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Exclusive: The Secret World's Joel Bylos vs. Armageddon

MJ Guthrie

It's no secret that The Secret World's creative director Joel Bylos has been deeply affected by the most recent end-of-the-world predictions. He even started a video log to share his new-found convictions. In that first log, he advocated for the removal of subscriptions so that everyone would have the chance to enjoy TSW before the end came. Shortly after, the game indeed adopted the buy-to-play model. Then Bylos took off to begin preparing his survival bunker.

But that video is over a week old. How has Bylos been coping with the impending Armageddon since then? I took a break from my Issue #5 adventures and caught up with the self-proclaimed end-of-days prophet to see how he's been faring, find out what he has learned about the apocalypse, and maybe get a hint on when the next video log will release!

Massively: Your first video log was very moving. You obviously have quite intense feelings about this subject. How are your other coworkers responding to your new... passion?

There have been mixed reactions. I think some of them really understand what is about to go down, but they are bowing to peer pressure and shrugging it off. I do think it is hard to be a man of passion like me in a 21st century workplace. I've been reprimanded for mumbling at my desk, reposting YouTube videos about the Illuminati in company-wide emails, and "personal hygiene." As if there is time to shower with the end of the world looming.

Robert Frost had some ideas on how the world will be destroyed. What cataclysmic event or events do you think bring the ultimate end?

Everybody has his favorite apocalypse, right? Zombies seem to be a very popular one with the hipster crowd. I'm not sure what will be our definitive end. I mean, rapid earth expansion is one that I like to entertain, but it leaves me with a nagging feeling that the human race might survive it.

Some people have picked up my comment about Mr. T in the video... and a lot of people don't seem to be taking it seriously. What's up with that? The fact is, if you watch that show, there are multiple signs that point to an apocalypse involving Mr. T and an army of trained gymnasts.

The Secret World screenshot
Do you plan to take your message beyond the walls of the office, perhaps to the streets?

If people haven't being paying attention, then it is my duty to inform them. I have a few plans, but I think if I announce them in advance, the message will reach the wrong people. The word has to get out, and the ignorant masses are the ones being targeted.

What precipitated your research into the Mayan calendar? Was there any one particular event that set it off?

Actually, I was doing some research to facilitate our in-game event for this month. I'd been getting design documents with references to the Long Count Calendar and the 13th b'ak'tun, and eventually I realized that it wasn't just made-up gibberish, so I decided to do some research. And that's when things got really interesting.

I mean, sure, there are all sorts of sites out there debunking the idea that there will be an apocalypse on the 21st of December, 2012. But remember the golden rule: You can't trust anything you read on the internet. Which is why I chose your fine print publication to release my story.

The Secret World screenshot
Throughout your research, have you formed a hypothesis as to which time zone the fateful 11:11 ending will fall in? Or will the end slowly creep over the earth as it rotates?

Actually nobody truly knows whether 11:11 refers to a time or an event. I mean, if you look at the Bible, and specifically the part that backs up what I am saying in Proverbs, you will see this: "By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked."

Now I can't be 100% sure, but if you rearrange the words Eleven Eleven, you get Ellen, Neve, Eve. Ellen clearly is a reference to Ellen Degeneres, i.e., "The mouth of the wicked." Neve is clearly Neve Campell, who was "blessing the upright" in the movie Wild Things. And Eve is clearly a reference to the original sin, which involved an apple, i.e., The Big Apple and clearly the city that this entire verse is about.

What surprises me is that more people don't see these kind of connections.

Tell us, what will you miss the most after the world has ended?

There isn't much in reality that I will miss, I guess. My wife and my daughter. But I'll miss all of the virtual realities in which I have spent much of my existence. The Secret World, for example. Sure it's all about the rising darkness taking over and anima-infused badasses fighting back against the spread of said darkness, but in many ways it feels more real to me than reality.

Certainly there are more people like me in The Secret World than in the real world.

The Secret World screenshot
How will you spend your remaining days? You mentioned building a bunker. Have you started on that? What will you be stocking it with?

We've just given everybody the chance to play The Secret World without a subscription, so I am hoping that as the world comes to a screaming halt, people will join me in the game and ignore the savagery and panic going on in the streets outside.

I've been preparing a bunker, just in case there is a way to survive. I plan to sit down there, in the dark, sipping Mountain Dew and eating Doritos and playing The Secret World until the servers stop. Which isn't that different from a weekend for me, except now I don't have to go to work on Monday.

The bunker is coming along really well. I have people on Twitter sharing different strategies for survival, including beer and bacon as two necessities. I'll probably show some of the things that will go into the bunker with me during my next video blog.

Who do you think is the person most prepared for the end?

That's a really good question. It's probably Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. That meat dress of hers will be useful in the nuclear winter for an alternate food source, for bartering, or for trapping wild animals.

The Secret World screenshot
Do you feel any sense of relief that you don't have to worry about Christmas shopping this year?

Unfortunately, my wife already did the Christmas shopping and all of those carefully labeled gifts are winging their way to my family in Australia. On the other hand, I am relieved that money won't matter any more.

And of course, I'll give all my friends a copy of TSW for Christmas so that they can show up for the apocalypse.

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your preparations to talk with us. We wish you much luck down there in the bunker! And we look forward to watching the second video log of your adventures tomorrow.

When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even impending Armageddon), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!

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