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Chaos Theory: Reacting to TSW's restructuring and relocation

MJ Guthrie

It's a conspiracy, I tell you!

It has to be; every time The Secret World manages to better secure its footing, the ground starts shaking underneath again. This time, the upheaval comes in the form of the relocation of Funcom's development teams for its three MMOs to Raleigh, North Carolina. Of course, TSW isn't the only game affected by this restructuring, but after the other turbulence buffeting the game in its so-far short life (layoffs, insider trading accusations, changes in key roles), it's hard not to think that the game just can't catch a break. And dangit, it deserves one!

Initially, I had other thoughts to share for for today, but after that announcement last Friday, my mind has mostly been on this topic (along with a slew of related "re-" words). How much will this affect the game I adore? Who all will be lost from the team? And what, if anything, can I do to help support the game during this transition? Join me as I explore these questions and possibly discover a solution or two.

TSW screenshot
Let's be totally realistic here: This significant of a restructuring is going to cause some issues, or more precisely, a delay in Issues. As admitted in the announcement, the development schedule is going to slow down. How could it not? Folks literally have to move continents to continue to work on the game. That's going to take some time. Do you remember your last move? Yah -- life didn't return to normal in a day!

We know that devs are aiming to have Issue #6 out the door at the end of February. However, if this launch date is missed, I hope players will be understanding; there are some pretty extenuating circumstances. And it's not like one missed date is indicative of a permanent slow down in content releases. After all, it took only one month for the devs to get back on track with the monthly update schedule after missing one due to the layoffs last year.

Some talented developers are going to be lost, and for that I am truly saddened. Unlike the Montreal studio, which will keep staff to work on technology and projects for mobile platforms, the Beijing studio that housed the art and animation aspects of TSW will be completely shut down. As of writing this, I've no indication of who will be making the trek to Raleigh. We only know that some will not and we're also assured that some veterans will.

TSW screenshotAlthough it is totally understandable that some would, for personal reasons, choose to not undertake such a drastic change in their lives, I sincerely regret that the entire team can't remain together. I hate to see anyone go, even though I do not know any personally. I think each and every person who had a hand in the game made it what it is, and to lose even one is worth mourning. With all my heart I wish those who do not continue with the game all happiness and success in their future endeavors. And I thank them for their part in TSW!

Speaking of regrets, I hope that regrets and remorse do not hang over the developers, either the ones who choose to stay behind and move in a different direction or those who take the plunge and move to the U.S. A cloud of "what ifs" could certainly overshadow creativity and bog down work on the game. I understand change is a part of life, and life, of course, likes to throw curveballs at every opportunity. Look ahead, not behind. For those who join us over here in the U.S, continue to work your awesome TSW mojo.

One question I have heard murmured is whether or not The Secret World can rebound from yet another upheaval. Granted, this is a pretty significant one (moving across town is enough of a chore, let alone to another continent), but the game has weathered other changes, and I am confident it will weather this one as well.

TSW is a unique product, one with the special ability to relate to and adapt to real-world happenings. The development team has all of life to take inspiration from, so who's to say that some part of this experience won't make it into the game somehow? I also think the team is resilient, and I have faith in the product, so you won't catch any whiff of doom-and-gloom coming from me (now garlic, of course, is a totally different story).

Instead of seeing the negative side of the entire situation, we can look at this whole thing as a chance to rejuvenate and expand horizons. While I don't think the TSW team was hurting in the creativity department, I can see some logic in Funcom's statement that bringing all the teams under one roof will enlarge the pool of creativity, skill, and competence. There will be other folks to bounce ideas off of, folks who see things differently. Of course, there may be some culture shock playing into things, which brings me to my next thought...

How should I respond to this change? With my continued support of The Secret World, for one. I can be patient and understanding as developers take time to get situated in their new lives. After all, it's not like this change will affect my life much, but it seriously impacts every facet of the devs' lives.

TSW screenshotBut being patient just isn't enough. So I kept thinking (in that scary way only I can) and started formulating other ideas to help the team acclimate to its new surroundings. And I came up with something sure to help out! I could assemble relief packages for them, stocked with special get-to-know-your-new-home wonders like mystery meat hot dogs, Girl Scout cookies, NBA and minor league baseball tickets, and a DVD of Jersey Shore. OK, I'm not so cruel as to inflict the horror of that last one upon them!

Better yet, I could even sneak down, break into their offices, and leave hot apple pies on all their desks (if I find anything of note, I promise to pass it along). Or, I could just be patient and continue to tell my friends about this fun game. Because if The Secret World can't catch a break anywhere else, it will still get one from me.

Now, off to start baking...

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ every Monday as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to and she'll jump on the case!

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