tsw

March gaming, week 4 – getting kicked around & wrapping it all up

tsw the secret world

Wait, it’s almost Easter? It doesn’t look like that around here, considering the fact that we still have snow and a biting cold at night. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that March is almost over, and so is my time with The Secret World. My final week in Funcom’s little gem was all about getting my pretty butt handed to me in PvP, and looking back at my time in this monster-infested world. So, read on to find out my final verdict of this game (or check out the previous weeks)!

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March Gaming, week 3 – Ghost ships & cool sweaters

tsw the secret world innsmouth academy

Well, March is already over, which means that my time with The Secret World is also drawing to an end. Of course, I’ll surely return to this game in the future, but I’m afraid it will have to take a backseat to some of my other games. Anyway, what have I been up to this past week? Well, it involves vanished cargo vessels and university sweaters!

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How I stopped worrying and learned to love gaming ADD

Focusing my gaming time on one title has shown me once again how much I suffer of a condition referred to as “gaming ADD”. Just like regular ADD, patients of this affliction suffer from an inability to play one and the same game for a longer time, being distracted by the beauty and “shiny factor” of new titles. To a degree, all gamers know this:  when a new game hits the stores, you want to have it and play with it. However, many of my fellow button-bashers are able to focus on one title for some time, while I’m already knee-deep in another game.

I haven’t been always like this, and for a time, this gaming ADD was driving me mad. However, I learned that it isn’t bad, and that you actually get more out of your gaming life when your attention span is similar to that of a hyperactive dog. This is my story (cue epic intro music).

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March Gaming, week 2 – majoring in familiar-slaying at Innsmouth Academy

Reading isn’t all that fun. Well okay, I consider it fun, but I know that some of you pretty guys and gals like to look at some pictures from time to time. That’s why this week’s report on my activities in The Secret World will be mostly a visual one. Even though a picture says more than a thousand words, I still have some words to say without any visual aid:

  • I’m still baffled by how immersive the world of TSW is. Everything works so well together to draw you into this creepy and monster-infested version of our world, and I feel like all this atmosphere and style is seriously underrated by fans of the MMO genre. Also, why do I see so much hate for the character design? Next to the fact that so damn many of the characters you meet have blue eyes (really, it’s crazy!), I find the design cool and well done. Maybe I just use another definition of “beautiful”?
  • If you play the game for the first time, make sure to do most missions in Kingsmouth before moving on to the Savage Coast. The lethality of the zones increases in large steps, so if you leave the safety (as far as a town overrun by zombies can be considered safe) of the little fishing village, check if you have some good gear and your weapon skills at level 3. Otherwise, those demons around Daniel Bach will drag you right into Hell.
  • Nope, the Siren’s Song will never leave your head. Sorry.
  • Ever wanted to know what Hogwarts would be like if it was ransacked by a guy with a magic sword, leaving the students dead and their familiars running around in a berserk, bloodthirsty state? Well, you’ll find your answers to this really specific question right in Innsmouth Academy. I really love that hub. All the NPC’s there are fun and cool, and it’s packed with action missions. Slaughtering familiars and sending ghosts of dead teachers back to their grave is a lot of fun, and Hayden Montag is so delightfully awkward.

I won’t have that much time to play next week, but I’ll try to get into a few runs of the Polaris and Hell Raised, just to see how much fun tanking is in TSW. Hope you’ll enjoy the pictures, and if you want to share anything concerning The Secret World, feel free to hit me up in the comments!

March Gaming, week 1 – a town full of zombies & a horny blondie

the secret world cassandra kingsmouth

Well, the first week of my March Gaming has gone by, and boy, did I have fun getting back into The Secret World. Even though I know Kingsmouth like the back of my hand by now, it still has its own kind of allure. The mist in the streets, the sun breaking through the fog in the morning, the smell of daffodils and rotting corpse, creating a unique boquet when the wind blows west…alright, considering the zombies and draugr, Kingsmouth is not such a nice place to be, but TSW is such a nice game to play!

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March Gaming – The Secret World

the secret world gaming character

In order to give you a clearer look on what I play, why I play it and how I play it, I’ve decided to focus my entire gaming time every month on one title. To start with this monthly gaming madness, I decided to pick a game that actually motivated me to start this blog. My very first post was about it, and I have been brainstorming about how to translate it to a tabletop environment. You know that I’m talking of no other game but The Secret World.

The entire month of March, I will use all the gaming time I have (which is not that much) on this title. Every week, I will fill you in on my adventures in this mysterious world, filled with zombies, Cthulhu-wannabes and mummies in slick suits. Everything can happen! The only thing that is set in stone is that I’ll be playing that brand-new character in the picture above, who happens to be a Templar and who has chosen Blades as his starting weapon. Anything next to that is not set in stone, and I would really love to hear from you, dear readers, what you want me to do with my month in The Secret World.

If you want to play with me, I’ll be playing the character “Chindividual” on the Huldra server. You will find me online in the weekends and late in the evening throughout the week. Don’t be shy, and hit me up in-game or here on this blog.

I gotta sharpen my sword and wits now, for this secret world is filled with terrors I don’t dare to speak of!

Breaking the chains of factions

Earlier this week, Ghostcrawler (the well-known CM of WoW, acronyms ftw!) teased us with a very interesting tweet about adding an unannounced feature during Mists of Pandaria’s run. The entire community has been thinking and writing about this, and some of the ideas that have been proposed actually sound interesting. One thing that I haven’t read or heard yet, however, is a feature that had been discussed a while back, and that I would love to be inserted into the game: races not restricted to one faction.

You see, I can understand the idea behind implementing different factions in a multiplayer game. It’s cool to be part of a team, and having these teams compete against each other is something many players enjoy. But what I don’t get, from a rather logical point-of-view, is why membership of a faction should be limited to a handful of races, and why I shouldn’t be able to join forces with my enemy to take down a greater threat. It defies logic, and it also takes away some great storytelling opportunities. However, since Blizzard has given the Pandaren the possibility to join both factions, I wonder if the same thing shouldn’t be offered to all races, in a way identical to that of the fluffy bears: you finish your starting zone, and then you pick which faction you want to swear allegiance to. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Instead of just having you choose your faction freely, it would also be great to group with members of the oppossite faction for PvE content. RIFT has added this possibility shortly before launching its first expansion Storm Legion, and in The Secret World, the only thing you can’t do alongside other factions is PvP (which I guess is kinda logical). Cross-faction communication and gameplay would add an additional layer of gameplay, and I can already hear thousand roleplayers cry out in joy when they could finally talk with Orcs or Worgen.

Bottom line, thinking “in a box” is nice and well, and also important for any kind of PvP, but if Blizzard would join other titles in opening those boxes a bit, I would be more than pleased. I would even be so damn pleased that I would give them another expansion to implement player and / or guild housing. Seriously, Blizz, what’s keeping you from that?!

Story matters

As I ventured forth into the continent of Pandaria, curious to see what this new land had to hold for my warrior, I noticed that Blizzard decided to change the way quest achievements were tracked. Instead of rewarding you with some e-peen points after finishing a certain number of quests in a zone, you work off a list of quest “storylines”, and are notified as soon as you finish one. Once you have rounded up every storyline in the zone, you get a nice achievement, showing everyone that you helped all those in need in a part of Pandaria. It’s a nice change from the old way, but next to giving you an easier way to tracking your quest process, it also shows how even the behemoth company of Blizzard has laid their focus on storytelling in their flagship title.

Of course, this way of tracking quest achievements is just a minor part of their new focus on the story of Pandaria. The use of many cutscenes and spoken dialogue helps to immerse the player into the setting, making him a part of the story. I’m a big fan of this focus on the plot that many contemporary MMORPG’s show. Considering the roots of role-playing games, story is a big part of the role-playing experience, but for years, it was taking the backseat in most online titles.

A cynic might claim that this is nothing but a simple reaction to the demands of the market. While struggling with many other issues, the storylines of Star Wars: The Old Republic are considered the best in any MMORPG, and Guild Wars 2 also puts the personal story of your character into the center of the game. My favourite The Secret World almost drowns the player in symbolic and enigmatic storytelling, and looking at the positive reactions all these games get for their attempts at being more than just a grindfest, it seems like the people simply demand a good story.

I mean, who can blame them? Years of simply hacking away at monsters with but a notion of lore and motivation have dulled us, and we want to know why our digital alter egos venture forth to be heroes. We want to the stories we know from offline games online, to share them with our friends. We want to form our own band of daring knights and sorcerers, and fight against evil out of a strong, personal motivation. In the end, we want to know why we had to kill those ten rats, and how that helped achieving our character’s goals. This focus on story and the narrative aspects gives us the means to do just that, and I hope that it will be a part of MMORPG’s that will receive lots of love in the future.

Discounts on Doomsday!

Well, considering I’m writing this post without fire and brimstone falling from an ashen sky, we can be sure that the end of days will not be today. What we will get, though, are some nice discounts on Steam. Next to some really sick prices on some really epic game bundles, The Secret World is now available with 25% discount. So, if you haven’t checked the game out yet, give it a spin for just a bit more than €20 (or whatever currency you’re using). Trust me, supernatural monster hunting and conspiracy-solving was never this fun!

TSWoD – Anima stat, overlapping templates and more!

Another day, another post about my endeavour to dip the World of Darkness in the awesomesauce that is The Secret World. In the previous post, I talked about the basic premises of this project, and today, we will take a look at the only “homemade” rule, along with some ramblings about the material used. Get your spells and conspiracy theories, we’re going in!

Anima
In TSW, a creature’s Anima is its life force. It is something that runs through everything on this planet, but that can only be controlled by a few. Sorcerers control their own Anima to empower their spells, and hideous creatures from the Hell Dimensions seek this essence out to consume and devour it. While Anima is no resource in the MMORPG, it is an aspect that separates the player character from many other agents in his secret society. Swallowing a bee sent by Gaia gives one the power to manipulate Anima, which is quite helpful in the fight against draugr, vampires and the Filth.

In order to measure all supernatural creatures on an identical scale, TSWoD could use Anima as a power stat and power pool. Like Vampire’s Blood Potency and Vitae, or Werewolf’s Primal Urge and Essence, TSWoD’s Anima would measure a creature’s supernatural capacity and ways to manipulate Anima. The latter should be interpreted in the broadest way possible. An old sorcerer would have have the same Anima rating as a vicious demon, but both would show their bizarre powers in different ways. Anima would be a unifying stat, that makes it easier to compare the rather varied palette of otherworldly beings in the setting.

In many ways, Anima would work like the Arete stat presented in Mirrors. It would provide characters with additional health, supernatural resistance, heightened Attributes and a way to heal bashing damage. Unlike Arete, Anima will also grant access to a pool of Anima points, which can be used to fuel the effects of Anima. Also, Anima might not grant any access to Masteries. I’ll get into the reason for that right…now.

The amount of cool stuff is too damn high!
As I have mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to emulate the setting of TSW with just three books: the core book, Mirrors and Second Sight. Even though this is a small amount of books, it still offers a lot of options. If a player decides to create a character, both Mirrors and Second Sight offer treasure troves of powers, backgrounds and so-called “minor templates” (supernatural templates that do not have an own power stat and pool). I’m afraid that the both books, along with an Anima stat that grants additional supernatural power, will create far too mighty characters. Of course, additional rules can limit that, but I’m still not so sure about it. I guess the only way to see if it works, is to create a character…

Well, guess that gives away what we’ll be doing next time. In the meantime, please share your feelings about an Anima stat and the amount of cool powers found in Mirrors and Second Sight. I’ll be here to listen to your feedback. Stay alive!