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[Column] The Secret World: The Epic Cog

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,619MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

The word 'epic' is bandied about a lot these days, whether speaking of 'epic fails' or something that is truly 'epic' in size and scope. In today's The Secret World column, we take a look at why TSW creates and epic feel. See what you think and then leave us a comment or two.

Today, I'm going to attempt to explain the context behind what it means to be epic. I'm also going to quickly dive into how SWTOR managed to lose the epic feeling it tried to establish in its advertising. More importantly, I will expound on how TSW creates an epic feeling for players, despite explicitly mentioning in the opening minutes of your tale that you aren't an epic hero, but a cog in the machine.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Secret World: The Epic Cog.


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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • necrosteinnecrostein westminster, COPosts: 80Member

    epic first!!!!

    good article. TSW does keep you feeling like your "part of something bigger" not the "prophesied one" which is a breath of fresh air.

     

     
  • VaporsVapors Fr.Posts: 407Member Uncommon
    very good and short article
  • WickedjellyWickedjelly Yahoo, COPosts: 4,990Member

    Very good article. You made some interesting points about the subject matter.

    Kudos

    /salute

    1. For god's sake mmo gamers, enough with the analogies. They're unnecessary and your comparisons are terrible, dissimilar, and illogical.

    2. To posters feeling the need to state how f2p really isn't f2p: Players understand the concept. You aren't privy to some secret the rest are missing. You're embarrassing yourself.

    3. Yes, Cpt. Obvious, we're not industry experts. Now run along and let the big people use the forums for their purpose.

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    F2p for swtor is going to mix it up for them a bit, I like how they haven't given up and waited for the game to totally die, I think if they hear your words and follow through, they definitely have a chance to revive thier game and create some epic content for the end game experience. The people have spoken swtor, you are what you are, now pick up the pieces, put it back together, and stay deligent in your expectations but be real about it, if you haven't played swtor its actually very fun, but it does not live up to the expectation hype, take that out, humble yourself and you can then be exhalted. Tsw sorry but a mid summer release is a bad idea, now GW2 is upon us and I just may never get to check it out.
  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.
    image
  • VaporsVapors Fr.Posts: 407Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

  • Matheusor1Matheusor1 New York, NYPosts: 174Member
    Whoa, this isn't an article, this is a masterpiece. Good job
  • BlackbrrdBlackbrrd KongsbergPosts: 811Member

    A really good article and it does highlight how the story in TSW is told quite differently to other games. It's all about your character discovering, investigating and holding back the tide - if only for a short while.

     

    It really like how it's really your character that gets ideas about what to do, instead of getting quests from others. If you pay attention to the quest "givers" they very seldom give you the quest outright. They talk about a problem and your character finds the solution, while you as the player performs the action. For investigation missions, you have to find the solution and perform the actions. It's a subtle difference, but a very good one.

     

    Regarding combat I think they have some tweaking left. I found the combat in AoC to start out as more fun, but in raids and dungeons, I like TSW's design a lot better. I think the game would have been more fun with slightly higher damage and slightly lower hp, making the combat a bit faster. What I do like about the combat is the movement aspect of it, but AoC had it as well.

     

    In TSW I am playing an Pistol/Elemental slowing, critting bastard, while I in AoC played a Bear Shaman and a Nightfall Necro, all very dependant on movement and positioning, both in AoC and TSW.

     
  • FadariFadari Spokane, WAPosts: 3Member

    Good article and you're right, I truely enjoyed my "story" in SWTOR but then it just ended..bam.  I did the so-called endgame but there was nothing exceptional about it, not even difficult.  I guess I remember way back when games had some difficult aspect to them.

     

    Now, TSW has brought that back.  Maybe since it's an adult game, I'm not sure.  But the hours of work put in doing some of the missions and investigations.  But the best has to be parsing combat logs with different weapons and passives to be as strong as I can possibly be.  But there are so many choices, any play style can be accomidated.  I can be, whatever is needed, for whatever situation we get in to.  I am definately liking not being tied into just one role and have to level multiple toons just to experience different aspects of the game.  Just load a different deck and head out!

     

     

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  • HighMarshalHighMarshal Huntsville, ALPosts: 287Member Uncommon

    I did a mission for the Dragon faction in TSW and the end message I got from my faction pretty much said that they expected the guy to blow me into tiny chunks and since he didn't they would have to readjust their plans.

    I felt like, OH, Thanks for believing in me you rat bastards!

  • GorillaGorilla Posts: 2,202Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    This.

    Ben-Hur was epic but still over in three and a half hours.

  • AceundorAceundor OsloPosts: 482Member
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    Every MMO I have played has me at the same situation. I want to go around the mobs after fighting a certian amount of them. This happend in WOW and it happend in AoC. It is simply the nature of MMOs i beleive. Your goal is not to kill mobs but to grow your charachter. (get xp or loot). After a while most mobs become "trash mobs" and I want to get past them with as little effort as possible in order to reach my next goal. (loot or xp). Therefore combat in any mmo outgrows itself .

     

    Originally posted by BishopB:

    Are a lot of the trolls just angry kids with old gaming hardware?

  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

    My complaint about the combat is not the animation or graphics or even if its tab target or reticle.  My complaint is about how it "feels" and "flows".  It feels slow and tedious and not visceral at all.  GW2 combat is what I really enjoy, maybe even a hint of Tera's combat IF they would add more depth to it and get rid of the locked in place while casting, hence why I lean toward GW2.

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  • Hekate27Hekate27 LondonPosts: 47Member

    I have always thought that being a cog who is able to overcome greater and greater challenges yet still retain the humble anonymity of being a cog to be pretty epic.  But then I also love playing a Gnome in WoW and will enjoy being Asura in GW2.  TSW seems to also fulfill the same need in me.  The greatest heros are not those who tell you that they are great, but the ones recognised for their greatness by others.

    SWTOR spent a long time telling us how great and epic it was long before it was released.  TSW had many detractors and doubters before release based upon the history of the company releasing it.  However it has recieved great praise and recognition by the most important critics of all ... the gamers prepared to buy and play the game.

    Do what thou wilt, and harm ye none. - Witches Rede

  • RudedawgCDNRudedawgCDN Vancouver, BCPosts: 485Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

     TSW combat is very repetitive.

    Hit one button over and over again to build resources.

    Consume resources.

    Really?

    You don't get why other games have MUCH better combat mechanics - like GW2, Tera, Vanguard.

    What "saves" TSW for me is fantastic quests and 5 mans - very well done - too bad the combat mechanic sucks monkey balls.

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,279Member Uncommon
    A  paradigm shift if you will. 
  • delta9delta9 PlymouthPosts: 343Member Common

    How can you call any MMO without large group (raid) content epic?

     

    Repeating lower level content to unlock more skills is no different to rolling a alt when you think about it, and by doing the first you are basically giving overpowered characters easy 1 shot content, making them feel "epic"?

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,279Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by delta9

    How can you call any MMO without large group (raid) content epic?

     

    Repeating lower level content to unlock more skills is no different to rolling a alt when you think about it, and by doing the first you are basically giving overpowered characters easy 1 shot content, making them feel "epic"?

    10/20 man raids at the end of this month. 

     

     

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by delta9

    How can you call any MMO without large group (raid) content epic?

    Repeating lower level content to unlock more skills is no different to rolling a alt when you think about it, and by doing the first you are basically giving overpowered characters easy 1 shot content, making them feel "epic"?

    I think it depends on your definition of epic. For some players, epic is about the setting, the story and how you fit into it while for others it is the intensity of battle. Both can provide adrenaline rush, but the path is different, as is the length of time the rush lasts.

     

    Adrenaline rush is always temporary, but the rush from an epic raid battle might not last as long as the rush from accomplishing a tough puzzle. One is physical and the other is intellectual, so while the rush itself is a physical, hormonal event, the effects act upon different centers with different results.

     

    More on topic, epic is a great word that evokes a sense of vastness and history. Being a part of something like that makes us feel both small and large at the same time, provoking the cognitive dissonance Victor talks about in the article. And while we are naturally inclined to resolve that dissonance one way or another, the experience of epicness happens when we are on the razor's edge experiencing both at once.

     

    Great article.

     
  • KtaraKtara Victoria, BCPosts: 37Member

    Having played both games, I'm enjoying The Secret World much more than SWToR.  I feel like I'm making a difference in TSW.  Also, when I want to just explore, I can.  It's fun trying to sneak around the mobs without stealth or crouch.  SWToR is too linear, and I had to play alts to see all the stories; I never capped any since all the quests were the same.  TSW's repeatables are enjoyable because you know what you're doing, they're short, and they do give a lot of points, but they're not mandatory.  

    I also like the idea in TSW that I'm not "the chosen one" or the only person that can save the world...I'm just another in the big fight.  That's what MMO's should be about.  There are too many "chosen ones" running around in every game out there, it just doesn't make sense from a storytelling/RP point of view.

    TSW is a difficult game, but it's possible to improve your skills, etc. or just change them.  I hit a wall in SWToR with my Inquisitor, and stopped playing.  There was no way to get better since I couldn't do it without grinding.  Grinding isn't heroic.  

    I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I finally get through something in TSW.  With SWToR it was just "ok, done, move on".  

    The only thing I would like in TSW is a companion/pet/henchman.  I should be able to hire a lackey from HQ every now and again...they've got to have rookies that need training...lol  Some of those solo instances are extremely difficult.

    I'm looking forward to GW2.  It looks really impressive for a game with no sub. 

  • VaporsVapors Fr.Posts: 407Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by elocke
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

    My complaint about the combat is not the animation or graphics or even if its tab target or reticle.  My complaint is about how it "feels" and "flows".  It feels slow and tedious and not visceral at all.  GW2 combat is what I really enjoy, maybe even a hint of Tera's combat IF they would add more depth to it and get rid of the locked in place while casting, hence why I lean toward GW2.

    Have you played the game? You're not locked to the place and can walk around all the time kiting enemies and stuff. There's like 2-3 skills out of 550 which makes u rooted while shooting. GW2 Combat simply looks better to players since they have much more abilties to perform as fantasy based mmo

  • DerpybirdDerpybird Boston, MAPosts: 991Member
    Originally posted by elocke
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

    My complaint about the combat is not the animation or graphics or even if its tab target or reticle.  My complaint is about how it "feels" and "flows".  It feels slow and tedious and not visceral at all.  GW2 combat is what I really enjoy, maybe even a hint of Tera's combat IF they would add more depth to it and get rid of the locked in place while casting, hence why I lean toward GW2.

    I completely agree with this point. For PvE missions I had a high-AOE dmg build because everywhere I went I seemed to be fighting 3-5 of something. There was something about mob density that made even moving around the world tedious. I mean maps are just packed with stationary mobs, and some limited-patrol mobs, that stand between you and mission goals. Sprint-speed boosts helped to an extent, but I found myself just wanting to avoid combat because it was so repetitive. And even though mob design was sometimes very good, basic combat mechanics didn't seem to change, the exception being storyline bosses and dungeon content.

    "Loading screens" are not "instances".
    Your personal efforts to troll any game will not, in fact, impact the success or failure of said game.

  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

    My complaint about the combat is not the animation or graphics or even if its tab target or reticle.  My complaint is about how it "feels" and "flows".  It feels slow and tedious and not visceral at all.  GW2 combat is what I really enjoy, maybe even a hint of Tera's combat IF they would add more depth to it and get rid of the locked in place while casting, hence why I lean toward GW2.

    Have you played the game? You're not locked to the place and can walk around all the time kiting enemies and stuff. There's like 2-3 skills out of 550 which makes u rooted while shooting. GW2 Combat simply looks better to players since they have much more abilties to perform as fantasy based mmo

    Did you read my post?  You must have skipped the part where I mentioned TERA when referring to being locked in place.  Try again.

    image
  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Derpybird
    Originally posted by elocke
    Originally posted by Vapors
    Originally posted by elocke
    For me both games have the same problem.  Limited content and a storyline that just ends as well as boring ALT play due to redundant "leveling" paths.  Also, combat in both games needs an overhaul.  To me, any game that makes me want to find ways around mobs instead of fighting them, fails at FUN combat design.  It should MAKE me want to tackle every mob I see, not look for the easiest path around them or FORCE me to fight them when I dont' want to, as TSW and SWTOR do.  Epic fail on those fronts.

    The question is simply how you want to to see the combat to be? Try to explain me your view of how should a shooting pumpgun and a shooting pistol look like and how should you shoot them up, by pressing 1 button or aiming with them with the mouse or stuff like that.

    I guess its very hard for both of the games make the player satisfied, they can't make simple weapons to look like epic.

    Im not sure but the most players just love to see awesome particle flying over your whole computers window (not a big fan of it personally)

    My complaint about the combat is not the animation or graphics or even if its tab target or reticle.  My complaint is about how it "feels" and "flows".  It feels slow and tedious and not visceral at all.  GW2 combat is what I really enjoy, maybe even a hint of Tera's combat IF they would add more depth to it and get rid of the locked in place while casting, hence why I lean toward GW2.

    I completely agree with this point. For PvE missions I had a high-AOE dmg build because everywhere I went I seemed to be fighting 3-5 of something. There was something about mob density that made even moving around the world tedious. I mean maps are just packed with stationary mobs, and some limited-patrol mobs, that stand between you and mission goals. Sprint-speed boosts helped to an extent, but I found myself just wanting to avoid combat because it was so repetitive. And even though mob design was sometimes very good, basic combat mechanics didn't seem to change, the exception being storyline bosses and dungeon content.

    Exactly.  I've had this issue in other games as well, where the combat is lackluster to me because the game makes it unfun to wade through mobs when it should be the other way around.  SWTOR is a good example.  Just can't stand fighting mobs in TSW or SWTOR.  However, in GW2 I was literally going out of my way to kill everything between me and where I was going, 1. because it rewards you for doing so in multiple areas from xp to dailies and so forth but also because the combat itself is fun and dynamic and FUN to practice on mobs in the world.

    image
  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon

    Overall I like the angle of this article. It definitely approaches both games from an interesting perspective.

    However, I also feel like this article is waaay too premature. This article could've been made about SWTOR when it was in it's 2nd month of release, and produced the exact opposite conclusion. Simply put, TSW has barely been out more than a month, and where it currently stands is already somewhat difficult to tell. It's got a following, absolutely. However, it's really hard to tell just how much of a following the game actually has, and whether or not there's any real staying power to the game.

    To be honest, I would disagree with the article that 'epicness' really has anything to do with the success or failure of either game. It's certainly an interesting perspective to take, but ultimate (what I believe) is the reason SWTOR is doing so poorly, is a problem that TSW also shares. The article is basically focusing on the symptom, not the problem.

    So what exactly is the problem?

    Well, the problem is that (in both games) the core game changes once you reach the 'end'. Both games 'end' and both games have you grinding the same dungeons to get better and better gear. It has to do with having a vertical progression system in an MMO. We've also been seeing the downfalls of this system for the past decade.

    In SWTOR you go from this epic storyline, making your mark on the galaxy, to rehashing the same old tired mini-battles over and over again. In TSW you change from basically being a paranormal investigator, to  rehashing the same old tired mini-battles over and over again. They're both story based games, and they both end up being gear grinds.

    -- some spoilers ahead if you haven't played TSW --

    What bugged me even more about TSW, is that, unlike SWTOR, the story elements don't even seem to matter. Most are really well done, but they are all very fire & forget. Every magical weapon you are sent to uncover gets taken away from you. Instead of following up on this, or even hinting at what the outcome of such failures are, you instead get treated to a 'bad agent! okay, next assignment' story progression. It completely belittles the entire ordeal you just went through, and leaves the story feeling somewhat lackluster.

    --- spoilers over ---

    In summary, TSW and SWTOR share a lot more similarities than I think many people want to accept. They are both highly story-based games, centered around superb quality voice acting. However, they are also both vertical progression system centered around gear grinds. What really screws over both games, is also their biggest strength. Their story elements.

    The main problem with vertical progression scaling, is that you have to continuously churn out newer and newer content to keep people interesting. At the same time, people will chew through the same amount of content at a faster & faster rate, so you are then forced to produce content in greater and greater volume to meet the increased demand. It's exponential. Combine this with content that is primarily oriented around well voice acted cutscenes, and you have the perfect recipe for not delivering content fast enough. Cutscenes take time to do right, and AoC has shown us what happens when you frontload your quality content and then follow it up w/ something subpar. In order for Funcom to continue to meet the demands of the players, it will be expensive, and VERY time consuming.

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