Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Beta Weekend 2 - Sabotage, Synergy, Search Oh my

For the return to Kingsmouth for ‘The Secret World’s’ second beta weekend I thought I would look past the setting and have a play with the combat and try sabotage missions.

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Abilities and weapon synergy

In a previous blog entry I came across the developers forum post about combat and their discussion on weapons and synergy. I also found a rather nifty post on the forums showing this synergy.

You still have the tab targeting and abilities in TSW, but you can move while you cast abilities. There are no classes so the active abilities in the system are linked to a weapon. As you put more points into the weapon type it becomes more focused in a role. But in the first tier all weapons have single, aoe and dot abilities so they are functional early in the game.

As it is good to have weapons which have synergy, I chose the hammer and shotgun. As both use the 'Weakened mechanic'.

Synergy of Abilities 2

As you progress, you get to purchase abilities from the skill wheel. I really liked the wheel interface. It was easy to see what abilities I had equipped. Abilities had simple consistent text describing what they did. The interface also let you search for keywords. So it was easy to find abilities which shared states and damage types.

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The system works on resources, a bit like wow's rogues. But both your equipped weapons build resources so you can build your resources with your shotgun and use your hammer and shotgun finishers.

The synergy worked well and the jump between weapons is just the button click for the ability. This is probably something I just need to practice but having decent access to 7 mapped abilities on the keyboard and moving and focusing on the fight is still slightly out of my grasp. I had a play with using a game controller but I might make a separate post about controllers.

Sabotage Missions

I tried two sabotage missions. One I had to find surveillance cameras and the second I had to escort a girl into a base. These were a break from the normal MMO quest. You had to evade cameras jump over security beams and pull levers to open doors and solve small puzzles. These look promising and show the potential of a lot of different mechanics for future quests. My only complaint would be they are still all just placed in one flat plane. Dungeons and Dragons online quests seemed to be more 3 dimensional with ladders to other levels and tunnels without the need for a loading screen. To have a look at the meat of the sabotage mission skip to 15 minutes in the video below (posted by someone else).

Investigation Missions

Though I tried to just do the above I could not help myself and had to try another investigation mission. This time I tried ‘Something Wicked’. Again it made the game shine and highlighted the high points with interesting puzzles and even a trip into the ghostly realm.

Monday, 21 May 2012

MMOTroll Absolute Glee

Just thought I'd post a video which I enjoyed about the Secret World. Did you know it has Zombies in it! I must of missed them. MMOTroll - Absolute Glee

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Secret World Combat

A hot topic on the official forums over the weekend was combat. At first glance the combat seems very simple and the beta was a little buggy occasional losing your current target. Also my mouse has multiple buttons and I usually link the wheel click to the TAB button which didn’t seem to work.

For me it took a little time to get used to moving while triggering abilities as a lot of MMO’s require you to stand still to cast abilities. But once I became more mobile I found it more interesting and dynamic. A good thing was the Funcom developers picked up on the forum posts and posted the following:


Word from a Dev: The combat

Hi guys!
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to test our game and provide us feedback. We read everything and we really appreciate it. I've seen some discussion about the combat. Some love it, some find it trivial, and some find it difficult to get into.
I want to give you some of our thoughts behind the design of combat and on the way forward.

The base abilities:
When we fist sat down to design this we were afraid that a lot of people had not played a classless game before. Our biggest fear was that some players would buy the wrong abilities, and thereby gimp themselves. Our solution to this was to make the first two cells in every weapon into a very basic build. The result is that every weapon will have a builder, some form of single target finisher, some form of aoe, some form of extra resource giving, a self buff and a very basic crowd control elite. We did this so that we knew if a player bought a full weapon in the base abilities, they would at least be able to play the game. This is the reason why playing only with the base abilities feels a bit sameish.

The base abilities vs the advanced abilities:
It's in the advanced wheel the weapons' personalities starts to shine a bit through. Out in the advanced wheel you'll find:

  • Elemental's manifestations
  • Blood magic's different types of barriers and spreading DoTs
  • Chaos magic's invulnerability
  • Sword's teleport to target
  • Fist weapon's combo attacks
  • Hammer's knockups
  • Pistol's gunkatas
  • Shogun's traps
  • Assault rifle's Snare-backflips

While the base wheel gives a small sampler on the flavor of the weapon, it's in the advanced wheel you can specialize. Each weapon have two roles, where the one role is always damage dealing. The other role is "tanky", "healy" or "supporty". There are 3 cells per role per weapon. Some cells focuses on single target, some one AoEs and out here you also find the abilities that don't require any resources to cast. We will make more and more of these advanced cells available as we move forward in this beta phase.

Fighting in TSW
I've seen some comments that some players play like this: builder+builder+builder+builder+builder+finisher, and then repeat. It is possible to play like that, but it's not necessarily fun, and definitely not efficient. Each builder build a resource for both your weapons. That means that when you have built to 5 you can use two finishers. There are also lots of abilities which will make resource building faster, in different flavors for different weapon types. Keep in mind that already in the base, shotgun and pistols can build resources on multiple targets at the same time. After that it's just to tab+finish+tab+finish etc. Also, remember that all melee weapons start with 5 resources, and that gives a nice burst damage.
My protip to you: Get 2 weapons and two finishers as quickly as possible. You won't regret it 

In conclusion
We know that combat in TSW can be a bit difficult to get into, but please look under the hood. The base abilities are what they are - basic. When we open up more of the wheel, look for trigger synergies (crit, penetration, evade, block etc) and look for state synergies (afflicted, hindered, weakened and impaired). You can make some really cool things happen 

Again I want to thank you guys for your feedback. I've seen some great threads about mouse mapping and different key mappings (I use 1-4,q,e,f myself). We will look into mouse mapping going forward. I can not guarantee you that it will be in for launch, but promise we will look into it.

All the best,


What I did like was the way they indicated on the ground monster finisher abilities.

The Exploding Corpse video shows a circle appearing on the ground then a smaller circle expands to the larger one. Once they are the same size the zombie explodes doing damage.

The Sweep Attack video shows a semicircle with two lines. Once they move together the zombie firefighter axe swings.

The Ground Attack video is similar to the exploding zombie but instead black spikes shoot out the ground.

The Hinder Attack video shows a much larger circle expanding, but instead of damage the effect is hinder.

Let’s not forget this is just the starter area later fights could get very interesting the video released through gamespot shows the system gets even more complex.

Monday, 14 May 2012

First thoughts on the Secret World

So the weekend has come and gone and I got about 9 hours playing the ‘The Secret World’.

I didn’t get time to do all what I wanted to do as the tentacles of the investigation quests wrapped around my ankles and pulled me under the dark brine. I don’t think I have spent so long in a game just thinking. The quest I started was ‘The Kingsmouth Code’, it took me from peaks where I thought I was Megamind to troughs when I just needed to bash my Neanderthal forehead into the keyboard.

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The quest had 5 stages to it from following simple signs, solving puzzles on plaques (see below), reading book passages in google, using the ingame phone book to find places, searching ingame for a clock to hacking into a computer. It’s like the game drew a line in the sand and dared me to cross it. I am looking forward to more of these on release.

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For me the game oozed atmosphere, the introduction had a few too many cut scenes (though they were well done) when all I wanted to do was play. But once I got to Kingsmouth I was able to look around and smell the zombie’s. The little town actually felt like a town and not a hub of quests for a level bracket. The Cafe had rock'n'roll playing in the background which was a bit surreal when a group of zombies followed me in.

There was also so much to see and do, I think they used the space in the town excellently. Every street I ran down threatened to pull me away from my current task to tempt me down another dark avenue. How can you pass a suicide note on the door of a bed and breakfast building.

The interface was slick and minimalist and felt as contemporary as the game. I liked the way the mission text floated above background. Though I do think the inventory could have done with a ‘X’ (close window) in the top corner. More than once I clicked on the ‘+’ and ended up with more inventory bags.

I’ll post some more later on in the week but for now I’ll leave you with a cut scene a particularly liked as the rasp made me want to cough a little.

Friday, 11 May 2012

5 reasons why I am looking for to The Secret World

I thought I’d make a post of what I am looking forward to in ‘The Secret World’ before I get my hands on the game so I can see how my views change.

At the moment I am at the peak of expectation for a new MMO release. Sucked in by developer promises and excited from video gameplay releases. So here goes a list of things on why I am looking forward to Funcom’s ‘The Secret World’.

Theme and Lore

I am a roleplayer at heart and one of my favourite systems is White Wolf’s ‘World of Darkness’. There are a lot of similarities between ‘The Secret World’ and the ‘World of Darkness’. In both worlds, all the supernatural myths are true.

That old house at the end of the street just doesn’t have squatters in it. It is haunted by the father who massacred his family then committed suicide and now protects their bones buried in the backyard. The old man who runs an antique store is not so helpless and knows mystical ceremonies to raise the old gods.

Funcom's vision to take the modern world and shift it slightly sideways into darkness, will make the game stand out in a market filled with mainly sword and sorcery MMO’s.

Skill Wheel

The main reason I liked Rift so much was the flexibility of the soul system. If I was getting a little bored fighting mob’s the same way I could try another build.

This was the same in instances. I didn’t have to play a tank all the time. I could just join an instance and play as a DPS when I didn’t want the responsibility of holding aggro. The secret world skill wheel takes this idea even further.

The holy trinity exists but your team can swap roles at points in the world and play the way you want. It looks like a large part of the game will be making builds to suit your play style and using them in the dynamic environment with dynamic mobs.

I also like the way it is limited to 7 active abilities and 7 passive abilities. I have found in MMO’s previously you end up with not of abilities which are situational or do similar things just filling up your toolbars. I am hoping the streamlined abilities will move my eye away from the toolbar and into the action.

No Levels and stat independent cloths

There are no levels in the traditional sense, but there is still progression in the form of skill points. I am hoping this makes the content flatter with regards to the power of your character, and where you can explore or play with your friends.

Cloths do not affect your stat’s, which means your look can be individual. Expressing your characters personality.

I am actually looking forward to the cash shop as well. In the past when I have become fully engrossed in an MMO and it consumes my life I look for things to spend you RL money on. As they plan to have the cash shop based on cosmetic items this is excellent for me.

Monster ecology / Dynamic environments

This video link from GDC 2011 (Jump to 7 mins) shows how the monsters within a given area are linked and have a miniature life cycle.

Dynamic effects in the environment displayed in the following link Pax 2011 (Jump to 2 mins) showing how they use lights to add atmosphere and effect game-play. The video also shows how each faction play in the same area doing different quests to develop conflict between them. 

This following link shows a dungeon play-through (Jump to 5 mins) teaching the user how the monsters affect the environment. Electrical creatures using the water to damage the players. There are other videos showing players interacting with car alarms to bring more zombies then use fire to damage the zombies.

The aim to try and make a different type of MMO.

A quote from the following link for 'IGDA-Montreal Apr12 Secret World' struck a chord with me around 48 minutes into it was “We know MMO players are super impatient. The whole philosophy of the design of this game is for you not to be rushing to reach the end of the game. I think a problem with the design of content in a lot of MMO’s is not playing the game to have fun.”

Whether they achieve this, marks the success of the game for me.