The Secret World (formerly known under the working titles Cabal and The World Online) is an upcoming MMORPG from developer Funcom (makers of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures), the development of which has been officially confirmed on March 6, 2007. The final title of the project was confirmed on May 11, 2007. Ragnar Tørnquist is the creative director of the game.
After announcing the development of The Secret World, Funcom project director Jorgen Tharaldsen informed the press that the game uses the same engine as Age of Conan. According to Funcom, the game will blend elements of MMO gameplay with alternate reality gaming and social networking.
At GDC 2009, Tørnquist gave an interview to GameSpot regarding TSW, revealing more about its gameplay. There will be neither levels, nor classes in the game; instead, the character building will be skill-based. This way, the developers plan to avoid level grinding, allowing new players to join the game more easily. The player characters will be customizable to a large degree, particularly in their choice of clothing, weapons (which range from shotguns to swords and can be customized and upgraded), and the supernatural powers they acquire. Combat against computer-controlled monsters will be one of the game's central points and will require more of player's attention than contemporary MMORPGs. The players will be able to form teams to fight together but in an earlier blog posting, Tørnquist assured that the game can also be played in single-player mode, should a player choose not to play with a group. According to him, the game is story-driven and there will be an overarching linear plot, as well as numerous side-quests, ranging from investigation to sabotage and hunting, since diversity of the gameplay will be another central point.
In an interview to GameSpot at the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo, Tørnquist and the lead designer Martin Bruusgaard revealed which playable factions ("secret societies") will be available in the game. These are: the London-based Templars, pious zealots "who would burn an entire village down to get their hands on one demon"; the New York City-based Illuminati, Machiavellian pragmatists who "believe that it's a tough world where only the strongest will survive"; and the Seoul-based "Dragon", who take a neutral stance between the other two and are "all about deceiving, orchestrating chaos, and waiting patiently for its time". A personality test to determine the players' inclination towards one of the factions was made available on the official TSW website soon after the reveal. It will be impossible to change factions without creating a new character. Additionally, players will be able to create own guilds, known as "cabals" in-game, affiliated with one of the main factions. All players' actions in the game will contribute to their ranking in their respective guilds and factions. The same interview revealed that PvP areas of the game will be located in the region called Agartha inside the hollow Earth, where the players will fight for the invaluable resource known as "anima".
The game will feature an original setting created by Funcom, with contemporary elements as well as "magic, myths, conspiracies and dark horrors". Contrary to rumors spawned by the game's second working title, it has neither anything to do with, nor is inspired by the .hack franchise and its setting. Tørnquist debunked several rumors surrounding The Secret World, stating that "there are no aliens or sci-fi elements" in it. He also denied any connection of TSW to The Longest Journey.
At GDC 2009, Tørnquist revealed more about the setting and the story. He stressed that the game is set in the "modern day real world" but also incorporates pieces of ancient mythologies, real and false history, urban legends, and pop culture, and ties them into an original back-story. The latter is said to go back in time for 100 million years and encompass long extinct ancient civilizations. The players will assume the roles of supernatural heroes who participate in a "future war between good and evil", fighting dark monsters that threaten the modern world. Tørnquist identified the genre of the story as dark fantasy, mentioning vampires, demons, and zombies. The players will be free to travel across different locations of the world (both real, like London, New York and Seoul, and mythical, e.g. Agartha, the legendary city located within Hollow Earth) and even in time, to pursue the overall plot and investigate new mysteries in connection to the dark invasion. The overall plot will have a conclusion but the designers also leave room for future expansions.
The pre-production of the game started in 2002, but in mid-2003, most of the working team was transferred to the development of Dreamfall. The work on The Secret World was resumed after Dreamfall shipped, with many of the latter's designers (including Ragnar Tørnquist) playing key roles in the former's development. TSW is being produced at the Funcom studios in Oslo, Montreal and Beijing. In August 2008, it was stated that the development team consisted of people previously involved in the development of Dreamfall, Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, EverQuest II, and The Longest Journey. In November Funcom stated that 70 people were working on the project.
On January 18, 2009, Tørnquist commented on his blog (admittedly, without Funcom's approval) that "2009 will be the year where [players] learn about the secret world", but Eurogamer speculated whether this meant the actual game release or simply the release of detailed information about it.
Following the release of information at Penny Arcade Expo, however, it was widely assumed that this unprompted blurb by Ragnar referred to the reveal of the three factions and the PvP elements of The Secret World at the expo.[clarification needed]
On September 29, 2009, Funcom announced a reduction of 20% of its staff, resulting in "significant delay" for the release of The Secret World.
The first promotional material appeared on May 8, 2007, when a picture was leaked into the internet, containing a poem, a Knights Templar seal, and several sentences in Spanish, Norwegian, French, German and Hebrew. When solved, the poem led to a series of internet pages, one of them with a riddle, and, eventually, to the newly created official forum.
The websites lead to a Flash page with a countdown timer that uses Hindu (Hindu-Arabic numeral system) numerals instead of Western numbers. The timer will presumably reach zero on 12:00 AM on December 21, 2012, adjusted for the location of Funcom headquarters. This date will see the end of the Mayan calendar cycle which is notable in Maya mythology.. Since then, a massive alternate reality game has been established in the forums.
A first teaser trailer featuring the Dragon faction has been released on April 7, 2009, during the GDC 2009. A second teaser featuring the Templar faction has been released on September 4, 2009. Then, a teaser presenting the fictive town of Kingsmouth was released on February 2, 2010. On March 23, 2010 (i.e. 10 days after the GDC 2010 of San Francisco, CA), a short teaser was released, showing some extremely brief in-game sequences and announcing the release of a bigger teaser on March 25, 2010. This last one showed some fights in Kingsmouth. As of May 2, 2010, the teaser featuring the Illuminati faction has yet to be released. According to Gamespot, it presents a monster with tentacles. Most available teasers can be viewed on the game's homepage, however, Gamespot's interviews with Ragnar Tørnquist, on the various factions within the game, included scenes from teaser trailers.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Callaham, John (2007-03-06). GDC: New Funcom MMO Game Revealed. FiringSquad.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
- ↑ Miguel Caron nous dévoile The Secret World (French). JeuxOnLine.info (2010-01-18). Retrieved on 2010-02-26. “...attendu dans les bacs 'd’ici 18 à 24 mois'...” Template:Lang-en
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Park, Andrew (2009-04-07). GDC 2009: The Secret World First Look Interview. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-04-09.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Tørnquist, Ragnar (2009-01-18). Oh-nine, one. Retrieved on 2009-01-24.
- ↑ Hagerup, Eivind (2007-03-14). Funcom drops "offline" PC games. Adventure Gamers. Retrieved on 2007-03-15.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Tørnquist, Ragnar (2007-05-11). The Secret World is secret no more. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27 Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Funcom reveals The Secret World. Funcom (2007-05-11). Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Q2 2008 Financial Report Presentation. Funcom (2008-08-15). Retrieved on 2008-08-20.
- ↑ Tørnquist, Ragnar (2007-08-22). Attacking my massively backlogged inbox. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27 Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Tong, Sophia (2009-09-10). The Secret World Updated Impressions. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-09-12.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Tørnquist, Ragnar (2007-03-07). The rumours of a reveal are somewhat exaggerated. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27 Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
- ↑ Q3 2006 Financial Report Presentation. Funcom (2006-11-02). Retrieved on 2008-08-20.
- ↑ Tørnquist, Ragnar (2006-06-14). And so it begins, the comments. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27 Retrieved on 2006-06-16.
- ↑ Tørnquist, Ragnar (June 9, 2009). The Forbidden Land. Retrieved on 2009-06-11.
- ↑ Q3 2008 Financial Report Presentation. Funcom (2008-11-11). Retrieved on 2009-01-15.
- ↑ Welsh, Oli (2009-01-23). The Secret World seeing "big changes". Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2009-01-24.
- ↑ Secret World gets significant delay as Funcom drops 20% of staff. VG247 (2009-09-29). Retrieved on 2009-09-29.
- ↑ Purchese, Rob (2007-05-08). Poem hides new game. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
- ↑ Dark Days Are Coming. Funcom (2008-05-28). Retrieved on 2008-05-28.
- ↑ Alternate reality game on The Secret World forums..
- ↑ The Secret World Updated Impressions. GameSpot (2009-09-10). Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
- ↑ Gamespot-The Secret World Updated Q&A - More Illuminati
- ↑ The Secret World Updated Q&A - More Templars
- ↑ The Secret World Q&A - The Dragon Faction Details
- Dark Days Are Coming, official "The Secret World" Webpage
- Dark Demons Cry Gaia, official "The Secret World" Forums
- Twitter: Official, Official TSW Twitter account