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The Secret World

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Funcom
Developer: Funcom
Release Date: July 3, 2012

About Brad Hilderbrand

I've been covering the various facets of gaming for the past five years and have been permanently indentured to WorthPlaying since I borrowed $20K from Rainier to pay off the Russian mob. When I'm not furiously writing reviews, I enjoy RPGs, rhythm games and casual titles that no one else on staff is willing to play. I'm also a staunch supporter of the PS3.

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'The Secret World' (X360/PC) Developer Interview

by Brad Hilderbrand on April 15, 2009 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

An ancient, dreaming evil stirs. Dangerous creatures awaken. The Earth is in mortal peril. The wonders and horrors of the secret world are re-emerging in our world. The time has come to take up arms in the war between good & evil. Warriors and champions of Gaia, your training is about to begin. Rise. You have been chosen.

Genre: MMORPG
Publisher: Funcom
Developer: Funcom
Release Date: TBA

WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!

I'm Ragnar Tornquist, and I'm the producer and director of The Secret World.

WP: What can you tell us about The Secret World and the world that we'll be seeing when the game comes out?

RT: It's a game that takes place in the modern-day real world, in locations all over the world, including London, New York, Seoul, and I think we also revealed Egypt and New England at this point. Basically, dark days are coming. Evil is rising, and players are being called upon as heroes with powers that are only now emerging to fight this darkness, to take a stand and find out what the hell is going on. Why are these dark things occurring?

And when I say the "real world," I really mean the real world. This is not an alternate reality, and this is not sort of a parallel universe. This is the real world that's just outside your window. It's the things that you ignore, that you sort of pretend to yourself are not really happening. It's the stories on the news that tell about people who disappeared or weird things are happening, and it's being covered up. It's about the conspiracies, urban legends, ancient history, gods and demons — all the things that permeate our universe and we look at as fiction but which really aren't. It's all true, and we're revealing it. We're probably going to get in a lot of trouble for revealing the truth, but it's there, man! The truth is out there! (laughs)

WP: Excellent! You guys are separating yourselves from a lot of MMOs in that you're not doing levels. You're not having characters level up. How then will you be tracking player progression? What should players be looking for in place of levels so they know how their character is advancing?

RT: The Secret World is a class-less, level-less game. It's a skill-based RPG system, which means that a lot of times, you'll basically be playing to get cool new skills, cool new weapons, upgrade your weapons, get a hold of important items that can be used for missions, and things like that. With a game that doesn't have levels, it's probably harder for people to see where they are in relation to everyone else. We chose to go class-less and level-less because this is not medieval Europe. This is not high fantasy. It's not the game where you're born into the role of a noble peasant and you work your way up through the grades. It's not like that. In the real world, you can start out any way you want, you can make any kind of choices in what skills you want, and you don't have to lock yourself into something. If you want to learn magic and firearms and melee combat and martial arts and stuff like that, you can do that, or you can focus on one area.

The incentive is to really have a lot of different powers that your character can use, sort of like a deck of cards that you can stack any way you want. Different content in the game will require different types of skills and different types of abilities. Obviously as you'll get stronger, you'll have more energy and be able to fight stronger monsters as you go along. It's not like it's the first week and you're basically done. It's not like that.

After the first week, you can join in and you can have fun, and you already have enough powers to really go out and explore the entire world. It's an open world, and we're not putting any locks on any doors so you can explore it. The point is that you won't really survive unless you've worked your way up through the grades in order to get cool new weapons, like the super shotgun. It's not like there's only one shotgun, you know. There are lots of different grades of weapons, with different types of ammo, different types of properties against different types of monster categories. There is definitely a huge incentive because you won't get to see everything unless you play the game for a very long time, and there are other incentives that I'm not going to talk about today. Even though we say that this is an MMO that begins where other MMOs end, there's always stuff that comes later in the game after you've played it for a while that won't necessarily be available from day one.

WP: Obviously there are going to be two sides in this war between good and evil. Do players get to choose what side they're going to play for? Can they maybe participate in the conspiracy, or are they locked into discovering the conspiracy and bringing things to light?

RT: (pause) I can say this because we aren't revealing the other stuff now, but there is a common goal, and the common goal is that dark things are crawling out of hidden places. You have to save the world, and everybody's in it for that, but there are definitely other things happening that will mean that people take part in the conspiracy, and not everything is peaceful between the players either, but that's about all that I'm going to say today.

WP: How many people do you have working on the project, and how long has the game been in development?

RT: In its current state, the game has been in development since 2006. Actually, before that, we worked on the game since 2002, and the team went on to do Dreamfall and then came back to work on the game. Right now, we're about close to 100 people in both Oslo and Beijing, and we're still growing.

WP: One more question, and then we can end the interrogation. What's been the best thing so far about working on the game, and what's been the worst thing that you've dealt with so far?

RT: Gosh, what's the worst thing so far? Marketing? (laughs) No, actually, marketing has been pretty good. I think just the enormous scope of it because making an MMO is not like making a single-player game. It's the vastness of the story and universe and the number of features; trying to find the focus in that is really hard. The best thing is just working with some incredibly talented people. We have some people on the team who've worked at Funcom for a very long time, who've worked on games like The Longest Journey, Anarchy Online and Dreamfall. To be able to jump into a meeting and basically hash out this really awesome cool story or talk about this new feature that we're doing — every day is different, and that's fantastic and great.


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