Thread of Loose Ends

In 2012, Ragnar Tornquist Creative Drector of The Secret World compared the game to the J.J. Abrams television show ‘Lost’ in that it was a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ that players were expected to piece together to develop a bigger picture of the world. At that time it was commented that the Secret World team were aware of where ‘Abrams’ island’ went wrong’…

“They weren’t afraid to give the viewers these puzzles and mysteries and not explain anything but let it gather into a bigger picture as the seasons went on. That’s exactly the philosophy we have. It’s going to take time to learn everything, and it’s going to take time to work, and players discussing it to see the big picture but it’s there. Lost did it really well at the beginning and to me it was a story that felt like a game story. But it petered out toward the end because their jigsaw puzzle wasn’t that complete.”

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Assuming the Secret World is as complete and developed as it ever will be, what are those story arcs or elements still left hanging, unresolved or alluding to further clarification. Basically, any details that have not been settled or explained to date. And this may be purely subjective of course.

Obviously there is ‘Marquard’s Wake’, but please expand on particular details if willing.

But also try to dig deeper, to dredge up that old story element you felt inconclusive, and for catharsis and/or illumination share and/or discuss it.

I’m sure there’s a few.

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The stories of Lorraine Maillard and The Swarm, which I’m convinced would have become intertwined, had the game continued.

Rada Nastase and Adrian Zorlescu. It was always a personal hope that we’d have gotten the chance to go back and rescue her from her abuser.

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Masao Tanaka comes to mind. Also Cassandra King.

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New Carthage, and the Phoenicians in general, really. To me, it felt like this was going to be a place we could visit later. Or a hub even. And there’s definitely more to the Phoenicians beneath the mercenary, thuggish exterior that they are all-too-happy to project.

The Hive. Horrifying, chilling stuff. The player character definitely gets the better end of the deal compared to what would have been if they hadn’t signed on the dotted line. (Pet peeve: RPers who ignore this.)

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Cassandra King, and the artifact she made off with. Who, and what, exactly is she, and what are her goals? We know she was seen in Scotland after the end of the Kingsmouth Island storyline, but who knows where we would have encountered her next.

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I like the NPCs who give you snippets of story, and I’d love to see those expanded more. So like Kang Ye-Jin in Seoul (the minister), Callie James & John Galahad, and Luella, in London, and Kwanele in New Dawn for instance.

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Literally everything. Very few story threads in this game came to a neat and tidy end and each one seemed like it was stamped with a “To be continued…” sign right on it. This is doubly so if we’re talking about SWL instead of TSW since SWL decided to cut out large swaths of vital story by leaving out the Penthouse and both Manufactory dungeons.

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Last time I looked the penthouse still was there. No dungeon version but I would really need an explaination if that is the core issue. Since I fail to see how that makes a storydifference.

I’m certain almost anyone could tell that the core issue in @darxide’s statement was the manufactories. Well, anyone not out to create unnecessary conflict in a misguided attempt to be a good Funcom/SWL fan, anyways.

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For anyone unsure what the “large swaths of vital story” missing are, JimmyTheRabbit posted a video of Manufactory and Manufactory Breached NM with cinematics.
If you just want to see the story stuff, there’s handy jumps in the description.
The Manufactory intro starts straight away and ends at 2:38. The end of MFA is at 40:28 - you can still make out what’s going on over the players chatting (Jimmy blanks out the voice comms audio pretty quickly).
It leads straight into the MFB intro cutscene, which ends at 43:52, then the last bit is at the end of MFB at 1:18:53.
If you only watch the story bits then it’ll only take about six and a half mins, rather than watching the whole 80 mins of the stream! Though if you’ve never seen the fights and are curious, they were very fun dungeons to run!

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So your saying making stuff up is fine because something else was sayed too. I’m sry but I am not on the same page with you on that.
The manufactory is missing and it contains story. I think we all know that one could question how vital it was but honestly I don’T think it leads somewhere. All in all it is missing and at least to me it is no dealbreaker. For others it might be the core issue in the game and that is up to people.
But the statement that the penthouse is missing is just not true, maybe it meant the elite version, maybe TSW had extra bits for it, maybe it was just a typo and something else was meant. Whatever it is I believe darxide to be able to elaborate it himself (if he wants to) if he comes by.
He doesn’t need you to interpret for him that there is some conspiracy crusade going on for you and your little circle of “longterm loving fans”.

Keep in mind something needn’t to be ‘vital’ nor a ‘core issue’ to constitute a loose end, and of course some elements may be purely subjective. I’d speculate that there are some components that aren’t even directly related to the ‘Story Missions’, but do add to the larger picture of the secret world.

And if there is anything, dungeon (manufactory) or otherwise, that can clarify Daimon Kiyota’s post-Tank Commander ramblings it would confirm that particular encounter is also a loose end.

I agree that we barely glimpsed the tip of the potential iceberg that was the ‘Swarm’ theme, and similarly of the ‘Hive’ also.

I also acknowledge those TSW Event plots that gave greater appreciation of the world to those who experienced them, Solomon Island characters, Egypt characters, and Lorraine too. And yes the Phoenicians as well, particularly Lidiya but also with the SWL (non-event) bounty hunters.

Add to that the other briefly mentioned factions; Druids, Ouroboros, Freemasons…

And with the tragic loss of the TSW deck outfits, even player factions and their roles in them seem diminished/undeveloped.

Another event villian I’ve always felt to have escaped sufficient reprisal was Irusan, so i’ve always hoped for another encounter with that character. I’d certainly enjoy dishing out additional retribution on Adrian Zorlescu, and are there other villians who are in the wind?

Cassie King and Excalibur are good examples of pertinent elements that have been abruptly sidestepped. Add to that Beaumont, whom despite the main traits of uncanny reappearances and vengeance has never again returned nor sought revenge.

And whilst the fate of the Solomon Island residents seems sealed, John foretells the death of only one, and with the Agent Network providing escape for Andy Gardener, Montag, Carter and Che, a tidy situation has somewhat unravelled.

Some other loose ends I consider are; Antarctica, the 4 and 60, Stonehenge is a Beacon and there Is a City on the Moon.

Do you consider Dark Agartha to be a resolved story arc?


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I’ve never really had any problem with there being loose ends, because that’s the way it works irl. I’ve worked and socialised with plenty of people where we’ve lost touch and I’ve no idea how their personal stories are unfolding.

It somehow feels fitting that we don’t get given the full details on everything, because unlike most MMOs, we aren’t the “Chosen One”. As DK says, we were chosen, but we’re not just one. It’s nice that the world keeps turning and stuff happens outside of our personal spheres. There are some elements that we get glimpses of - like the Illuminati know where Cassie King is, but others are only going to be expanded by the individual (like Irusan/Samedi).
The Illuminati also get more info about Beaumont - he lost all of his powers after the fight (though it’s unclear if that was due to the fight, or the Illuminati somehow stripped them) and they stuck him in an asylum to be kept restrained where no-one would believe him. Others we may never know the answer to - is Dave Screed’s girlfriend really a robot?

Dark Agartha could be a resolved story arc, or it could be expanded. Under Orochi Tower is the same - they could just leave it as a mystery that doesn’t involve our bees, or they could eventually expand it.
Personally, I’d love to know what’s up with the Kaiju under Kaidan that DK hints about and we see a tentacle of in the end cutscene of Through the Wake Darkly.

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Oh yeah, that news bulletin tease in the patch notes…

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Having loose ends in real life is also how things don’t work… especially when other people are concerned. Like when there are commitments, debts, culpability or unresolved issues for which you are accountable and haven’t taken responsibility.

"The best stories, however, have endings. We asked Tornquist, given the interconnectivity and the planned "cliffhanger,’ if he had an ending planned for The Secret World as well.
The answer? “Yup.”"*

Some other Secret World loose ends I consider are;

  • Poisoning of the Fountain of Youth.
  • Orochi Filth-attack on the Tokyo zoo.
  • The Tower of Babel never fell.
  • The South African Babylonian tomb.
  • The Secret War.
  • Aveline Belmont.
  • The open breaches to Dreaming One space,
    and why the entire planet appears to have fallen through one during ‘Wrath of the Dawn’.

"Dig deeper, always deeper!"

"Story and massively multiplayer games have in the past (the myth goes) been like oil and water. “MMOs are playgrounds!”, it’s been argued. “There’s no room for storytelling. Narrative gets in the way. The only story is the story written by players!”

This is, quite clearly, complete and utter bollocks.

Yes, it is true that players will always write their own stories, and most of these stories are largely unrelated to whatever universe the game takes place in. Fantasy, sci-fi, modern super-heroics; regardless of setting, these are personal stories about forging friendships and embarking on epic adventures; about exciting, edge-of-your-seat encounters and late-night-into-early-morning raids; about relationships, marriages and bitter divorces; betrayal and disappointment, discovery and joyous celebration – and these stories form the foundation of a thriving community.

But these are not the only stories a massively multiplayer world has room for, and they are not the only stories of importance in a living, breathing world. Even in MMOs that have, ostensibly, placed no great emphasis on ‘telling’ a story, or even acknowledging one, the very idea of a persistent virtual world filled with non-player characters and quests, different breeds of monsters, vibrant cities and ongoing conflicts means that of course there’s a story there, and an important one at that. These are cold, digital worlds given life through fiction and narrative, and that’s not only storytelling; it’s effective storytelling.

In The Secret World, we are trying to not only bring the story into sharp focus, but also to expand the toolsets at our disposal for telling our story in the context of a massively multiplayer game, and for immersing – submerging – players in it.

The story in The Secret World is a giant jigsaw puzzle. That’s really the only way to describe it. There are thousands of pieces scattered all over the game world, both figuratively and geographically, and as you play the game, you are actively uncovering – unearthing – the stories, large and small, that form the enormous tapestry of a backstory that goes back aeons. These jigsaw pieces are discovered and pieced together through everything from mission cinematics, dialogue and gameplay mechanics, to the environment and monster ecologies, through signs and graffiti and ancient inscriptions, through sound and music, player powers and item descriptions, lore and rewards, and even beyond the virtual world and into the real one: the ARG, viral websites and other out-of-game mechanics.

Everything in The Secret World – everything – is infused with story. Everything has context. Everything has meaning. And it all adds up to this vast and complex jigsaw puzzle that, at launch, through the actions of the entire player base, will only be partly pieced together. You will start to see patterns emerging, hinting at some deeper, darker truth, but a massively multiplayer game is just beginning when it’s released upon the world. Our story – past, present and future – has been designed to bring players through and give context to not just the initial batch of content, but also through constant content upgrades and future expansion packs.

While there are still individual narratives in the game – and an overarching story mission, different for every secret society – for players to progress through, we have deliberately taken a multiplayer approach to the storytelling. Ours is never a story about The Chosen One, a single hero rising to the occasion and saving the world, but rather about an army of ‘heroes’, where the player is just one of millions; sleeper agents awakened in these darkest of days to battle the rising tide of darkness, recruited by three powerful secret societies and sent on missions – often dubious ones – across the globe.

This is an important and central theme in The Secret World: the true nature of heroism, the inherent selfishness of character progression, the questionable morals of working to protect a status quo that has allowed the various members of the Council of Venice to rule over an unknowing mankind for millennia. Joining the ranks of the shadow-masters, it’s in your best interest to play by their rules, follow their agenda, ensure that the secret world remains a secret, and if that means making compromises and allowing people to get hurt… Well. No one ever said being a hero would be easy.

In The Secret World, the constant drive to progress, to rule, to conquer, to dominate – to ‘win’ – is finally given context and meaning. Our story, our universe, is one of purpose, thematic and narrative depth, but also one where there’s a lot of tough questions and few easy answers.

Most importantly, however, the story is there to keep players emotionally engaged, motivated, intrigued and excited, and there will be enough mysteries, revelations and, eventually, world changing events to keep players’ interest piqued for – hopefully – years and years to come.

And here’s the thing: the journey – and the digging – has already begun, before the game has even launched. Some of these jigsaw pieces have already been distributed, the mysteries seeded and established. And so I hope you’ll join our thriving community as we put our feet to the spades, pierce the soft ground with the sharp metal, and start shoveling the dark earth over our shoulders as the distant stars above burn bright and cold in the misty October night. Deeper and deeper, down, down, down into the eldritch blackness where the whispers, those piercing, insistent whispers, are strong and clear and tempting…

“Join us… Join us…”

Ragnar Tornquist

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So you’ve resolved all the loose ends in your life? You know the full story of everyone you’ve ever kissed? Every heart that you’ve ever broken or that has broken yours? Everyone you’ve ever worked with? Everyone your friends have ever introduced you to on a night out? If so, kudos!
I know I can’t make that same claim, even though I’ve met some really interesting people that I would have enjoyed getting to know better. Sometimes that’s been my own fault, other times it’s been factors out of my hands, like people moving to different countries with work or just having been dropped in a river with my phone in my pocket. Those threads are never going to be resolved for me.

I don’t know if there could be an ending planned that resolved everything, there’s just too much going on. We only see the tip of the iceberg, which makes me doubt that Funcom could ever fully deliver on an ending for the Secret World.

I think that there’s room for storytelling to be sure, but if you create an ip that’s based (however loosely) on reality, then you’re talking about something with so much potential scope and scale that you’d never be able to wrap it all up neatly. Well, I mean you could just have it all end, but with Dark Agartha we’ve seen that even the end isn’t necessarily all that will ever come.

IMO stuff like the other factions, the 4 and 60 etc aren’t really loose ends, because they aren’t part of the players story, but rather just extra bits of world building.
Sometimes our characters intersect those bits of story taking place outside of our story, but we don’t always get a conclusion. Some of those things are just things we want to know more about, but not really loose ends for the overall story.

I might be biased on that type of storytelling though, being a fan of a few authors who’s style often has the story stop just before the climax, leaving you wonder if the protagonist got the girl, and if everything worked out etc

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I suppose you’re partially talking about the Everything is True trailer. So, unless I’ve missed something, I believe there’s also “Eleven Days Are Missing” and “The Atlantis Is Rising”. Or was that referenced somewhere?

Tell that to the guy who owes me 3 bucks since middle school, whom I haven’t seen since high school. Or the guy who borrowed that on B movie classic DVD from me about 2008 and hasn’t returned it before turning a new page in life, whatever esoteric rap he meant by that. Or…

Not having loose ends is not how life works, because there’s so much little crap that’s not worth the time and effort to resolve. People only take care of the big issues, if that (cf. the “I never told [insert dead relative here] something that I clearly didn’t actually consider important enough while they were still alive” trope).

The Secret World seems a lot like that. Beaumont didn’t break all reality, so there’s that, and when that Cassandra girl - who apparently isn’t in the destroy all that is camp, which makes her not a top priority atm - resurfaces with that big sword, the Illuminati or whoever will find out. Probably.

The factions of Tokyo do seem a bit stupid with that going right back to squabbling, but firstly that’s apparently totally normal for offshots of the big three, and secondly there’s still a Tokyo to squabble over, mostly, so it’s not all that bad. Life goes on, right?

In that sense, I’d consider the following to be among there more annoying loose ends:

  • Stonehenge is a Beacon, there’s even some training simulation because it’s so important to keep it safe. What a pointless exercise… right? This feels like there’s probably an entire season missing.
  • The Swarm and the Hive, because what we got there also felt like a teaser for an entire issue or even season.
  • Marquard, because well, duh, there definitely is most of an entire season missing. Also, I sense a pattern.
  • Orochi and its boss, most specifically, his ultimate fate. Surely he can’t not play a role in the resolution of the big things, can they?
  • The Mayans and their end of days, which was simply dropped with the relaunch. Don’t think about how they’re actually still in with Darkness War, okay yall?
  • The Secret War and everything related to that, which was also ineptly mostly-dropped with the relaunch. Note there is/was a Stonehenge connection.
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I don’t know if I’d class that as a loose thread or a whole different woven item. Given Orochi’s presence in other SW games, (Moons of Madness,) I’m not sure they’d make his “ultimate fate” an element of SWL when it could very well stand alone.

The stuff with Darkness Wars ends up being less about Wayeb Xul being released, and more setting up the power of Excalibur and how it came to be in Solomon Island. I know that others feel that the end of days should still be implemented, but without the RL event going on at the time to tie it in to, I don’t really see it happening, or being too big a loss. We know the world didn’t end, so it’s not really a loose thread, more like a missed opportunity.