimal armor set for your class, which leads to everyone running around that one armor set. Since each armor piece has a set visual, everybody end up looking the same. We see this as a bad thing, so in The Secret World you will see people dressed up the way they want to look, not the way they are forced to look if they want to have the most optimized character.
We here at GameSNAFU would like to thank Funcom, Erling Ellingsen, Joel Bylos (Lead Content Designer) and Martin Bruusgaard (Lead Designer) for taking the time to answer our questions. We would also like to thank The Secret World Community for their questions and enthusiasm. I hope that our communities find the information new and informative. I am even more intrigued by the Secret World now and I hope you all are too.