Finally got around to the Tyler Freeborn missions and they are definitely an amazing collection of events, cutscenes and mechanics that keep you engaged.
It’s nice that even after all this time they are still giving people a reason to visit the earlier areas. Even without having numerous areas, when people have finished leveling these lower zones always turn into a ghost town but here I still see people running around who are quite obviously well geared doing the rounds. It makes each area feel more important, busier and like your not alone playing a supposed mmo when you can’t play as often.
The new update once again has us visiting older areas. The end of days event had everyone traversing the world and the Templars home town, and exploring the disappearance of Tyler Freeborn. These updates have been well planned to involve people in the entire game world as well as different parts of the map. I would really like to see this aspect taken on by more developer, give people a reason to go back even just for a silly event because constantly having it in the same place neglects the rest of the world… Not to mention is rather boring.
An interesting part of these new missions and world exploration is that it has you seeing old parts of the world in new ways, explaining certain obscure details that have been hidden from our casual gaze. It is remarkable when these parts come up as that feeling of immersion starts welling up, it is a complex world we are slowly getting to learn more about.
The jester guy rambling away on his podium was one nice example, at first glance he seems just like one of those homeless people with mental health concerns that dreams big and prophecies to the world. But he is far more knowledgeable then he seems and Privy to hidden things and mysterious messages that we haven’t seen or heard. Seeing the stones now is kind of enlightening and makes you wonder what other little treasure trove are tucked away and secrets hidden in plain sight.
Another part that was interesting is coming across the cabin in the haunted woods that once belonged to Tyler Freeborn. We know this now but back when we were all questing for the first time it was just another haunted house but now it takes on a new meaning. He obviously left in quite a hurry as there are many of his personal belongings are left behind, and the house has been left to rot.
You can see a few parachutes caught in the trees around the cabin which have always been there, a meaningless set piece and an unknown part of the story until now. Questions pop up such as were the soldiers i helped defend against an ethereal assault a part of the conspiracy to silence Tyler but then somehow became stuck here and cut off from the world around them. Did they find him or did he escape. It is a world full of mystery that gives you glimpses into previous events, enough to gain some information but little enough that it captures your imagination.
It isn’t just an unchanging world that we are slowing getting to know though and it appears the world is changing based on the progress of certain events. Correct me if I’m wrong but I am pretty sure the trench with the Orochi experiment wasn’t around previously. The disappearance of Tyler Freeborn and the confiscation of his work by the Orochi has spurned on certain events. Now his work is being continued by the Orochi and there work with his theories has progressed into trials.
I haven’t really seen much of this type of development yet in TSW, the world has remained the same, but now with certain events and the continuation of story elements we are beginning to see the changes on the world around us. It is nice to see but is this going to be the way of future development instead of a combination of the 2 development types. In a recent response to questions surround the audio work of the characters (which I can’t find the link to again.. ARRRGGGHH) they said most of the voice work for the released issues was completed when the others were done, before release and while the game was in development. Yep that’s right they were thinking a long time ahead.
This brings forward a few questions regarding future updates though. If this is the case then it is safe to assume that instead of returning to old characters we will be introduced to more new ones, either people in the world who haven’t got the limelight yet or new ones entirely. It must be hard on them to get certain high profile actors to come back for extra lines, it is an expensive process made even more expensive and time consuming as they used some rather notable people to voice many well known and loved characters. Hopefully they can make some allowances as i think we have all grown to like many of the characters in the game and would love to see them further evolve as the story continues.
Another point that comes up though is that up until now most of the updates which have revolved around the characters we already have was planned in advance before release, the basic assets already put in place to use such as key locations like doors, statues, structures, and certain markers in order to use later when the rest of the assets such as an instanced area had been completed. These were put in to avoid too much change to the environment that would be jarring and this way it also has a better flow when these new quests are added as you are only noticing things that have already been noticed. But now this pre-development planning has run its course.
Will we see more changes the world, small or drastic or will they attempt to use what they have in the world when thinking of new missions. We supposedly have the entire new region coming this year which tends to point towards the abandonment of the old areas as there is nothing left to explore. Regardless what happens I know Funcom have a much bigger plan involved when developing for TSW in terms of progressing the story, and with the variety of mission mechanics involved in these new additions I’m guessing I will be happy whichever way it goes development goes in the future.