TSW: relaunch in 2017

So I read this article over at Massively OP yesterday: “Funcom is relaunching The Secret World in 2017“.  That caused a major double-take incident, I was not expecting that. The details come from an earnings report to investors, not from a PR article or announcement so the language is rather dry and lacking in details.

Redesigned new player experience
The first of the bullet points, with the aim to “broaden the appeal” of the game. I suppose the weapons and skill wheel systems could do with better up-front explanation beyond “having two different weapons is good”. The importance of status effects and combinations thereof does need some explanation but then how much detail can they include in a tutorial without it scaring off potential new players? Tera’s old tutorial had you playing a level 20 version of your class, it was story-wise rather confused, but it gave a taster of what the class would play like at later levels. That kind of ‘sampler build’ for each weapon would offer one solution to presenting a flavour of the gameplay for different weapons.

Major improvements to gameplay including combat
Hmm, I’m always wary of this kind of announcement as revamping combat wholesale can radically change the feel of playing a MMO – not always for the better. That said this may not be that extensive a change anyway, the line is vague. Discussions on the forum have mentioned possibly removing or reworking Aegis, something I’d applaud as I feel it would be awkward to keep the system for new zones in future without limiting storytelling.

Retention systems
Daily rewards can be a minor motivator in my experience, logging in to invoke in Neverwinter worked for a time but it doesn’t drive deeper engagement with the game – it may keep you logging in after you’re starting to tire of the game but then that can also build a kind of resentment against it as a ‘needy MMO’ so it’s a double-edged sword at best.

Business model
The addition of daily login rewards reminds me very much of the broad free to play model that’s in place for most of the Western converts and Eastern imports. That’s reinforced by the line stating the game is adjusting the business model to allow story access for free. So we’ll not be buying Issues anymore but spending on something else? I’m in a probably unusual position here, I very rarely spend cash on fluff in MMOs or pay-to-win boosts either. I’ll pay for content unlocks (expansions, issues or otherwise) but otherwise I’m not interested. So if this new model gives the game more money to develop and allows them to start producing new content again faster, then I’ll benefit without actually spending as much money on the game as I did before…

This entry was posted in Gaming, TSW. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to TSW: relaunch in 2017

  1. Bhagpuss says:

    I almost posted on this today but there’s really not enough information there yet. I would say that, for it to count as a “relaunch”, changes would have to be a lot more radical than the ones you listed. Tweaks to the tutorial and dropping an unpopular combat mechanic don’t come anywhere even close to a “relaunch”.

    If it’s anything less than a completely new opening to the game, not the tutorial but the first zone at least, and radical re-write of the entire combat system, possibly replacing it with an entirely new one, I don’t see how it can qualify for the level of expectation this is setting up.

    I’m thinking it could be something on the scale of SWG’s NGE. Let’s just hope it’s better received than that was…

  2. Sylow says:

    Hmm, yea. I also read that yesterday, and i also don’t know exactly what to think about it.

    1. Redesigned new player experience

    I see how that is a must, although in some aspects i am at a loss. I mean, you can’t put all the load of building a setup, synergies and all, on the player right at the start. Increasing the tutorial won’t do much good. Those who are interested already now find out how to use these mechanics, those who quickly want to get into the game will just be slowed down and ignore even more information given to them.

    A good example: since the tutorial rework, you can not leave the training area without picking two weapons, building up five ressources for both weapons and then using two five-point-consumers in succession on the target. The game won’t let you progress and thus never let you leave the tutorial without managing that. Despite force-feeding this basic information to them, i met players in game who created their character and played this tutorial and still only used one weapon afterwards. (So yes, they unequiped the second weapon and had an empty slot. ) I also watched a few let’s play and first impression videos about TSW last year in summer, and i found more than one where people spent a really long time in the tutorial, stuck at the very part where you have to build five ressources and then use them for both weapons.

    They finished the tutorial by the “a monkey at a typewriter” method, without ever understanding that mechanic. The instructions were written on the screen, but they read or understood them.

    Do you think that even more information handed to them at that time would do any good if that is already beyond their ability?

    I rather think we need:
    – Replacing the old non-useful decks on the skillwheel with actually useful ones. (The old outer wheel decks are a trap, and many new players still get caught. This really needs to be fixed. )
    – Replacing those beginner decks which are built for dungeon roles with ones which are designed for normal play. (While they are good, they again are a trap. The best beginner-dungeon-DPS-setup won’t do any good when used for solo play. New players need to be presented surviveable setups. )
    – Strongly advertising these (useful) decks.
    – Perhaps add a few more training missions before people can advance to the Savage Coast and to Blue Mountains, where not only people are forced to repeat the basic combat mechanics, but also making them use build synergies.

    Unfortunately the last point is much easier written than done. Due to the skillwheels flexibility, it’s close to impossible to code anything which could teach the player about synergies by just making him pick a few abilities and telling him how they work together.

    An alternative might even be that the new player in the future has to pick one of the (fixed) starter decks instead of “just” picking two weapons. Then the game would limit him to only be able to invest into abilities of that deck, till it is completely skilled. Buying skills might actually trigger additional training missions, which the player has to complete to be able to advance and in which he is being taught more about mechanics.

    That all being said, my sarcasm still says, no matter how many tutorials you give them, they will still complete them the “monkey at the keyboard” way, to then complain that the game is bad. 😦

    2. Major improvements to gameplay including combat

    Very much mixed feelings here. Except slightly smoothing out animations, i see very little which can be done here which couldn’t break the game for older players. (See: NGE. ) I am aware that the complexity of the system can be a challenge for new players, but this complexitiy also gives us a degree of flexibility not seen in any other game. Veteran players learned to love this flexibiilty and loosing it is likely to drive them away. So changes have to be done very carefully here.

    Also i see that many Bloggers consider Aegis to be a bad thing, but i dare to point out that this seems to be an Echo-chamber up to some degree. I mean yes, i also hated Aegis when it came around. (The words i used on the first evening are not suitable to type here… ) It was clumsy and cumbersome at the start, but it’s also true that it was smoothened out a lot and is much more workable by now. How much it was improved can be seen when you are in an active cabal which also picks up new players.

    The Cabal i am in manages to maintain a rather constant number of active players, two raid groups, lots of dungeoning and other activities. As we also suffer from the usual effect of veterans quitting the game for various reasons, we have to recruit to keep operational, so we also regularily have players who experience many aspects of the game for the first time. Based on that i can say that it’s true that new players generally still have some questions when encountering Aegis for the first time. (Which usually results in several players helping him on his first tower defence tour, to get a second set of controlers. ) But once a few questions are answered, the reaction to Aegis generally is positive. Many people are happy to have one more mechanic to work with (words range from “oki” over “good” to “genius” when they learn how Aegis actualyl works) and i haven’t experienced any negative reaction to it since quite a while. So obviously by now it has turned into a workable system for players new to Tokyo.

    In my eyes the problem is not on how Aegis works now, but rather how it was introduced. You at the start had to work much harder to get a full set of controlers than now, capacitors were almost impossible to get and the enemies in Tokyo at the start were inflated, much harder to defeat than anything before that, not to mention that people were used to some synergies and mechanics which didn’t work with the shields in place.

    But these problems were fixed. You get a full second set of controllers by doing one mission. Any mission, no matter if main or side mission, has those loot-containers and capacitors come in easily. Mobs were reduced and for example leeching works against the shields by now. All in all, i by now can kill a mob in Tokyo faster than its counterpart in the Carpathian Fangs.

    So i dare to say, Aegis by itself is no problem any more, only a few details could be improved: you could give people a second set of controllers right away, you could give them a full set of QL0 capacitors right away, but that’s optional. More importantly some more information should be handed to them. It’s usually the same two or three questions they all ask on Cabal chat when they enter Tokyo for the first time, once those questions are answered people tend to do well there. So the game should make sure to answer these questions automatically for those people who are not in a Cabal to help them out. That’s all that’s really needed there in my eyes.

    All that being said, i’d also hate to loose Aegis due to one very different reason: some of the fights in the Kaidan dungeons use very interesting mechanics, which only work with Aegis in place. I’d hate to see those fights dumbed down for no better reason than that some people suffer from the bad impression Aegis gave when it first came around.

    3. Retention systems

    I feel the same. I mean, daily rewards and stuff are kind of “traditional” through the MMO scene by now. But truth to be told, haven’t most of us by now learned to just ignore that? I mean, i have a list of MMOs still on my harddisc, where i know that i’d get something for free by just logging in for a minute, yet i never start them up. (Or in contrast, my girl still logs into Rift every day, claims the reward, quits the game again. I really don’t see the benefit for the game there, either… )

    4. Business model

    This one very much has me puzzled. I guess it’s a change to F2P, with whatever quirks attached. I hope they don’t go the Bioware route and very much suspect that we’ll see something like Anarchy Online in the end. The base game being free, some content also staying free, but some other things still having to be bought.

    So if they manage to get to a balanced point, then i think the game might actually profit from this change. They just have to be sure not to be as acridic as SWtoRs business model, which drove me away merely minutes after trying it in F2P status, by disallowing me to still use my chars equipment…

    The other question for me is: which benefits will remain of the grandmaster account?

    I for myself would accept any small advantage, for me it would be enough to get something to show that my account has GM (GrandMaster = lifetime account) status, without any further benefits. After all, buying the GM account one month after launch absolutely payd of for me, to a degree where it feels like i actually kind of ripped Funcom off by taking their offer. (I also gifted a GM account to my girl after a while… and hey, why not, the game is where we met… 🙂 ) But i guess to play it save and not to provoke negative reactions of other veterans, GM accounts will still have small but noticeable benefits.

  3. Funcom really did themselves no favours by announcing this in such a vague way. Without details, we’re left to guess what this all means, but at face value, it sounds very bad. Given the report specifically mentions “the last large updates” to TSW, it seems like this is just to prepare the game for maintenance mode.

    • Sylow says:

      Given the report specifically mentions “the last large updates” to TSW, it seems like this is just to prepare the game for maintenance mode.

      Oh, holy! I missed that part! I hope that was badly worded and they wanted to say something along “recent” instead of “last”. In terms of story the game still has so much potential and the last issues required several decissions of the player and brought a new faction into play, so things would just be unfolding even more. Switching to maintenance mode would be very painful.

Comments are closed.