The Secret World: Things Man Shouldn’t Know
By Jonathan (Ardua) Doyle OnRPG Journalist.
Interview with Ragnar Tornquist
Hi Ragnar and thanks again for offering to do an interview with us. In case anyone hasn’t seen the article that caught Ragnars eye (http://www.onrpg.com/MMO/The-Secret-World/interview/The-Secret-World-Itll-be-a-sht-game-dont-buy-it-4928) hop on over and give it a look.
OnRPG: First off I have to know something. The Dark Places twitter recently teased us.
Something stirs. The wind whispers, the ground trembles, the earth dreams, and we will all be invited in. Soon now.
Given that we’ve not seen the game since the GDC in March, what can you tell us about what you have up your sleeve?
I don’t know anything about a Dark Places twitter. There’s no conspiracy.
I can tell you a little about what’s in store for the game, however. We just (as in the past week) revealed a whole bunch of details regarding London and the first thirty minutes of a new Templars initiate into the secret world – including some pretty cool secrets that we’ve kept very close to our chests. When the embargo lifts this Friday, there’s going to be a lot of new information out there – and hopefully it’ll get everyone talking and discussing and theorising. I know I’ll be reading the forums the entire weekend.
Later this autumn, we’re going to talk a lot more about the content and the game mechanics, and show players what’s in the store for the future. We’ve got some really cool things in store, so stay tuned!
OnRPG: Both yourself and the team behind managing the community should be commended. Between ARGs, twitter, formspring questions and community Q&As you’re all being open with the community while still managing to hold onto your secrets. How hard has it been to keep quiet on all the wonderful (and terrifying, I’m looking at you Cthulluthing) things you have in store for us?
It’s incredibly hard to keep our mouths shut! All we want to do is show you what we’ve been working on for so long – but we’re not far away from doing just that. Working with our community, however, has been incredibly easy and a real pleasure. They’re a passionate bunch, and they’re almost as excited about this game as we are. Almost. Their passion makes our jobs a whole lot easier, and all the long hours totally worth it. I wouldn’t be doing this without them, and I love being involved as much as I can – which isn’t nearly enough, but it’s good to hear that it’s appreciated regardless.
OnRPG: You’ve had this story in your head for years and there’s been a tonne of speculation on it. It has already been said to the community that “Story is gameplay” here. Was it difficult for you to realise the story in your head with the mechanics of a massively multiplayer game? Or has it always been something for the masses?
The story in The Secret World has been built from the ground up as a massively multiplayer storyline, where the player is a hero rather than the hero: one of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of champions granted awesome powers in order to stand up and defend our world from the evil that seeps through from the dark places. It’s always been our intention to write and design the kind of story that could only work in an MMORPG, rather than try to squeeze a conventional single-player storyline into a multiplayer setting, and to design the game with this in mind. Story and gameplay, in The Secret World, goes completely hand-in-hand; one couldn’t exist without the other. It’s been a challenge, but a supremely rewarding one.
OnRPG: There’s been mention of possible mounts, fashion items, crafting, achievements and the other parts of MMOs that people love to see. Is there anything you can share with us on those “mundane” games systems?
We haven’t really divulged any details yet, aside from saying that, yes, we will have crafting, achievements, social clothing, and lots more. The Secret World is a fully-featured MMORPG. And then some.
OnRPG: Social areas, story driven, rich atmosphere. Sounds like a roleplayers dream. However sadly, not everyone is into roleplay. Are you looking at segregated servers or a unified world like EVE?
There will be segregated servers – at least that’s the plan. Role-players and hardcore PvP players typically mix as well as oil and water, and everyone in-between might not thrive particularly well on specialised servers. Plans might change, of course, so don’t hold me to it, but I definitely want to make sure that role-players have a home in The Secret World.
OnRPG: You’ve stated on Formspring that the team is hard at work on content for regular release post launch of The Secret World. Will the content launches be on a calendar or can we usher in change in the world through the game much like community events in The Matrix Online oh so long ago?
I’d love to see the players, en masse, evolving the story and the content, but we’ll see how that pans out as we get closer to launch – and beyond. This is, after all, an MMORPG, and the communal story is a crucial part of our universe. Right now, the plan is to expand The Secret World with new content and new features on a regular basis, and the story will continue for years to come.
OnRPG: We know you’ve been playing the game. Right now I’m working out how to steal your computer. Until I pull it off though, can you share any more tidbits on the combat pacing and grouping in TSW?
We talked a lot about the combat at GDC this spring, including our really cool state system and the fact that we don’t have levels or classes – instead, players can train any power they want, and combine these in any way they see fit. The combat is ‘conventional’ in the sense that you click (or TAB) to target and fire off powers with the keyboard or the mouse, but players are also encouraged to keep moving and to read their enemies. Combat isn’t as passive as it is in some games, but neither does it require fast reflexes or mouse dexterity, and the character’s skills are more important than the player’s. As for grouping, our team size is five.
OnRPG: Related to the last question. The Secret World features a classless system where we can pick, 14 if I recall correctly, skills to create the character we want to play. A tanking character whose main weapon is actually ranged I believe was an example once. Has the testing team surprised you with any weird combinations of the skills and setting?
Absolutely. Right now, we’re finalising – although there will, of course, be changes – the complete range of powers in the game – many, many hundreds – and we’ll soon see how all those powers play off each other in both PvE and PvP. It’s a deep and complex system, and I’ll imagine we’ll be constantly surprised by how inventive and smart players are, how quick they are to discover loopholes, strengths and weaknesses and exploits, and we’ll keep tweaking those powers until the day we ship – and undoubtedly beyond.
OnRPG: United we stand, divided we fall. The treasures of the secret world, Agartha, must be really something if there’s to be pvp. We know about each societies home city but what will be the first big area where the three will have to grin and work together?
The first location players reach after leaving their respective hubs is Solomon Island and the town of Kingsmouth, where members of the three (playable) secret societies must band together, try and forget their differences, and cooperate in order to defeat the rising darkness. But the tension between the factions will keep surfacing, and this is something we address in the ongoing story mission.
OnRPG: Something that I have been wondering myself with regards The Old Republic and The Secret World. You’re going to have all this great voice acting in characters yet most people I know who play MMOs tend to have their own music playing instead of listening to their game. Will there be any sneak peeks of the music and atmosphere of the Secret World soundtrack?
Who says there hasn’t already been one? Definitely, going forward, we’re going to release material that show off our wonderful music and voice acting. And sure, in the long run, some players will inevitably choose to listen to their own music, but we think that our mission intros are going to be exciting and entertaining enough that most people will listen and watch.
OnRPG: One other mundane question, but I’m sure some people will want to know. What subscription models are you considering at the moment and related to that, will there be collectors type editions of the game? If that’s the sort of thing they won’t let you answer yet, OnRPG has to know then… are fezzes cool?
Fezzes are cool. We’ll have fezzes.
I can’t say anything about our business model(s), but I know for a fact that there will be collector’s edition(s) – and they’ll be worth the cost.
OnRPG: All myths and legends are true. Every conspiracy, every “Some bloke in the pub said”… every one of them. That’s a global coverage. The game itself features real world locations across many continents. I can imagine how hard it was to organise. How true are the non-secret society portions of these areas to the real world?
Very true. At least, they’re very true to the real world that most of you don’t know anything about: the secret real world. We’ve done a ton of research through the years, and we’re close to revealing what we’ve discovered: that there is much between heaven (and above) and earth (and below) that you don’t know. You’re going to be surprised. And terrified. And blown away.
OnRPG: Will the out of game Alternate Reality Games continue or will the story only be told through the game after launch?
We don’t know anything about any ARG.
OnRPG: On the ARGs… With everyone pouring over all the bits and pieces we can get our hands on, people do become attached to things. So… will we ever find out what happened to Danny and the others from Kingsmouth?
There’s no conspiracy. Really.
OnRPG: The most important question of all. Can I get in the beta? Urban environments are scary. Darkness and monsters lurk all over the world in your game and players need to come together to overcome it. Should I get a night light or can I trust you not to scare me witless when I’m playing home alone?
Fear is important. Fear opens us up for a deeper and more profound truth. Without fear, without darkness, we lose sight of the light. So no, don’t get a night light. You’ll miss out on what lurks in the shadows.
Thank you again for giving us this interview and can’t wait to see more of the game as it comes out. Is there anything you’d like to add for the readers?
Stay tuned later this week for tons of new information about The Secret World – and keep a watch out in the months ahead for tons more!