The Secret World: Exclusive Interview with Ragnar Tørnquist

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Having finished up a huge showing at Gamescom, Ragnar Tørnquist took some time out to answer a few questions about The Secret World. Tørnquist is the Creative Director working on The Secret World, and as a result, plays an integral role in the realization of this gritty, expansive world (not to mention the strange entities therein). We talk about the player’s journey through the game, weapon styles, transportation, death penalties, and much more. Continue after the jump to see the full spread.

MMOCrunch: You’ve noted before that incentives for killing monsters range from loot to experience to mission rewards. In addition, points can be rewarded to (and from) your Society. Can you expand on what these points entail? For instance, would gaining faction points allow you access to special items or buffs?

Ragnar: Part of the player’s journey through the game involves gaining standing with their secret society, and aside from going out into world to gather knowledge and status for their faction, there will also be specific tasks that players are given that will test their dedication and loyalty – and these tasks, and whatever effect they have on a player’s standing, may very well open up access to unique content, including items, weapons, uniforms and missions.

MMOCrunch: So far, the details behind player crafting and economy have been kept under lock and key. Other than the involvement of the resource known as Anima, can you open up about any specifics?

Ragnar: Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the crafting and economy quite yet, so…no!

MMOCrunch: What are your thoughts on balancing between ranged and melee concentrations? I can’t help but think of Fallen Earth, where rifles and pistols are more desirable for PvP, and melee weapons for PvE.

Ragnar: In The Secret World, all weapons – whether melee, magic or ranged – will have their strengths and weaknesses, and I hope that we’re able to find a good balance between the different weapon types and associated powers. Of course, since players can change what powers they have equipped – fourteen in total; seven ‘actives’ and seven ‘passives’ – changing weapons is also a part of that, and we expect players to have more than a few favourites to cover any eventualities. Since we don’t have any classes, and since players can train any powers they choose to, we won’t end up in a situation where one particular group of players will feel underpowered compared with another. It’s all up to the players to discover what works best for them.

MMOCrunch: Will players be purchasing all their skills at one main hub, or will different skills be available in different zones?

Ragnar: Each secret society has a place where players can train – and ‘purchase’ – new powers.

MMOCrunch: Can you elaborate on the death penalty and how it will be connected to TSW’s lore and setting?

Ragnar: Not yet – other than that it will be connected to our lore and setting. I find it very off-putting when there’s no thought behind the death-and-resurrection mystery of MMOs. In single-player games, it makes sense. You jump back in time. The world reverts. It’s not realistic, but it’s at least addressed. In MMOs, the world keeps moving forward, yet you rise from the dead. How? Why? It makes the world feel, to me at least, a bit less interesting and non-threatening. So in The Secret World, death means something – not as punishment, but in terms of our story, and in relation to the mystery of why the player has been granted all these awesome powers.

MMOCrunch: There are plenty of unique and mysterious creatures out there for us to discover. Will TSW provide players with a way to keep track of their encounters? For instance, a codex or journal?

Ragnar: We have something planned, but I can’t reveal too much about it yet.

MMOCrunch: Any details on player vehicles, mounts, or other modes of transportation?

Ragnar: Nothing we’re quite ready to talk about yet, but we have some interesting things in store for world travel. Players won’t be using conventional means of travel – no long plane rides from one continent to another – but instead they’ll find that there are other ways to seamlessly travel from, say, London to Solomon Island, thousands of kilometers away, and those ways are an integral part of our storyline.

MMOCrunch: Here at MMOCrunch, we’re all very anxious to experience this unique entry to the genre. Can you give us an update on what you’ve been working on this week at Funcom? Anything will do!

Ragnar: This past week, we’ve been at gamescom in Cologne, Germany, holding dozens of presentations and revealing lots of new content, and this coming Friday the embargo lifts – so stay tuned!

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