Category Archives: The Secret World

That Dorothy Moment

I’m generally a pretty positive person. Maybe sometimes a realist, but more often than not I’m a sparkly unicorn of rainbow optimism. Which makes the recent game depression – for lack of a better term – that I’ve been going through so strange.

I think it’s a combination of several things. It kicked off when Sony announced that they were selling SOE, which then became the dubiously-named Gamebreak Daybreak Games, with the promise that it would be “business as usual”. Then came the layoffs, the changes, breaking away from Storybricks and the subsequent closure of Storybricks. Even Storybricks themselves communicated that if they had been successful in their purchase of SOE, they would have made deep cuts. While I’ve never been overly attached to SOE or the EverQuest franchise, it’s still a cornerstone of the industry and seeing it go through this is like watching Michael Jordan crash and burn on a basketball court.

Then came the revelations of a former Turbine dev regarding the development of LotRO. LotRO has been in a slow downward spiral for several years now, although in the past Turbine has tried to spin PR otherwise with little success. Still, hearing the stories of the behind-the-scenes of a game that I’ve been playing for years – the lost money, the dead projects, the poor decisions of executive management – it feels like it’s a miracle that it has made it this long. It’s still alive due to the sheer tenacity of certain developers, the best IP and lore you could ask for, and a dedicated, passionate, award-winning community, which was nearly decimated by the ineptitude of a former community manager.

Elder Scrolls Online, Archeage, & Wildstar all were less successful than anticipated. RIFT & The Secret World are still chugging along quietly – almost too quietly. World of Warcraft, the elephant in the room, had a gangbusters start to their latest expansion but has had questionable decisions since (selfie camera? really?). Guild Wars 2 is the one bright spot, with an expansion coming out in the near future. As far as AAA-level MMOs coming up – I don’t see any out there. There are indeed some smaller and indie-level MMOs in the works, but this is the first time in a very long time that there hasn’t been a “new hotness” coming out. This may not be a bad thing – the market is more than saturated already, with too many engorged albatrosses lumbering along with cash shops hanging around their necks.

Lest this be seen as unbridled criticism and despondency, let me clarify that it’s not. The developers, artists, production teams, community managers of our favorite MMOs are passionate people that pour their heart and soul into these games. Sometimes missteps are made, but it’s usually on the part of executive management – releasing games and patches too early or incomplete, making decisions based on what will give the fastest infusion of cash rather than on what is best for the game, putting in systems that are completely unnecessary or unwanted by the playerbase… all of which are sure recipes for disaster. The developers are trying their best to hit deadlines and trying to conjure magical experiences for us. But as Fredelas tweeted the other day:

As gamers, we all have Dorothy moments when studio curtains are pulled back and we find it run on wires and levers by mortals, not wizards.

I’m having that Dorothy moment. I’ve loved my time in LotRO, but now I wonder if it’s worth continuing to play – I see the age, the mistakes, the current state of the game and it smells like an injured gazelle on the Serengeti. The doubts cloud my mind but I’m contributing to the problem if I don’t play. Even if I try playing a newer, stronger contender, like Guild Wars 2, I feel guilty for not playing LotRO.

WTB a pair of ruby slippers, please.

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve been trying to sort things out in my head regarding all the new MMOs and expansions that are going to be bombarding us this fall. There’s so many games on my radar and so little time.

The Secret World: Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Has a unique modern-day horror concept, with great story and actual puzzles/riddles to solve. More of an MMO Adventure Game.

Rift Storm Legion: Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Proper expansion, two new continents, more souls, player housing, among other things. Traditional MMO.

Guild Wars 2: Purchase Fee, No Sub Fee. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful game, with (from what I hear) a unique stumble-upon questing format and WvWvW. Oh yeah, and no sub fee. Traditional MMO with lots of twists.

Mists of Pandaria: Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Pandas. Monks. Asian-themed continent. Pet pokemon. Traditional MMO.

Wurm Online: No Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Sandbox playground of choice.

Last night my husband and I were talking about all of the options, and in an ideal world, we’d pick two of the above and stick it out. I just don’t think that’s going to work this time though.

Wurm: is a no-brainer, it’s a sandbox unlike the others on the list, and it’s the yin to the yang of every other MMO on this list. $12/month for the two of us just to keep the deed going, and make that $24/month if we’re actually playing and need premium time.

MoP: is looking less and less likely for us – we’re just not that interested in Pandas or the new continent, and other games are far more compelling. Our annual passes run out in October – that day can’t come fast enough.

GW2: we just pre-ordered so that we can check it out during the next BWE – to be honest, I know next to nothing about GW2 right now, and I’ve been avoiding as much hype as possible, but the lack of a sub fee is attractive. We’ve already paid for it, so it’s ours whether we actually play it or not.

Rift X-Pack: I’m totally hyped about – after getting back into Rift recently, I’ve completely fallen head over heels for it. It’s finally a fleshed-out, substantial, complete theme park game, and it’s tremendously fun. $30/month for the two of us.

TSW: Here’s where it gets tricky. We’ve already got Wurm and Rift as sub games, but TSW offers something different as well. Here’s the thing: Mr. Moxie adores paranormal stuff like Ghost Hunters and The Walking Dead, and he’s been declaring TSW as being “that Scooby-Doo MMO” – a big plus in his book. We also love puzzle/investigation movies like Sherlock Holmes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or National Treasure. So the setting is right and the gameplay is compelling, but it’s another subscription-based game, and we’re not altogether sure that it is full enough or robust enough to hold us long-term. Then again, I felt that way about Rift last year, and after a year of development, it’s much-improved now.

All in all, if we played all four games that are catching our eye right now, we’d be shelling out about $320 in box fees, plus $85-$100 a month in subscription fees, unless we somehow stagger the games or alternate months. You have to consider play time as well –  cycling through 4 games at once is a terrifying proposition. I know, I know, first world problems.

Any way you slice it, this is a fantastic time to be an MMO gamer – there’s never been so many great new games on the market at the same time.



Schizophrenic Gaming

This weekend was all about schizophrenic gaming – during my downtime I managed to play 4 games, sometimes in tandem, in a mad rush to try to get stuff done in three games, while beta-testing another. At times it left my head spinning as I jumped from game to game, much like a kid on Christmas Day trying to play with all their new toys. Time for a gaming update!

World of Warcraft:

I spent the least amount of time here, and to be honest, I’ve spent very little time here over the past few weeks. It’s a combination of pre-expansion doldrums and good ol’fashioned burnout, as usual. Most nights I log on to chat with guildies, fly around Stormwind a bit, and maybe do a cooking or fishing daily. I’m still on the fence about Mists of Pandaria – on one hand I’m hopeful for what it may bring to the game and there are a few little things that I think are really neat – specific new mounts, account-wide mounts & achievements, the Tillers faction, and so on. On the other hand, there’s just so much more with MoP that I feel fairly indifferent to: the pandas, Pandaria itself, monks, new raids, the re-vamping of Scholomance and Stratholme, and so on. This is honestly the first WoW expansion that I haven’t been absolutely giddy with excitement over. My annual pass expires in October, so whether I’ll be investing in MoP remains to be seen.


So this weekend I jumped back into Rift with the 3 Free Days that you get when you do the security update on your passwords, and it’s been a bit of an overwhelming experience. I jumped back on my little Rogue Bard on Faeblight, was immediately coin-locked (Yay! Thanks Trion!) and started trying to clean out my quest log & bags, getting re-acquainted with my abilities, trying to remember where certain important NPCs are, and generally wandering around with a confused look on my face. It’s been a solid year since I last played, so the amount of content and updates that have happened since then has been staggering – and that’s a good thing. I love how Trion has continued to plug away at pushing out updates so frequently this year and putting in features that encompass the entire spectrum of playstyles. I’m also super excited about the Storm Legion expansion – compared to the other expansions that are coming out this year, I’d say that Rift’s easily tops the others in terms of content and new features.

The Secret World (Beta):

There’s no NDA on the TSW beta, so I’ll go ahead and share my impressions here. I’m intrigued by the setting still – I love the modern conspiracy theory/paranormal theme they’ve got going on, and I love the non-traditional riddle and sabotage quests. Zombie-ridden Kingsmouth is about as close as you’ll ever get to playing The Walking Dead Online – shooting zombies and setting them on fire just doesn’t get old.

TSW feels like it’s been set up very well for future monetization. Given the lack of leveling and the way that skill advancement is set up, I could easily see them selling costume parts, new weapons/powersets, new zones/storylines, etc. My gut feeling is that TSW will be F2P in a year. It’s not a bad MMO by any means; it does have some rough edges but the setting and uniqueness of the game makes me think that it’ll have a small but loyal & dedicated following, and it’ll end up being a niche MMO. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, as long as Funcom has budgeted and forecasted correctly.

Will I be playing? Maybe later – probably not at launch. If it goes F2P, I’ll most definitely jump in.

Wurm Online:

And while I’ve been playing the games above, I’ve been running Wurm in the background, finishing up the landscaping and busily attaching bricks and mortar to my new workshop and inn. I’ll have a bigger update with pictures coming later!