• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The End of The End of Days - How the latest ARG for The Secret World played out

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So, the latest ARG (Alternate Reality Game) based on The Secret World has finally finished. Thousands of players have been actively involved on the forums trying to figure out where all the clues lead, with some incredible ideas and discussions along the way. Even as someone who didn't receive the ARG calls or initial emails I found it a really interesting exercise and got involved in a few of the discussions.

Here's how it all played out as far as I could see... (beware, this is a very long post, but hopefully a fascinating read). If the Situation Room remains up after the ARG is finished then note that this run through will contain spoilers. I offer my thoughts on the whole event at the end.

I've tried to give credit for discoveries where I can, but if anyone feels I've missed someone out please contact me and I'll be only too happy to add in the details.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 10 - Back to the Big Smoke

Mission accomplished (kind of) the investigators decided to head back to London to continue their investigations, following the excitement of the previous session. Not before an odd detour involving a dog and a syringe though...

Hubert was about to discover that dogs and syringes are not a good mix

Leaving Castle Plum in the early hours of the morning the group took a lift back to the village courtesy of the Vane's butler. All except Cutter, who decided he could not accept the help of such vile people and decided to walk back through a storm just to prove a point. He didn't receive much sympathy.

The investigators rested for the remainder of the morning before catching a bus back to Derby in the early afternoon. Hubert had decided to join them on the trip back to London.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Issue #5 is out!

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Full patch notes for the latest update to The Secret World are here.

As the video below explains the latest patch adds a new storyline, new missions, a new auxiliary weapon, a new nightclub in London, a new hotbar for hotkeying items, and the End of Days event.

The Secret World has won its first end-of-year awards too. TenTonHammer gave it the best RPG of 2012, whilst The Inquisitr awarded it the best online storyline and best online developer awards, as well as the writers' choice for most innovative online game. Well deserved!

Update: TSW has also come as runner up in Massively's MMO of 2012 (second to GW2, no mean feat), and also won their Most Underrated MMO award.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Issue #5 and the End of Days event

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The Secret World doesn't do Christmas events. Instead the entire in-game event this holiday is based around the impending apocalypse.

As well as the currently running ARG (I'm still working through it and compiling my thoughts, but it is epic! There have been tens of thousands of people helping out with it so far) Funcom have now released details on the actual in-game event.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Welcome to The Secret World - A primer for new players

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With the recent move to a buy-to-play business model, The Secret World has seen a huge influx of new players. It won't take them long to realise that this game is a little different to most MMOs, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a brief primer for the game that would answer some of the questions I had when I first started playing. These are the kind of questions that the tutorials won't answer.

There is a short but steep learning curve for the game, and whilst the tutorials have been improved a little there is still a lot that is left unexplained. Hopefully some of this information may prove useful. It may also be worth referring to my old post "The Secret World Hints and Tips", that I made when the game first launched, though some of the information therein is a little out of date.

So, lets get started with the first question I had when I started playing the game...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 9 - How to trash a car

The last session finished on a bit of a cliffhanger. Whilst sitting in the car during the storm, waiting to see if their trap would be sprung the investigators were shocked when there was a loud crunch and the roof of the car started to cave in...

Unfortunately the player behind Cutter was not able to join this session until near the end, which is why he took little action in the following chaos, other than becoming temporarily blinded and deafened.

I decided to leave the group in suspense a while longer at the start of this session, and so we began with Hubert and his vigil over half a lamb and a mantrap. After several hours lurking in his makeshift hide, with the cold wind and rain beating down around him, the fog parted to reveal a large, lurching figure approaching the trap.

Hello, is someone there?

Unfortunately Hubert did not fall into my trap. Showing uncommon hesitancy he decided to observe rather than shoot at the figure, which was for the best. The figure hunched down over the lamb, inspected it, then stood up and shouted something into the gale. He then loped off back into the fog. Hubert was able to make out that it was Lawrence Vane.

He decided to leave his trap and successfully managed to follow Lawrence's tracks.

Which brought us back to the rest of the group, trapped in a car beneath a raving monster...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Secret World is Free to Play - NOW!!! (and shows EA/Bioware how FTP should be done)

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Wow! Ok, so I was kind of expecting an announcement about the game moving towards a free-to-play option in the near future following Joel's recent (very amusing) video. What I wasn't expecting was that it would go completely free to play today. And I mean completely - you buy the game once and ALL of the existing content is free to play. Ok, so strictly it's Buy-to-Play rather than Free-to-Play, but with the newly lowered box price this is still an amazing deal.

That means no excuses for those of you who were thinking of getting this amazing game (I'm lookin' at you bro!).

Even the draug were shocked!

There is a full description of what the move means over on the official site announcement. In summary though, the entire game as it exists now (with all the four major content updates to date), plus the new Issue 5 content due shortly is completely free to play once you purchase a game key.

There is no restriction on the number of hotkeys, clothing slots, chat channels, inventory slots, bank use, or number of dungeons you can run (are you watching Bioware?). This is how free to play should work, the Guild Wars 2 model, not the miserly EA/Bioware way of doing things.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Secret World Game Director officially goes bonkers!

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I mean officially. Really. Funcom issued a statement saying so.

The Secret World has never played by the book. It's always been dogged in its determination to be different, either in game mechanics (setting, ability system, quest system), subscription model (remaining subscription based in the face of a free-to-play movement) or indeed marketing.

One example of different marketing is the current alternate reality game, The End of Days (which I am having a real blast getting involved in). I've not seen anything like it before in the MMO gamespace. I'll be doing a full write up on the ARG later, but for now back to Joel Bylos and his nervous breakdown.

So, things started this morning when I noticed a tweet from Joel Bylos, TSW Game Director in my twitter feed. It read:

Rough weekend... End of the world a literal truth. Hard to go to work today. What is the point?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Agent Msika needs my help!

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I found an email in my spam folder this morning with a most intriguing subject: "WARNING".

I'm a little paranoid about spam emails, but I opened it up anyway. It was a short email, and simply said:

"Agent ,

We have located the latest communication from Target 29.

- Msika"

The email was from agent.msika@gmail.com

Friday, December 07, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 8 - Country Pursuits

"There is only one I in team"
"Shoot him in the knee!"
"I'll have some salts and some whiskey please. And some cake. And do you stock mantraps?"
"Do you have a goat we can borrow?"

The above quotes were all uttered by the player characters during this session, and it just goes to show that despite a change of scenery and a new adventure, my players still manage to come up with some way of throwing me.

This session a terrifying beast threatens the investigators... this isn't it.

The last session ended with the Yoo brothers transported back in time thanks to a mystical painting, and our party resting after their encounter with a mad artist and his frail old mother, who just happened to also be an eight-foot-tall intelligent and murderous lizard.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Secret World "End of Days" ARG kicks off

It's started...

Yesterday I posted with the discovery that the creepy voice heard on the sign-up page was a Spanish spell of exorcism. See here for the translation.

Today the ARG seems to have started for real. Several of those who signed up to take part received a creepy (and I mean creepy) phone call. The embedded video below was a recording someone made.

The call has been traced to New York, to "a number registered to Sprint Sepulcrum LP. It was first activated on 04/10/2007. The phone is registered to an address between w 15th street, w 16th street, 7th and 8th avenues in NYC".

Interesting stuff! Glad I didn't receive that call in the middle of the night, it would have freaked me out!

Monday, December 03, 2012

I was right! New ARG for The Secret World

It looks like my earlier guess was correct.

Funcom have announced a new Alternate Reality Game for The Secret World. The game leads up to a new event marking the end of the world (according to the Mayan calender anyway) due to take place on December 21st 2012.

"Mankind has been warned. On December 21st there will be a cataclysmic event that marks the end of time as we know it. It is time to prepare."

You can sign up to take part in the event here. You can optionally add your mobile number, email and twitter account, so expect to be contacted by mysterious agents with strange messages if you do so!

You don't have to be a current subscriber to take part, but if you do you could receive prizes including an exclusive in-game monk outfit, experience potions, an end-of-the-world survival outfit and an invitation to a special event with the developers.

The ARG seems to kick off right on the start up page, which shows a sinister green light bulb as a creepy-as-hell voice mutters things in a strange language (it sounds like Latin to me).

Make sure you don't miss out by signing up, and keep an eye on the forums to see how the game progresses!

Updates below.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Return of the Bard and LoTRO Epic Fail

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There are a couple of things I just wanted to highlight that have happened this weekend. First up my brother has returned to the world of blogging after a year off. Having re-charged his batteries he is back up and running. You can read his thoughts on gaming and life in general at Le'bard Connection.

The second thing is something that has annoyed me a little. I recently returned to Lord of the Rings Online, and have been singing it's praises to anyone who would listen, especially with regard to the way it handled it's move to a free to play model. However a post by Syp over at Bio Break really made me sit up and take notice.

I won't go over it all here, just head on over to Syp's post to read about it. I thought it was an early April Fool's joke, but it seems all to real. The main issue I have with Turbine charging £50 for a mount that looks like a hobby horse isn't the immersion breaking (though I do have issues with that too in a game like LoTRO), or the aggressive tone of the developers, but that it signals a change in direction for what Turbine want to do with their store. I doubt I will be returning to the game if this makes it to live as is.

As for myself I have been busy playing The Secret World and have now finalised my tank build and got my gear to a good place to start doing elite dungeons. I've also just purchased Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (I loved the game first time round), so expect some of my impressions on the update soon.

Loss of community in modern MMOs - Is it the players' fault?

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Why does it seem that most of the players I come across in MMOs nowadays prefer to play the game solo? Outside of guilds very few games seem to engender the feeling of a larger community any more.

I wrote about how important a community could be to the feel of an MMO two years ago. I still most fondly remember those games where the server community as a whole was active and friendly. It's something I feel we are losing in many modern MMOs, to the detriment of the genre. I think the Arcadia community in The Secret World is bucking that trend somewhat (just look at all the regular server events that the community hosts, such as all the recent Halloween events).

Why is this happening though? Why are more and more players seemingly happy, and in fact prefer, to play these games as solo experiences, despite them supposedly being massively multiplayer? I think that a good proportion of the blame lies on our shoulders, and by that I mean the players. The players are constantly demanding new quality of life features from modern MMOs, that whilst making the game more convenient to play, go some way to destroying the sense of community these games should be nurturing. It is after all what makes them special.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What's in a name? A new ARG for The Secret World?

It could be nothing. It could be just a random scrawl by a bored developer. But this is The Secret World we are talking about. If you've played this game through you will know that nothing happens by accident.

So, when a strange message was seen by an observant participant in the new raid that was patched in this week the denizens of the TSW Lore forum sprang into action. The message appears on one of the scrolling new feeds on the buildings around Times Square, and simply reads:

What's in a name? 1036X88612-1 X=1

Kudos to 13Era for the screengrab


Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Secret World Issue #5 snippets

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Now that the New York city raid has been opened up in The Secret World and all of the Issue #4 content is live the game director, Joel Bylos, has made a new blog post in which he drops some new information about what will be in Issue #5.

Issue #4 has been one of the best single content patches I've seen in an MMO, so I hope they can keep up the rate and quality of the monthly updates. I like Joel's quote that summarises what Issue #4 was all about:
As you can see, there is a little bit of something for everyone - from those who want challenging large group content where they shoot monsters in the face, to those who prefer to shoot each other in the face, to those who prefer to put on a play *about* people shooting each other in the face.
Anyway, there's some nice information about what's coming in Issue #5, though Joel does say there is plenty more in the patch as well as the stuff he's discussed.
  • New ongoing storylines that will have extra missions patched in with each Issue. The first will focus on the disappearance of Tyler Freeborn (you can read Tyler's blog here).
  • A new auxiliary weapon - some kind of quantum magic weapon built by Scrapyard Edgar (does that guy even have a real surname?)
  • All Investigation missions will become repeatable due to player demand, though with a greatly reduced reward on subsequent completions
  • A Christmas event that has nothing to do with Christmas or winter. My guess is it's something to do with the predicted Mayan end-of-the-world event on December 21st 2012.

You can read the full blog post here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fangs for the Memories

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Vinculus has now finished his journey through the Carpathian Fangs, the final PvE zone of The Secret World, and in doing so he has also completed the main storyline of the game. Here are my thoughts on the zone and the story, along with my plans for what I'm going to be up to next.

The zone looks great, unlike anything else in the game and quite different to the other Transylvania zones. It's beautiful mountainous scenery and forests contrast harshly with the old soviet bunkers and factories that line the northern parts of the area, whilst Dracula's castle overlooks the entire region from it's perch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 7 - Art Attack

Last week's session ended with a cliffhanger as Sebastian, Harry and Willard were confronted with the transformation of dear-old-lady-type Bertha Shipley into an eight foot tall homicidal anthropomorphic lizard. Harry had done the only sensible thing and gone a little crazy, sinking to his knees and searching for insects to eat, whilst the others waited for the inevitable.

This session our investigators find out that some art is bad... (P.S. Can you tell who this is supposed to be?)

The session would prove to be just as deadly to the investigators as I had anticipated, though not in the manner I had thought. As ever they managed to surprise me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Start Spreading the News - TSW Issue #4 Preview Video - Updated

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Start spreading the news
I am leaving today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York

These vagabond shoes

They are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I want to wake up in that city

That doesn't sleep
And find I'm king of the hill
Top of the heap

My little town blues

They are melting away
I gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York

If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you
New York, New York

Ahem. Forgive the song lyrics. It's just that I'm starting to get even more excited about The Secret World Issue #4 which is due to launch this month. The reason is a new 7 minute long preview video hosted by game director Joel Bylos. It's embedded below, but it's worth clicking through for the HD version.

The new content looks great and early word from the testlive forums is very positive and that the raid is really tough. I can't wait to give it a go! Of course as well as the raid Issue #4 brings us reticle targeting, new missions, the chainsaw auxilary weapon, the Albion Theatre, new lair missions, pvp enhancements, new starter decks and sitting in chairs.

Update: Funcom have announced that Issue #4 will launch on 15th November - TOMORROW!! The raid will be locked whilst they correct a couple of bugs, but they know what the fixes are and it shouldn't take long.

Additionally I've just found out that Issue #4 contains four new dance emotes - Gangnam Style, Macarena, Samba and Sprinkler.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 6 - Grandma, What Big Teeth You Have!

Following the last rather sedate session (by our standards at least), things got back to normal this time with the usual mix of mirth, madness and murderousness!

The mysterious paintings of Miles Shipley had certainly aroused the investigators' suspicions last time, and they were determined to immediately follow up on things. They decided that Harry and Tso would explore the back garden of the Shipley house and see if they could get inside that way, whilst Mr Yoo tried to distract Miles and Bertha.

How not to sneak into someone's back garden...

Mr Yoo used the excuse that he had lost his wallet and must have dropped it in the house whilst purchasing the painting, and Bertha Shipley duly took him back up to the garret to look for it. Meanwhile Tso scaled the wall to the back garden and let Harry in through the gate. The pair duly began to explore the small garden, failing their spot hiddens and missing the few lizard scales that were present on the deck chair. Tso also failed his sneak roll very badly, and ended up tripping over a metal stool, which fell onto the path with a loud clang. The bad die rolls were a sign of things to come...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beneath the Roots - The Shadowy Forest

It only seems like the other day I was writing about my experiences in the Besieged Farmlands. Well, that's because it was only the other day. I seem to have flown through the content in The Shadowy Forest, the second Transylvania zone of The Secret World, in record time. I was planning to alternate my gaming sessions between TSW and LoTRO, but I have got so caught up in the story and been enjoying my time in The Secret World so much that I've done nothing else but play it.

The Shadowy Forest does seem like a natural continuation of the environment seen in the Besieged Farmlands. It is the home of the Romany and the Drăculeşti, and in the ramshackle caravan camp the fate of the war with the vampire army of Mara will be decided.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Secret World Issue #4: Big Trouble in the Big Apple - Updated

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The cover for Issue #4 has arrived courtesy of a new article on mmorpg.com which contains some exclusive background to the game's first raid, due to arrive with the update. The cover confirms a release date for this month.

I can't wait for Issue #4, which will be the biggest free monthly update so far. As well as the new raid it will include the Albion Theatre (possibly one of the best roleplay features ever), a new auxiliary weapon (chainsaw), new Investigation missions, a new height slider for character creation (also available at the plastic surgeon in game), a massive revamp of the world PvP zone, the new reticle targeting system, PvE ability balances (chaos will no longer be required for endgame tanks), the ability to /sit in most chairs, and 9 new starter decks. That's a lot of new content!

Update: There is another new dev diary up at mmorpg.com that goes into detail on how the Albion Theatre will work. It sounds amazing and is well worth a read.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Horror of the Besieged Farmlands

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After leaving the hot and dusty deserts of Egypt, Vinculus has now travelled to Romania, specifically Transylvania, during his adventures through The Secret World.

That means he has entered a world of eastern European folklore, Romanies battling a vampire army in the ruins of Soviet villages, villagers fighting the curse of the werewolf, and encounters with forest gods and Blajini. It's like all the best bits from the early Hammer horror films put together. This is the world of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman.

It's also the endgame as far as the PvE content goes. The three large zones that make up Transylvania are all geared for endgame progression, and even in the first zone, The Besieged Farmlands, I am already running QL10 gear and starting to collect blue equipment and hone my builds for endgame. The Ability Points come thick and fast in this zone, and I've got two new builds almost finished as a result (I promise to update my builds page soon - honest!)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 5 - Old London Town

Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
― Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. Vol. III

Well, we managed a first in the latest session of my Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign - an entire play session without any real combat. That's not to say there weren't any deaths of course. After all, these are my players we're talking about!

It was also the first session that saw the players move out of North America, as they travelled to London town, leaving dangers unchecked behind, and more to be discovered ahead.

Grab yerself some new desktop wallpapers

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I just wanted to give everyone a quick heads up to the absolutely stunning screenshots from The Secret World that are currently up at deadendthrills.com. These shots are taken using the highest possible quality and resolution. They use the retail code of the game with a custom field-of-view to give 4k renderings, and the colours and detail are amazing.

Head on over to the site to see the full package (including top quality shots from other games too). Here are a couple of my favourites.

Monday, October 29, 2012

There and Back Again - Returning to Lord of the Rings Online 3 years on

Intrigued by some of the good reviews that the latest expansion, Riders of Rohan, has been getting for The Lord of Rings Online I decided to head back to the game and see what's changed. It's a game I played from launch until just after the release of the Siege of Mirkwood in December 2009. Since I left the game it has gone free-to-play, had plenty of free content updates, merged the EU and US servers, and launched a further two expansions, Rise of Isengard and the new Riders of Rohan.

I have always had a lifetime subscription for LoTRO, which means I have been earning 500 Turbine Points (their real cash equivalent) every month since I stopped playing. This was enough for me to purchase both expansions in the game store, effectively getting them for free.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Old Republic - "Free-to-Play" or "Free-to-Not-Play"?

I like Star Wars the Old Republic. A lot. I think it's a great MMO that didn't live up to the unbelievable hype that was generated for the game. Hell, I even started this blog primarily to write about my adventures in the game. I played it happily for 8 months, had a great time, then unexpectedly fell in love with The Secret World and had to leave TOR as I can't justify two subscriptions.

A trap indeed...

I always planned to go back to the game when it went free-to-play, in order to play through the Sith Empire storyline which I hadn't done the first time around. However, in light of the recent free-to-play model that has been unveiled now that the ftp version is on the test server I'm afraid to say I won't be heading back there.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Declawing the Cat God

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I've now finished all the main content for The Secret World's Halloween content and it more than lived up to the hype. It was certainly very different to the Halloween content of other games.

Have a wallpaper I made

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 4 - Expect the Unexpected

Sometimes when running a Call of Cthulhu campaign the whole session goes off in some completely unexpected directions. Almost none of this weeks session turned out like I had expected, partly down to some decisions I made as Keeper on the fly, but mainly due to the Investigators not acting like herd-able sheep and doing something unexpected. Good for them!

This week the group does some real investigating inbetween the episodes of mindless violence!
It all lead to a chaotic, but fun session, that leaves the story in some places I hadn't planned for, and way off what's written in the scenario book, but it's going to be fun to see how it all pans out!

Friday, October 19, 2012

TSW Halloween Events and the Divining Rod

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Like many MMOs The Secret World  is celebrating Halloween with a series of events and new content, and the community has also risen to the challenge with quite a few fun community events also being organised.

The official blog post details the new content, as well as revealing the new Halloween video embedded below. There are three new Investigation missions that tell the tale of a new, dark power; the Cat God (I've done the first one already and it is absolutely superb - creepy and with a brilliant story). There are also a load of new costumes, candies, pets and rewards.

Additionally there is a dimension wide competition between the three factions over the duration of the celebrations. The winning faction will receive rewards for all its members as well as a permanent and unique addition to it's faction headquarters.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Exploring the City of the Sun God

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Vinculus has just finished his time in Egypt and is ready to move on to Romania. I found the the City of the Sun God to have a very different feel to the Scorched Desert, despite them both being set in Egypt. It was darker (in atmosphere as well as geography) and with a more epic story that also managed to be more personal at the same time. I loved it, and ended up preferring it to the Scorched Desert.

The Black Pyramid and the black sun of Aten towers over the zone.
My initial impressions were not quite so good. The darker flavour of the zone came as a bit of a jolt after the sun-drenched dunes of the desert and the pale walls of al-Merayah, and at first glance the zone appeared to be much less open, with more tunnelling of content in narrow canyons and high mountainous ledges. I found this to be deceiving though, and ended up finding many shortcuts across the zone by jumping up and across the rock walls. It was however much less open than the other zones I had played in the game so far.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Got my Halloween Threads

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I finally, finally achieved my first deck last night in The Secret World (as you can see on my character's Chronicle page). Up until now I haven't really focused on the decks at all, but rather on getting my survival and tank builds complete. So, even though I have 1,242 ability points earned it has taken me this long to finish a complete deck.

I just find the TSW ability wheel too much fun to play around with, so rather than concentrating on a standard build I've been experimenting and playing with different abilities as I progress. Anyhow, I finally have my first deck complete, the Witch Hunter, and a nice matching outfit just in time for Halloween. I'm going to start work on the Warlock deck next :)

Now where are the witches?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 3 - Revenge of the Doors

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Ahh... New York, 1925. The most populous city on the planet. The Harlem Renaissance. Prohibition. Flappers dancing the Charleston. Babe Ruth. Charles Lindbergh. Percy Harrison Fawcett. Oh, and murderous African cults worshipping dark and monstrous entities.

This session finally saw the curtain drawn back (quite literally in fact) and the horrors of the Cthulhu mythos revealed to the investigators. But let me start with as question. Which of the following do you think would pose the greatest threat to my players?
  1. A horde of ravenous, lurching zombies intent on feasting on the investigators' flesh
  2. A ancient magical mask that opens it's wearers eyes to the true horrors of the mythos
  3. A wooden door
A scary door - more troublesome than Yog Sothoth or a horde of zombies?

If you know my players the answer may not be all that surprising...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Issue #4 Just Sounds Better and Better

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Joel Bylos, Game Director for The Secret World, has expanded on the state of the game letter he released yesterday in a great interview with mmorpg.com. He's gone into a bit more detail about the new content, specifically the new reticle combat system and the new Albion theatre for roleplayers, and both sound even better than I first imagined...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reticle Targetting coming to The Secret World!

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In an incredibly honest and forthright new blog post, Game Director Joel Bylos, has revealed what the TSW team is currently working on and his plans and stragetgy for the future of the game. It's a great read that I encourage everyone to look over.

Of course we all new that Issue #4: Big Trouble in the Big Apple would contain the game's first raid, as well as the second auxiliary weapon (now confirmed to be the chainsaw), but Joel also reveals that a new reticle targetting system is coming to the game with Issue #4!

This is a huge surprise, and a major change to the combat system. It is also entirely optional, so you can still use the traditional tab targetting if you like, but I really think this will massively increase the immersion when fighting with ranged weapons. This has the potential to really change the way combat in the game feels to a much more action-oriented vibe.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Scorched Desert

When you rise you stir [everyone] for the King,
Every leg is on the move since you founded the earth.
You rouse them for your son who came from your body.
The King who lives by Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands,
Neferkheprure, Sole-one-of-Re,
The Son of Re who lives by Maat. the Lord of crowns,
Akhenatrn, great in his lifetime;
And) the great Queen whom he loves, the Lady of the Two Lands,
Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti, living forever.

- The Great Hymn to the Aten, translated by Miriam Lichtheim

When I first ventured into the Scorched Desert, the first Egyptian zone in The Secret World, I admit to being a little worried that it wasn't going to live up to what had gone before.  There were two reasons for this. First of all, one of the reasons I so loved Solomon Island was because of my enjoyment of all things Lovecraftian - the fog, characters, story and atmosphere of Solomon Island matched my tastes perfectly, and the myriad Lovecraft references were fun to spot. Secondly, towards the end of The Blue Mountain, the final Solomon Island zone, I felt that the quests had got a little grindy and showed less of the inventiveness and imagination of earlier quests.

I really needn't have worried. If anything I found The Scorched Desert to be even more fun.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 2 - Run Away!

Last night saw the second play session of my Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign, and this time things did not go the players way. We used the Fantasy Grounds system again, but started to have a few connection issues, and one of my players had to re-write his notes five times due to his client crashing. I'll do a bit of digging and see if there are any reported problems and work arounds for the next session.

Regardless, this session was a lot of fun, and saw the investigators rapidly getting in way over their heads, barely escaping with their lives, and finally starting to uncover some of the barest outlines of the plot. Here's a summary of what happened, and you can read Chapter 1 of the campaign here.

At the first sign of cult activity: Run Away!


Monday, October 01, 2012

Good News for The Secret World at Last?

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Oceanicgamer.com have a great new podcast up with new lead game designer of The Secret World, Joel Bylos up here. As I've mentioned before I've always found Joel to be refreshingly honest (sometimes too honest!) and he continues that trend here. He addresses all of the recent issues openly, admitting where Funcom and the developers made mistakes and offering some insight into how they will be addressing them.

Time to start believing again?

Joel also revealed that the game's userbase is increasing, and that the company have already started to rehire some of the staff they had to let go a couple of months ago.

  • There were some really interesting bits of information in the podcast, including:
  • Issue 4 will see the New York raid
  • Issue 4 will also see the second auxiliary weapon (and Joel dropped hints that it may be a chainsaw)
  • The Halloween event is not your typical MMO holiday event, and will involve digging into old Irish lore
  • "Puzzle raids" are being developed - like Investigation missions for groups
  • Issue 4 will include new starter decks based on the inner circle of the ability wheel
  • Future content will not be based on gear progression (they see QL10 remaining the highest quality level), but rather on horizontal forms of progression
  • There will be big changes to the trial system to encourage more new players, and an announcement will be forthcoming in a couple of weeks
  • Funcom will be doing wider marketing of the game
  • Joel discussed the difficulty of the game and admitted that Kingsmouth and The Savage Coast were, if anything, too easy, so that the step up to Blue Mountain was too severe for some

As well as all that Joel revealed a lot about is background, some of the hidden rules in the game's development "bible" (e.g. you cannot kill any normal human NPCs in the game), how tight the TSW dev team is with the Trion Rift dev team, lessons learned from Age of Conan, what other developers think of the game, and why Norwegians can't hold their drink!

It's great to hear such an optimistic future for the game after all the recent problems, and that Funcom are looking to retain and expand on what makes the game so special.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Issue #3 - The Cat God hits tomorrow!

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Sneaky Funcom, real sneaky!

Morteia just announced that tomorrows server downtime will add Issue #3 to the game! No-one has any idea what content this update will include, but it's a really nice surprise and good to see they are back on track with their monthly updates already!

Update: Issue #3 is now live. The patch notes can be seen here. There is more information on the patch and the Halloween event that will be activated in mid-October here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cool for Cats

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A couple of pieces of news regarding The Secret World slipped out today. First of all Ragnar Tørnquist announced he was stepping back from his role as Senior Producer to concentrate on his role as Creative Director. Joel Bylos will step us as the new Game Director (I love Joel's attitude - just watch some of the live developer streams to see him in full foul-mouthed action).

Whilst initially a little worrying I actually think this is great news. One of the reasons that TSW is so unique and compelling is the vision behind the game and the superb storytelling and writing, and Ragnar is responsible for much of that. By focussing on the creative side of things the game will hopefully retain it's amazing atmosphere and setting. It may also give him time to start development on The Longest Journey 3 at last!

Along with the official Funcom announcement of the change, it was revealed that Issue 3 will be called "The Cat God". I love this for a couple of reasons. First it implies the new missions may be focussed on Egypt, a zone which I am absolutely loving. Secondly it's made me wonder whether the recent "cat bug" has not actually been a bug at all, but rather some long-term foreshadowing of events.

That's a lot of cats...

For those who don't know, as far back as the start of August large bands of cats would occasionally show up in London. No-one knew if it was a bug causing them all to congregate or something else, and there were several forum threads on the topic. The community moderator Morteia even seemed to suggest it was a bug.

More recently they have started showing up in Agartha as well. Seems like it may not just be a bug after all...

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 1 - Room 410

Last night saw the first session of the Call of Cthulhu campaign I'm running. Despite a few hiccups with the Fantasy Grounds software the session ran pretty smoothly and everyone seemed to have a blast.

To be fair, the Fantasy Grounds software held up pretty well, and the main niggles I have are the fact that it can take a long time for detailed maps to arrive on everyones tabletop, and that there is no easy way to manage player handouts (I'm having to manually keep track of what the players have discovered).

I'm going to keep a running commentary of the game here as a way of recording what happened, so expect regular updates on the adventures of the Fantastic Five as no-one insists on calling the player characters...

Read on for the events from the first session, but beware major spoilers if you haven't played the Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. Note that my players haven't played the campaign before, so no spoilers in comments please!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Masks of Nyarlathotep Fan Trailer

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Here's a little something I've been working on for the last week...

As previously reported, Sunday sees the first session of the new Call of Cthulhu campaign I'm running for some friends; Masks of Nyarlathotep. It's been years since I've run a CoC campaign, and I'm really looking forwards to it.

As a way of getting my players a little more hyped up for the campaign I thought it would be fun to create a "movie trailer" for the game. Here it is (click through the embedded video to get to the 720p version).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Issue #2: Digging Deeper hits tomorrow

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The second content update for The Secret World arrives tomorrow after a short delay. The update will see the addition of the first auxiliary weapon (the rocket launcher) complete with a new associated skill wheel, Ockham's Razor in London (a barbershop which doubles the number of available hairstyles), The Modern Prometheus in New York (an underground plastic surgeon that allows you to change your character's face), a host of new missions, new lair action missions, two new nightmare-mode dungeons and a new looking-for-group tool.

Check out the new video below that Funcom released today as a preview.

I'll update this post with a link to the official patch notes when they become available.

Update: Funcom have just announced the update will now be deployed early next week following the discovery of a potential exploit.

Update: The patch is now live and you can find the patchnotes here.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Back to Cthulhu

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This week has been kind of crazy, mainly down to two very sick children who generously have passed their infections on to their proud parents. Consequently I'm typing this between coughing fits...

So, I've had relatively little time for gaming. I've spent most of it exploring the Scorched Desert in The Secret World. I was a little worried I wouldn't enjoy my time there as much as I did on Solomon Island, but I really needn't have worried. If anything it's even better. More details in a future post.

I've also dabbled in Guild Wars 2, but every time I play it I find myself wanting to log back into TSW instead. It's just a little too cartoony and grindy for my tastes, and the high fantasy setting and story definitely have that seen-it-all-before feeling. Anyway, it's a nice diversion and I have managed to reach level 8.

The big gaming news is that later this month I'm going to start running my first Call of Cthulhu roleplay campaign for over 20 years! My old COC group have always said we'd like to get back together and play another campaign, but as we've all grown older, moved away (one of us even moved to a different country) and had kids it's just gotten too difficult to commit to a weekly campaign.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reaching the Summit

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It's time to say farewell to Solomon Island, for the time being at least. Vinculus has finished up in The Blue Mountain, the final zone on the Island, and will soon be heading to much sunnier climes in Egypt.

The first thing I noticed about The Blue Mountain was that there was a step up in the difficulty of combat. Mobs were packed closer together, meaning I had to be more aware of my surroundings, they made more use of self-buffs and debuffs on my character, and the time-to-kill increased. I had to completely rethink my build and shifted from the tanking build that had seen me through Kingsmouth and The Savage Coast to a survival dps/self-healing hybrid build.

 One of the great features of the skill system and crafting system in TSW is that I was able to make myself a new QL5 fist weapon and start putting AP and SP into a new build pretty much straight away. Within a couple of hours I had a workable build that I continued to refine as I travelled through the zone.

There are a few minor spoilers ahead. Any major spoilers are in hidden sections.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Blue Mountain Survival Build

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Things get tough once you reach The Blue Mountain in The Secret World. The game is far from easy before then (certainly when compared to most MMOs), but there is a definite step up in difficulty when you reach the game's third progression zone. You have to start paying a lot more attention to your surroundings and to mob buffs and debuffs, as well as being much more mobile in combat.

I found my original tanking build just wasn't cutting it any more. I could survive most fights, but my health was dropping alarmingly against some mobs, and the time-to-kill them went way up. So, I started on a new build, based on on Blade and Fist (the blade because I already had a good grounding in Blade from my prior build, and the Fist for a mix of dps and self-healing).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Worries (and Hopes) for The Secret World

A large number of staff layoffs were confirmed late last night by The Secret World developer Funcom, following poorer than expected sales of the game and a slump in the company's share price. Obviously this raises concern about the future of the game, but right now my primary thoughts are with the staff who have sadly lost their jobs.

If you believe the various sensationalist reports on the news the game is either a failure or going to be announcing a free-to-play offer in the very near future. However you only have to scratch a little to find out the truth. Whilst sad news, large layoffs are not uncommon following MMO launches, and in fact Funcom did exactly the same thing after the launch of Age of Conan four years ago.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Who the hell is Cassandra King?

"Ich schlief, ich schlief -
Aus teifem Traum bin ich erwacht:
Das Welt ist tief,
Und teiefer als der Tag gedacht."

"I've slept my sleep -
 From deepest dream I've woke and plead:
The world is deep,
And deeper than the day could read."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

One of the things I love about The Secret World is learning about the game world through exploration. The game doesn't infodump very often, but rather you learn about the world, events and characters through newspapers, NPC background conversations, overheard radio chatter, posters and books through the course of playing. Seemingly insignificant things can give clues as to what is really going on.

Sometimes you'll see or hear something that makes you think. Something that suggests a deeper mystery (and with this game it often turns out to be one). I was playing through The Pick Up last week (one of the new quests added in the Issue 1 update), and it totally transformed what I thought about one of the incidental NPCs I'd previously encountered. Minor spoilers ahead if you haven't yet done The Pick Up.

The Secret World at Gamescom

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Funcom have been detailing some of the upcoming content for The Secret World at Gamescom in Cologne this week. Their big reveal is the new raid that is set to debut in September or October. The first iteration is for 10 players and will see the raid battling through the sewers of New York City before taking on a giant, tentacled beast in the middle of Times Square. The screenshots of the raid released so far look stunning (see below - it's worth clicking through to the large versions).


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Issue 2: Digging Deeper

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The Secret World has just announced it's second major content patch to the game will be released this month and it's called "Digging Deeper". So far Funcom are keeping to their "one update per month" promise, though it's still early days.

Issue 2 is accompanied by another superbly creepy comic-book cover
Issue 2 seems to have more content than Issue 1 did, with new game features as well as new quest content. There will be new customisation options through a plastic surgeon in New York and a barbershop in London, the first new auxiliary weapon (a rocket launcher), and more Investigation missions.

Get the full details here.

Operation Sandstorm

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Scarlet & Cross Institute, my roleplay cabal in The Secret World have started their first major roleplay event, and whilst it's early days it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. The event started with a meeting called by the Lord Nyles Montgomery at which he highlighted a growing threat in Egypt that needs to be countered (the Black Pharoah).

The SCI gathers in the Temple Club library. Vinculus lurks at the back

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Pages from Vinculus' Notebook

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After finishing in Kingsmouth I posted up some scans of the notebook I've been keeping whilst playing The Secret World. As well as my workings out, I find it necessary to keep notes as clues to some quests can crop up anywhere, so whilst many of them do nothing more than paint a fuller picture of the world some of them do indeed help solve the missions. It's also fun to look back over, and they serve to remind me of some of the fun I had in each area.

The following scans are the notes I've made during my time in The Savage Coast (i.e. the second zone of the game) and may contain spoilers for those who haven't played yet. Click the images for larger, readable versions.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Coast is Clear

After his time helping to clear the terrorised streets of Kingsmouth, Vinculus moved on to exploring the majestic scenery of The Savage Coast, venturing further into the mysteries of Solomon Island.

Let's hope he doesn't have a sniper rifle... oh, wait...

Whilst ostensibly part of the same island on which Kingsmouth sits, The Savage Coast feels very different. The fog that plagued Kingsmouth is only feint this far out, and the scenery along the coastline is magnificent, especially when seen from the top of the lighthouse. Read on for my thoughts on The Savage Coast (along with a few minor spoilers).

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Topic Du Jour - MMO Subscription Models

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Well it's been a few days now since the announcement that Star Wars: The Old Republic is embracing the free-to-play model, and the dust has started to settle. There has been a lot of guff written across the web about whether this means the death of subscription MMOs (it doesn't) and which game will be next to go free-to-play.

My thoughts about The Old Republic moving to a free-to-play model are mixed. It's a far better game than it's generally given credit for. Sure, it's not perfect, but it does what it tries to do very well and certainly doesn't deserve the vitriol that much of the gaming community seems to spit at it. I think in a way the game was doomed to this turn of events from even before it launched, such was the negative word of mouth.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Issue #1: Unleased - out today

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The first monthly update for The Secret World launches today, bringing with it seven new missions and a whole lot of new content including new Nightmare Mode dungeons, the Marketplace, and more.

Additionally Funcom are celebrating the first month of the game with a special celebration weekend. Special events, prizes and the ability for anyone to test the game for the whole weekend for free are part of the plans.

For the full patch notes click here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Notebooks and Resources

One of the ways in which The Secret World differentiates itself from other MMOs is in the use of real investigation work required in order to solve some of the missions.

I thought it might be interesting to show a few of the pages from the notebook I'm using to keep track of things. This is the first MMO I've played where I've found it useful to actually keep notes on things I've found and seen (whether they prove to be useful later on or not). So, as I play the game I am noting names and details that crop up. Sometimes these details do nothing more than flesh out the game world, but on some occasions they have proved useful in solving some of the quests.

Playing the game in this way really makes me think of the times I used to play the pen and paper RPG Call of Cthulhu. That game required the collection of handouts and the making of extensive notes during investigations as well.

The following scans are the notes I've made during my time in Kingsmouth (i.e. only the first zone of the game) and may contain spoilers for those who haven't played yet. Click the images for larger, readable versions.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kingsmouth Tales

My time in the small Maine town of Kingsmouth is now at an end, as my investigations lead me deeper into the mysteries of Solomon Island and along the Savage Coast. It has been a memorable experience, and one the most fun, intriguing and creepy times I've ever had playing an MMO. There were so many stand-out moments that will remain with me for a long time.

Leaving town... for now.
Several things struck me as I investigated the strange goings-on in the ancient seaport. First of all the zone felt like a living, breathing world, inhabited by interesting characters in atmospheric locations (Edgar the mechanic and his two dogs, Tango and Cash (hee), must be one of the best quest givers I've ever come across). There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think it is mainly down to the sheer level of detail that the developers have put into their creation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My first TSW Build - The Bulldog

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One of the great things about the ability system in The Secret World is its flexibility and how easy it is to play around with different ideas. I've been playing round with the ability system in The Secret World and have come up with my first attempt at a low-level tank for running Polaris (QL3). I wanted to try something a little different to the usual Hammer and Chaos combination that everyone else seems to use. As I was planning on working towards the Witch Hunter deck anyway, I decided to try building a tank based on Hammer and Blades instead.

The build only contains one direct taunt (mainly for emergencies), and relies on hate-building abilities as it's primary mechanism. It is designed for area-of-effect tanking rather than single-target tanking, though it can be used for both. It only utilises abilities from the inner tier of skills (plus two from the miscellaneous Turbulence section), meaning it is possible to build with only 94 ability points.

It does have the disadvantage in that the main builder is an AoE attack, so you may need to be careful not to aggro any nearby mobs whilst using it, and it can cause issues with crowd control. However, it's a lot of fun to play and works well (in conjunction with health talismans).

I've called this build "The Bulldog" after the M41 Bulldog light tank. You can find the build using the main menu above or by clicking here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

TSW updates are called Issues, and they look great!

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Funcom have revealed more information about the first upcoming content patch, which is called "Issue #1: Unleashed". The concept is that each Issue extends the story of the game, bringing new missions to each geographical area of the game, new characters, and new features.

Each issue will be accompanied by comic book art.
Issue 1 goes live on July 31st. You can read more details, including a run down on the new missions here.

Vinculus - A Character Introduction

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Here's a new (kind of) roleplay story I wrote for my character Nathaniel "Vinculus" Hawksmoor. It's actually kind of a character introduction I wrote for my new cabal, told in Nat's unmistakeably snide style. It gives a little bit of background information as well as hinting at what is to come in his main storyline. You can read it here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monthly Content Updates coming to The Secret World

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Patch 1.01 hit the servers today. You can get the full patch notes here. Whilst it is mainly bug fixes it has been a great first week for the game. They have just opened up a new RP dimension due to demand, and as well as opening up the Chronicle site they have just announced monthly content updates for the game.

The new updates will include mission packs, raids, new zones, a pvp dungeon, new weapons, and lots, lots more, all free for subscribers. You can check out all the details here. If Funcom can deliver on this then we are in for a treat, but based on past experience I think they will be hard pushed to keep up with their proposed schedule. Fingers crossed.

I'm still loving the game and will be posting all about my experiences in Kingsmouth shortly.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Cabals and Chronicles

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I'm happy to report I've managed to find a great Cabal for The Secret World. Scarlet and Cross Institute (SCI) are a fantastic bunch of roleplayers on the Arcadia server, and they've made me feel very welcome so far. Thanks for inviting me!

The other news regarding The Secret World today is the official launch of The Secret World Chronicle. This is an incredible official armoury site that has me really excited. I haven't played an MMO that has offered this level of information to players since I played Dark Age of Camelot.

The Chronicle site contains full details on all characters (you can make them private if you like), including rank, achievements, equipment, deck, abilities and so on. It also has absolutely loads of leaderboards and where the character sits on them on both a global, dimension, faction and Cabal basis. For example, you can find my character's Chronicle page here, and I can see that as of right now I am number 19 on the leaderboard for number of golems killed by my Cabal. The information gets updated every 24 hours.

The website also lists full details for Cabals as well, giving you an up to date roster of each guild.

Ragnar Tørnquist, Game Director gives an overview of the new site here.

More MMOs should provide this kind of functionality. I love this sort of stuff and it's great to see Funcom going the extra mile. I can't wait to see how they expand the system in the future.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Murder of Crows - A New TSW RP Story

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I've just posted up my first roleplay story set in The Secret World. You can read it here or using the Roleplay Stories link in the main menu.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Yet Another New Theme

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In keeping with my latest gaming obsession I have revamped the appearance of the site once again. I hope you like it!

Expect a new roleplay story set in The Secret World at some point this weekend too.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

10 reasons why The Secret World has blown me away

Ok, so I realise the posts over the last two weeks have been very heavily centered on The Secret World, but there are some damn good reasons for it. It really has surprised and amazed me how much I have grown to love this game. Here are some of the reasons why (warning - long read incoming!)...

Ooo, new duds!


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Secret World Launch Trailer makes other trailers cry...

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I'm not going to say anything. Like the game it's beautiful, different and unique. Just watch it.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Updated Gunslinger and Sentinel Builds

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I've finally gotten round to updating my Gunslinger and Sentinel builds following the changes to the talent trees in patch 1.3. You can find them using the main menu above.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Secret World Hints and Tips

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Here's a list of hints and tips I picked up whilst playing The Secret World beta weekends and early access. These are the kind of things that the game doesn't actually explain to you, but will hopefully help ease you in to what is a deep and complex game that refuses to hold your hand.

Even simple quests require some thought.

So, in no particular order here we go...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Meet Nathaniel Vinculus Hawksmoor

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So, here he is, my main character for The Secret World. Nathaniel Hawksmoor, called Nat by his friends, or "Vinculus" by less generous associates, he's a new member of The Templars. I'll be describing his adventures as he journeys into the mysteries of The Secret World, but for now he is just a chancer with a few tricks up his sleeve looking for answers.

Hi, I'm Nat.

I picked the nickname "Vinculus" from Susanna Clarke's brilliant alternative history novel "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" which tells the tale of the restoration of English magic through the 19th Century. I liked the sound of the name, and I found the character interesting, and it also means "bond" or "chain" in Latin, which I'll probably tie into his backstory somehow.

I'm playing on the Arcadia roleplay dimension, and will be keeping an eye out for a guild. I have a couple in mind already, but want to wait a little to see how things pan out. If you know of any decent EU-timezone guilds on the server who are light-to-medium RP and understand that family commitments may effect my play times then let me know!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

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So, Bioware released the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut dlc this week, and I've finally had time to have a play around with it. It seems that Bioware have done exactly what they said they would do. The new endings clarify events and resolve some of the plot holes I discussed in my original review, but the main story remains the same. If you didn't care for the main direction of the ending and choices offered there is little in the Extended Cut that will change your mind. It's an edit, not a wholesale revision.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Busy Week

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It's going to be a busy week in the Merecraft household this week. Patch 1.3, Allies, has launched on the SWTOR servers, bringing with it the first iterations of the dungeon finder, ranked warzones, legacy character perks, augment system and adaptive social clothing. The patch notes are absolutely massive and you can find them here. I'll be looking at updating my Gunslinger build following the class changes in the next week or so.

At the same time Bioware have released the Extended Cut of Mass Effect 3, a free 1.9GB download that extends, clarifies and changes the original ending of the game following feedback from the fans.

Finally, early access for The Secret World begins this Friday... and I still haven't decided on an initial character build yet. That's a topic for discussion at some other time. Not that I'm going to have any time this week with all that lot to explore... I'd best get started...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Further thoughts on The Secret World

I managed to spend some more time with The Secret World this weekend as part of the final weekend beta test. It has pretty much confirmed all my earlier thoughts, and consequently I've gone ahead and pre-ordered.

It's still rough and clunky in places but the more I play the more I can appreciate the potential of the game. It's far tougher than most modern MMOs, both in terms of combat, character set-up and questing, which I like. It's a thinking-person's game, and I can see many MMO players really not getting to grips with it.

London calling

I like the fact it is a niche game, though I fear the level of creativity and thought required to play it may harm subscription numbers. At least the entry barriers (slightly clunky, limited character customisation, and amount of effort, time and thought required to proceed) may weed out some of the more childish members of the MMO gaming community.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Blog Design Complete

I've finally got round to finishing the new design on the blog. I hope you like it and there aren't too many bugs! Please let me know if you find any.

I apologise to readers using the Internet Explorer browser if you find an issues. I think I've managed to squash them all but designing CSS for Internet Explorer is like bashing your head against a rock - pointless and painful. It has horrible legacy requirements and should be consigned to the recycle bin.

Now that's out the way I can resume my normal blogging service!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Secret World's Secrets

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost

Another week, another beta test. This weekend I got to sit down with Funcom's new MMO, The Secret World, for the first time. It's a game I have been following a little over the last year or so, mainly due to what I find an interesting concept behind the game's lore, so I was pleased to get hold of a key for this weekend's test. I approached the game with some interest, though with no real plan to purchase on release (it would have to be really great to shift my focus away from The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2, especially with it being a subscription-based MMO).

Zombie-bashin' time...
The game is due to launch in the next few weeks (on 3rd July), so I was keen to see how close to "finished" (or as finished as a launch MMO will ever get) the game was. There is one more weekend of testing to go before launch, and that will open up the PvP game for testing (sadly it wasn't available this weekend).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Guild Wars 2 - First Beta Impressions

Well, I found E3 to be particularly underwhelming this year. Very few games grabbed my attention (Planetside 2 and Assassin's Creed 3 were the only two that made me sit up and take notice) and most just seemed to be more FPS games and console ports. Consequently, I won't be writing up my thoughts on E3 as promised, but will be giving you my initial impressions on the Guild Wars 2 beta instead.

Welcome to Tyria

The usual caveats before I get into the meat of the matter. I have already pre-ordered the game (before I got to play the beta) based on the fact there is no subscription and most of my guild, Convergence, will be playing. However, before playing in this weekend's beta test event (for which there is no NDA, so I'm free to write what I want) I knew little about the game and felt pretty ambivalent about it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

New SWTOR Content Announced at E3

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It's E3 time again and Bioware have announced a load of new content that we'll be seeing for The Old Republic later this year. There is no official word on whether this will be as part of an expansion or as a free download, though there are rumours, due to a leaked survey, that it could be a paid expansion.

The main content announced was an increase of the level cap, a new planet (Makeb) with new class story content, a new companion (players of the original Knights of the Old Republic game will be overjoyed to hear it is a HK-51 assassin droid), a new Operation, a new Warzone, new class abilities and a new playable species (Cathar).

An official trailer for the new content was released which you can see below. I'll be posting later in the week about any other news from E3 that caught my eye this year.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Sentinel Prime

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Loman-Kai, my Jedi Knight Sentinel, has now reached level 20. I'm really enjoying the combat style of the class, it is so very different to my Smuggler.

Ugh, Taris... here we go again!

I managed to skip most of Taris (my least favourite planet) by doing all of the Coruscant quests, along with Hammer Station. After doing my class quest and collecting the datacrons on Taris I was level 20 already, which meant I could skip straight to Nar Shaddaa without having to do any of the Taris world quests. It probably helped that I'd run a few warzones along the way too (they give pretty good xp, especially at lower levels).

Monday, May 28, 2012

A New Life

My posting schedule is still a little slow as I'm working hard on the redesign of the blog still, as well as playing The Old Republic most nights. Hopefully the frequency of posts will pick up again soon.

I've been continuing to run dailies with Merec, but I have spent most of the last few days playing my new alt, a Jedi-Knight named Loman-Kai. The class plays very differently to my Smuggler so far, but I'm really enjoying the visceral nature of the melee combat and the freedom of movement afforded by the lack of the cover mechanic.