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The Secret World’s a Year Old!

July 5, 2013

Dear Reader,

I’ve always loved the Secret World.  I knew from the first trailer and earliest discussions of mechanics that I came across that I would enjoy the game, and I did, immensely.  I can keep an objective perspective and acknowledge it’s many shortcomings, but over all, it’s undoubtedly my favorite MMO, and probably the second best MMO that’s been made, after WoW.  I keep WoW first both due to its accessibility and it’s massive dominance of the market, despite the fact that I haven’t played it in months.

The summer event for TSW started this week, and to be frank, I have been so far underwhelmed.  Nine bosses will be released over five days that are essentially server-wide zergs that take between five and ten minutes of relatively mindless button-pushing.  I’m a bit disappointed because after the wonderfully detailed and incredibly devious quests designed for TSW, a rotation-heavy zerg-fest leaves a lot to be desired.

I missed both Samhain and The end of Days events, much to my regret.  I heard both were excellent and that the second was a nice conclusion to an in-game story line that was mysterious and engaging.  Both seemed almost to be like separate “Issues” that TSW has released.  This one seems like less, but since I’ve been repeatedly told that Issue #6 was excellent and #7 is about to launch, perhaps they were too invested in getting those done.  I don’t know.

In the end, the event seems to be a cycle of killing 8 or 9 bosses every 2 hours without much other story.  You can get pet drops, flares, and various other currencies, but for the most part, it feels much more simplistic – much more like what I’d expect from a different MMO – than what I’d hoped for.  Perhaps there’s a surprise in store, though.  We’ll see.

Despite the underwhelming nature of the event, I still maintain that TSW didn’t get the response it deserved from the community.  I understand how backwards a statement like that seems; clearly the community decides about games on their merit, but, perhaps, I held the community in too high a regard.  It’s a common fallacy to assume others think like oneself, and when TSW was met with such skepticism and disdain, I was shocked.

Sure, I found some problems with the game too, but the design of it, both mechanical and artistic, I thought was beautiful.  The fluidity of combat changed the way I thought about fights in MMOs.  The art changed what I thought about the horror genre.  The NPCs changed (and somewhat ruined) my expectations of NPCs in other games.  The quests, particularly the investigations, changed what I considered possible from MMOs.  I’m still reeling a little from its “failure” (though I wonder whether in the end it made money or not).

Regardless, it’s been a lot of fun to come back and play the new content, and I suspect I’ll give in and break my “No DLC” oath on Issue #6.  Everyone I’ve spoken to has given it high regards.  I think I may have to see for myself.

 

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and killing Gaia defenders)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2013 5:34 am

    Nice to read that you are enjoying the game! This here got me peaked up a bit in a funny way: “It’s a common fallacy to assume others think like oneself, and when TSW was met with such skepticism and disdain, I was shocked.” Since my reaction to that (and it’s a positive one) was “What somebody still enjoys that game!?” Don’t get me wrong I’m happy for you but TSW was not what I looked for as it completely lost the feeling of being in a world with mandatory single player instances (lots of instancing in general) and the whole world is merely an assortment of corridors and rooms that you have to complete in a set order due to that
    I also think that while the investigation missions were cool they have a few very big flaws to them (I admit I only played the first zone and half of the second in beta):
    Firstly once I have done them once I will remember them (yeah my brain likes remembering useless stuff like: “Why the Humans in WoW should from a cultural and historical standpoint not be able to be Hunters or that there were Dwarf Mages in Vanilla beta”) so alting will be all the more boring (sure with the one class can be everything design that I don’t like alting is disincentivised but that’s another problem in itself imo, since it means content has to be cranked out even more frequently) and secondly the fact that some of them involve less “playing” more “browse the web for an obscure passage that may or may not be a bible quote”. I thought hte stealth missions were far better in that regard as they were slow paced due to beng punishing but at least you felt a sense of “doing” something while trying to complete them.

    Anyway glad you are having fun in TSW! I just hope I find an MMO soon that does away with these modern blasphemies like fast paced combat, single player story lines, worlds that do not even remotely feel like worlds and free form classes :P Yes I feel old…

    • Sylow permalink
      July 5, 2013 12:27 pm

      While i understand that TSW is not for everybody, i’d like to adress some of the points mentioned:

      – Yes, the game is not only still around, judging from in game activity it feels like it’s even stronger now than at launch. (Of course, buy2play was a big change, especially considering that many players disregarded TSW when GW2 launched just a few weeks later with a buy2play business model. )

      – I agree that solo instances are a strange beast. They were not well received by the players, and Funcom seems to have learned the lesson.
      Looking at issue #5 and #6, both of them together have only one solo instance, and even that one you start together, but you automatically “drift apart” in it. I can’t explain more without spoilering, but it feels correct and logical there.

      At the same time, not locking them to solo shows me, why many infiltration missions were designed as solo missions. When i do the non-locked infiltration missions alone, i sneak. When i have people along, we just power our way through it, all the nifty stealth challenge is lost. Also to be noted: most solo dungeons are actually on Solomon Island, after that they get very rare and mostly are used for your story. (Which in quality is way superior to your personal story in SWToR or GW2. )

      Still i agree, while several of the solo instances of Solomon Island actually function as hidden “tutorials”, their presence in a multiplayer game was a bad decission. But as said above, Funcom seems to have learned to avoid this mechanic.

      – You are right on the limited replayability of investigation missions. But as you also recognized, creating Alts is not the name of the game in TSW. Most people stick to one character and are absolutely fine. And if you dislike that you find the solution on the web, be aware that the game considers you to be mature. You get challenged, it’s upon you if you can stand up to it, or if you falter and use a guide. (Also, yes, there are some which i could not solve by myself, never, ever. So what? Solving them is not required to play the game, if you can’t do them without a guide and want to complete them, go ahead and use the guide, that’s all fine for the game. If you decided not to use a guide, skip the mission. Perhaps in a week or two you genius strikes you and you get ahead on the investigation, after all. )

      – If you dislike the storyline, it’s up to you. But many people enjoy it, and in TSW it’s really well done. (Unlike others, which also advertised a lot with your story. )

      – I don’t see the problem with the classless system. You still have your roles of tank, healer and DD, but you have all freedom on how you want to achieve the goal. (Including the freedom to fail badly, which many people use a lot. ) Certainly, no classes means there are no (obvious) training wheels and no pillowy soft safety net, making sure that you can’t fail, but it also gives you the chance to do things your very own way.

      All that being mentioned, you said you dislike the fast paced combat. Not only is it sure to stay in TSW, i am afraid that quite likely more MMOs in the future will use it. So for you, i hope some games with slower pacing still are published, although i dare to guess, while you feel old you’re likely younger than some TSW players i know. :D

    • July 5, 2013 12:35 pm

      When I initially read your comment, it was on my phone, which doesn’t differentiate between comments left for me or others. I wrote a long response reiterating how much I like the game, but it seems you weren’t really responding to me at all! (; Long story short, we’re both in agreement; TSW was great!

      Thanks for the comment!

    • July 5, 2013 1:10 pm

      @Sylow Yeah it’s true I most likely am younger than a lot of players that you know (and thus feeling old bums one out even more haha)
      Glad to know the solo instances have becomme fewer! Still don’t know if the world has or even can be opened up more since that was one of my main issues with Funcom’s use of instancing.
      The reasons I dislike the classless system are many but mostly it’s the fact that while you still have roles you will get peer pressured into performing roles you don’t want to do (like with dual spec) and also that it suffers even more from the pyramid effect when it comes to “amount of content to play per time played” where you get even less content the more you play as every zone not part of the end game holds no interest for you.
      As for the investigation mission I was referencing one of the first once you get with the lighthouse and the clocks and such there is no way of knowing how to solve that mission without knowing that there is a bible quote in there and from which part of the bible it is as you need that numerical from the part to progress (and the browser reference was merely referencing the fact that Funcom had designed some of the quests so that you had to Google; hence the ingame browser, i was not talking about googling walkthroughs though you could do that). Maybe other investigation quests were better (the one with the ravens certainly was) but that specific one was badly done keeping in mind you play a game (imo)
      Sad to hear stealth missions can be blown through with other people as I really liked the one with the Orochi guys on Solomon Island where if you were seen you got instantly knocked out.
      And yes I am aware that action combat is the new big thing on the MMO market and I do not have anything aganst it per se I just do not like the consequences it entails (like how chat is seen as a liability), but that is also mostly the case because I play MMOs to meet new people. If nobody chats you really won’t meet new people which leaves me rather sad^^
      Also I think slow pacing usually breeds a more patient player.

      That being said I did not want to say TSW is “dead” I receive the newsletters so I know it’s not. I merely used my opening as a hyperbole to foreshadow why I personally felt TSW was not a good game for me. Sorry for giving you an impression of me being on an angry/entitled/ [insert more appropriate word] rant.

    • Sylow permalink
      July 8, 2013 8:56 am

      “The reasons I dislike the classless system are many but mostly it’s the fact that while you still have roles you will get peer pressured into performing roles you don’t want to do[...]”

      You are? Really? I mean, alas, i do have setups for any role, but i don’t feel pressured into it. I know plenty of people who run with one or two roles and do perfectly fine. You might want to have a word with your peers, if they not only try but even manage to pressure you into roles you don’t want to do.

      “[...]and also that it suffers even more from the pyramid effect when it comes to “amount of content to play per time played” where you get even less content the more you play as every zone not part of the end game holds no interest for you.”

      Hmm. *ponder* My first kneejerk reaction would be “are we speaking WoW now”? But indeed, just like in any game, you will reach a point where you can either repeat content or leave. Which content you repeat is up to you, though, and by helping friends who started later, i was able to confirm that even missions in Kingsmouth can give reasonable AP for a higher up character. Indeed, it’s less XP and thus AP per mission, but as you can do them much faster with QL10 gear, the higher frequency of mission rewards compensates a good portion of the loss.

      Still, you are mostly correct, once you’ve done all the content and maxed your skill wheel, you can replay missions for story and atmosphere, but most of the open world lost its relevance. The dedicated end-game player will be in dungeons all of the time. I know of no non-PvP-oriented game where it’s any different, though, the endgame always turns out to be a time consuming grind, and as players demand it to be like that, i doubt there’s the slightest chance to change. (One of the curiosities of MMOs. The players don’t openly demand the endgame to be a time consuming grind. But they want activities which can keep them busy for a long time, and they want rewards which set them apart from players who did not invest this time. I yet failed to see how their demands would mean anything else but a grind… )

      “As for the investigation mission I was referencing one of the first once you get with the lighthouse and the clocks and such there is no way of knowing how to solve that mission without knowing that there is a bible quote in there and from which part of the bible it is as you need that numerical from the part to progress.”

      Yea, a tough nut. When i did that one, it was spoilered on the chat channel, but i have to admit, without that i probably would’ve been unable to finish it. Still as mentioned: like any other non-storyline mission it’s completely optional. Not ever doing it would’ve made no difference for my character, progression or anything. And as you mentioned, other investigations are very different.

      For example there’s one where you hack satelite dishes and got fragmented transmissions in hex, octal, binary and base36 code. For me that mission was done in a breeze, while another one, where all the essential information was stored in a page or Romanian text was a dead stop, at least till a cabal mate who was able to read that helped out. (The guide for that mission was not up yet at that time, but asking people always works. )
      I consider my solution of “ask somebody who knows that language” to be valid, for sure the game did not complain. :D

      “Sad to hear stealth missions can be blown through with other people as I really liked the one with the Orochi guys on Solomon Island where if you were seen you got instantly knocked out.”

      That one still is the way you remember it. More people won’t help. But some other infiltration missions don’t have “insta-kill” mobs, but just use some with serious punch and plenty of health, so a single player would take ages to take them down, in the unlikely case that he can handle them. In group, things start to look very different, though.

  2. July 8, 2013 9:46 am

    @Sylow I’ll simply start a new reply here since the text would otherise get squashed into a ridiculously narrow box.

    At the first points about roles it was a general you I was talking about. My friends do not do that to me but I have heard of others where the situation is the opposite. Yes you can say get new friends or “it s optional to be able to do more than one role” but in MMOs that is not always an option especially in a competitive environment. You can see how lots of things that were “optional” become a “must” in general in a game’s community. Addons in WoW are a good example with e.g. DBM as raids were designed with DBM in mind and most guilds that were somewhat serious about raiding required it. Or when I played Rift and got +% xp vials lots of people asked why I did not use them and when I told them I do not believe in giving shortcuts to players especially in leveling. I only get a head shake as a reply. Fine if people do not agree with me but a complete lack of understanding beyond “Ok that’s a bit stupid why would you want to do that” shows how the community enforces an atmosphere where in Rifts case using xp boosts is the norm or in WoW’s case certain addons are to be used.
    Pushing people to preform other roles “because they can” functons with the same principle and that is why I like set classes. You can have hybrids and pure classes and everybody can do what they want within those classes.

    Further and this goes to point 2 rerolling provides more content as the same quests feel somewhat new with a different class (well used to feel at least in WoW BC as quests were designed around being done with 1.5 people) if the quests are badly done they won’t.

    As to what the endgame player in non-PVP oriented game does; you are right. It is the norm but there are plenty of things you could make people do at endgame in the world. People tend to hate this but farming for crafting puts people in the world as did walking to instances or people doing optional dailies or farming for raidmats. As long as you have something to do in the world people will do it yet nowadays it seems to be dungeons all the way.
    My main point was that however without alting and several leveling paths content in TSW (or any game that features a gated world) content is cut down drastically. Hate to take up WoW but back in the day you had several zones for each bracket to choose from and thus much more content. And even when I did a quest I knew it felt different with a hunter to for instance my rogue and as such it still had a touch of novelty to it.

    I don’t want to take a grindy end game away. Tbh I thinking it is very good (in moderation). But no the “content available per timed played pyramid” can only be solved by an MMO without gated zones and that makes sure that just because a zone is meant to be accessed at 50 hours played you can access it at hour 1 and that there is still things to do in that zone at that timemark (it might just be a lot more difficult) and at timemark X. I was merely pointing out that TSW has an even steeper pyramid compared to say WoW because the world is highly linear and alting is non-existent. As such there is even more pressure to get more content out and even WoW and MMOs similar to WoW with alting etc. struggle already with getting content out in time.

    Lastly I also do not consider solving the riddles with friends in an MMO cheating its an MMO you should use friends after all ;). I guess my main problem was that the investigations were really hyped up as the “thing” in TSW without even a second thought spent on the fact that they are very inefficent content as they are only good once. And yes they are optional but once again they were presented in a way were you “should want to do them” as they are the “thing” that makes the game new. Not doing them would feel wierd in that light or rather not even trying to do them would feel wierd. I just want there to be a solution to the game activities that can be solved by playing the game as it is why i play games to “play” them. If then an individual wants to look up a guide it is up to them. But if the solution the game gives you is “sorry look this up in the browser” I feel cheated because essentially the game is telling me not to play it but do something different.

    And yes I have high standards for MMOs I realise that, but that is just how it is. I am very sensitiv to design choices that have flaws on the principle level (like a quest where the game tells you that the solution is to do an activity outside of the game).

    I would be completely ok with the Romanian page quest for instance if there was a Romanian to English dictionary item I had to find in game to solve it. Or a bible somewhere on Solomon Island so I could solve that quest.

    but yeah as I said I am very sensitiv to cases like that because to me that is bad game design as its worst (sometimes I might be too sensitiv like on the subject of F2P^^). And the reason I complain about things like that for instance in TSW is because I feel that by changing them the game could be much better.

    Anyway it’s nice to have this discussion with you ;) and sorry Stubborn for hijacking the post :(

  3. Sylow permalink
    July 9, 2013 9:46 am

    “You can see how lots of things that were “optional” become a “must” in general in a game’s community. Addons in WoW are a good example with e.g. DBM as raids were designed with DBM in mind and most guilds that were somewhat serious about raiding required it. Or when I played Rift and got +% xp vials lots of people asked why I did not use them and when I told them I do not believe in giving shortcuts to players especially in leveling. I only get a head shake as a reply. Fine if people do not agree with me but a complete lack of understanding beyond “Ok that’s a bit stupid why would you want to do that” shows how the community enforces an atmosphere where in Rifts case using xp boosts is the norm or in WoW’s case certain addons are to be used.”

    Oki, i kind of get your point here. Just like i am always amused about a friend of mine, who never, ever uses consumeables. The game might throw healing potions at you from the left, the right and also shove them up on you from behind, he will inevitably fill up all his inventory with them, but never ever use a single one. (Instead, he will at some time delete them, after a long stretch of masochistic inventory management, when he finds no other way to handle his inventory any more. )

    It’s something i’ll never understand, but i learned to accept and ignore it. I am aware that some players would eternally bitch about this, complaining that not going for “the absolutely best” way is hurting the complete team, but that’s an attitude problem, and no game system will ever be able to fix that. As long as the players are humans, complete with their own individual quirks, there’ll always be a way to be “mad” at another player for he is not “optimal”, no games system will ever be able to eliminate this.

    “Pushing people to preform other roles “because they can” functons with the same principle and that is why I like set classes. You can have hybrids and pure classes and everybody can do what they want within those classes.”

    And here is where the classless system of TSW actually wins! In a class based system, you just like all your friends must select a class at the start. The game now forces you to either inform yourself on all the classes, their gameplay not only at the start but also at endgame, or take a random choice and stick to it, for good or bad. If a game is very new, the information on how a class plays at endgame might even not be available yet, so you have no other option that take a gamble. Now, either you succumbed to the pressure at character creation, and forced yourself into a role already, or you might end up in the situation that the class you have at high end can be modified for tanking or healing, unlike the classes of all of your friends. In this case, you have maximum pressure to go for that aspect, as you are the very only one who can do it. I felt extremely limited and forced in certain directions in the 4 months i played WoW. Me and my friends started out the way we were used to, by each just picking a class at personal preference. Ending up with a Cleric, Mage and Rogue, we managed to progress close to maximum level, where the absence of a tank suddenly did hurt us a lot and the group was unable to smoothly progress any more. While makeshift-tanking with the rogue worked for low and mid level dungeons, this method was inadequate for higher up content. Thus the game itself told us that one of us now was supposed to dispose of his close to maximum level character, and level up a tank instead. (So that one player would have to invest a lot of effort to catch up, while the others could at leisure continue playing with the characters they were used to. )

    Instead of switching character, we switched the game and never regretted that move.

    In contrast to this, the system of TSW doesn’t put any of this pressure on you. Of course, if you are the one who invested a lot of AP into a tank spec then you are the obvious tank, but that was because of your personal choice. But if all your group lacks a tank, there is nothing in the system which forces one specific person to now learn to tank. Everybody in the group can aquire the skill and gear for tanking, there is no predefined path and thus no pressure created by the game itself. Almost all of my friends can bring damage, tanking and healing up to some degree, and when we run dungeons it quite regularily happens that somebody volunteers for tanking one dungeon, healing the other being DD in the third. When dungeons were still new to us, we also at some bosses switch roles, depending on each players strength and weaknesses, only lately with all of us being “routined enough” for most bosses, this is not necessary any more. Perhaps we’re more mature than the “average” player by now and thus approach things in a more relaxed way, but for our group the higher flexibility of TSWs system noticeably reduces pressure on each player. We’re able to fill in for each others gaps instead of the one tank or healer just having a bad day and everybody suffering because of that, which again puts pressure on the player in question, even if the team does not say a word.

    “Further and this goes to point 2 rerolling provides more content as the same quests feel somewhat new with a different class (well used to feel at least in WoW BC as quests were designed around being done with 1.5 people) if the quests are badly done they won’t.”

    Hmm, i’ve been through plenty of games. I played WoW only 4 months right after launch, but my list of MMOs i played would be quite long. Of all of the games i remember, choosing a new class actually gave you new content only in SWtoR, due to the personal story. When pondering for other games where creating a new character gave you new access, WAR, STO or GW2 first come to mind. A new character allows you to choose a new race an faction and thus you get access to new content. But this content is not bound to the class, but the race or faction, the class itself is mostly irrelevant in either example, only the difficulty of one or another encounter might be a bit different, depending on which class you picked.

    “But no the “content available per timed played pyramid” can only be solved by an MMO without gated zones and that makes sure that just because a zone is meant to be accessed at 50 hours played you can access it at hour 1 and that there is still things to do in that zone at that timemark (it might just be a lot more difficult) and at timemark X.”

    Interestingly enough, that’s again something where WoW in my book failed terribly. I remember doing missions with my friends. Due to me having spent an evening gathering crafting materials to push my engineering crafting, i was one level ahead of them. Now, we started a mission chain together, and after a few steps, one questgiver just gave me the next step of the mission, but did not give it to my friends. Only after they made one level, they were also able to pick up the mission. This felt like a very unnatural and unnecessary limitation and annoyed us a lot.

    In comparison to that, TSWs zone progression feels way more “natural” to me. Even a newly created character _can_ go to Egypt or Romania, the path there is not blocked. If you can beat the missions in QL0 gear and with only 3 basic abilities is another question, but nothing blocks you from actually going there and trying your luck. The storyline, on the other hand, is your guiding hand here, it sends you to the area where your setup and gear can succeed. (And, btw, old times WoW also mostly was “one zone for each level range” when i played it. There were a few deviations, but they were rare. The high number of alternative leveling zones current day WoW results from the plethora of expansions it had by now. The only game i remember where you from start had 3 zones for each leveling tier was Warhammer Online, and that’s due to each faction having 3 races and thus 3 zones for each tier. Interestingly enough, most players soon disregarded two of the zones, and stuck to only one, so “huge success” there. :D )

    “But if the solution the game gives you is “sorry look this up in the browser” I feel cheated because essentially the game is telling me not to play it but do something different.”

    That’s a matter of your very own perception. Indeed, you might be outside of the game client to solve some riddles, but just by using means outside of the client, you’re still playing the game if your activity is to solve the riddles in game, isn’t it?

    To make my point clear, i now have to spoiler a bit. So here it is: SPOILER WARNING!

    If i find a web application to decrypt morse code, find a wiki entry about ancient history to give me the clues i need, browse the web-site of the Orochi corporation to find information i need, etc, that’s not playing the game? For me, it is, with more freedom and more creativity than the client itself could ever offer me.

    As another example, the game could press the information “this painter is recognized by this specific way of painting” in a tooltip on me, but in this case i would feel like the game already solved the next riddle for me. On the other hand, if just find the information that the specific clue is on the backside of a painting which is painted in one famous painters style and get no further info, then i start up firefox (feel free to use any other web browser), search for pictures of works of that painter, then head to the gallery in the game and am able to identify the picture by what i just learned.

    SPOILER OVER!

    “I would be completely ok with the Romanian page quest for instance if there was a Romanian to English dictionary item I had to find in game to solve it. Or a bible somewhere on Solomon Island so I could solve that quest.”

    But the game gives you the item you need. You can’t even finish the tutorial without taking it, so if you ever managed to leave London (or your other starting city, if you made the grave mistake of choosing one of the inferior factions… *evil grin* ), you are guaranteed to have this most important item with you: the smartphone. The game is in a modern day setting and uses it to it’s advantage. Your smartphone means you have google available all of the time, so you can access your romanian to english translation software and your online bible whenever you feel like it. :)

    • July 9, 2013 10:49 am

      “And here is where the classless system of TSW actually wins! In a class based system, you just like all your friends must select a class at the start…”
      I think we both have a very good pont here, just when it comes to what you talked about WoW I never experienced those problems as my group of friends and me generally know what a class is filling role wise and we all like differentt roles. Even so there were points when we lacked a tank and then we would just pug one (especially as the dungeons were not meant to be done by 3 guys, although we still three manned some for the fun in beginning of Wolk). Also I tend to look for a group that needs me instead of trying to make a group bend around me or vice versa. Which sometimes results in my group of friends playing in different gulds and doing some of the more casual things together (we still have lots of fun though). So what I am trying to say is I have not hit the “narrow” spot in a game with classes as I always pick a group that fits around my playstyle (with some compromises I like healing and rogues equally so sometimes I heal and don’t play a rogue for the benefit of the group).

      I also think having classes help immersion a lot, something I find important (more on that later).

      “Interestingly enough, that’s again something where WoW in my book failed terribly…”
      When did you play WoW as this might explain some of our different experiences. Generally when I refference WoW in terms of leveling reference BC as for instance in BC one level would not make a difference in who got the next part of the quest chain (unless when you got it it was coloured red and you would not want to do that then anyway). But yes WoW could have done some modifications on when you get quests.
      And WoW had lots of tmes several zones for each level requirement even in Vanilla/ BC. Examples would be Darkshore-Loch Modan- Westfall in the 10+ range or EPL, Winterspring and Silithus before hitting Outlands. You also had some others in the middle with STV (they were not always clean matches, like Hillsbrad was matched with STV’s lower lvl range etc) but I had never done all the zone for my faction while leveling (even when I did not level through dungeons like I did with my first char in BC). And just because the “real estate” (the 2 other zones) might not be used does not mean they are not ggreat for a) alting and b) in general making up that what we call a world. If your world is centered around a number of zones and you have to go through all of them to reach max level your world is pretty tiny (SWTOR) and it should feel pretty bg instead to convey the feeling of an entire world. An MMO world needs these types of almost “blank” spaces as that is what fuels the feeling of world (to me).

      Also nice to hear TSW opens up more after Solomon island because that was a very closed feeling as I literally had to have completed a few quests before I could take the tunnel to the next part of the island. I liked WoW’s approach more where you could walk out of the starting zone from the get go (like me; only to be killed by the “wrong” Defias mobs :P, as I was suppossed to kill the ones inside Northshire Abbey). Once again it gave you the feeling of a world.

      “That’s a matter of your very own perception. Indeed, you might be outside of the game client to solve some riddles, but just by using means outside of the client, you’re still playing the game if your activity is to solve the riddles in game, isn’t it?”

      Yes it’s a matter of perception and to me MMOs should be world simulators (like they used to be). If I go outside of the game it breaks up immersion or in other words it breaks up the simulation and when that happens the MMO feels less good to me. Yes your in game item is the smart phone but it still does not give me the feeling of immersion when I look around it to let it explain me the world. That way I feel more like I am reading a book instead of experiencing a world (aka immersion gone) since my character does no longer feel like a living breathing part of said world. Life is experience and if you want to simulate life you have to simulate experiences and that is what TSW is not doing when it shoves you a smart phone and tells you to use it instead of the world.

      An example I do not for instance consider myself playing WoW when I watch the next bosses tactic on tankspot. Or I do not feel like I am playing Thief 2 when I am reading a walkthrough so that I can progress. Playing a specific game for me is: “every activity done inside the game with you character”. Browsing on the internet for instance makes me loose connection with my character as everything from the information provided to the interface clashes with the game’s established world. Interface is important for instance in the way that if my character reads the book and I can by the interface see “hey I am still in the game” I still feel immersed and connected to both my character and the world.

      Btw for the record I was a Dragon (living in Glasgow I could never have chosen a “southern” organisation like the Templars :P jk).

      But yes I understand how what you have pointed out for you are positiv design choices for you I hope I managed to convey why they are les good for me and manly our differences come as you pointed out from a difference of perception and thus differences of what we prioritise in our MMOs. It’s always nice to hear how other people feel about these things though because it might changes one’s mind later on :). Like I did regarding an open world with no level gates, previously I was against it since I loved leveling and later I saw that it had so much more to offer than a levle gated game. But we also discuss very complicated and sometimes allmost esotheric topics and thus disagreement is only natural :)

    • Sylow permalink
      July 10, 2013 6:51 am

      “I think we both have a very good pont here, just when it comes to what you talked about WoW I never experienced those problems as my group of friends and me generally know what a class is filling role wise and we all like differentt roles. ”

      I know what you mean. Perhaps WoW kind of lost there for me, because it was the first game i hit which so strictly demanded to obey their holy trimuphirate. As i already played online since 1995, spent like 10 years (even MMOs didn’t manage to make me completely give it up) in textbased muds and experienced the awesome pre-NGE SWG, this was a terrible letdown for me. In any game before WoW, you had the tools and options to compensate for the classes you have chosen, then WoW suddenly lacked all that flexibility, which made the game quite frustrating. Learning from that, for the next games our group decided who’d play which class in the next game in advance, but we always felt confined. And as previously mentioned, we even had the experience that a class in preview looked different to how it fared in game, again leaving us out in the open after a while.

      And yes, you mention puging, but one in our group (the same who never uses consumeables) has issues playing with strangers. Not only does he dislike it, he also gets nervous and his performance degrades a lot. Thus, PUGing was no real option for us. See again: players are human, flaws included.

      “When did you play WoW as this might explain some of our different experiences. ”

      I joined a month or two after launch. It took my friends that long to persuade me to take a break from Xyllomer and SWG. :D
      Then it took us 3 months or so, till most of us decided to drop it again, as it was not our cup of tea. (Yea, one of us stayed, joined a raiding guild, made WoW his “job” and failing his studies, but that’s another story, not directly related to the topic any more. )

      Anyway, more on the topic, i don’t remember areas in WoW, so i can’t say your statement is wrong, but all in all, the game felt like it was pulling us from one zone to another, with a rope tied to our characters (non-visual) noserings. If there were alternative zones, i did not notice them, the quest structure just pulled us from one place to another, so deviations from the given path seemed unavailable or complicated.

      Now considering that Xyllomer had no levels and thus no level-appropriate areas, racial starting places all over the world and no safety wheels at all (it was well possible to run into a high end fight within 10 rooms from the creation point of an elven character, for example), and SWG also allowing you to visit every place and planet right from the start, albeit at your own risk, i felt that WoW (and the plethora of MMOs following in its wake) was railroading me.

      “Yes it’s a matter of perception and to me MMOs should be world simulators (like they used to be).”

      My sarcastic question here would be: which MMO after pre-NGE SWG, (where NGE was the failed attempt to WoW-ize it) would your statement apply to? I must’ve missed it, unless you refer to EVE, which indeed simulates the world of ruthless jerks and .

      And i dare to say, i’ve been in the “world simulation”, seeing both good and bad. Even with Xyllomers limited population, being in the government of one of the smallest nations there already was plenty of work and required us to spend one evening a week for our government conference, to respond to actions of the last week and plan our next steps. So it might be a bit philosophical, but in my book an actual “world simulation” will never work in the scope of an MMO. It would require a too big portion of the (paying) players to surrender the fun they have and pour their time into administrative work instead.

      “If I go outside of the game it breaks up immersion or in other words it breaks up the simulation and when that happens the MMO feels less good to me. ”

      Oh, but you can open up the web browser inside TSW, too. You not only get the smartphone, but also the in-game webbrowser. :D
      Still, i guess i understand what you mean, but i dare to say, that’s now your very specific “yes, you are a human” quirk here, so i doubt we’ll ever manage to agree.

      The game concept says, it plays in our world at the present time. Game ressources for investigation quests include stuff like http://www.orochi-group.net/ or http://samkriegsightings.wordpress.com/ and while these sites could also have been “fixed” into the game, i find it actually more elegant to actually set them up on the web and let players access them that way.

      “An example I do not for instance consider myself playing WoW when I watch the next bosses tactic on tankspot. Or I do not feel like I am playing Thief 2 when I am reading a walkthrough so that I can progress.”

      I can agree on that, as both cases you mention you use ressources to beat the game, which the game did not really plan for, so you take the “easy” route around. Instead of figuring out things by yourself, you use a guide. Indeed, in TSW you could also go to unfair.co and read the guides for a mission, which not only indeed is not “playing the game” any more, but also takes away a lot of the fun.

      But if you go to the sites i just mentioned, to find out very specific information which you can only find on those pages, are you indeed not playing the game any more, just because you might be outside of the game client (or use the web browser implemented in the game)? For me, such investigations are part of the game, and also part of the fun. I find TSWs design here even especially rewarding, in an early mission you get the hint towards one of the websites i mentioned, and you have to use that (unless you go to a spoiler site) to gather a password you need to progress in your mission. Now later you run into another mission, where you don’t get the pointer towards this site any more, but rather a bunch of vague hints or what could be involved. I honestly don’t know if one of the other hints would also have lead my to my goal, i remembered the site and still had it in my browsers chronicle, so i went back to it and after searching for a while, was able to find the information i needed.

      Traditional “all in the game client” quest design would have required all information to solve the quest to be visible in the client, aka: “all hints you need are in your quest text”. That sure also would’ve worked, and would have made the quest much easier to solve, but it also would’ve taken away the special challenge. Instead, it would’ve been just another “check all marks and be done” mission, so i really appreciate the more freeform approach of TSW.

      Still, as you already mentioned: personal tastes, apples and oranges, tastes differ. (And knowing what you islanders dwellers consider to be good food and good beer, i’d never wonder about your tastes in other regards any more… *nasty grin* ) I enjoy TSW a lot (as i guess it can be guessed from what i write), but am also aware that it’s not for everybody.

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