GDC09: Interview with The Secret World's creator, Ragnar Tørnquist pt. 2

So, with expansions, you said that you'll be starting out with New York, London, and Seoul, right?

Yes. Those will be the first cities, the hub cities, available at the start of the game.

Now, the gameplay takes you beyond that, yes?

Oh yeah, absolutely. We're not doing all New York, or all of London, or all of Seoul. We are actually doing very tight and very constrained neighborhoods there. That's where you'll start your gameplay, but they won't be the large, huge open zones where you have tons of gameplay or tons of monsters. That will be left to areas like Egypt and New England, which will be more expansive and include more open-world mechanics and other things that we're not revealing quite yet. We will also be including more instanced and team-based areas as well.

Regarding expansion packs, yeah, we're going to expand beyond what we already will include. It's not like we're going to run out of content, the world is a big place.

Yes, I was going to ask if it will expand into more locations and cities throughout the world.

Yes, it certainly will, but it won't be limited to just that. We have more interesting locations but they won't be limited to just our world. We will be including locations throughout time and space itself.

I want to emphasize that this won't be something like Grand Theft Auto with magic, with a focus on huge, huge open cities. They are reasonably small places where you will start out and take the adventure from there. But one very important thing to note is that this sounds like a very fragmented world. London, New York, Seoul, those cities are a long way away from each other. But we are creating, or at least trying to create, a pretty seamless world. This means there are ways of getting from London to New York very quickly, and we are focusing on that. You won't be just walking up to a plane, clicking on it, and getting a red line that quickly points to where you're going and boom, you're there. You will be moving in real-time from London to New York, just a lot quicker.

There's alot of traditional MMO components that are around now. We're kinda in a new generation of MMO, and people are tired of World of Warcraft model and they're looking for something new. This is certainly in that realm. Are you guys trying to get away from traditional models, like crafting, and moving to something new?

Ah, I can't really talk about crafting right now. What I can say is that while combat is a core focus, we really want other non-combat stuff in the game. We're just not going to be talking about them as of yet. But there will be gameplay that isn't all about fighting monsters or exploring. There will be other things that you will be able to do.

Like you said earlier, like mysteries?

That, yes, that also and there will be other ways for people to play in the game, to participate in the game, that isn't about traveling around the world. Exactly what that is, I can't say as of yet.

Now, will there be a player driven economy?

Well, I can't speak much about that now, but there will be ways for players to take part in the economy. Sorry for being so cryptic, but trying to keep this very focused and very narrow for now.

And player guilds?

Ah, we are going to have cabals, yes. There will be a point to making cabals, and it will play a very large role in the game, but exactly what that is I'm not going to say as of now.

We are a game and we are focusing on the social aspects of the game. We are, in some aspects, a story driven game and alot of it you can play solo, but we really want to emphasize that it is an MMO. There will be stuff that will require you to team up with people in small groups and also in larger teams, without me going into deeper detail.

I hate having to keep saying I can't talk about this stuff.

Oh, so what about in-game factions?

...and I can't talk about that. *laughs*

Ok, so what about the range between hardcore and casual?

Yeah, well, we always say we're going to cover all of it, but the fact is that you can't the game for everybody. So I think we're leaning towards... *sighs* I wouldn't say the casual, because when you talk about MMOs and casual you usually end up at Club Penguin or something like that, and we're really not there. We're somewhere between halfway, I think. There's tons of stuff for the hardcore MMO players, like the whole skill based system and the tweaking that you do to those types of systems with numbers and all the items we'll have, and that will be a hardcore player's dream. But I think in terms of time investment and what's required of you, we're leaning towards the middle ground. It will be fun for MMO players, but it will be equally fun for someone who just likes the idea of a world that has a bunch of other people in it, is completely open, you can play it online, and you can chat, but doesn't feel so unfriendly and unwelcoming as other MMOs.

So, would your target audience be someone who has played MMOs?

I think a large part of our target audience is who are playing or have played MMOs. We want it to be different enough for them to come back or a game that is different enough to have them come to play it with their friends. In addition to action/adventure gamers who play games like Fable 2 for the Xbox 360 and just want to try their hand at something that's online and not feel completely eliminated and have something that's recognizable to them.

We'd like to thank Ragnar for meeting with us at the GDC, and we're looking forward to more information on The Secret World!
This article was originally published on Massively.