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The Secret World

The Secret World's new ARG opens signups for loyalists [Updated]

Horror, Real-Life, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

TSW
A newsletter sent yesterday to current and former players of The Secret World invites them to sign up for the game's upcoming Black Watchmen alternate reality game, which is due to officially kick off in September. Here's the hard pill to swallow for those of you used to the B2P nature of TSW: The ARG isn't free. Players who sign up will be funding the game's previously announced Crowdtilt crowdfunding campaign and will receive a year's worth of ARG gameplay and missions and a special in-game outfit for $20 ($10 off the normal fee).

Massively's MJ explored the ARG in detail just a few weeks ago. Enjoy the trailer below!

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip.]

[Update: It turns out that if you're a lifetime member of TSW, this deal is even sweeter: Not only do you pick up the in-game goodies, but you get a free sub to the ARG for a year.]

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Chaos Theory: Funcom flubbed it with The Secret World's mankinigate

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

Chaos Theory:  Funcom flubbed it with The Secret World's Mankinigate
I'd rather be focused on the four new investigation missions that just launched in The Secret World, even though I need much more time to complete them all, or yammering on about Tokyo coming next month (did you catch that in the director's letter?). But as the fates would have it, Funcom did something else this past week that has nabbed attention and necessitates a little scrutiny.

Mankinigate.

Last week during the notable first of April shenanigans, The Secret World poked fun at the fact that female outfits in games (including TSW) are stereotypically skimpy while males get adventuring gear. The item store offered the "Gender Equality" clothing pack: full scuba gear for females and a mankini for males. As hideous as I think the mankini is, I appreciated this obvious jab at stereotypes, not to mention the fact that Funcom listened to players who've requested revealing attire for their male avatars. But then with no real explanation given at the time, the makinis were yanked not only from the store but from players' inventories as well.

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The Secret World's Joel Bylos takes on mankinigate

Horror, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

The Secret World's Lead Content Designer Joel Bylos has just posted an explanation for last week's mankinigate episode. As we reported on April 4th, a mankini outfit for male characters was added to the game's cash shop as part of the April Fools' Day patch but was later removed from that shop and from those who had purchased it, with no reason given. Today, Bylos told forumgoers that the mankini wearables were always intended to be a limited-availability April Fools joke and that players were meant to keep them. But...
Funcom management feels strongly that the Mankini outfit goes against what The Secret World intellectual property (IP) is all about and they did not want this item to stay in the game permanently. We all agree on the fact that The Secret World should be the best urban contemporary horror MMO out there, and they want to make sure that everything we bring into the game stays true to the setting and the atmosphere we have created – however it is safe to say that there is sometimes disagreement on nuance. For that reason, Management made the decision to pull it from the game entirely.
While he disagrees with purging the gear from those who bought it, he stresses that it was "pulled due to concerns over the integrity of the IP, not because of the gender or skimpiness of the outfit." The female wetsuit has also been removed from the store but will remain wearable by those who purchased it.

[With thanks to tipster Snurx! We've included Bylos' entire post after the cut.]

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The Secret World's Sidestories: Further Analysis is now live

Fantasy, Horror, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, The Secret World, Buy-to-Play

TSW Sidestories: Further Analysis
Funcom's latest Secret World DLC is now available for purchase. Sidestories: Further Analysis marks a departure from the regular issue-based release structure and features four new investigation missions designed to test your puzzle-solving skills and deliver "four fresh stories spread throughout the game world."

The DLC is available in the game's item store. It costs 960 Funcom points if you have a F2P account, with discounted rates applying to subscribers and lifetime members.

Funcom yanks mankini costume from The Secret World

Horror, Sci-Fi, The Secret World, Humor, Buy-to-Play

TSW
Players who logged in this week to The Secret World might have noticed that there was a new male costume option in the game store: a neon green mankini that covered very, very little. However, those who purchased said mankini discovered the costume gone today, as Funcom pulled the April Fools' Day outfits from characters' dressing rooms, refunded the points spent on them, and gave each previous owner a free mystery box.

While there was no explanation as to why the outfit was removed, Funcom apologized for the handling of the joke on the forums: "You may or may not be aware, but the mankini was removed. Anyone that purchased the item has been refunded points and has received a mystery box for the inconvenience. However, if you had purchased points in order to buy the mankini, you can contact customer service for a refund of those points. We're terribly sorry for the trouble, folks. Our CS staff will be happy to help."

The Secret World's first mission pack announced for next week

Horror, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, The Secret World, Dev Diaries, Buy-to-Play

Those thirsting for new content in The Secret World are getting a little something to help tide them over until Tokyo is opened. In his latest Game Director Letter, Joel Bylos announced the game's first ever mission pack. Available in the item store next week, Sidestories: Further Analysis contains four new investigation missions spanning the TSW map and a new undisclosed feature. These missions will delve players deeper into the backstories and lives of various groups and characters like Dr. Aldini and the Draculesti.

Bylos also gives more details on the AEGIS system, explaining that these items will be equipped in new gear slots and how the core of the system, controllers, come in three distinct types. On top of that, he noted that a few PvP fixes in patch 1.9 change the way relics are handled in El Dorado. You can catch all the details of these changes in the March letter.

One Shots: The kiddie pool

Screenshots, Guild Wars, Culture, One Shots, The Secret World, Miscellaneous, WildStar

WildStar
What does an insane kinetic interstellar critter do on his or her day off? Why, soak in an outdoor pool and try not to think about why the water suddenly got warmer, of course!

Reader Crazyrabbit63 (probably not his real name) sent in this WildStar picture to kickstart our fun this week: "This is my Chua, BuzzCracker, sitting in his kiddie pool and relaxing after a long day of hunting Exiles across Nexus. After a few minutes in the water, BuzzCracker realized he had too many Spicy Jabbits for lunch!"

If diminutive pools aren't your thing, we've got the excitement of both Hell and singing mushrooms after the break!

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Chaos Theory: Grand plans for The Secret World's Black Watchmen ARG

Horror, Real-Life, Events (Real-World), Interviews, The Secret World, Miscellaneous, Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory: Interview uncovers big plans for the new TSW-themed Black Watchmen ARG
Last week we revealed that a new persistent alternate reality game is in the works from Human Equation, the studio that brought us the pre-launch and End of Days ARGs for The Secret World. But that little introduction is just a drop in the bucket compared to what the company has planned for the community. Human Equation has bought the license to operate the Black Watchmen IP from Funcom, and that means TSW players, fans, and puzzle-enthusiasts have much more in store for them than they realize.

Although a major premise behind an ARG is figuring out clues and discovering information over time, I sat down and chatted with Andrea Doyon, the chief innovation officer (aka puppet master) for the ARG to bring you the scoop on those very plans. Check out all the details in this exclusive interview, including future job possibilities, and get a peek at two never-before-seen pieces of concept art.

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The Secret World fans get a persistent ARG

Horror, Real-Life, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, Buy-to-Play

If you've wanted to get in on the ground floor of an Alternate Reality Game tied to The Secret World, the time is now! A brand-new ARG developed by Human Equation has just entered the scene.

Focusing on the Black Watchmen, this ARG differs in that it will be a persistent, complete game with features (such as a class system and NPCs) designed in partnership with Funcom. However, players will have plenty of real-world and online puzzles to work through as well. Check out the official site now to start on the first mission; the second mission unlocks tomorrow, March 20th. Then stay tuned to Chaos Theory for an upcoming interview with the creators for even more details about this new game and what they have in store for this IP.

[Source: Human Equation press release]

The Secret World's Scenario Weekend starts March 14th

Fantasy, Horror, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, The Secret World, Dungeons, Buy-to-Play

The Secret World's Scenario Weekend
From Friday, March 14th, until Tuesday, March 18th, The Secret World will be hosting a little something that Funcom calls a Scenario Weekend. Players can take advantage of a 50 percent Aureu boost both when looting scenario loot tokens and when receiving Aureu as an end-of-scenario reward.

The firm is also gifting five scenario cooldown removers to everyone who logs in over the weekend. Finally, TSW's cash shop features 30% extra Funcom points with every purchase.

Chaos Theory: A guide to finishing off the Filth in TSW's Whispering Tide event

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

Chaos Theory:  A guide to finishing off the Filth in TSW's Whispering Tide event
When The Secret World puts on a long-term event, it certainly doesn't skimp on the long part! The Whispering Tide commenced way back in September 2013 and just last month moved into the final phase. During that time, players have unlocked portals, collected lore, and fought the Filth, all with the ultimate goal of opening Tokyo at the end. And while the time of Issue #9 is is almost at hand, it isn't yet here. The best way to hurry it along is to see this event through to completion and eradicate the Filth in this final stage.

If you've missed any of the preceding phases, now is the perfect time to jump in and add your efforts to the cause -- not just for speeding up the release of Tokyo but for collecting all the loot and goodies for yourself as well! With this phase players have the chance to rake in all the slivers and fragments needed to purchase the available event loot (sadly, the past lore pieces are one thing that cannot be gotten). Even if you are just starting now, there are still numerous tendrils protruding from the portal, giving you plenty of time to get in on the action. And this guide is going to walk you through it.

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CEO Ole Schreiner on Funcom's future and that police investigation

Fantasy, Horror, Age of Conan, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Buy-to-Play

Funcom logo
Funcom CEO Ole Schreiner recently spoke with GamesIndustry.biz in a lengthy interview that covers everything from the performance of The Secret World to the future of the company to the recent Økokrim raid.

The police action has to do with former CEO Trond Arne Aas and accusations of insider trading relating to The Secret World's launch. "What we know is actually very little and the few things we do know, we can't talk about because it's an ongoing case," Schreiner says. "The charges are two-fold. The first is that Funcom, between August 2011 and August 2012, manipulated the market. The other is that we had wrongfully filed insider information."

It's not all gloom-and-doom going forward, though, as Funcom has gotten the Dreamworld tech behind Age of Conan and The Secret World to work on consoles, Android, and iOS devices. "It's not so much about the technology as the knowledge, which we've been building for 13 years," Schreiner explains. "It's a platform -- it has all the elements you need to make, run, and maintain a game from the production tools right down to the customer service and QA tools."

Schreiner is also optimistic about Funcom's future, which is currently focused on LEGO Minifigures Online. "This new strategy is a natural evolution of the company," he states. "We would have taken this path anyway, no matter how The Secret World turned out."

One Shots: Moons over Bajor

Screenshots, EverQuest II, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

STO
Outer space: It looks cool whether it's in color or black and white. Case in point? Check out both varieties of today's headlining screenshot, submitted by reader Chris.

"Here is the deep space science vessel USS Aurora passing over one of the moons of Bajor in Star Trek Online," Chris writes.

Personally, I think the light and dark contrast looks so much cooler in black and white. That's of small consolation to the crew of the Aurora who went blind sailing directly into the sun, but hopefully their families will find some solace in my admiration.

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Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #30-21

Aion, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Free Realms, Mabinogi, Wizard101, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, The Elder Scrolls Online, Jukebox Heroes, Age of Wushu, Music

GW2
We're back with our second part of our Top 40 MMO main themes countdown, this time digging into the middle of the pack. To repeat my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game; I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed the first part, check out themes #40-31. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

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Funcom's financials take a sharp blow

Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, Business Models, MMO Industry, The Secret World, Legal, Miscellaneous

Funcom
The earnings report for Funcom's fourth quarter 2013 is in -- and it doesn't look pretty.

The studio reported that revenues are down both year over year and quarter over quarter due to deferred billings with The Secret World and increased competition. However, Funcom said that a better business model and new marketing programs are resulting in a stronger first quarter for 2014 and that its MMOs are "cash-flow positive and will remain so in the foreseeable future."

Funcom said that it is taking steps to turn around the business with a new strategy to focus on more mid-core online games with smaller budgets and shorter development time. It's also continuing to invest in LEGO Minifigures Online and the Dreamworld technology. The latter is important so that the studio can release games across multiple platforms including Android and iOS tablets. LEGO Minifigures Online is scheduled for open beta testing this summer.

The Økokrim charges regarding possible market manipulation between August 2011 and August 2012 were mentioned. Funcom said that no employees have been charged, and the company is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation.

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