The Secret World and New Player Experience

There have been a lot of changes incoming for The secret World that were outlined among the the recent blog, chief among those the Enhanced Player Experience, aka a nerf bat raining down upon the lands. There has been a bit of criticism around this decision as well, TSW is about the difficulty in a way. It’s about learning the skills and creating the right kinds of builds. It is a process most people are meant to go through.

The mmo player in me that’s prone to hardcore bouts of grind and utter devotion from time to time balks at such a thing. Having a certain amount of challenge in these mmo’s is a point of pride. it gives that sense of achievement for me and, it’s one of the primary things within these games that makes me strive for better. Without this element and mmo loses a great amount of appeal, or at least the average mmo does.

For TSW, I’m not so sure. This is the one game I could go casual for, and want to go casual for but there is so much getting in the way. TSW is just not a game I think you can devote yourself too entirely, their just isn’t enough interesting, and engaging content and mechanics to keep your time and with how much they update it never will be. That’s not a bad thing though as what they have their is good enough to make me want to repeatedly come back to try and enjoy but not enough to get through some of the other elements.

The difficulty has never been it’s strong point, in fact, it’s often a point of frustration. I can get by just fine within the game, I enjoy the skill building aspects but all those elements of difficulty and complexity get in the way of the game I want to play. I really don’t care about the combat in the slightest, it is rather average and is rather boring. No, what I enjoy within TSW is the story. It is by far the strongest part of the experience so why they wouldn’t want to create a greater ease around this aspect is beyond me.

In my mind there efforts to balance the game a bit more in regards to skills, time to kill and difficulty of the combat elements is a very good thing. I believe it will bring a lot of people back in who hit that difficulty wall before rather early in the game and then gave up. This way it gives people a chance to get hooked on the narrative first, to get immersed and involved with it. To give enough time and space to learn about the skills, passives and the inherent complexity there without being overtly punished. The difficulty is still there for end game content too but if you have gotten there your probably invested enough to continue at that stage.

TSW has been struggling for some time, Funcom has been struggling, you can see it in their financial reports each time. They are working on a razor thin margin their for running their games and hopefully this will bring people back to the game and keep Funcom going with creating this wonderful title.

Progress report: Adventures of the Unemployed

Hellooooooooo everyone and welcome back to the now so weekly Progress report. I can’t of dumped doing this a bit back as I really didn’t have the time, or it was cutting too much into gaming time and I didn’t have that much I wanted to say. There were a few games I might have skipped over because of that as well as the stuff I’ve been watching and doing but.. oh well.

And now it’s back, hopefully as with all the down time lately with being unemployed I seem to have a lot more time for gaming. It’s funny though because it’s more now that I have the time for all my random web searching, funny things, reading blogs, watching tv and anime and just general house stuff and so I have that time solely for gaming in the afternoon most of the time. It’s nice… someone please find me a wealthy donor so I don’t have to work though haha.

Continue reading

Rekindling a Secret Flame

It has been a long time, so very long but I’m finally jumping back into The Secret World. It has been an absence of a few months now and as time has gone on the pull towards the world has gotten stronger. And on the weekend I caved, the mmo junkie went back for a quick story hit and it was wonderful.

I had tried to get back in a couple of weeks back, loaded it up and promptly felt over and underwhelmed all at once. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I tried something of which I did poorly and quit. This time though I took my time getting into it. I didn’t try any missions and just spent what felt like a couple of hours spending my Funcom points on lots of new purty outfits and then went about designing the new look. It felt right starting it this way as I was reconnecting in a more personal way with my character, learning about them once again such as who they were and who I wanted them to be. The wardrobe makeover was also a way of molding my character for the future. Once this was done I was once again feeling more immersed, but still not quite ready for random questing.
-Blog Spam Ahoy>

Purty Pics of the Week(s)

Sorry I completely forgot to do a round up for these little pics sooooo… better late then never.

Enjoy!

Firefall
Firefall Roadsign FirefallClient 2013-02-17 21-33-52-37 FirefallClient 2013-02-21 19-12-00-62 FirefallClient 2013-02-21 18-55-46-88
Secret World – Savage Coast
TheSecretWorldDX11 2013-02-24 15-14-02-41
Planetside 2 – Middle of Nowhere
PlanetSide2 2013-02-25 20-05-52-95

Guild Wars 2
Gw2 2013-02-27 22-33-54-74 Gw2 2013-03-09 20-14-32-91 Gw2 2013-03-29 11-23-27-93 Gw2 2013-03-31 17-28-06-85 Gw2 2013-04-07 18-46-45-24

Secret Sunday: Congruence in Character relations

I should be nearing up on completing most quests in Transylvania now although the completion will include going back and forth a bit as I skipped some in the earlier areas prematurely. I also want to read all the npcs in the main cities which will include creating characters on the other 2 secret societies which will probably keep me busy in game for another month at least, hopefully in time and ready for the new zone.

There are some amazing characters throughout Transylvania, some of my favourites now as well and it’s good to see the quality of the writing and depth of the characters has continued all the way through. Not that I doubted them at all but I have seen the quality of writing and design taper off in the higher zones of others games like by then they run out of ideas. Right now I’m just looking forward to filling out my knowledge on them and maybe collecting all the lore. I never really bothered looking for the lore so that little goal should take me some time. From what I have read so far on the lore pieces which actually isn’t much, they are quite well done and explain a lot of the setting in new interesting ways.So much amazing story and so little time to absorb it, sometimes I wish it was all written down in pdf or paperback form so I could but alas.

-Word Spam Ahoy>

Secret Sunday: New additions and Long term aspirations

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.

-Word Spam Ahoy>

End of the World… or Maybe just a change in Payment Styles

I don’t usually cover these big news events since you probably have already heard them like a million times already… How much could I add to the collective conversation, I’m also usually later with my reply than others, so which is worse, old or iterated news because that’s the way these things go. But this time I feel the need to ramble a little as I actually have a few points to add they may or may not be interesting to some.

TSW is changing up its payment style in record breaking time, which although I am a little sad about as it points to the monetary failure of the mmo I just can’t say I’m surprised. I love TSW, that should be plainly obvious by now. I have written a bit about it with some of my best rambles being related to the many things it does exceptionally well but I knew of it’s many failings as well. When I was being particular critical of TSW I noted that it was a pretty poor mmo and likened it more to a single player RPG as it shares a similar focus in some regards. In the comments the other day Merecraft said it felt like a very schizophrenic game, he was talking about the story elements but I think its more that. You can see a kind of conflicted approach conflicted approach in many of the mechanics, mmo tropes being crammed into areas they just don’t fit. Single player aspects in their obliviousness to constantly breaking apart groups for certain instances missions as well as a story that is best when given time to enjoy.

The biggest conflict between the two approaches has to be the leveling system, you have a strong sense of customisation with skill decks with many of the beginner options being comparable to the outer wheel. There is also the ability to quickly mix and match your focus to suit the challenges ahead and a system that let’s you theoretically get end game gear without levels holding you back. But then it turns around and has a huge power difference of monsters between zones, a system at the beginning that can block off gear acquisition (AP), and the fact it is a complete gear grind at the end with it all being mostly bind on pickup. Their mission statement at the start was excellent and then somewhere along they may have experienced some pressure to compete or just plain forgot, whats clear though is that near the end of development they chickened out and added mechanics that just don’t belong here. The good news is they seemed to have realised the error of their ways as there has been very little power creep, even the new raid is left pretty accessible to anyone who has required minimal dungeon gear.

The other issue I think was that TSW was incredibly content light, what was there was of incredible quality and a very focused experience but it did little to impress an mmo crowd who expect hundreds of hours of gameplay (no matter how terrible or repetitive though) and got maybe a quarter of that. It all added up to a non mmo feeling mmo but one in which I think very much suits it’s new payment model. It has the focused experience of a single player which now is available for a good price without the need to sub and their model with updates of being regular packs of new missions.. ie issues seemed to be tailored from the start to be bought as DLC… hell $5 for one of those issues is freekin amazing, I was expecting about 10 and considering there is quite a few poo games out there selling map packs for far more it is very very reasonable. End marketing Plug… I swear I’m not on the take <_<…>_>

If they get a bit more active making new and interesting costumes, pets, theatre props and other fluff items they could possible do ok out of the change, at the very least they will do better then they are now as the influx of new purchases looking to have a try will maintain the game for a little while to come. Sadly while I love the experience and will probably remained subbed to TSW’s until it’s last dying breath I don’t see it becoming some smash overnight hit and with the cost of maintaining servers and such as well as developing new content it just isn’t possible to pull an Eve and eek out a meagre existence until you can gain a decent following. A great loss for the industry.

Well anyway all I can say is pick it up like right now and play the ever living hell out of it although take your time, forget the sub par combat and just stop and contemplate the world, read the amazing dialogue (it really is that good), and really think about the themes and morals that it weaves throughout.. then thank me later.

Wish you the best of luck Funcom and all of the TSW developers who have had a part in the development.. you have made one fan for life from me and no matter what happens in the end just remember that even if you didn’t create the best game or even mmo you created one of the best gaming experiences out there.

Secret Sunday: The Beginning or the End

I was finally able to drag myself away from PvP in GW2 and Planetside long enough to have a decent amount of time in The Secret World. I had a mission this time, I have been dragging my feet around for a while with doing random quests and such, soaking in the sights, and just generally screwing around but now it was time to get things done… Time to finish the story quests.
-Word Spam Ahoy>

Commanding Communication

It is rather amusing that the most viewed article of all time in this site was a quick link to a list of TSW chat commands, every week there are a few people in search of some clarification regarding this rather complex but wonderous part of TSW.

After seeing the list and using a few points I came to the conclusion that every game should be frontloaded like this. The majority of the user base probably would only use a few points of that but it still makes things far more accessible. Also some off these are just so amazing that I really need them again, to hold them and fondly remember a system done right.

Now there were a few issues with the whole chat box thing, major issues at times for a prolongued occasion but don’t let that detract from a major part that Funcom hot right.
Here’s a list of my favourite bits.

1. Extensive Emotes

Seriously, It’s just an amazing list of which I think I would have only used about a third. I love using empted as the can often elicit a chuckle when used at the right time, plus its good to have a large collection so during those boring waiting tomes your not using or seeing the same boring /dance.

It is of great benefit to the RP crowd as there is pretty much an emote to suit any occaision as the animations can range from the frantic to the extremely quick or subtle. Also, the use of these tends to make screenshots a little more interesting and while are usually stock standard as I have no idea how to use these with the UI turned off. I’m sure some else can figure it out and produce more beautifully atmospheric shots like dead end thrills.

So regardless if your a small production or a large gaming conglomerate I want at least one person whose soul job is to make emotes.

2. Alias Commands

This work for just about everything in the chat command list including the gear manager system. It lets you make a quicker typed alias name to use in place any other command, you can still use the original as well. Firstly wow, that this can be linked up to chat commands in the first place but also double wow that It allows people to customise the commands based on what is familiar to the them be it based on language or maybe a familiarity with commands from a different game.

Having this just makes the system far more adaptable to the players diverse needs and backgrounds

3. Scripts

Outside of the game you can write rather simplistic scipts (templates available as well) which include long message which can then be accessed in game through a quick command. These could be important messages you would like to use, guild recruitment spam, Boss fight rundowns, RP notes and so on and so on. Now this seems trivial and it probably is but I thoguht it was awesome all the same.

4. Custom channels

One of the Modern day conveniences that I know wish to see in every other mmo, these are so unbelievably useful that I am surprised the bigger games do not include something like this as it really improves quality of life. Imagine if we had such a thing in GW2 right now, you could have a separate Lf fractal channel or dungeon, or maybe a channel for connecting with those in structured PvP, an Area boss channel for the pve’ers and all this would be readily accessible anywhere you go during your play instead of being stuck in one place spamming map chat.

It comes with all the options you would ever need including the ability to control who can use the channel throguh the ability to ban and kick as well as password protection… ANNND the TSW version is cross server. It allows people to form far better channels of communications with those around and enables the user to better tailor their personal experience to their needs.

5.Extensive command list

Absolutely anything you could think of has been placed under the hood, accessible to those who deign to learn the commands. the level of customisation here is great but also how it gives more options to people about how they want to use the ui and game options.

Now it isn’t a perfect system and I am sure there are options here that some would like to see as well but from what I experienced it was a pretty decent system is just a brings a massive quality of life improvement. Unfortunately though stuff like this is mostly seen as a waste of time by developers as it isn’t really content but still, all these little fluff things like this, housing, and non essential systems have been ignored for too long and they make for a much more enjoyable experience.

Link Dead Radio – Random Musings

The Elder Scrolls online

the video

  • Environments look very visceral with nice detail and colour
  • Whack a mole combat… very static and stiff
  • Megaserver?.. seems more like heavy instancing and phasing.
  • Class customisation sounds interesting
  • maybe a horizontal progression system at cap
  • Realm battles with little lvl/gear advantage.. probably should have used realm people for that large scale battle as they were quite obviously AI and it looked like a rather terrible large scale fight

and it wouldn’t be The Elder Scrolls without stupid looking helmets.. oh and i loved the comment “moving your mouse will make you look around”.. OMG what sorcery is this

Darkfall

I am definitely going to try this as i have heard good things about the combat and bad things about many of it’s mechanics that have been overworked

the video

the combat is looking really interesting here and rather frantic and tactical.. it gives me that Tera vibe in a good way although hopefully there will be a lot more customisation of skills. It seems like they are on the right track with the development but whether it all culminates into a decent territory based pvp experience is the big unknown.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Well it’s going free, kind of.. I don’t usually talk about mmo’s i really don’t like but ToR just seems to always have some sort of news that keeps them in the public eye. I just don’t understand there business practices at all as they seem to undermine there consumers at every turn, and sometimes are even downright dismissive or condescending. I still remember reading the rant by an ex-employee even before Tor was ablip on my radar and it is funny to see how right he was and how similar the parallel between the mismanagement of War and Tor is.

In the end ToR is an ok game, i guess but it wasn’t really worth paying for be it a sub or box, going the free to play route may bring in more people but as it is I really don’t see it bring in the kind of revenue turbine saw with the changes to their game.

TSW

Blog post about the new raid

I am really looking forward to seeing this raid just for the environment alone as it really did look spectacular in the raid reveal presentation. It sounds like they are going to make it quite challenging and usually i would say that is a bad thing as gamers tend to like to complain about content being too difficult but the TSW crowd has taken rather well to many elements of the game that require perseverance and problem solving. It is nice that they are making the raid easily accessible and that the power creep issue is still being kept in check as it makes for a more enjoyable endgame when there are more options I just  hope it isn’t one of those raids that gets beaten in the first week on it’s hardest setting.

Other Bitsies

  • As part of my recent Mecha obsession i have been playing an age old blast to the past.. MECHCOMMANDER. It is still a rather fun game with Microsoft putting up the source for free a couple years ago, while I couldn’t get it to work based on the instructions on some of the forums I just downloaded the core game from here.. instructions for it here. I’m not exactly sure if that is legal even thoguh the source is free, I moralised of course through the ideal that I owned it a long time ago in a land far far away. In terms of combat though I always preferred the first one as it was a little bit more tactical
  • New IoJ farming map
  • GW2 Spidy – great trading post resource to see where prices are heading and an absolute amazing resource for crafters to get the most money out of sales

New Humble Bundle for Android. There are some great game to pick up here.

  • Eufloria has a great aesthetic, music, and gameplay.
  • Machinarium is oh so cute and puzzly
  • Swords and Sorcery is an amazing and rather whimsical little adventure romp
  • Splice has a simplistic deviousness to it.. mind bending