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[Column] The Secret World: The Darkest Evening of the Year

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,572MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

It's been a rough month or so for Funcom with layoffs and patch delays for The Secret World and even allegations of insider stock trading. But that doesn't mean that Funcom is on its way out or that The Secret World is going anywhere. Find out why we think so in our latest column. Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

That's really the thing about it: before The Secret World can truly succeed in the current market and for the long MMO gaming road ahead, it has to survive by utilizing whatever methods it can to support the long-haul approach mentioned by Craig Morrison in his interview with us.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Secret World: The Darkest Evening of the Year.

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

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Comments

  • AmatalAmatal ZagrebPosts: 189Member Uncommon

    Woah, every now and again i get blown away how well articulated some of the articles on  MMORPG are.

    I guess i am just too jaded with your usual  semi literate forum flame wars, to actually consider this site as anythig but a place of quickly delivered MMO info.

     

    Kudos to Mr.  Barreiro for changing that.

     

    Well written Sir.

  • RobsolfRobsolf Grand Rapids, MIPosts: 4,246Member Uncommon

    Layoffs or not, the "monthly release" scheme was doomed to fail.  Just as it was in DCUO, and many older games.

    Strict, arbitrary release times just don't work.  Particularly monthly releases, which are just FAR too short a time period to plan, code, and test new content.  What's more, it discourages bigger ideas that make take a quarter or even a year to build.  The urge to just get stuff out there now-now-now stifles pulls development resources from these bigger items like zone and inventory overhauls, and puts them on task for getting the month's content out.

  • GR3NDELGR3NDEL Tulsa, OKPosts: 108Member Uncommon

    Heh... personally I think it says a lot about a game when an article about it invokes Robert Frost on an MMORPG site...

    A very good article.

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  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,754Member Uncommon

    As I said at the time, NO MMO has done monthly releases on the scale they were suggesting ever before. The fact that so many thought they could was a triumph of hype machine over common sense. That players want that much new content each and every month shows the unrealistic expectations of solo gamers being applied to a MMO.

  • BenbradaBenbrada Plainfield, ILPosts: 328Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Robsolf

    Layoffs or not, the "monthly release" scheme was doomed to fail.  Just as it was in DCUO, and many older games.

    Strict, arbitrary release times just don't work.  Particularly monthly releases, which are just FAR too short a time period to plan, code, and test new content.  What's more, it discourages bigger ideas that make take a quarter or even a year to build.  The urge to just get stuff out there now-now-now stifles pulls development resources from these bigger items like zone and inventory overhauls, and puts them on task for getting the month's content out.

    As I'm personally in the professional software development business for 20+ years I completely agree.... FWIW.

     

  • eddieg50eddieg50 Tolland, CTPosts: 1,613Member Uncommon
    I wonder how they would do, If they gave the game away for free and just charged a sub?
  • FeydawayFeydaway Brea, CAPosts: 122Member
    I hope they succeed and TSW thrives.  Every gamer should hope the same.  If you want to see games that attempt to think outside the box (i.e. something OTHER than fantasy...games that favor story/mood and thinking...things like the skill wheel, etc.) instead of the tried and true tab-target fantasy land, then we need this game to do well.
  • Agent_JosephAgent_Joseph SarajevoPosts: 1,069Member Uncommon

    TSW is great mmorpg but  funcom is bad company

    Last 1.3  updatee is great but  they still spending time & recources on va & cut scenes,they still making solo instance

    I love game but starting to hate  fcking incapable funcom.

    only EVE is real MMO...but I am impressive with TSW

  • valoizvaloiz CaracasPosts: 14Member
    LOL why dont u just review the game and inform about the new Patch released instead of post opinions based on the intenal financial situacion for FUNCOM.. something i just dont care.... most playes just wanna play and have fun and theres any game better that TSW now... just WoW clones andmediaval fantasy shits. TSW its a MMO for mature playres/ and expensive so its perfectly normal to have few player that others.  But the ones how are play it and have fun with it are so tired of apocalyptical reviews :S
  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    Great article, thanks Victor.

    I think it is far easier for players to give up on TSW than it is for Funcom to give up on it. But for those who remain, the fear that TSW will fail is almost palpable. It's a great game and I hope many players will come to enjoy it.

  • PentyPenty Rochester, NYPosts: 11Member
    If they take out the voice acting and cut scenes I will quit. I'm playing the game for the story.
    Originally posted by JosephJR

    TSW is great mmorpg but  funcom is bad company

    Last 1.3  updatee is great but  they still spending time & recources on va & cut scenes,they still making solo instance

    I love game but starting to hate  fcking incapable funcom.

     

     

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,731Member Uncommon
         Another top person stepped down at Funcom today....She was one of AO's top people and said she stepped down to be wit ha dying relative, but also so that one of these people being let go by Funcom could be retained for her position.....TSW had better have a quick revival or FUncom could be in dire straits it sounds like.
  • benit59benit59 Canton, GAPosts: 114Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Robsolf

    Layoffs or not, the "monthly release" scheme was doomed to fail.  Just as it was in DCUO, and many older games.

    Strict, arbitrary release times just don't work.  Particularly monthly releases, which are just FAR too short a time period to plan, code, and test new content.  What's more, it discourages bigger ideas that make take a quarter or even a year to build.  The urge to just get stuff out there now-now-now stifles pulls development resources from these bigger items like zone and inventory overhauls, and puts them on task for getting the month's content out.

    I don't think this holds true forever. Eventually developers will realize in order to hit time-table goals like this for content releases that they have to have a stronger toolset for creating, implementing, and testing before this becomes a reality.

    Cryptics new toolset for Neverwinter looks the most promising, but I am concerned about what their publishing scheme is going to look like or how they intend to make player created content insteresting without imbalancing the game.

  • NatjurNatjur WellingtonPosts: 124Member

    The biggest killer is the the bugs that been in from the start and still not fixed which leads players to believeing they can not be fixed (due to single server design floor)

     

    The quests are the best I have ever played in a MMO but quests do not make a MMO, Quests make a good single player game but not an MMO. A MMO needs to be replayable, and TSW does not have that.

     

    Love the game (as a single player game, eg, do everything once) but as an MMO, its dead to me.

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  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member
    The problem with TSW is simple. They are charging a sub-fee for a game that has so much solo/single player content and they have a cash-shop to boot. Either get rid of the sub fee or stop focusing so much on single player content.
  • rdrakkenrdrakken Gotham, FLPosts: 426Member

    The biggest shock about all this isnt what is happening its that so many people did NOT expect it.

    Its FUNCOM...they havent done anything differently with TSW than they did with their other games so why they heck is ANYONE remotely shocked by this? They showed with the release of AoC that they didnt learn a THING from AO...and then with how they made AoC into freemium showed they were still disconnected from MMO players and the genre as a whole...then TSWs beta, being handled EXACTLY like AO and AoC...come on people, remember and LEARN from the past.

    TSW was doomed to mediocrity the second FUNCOM started making it.

  • AzaqinAzaqin Willowick, OHPosts: 65Member

    I picked up TSW at release because I thought it looked cool and different. The modern setting appealed to me after so many hours in so many pseudo-Tolkien and nuveau-D&D fantasy worlds. After swinging a sword for so many years I was looking forward to hosing down the enemy with an assault rifle or a shotgun. 

    And TSW did not disappoint.....for about 5 weeks. I loved the skill-wheel system, figuring out all the various permuatations and combinations of active and passive abilities, how the game didn't hold your hand during character creation, but rather let you figure out on your own that the pre-set Decks, while not useless, were not the most powerful or effective combinations possible.

    True, there were some rough spots. It quickly became apparrent that the most effective Tank option was a Chaos/Blades build (although it was possible to Tank with other combos, like Chaos/Hammer), and if you were in a group beyond the standard dungeons and the Tank wasn't spamming Chaos, you were in for a wipe. That made Tanks pretty "One-Size-Fits-All," but as far as DPS went, there were so many different possibilities, that you almost never knew what you were going to run into in any given group, from a shotgun-weilding, fire-ball throwing mage to a sledgehammer swinging, two-gunned pistolero. There was considerable flex room in healing, specs, as well, which was nice. (My personal favorite was an Elemental/Pistol combo in which everything was a chain attack that leapt from enemy to enemy like a sugar-addled 5 year old with terminal ADHD. Groups of mobs went down fast.)

    Unfortunately, the rosy glow did not last. Which is not to say I came to dislike the game. Quite the contrary, I love the game; I love the system, flaws and all. Flaws can be fixed. (Although I am annoyed by the nerfing of Blaze.) I don't really mind the pay for the box plus pay for a sub model. I've been playing these games for more than a decade, and frankly that's what I'm used to. And, you know, I don't mind paying for a good game at all. Even with a box price and a sub, if it's a good game, it's still your best entertainment value. As far as the cash store goes, that's irrelelvant. Nothing in there but vanity items.

    Two things caused me to cancel my sub, at least for now.

    1. Enforced soloing. Not only is TSW extremely solo-friendly, it forces you to solo by constantly shoving you into "solo instances." Don't get me wrong, I don't mind soloing. I actualy prefer it a lot of the time, but without grouping, no sense of community emerges, and the world quickly begins to feel like a single player game. If I want a great single player game with an enabled chat feature, I can play Skyrim on Steam with the Steam Chat enabled. Same effect. My character on TSW has nearly every skill available in the game, with the exception of the new ones just introduced, and I have grouped to quest maybe two or three times. When you do group to quest, you tear through them so quickly there's barely time to register you saw a named mob. I'm not saying make the game harder, but some means must be found to make the game multiplayer, beyond simply standing in Agartha and scanning the LFG chanel hoping for a spot in a Nightmare group. As it currently stands, you have a single player game where, every once in a while, you hook up with other people playing the same single player game to run a dungeon, often out of sequence with the story line you are following. Over and over and over again.

    Which brings me to the real reason I suspended my sub...

     

    2. Sheer lack of content for the long term. After 5 weeks as a casual player, I had done every quest in the game, multiple times. Multiple, multiple, multiple times. So many times I could watch Netflix while questing and barely have to look at the game screen. The game has content, yes, don't ever think it doesn't, but it has the content of a single player game, not a long-term sub MMORPG. Eventually you get tired of doing the same things over and over. (And no, making a harder version of a dungeon does not qualify as "new" content, merely a more complicated version of existing content.) You could try to take refuge in PvP, but unfortunately TSW does not do PvP all that well. It's just your standard capture-the-flag zergfest, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just that we've seen it all a thousand times before. The innovation of the game systems does not continue into the PvP design. It seems almost tacked on.

    I don't really think that FunCom can make good on their monthly "content updates," especially not with drastically reduced staff. While the first update was promising, it was essentially just a badly implemented auction house and a dozen new quests that you didn't even have to look for. They were listed in the patch notes. The second update just put out? A few more quests. a LOT of tweaks and bug fixes, and face and hair modification parlors. Not really sure why the later, since the character graphics options are extremely limited for a modern MMORPG. You would have expected some new options in the parlors, but you would be wrong.

     

    I still think TSW is a great game, it's just not, at this point, a game you can play long term. 

  • ProbertProbert Williamsport, PAPosts: 18Member

    I like TSW alot, I play it casually. Its the only sub game I pay for atm. I enjoy the setting and the stories. I think the graphics and sounds make the game really enjoyable. The first couple "instances" group content I've done have been done really well and I enjoyed them.

    I did not like AOC, i'm not a person that holds grudges against gaming companies. We all have choices, if you dont like it then you speak with your money and thats what I do.

    On a side note, I'm not sure why people are complaining about a sub and "a cash shop to boot" there are alot of games that do this including WoW. Why does Blizzard get a pass on this? Plus the "cash shop" is just for clothing stuff nothing really game changing in it. You dont have to buy anything if you dont want to its not going to effect you in the game or cause you to have a disadvantage.

  • fonoifonoi Cape TownPosts: 56Member
    Asherons Call managed monthly updates for 11+ years now. Sure some were a bit late, some very late but in All those years 90% of the time there was a new update every month.

    Difficult to compare the systems with the va and cutscences of modern mmos, but just want to point out it has been done before and quite sucessfully.
  • BlossieBlossie SydneyPosts: 8Member
    Originally posted by Azaqin

    I picked up TSW at release because I thought it looked cool and different. The modern setting appealed to me after so many hours in so many pseudo-Tolkien and nuveau-D&D fantasy worlds. After swinging a sword for so many years I was looking forward to hosing down the enemy with an assault rifle or a shotgun. 

    And TSW did not disappoint.....for about 5 weeks. I loved the skill-wheel system, figuring out all the various permuatations and combinations of active and passive abilities, how the game didn't hold your hand during character creation, but rather let you figure out on your own that the pre-set Decks, while not useless, were not the most powerful or effective combinations possible.

    True, there were some rough spots. It quickly became apparrent that the most effective Tank option was a Chaos/Blades build (although it was possible to Tank with other combos, like Chaos/Hammer), and if you were in a group beyond the standard dungeons and the Tank wasn't spamming Chaos, you were in for a wipe. That made Tanks pretty "One-Size-Fits-All," but as far as DPS went, there were so many different possibilities, that you almost never knew what you were going to run into in any given group, from a shotgun-weilding, fire-ball throwing mage to a sledgehammer swinging, two-gunned pistolero. There was considerable flex room in healing, specs, as well, which was nice. (My personal favorite was an Elemental/Pistol combo in which everything was a chain attack that leapt from enemy to enemy like a sugar-addled 5 year old with terminal ADHD. Groups of mobs went down fast.)

    Unfortunately, the rosy glow did not last. Which is not to say I came to dislike the game. Quite the contrary, I love the game; I love the system, flaws and all. Flaws can be fixed. (Although I am annoyed by the nerfing of Blaze.) I don't really mind the pay for the box plus pay for a sub model. I've been playing these games for more than a decade, and frankly that's what I'm used to. And, you know, I don't mind paying for a good game at all. Even with a box price and a sub, if it's a good game, it's still your best entertainment value. As far as the cash store goes, that's irrelelvant. Nothing in there but vanity items.

    Two things caused me to cancel my sub, at least for now.

    1. Enforced soloing. Not only is TSW extremely solo-friendly, it forces you to solo by constantly shoving you into "solo instances." Don't get me wrong, I don't mind soloing. I actualy prefer it a lot of the time, but without grouping, no sense of community emerges, and the world quickly begins to feel like a single player game. If I want a great single player game with an enabled chat feature, I can play Skyrim on Steam with the Steam Chat enabled. Same effect. My character on TSW has nearly every skill available in the game, with the exception of the new ones just introduced, and I have grouped to quest maybe two or three times. When you do group to quest, you tear through them so quickly there's barely time to register you saw a named mob. I'm not saying make the game harder, but some means must be found to make the game multiplayer, beyond simply standing in Agartha and scanning the LFG chanel hoping for a spot in a Nightmare group. As it currently stands, you have a single player game where, every once in a while, you hook up with other people playing the same single player game to run a dungeon, often out of sequence with the story line you are following. Over and over and over again.

    Which brings me to the real reason I suspended my sub...

     

    2. Sheer lack of content for the long term. After 5 weeks as a casual player, I had done every quest in the game, multiple times. Multiple, multiple, multiple times. So many times I could watch Netflix while questing and barely have to look at the game screen. The game has content, yes, don't ever think it doesn't, but it has the content of a single player game, not a long-term sub MMORPG. Eventually you get tired of doing the same things over and over. (And no, making a harder version of a dungeon does not qualify as "new" content, merely a more complicated version of existing content.) You could try to take refuge in PvP, but unfortunately TSW does not do PvP all that well. It's just your standard capture-the-flag zergfest, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just that we've seen it all a thousand times before. The innovation of the game systems does not continue into the PvP design. It seems almost tacked on.

    I don't really think that FunCom can make good on their monthly "content updates," especially not with drastically reduced staff. While the first update was promising, it was essentially just a badly implemented auction house and a dozen new quests that you didn't even have to look for. They were listed in the patch notes. The second update just put out? A few more quests. a LOT of tweaks and bug fixes, and face and hair modification parlors. Not really sure why the later, since the character graphics options are extremely limited for a modern MMORPG. You would have expected some new options in the parlors, but you would be wrong.

     

    I still think TSW is a great game, it's just not, at this point, a game you can play long term. 

    Now that is the best and fairest review of TSW ive ever seen , really hit the nail on the head .

    I would have stressed more how terrible the character creation is but thats my pet annoyance .

    excellent

  • JeroKaneJeroKane OsloPosts: 5,353Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by JosephJR

    TSW is great mmorpg but  funcom is bad company

    Last 1.3  updatee is great but  they still spending time & recources on va & cut scenes,they still making solo instance

    I love game but starting to hate  fcking incapable funcom.

    How so? I love the new missions. Just finished "Digging Deeper" last night and loved it. Can't wait to try the other ones.

    And how is adding new lairs and 2 new nightmare modes solo instances, when you clearly need a group! /shrug

    Some people just gotta hate... even if it means spitting out total nonsense.

    Maybe you should try read this article to get an idea about Lairs in TSW:

    http://hydrainitiative.com/?p=1185

    I agree with the OP that your personal storyline and some of the missions are filled with Solo instances, but that's pretty much it. Most other missions you can group up with other people! Which I have done a countless times so far!

    But it seems that people need to have a HUGE icon and description in their mission log saying it needs a group, before they even consider grouping up with others. /shrug

    There are plenty of solo missions that are very challenging and are a lot more fun to do with one or two others! Like a lot of the missions in Savage Coast and Blue Mountain for example.

    It is just funny to see how the forums were filled with complain threads a short while ago, about people complaining that they felt forced to group up in this game... and now the OP suddenly comes up with an article saying it's a Solo fest? Really?

    Sure... I guess there are sertain builds that can be clasified as FOTM build (like you have in every friggin other MMO) that makes solo'ing easier!

    But if you just go for the build you like, instead of chasing for FOTM ones, the game is pretty challenging compaired to many other simplefest MMO's.

     

    Seriously.... this game is actually one of the first MMO's since ages again that encourages grouping with others! /Facepalm

    I wonder how many (including the OP) even know how to spawn any of zone, region or even the world bosses? I bet none of you even bother investigating nor reading up on it!

    To say this game is a solo fest.... lol!  Whatever.

     

  • dreamscaperdreamscaper Somewhere, NCPosts: 1,582Member Uncommon
    I've enjoyed TSW, but I admit a part of me is secretly happy about all of this in hopes that it'll push them into letting Ragnar make Dreamfall Chronicles...

    <3

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,754Member Uncommon

    There is a blast from the past Dreamfall! A great of that all but dead genre the 3D adventure game.

    Monthly updates on AC did not have the scope of the graphical work needed to update the TSW. It would take a large team to do and these days MMO's have smaller post launch teams. Name me one MMO that has not launched and had staff layoffs within six months. The gaming model is now all about polishing for launch, not getting content ready for post launch.

  • eskelaeskela SzczecinPosts: 39Member

    Azaqin, nice summary.

    I would like to express how I feel about content/solo-playing. I started out fast, I knew lots of quests from closed beta. I ran through Solomon Island like a rocket. By the end of BM, I had pvp (10.0) heal and dps gear. 

     

    So I went to Transylvania, merely for AP. And I'm still there...

    I do some few NMs everyday (4, without last boss in Ankh, and sometimes without lass boss in Hell Raised when we have too slow dps). In my cabal they are usually fast runs.

    I do quests solo, I prefer it that way.

    I go Fusang, I quite enjoy it, even with it's flaws and Templars dominating ;) I try to make half an hour at Fusang daily, but often I stay for four hours or something.. But now I have clock in game (mod was crashing game), so maybe I won't be lost in time. :D

    I help clannies in elite/normal dungeons.

    We have events, we have some RP players in Cabal. But it's like one per two weeks, so not sooo often.

    I go to farm (solo or in group) for blueprints, signets. We then kill blueprint bosses (the lowest-grade ones).

    Sometime I spend 2 hours looking for perfect dps build (my healing one is fixed and perfect). So I stay in Chamber and hit demons with dps meter, changing skill after skill, measuring which passive dot dealt the most dmg... I like such stuff, understanding and knowing what my build can do. 

    I often do stupid stuff, like go to pyramid casino in BM and solo badass mobs, just to make mu heal-dps build better. 

    And I still didn't get all lores in Kingsmouth, lazy me.

     

    And yet, I still didn't have time to do all the quests. I tend to play around 5hours in the evening, sometimes longer. With some days off. I did Solomon Island, I did 2 maps in Transylvania, i'm done around half of Carpathian Fangs. I did 2 quests in Egypt. Shit, I didn't even do 1.1 issue quests! 

     

    There are days, when I don't do any quest (except of dungeon one). I have so many things to do, that I don't have time for questing, yet I need AP badly. I can say, that i'm definitely not 'do-all-quests-nao' orientated. But, for me, that's the way to play TSW (and yes, people might wanna play it differently). When I have anything to do, I follow it. When I have nothing to do... I go questing. 

     

    So, with my 'playing-style' I will sit in this game forever and never complain about no content. Good for me, because I have lifetime sub, so it will be considerably cheaper than searching for other game. ;)

     
  • Xeno2012Xeno2012 Hanover, ONPosts: 10Member

    This was a well thought out and well stated review by Mr.Barreiro Jr., and I am impressed by the erudition shown in many of his comments and allegories.

    TSW has a great variety of activities available, as has been stated.  My main character has many of the "completions" achieved, including a nearly 100% complete Ability Wheel, all the lore, and so forth.

    The game is still engaging and playable, if one wishes and is capable of engaging.

    It is true that TSW is not force-feeding a huge stream of new content all the time, but one could play for months simply trying out new variations on skill sets and so forth.

    Some players may speed through the missions, especially the investigative ones, simply by looking for hints or asking for answers.  Similarly, some players in instances or PvP will employ exploits or cheats in order to "win" (in their own minds) as quickly as possible.  Without bothering to moralise about this, I simply doubt that any game can have staying power with that playstyle.

    While it would be nice to have a dungeon per day or a new mission per day to play, the game is not yet three months live.  It has tremendous potential and this gamer will hope that it has a chance to realise it.

    Sometimes, one contributes to one's own entertainment by experimenting with the tools that are provided.  TSW is the first MMO out of the many that I have played that actually engages the mind at times, as well as one's abilty to move and click quickly.  I highly recommend it.

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