The Secret World’s Manifest Destiny
As a long time MMOer, I really appreciate games that never stooped to trying for the “WoW Killer” crown. I appreciate WoW for what it is and what is has done (and what it’s ruined) for the MMO genre, but if you want WoW, play WoW. If you want something else, something totally different, then look for those games that go out of their way to be different.
I’m not a horror fan, generally, but I am a fan of the “magic in the real world” genre, even if it takes on shades of horror (a la the works of Lovecraft and Clive Barker). The Secret World’s setting was such a radical departure from the high fantasy clones that were all chasing WoW‘s skirts that I couldn’t not throw my support behind it, so I bought into the Grandmaster package (lifetime sub). And then I proceeded to not really play it all that much once I learned that I had seriously screwed my first character. But the recent changes that FunCom made to the game rewards drew me back in. 30% XP gain for GMs meant that my stable of characters who were built more carefully but who were still stuck in Kingsmouth (three of them, to be exact) could rocket along the AP/SP pathway towards progressing out of New England and out into the wider world, finally.
Like the genre that it’s predicated upon, TSW has some insidious scheme that’s stuck in my craw for some time. Like, oh, pretty much every game ever, all of the game’s improvements and new content has been aimed at the higher tier players. Before you get all “no duh” on me, I agree that it makes perfect and legitimate sense: Once players have moved out to the fringes of content, the developer needs to keep laying the tracks out into the Wild West in an effort to keep those players on the train for as long as possible. But as someone who’s been mired in the starting zone for years now, seeing FunCom focus almost exclusively on prolonging the subscribership just reinforces the feeling I get of being stuck back in Kingsmouth. I’m way behind in a forgotten zone, left to fend for myself with no hope of rescue on the horizon.
Now, that’s my personal point of view, and I am aware that it’s a pretty entitled point of view, but my thoughts were reinforced by today’s Bio Break post. In it, Sypster talks specifically about the combat additions that FunCom has tacked to the ends of the game — the auxiliary weapon system and the AEGIS system — and how FunCom seems to be under the impression that adding more systems to the game is somehow enhancing the game, while actually not enhancing the game at all.
See, It always felt to me that TSW was just…expanding for expansionist’s sake, but never really focused on the core of the game. They did do a kind of across the board combat-pass a few years ago that supposedly made the game “easier”, but aside from that, any touching that FunCom has done has been to just snap a new piece of content to the end of the game with some wacky mechanic designed to add another meter to fill. The best, short-winded way I can describe how this makes me feel is desperate. FunCom doesn’t want to lose any of the most at-risk players — those without any more content — so they don’t just add more content, but they come up with some time-consuming maze of mechanics that asks players to wade through on their way to that content precipice again. And again. And again.
I can’t say whether or not TSW is broken; I haven’t played enough, gotten far enough, or just experienced enough to have an opinion. I really love the game, although I’m really sick to death of Kingsmouth specifically and Solomon Island in general. Although a lot of my sadness has been the feeling of being left out and left behind, I’d not been able to nail down the larger dissatisfaction of watching FunCom’s plans from a distance until Syp’s post. Now it makes more sense: FunCom doesn’t seem to know how to work TSW for actual maximum effect. They’re addressing the issue of losing players by extending the pier they’re walking out on, but don’t seem to be overly concerned about the structural integrity of the pier as a whole.