Instead of making multiple posts on some of the news from massively I just and combining these into one post.
Funcom's Bylos named creative director on AoC, AO, and TSW
by Jef Reahard on Feb 26th 2013 11:30AM
Funcom has announced that The Secret World creative director Joel Bylos is now the creator director for all three of the firm's MMORPGs. This includes TSW, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online. Bylos has penned letters from the game director for TSW and AoC, while AO's Dave "Ilaliya" Williams passes the torch via a forum post.
Bylos' TSW letter talks additional content plans up to and including Issue #12 (the live game currently sits on Issue #5, with #6 scheduled for early March). Bylos has a special place in his heart for AoC stemming from his time as the lead designer on the Rise of the Godslayer expansion, and his initial game director letter reflects on both coming home and the opportunities for expanding Hyboria. He also talks a bit about the pros and cons of having a single production team working on three live titles.
Finally, outgoing AoC producer Craig "Silirrion" Morrison recaps his four years at the helm and hints at a "new opportunity within the MMO world."
[Thanks to David for the tip.]
The Secret World dev blog expounds on Issue #6 PvP changes
by MJ Guthrie on Mar 4th 2013 12:00PM
Issue #6 Last Train to Cairo was announced for The Secret World, a new PvP ranking system was briefly touched upon. In today's dev blog, system designer Tim Donks goes into more detail about this new feature as well as the matchmaking system.
In response to player requests for PvP rewards, Issue #6 is introducing Battle Ranks. By gaining PvP experience (which is shared among all group members who are present and alive at the time of the enemy kill), players can climb the ranks of PvP prowess, earning special tokens along the way to spend on various PvP rewards, including uniforms that are automatically equipped when entering PvP. An important note about PvP experience: Less XP is earned for each subsequent kill of the same player within the battlegrounds, Fusang, and the fight clubs until nothing is gained. This diminishing rewards system resets for each new trip into a PvP zone.
Once the update hits, players will also be able to queue for multiple battlegrounds at the same time. Also expected in Issue #6 -- or shortly thereafter -- players' wins and losses in PvP matches will be tracked to improve the matchmaking mechanic.
Chaos Theory: The Secret World needs bug spray in Egypt, stat!
by MJ Guthrie on Mar 4th 2013 5:00PM
Recently, you all voted that I continue my adventures on my Templar. The timing was impeccable because right in the middle of that vote, The Secret World's next issue was announced. And where will this update be focused? Why, in Egypt -- right where my Templar just so happens to be! Fortuitous for me, to be sure. So I have been (mostly) happily blasting my way through the desert with a shotgun at my hip and a rifle slung across my back, enjoying new-to-me content and anticipating the upcoming new-to-everyone goodies.
But not all timing has been good. As mentioned, I've been mostly enjoying my tales in the desert. Why the caveat? There's a bit of an infestation in Egypt, and I am not talking about the beetles that want to devour Said. The place is crawling with bugs! Besides swarming with giant locusts and their tentacled proboscises, Egypt also appears to have a higher prevalence of glitches. I have never encountered so many bugs in all of TSW as I have in a couple of days in that zone. And all at a time when the dev team is dealing with relocation and hasn't been able to jump right in and douse the area with a giant can of Raid.
The timing is particularly bad because it's unfortunately right when all eyes are turning to Egypt on the eve of Issue #6. How this release plays out will have lasting affects on the game and how folks view it.
Isn't it just my luck that the zone with the impending update -- the one where everyone would be soon be converging -- is the one experiencing a high degree of uncompletable quests and randomly repopulating NPCs? You could say I have great timing... as long as your voice is dripping with sarcasm.
The higher incidence of glitches actually took me by surprise. As far as I can remember, I have only personally encountered two bugs that really affected my gameplay to any significant degree. First there was The Hunger in Kingsmouth. When I'd get to the wendigo at the end of the trail of mutilated body parts, it would glitch at 50% health and never run away to allow me to follow and get the next update. The second one involved the Black House in The Savage Coast. You remember the spot, where the ashes of Carrie Killian wouldn't spawn at her grave? Folks would group up with others from different instances of the zone in order to port over and complete the quest. In many other cases, what I heard people referring to as "bugs" were just a matter of not completing the objective successfully.
But that changed once I stepped Egypt. And while not every bug I have encountered has prevented me from completing my tasks, I would have preferred avoiding some until they are fixed to prevent undue frustration.
A roadblock between Carthage and Cairo
The first bug I encountered in the land of sand was the sabotage mission From Carthage to Cairo. I couldn't ever click on the guy or his laptop to detonate the charges. Apparently I wasn't the only one, as a query in general chat revealed that the quest has been broken for a while but is expected to be fixed in a forthcoming patch. There was nothing I could do, so I moseyed along and hoped that I'd remember to go back and restart the paused mission at some point.
Between a golem and a hard place
Shortly after brushing off one mission I couldn't complete, I was hit with a second. OK, slightly more annoyed now. Have you noticed that the step that's bugged is never in the beginning but near the end? It's only after you've gone through pretty much everything that fate yells "psych!" and snatches away your completion. In this second case, I freed the golem in Between a Rock and a Hard Place, but he didn't budge.
Thinking user error was the culprit, I spent time puzzling things over but found nothing else I could possibly do. So I finally resorted to checking a guide (heresy, I know!). It turns out I completed everything as outlined, but the big ol' hunk of animated metal still wouldn't budge. At this point, I was grateful that the mission logs records paused missions, otherwise I might start forgetting what still needs to be done. Now just to remember where to find it again...
Save me! And me! And me...
This next quest actually had two different bugs. The first was a glaringly obvious one bug even though it didn't affect gameplay, other than hiding a mob or two. The second, however, was declared a bug by my companion, who had run the quest before and noted the difference to me.
When heading into the hotel for the mission A Lion in the Streets, we were faced with... well here, you have to see it:
Yep, we had to rescue the townsfolks, but their rabbit-like reproduction and eerie synchronized dance made me wary to let them loose! Would you want people like that wandering your streets? Next thing you know they'd be spewing pea soup! Ah, but although I endeavored to let them out anyways, only the original mission-mandated three would leave -- the others just remained there, apparently sealed to their boy-band dancing fate.
The next bug did affect our gameplay, but thankfully didn't prevent us from finishing our mission! Unsurprisingly, it happened at the end. Down in the basement, we met a very benign Great Jinn in front of the final cages, which weirded my companion out a bit because he'd always had to fight him in the other room.
After freeing the captives, we were instructed to kill the boss, Great Jinn, so we did him in right there. For a final boss, he was a bit of a ectoplasmic cream puff. Ding! We got the update and moved into the room to free the Council of Venice representative, when what to our wondering eyes emerged from the portal? Why, none other then the Great Jinn -- this time with a better arsenal! We killed him again, but not before my companion misses all of the freed captive's dialogue while dodging attacks during the battle.
We completed this mission, but experiencing that many different bugs in a single gaming session kind of dampened our spirits, sp we decided to take a break for the night.
Pest control needed ASAP
Admittedly, I haven't been in Egypt enough to know for sure, but I'll go out on a palm tree limb and say that the bugs in this area are a bigger issue now precisely because the team has not been able to devote a whole lot of time to the game. With the restructuring and relocation, resources have obviously been stretched tight. Those were definitely extenuating circumstances, so I'm sure I'm not alone in cutting the devs some slack.
However, with the announcement of The Last Train to Cairo, that reason just won't wash anymore. Fair or not, how this next update comes out will have a lasting effect on how people view the TSW team as well as the game going forward. Announcing Issue #6 was a double-edged sword; it got folks excited that things were back on track, but now they expect them to be back on track. The feeling will be, If there is enough time to create new content, there must be enough time to squash some bugs. And people wouldn't be wrong. If the current bugs aren't addressed and are compounded with new ones (all updates come with a glitch or two), the team will lose credibility and folks won't give them much leeway from here on out.
Bugs notwithstanding, I enjoy the game and don't want to see TSW lose face, so hopefully we'll soon start seeing fewer of Egypt's programming bugs (hey, who's for fewer locusts as well?). Because I think this team and game deserves to catch a break, I'll be crossing my fingers for a smooth content release... and also praying that something else doesn't break!
Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ every Monday as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to [email protected] and she'll jump on the case!