The scenes shown at GDC of Funcom's forthcoming MMO, The Secret World, are finally online for non-attendees to stare at. This is the first time we haven't been seeing rendered cutscenes, so what will it be like? Well, like lots of combat. Against big things. And story. It's about those two elements that we lassoed project lead Ragnar Tørnquist to one side to find out more.
So first, here's the new footage:
The conspiracy-laden MMO boasts huge versions of real-world cities, filled with beasties from beneath. Here we finally get to see some of them moving, along with players excitedly attacking them. So what does that mean for how the combat will work? Is this traditional MMO hit-and-wait, or more real-time? Project lead Ragnar Tørnquist explains,
"It's definitely real-time. It's definitely not hit-and-wait. But it is an RPG. It is, in fact an MMO...RPG. Your character's skills are hugely important, and there's no twitch gameplay. We want to engage players, keep them busy, keep them focused - without tiring them out. MMOs are drawn out like world wars; they take time to play. Anything too intense will get tiring. So we're working to make sure that balance is just right."
The trailer also shows off a small glimpse of the writing, which seems dramatic and knowing. Which leads us to wonder how the game will balance combat and story - a game from Tørnquist is inevitably going to be story-focused.
"Luckily I have good people who balance me out - seasoned MMO veterans. But we're trying new things. We want to create a world where you can find something new to do every day. And storytelling - or story-FINDING - is a big part of that"
But being an MMO, you can't have a linear story. People will wander off at the wrong moments. But Ragnar divulges more details.
"The story in TSW is like a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are scattered everywhere in this big, huge room. And players have to piece them together. That's what I love about storytelling in games. The discovery. The adventure of it. Stories are linear by nature, but they don't necessarily have to be experienced as such every step of the way. You can find the pieces, put them together - hey, there's a pattern there, in the jigsaw puzzle; a house, a character, a symbol - and then you start seeing the big picture, the whole picture. Or, you know, a TINY little piece of the gigantic picture - but that piece makes sense. And once you have that we might send you onwards, further along this path towards revelation."
And the balance?
"To answer your question: there will be Balance. But always, always also Big Meanies. You can't get away from the Meanies. So even if you're Investigating and Exploring and Adventuring, it's a dangerous, dark world filled with danger and darkness and things that go BOO."