Gentlemen Elementalists: The Secret World

By Adam Smith on March 24th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Me and John have both probably tried to explain the way The Secret World’s classless progression works using nothing more than the power of words but it’s much easier to use visual aids as well, so I’ll hand you over to Funcom’s Martin Bruusgard and Joel Bylos who explain what kind of abilities are available and how they can be combined to make effective characters. I’ve had some experience with switching functions on the fly during my time with the game, mainly at the points when I realised I was completely inept in the role I’d been given so I went for something simpler instead. I like to think my eventual role was attractive spectator.

Does it all make sense now? I enjoy Martin’s interaction with the graphics almost as much as I enjoy Joel acting as if he doesn’t know anything is going to be superimposed around him.

One of the features that I haven’t been able to play with in person is the clothing and character design. I’ve always just been ‘angry man in dapper suit’ or ‘lady in shorts’, depending on how the mood takes me. I’m glad I’ll be able to dress to my mood without it affecting my ability to play in a certain style, although when the style is ‘attractive spectator’ perhaps the clothing will be the most important part of the puzzle that is my Illumaniti gentlething.

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64 Comments »

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  1. GT3000 says:

    Hopefully there’s a flamethrower, I’d like to crispy my enemies.

  2. TheDreamlord says:

    I must admit I don’t like the fact that hits don’t really ‘connect’. I.e. the collision is way off. And no impact.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      the whole “walking backwards firing 2 pistols at point-blank range into the face of a huge monster punching you as it walks forward” does come across as a little, er, unsatisfying.

    • fallingmagpie says:

      Yeah, exactly. That was the only thing that I didn’t love about that video.

      “I love to knock down enemies and then hit them with my hammer. Or just hit the ground a couple of feet away from them, it has the same effect.’

    • Shuck says:

      It’s a fundamental problem with MMOs, because you don’t have precise information about where characters are or what they’re doing in any instant (they could end up rubber-banding away from their apparent location as data is updated, or could have already started an action that you’re interrupting). It would require some clever fakery to pull off, where you place characters where you know they probably aren’t but obscure the fact, and have an animation system complex enough that it does real-time blending of hit effects with the animations for existing actions (and have it look ok).
      I worked on an MMO where we were trying to create combat that looked more like a fighting game, and it wasn’t easy. It was canceled before we got it working, so who knows if we would even have pulled it off.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Nexon manages pretty well, but then they use the Source engine, which is honestly not suited to large, open environments.
        .
        Perhaps its a problem of game engines. Seems like you either have an engine suited to physics and impact, or one suited to large open environs and huge worlds. Makes me wonder why the two can never be combined, but apparently, it just doesn’t work.

        Or perhaps its the “lowest common denominator” rigs MMO’s must run on. Not everyone has a PC gaming rig, and the developers behind an MMO need a large amount of people to play their games. Hence, the horrid combat in everything from WoW to SWTOR.

        • Shuck says:

          Also the “lowest common denominator” in terms of connection speed, lag, etc. The more players on a server, the worse it gets, too, so a smaller-scale multiplayer game can get away with things a full MMO can’t.

      • skittles says:

        It is hardly a problem just with MMO though. A majority of singleplayer games are lacking in the hit detection department. And that is purely because of funds or laziness.

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          Wisq says:

          A lot of games aren’t absolutely perfect, and that’s obviously purely because of funds or laziness, too.

          Good thing not everyone’s a perfectionist, or every game would be perpetually in a “release date: next decade” state until they go bankrupt. :)

      • morgofborg says:

        The Matrix Online dealt with this by having a custom animation for the receiving end of every melee attack. It was, however, a very martial-arts focused setting with the advantage of dealing only with average-sized humanoid characters.

  3. NathanH says:

    What is the correct procedure for reporting crimes against grammar in an RPS article?

  4. Inigo says:

    Where’s his foot?

  5. Pictoru says:

    the way people hate on swtors armor designs……i don’t see a bright future from the armor styling point of view, they all look dressed from the GAP

    • Bork Titflopsen says:

      As a non-Americann I wonder why people keep hating on GAP? Is it really that bad of a store? Is it a taboo in the land of the fashionably elite? Do they sacrifice a small child to the fashion-devil with every purchase?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think some of the armour design from Tribes, Planetside 2, etc show some hope for games in general (mix of soft material and armour)… as for this t-shirts and jeans, I think it fits.

      The problem with SWTOR’s armour was it wasn’t even really in keeping with Star Wars, with its giant pauldrons and weird hats which very definitely mimic WoW art-choices. In contrast to SWG’s armour which was much more in keeping with the setting.

      If they can pull off casual style, and more business style (suit and tie, military armour, faction uniforms) without everything just looking like repainted t-shirts I think it stands to give it that “modern” feel the setting is clearly intending to be.

  6. Ett_1762 says:

    Oh god, this looks so boring.

    Nad that fact that i have time to comment on how bored i am with this video shows how little spare time i have on this saturday.

  7. MistyMike says:

    It’s like Second Life with grinding!

  8. harrumph says:

    “Me and John,” Adam?! For shame!

    • Mordsung says:

      Technically not incorrect, it’s just that “Me and ____” is considered impolite.

      I looked it up one day and discovered it wasn’t a grammar matter, just an etiquette one.

      In our modern and informal society, “me and ____” is as correct as “____ and I”.

      • NathanH says:

        It is very incorrect. If the phrase would be replaced by “we”, then the correct phrase is “John and I”. If the phrase would be replaced by “us”, then the correct phrase is “John and me”. Here, the correct replacement would be “we”, thus “John and I”.

        Please don’t spread misinformation about this simple but widely-misunderstood rule.

        • ZJVavrek says:

          Thank you for explaining when “and me” should be used. My mother drilled into my head that the other person’s name comes first, but not the specific we/us rules.

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          jrodman says:

          While using “me” as a subject is definitely incorrect, and “I” as an object is definitely incorrect, there’s nothing incorrect about using the compouned “me and John” as an object. That is, the ordering is not required.

          That said, “me and John” may attract commentary by people who find the construction awkward and may falsely claim it is ungrammatical.

          The good rule for those who struggle with this, is to drop the compound construction mentally and evaluate if it sounds acceptable. “Me and John went to the store” sounds a little unclear to some people, while “Me went to the store” is clearly wrong to almost any ear, thus “I and John” would be the form to use here, or “John and I”. Meanwhile “He gave the book to John and I” is sometimes used by those who are daisy-stepping around the worries of the word me. A simple substitution and it sounds clearly ludicrous: “He gave the book to I”.

  9. Terr says:

    Looks interesting, but I can’t see myself playing it if it isn’t free to play.

  10. The white guar says:

    OMG! the guy in that screenshot is wielding a curved sword! A curved. sword.

    • omicron1 says:

      ‘Tis a khopesh, lad.

      Incidentally, neither eBay nor Amazon sells khopeshes. They’re a bit of a rarity.

  11. porps says:

    14 abilities at any one time seems rather limiting. The more i learn about this game the less interest i have in it.

    • fallingmagpie says:

      Did you miss the bit where he said you swap to another build of 14 abilities at any time?

    • Hug_dealer says:

      until you realize that it is all about how and when you use those abilities which determine if you win or lose.

      This isnt a game where you simply stand around, you will be moving and attacking and dodging, similar to guild wars 2, which also has a limited skill set, which also requires you to know what and how to use them and also use combining skill sets with your teammates.

      having 40 abilities available doesnt increase difficulty or depth, it only increases the amount of abilities that never get used.

      • Calcographer says:

        Thank you. I am so fatigued by having eighteen bars full of super hammer of the whackadoo crowding my screen, when I really only use 5 of those abilities to begin with.

        Secret World? I’ll take one please. Keep the change.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      Guild Wars had seven, one of those nearly always being a resurrection spell. And yet it was one of the greatest and most unique features of the game.

      Other than that, yeah, losing interest fast.

    • Merus says:

      The original Guild Wars had a very similar skill system, you pick from a suite of abilities, but there it was down to 8. My interest in this game has gone up ever since I found out that for all of GW2’s innovations in structure, the PvE combat is far too simple. GW1’s combat system is super-interesting but was in a game with an uninteresting structure, so Secret World is looking a lot more interesting.

  12. Nevard says:

    I would have taken the video more seriously if I hadn’t been imagining the two developers just waving their arms around in mid-air while filming before the silly floating icons had been added in

    • Archipelagos says:

      I stopped watching at that point as it just looked ridiculous. I’m not a fan of developer diaries at the best of times (thanks, Bioware!) but Funcom really takes it to excruciating new heights. Every single one is a total awkward bomb.

      Hey marketing people, stop it. Just stop it. All of you. STOP.

  13. DK says:

    It’s like the game world and rest of the game is made by two different art teams. The world looks incredible, but the character models and animations utter garbage.

    Especially the complete non-impact of attacks. Melee monster bashing heroes with 5 meter club/heroes shooting melee monster with pistols and neither side has any reaction to any of the hits being inflicted.

  14. Contrafibularity says:

    If this had actual “twitch” gameplay for once (like an FPS or rather DX/VTMB) I would try it out even if I’m not an MMO player, just to see what the creators of The Longest Journey have been up to while we wait for TLJ3 ^^

    Auto-targetting and the boring grind gameplay of MMOs really doesn’t agree with me somehow, it has that feel of just watching character animations again and again without being involved as a player. Playing KOTOR1/2 it’s just about bearable but other than that, no thanks, not if it can be avoided.

    I wouldn’t even mind if it was both optional; auto-targetting for RPG players, twitch for the those who prefer it, or something.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Meh I take it I’m one of the few who even cares about real-time gameplay in ‘games’ like this. Oh well I’ll come back to MMOs in 20 years time and see if they’re still glorified QTEs button combo smashers and an affront to everything videogames. That’s probably a narrow minded statement in some way or other I’m sure, but I can’t help it every time I try something like this I end up asking myself how it constitutes a game. Different strokes I guess.

      • mickygor says:

        It’s not financially feasible with current computing power. People who play MMOs don’t expect this sort of stuff – perhaps that you don’t is why you want it.

  15. Funso Banjo says:

    I am becoming more and more certain that RPS has a deal with Funcom. I don’t think I have seen any game pushed so hard with so little reason.

    • Solskin says:

      Right, a gaming site posting gaming news.. Clearly something is awry.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      Oh man I just BET they have a news reporter from the “Really Prestigious Social network or something in the game, and it’ll be a copypasted Adam and also voiced by him and his voice will be really annoying and he’ll just be slouched there in some sort of skimpy, neoprene smock drinking tea in the middle of my base and asking if we “need to talk” all the time. J’accuse, RPS.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      The reason is Ragnar Tornquist. Specifically that Walker has a soft spot for him.

  16. Funso Banjo says:

    They have reported several times more on lowly-anticipated The Secret World than they did on SWTOR, the best selling pre-release MMO of all time.

    That is not normal. There is a clear discrepancy in the amount they are reporting on the game.

    Not that I really mind, they have to earn their money somewhere, and clearly this is one of their income streams. There is nothing really wrong with that. It’s just a bit blatant.

    (woops, this was meant as an add-on/reply to the post above)

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      Lacero says:

      I eat lots of jaffa cakes, but McVities aren’t paying me to. I wish they were cos I could then afford more jaffa cakes.

    • Tacroy says:

      Sooooo… What you’re saying is, RPS is involved in a conspiracy to push The Secret World? Would this money be coming from the Illuminati, perhaps? On bills stamped all over with fnords?

    • sneetch says:

      No, you’re wrong. Firstly, on RPS there are 38 posts tagged The Secret World vs 67 or so tagged Star Wars The Old Republic. Secondly, just because you’re more interested in SWTOR (possibly because of how well it did in pre-order terms) than this “lowly” title means little, RPS staff report on what they find interesting.

      • Auspex says:

        Funso Banjo is wrong but… RPS are horrendous at consistently and correctly tagging their posts so 38 v 67 is unlikely to be a true reflection of their reporting on these games.

        • sneetch says:

          Yep, they don’t always tag their posts correctly but I’m assuming they’re at least somewhat consistent in their inconsistency ;-) so the ratio of posts for the two games is roughly the same, almost twice as many SWTOR posts

    • Torgen says:

      Talk about conspiracy nuts…

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Obviously the tags are part of the conspiracy.

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      Vandelay says:

      So, the little company making a not very anticipated game is paying off RPS to spend more time talking about their product then the one being made by the multi-mega corporation?

      Or, it could just be that this looks much more interesting to them then a Star Wars reskin of World of Warcraft.

      (Combat does look as crap though.)

  17. caddyB says:

    The combat looks worse than The Old Republic. Which is to say, animations and how abilities seem to chain together. Otherwise it looks like it’s the exact same MMO combat formula that’s been used in most of them.

  18. crinkles esq. says:

    The story of the The Secret World intrigued me, and the “fresh take” on the MMO as well, but this is looking so WoW in regards to combat that it destroys any suspension of disbelief concerning the narrative. And though you can switch out abilities on-the-fly, it’s all just standard fare and cheap-looking animations.

    Hint to developers: spend less time on slick marketing videos which make you look silly and make the game hard to see with your one-second jump cuts, and spend more time making the combat a bit more believable. This is 2012 – we can do better than World of Warcraft combat.

    • DK says:

      The irony is that FUNCOM did combat better already. In Age of Conan. But instead of improving from there, they’re downgrading to WoW combat.

  19. Grey_Ghost says:

    I used to be excited about this game until I recently started seeing it in motion. Are they showing off gameplay too early, or is this mostly representative of what release will look like?

  20. Nezrite says:

    Nice chap-hop reference ;o)

  21. Elmokki says:

    Sigh. The concept for Secret World was intriguing. Removing classes and strict roles while having an unique (fairly so for MMO at least) setting that’s actually interesting.

    Sadly it all matters absolutely nothing if the combat is just World of Warcraft. It looks like World of Warcraft with guns or SWTOR or any of the other generic mmos. It doesn’t matter if your progression is lsightly different if you’re still using the old boring formula :/