Kingsmouth Cutscene

Blaugust 2015, Day 3 – I Wouldn’t Have Played This Game: An Unexpected Love

What’s a game you would have never tried but for some reason you did and ended up loving it? – Void

I would never have tried The Secret World if it hadn’t gone on sale on Steam and I hadn’t seen my fellow bloggers mention it as one of many items on offer at reduced prices. I’m not the type of person who maintains a huge backlog of unplayed games that were snapped during fire sales. Heck, I didn’t even buy Papers, Please for a pittance after having watched the entirety of an hour-long Let’s Play-style video and really, really liking the monotony of being a civil servant in an iron-fisted dictatorship. It takes a lot to get me to pull the trigger on purchasing a game if I’m not doing it on a whim.

It took about a year and a half for me to warm up to the notion of joining the hordes of hammer-and-pistol-wielding Bladerunner protagonists sporting tie-dyed t-shirts, blue jeans, and cowboy boots fighting off the once-human, once-living hordes of unending undead rolling out of the sea-swept fog. The seeds were planted over time, gradually, carefully, and lovingly by several different bloggers perhaps unbeknownst to them. It was a game for adults, I discovered while trawling vast oceans of text. There were many, many different types of missions and stories that one could take part in – I read about several of them without really absorbing the specifics. It was more about atmosphere for me (it always is). And the ambience was absolutely fantastic. I found this out for myself when I wandered into a diner on a supply recovery mission and found myself rocking out to the latest punk rendition of the smash hit “Girl, I’m Totally Fucked Up About You.”

After having purchased the game for a price I found to be quite reasonable, I found myself downloading the client via Steam. A few hours later, I launched the game fully ready to play and was immediately paralyzed by the character creation screen. Three days of research and contemplation later and I had decided on my character as well as a Secret Society. Among the throngs of jean-jacketed punk rock starlets and leather-jacketed Zell Dinchts and trenchcoated Deadeye Brightlands and blonde bunnies in short shorts, a new champion emerged: an economics student in a zip-up bumblebee hoodie, black office slacks, and loafers.

I don’t know how to play games.

It was precisely because I didn’t know anything about how to play the game that I immediately began to enjoy it. There are no character levels, so you’re not focused on some magical number which determines how much damage your bullets do. Completing missions gives you Skill Points, which are used to unlock the ability to use higher Quality Level weapons and talismans, and Ability Points, which are used to purchase increasingly useful and powerful active and passive abilites for your weapons. You complete missions by running around and finding things to do. There’s a main mission which requires quite a bit of work to complete; along the way, you’ll find side missions as well. As you complete these missions you’ll get AP, SP, and items with higher QLs and higher stats. The sum of these things makes you more powerful and gives one a sense of statistical progression.

The reason I love this whole setup is because I can focus on the story and feel like I’m not only making plot progress, but gaining power as well. My health has gone up considerably from having equipped more powerful talismans and such; these remain hidden from view – other players do not see them when running past you. Your visible clothing is for appearance only, which means that you can’t tell at a glance that Rusty “Hardwood” Slapshot is wearing weaksauce +5 Power Gloves and therefore isn’t worthy of joining your dungeon group. Progress is natural and organic, almost like a side effect of having completed objectives. The character animations in the cutscenes are wonderful and the voice acting runs the gamut from cringe-worthy to excellent just as it did in Final Fantasy 14. I do find the faces to be a bit off in some cases; this, however, is a minor quibble.

Did I mention dodge rolls? I love action combat.

Overall, I’m enjoying the game quite a bit in a small doses. I haven’t even begun to explore synergies or the use of an expanded weapon set. What I’m loving most of all about this relatively older, subscriptionless game is the fact that I’m immediately doing what I want to be doing without having to first go through a Skinner Box full of things I don’t want to do. That’s an automatic win right there.

Blaugust 2015 Initiative Page

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11 thoughts on “Blaugust 2015, Day 3 – I Wouldn’t Have Played This Game: An Unexpected Love

  1. I can’t exactly hide that TSW is my primary game, so I won’t even try, hehe. I completely understand that it doesn’t click for everyone, but I’m always glad to hear someone is enjoying it. 🙂

    The two things that drew me in were the atmosphere and the community. I know everyone says that about their communities, but the TSW is something special. There’s even an entirely community-run newbie help chat (/ chat join sanctuary) and another one for players new to endgame (/chat join noobmares). I’ve never seen that in another MMO.

    As I played more, I started to value the freedom to explore and run different missions depending on my mood. And the story, of course. TSW players tend to wax poetic on “story,” but for good reason.

    I will say that for anyone who hasn’t played in a while, they did a massive “New Player” update a while back. The tutorials are more clear, and the difficulty curve has been smoothed. They didn’t nerf it into the ground (imo) but it’s much easier to get started than it used to be.

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    1. Someone who plays TSW as their main game! Outstanding. I don’t think it’ll ever be my main game (I have Guild Wars 2 for that) but it could very well be my “alt,” Love those dodge rolls.

      I’ll turn on those channels when I’m ready for them. Right now if I enable them in chat it kills the mood. They contain excellent information and friendly people dispensing advice, but I need my immersion in order to fully swim in the story. (Love the atmosphere!)

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      1. I didn’t mean for it to be, but I just got sucked in! At first I’m sure it was the story, but at this point…well, I actually did a post about the options for endgame. It’s not as structured as most games, but I really prefer that. I usually don’t have to worry about missing out on content because I haven’t been spending hours grinding. It’s possible I’d play less between new content, but since I got involved in the community and the podcast, there’s always plenty of reason to sign in.

        And I totally get you on the channels! My first time through (and I seriously took my time with it) I’d only sign in long enough to ask a question, then sign back out.

        Enjoy the immersion and the story! 🙂 Funny sidenote, I received GW2 as a bday gift right around when I bought TSW. When I was finally getting to playing one of them, I started with TSW first mostly because a friend was trying it out on his stream and I wanted to tag along.

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      2. I also generally have those channels off. Still they are in my login-script, so i can enable and disable them in game any time with little effort, so i can use them when i see the need.

        Noobmares i use when i like to do some 18/24 activity. (Translation: the 18 or 24 bosses of the first 3 or 4 dungeons, which are rather easy to do and people tend to farm them for the rewards. ) Usually there’s enough veterans on the channel, willing and ready to help, so you’ll usually end up with like 2 people with weaker gear and the rest well geared and set up, which makes dungeon tours enjoyable enough. By now i am in the veteran group, but i still very much enjoy noobmares, groups formed from this channel are so refreshingly free of elitism and pressure and thus much more enjoyable than the LFG-channel groups, where people often seem to expect speedruns and perfect performance.

        On Sanctuary, i was there a lot when it was young. By now it became too much of a “worldwide chat” channel with spammy nature for my taste. While people there still eagerly (and usually competently) answer questions of new players, i feel that the permanent buzzing on the channel scares away people asking for help. Unfortunately i fear that the split in Sanctuary and SanctuaryChatSpam won’t happen any time soon.

        And yes, since i spend two, sometimes even three evenings a week in TSW, i guess that means it’s my primary game, too.

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  2. On the posting itself: i find it interesting that you make the entry in the game seem easy going. According to all i know and experienced, most players who quit the game where overwhelmed by the skill wheel and found the entry the hardest part. Only those who took the time and effort to understand the skill wheel (or at least to look up a reasonable setup) generally tend to enjoy the game.

    On the other hand, when you have some understanding of the abilities, connection of effects and synergies, this again to some degree is an “offline game”. When commuting or doing chores which mostly require my hands to work and my brain is not needed, i appreciate a game like TSW to give me something to “game” while doing stuff, no matter if it’s an investigation mission or pondering how to perhaps make an even better deck than i am currently using.

    And also related to TSW, i just today posted at another blog that i found it to have better RP support than most other MMOs out there. I myself am a very casual RPer, but my girl is very much into it while i mostly do “support”. (She calls me the “stage master”. ) As far as i know, the other MMOs i have played wouldn’t have provided me the features i am using in TSW.

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    1. I’ve been playing MMOs for 10 years, MUDs for 20. My “main” game (spiritually, anyways) is Guild Wars 2 which employs a limited set of abilities just as WildStar’s LAS does and so forth. I’m familiar with Skill Point acquisition and the allocation of traits; armed with that knowledge, TSW’s skill wheel is quite easy to understand.

      I haven’t done any of the really difficult stuff yet. I died to the cameras a couple of times in one of the first Kingsmouth solo instances. I could tell, though, that the difficulty level in that particular instance had been set to “easy.” We’ll see how things are when I get into the intermediate stuff.

      I’m not ready to roleplay. Not sure if I ever will be. My character is on Arcadia because roleplayers tend to be less elitist in general. I’m cool with typing novels for other people to read, just not in chat channels quite yet. Yay, TSW!

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  3. I find TSW enjoyable in small does from time to time, but not enough to make it my main game though. But it has some excellent puzzles, some of which I was to dumb to solve xD

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    1. Hehe… i doubt that there’s somebody out there who solved -all- the investigation missions by himself. I personally used a guide for all music-based missions, i couldn’t do them even if my life depended on them. (I can say “this note is higher than that”, but then reproducing a melody on some items in game is just beyond me. )

      On the other hand, those which i did myself were often solved offline. I often picked them up and when finding that i couldn’t get them at the moment rather switched to an action mission instead. Then when commuting from and to work, i had the time to think about the investigation missions and often on the evening came home and just went online to solve the next problem. I by now means was fast that way, i think one investigation mission i had open for 6 weeks till the last piece clicked for me, but hell did it feel good when i finally had it done, all by myself without needing a guide or anything. You’re cheating yourself out of a lot of fun when using guides there.

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    2. I’m enjoying it in small doses because I’m not addicted to it like some other more blatantly progession-centric games. There are natural stopping points where I feel like stepping away from the mouse and keyboard and doing something else. I can come back to it at any time and it’ll be there waiting for me. I don’t feel compelled to be playing it rather than doing other things. As someone who’s been addicted to way too many MMOs, this is a wonderfully liberating and refreshing feeling.

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