When I first saw
The Secret World at PAX a few years ago, I realized that this might be the first MMO I would actually be into. A complete lack of dragons and elves is what intrigued me, and the game seemed to have such an interesting world. With the game hitting the final stretch towards release I was able to land this interview with one of the main men behind the game.
Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?
I’m Ragnar Tornquist, and I’m both the Senior Producer and Creative Director on The Secret World. Everyone always gets those titles wrong.
Can you give us a quick overview of the game and the inspiration behind it? We know it’s a bit cliche but what will set the Secret World apart from the other big names in the genre right now (WoW, Rift, DCU)?
We have four focus areas -- we call them our pillars -- that we feel set The Secret World apart from every other massively multiplayer game.
First off, our setting is very unique and fresh. It’s modern-day, contemporary dark fantasy, a genre that’s been consistently popular in other media -- TV, movies, comics -- but which is surprisingly underused in games. Our twist on this is that we mix the real world with the magical, the ordinary with the extraordinary, and the modern with the ancient, and it’s allowed us to build a world that’s perfect for an MMO, and yet vastly different from everything else out there.
Secondly, our role-playing and combat systems are radically different from other games in the genre. Our focus is total freedom of play, without classes and levels, and a completely skill-based progression. Players can start out focusing on one weapon, one direction, but as they earn XP and buy more powers, they can expand their arsenal -- their decks -- and create unique hybrid characters capable of handling different situations and encounters, playing different roles as required by their team or cabal. And there will be more than five hundred powers to purchase at launch, which means that the combinations are endless. No two characters will be alike.
Our third pillar is what we call ‘the secret war’; the conflict between the three iconic secret societies: The Illuminati, the Templars and the Dragon. This conflict plays out in PvP mini-games, in other, still unannounced, PvP modes, and in the story and missions players embark on. The conflict is ingrained into the very fabric of our universe, and this ongoing war for control of the Earth is a huge part of The Secret World.
Finally, our story clearly sets us apart from the other games out there. We’re putting a lot of emphasis and focus on story -- or stories -- and this informs every aspect of the game, from missions and monster ecologies, to PvP and game mechanics. Everything is touched and affected by story, every decision made is in line with our extensive and deep backstory, and everything has meaning and context. This doesn’t mean players are bound to a single storyline that they have to follow. It means that the story -- which we always describe as a vast jigsaw puzzle -- is embedded into the world in a really unique way, that it makes the world feel real, and it gives players an incentive to keep exploring, keep digging, to play the content in order to enjoy it, and not just to gain XP and race to the finish-line.
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