Secret Societies and Shangri La

Hurray for me, I have finally finished up everything on Solomon Islands except for the dungeons now which i plan to do during the next weekend. I think i missed a few of the side quests though but luckily I have this post for when i feel like heading back. The Last quests i had left were the ones in the Wabanaki Trailer Park, and i really do enjoy Old Joseph. He has a very worldly feel to him but it is all very solemn becasue of the family fracture. “Dreamcatcher” is a kind of funny quest although i think maybe it shouldn’t have told you were to find the items, it would have been a great easter egg hunt. Also it is a really weird effect that happens after inhaling the smoke, kind of like Peyote i think were the world becomes distorted and weird lighting (not that i have tried it =p).

I will be really sad to leave here as you grow close to the characters, having listened to all the narrative pieces i could get my hand on you get to know the complex tapestries of emotions the characters make on the island makes. You get to know all the gossip, news worthy events, and the seedy underbelly of the islands occupants… everyone feels very real, not flesh and blood real, but the complex personality type of real wherein you kind of understand how they feel and can sympathise with their situation.

Just about straight after that last mission i got a call from hq to report in for a new faction mission, i was going to head in to complete this part of the story anyway. Firstly i finished up my story quest “Dawning of an endless Night and i have to say that it concludes itself really well. Heading down into the deep caves was nerve wracking again as i forgot to grab a mining helmet (again) this time though the mobs were no longer around in the deep mines. The final fight with Beaumont is very well done once again, Funcom seems to have inherited a great knack for developing challenging but fun single player encounters.  I have to admit that Beaumont made an excellent bad guy, his completely dismissive nature as you were completely beneath him was just a little infuriating but so well done. His admittance and dismissal of regular bad guy tropes in his dialogue was a great addition.. you really hated him with a passion. I hope Cassie can take up the torch becasue at the moment she seems rather like a vapid puppet although at the end it makes you intrigued as to who she’s working for or what she is.

The Shangri La cutscene is amazing and very atmospheric, the disembodied voice has that evil tinge to it but it seems very enticing. They have intertwined the historical figures very well into the scene as you get a sense of their place as well as a stronger sense of some overarching narrative, and it also makes some similarities to the original tutorial scene in the underground. There is definitely some very ancient power, evil or not that is very interested in the world and consuming whatever it can. It makes me think of Hellboy wherein the portal to the hell dimension is opening and slowing releasing it’s occupant.

Staring at the Abyss

This Shangri La scene is exactly what game makers should be working towards now as it is an amazingly rich scene, it tells a great scenario, has interesting dialogue AND leaves the control up to the player. Yes it is tightly scripted but you as the player are still in control and the environment feels interactive. I lament the  game industries current fascination with the tightly controlled cutscene and the mini movie approach as it is not appropriate for the medium and is often done poorly and far to frequently.  Walter Garret Mitchel was discussing gaming auteur theory in a recent article on The Escapist and said

one could even argue that narrative in games should “simply be a sound among other sounds,” a side dish to the real meat of the interactive elements and gaming’s answer to the mise-en-scène.

And this is what The Secret World does very well, the dialogue is merely a part of a complex system that is telling a story and enriching the environment. It is no more or less important than any other system. When i was first was introduced to The Secret world i was originally thinking that another clone was blowing through with samey samey questing and combat, and bland B grade story ala SWTOR. That is no longer the case anymore and i honestly think that it may be able to move not only the mmo genre forward but gaming in general. I don’t think it is a style for everyone nor should it be the one and only approach but there are many lessons regarding the approach to story, character, and environment that game developers, producers, executives and investors should take on board and hopefully learn from.

sorry for that opinionated part in a light hearted story romp so onwards we go

When your talking to the handler again you know somethings wrong and your completely expendable. After telling you your doing ok there is a giant but left at the end of the conversation as well and then *bonk*. The Q&A session was very funny and kind of the epitome of the direction with the cutscenes, your a nobody and you Damn well better shut up and listen. The mini investigation mission is pretty good too as all the information is handed to you if you are attentive. It still amazes me how many people want handouts though, I missed the elevator code too but I just took my time.  The Mission has you following the trail of the eledged rogue agent to a warehouse that is taking in lots of Egyptian artifacts

I wonder where the Ark is

Wooooooooo , the Indiana Jones warehouse of horrors is AMAZING and I wonder what crazy artifacts lie within.. I literally had a nerd gasm here as i was not expecting this out of a normal mission. It is the warren of crates you always though it would be although becasue of the wall of mirrors trick in Indiana Jones it looks a little smaller than the movie. It can be a little hard to navigate around and i was just really lucky i ended up traveling an exact path to the rogue agent otherwise i could have spent a long time searching around.  When the lights go off it gets a bit creepy but fortunately my little big planet practice has paid off and i platformed my way to safety.

Afterwards I ended up exploring around the headquarters too and meeting people, the senator annoys me soo much as he represents the kind of polical person you hate… Self interested, greedy and corrupt. I also met the voice of the machines in the Illuminati Headquarters (who’s name eludes me right now) and what seems like its computer mastermind, she has some interesting comments regarding the 3 secret societies. She doesn’t think very highly of the Templars though and considers them antiquated and irrelevant in the information age. I like her, if i was ever part of some secret society and had more abilities with computers than clicking to attain a reward i would sooo be her.

Harnessing My Chi

And I finally found my way to the next zone, Egypt looks amazing and I can’t wait to explore everything it has to offer. Scorched Desert is the first place and you walk straight into what appears to be guerrilla warfare between two factions. All I had time to do though was talk to the first npc and you get a decent feel of the conflict and her dedication. All i have to say for my future Secret World playtime is…

Gooooooooooooooo Team

Who’s Got Spirit.. Yes We Do