Not so long ago in real time, but an aeon ago in blog time, I decided I was going to become immune to hype. Well, it worked for a few months, anyway, and in internet-time nobody remembers a thing you said last week let alone 6+ months ago. So sue me.
The Secret World folks should be releasing a few more goodies today — keep an eye on gametrailers.com among other places. There’s another one out on the G4TV site but it’s essentially another first-look post, though I definitely agree with the author that “The Secret World has reinvigorated my excitement for massively multiplayer games.” Hence this post.
I’m trying very hard not to get too excited, because for all we know Funcom are just doing a great PR job and the game behind the curtain will turn out to be another gnome with warts and not an MMO giant (How To Torture A Metaphor, Part VII)… but I’m getting excited all the same.
Why? Well, the skill-based aspect appeals to me. My very first MMO was Asheron’s Call and although that was level-based, it also had a slew of skills that you could put experience points into — so if you wanted to be half-man, half-deer and run faster than Bo Jackson you could do that quite easily. It was always fun trying to figure out where you’d ended up and whether you’d left a corpse after you got disconnected during a long cross-country run. Most people ended up min-maxing to some extent, of course, but that’s a large part of the fun too as long as it’s optional: you can be a min-maxed ninja or you can be Bo Jackson, your choice.
Which is the crux of it: player choice. These days most games make your choices for you, even though there’s the veneer of options in the form of talent trees or whatever each game calls them. But the games that really intrigue me (whether I play them or not) are the ones, like EVE, where you choose what you’re going to be and if you choose to be a multi-tasker that’s okay: the payoff for not being the best at a single thing is being pretty good at a bunch of other things.
I’m not so sure about the skill-deck system they’re intending to use for The Secret World, but I’m not against it either. Quite a few people I know play Guild Wars and apparently enjoy the way skills are set up there, and from what I understand the TSW system won’t be all that different.
Ironically for an altoholic like me, the idea of being able to be different things at different times on a single character is really quite appealing. Part of the reason I have so many alts in all these games is that I enjoy trying out all the different roles… but if one character could be all those roles at different times, then maybe I wouldn’t be so tempted to keep making new characters.
And in a game like TSW, I have a feeling I might want to restrict how many avatars I have. I’m not sure how to explain that… but the setting and conflict setup seem, to me, to be far better suited to single-character play. For once in my gaming life I’d like to be able to concentrate on just one person (well okay, maybe two). In connection with that, I’d like to see a single server environment — we have no idea if that’s going to be the case, I’m just speculating — and single-account handles like they have in CoH and other games.
Because if I’m going to be excited about TSW, I especially want to be excited about being able to play it with — or against — my friends, and I’ve made a lot of them in this last decade of online gaming. I’m tired of being on different servers. I want to be able to see these people, virtually or otherwise, in the same world as me.
But most of all, I want to be in the TSW beta. There will be one and I will be in it. You heard it here first.
(There’s more info promised for release today. I’ll update as I find it.)