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…”