The Secret World: Will My Interest Last?

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot over the last two days, ever since Funcom announced that they would be discontinuing the Grand Master pack. I’ve only been playing the game since late November, but I really have enjoyed it so far and when the GM pack went on sale around Christmas I thought to myself, “If I’m still playing this next year and Funcom is doing well financially, I’m going to buy the lifetime membership.” A year would have been enough time to solidify my interest and the stability of Funcom as a company. Now I have just a few days.

The future of Funcom aside, is the pack worth it? On the one hand I would unquestionably say yes. At $15 a month in 10 months I will break even and that doesn’t include any issues or cosmetics I purchase with bonus points provided by the subscription. There will never be a reason to spend money on TSW after the initial $150 for the Grand Master pack. But this value assumes I will have been subscribed and playing during that whole time and I’m not sure that will be the case.

I love The Secret World— I still stand by the statement that it is one of the best MMOs I’ve ever played— but it has weaknesses. Most notably is the type of content that on the one hand makes the game so great but on the other lacks significant replay value— story. Right now I’m swimming in it as a new player but eventually, like so many others I’ll be left waiting for new issues. Will I be playing TSW still in the interim, working on alts or dungeon and raid progression? I can’t say for sure. I’d feel more confident if I was in a Cabal or had a regular group but right now I don’t.

And then there is my track record as an MMO player. Other than the first two years of playing World of Warcraft, I’ve not been terribly consistent with what I play. Generally I last around 2-3 months focusing on one title before moving on to the next. Sure, I often come back around to my favorites but that still means at most I might be playing a game 4-5 months out of the year. With The Secret World, it may end up being even less if all I’m doing is the new story content each time it is released.

This is of course all speculative, I’m trying to predict my future decisions based on previous patterns and in light of a limited time offer which is of course intended to make me go through this crisis in order to “encourage” me to make a decision now. I don’t fault Funcom for this; it’s standard retail practice and in the long run I believe it truly is in their best interest to discontinue the offer. Generally speaking the value is there, I can buy the pack and never pay for content in TSW ever again. Brilliant. But for me personally? I’m undecided. I’m already slowing down in frequency playing TSW and Black Desert is just around the corner.

I have a few more days to decide what I’m going to do and then by Friday, one way or the other a decision will be made and it will be final. Until then I’ll probably continue to weigh the merits of purchasing the Grand Master pack and continue to fret over my decision like a good little consumer.

Do any of you have the Grand Master pack? At this stage in the game’s life, do you think it’s worth purchasing?

Advertisements

Colorful Characters in The Shadowy Forest

I’ve been looking forward to Transylvania from the moment I purchased The Secret World but the Besieged Farmlands zone was a bit of a disappointment. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t the knockout zone I was anticipating. However this past week I’ve been working my way through The Shadowy Forest, the second zone in Transylvania and it has more than made up for my disappointment, with a colorful cast of characters at every turn. I’m only about half way through the zone but there were two mission hubs that I wanted to highlight today. For those wanting to experience the content first hand, fair warning, there will be spoilers ahead.

2016-01-24_00006

The Amazing Brothers Blaga

This was one of the first missions of the zone and it began with Mihas telling me of his two brothers who have not come back from hunting werewolves. What I loved about this character was that first of all he was filthy. Milhas is more or less camping in the woods and he definitely looks the part and that added to the immersion. More than his appearance though, I liked the way he and his brothers were introduced. The mission cut scene begins with Mihas telling stories around a campfire of the amazing exploits that he and his brothers have undertaken. With each tale Mihas’ stories become more unbelievable—or maybe not, this is The Secret World we’re talking about.

The tone shifts at this point as Mihas becomes serious, sharing with the player character his concerns about his missing brothers. Immediately after that somber moment, he goes back to telling another tall tale to his captive audience, about the time he and his brothers fought their own shadows. Instantly I liked Mihas and felt like this short cinematic painted a detailed picture of life in Transylvania. The people there are brave, but not without real fears for the wellbeing of their loved ones. And so they share stories to boost morale and to dispel the fears that might neutralize their bravery.

2016-01-18_00002

Silviu and his Mother

If Mihas was an NPC I wanted to hang out with and have by my side in a scuffle, Silviu and his mother were the exact opposite. No, these two were the kind of creepy that made you want to back away slowly and then beat feet to the nearest CDC decontamination shower. Silviu is the inbred Sweeney Todd of Transylvania, making sausages for his mummy out of Ghouls that they essentially keep as livestock nearby. His mother is not much better, perhaps worse because she seems in her right mind enough to know better.

Silviu’s mother tries her best to convince the player character that what they do is necessary for survival and she goes on to argue that those of us who are in the upper echelons of the Secret World have no understanding what it’s like for the common folk and have no basis for passing judgement, a position that sounds very similar to one given by the Vampire Hunter in the Besieged Farmlands. Of course, she and her son are both Bat-guano crazy and so you the player set about dismantling their nausea-inducing sausage operation.

There’s a few more that I’ve just met worth mentioning—members of the Draculesti, a group of vampire slayers in the line of Vlad Dracula (who was apparently NOT a vampire, but the greatest warrior of his time fighting against the strigoi)—but I’ve only just begun to interact with them so I’ll save their stories for another time. What I can say is that thus far they seem just as interesting, especially the two children. Suffice it to say, I’m very pleased with the cast of this zone; Transylvania is starting to live up to the expectations I had for it at the start.

Taming the Beast

My absolute favorite character that I’ve created with Black Desert’s standalone character creator has been a Sorceress that initially began as an entry for the “Beast” competition being held by Daum. However after working on the character for over two hours I started to tell myself stories about what she’s like and how she ended up looking the way she does. Nothing definitive like a role player’s character bio, but a general sense of who she was that made me feel sympathetic toward her.

Was she born with this deformity? If so, how was her childhood and what affect does it have on her now? How does she deal with the way people look at her, the way they treat her? Does having this fantastic power as a sorceress change the way she sees herself or how others see her? Or maybe it wasn’t at birth, maybe it was an accident. As a sorceress she’s certainly working with powerful magic and something could go horribly wrong. If so, how did she look before the accident? Did the people in her life treat her differently afterward? How did that affect her relationships and self-image? Is she more reserved in her practice of magic as a result or more reckless?

This humanized the character I was working on and so after my first night of designing a beast, I went back a second night to try and soften some of the harsh edges and make sure she was passable as a woman albeit one with unusual features. And in that I think I was successful. I may have to make a few more adjustments before the game goes live, but I have a good foundation for a unique character look, one that may incline me toward playing the Sorceress first and relying on her as a kind of main character for my account “family.”

Below are a few pictures that illustrate the difference between the preset I used and the first iteration, the “beast,” as well as the changes I made and the final result. I’m really pleased with how she looks in the creator and looking forward to getting in game so that I can see if she looks just as good or if more changes are necessary. The goal is for her to look passably human, albeit imperfect. That’s exactly why I like this character creator to begin with, the allowance for “ugly” lends itself to greater immersion and storytelling opportunity for the player.

Preset and Final Sorceress

This first picture is self explanatory, it illustrates the difference between the preset face I chose and the final result for the Sorceress. I really wish I had done more documentation along the way but at least I have a beginning, middle, and end.

The character creator allows you to “grab” different sections of the face and move them but I found it much easier to select the area and then use the sliders on the left for better control. To really distort a face you need to use all three sets of sliders which moves the selected region along the x, y, and z axis, rotates the region along those same axes, and increase or decreases the size.

Beast and Final Sorceress

The image on the left was the first iteration, she was the “beast’ I had designed for the competition. When I went back and made some changes, most of them were meant to soften the face a little and make her more relatable, more human.

Beast and Final Sorceress_Profile

The number one thing I had to do to accomplish this was to look at the character from every angle over and over until the whole face looked passably human. These two profile pictures illustrate the “beast” version (left) and the changes I made for the final character (right). The biggest changes were in the mouth and around the eyes. When I was making the “beast” I only looked at the model facing forward which is why the profile on the left looks so distorted.

2016-01-22_10500151

And here’s the final image! The clothing she’s wearing here really finishes the look but I think it may be a cash shop option. If so it will be one of the first things I purchase, especially if the Sorceress becomes my main. It reminds of something out of Mad Max or any other examples of post-apocalyptic tribal wear.

Are any of you looking to enter the “beast” competition? What do you think about playing as an “ugly” character, is that something you would do or do you prefer more traditional features for your characters?