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Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory: First five favorite moments in The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory: First five favorite moments in The Secret World
I've been asked many times why I love The Secret World. And I have always answered enthusiastically about my favorite parts of this unique game. But a more interesting take on the question presented itself recently: When did I love The Secret World? This query gave me pause as I thought back to the point at which my I'm-having-fun feelings turned into bona fide squeals of delight and shrieks of surprise. And I came to the conclusion that all I really needed to love The Secret World I learned in Kingsmouth.

If you think about it, that's a pretty good thing. Since Kingsmouth is the first real adventure zone after your tutorial (I'm not counting the faction cities), having experiences that grab folks' interest there is vital to producing long term-players. In a game, just as in a book or a movie, it is important to hook your intended audience early on so its members stick around to see what's going to happen next. And hook me Kingsmouth did.

The following are the first five moments that captured my heart (and mind -- this is TSW we're talking about, after all). They are by no means the be-all, end-all of the game; they are very simple, in fact. But these particular moments did help define my appreciation for the game and ensnare me enough to keep me coming back for more.

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Chaos Theory: How The Secret World makes you learn

Horror, Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Maybe it's my age or maybe it's just a little bit of laziness about me, but I'm finding myself a little peeved whenever someone or something wants to make me learn a new system. I mean, I'll be the one constantly reading Wikipedia to all hours of the night because I like soaking up info, but if a game asks me to go through a two-minute tutorial, I'm like, "Forget that!" and upturn my computer desk while I go to the other room to calm down.

It's not that I don't like learning -- I end up really enjoying myself when I do, in fact -- but that the energy and attention required to absorb a new lesson can often be a tad daunting. This is what drives me back into familiar gaming arms again and again, and why I'm more than a little apprehensive about all of the sandbox tools that will be coming to MMOs near us.

That's why I have to hand it to The Secret World -- here's an MMO that pushed me out of my comfort bubble and made me learn, sometimes kicking and screaming, and sometimes with a giddy and joyful heart. This is an MMO that isn't content to spoon-feed you the same mush you've been downing for years; it's one that operates under a practical mission statement of teaching through gameplay.

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Chaos Theory: The best of The Secret World in 2013

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  The best of The Secret World, 2013
When December wrapped up, so too did The Secret World's first full calendar year, having debuted the summer prior. Coincidentally, the timing also marked the first year of the buy-to-play business model; the game transitioned in December 2012. Looking back over those 12 months, I wonder what can be said of the horror-themed MMO. Certainly updates and new content didn't come as quickly as players would have preferred (what game can ever deliver that?!), but there was still plenty of activity during that time. We're going to delve into highlights of TSW's year that started with awarding all players a coveted pet to counter an exploit discovered during the 2012 holiday event and ended with Hel on earth.

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Chaos Theory: My modest Secret World wish list

Horror, Sci-Fi, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

TSW
I'm not a greedy man. At least, I like to think I'm not. I try hard to be content with what I have, including the bounty of gaming options before me. And when it comes to The Secret World, I find that I have plenty to be thankful for.

I have a wonderful cabal that gathers together once a week for a riotous good time. I'm still in love with TSW's atmosphere and story well over a year after its launch. I adore the game's wardrobe options and can't stop playing dress-up with my Templar. I find the intellectual aspects of the missions and builds stimulating. I even get to write about all of this right here on Massively.

So don't take the following wish list as a lack of contentment. I'm really happy with the game as it is, but as with any gamer, there are always desires and wants that rise unbidden into my consciousness while I play. I recognize that Funcom has its hands very full as it tries to create as much content as it can with a reduced team, but that's not going to stop me today from wishing out loud for a few quality of life improvements for 2014.

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Chaos Theory: Cramming your Krampus in before TSW's holidays end

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  Cramming your Krampus in before TSW's holidays end
Christmas 2013 -- it's quite a different experience in The Secret World than in other MMORPGs. Instead of offering some colorful cutesy characters based on the jolliest aspects of the season, TSW's festivities draw on the darkest parts of our lore to bring you a Christmas devil, a demoness, and undead Mayans. The only carol you hear is a twisted Jingle Bells whispered in the hellish Niflheim dimension, though wave after wave of horny Hel jokes fill the air. But even with all the differences, one thing is definitely the same: the stress of running around trying to get things done in time!

As much as I am grateful that a form of last year's End of Days event has returned (I did ask for it after all), the fact that there are three events -- A Mother of a Season, Ever-Ending Days, and Whispering Tide -- happening simultaneously is a bit overwhelming. Add the whole real-life part of the holiday season to the evil RNG, and I am truly scrambling to complete my holiday wish list of pets, achievements, and apparel. I am even struggling to get the lore. (And you know that makes for a very unhappy MJ!)

Luckily, the holiday events don't end until January 2nd, so I am going to make a push to finish up as much as I can. If you happen to be in the same boat, here are a few hints to help wrap it all up. If, however, you are one of those people who got everything done early, feel free to skip to the end where I have penned a more appropriate take on a holiday favorite in honor of the season. Hopefully it will become a new cherished tradition!

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Chaos Theory: Why TSW's Orochi have an uphill battle for respectability

Horror, Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory

TSW
The other day I posted a Daily Grind here on the site that asked about NPC factions that are, in effect, a total joke. I used the example of the Orochi from The Secret World, which got one commenter's ire up. He said it was "insulting" that I was singling this out this organization, and I assume that I'm no longer on his Christmas card mailing list.

Defensiveness aside, I think I have a pretty good case here that the Orochi are, well, almost laughable. Just about everywhere you go in the game, you encounter their corpses, burning vans, busted camps, crashed planes, and botched excavations. As a friend put it, they're like well-funded kids who go into a military zone with professionals and end up like you'd expect. I've been mocking them for months now, and I am far from alone. After a certain point, their grisly tableaus become a running joke that makes it really hard to take them seriously.

But that's the question I want to grapple with today. If the upcoming Tokyo zones will be featuring the Orochi on their home turf, are they too far gone in terms of respectability in the eyes of players to change the narrative? We've seen them kicked up and down across the world, so I'm wondering if it's too late for the Orochi to put on big boy pants and be invited to the adult table.

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Chaos Theory: A few useful mods for The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Player-Generated Content, Buy-to-Play

Do you use mods in The Secret World? This was a question I have actually asked friends and colleagues as the idea of corralling the best and most useful mods bounced around in my head for a while. The irony in that inquiry is that I, personally, do not use any addons for TSW; in fact, I tend not to use them for most any game. But I do hear people swear by them, so I thought finding the best ones used throughout the community would be a helpful service. And then I set the idea aside.

You know how it is -- other things jump in the way or catch your attention screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!" So helpful mods have been on the back burner, bumped in favor of other more timely matters. And then suddenly it was the timely issue. You see, once I started trying to run scenarios, one of the mods that everyone keeps talking to me about suddenly became very relevant. (If you've ever tried to do a super-quick swap using the gear manager only to find that once you're in combat, one weapon didn't make the switch, leaving you without half of your skills, you can totally understand why).

Once I started thinking about that, it led me to wondering about the other addons out there. And if I am wondering about them, chances are someone else is, too. So that makes now the perfect time to check out the various addpons that players use to make life smoother in TSW.

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Chaos Theory: The Christmas devil cometh to The Secret World

Horror, Sci-Fi, Previews, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

TSW
One of the bright spots of my month is when that game director letter from Joel Bylos rolls across my feed. It's like new magazine day, back when magazines were a thing instead of an ancient relic of the '90s, and I push everything aside just to slowly pick through the letter and find out what's coming to The Secret World.

Bylos' November letter had a lot to say, most of it good but a little disappointing. Yes, Tokyo and Issue 9 are being pushed to "early 2014" (I bet February) to get it up to snuff. It's one of those announcements that has the loyal saying things like, "Good for them! Quality over a rush job, I always say!" but then they go home and cry a little in secret. I'll admit that it's a bit of a bummer, especially with my overall disappointment with Issue 8. I guess it'll give me a little more time to grind out oreos and augments, and perhaps work on my long-neglected Illuminati alt.

With the bad out of the way, let's dissect and analyze what the future has in store for TSW. What's that? A Christmas devil! Oh my, things are about to get interesting. Well, interestinger.

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Chaos Theory: A Secret World lexicon

Horror, Real-Life, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

LF3M 18/24 EXP KKTXBAI

Look familiar? If you play The Secret World, you've likely seen this string of characters, or something similar, a thousand times over. Anyone who has done any MMO gaming is used to seeing a flood of acronyms fly by in chat channels. It's a special shorthand to convey as much information as possible without spending all that time and effort typing out whole words (which certainly comes in handy when you are busy dodging incoming attacks). Some terms are fairly common to the genre as a whole, but others are game-specific. So what happens when players jump into The Secret World for the first time? They can be left scratching their heads wondering what weird language people are speaking.

But with everything else there is to get a handle on in the game, like the ability wheel and builds, who wants to spend time deciphering every communique? New players could speak up and outright ask what a certain term means, but who wants to expose his newbness for all to see? Instead, many just try to deduce the meaning or ignore the message all together. The problem with that is you might get something wrong (and look worse) or completely miss out on something worthwhile.

To help allay confusion and give everyone a fair chance at understanding TSW-speak, I've gathered the most relevant terminology here in a handy guide. Not only can you decode what you read with it, but you'll have the key to sending your own messages like a pro.

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Chaos Theory: The dark side of The Secret World's Issue 8

Horror, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

chaos theory
Last week MJ espoused her belief that The Secret World Issue 8's scenarios are a terrific addition to the game and worthy of your consideration. As much fun as she's been having, my own experiences have been middling-to-poor with Issue 8. In my opinion, this is the first Issue that's really stumbled in terms of accessibility and quality.

Part of that was to be expected. Issue 8 is, let's face it, a stalling tactic so Funcom can finish up the first half of Tokyo. It's busy work for the community in the guise of a "certification" as well as an AP/SP sink for those of us who have filled out most (or all) of our skill wheel and need some other form of character growth.

Mind you, while Issue 8 has stumbled, it's not a travesty. I actually appreciate the idea of a new form of group content that's repeatable, and it's exciting to get a glimpse into the mysterious Council of Venice. But I do want to look at a few failings of this update and how Funcom could improve matters.

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Chaos Theory: Surviving a second look at The Secret World's scenarios

Horror, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Secret World, Dungeons, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Thanks to a pre-launch taste test, I was really looking forward to serving myself up some more of The Secret World's new scenarios when Issue #8 finally went live. I made no secret of the fact that I enjoyed that first experience, even though our dev-led group was getting its keister kicked! But it is fair to say that a single swing though a scenario couldn't provide a balanced assessment of the new feature, especially since said scenario itself wasn't balanced. So as soon as The Venetian Agenda launched, I went back for seconds... and thirds... and so on.

Now that I've indulged in heaping helpings of scenarios over the past two weeks, have my thoughts about TSW's newest feature changed? Has my excitement diminished? Have I had my fill now and am I just looking forward to moving on to Tokyo, or am I still standing at that Council of Venice's console with my bowl held high saying, "Please, sir, I want some more"? To answer, let me show you my snazzy bowl! Then I'll share why I think the scenarios are more than worthwhile in spite of the naysayers.

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Chaos Theory: My favorite Secret World NPCs, part 1

Horror, Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory My favorite Secret World NPCs

As a sort of companion piece to my previous column covering why I consider The Secret World to be the industry's best storyteller, I wanted to elaborate on my love for the game's characters. TSW is not a game full of forgettable muggles but a place where bizarre personalities and incredible backstories collide. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, more exciting to me than to advance through the game and meet a new NPC for the first time.

So I want to share with you my favorites. I also want to mention that making this list just about wrenched me in twain because I want to list about 70% of the game's NPCs as my favorites. There are so many that are terrific for different reasons, and whether I found myself laughing with them, at them, or against them, they've been burned onto my consciousness.

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Chaos Theory: Hurrying to finish The Secret World's Halloween events

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Secret World, Guides, Livestream, Dungeons, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory Halloweeen yay!
Stop me if you heard this before: Halloween in The Secret World ROCKS! I know, I'm preaching to the choir, right? There just isn't any other game that really comes close to sharing the spirit of the holiday like the one that is perpetually steeped in it. And when Halloween itself finally comes around, you actually have good reason to settle in after those real-life activities and enjoy more ghostly goodness in game. Heck, you can even get gussied up in some elaborate costumes that can include a working chainsaw. Who gets that in meatspace?

Last year, however, I went through the agony of living with the fact that circumstances prevented me from experiencing everything the holiday events offered. It was torture seeing that incomplete quest chain and not having a furry little void cat to console me! I want to save you all from the same kind of pain and regret, so here is a quick guide to get you on the path to completing all the festivities before they dissipate into the night on November 11th.

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Chaos Theory: Nine reasons The Secret World is the industry's best storyteller

Horror, Sci-Fi, Lore, The Secret World, Post-Apocalyptic, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory Ten reasons why The Secret World is the industry's best storyteller
Contrary to what I sometimes see in the MMO community, I am a huge believer in games telling stories. If a game lets me create my own story, great, but even better are developers who know how to spin a good yarn and involve me in the process. That's why I've loved adventure and role-playing games throughout the decades, and it's why The Secret World has remained one of my top MMOs since it launched.

I don't have a problem saying that I think The Secret World is currently the industry's best storyteller. If you want to take a cheap shot, you can insert some snide remark about rote quest text boxes in the comments, but I think that there's a lot of solid writing and storytelling across the MMO spectrum right now. It's just that TSW does it better.

Why? What's going on here to make stories and characters that just stick in my head long after my brain has cycled other MMO's events to deep storage? I started writing a list and had a hard time stopping at just nine.

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Chaos Theory: Follow the Filth as TSW's Whispering Tide Event moves on

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Secret World, Guides, Dungeons, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory Follow the Filth as TSW's Whispering Tide Event moves on
Remember when we mentioned that The Secret World's latest event would be a long-term one? Well, we weren't fooling; it's been a month, and The Whispering Tide Event is just now hitting its fourth phase. So what does that mean for us? It means that the slow plod towards Tokyo is showing progress, just not nearly as quickly as excited TSW fans may like.

If you've already been in-game, you've noticed that the latest two phases have been very similar to the first two. In fact, they follow the same pattern: start with powering up a generator using crafting materials then move into an instance to clear out the filth. However, even though they are similar and some phases are moving slowly, there's a chance folks might miss out. And if there's one thing I don't want to see, it's others missing out! To prevent that and to keep my fellow TSW fans from floundering in the dark, here's phase two of The Whispering Tide Event guide, with tips and tricks for grabbing the lore, getting the goodies, and even preparing for forthcoming phases.

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