The Secret World Interview


posted 4/19/2011 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: 360 PC
Are you worried about the expectations that are set with cinematic trailers? The Secret World has had some particularly enthralling ones, but we've seen what can happen with overly impressive cinematics are significantly disconnected real gameplay footage (such as the Dead Island's announcement trailer) How do you manage hype without it turning into baseless hyperbole?
I don’t think any gamer would ever equate a cinematic CG trailer with actual gameplay, but in our case, the trailers do reflect both the mood and the content in the game. At GDC this year, we showed a particular mission in the game -- The Raven -- and how it leads into a setup that mirrors our second CG trailer, where Rose White, the heroine, encounters a Revenant in a children’s park. All of our trailers feature characters, clothing, weapons, powers, monsters and locations that you will find in the game itself, and though they’re pre-rendered CG movies, the look, lighting and mood is very similar to what we’re aiming for in the game.

Before the beta was released, personality tests were sent to fans to determine what faction they would be most fitted for. How is this determined? What sets the factions apart from one another so distinctly? Any chance there will be something similar when you fire the game up?
We have plans in place to make it easier for player to choose a secret society when they start a new character -- yes.

Can you describe the role factions will have in the game and describe the differences in gameplay experiences offered by each? What’s been the hardest point of balancing the factions?
When creating an open, skill based system without classes or levels, it’s important to ensure that no player will ever be at a permanent disadvantage because of choices made while experimenting. Since players have to choose a faction at the very start of the game, and they’ll never be able to switch -- on pain of death! -- the three secret societies have to be perfectly balanced. So while certain player powers are unique to each faction, for the most part, they share the same selection. When it comes to balancing the gameplay, we’re about to go into our first Beta phase, and this is obviously going to be a focus going forward: putting enough people in, having them play the game, and then make adjustments as we go along.

Story wise, however, there are big philosophical differences between the factions, and in terms of content, there are unique missions, clothing sets, uniforms, items, characters, locations and so on. Playing as a Dragon will feel very different to playing as a Templar.

What is the biggest challenge in bringing a new MMO into the current market? What are your biggest concerns about the launch of the game?
We’re lucky enough to have a very solid foundation, a core engine and server technology that’s been live for many years, which is going to help us have a smooth and player-friendly launch. It’s always a bit scary to launch a brand new game, of course, and to suddenly have hundreds of thousands of players amassing upon your world, but we’re all looking forward to it. An MMO isn’t really an MMO until it’s launched, until it’s used and abused and changed forever by the living, breathing players.

I guess my biggest concern will always be: will our players enjoy it? Will they keep playing? Will they appreciate what we’re trying to do, especially since we’re deviating from a few of the tested and true MMORPG conventions? I believe the answer is ‘yes’, but only time will tell. What’s important to me is that we make the best game we possibly can, the game we’ve always wanted to make...and play.
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