Ragnar Tørnquist Answers Ten Ton Hammer Reader Questions for The Secret World

One of the coolest benefits of being a Ten Ton Hammer Premium member is that every once in a while you get to ask the devs of your favorite MMO

One of the coolest benefits of being a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/membership">Ten Ton Hammer
Premium member is that every once in a while you get to ask
the devs of your favorite MMOGs questions about their games. This week style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World
fans are in for a treat. We spoke with Ragnar Tørnquist, Creative
Director and Senior Producer at Funcom for style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World
and asked him your
questions. Ragnar graciously obliged.

Metal asks: What kind of
death penalty will
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">The Secret
World have? style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar Tørnquist:
We don't want to mete out too much punishment willy nilly. Taking risks
is part of the fun of playing. Dying - or, well, not dying; we don't
have actual 'death' in The
Secret World
- is going to be an inconvenience, sure, but
I wouldn't call it penalty. Whatever happens it's going to be closely
connected to our lore and setting, and it's going to make sense and
feel fair. Players will be able to jump right back in and join the


Metal asks: Taking into
account that there are demons in The
Secret World
, does this mean that hell and heaven exist in
the game?  

  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: Yes
and no. Our philosophy is to be as inclusive as possible regarding all
religions, to make room for any kind of interpretation based on world
view - religious or secular. The mythical and spiritual elements of style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World
are quite agnostic...as far as that's possible. Yes, we make references
to hell (and heaven) but we don't make any definite statements or lock
ourselves into a single world view. It's a balancing act, but one
that's important in order to preserve the mysteries of style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World -
as well as the real world. Do you really, really want to know the
capital-T Truth? Thought not.  

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/82562"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 600px; height: 373px;"
alt="Combat in the shipward of The Secret World"

Combat in the shipward of
The Secret World


Metal asks: Can you tell
us more about crafting in The Secret World?
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: No.
Not yet, at least!


Rocqu asks: What is in style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World to
help promote player community? (For example: player housing, guild
halls, in-game Facebooking, choke points (places lots of people have to
go to to get something done in game), raid systems?) style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
We've already mentioned the hub cities which are going to focus on the
social and communal aspects of the game. Aside from that, we'll have
plenty of features that promote the community - some obvious, some not
so much - but we're not quite ready to announce what those are quite


OneEyeRed asks: What are
you going to do to break the traditional 15-year-old mold and format
for MMO gaming? (For instance, the constant "Oh, it's a new NPC with
another twenty quests" dilemma.) Someone needs to break this tired
format and offer something different. I really want to get excited
about TSW but the genre has made me leery.
style="font-weight: bold;">

Ragnar: Is
that a question or are you just venting? I hear you! We hope we can
provide something a little different, and we're striving to make
changes where we feel the genre could benefit from a change - like the
role-playing system, how missions are presented, the mix of different
types of gameplay, and so on.


OneEyeRed asks: Could you
go over how combat works to some extent for us?
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: In
detail - no. But we've already talked about how players can equip seven
active powers and seven passive powers before heading out to do
missions and fight monsters, and that choice - from hundreds of
available powers - is really the driving force behind the combat. The
mix of powers, both actives and passives, and the powers equipped by
your team mates, is key, and these powers are designed to work together
to create powerful 'combos'. This makes the system really unique and a
ton of fun to play. Also, since we don't have classes in style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World,
you can buy and equip any powers you want, creating a totally unique
hybrid character - if that's what you want - or a super focused one if
you prefer to play an archetype like healer or tank. For example. It's
a very flexible and very deep system that will hopefully keep players
engaged for a long, long time.


Anacche asks: In creating
such a rich and diverse lore, from many
controversial topics, was there anything that you wanted to do, but
felt it was too taboo?

  style="font-weight: bold;">
We're not afraid of taboos! Certainly nothing that we really wanted to
do. Meaning we're probably going to piss some people off, regardless,
but we never set out to be controversial. We just wanted to build the
type of world we all wanted to explore and play in.


Anacche asks: Being a fan
and loyal slave to the Age
of Conan
, should I feel pretty well at home in TSW or will
I still find a learning curve?  
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: It's
a very different game in a lot of ways. But if you've played MMORPGs
before - Age of Conan,
World of Warcraft,
Guild Wars
- you'll soon feel at home in The
Secret World
. We're not reinventing the wheel, but rather
focusing on those elements that are key to our gameplay and setting.
It's not a carbon copy of anything that's out there, that's for sure.


Anacche asks: AoC was
heavily criticized for being what some would describe as being
half-cooked and unpolished outside of Tortage (although it's pretty
well consensus that Tortage always has been a spectacle for all MMO
lovers to behold). Is launch polish a major focal point this time
around for TSW?  

  style="font-weight: bold;">
Absolutely. My job is to make sure everything is as polished as
possible, that every little bit fits together and feels right, that
we're launching the kind of game that both me and the team can be proud
of. We don't intend to let this one go until we're all happy.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/82573"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 600px; height: 403px;"
alt="Tearing up the junkyard in The Secret World"

Tearing up the junkyard
The Secret World


Anacche asks: Robert E.
Howard and H.P. Lovecraft worked together quite a bit, and Howard
contributed quite a bit to Lovecraft's lore. Many people are pointing
at the perceived Lovecraft references in what little we've seen in
TSW--was this a conscious connection? Should we be expecting more early
20th century dark authors to feature prominently in Funcom MMOs?
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: I've
been a fan of Lovecraft since I was way too young to read Lovecraft,
and The Secret World
was influenced - partly, in addition to many, many other influences -
from the very beginning, before Funcom acquired the Conan license. So
it's a coincidence but a happy one. I think most people in Funcom
appreciate a bit of darkness. Maybe it's a Scandinavian thing?


centrik asks: I got into
the TSW beta via that AoC subscription offer. On my AoC account page, I
have the TSW beta icon thingy. When should I expect to hear more?
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: We
haven't made any announcements yet.


centrik asks: 
Does this mean I'm guaranteed access at the beginning of the beta, or
just at some point throughout the process?
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
We're not ready to talk about this yet.


Abyssus asks: Your
previous MMOGs have always had enough great ideas and eye candy to make
many an MMO gamer drool, but what have you learned from the
post-release failings of Anarchy
, and Age
of Conan
, and how are you going to ensure style="font-style: italic;">The Secret World

doesn't suffer the same fate? style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Ragnar: I'm
probably not the right person to talk about style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan, since
I didn't work on that game, but we hope to create a game that balances
the eye candy with solid, long lasting gameplay, and we're putting a
lot of focus on longevity this time around - to make sure that players
always have tons of stuff to do, even when they've churned through all
the content. Also, our plan is to make sure the content feels high
quality throughout, that there's no sudden dip after leaving the
starting zones. We've got an extremely stable engine and server setup
at this stage, so we don't have to worry too much about the technology.
Our focus is primarily content.


Anacche asks: AoC pushed
the bar massively in terms of brutality and violence in an MMO - where
will TSW sit on this scale?  
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
Brutality and violence isn't a focus area for us. Of course, you fight
demons and vampires and the walking dead - creatures from your darkest
nightmares - so there's definitely some blood and guts, but no more
than you'd find in your regular Hollywood movie.


Anacche asks: 
Is there anything you really wanted to do in TSW that you just couldn't
due to time or technology restraints? Is there anything you really
wanted to do in previous MMOGs that you couldn't accomplish until TSW?
style="font-weight: bold;">
  style="font-weight: bold;">
There are of course tons of things we'd love to do that we don't have
time to do, but that's the nature of game development. And the
advantage with MMORPGs is that we're never done. We can keep improving,
keep introducing new features and new content for years and years. And
that makes it a lot easier to launch a bit smaller - focused and
polished - and then build bigger, adding to that solid base. You'll
find that we'll have tons of things up our sleeves after launch, things
that will make it worthwhile to stick around and see where the game is

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our The Secret World Game Page.

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