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Chaos Theory: Tornquist on The Secret World's launch, future

Jef Reahard

You know, this is probably obvious if you've read my coverage of The Secret World thus far, but I'll just go ahead and fess up: I dig the game, and watching Funcom knock the cover off the ball is gratifying in a strange sort of way.

That's why I didn't get too upset when my opportunity to interview creative director Ragnar Tornquist was upstaged by the firm's huge news dump this afternoon. The company shocked gamers and industry watchers by promising monthly content updates and a whole bunch of other stuff, some of which I had asked about in a series of questions we sent Funcom earlier in the week.

The resulting answers are still worth a read, though, particularly if you're pinching yourself over TSW's successful launch and its rosy future.

The Secret World - crystal ball
Massively: What do you guys think about the faction balance in Fusang? Do you feel like one or two factions are over/under-represented on average, or is it about what you expected, working as intended?

Ragnar Tornquist: It varies from dimension to dimension, of course, but right now, things are pretty much working as intended. When you're dealing with a feature as complicated and ambitious as the warzone, there are always surprises, but so far it's been a lot of fun to see how passionate players are about Fusang Projects and how busy things are there, 24-7.

The Secret World - Golem chaseIt's super easy to get into Fusang, but the Stonehenge and El Dorado battlefields don't seem to be very popular (at least when I'm playing in EDT prime time, it takes me upwards of 20 minutes to get a pop on those two). Is that common, and if so, is there any solution in the works?

I think players are still coming to grips with the PvE content, and most PvPers are probably focusing on Fusang -- it's definitely the shiny new feature that everyone wants to try out! -- but as more players join the game and more players realise the advantages given by winning the battlefields, I think we'll see more traffic in El Dorado and Stonehenge as well.

Your CEO's resignation announcement was curiously timed. Some of our readers took that and the recent share price news as a sign that the game might be in trouble despite all the positive word-of-mouth. Can you put their minds at ease, or comment on how those two things affect TSW, if at all?

It won't affect TSW at all. Trond Aas wanted to stay on as CEO until the game had launched, and he did so. It's still too early for us to tell how big a success TSW is, so his departure has absolutely nothing to do with that. Also, Trond is staying with the company in a different role, so it's not like anyone was fired or demoted. It has absolutely nothing to do with The Secret World, although Trond was an active participant in all discussions regarding the game before launch and played an instrumental role in ensuring that we shipped a great game on time.

Are there any plans to add in guild/cabal renown? If so will it be similar to Age of Conan's setup?

For the time being, there are no plans to add cabal renown. We are working on updates and upgrades to our cabal functionality, however. We'll have more information about that after the summer!

Any plans to allow for customizable UI elements? We're big fans of the minimal setup, but we'd love to be able to drag the group window.

I'm already seeing some GUI mods out there, so it's definitely possible. We're actually planning on talking a bit more about that this week. I'm also certain that we'll see updated GUI elements and skins from the team itself -- that's something we've been talking about, and as soon as we have time to do so, we'll look into it.

Can you comment on your post-launch update plans with regard to scheduling/timing? RIFT seems to be the only AAA sub-based game that has managed consistent and significant content updates in recent years. Is that something Funcom is aiming for?

Yes, we just announced that we're committing to a monthly release schedule for our updates -- probably the most ambitious plan of any MMO so far. We'll be announcing more details about that this week!

The Secret World - scrapyard Edgar
Can you comment on specific content updates in the pipeline? Perhaps new warzones or battlefields?

Again, we're revealing some of our upcoming content and features this week, and we'll be talking in more detail about the next few updates -- our monthly issues -- in the weeks to come.

The Chronicle has been well-received. Any additional secret projects like that that you can hint at?

If they are secret, how can I hint at them? But yeah, we have lots of stuff in the pipeline -- maybe not something as unexpected as Chronicle, but definitely things that no one knows about yet. We'll be announcing stuff very soon, though some surprises will have to wait until August.

Launch has been pretty smooth, especially relative to Age of Conan and Anarchy Online. Did Funcom learn anything specific from those two titles and their various launch challenges, or is it just a matter of being older/wiser/more experienced?

All of the above! Of course we learned a lot from launching Conan -- and the expansion pack -- but we're also older (oh god, are we older!), probably a tiny bit wiser, and definitely more experienced.

Do you have any concerns about replayability? Aside from factional flavor text, there's basically the single narrative and a lot of repeatable quests that folks will do quite often (even if they don't roll multiple characters). Once someone has learned all the skills and completed the story missions, what then?

Our monthly content updates will provide PvE players with plenty to dig into, and we hope the PvP will also be engaging and exciting enough to keep people playing for a long time. Add crafting to that, achievements and lore, the ability wheel, of course... There is plenty to do for all types of players, and there will be much more to do in the weeks and months ahead.

Are there any Kingsmouth easter eggs or noteworthy asides that folks might've missed during the launch-week rush?

I haven't been able to stay on top of everything going on in Kingsmouth, but I do know that we're adding some more content very soon, and not all of it will be announced. As for easter eggs: It pays to explore, investigate, talk to everyone, and dig into all the mysteries of Solomon Island and beyond. Who knows, there might still be secrets undiscovered, and we'll definitely be adding more surprises in the future!

Excellent news, thanks for sharing with us!

Chaos Theory Tornquist on The Secret World's launch and the future
Yes, Jef Reahard is paid to play The Secret World. But he's not paid by Funcom; Massively leaves the bribes and the bad grammar to its imitators (it's a conspiracy!). Chaos Theory comes your way every Thursday (really, promise!), bringing you Gaia's latest news, guides, and commentary.

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