Most of you have probably already heard this week’s news. Funcom has announced the creation of one joint, centralized team at our studio in Raleigh, North Carolina, and that team will be working on all of our live games going forward. This is part of the restructuring process that was started in order to create a better foundation for implementing the new company strategy of developing smaller, more focused online games at the same time as we keep our existing games going with both updates and support.
Obviously this means a few changes for all our games. The good thing is that we are now bringing all the developers into the same studio where we have previously only had customer service, billing, quality assurance and our community teams. Allowing all these different people to work together directly with the developers will hopefully be very beneficial for The Secret World as a live game. Having one centralized live team also allow each game to benefit from a shared pool of people with exceptional competence, experience and skill working on MMOs and especially live, operating MMOs.
Not everyone on the current team will join the centralized live team. The developers on The Secret World were given the opportunity to relocate, but it is only to be expected that people are not always willing to relocate. I would ask the community to join me in wishing those team members the very best in their future careers. You have been amazing and I know that you will continue to be amazing. It has been a pleasure and an honor.
How then, does this affect the production and development of The Secret World? In particular, how does it affect the milestones for the development and improvement of the game?
Firstly, some reassurance. With the recent re-launch of the game to a buy-to-play model, we increased overall sales with more than 30% and the activity levels on the servers soared as more people came in – both new and returning players. This success is inspiring and we will continue building on that success going forward by expanding the game regularly and supporting our community.
We still have a strong, veteran team of designers and artists working on the game and working towards regular content updates. The move to North Carolina will cause some "development turbulence" - people will be moving and getting adjusted to new circumstances and thus you can expect things to slow down during this period, but our plan is still to deliver regular DLC and updates for The Secret World.
So, on that note, let’s have a look at what’s coming up next in Issue #6 which we are aiming to launch end of February.
The Issue #6 DLC, primarily set in Egypt, sees the player working with the Marya against the cultists of Abdel Daoud. The player learns the location of a prison, where Maryan captives are taken and tortured by the Atenists. Infiltrating the prison reveals information to the player about an Atenist plot to cause a second event on the scale of Tokyo. The player must race against time (and through time) to prevent the event from occurring!
Issue #6 will also see the return of the characters Said, Nassir and Zhara, as well as the villainous Abdel Daoud. Through the events of the issue, players will also gain access to the newest Auxiliary weapon, the whip. More details on the whip and its abilities as the DLC gets closer to launch.
Players will also see new features in Issue #6, including improved Cabal management functionality. New functionality will include things like Cabal logs, custom ranks and permissions, notes and a cabal news feed. We see this as the first step in improving the cabal system in The Secret World and we will continue to listen to our community and make improvements based upon their feedback.
PvP will also see some new updates in Issue #6 including a revamped matchmaking system and PvP ranks. More details will be available in a developer blog in the coming weeks.
As I mentioned in a forum post, we have always been looking at ways to improve the value of the subscription for our players. One of these initiatives is the Veteran Reward System. As players spend time with The Secret World, they gain veteran points, which can then be spent at in-game store to purchase both cosmetic and convenience items. Here is a list of some of the veteran rewards that you can expect to see:
Automatic Item Repair Consumables
Portable Combat Dummy with Feedback
Mission Cooldown Removal Consumables
Portable Bank/Tradepost/Mail Consumables
... and many more to come.
The first iteration of the Veteran System should be available in Issue #6.
In addition to the Veteran System, we are also going to sweeten the deal for members and Grandmaster account holders by allowing them 48 hour early access to the DLC content.
As you can see, the plans for The Secret World are as ambitious as ever. The development of the game continues to be a priority and there is plenty of story left to come!