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From my perspective, the game's lore, world and even a lot of the gameplay are great in many ways. I've talked about that many times, but that's not what this post is about.
Funcom failed to understand the market for this game. The truly and utterly bizarre thing about TSW for me, was how the early community was shaped by the forums and then the ARG, litteraly YEARS ago. Anyone who was around way, way back during the initial announcement and creation of the forums remembers that even before there was an ARG, there were a bunch of people on the forums every day, talking about what they wanted to see in the game, and even getting into some great role playing posts. The ARG later added to this and a really neat community of interesting people was coming together.
The detail in the discussions had there was incredible, and the vision for the game that was put forth by the forum users is so far and above better than what was actually delivered, it's astonishing. Now I know our imaginations are much deeper than what may be viable for an MMO game at this stage, but the problem was that Funcom created the perfect setting for a deeper, more hybrid and very socially driven game. This is what I stuck around on the forums for, and why I followed the game development constantly.
The community on the boards was a very diverse group that was ready for something more. Many people wanted opt-in faction PVP, they wanted a deep crafting and RPG game, and they wanted a dark, adult setting. What we got was a fantastic clothing and armor (talisman) system that allowed us to make truly personal and unique characters, a very cool customizable (to some extent) skill wheel, a beatiful game world, and a then a COMPLETELY WATERED DOWN THEMEPARK GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCE.
And there you have the crux of the problem. The game is NOT designed for those people hanging out on the forums. It is not even close to the game that such a setting and even the ARG seemed to promise. It is not a haven for RP, grouping, crafting or any other type of truly social gameplay. It is not a game for book readers and people with real imaginations and dreams of magic or mystery. It is just a themepark, and along with that, pretty much everything wrong with themepark games in the year 2012. It's not even really an adult game, trading the occasional F-bomb for what could have been a much darker and mature setting. Shit or get off the pot, Funcom.
As themeparks go, TSW is very well done although far too short and too much of a dungeon grinder endgame to uphold a subscription model. Dreams of monthly updates should never have been something they relied upon. The real problem from my perspective is that this game should have never been a pure themepark, trinity, dungeon grind game. Never, ever. It should have relied much more on open, player-driven and emergent gameplay so that the vision the players had for it would have had a much better chance of being a reality. Had the game been designed with this in mind, the players could have taken it to heights not even planned or imagined by the developers. It's hard to look back on the forums and ARG of ages ago and see how they had anything at all to do with this current game.
A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.