We caught up with The Secret World's Creative Director, Ragnar Tornquist, to see how this unique MMO is faring one month in.
Whatever opinion you may have on The Secret World (and it appears that the general population of players are enjoying themselves), there really is no doubt that Funcom has been putting in a lot of work to ensure their game remains stable and bug-free. Of course, there's still some distance to go (invisible death rays in the Facility, I'm looking at you!), but the speed with which Funcom is deploying their patches is downright impressive.
Beyond their general bug-fixes, however, Funcom has also been hard at work on new content as. a few weeks back, they announced that their first monthly update (issue) would be coming at the end of July. Dubbed "Unleashed," this new update promises new missions, nightmare mode dungeons, the highly anticipated marketplace launch, and more. All of this comes in line with Ragnar Tørnquist's State of the Game post on July 10th, where he outlined some of the major game highlights to come in the next few months (new outfits, more character customization, new auxiliary weapons, new zones, a PvP dungeon, and more? Yes please!). We caught up with Ragnar to talk about the current state of the game, as well as clarifying some of the information announced back in their State of the Game address. Read on!
ZAM: First of all, congratulations on the successful launch of The Secret World! You had a remarkably smooth opening window and a mere week later you had a State of the Game post hinting at some of the fantastic things on the way. Some of those promises are fairly ambitious; does anyone ever sleep at Funcom?
Ragnar Tørnquist: No. No one sleeps here. We have developed advanced drugs and meditation techniques to keep our guys working twenty-four-seven. So far, so good!
We actually have offices across the world -- I mean, across the whole, wide world -- so someone, somewhere is always working on The Secret World. In that sense, the team never really sleeps. When Montreal turns off the lights, Beijing turns on theirs; and when Beijing leaves for the day, Oslo comes to work.
When it comes to being ambitious - yes, we are. We think we need to be. We are a relatively small developer competing with a lot of big guys, and what we do well - what we have lots of experience with - is running MMOs. With The Secret World, we're taking everything we've learned, all of our experience, all of our technology and tools, and we're using that to maintain an aggressive monthly release schedule, with new missions, new content, new weapons, new characters, new surprises every single month. We're starting off quite slowly, but some of the stuff we've planned for down the road... Ambitious isn't the right word. They call us crazy, but we're going to pull it off, because we have passion, we are dedicated to our players, and we believe that if you subscribe to a game, you deserve to get new content on a regular basis.
ZAM: Before we get into your State of the Game post, I was hoping to give some attention to your launch month. How has it been so far? I know you can't talk about any hard numbers, but you recently opened up another RP server, and it seems that reception of TSW has been very positive - I assume this has been one of Funcom's most successful launches to date?
Ragnar: It has definitely been a solid launch for us - technically and artistically, for sure. The game has been incredibly stable, and our players love the game. The feedback from the community and from everyone who plays the game is just so positive, so passionate, and that gives us the motivation to keep working hard to deliver new content on a monthly basis.
ZAM: In this month alone, we've already seen a decent sized bug-fixing patch hit the game almost every week! Stability is obviously a key issue for Funcom and The Secret World, but are there any other key foci you're keeping a close watch on this month?
Ragnar: Stability, any bugs that may pop up, new content - we're trying to do it all, though we always prioritize whatever our customer service and community teams tell us players are struggling with or complaining about. I think we're pretty good at addressing and fixing problems as they occur, and we listen to our fans and our customers. I spend a lot of time on the forums myself, as well as in comment threads on various sites, trying to gauge what our players want and need - and that's something we're going to keep doing. We're here to serve our customers, and to give them the best experience possible, and we'll work hard to satisfy everyone who's invested in our game.
ZAM: How has balance been for secret society populations? I'm sure every faction is complaining about the other factions (for the record, it does feel like the Dragon are getting pummeled on Cerberus), but - population-wise - have any of the three pulled ahead, or fallen behind, by a significant margin?
Ragnar: I don't have any hard data, to be honest, but it looks like things are pretty balanced for the most part. Maybe the Dragon is lagging a bit behind on some dimensions, but knowing the Dragon they will probably come back in force -- or maybe the Dragon is simply focusing more on the PvE side of things for the time being.