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AusGamers The Secret World Developer Video Interview and Transcript
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 03:11pm 02/09/11 | Comments
At this year's GamesCom, AusGamers caught up with The Secret World Creative Director, Ragnar Tørnquist, to talk to him about how they're shaking up the MMO world. Read on (or watch) for what he had to say...

Watch the full video interview embedded above or click here to check it out in HD

AusGamers: Ladies and gents, welcome back to AusGamers. You’re here with Stephen Farrelly; I’m here with the very viking-sounding Ragnar, from Funcom. He’s the Creative Director on The Secret World, an MMO that is trying to break the MMO mold. Let’s get into that to begin with, because you guys are doing a lot of very different things -- three factions instead of two; no levelling.

Can we talk about where all of that stemmed from; maybe what you learnt from Age of Conan -- moving into this. And what you hope to achieve with this kind of breaking the mold.

Ragnar Tørnquist: I think a lot of... I mean there are a lot of level-based and class-based games out there already and I think us as a team felt like it’s time to do something fresh and interesting -- a real game set in the modern-day real world.

Now in the modern day, we’re not born into roles; we’re not born into being blacksmiths or shepherds -- your fate is not decided the moment you get born; your fate is decided by choices you make and that’s something we wanted to bring into the modern setting. We want players to be able to make choices as they go along and most have to do that during character customisation.

So I think there aren’t many MMOs that have tried to do this in a meaningful way. Of course there are games like Guild Wars and the first Star Wars online game that have sort of broken the mold a little bit, but of games recently, they most hold the class/level template and I think that players are ready for something new.

Age of Conan obviously was a class-based/level-based game also and that’s still running and it’s doing very well and I think with all that, there’s no point for us to bring yet another class-based game to the table. So let’s do something new.

And the core team as players, we also like the skill-based system and we like to be able to create our own characters. Take maybe a little of a dual-pistol powers and mix that with some elementalism magic and create something that we feel makes us more unique and special in the world It’s all about self-expression and self-identity.

And the same thing goes for clothing in the game. We don’t have stats on clothing -- you can wear anything you want. If you want to wear a t-shirt and jeans, you can do that; or if you want to wear a leather coats and leather pants and a mask, you can do that too -- you can be who you want to be and you play any way you want to play.

AusGamers: So in the demo I saw yesterday, there was XP still coming up on the screen. And in a game that doesn’t have any levelling, you still need a sense of progression for the player. So can you run us through that and how that works?

Ragnar: That’s been really one of the key things for us. In a game without levels, you really need to feel “How do you progress as a character?” Well XP is one of them, of course you’re still getting XP. You’re killing things; you’re doing missions; you’re experiencing the world and you’re sort of exploring it and you have to gain something from that. So XP is used to buy powers.

The more XP you gain, the more powers you can buy; and the more powers you can buy, the more flexible your character can be and more different types of encounters you can handle. There might be a certain dungeon when having some strong elementalism powers might help a lot more than having your shotgun powers for example.

So this progression in terms of... there’s a lot of horizontal progression in terms of the depth of your character and the flexibility of your character. But in addition to that, you really also want to feel stronger right? You want to be able to handle more difficult contents, so of course gear plays a big part in that. Loot and crafting; being able to get items that increase your damage output; that increase your health; increases everything you do. So there is a progression in that sense as well.

Better weapons, better chakras as we call them -- it’s like magical, sort of occult implants -- all of that is part of character progression. In addition to that, you get rewards as you play the game obviously. So certain clothing will show that that guy has done that difficult mission because he has that cool outfit that’s only available if you ever did that mission.

So you sort of become the walking achievement track. And talking achievements, you’ll also be able to complete a lot of achievements in the game, which will also be reflected in titles and rewards -- things like that.

And last but not least: inside your secret society, you can rise in rank. You start on the ground floor -- you don’t know a lot about the inner workings of your secret society -- but then as you gain rank -- you do more missions for your society; you play PvP -- you’ll be able to rise in your secret society and that’s something you can show off as well and have access to more unique gear and uniforms.

AusGamers: Ok, now my fellow Australian Joel [Bylos], who works on the game with you guys [Lead Content Director]: in the demo yesterday, he mentioned in the PvE that you might come into areas that another faction has already been to and you’ll be sort of interacting or undoing something that they’ve already done -- in terms of missions. Can you run us through how each of the factions dovetail?

Ragnar: The factions, of course, is a huge part of the game and we want players to be as invested in their secret society as possible, before they even start playing the game. And that choice at the beginning of the game is final. When you’ve chosen to be a Templar, Illuminati or Dragon, that’s it -- you’re that for life.

So there’s a lot of unique content for the factions as well, including the story mission which brings you through the entire game and then these ranking missions, which we’re showing here at GamesCom live actually today. They’re interesting things, because first off, there are missions that will allow you to gain rank within your secret society and to do that of course, you have to interact with the other factions. Because the Templars will want to send someone to infiltrate the Illuminati to get their secrets; they want to sabotage some of their installations; they want to hack into their computers.

Players will be getting missions to do this and they’ll be able to then do missions from a different point of view depending on what faction they have. Here at GamesCom we’re showing this interesting encounter in a car park, where players go in and have different goals depending on which faction they represent. So the Illuminati for example, are going in to meet a contact and they see a Templars player who is green and they wonder “What the hell are the Templars doing here?”.

Of course, if you are a Templars player, you will be that character passing that screen, because you’ll be on a similar mission to accomplish something different in this car park. So there’s a really interesting interplay there between the factions that, it’s not just about PvP.

We’re also showing our battlefields and warzones here at the GamesCom, and that’s sort of more the large-scale PvP aspect of it, but the conflict -- the secret war between the factions -- it’s also embedded into the missions and into the PvE content.

AusGamers: Now let’s talk about servers, and Australia. I’m not really sure how much you can answer, but APAC [Asia Pacific] is obviously a pretty big area. We’re just wondering if you guys will be supporting Oceanic servers? What’s the process there going forward? Especially because you have an Australian on the team and he must know how painful it is for us.

Ragnar: Yeah exactly, we have an Australian on the team and he’s got to fight hard for this. I mean I definitely would like to... we definitely want to support our Australian gamers. I can’t answer a lot about like server locations and stuff like that, but it’s really important for us that this game is a global game, and that access to the game is as convenient for everybody as possible.

And you’re right, it’s a huge region that really is crying out for a lot more local servers. I mean there are a lot of gamers in both Australia and New Zealand of course; Singapore and Philippines and those areas as well that really want to play on servers that are a bit closer to home than North America or Europe. So, that’s something that we’re definitely going to be talking about and looking more into.

AusGamers: Right, now we’ll leave it there, but thank you so much. The game does look great and it really is fantastic seeing somebody actually trying to totally break the MMO mold, so congratulations.

Ragnar: Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.

AusGamers: Thank you, cheers.

Read more about The Secret World on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

Latest Comments
Posted 03:36pm 02/9/11
I would love an MMO to come out that had even a single server based in australia. After nearly 7 years blizzard have made enough money to run a small country for awhile and somehow it's still too expensive for them and they don't feel the need. Not that I play WoW anymore mind you but if they wouldn't do it I don't see many other people doing it either.
Posted 03:49pm 02/9/11
I'm pretty excited about this game, I'm praying Funcom don't stuff it up :(
Cat Scratch
Posted 04:19pm 02/9/11
would be ground breaking in terms of others might look into it as well


Talk is cheap and setting up servers [i would imagine] is expensive - until they do set it up, they are like the others where they all would "like to".
Posted 04:22pm 02/9/11
Still, I love what hes saying about how they want the game to be a global game and they want as many people to be able to play it as possible. Maybe EA and Bioware should take a hint?
Posted 05:15pm 02/9/11
Lets hope that one city on the eastern seaboard gets connected to the NBN and an ISP like Iinet jumps on the opportunity. Coupled with a quality Game server company, like perhaps Mammoth (hope the suckup isn't too saccharine), makes the leap into the MMO sphere.
Posted 05:29pm 02/9/11
I'll believe it when I see it.
Posted 05:32pm 02/9/11
Posted 05:38pm 02/9/11
I'll buy it on release if it has local servers just to show my support (plus it looks like an interesting game).
Posted 05:39pm 02/9/11

Posted 08:35pm 02/9/11
Posted 12:29am 03/9/11
Yo, DM.

An MMO already has an Aussie server: Runes of Magic.

Of course, the game itself is meh, but it was worth it just to have 25ms ping...

Until I got bored the next day.
Posted 07:39am 03/9/11
it’s a huge region

Hello servers in South Korea or something, still that is a bit closer.
Reverend Evil
Posted 08:14am 03/9/11
I'll blow everyone on this board if Australia get servers. That's how confident I am that we won't.
Posted 08:20am 03/9/11
Or how gay you are!
Posted 11:28am 03/9/11
Warhammer had servers in AU. It doesn't seem unfeasible.
Posted 01:55pm 03/9/11
Because of Rev's avatar its like Emma Watson is offering to blow everyone. I'm excited.

It also reminded me of this for some reason

Posted 09:05am 04/9/11
Khel that was f*****g awesome.
Posted 03:54pm 06/9/11
i got a beta invitation. dunno if it will be any good or not? havent bothered installing
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