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Chaos Theory: Opinions, facts, and open flames

MJ Guthrie

It's not often that my writings take a ranty slant, In fact, I don't believe I have ever expressed anything along those lines here in Chaos Theory -- although I have a time or two elsewhere. Blue moons come and go much more frequently than I don my Massively-standard-issue flame-retardant garb and venture forth. But right here, right now looks to be one of those times, and I'm already suiting up. So what about The Secret World has me riled up enough to flex my woefully underused ranting muscle?


Seriously, I can't call to mind a single thing in the game deserving of a rant. Sure, TSW isn't perfect; there are flaws and there are things that could use improving, things that are certainly worth discussing. But rant-inducing? Nope. Too bad the same can't be said for people.

It doesn't matter how many times I've witnessed it: It never ceases to amaze me when folks trumpet their own opinions as fact while insisting dissenting opinions can't possibly exist. It's like they board the crazy train where the lines between opinion and fact are swirled together like coffee and creamer, where reality and logic are tossed right out the window. So as a public service, I'm going to derail that train.

A little tête-à-tête
A ticket to ride
I realize that everyone really knows the difference between opinion and fact, right? It's just when folks -- inadvertently, I'm sure -- stumble onto that loco locomotive that things seem to get hazy. So let me help using these examples.

Here's a fact: I enjoy playing The Secret World. This is an actuality, a truth verifiable from my experience. Whatever others feel or say about the game is irrelevant and means nada in relation to this fact.

All packed and ready to goHere's an opinion: I think The Secret World is awesome! This is my personal view, my appraisal. Interestingly, the feelings of others again have little bearing on my opinion, which just so happens to be based on the aforementioned fact. (Coincidentally, I could still enjoy the game even if I thought it was terrible; the two are not mutually inclusive.)

Can others' opinions be different? Of course they can. Everyone's entitled to his or her own opinions, despite what some might argue. You don't have to agree with the opinions. In fact, feel free to disagree and express your own. Just keep in mind the distinction between opinion and fact and remember that people don't have to agree with or even care about your opinions, either -- a point some have enjoyed calling attention to about mine. And that's OK.

For those who don't care about my opinion as expressed in this opinion column, that's perfectly fine with me. I mean, chances are I don't give a flying Ak'ab about yours either, but you are still entitled to yours as I am to mine and I respect that. But if you insist on throwing your efforts into dismissing my right to personal opinions, just keep this in mind: While it certainly can't be said for any old topic, my opinions on MMOs in general -- and The Secret World in particular -- are worth enough to be paid for.

People say the darndest things
How can you tell when someone's trapped on that crazy train? When he hurls out some pretty head-scratching remarks. For instance, here's a doozy: You're not qualified to enjoy the game. Say what? Tell me, how can you be "qualified" to find pleasure in an activity; either it's fun or not. Exploring the world and delving deeper into the stories in TSW by running the various missions brings me the happy. Oh, I haven't made it to endgame? Well then that makes perfect sense! Or, you know, not.

One of manyI get that some people don't like the endgame. But can someone explain to me the logic that dictates just because one person doesn't like something, no one else can? I didn't think so. Supposedly, because I am not weeping, wailing, and gnashing my teeth at the so-called travesty of endgame, I have no right to speak about myriad other things I'm experiencing in the game. Where's the logic in that? Am I only imagining all the amazing ambiance that keeps me on the edge of me seat and the investigation and sabotage missions that make me think? It makes me wonder, does the entirety of the game and all memories associated with it vanish into a black hole once the story is through?

Apparently, it will all become clear to me when I reach endgame. Other folks have assured me I will join the ranks of the weeping, wailing, etc., when I am forced to repeatedly grind for gear in the same dungeons over and over and over. Yes, forced! Now, before I reach that point, someone has got to tell me: What feature in TSW sprouts chains from your desk and holds you unwillingly captive as your character moves throughout the dungeons of its own accord? Would buying a new desk help belay that fate?

I have a better idea. How about I just don't play a part of a game I don't find fun? I don't see why people find that so hard; it really is as simple as that. No one is forced to do anything in game; you choose to play or you choose not to play. Don't like the dungeon gear grind but love the stories? Play through the stories. Hate investigation missions with a passion that makes you go homicidal on all plant-life around your community? Skip them. Want immersive sandbox endgame features and open PvP world content? Well, go find a game that has that!

Let it be
That brings me to my next thought, and it's one likely to ruffle a feather or two. I don't ascribe to the ridiculous mantra of One Game to Rule Them All; I don't want a homogeneous game that attempts to cater to everyone. I'd rather have a game focus on its strengths and do them well. Maybe The Secret World just isn't really about endgame but about immersing players in the journey through a world of conspiracies and giving them a chance to finally do more than just your standard PvP or mob-bashing.

Seeking enlightenment in TSW
I know the game isn't perfect, and there's certainly room for improvement, but I am not willing to sacrifice the stuff it does well. And in my opinion, what makes TSW great is the stories. So Funcom, you can just keep adding more DLCs with story arcs to your heart's content. And for those who desperately want a game with a lot of endgame content, by all means, go to a game with a lot of endgame content. Instead of trying to transform TSW into what you want, let it be what it is and enjoy it if it's your thing, or find something else if it's not. You can always come back later.

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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