Riknas Rants #1: Funcom's Secret Plan

Starting On a Low Note: Funcom's Secret Plan

Congratulations if you got that joke. But it's less of a joke than you might think. A strange thought has struck me ever since the announcement of Funcom's "The Secret World". But doing like I do, I think we should get some perspective before we actually talk about this little plan.

What's so Great about You?

Before we all start shouting the, "LOL FUNCOM? MORE LIKE FAILCOM" nonsense around, let's have a look their history. Funcom was founded in the year 1993, and has been an independent team every since 1999. Although not as consistent in its success as CCP and its one hit wonder product EVE Online, Funcom still has had its successes. In the course of is existence and decade of independence, they have made approximately twenty or so games, with two being major MMOs, and one single player series (Overall having been critically acclaimed), with the former having a cult following of true fanaticism, and the majority often slandering the product and its followers. But no one really has a lot of bad things to say about Funcom when we mention Dreamfall or The Longest Journey, which seems to be the setting of the up and coming, "The Secret World" MMO, but more on that later. Despite more credit being given to their single player counterparts, Funcom insists that their real focus is their action MMOGs. If nothing else, Funcom should get credit for refusing to give up on their initial goals. Albeit, "DeterminedCom" doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

The MMOs damn it!

I'm sure many MMO vets are familiar with Funcom's first MMO, Anarchy Online, its attempt at being a single server game, and the fantastic crash that occurred afterward, causing the game to miserably tank. Now, the game has finally stabilized, and anyone who was aware of the Free Play Blog knows about my Anarchy Online Hard-On back when I reviewed it. Suffice to say, now the game has stabilized and runs off three servers, two for the English speakers and one for the Germanic audience. As I have said before, at this point the biggest issue the game has is the stigma from its first release, as well as the major amount of time necessary to get started in the game, which is less than pleasant. Still, after you get over that hurdle it can be an interesting and entertaining game, albeit due to it's age it can feel a bit grindy.The other game that most of us have likely heard of is their most recent Mature rated breast flashing, gut spilling title,Age of Conan. This game has been hailed as the second-coming of Jesus H. Christ or the biggest pile of crap the world has ever seen. This game is more mixed in reviews than a hermaphrodite on steroids with a boob-job. Anyway, it has been hailed for its addition of the "Shield" system for making combat a far more exciting experience in both PVE and PVP, the addition of major amounts of voice acting (And more still being added), along with city creation and sieges. It's criticisms lay in the fact that it's first twenty levels were seen as a lie in initial release as the voice acting was immediately cut off when you left what is often called, "Tutorial Island" and the world PVP is seen to have lost meaning. Supposedly much of this has been fixed, however I have not been there and thus can not comment on that, though I overall liked the game experience and doubt the game is progressively getting worse as additions are made.What I originally portrayed as greatest strength, on the other side of the coin is Funcom's greatest weakness. Determined as they may be to fix or finish a product, they really need to show that determination before they release the game, and they could be wildly more successful.

The Secret Plan

This finally brings us to the discussion of The Secret World, and what Funcom's secret plan may be. World Domination? Probably not, but I'm noticing some interesting demographic coverages. Funcom's three advertised products (AO, The Longest Journey, and AOC) cover the demographics of young teens, young adults, and adults respectively. This covers most of the main gamer demographics, rather than the usual ratings of, "Make everything T for Teen" often sported by other MMO developing companies, prior to the appearance of kid friendly MMOs of FusionFall, Wizard 101 and Free Realms. This strategy was adopted by the now remarkably popular fellow indie Turbine, mega-publisher NCsoft, as well as EA sub-group now, Mythic. But, moving onto the next strange set of three. Funcom is doing something else most of our friends haven't tried delving into all at once (successfully, anyway). The different time periods. With the exception of NCsoft who made the failed sci-fi MMOs of Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa, no one has truly tried to maintain a AAA MMOG in the basic time periods of the medieval past, sci-fi future, and the present. More often than not its often divided into "Fantasy or Sci-fi" and very rarely, "Present based games", none of which really come to mind at the moment. (You thought I was going to make a pun saying "presently" didn't you?) That said, I'm ashamed to say I have no serious thoughts other than the fact I applaud Funcom (again) for their attempt at diversity, and I truly hope that this game will have a better start than anyone else had. The real goal is that you may scrat!ch your chin and think about it as well. Is it a coincidence? Are they actively trying to fill every niche they can think of? Is this the final piece of their puzzle, or is there something more?
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Posted by Riknas

Starting On a Low Note: Funcom's Secret Plan

Congratulations if you got that joke. But it's less of a joke than you might think. A strange thought has struck me ever since the announcement of Funcom's "The Secret World". But doing like I do, I think we should get some perspective before we actually talk about this little plan.

What's so Great about You?

Before we all start shouting the, "LOL FUNCOM? MORE LIKE FAILCOM" nonsense around, let's have a look their history. Funcom was founded in the year 1993, and has been an independent team every since 1999. Although not as consistent in its success as CCP and its one hit wonder product EVE Online, Funcom still has had its successes. In the course of is existence and decade of independence, they have made approximately twenty or so games, with two being major MMOs, and one single player series (Overall having been critically acclaimed), with the former having a cult following of true fanaticism, and the majority often slandering the product and its followers. But no one really has a lot of bad things to say about Funcom when we mention Dreamfall or The Longest Journey, which seems to be the setting of the up and coming, "The Secret World" MMO, but more on that later. Despite more credit being given to their single player counterparts, Funcom insists that their real focus is their action MMOGs. If nothing else, Funcom should get credit for refusing to give up on their initial goals. Albeit, "DeterminedCom" doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

The MMOs damn it!

I'm sure many MMO vets are familiar with Funcom's first MMO, Anarchy Online, its attempt at being a single server game, and the fantastic crash that occurred afterward, causing the game to miserably tank. Now, the game has finally stabilized, and anyone who was aware of the Free Play Blog knows about my Anarchy Online Hard-On back when I reviewed it. Suffice to say, now the game has stabilized and runs off three servers, two for the English speakers and one for the Germanic audience. As I have said before, at this point the biggest issue the game has is the stigma from its first release, as well as the major amount of time necessary to get started in the game, which is less than pleasant. Still, after you get over that hurdle it can be an interesting and entertaining game, albeit due to it's age it can feel a bit grindy.The other game that most of us have likely heard of is their most recent Mature rated breast flashing, gut spilling title,Age of Conan. This game has been hailed as the second-coming of Jesus H. Christ or the biggest pile of crap the world has ever seen. This game is more mixed in reviews than a hermaphrodite on steroids with a boob-job. Anyway, it has been hailed for its addition of the "Shield" system for making combat a far more exciting experience in both PVE and PVP, the addition of major amounts of voice acting (And more still being added), along with city creation and sieges. It's criticisms lay in the fact that it's first twenty levels were seen as a lie in initial release as the voice acting was immediately cut off when you left what is often called, "Tutorial Island" and the world PVP is seen to have lost meaning. Supposedly much of this has been fixed, however I have not been there and thus can not comment on that, though I overall liked the game experience and doubt the game is progressively getting worse as additions are made.What I originally portrayed as greatest strength, on the other side of the coin is Funcom's greatest weakness. Determined as they may be to fix or finish a product, they really need to show that determination before they release the game, and they could be wildly more successful.

The Secret Plan

This finally brings us to the discussion of The Secret World, and what Funcom's secret plan may be. World Domination? Probably not, but I'm noticing some interesting demographic coverages. Funcom's three advertised products (AO, The Longest Journey, and AOC) cover the demographics of young teens, young adults, and adults respectively. This covers most of the main gamer demographics, rather than the usual ratings of, "Make everything T for Teen" often sported by other MMO developing companies, prior to the appearance of kid friendly MMOs of FusionFall, Wizard 101 and Free Realms. This strategy was adopted by the now remarkably popular fellow indie Turbine, mega-publisher NCsoft, as well as EA sub-group now, Mythic. But, moving onto the next strange set of three. Funcom is doing something else most of our friends haven't tried delving into all at once (successfully, anyway). The different time periods. With the exception of NCsoft who made the failed sci-fi MMOs of Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa, no one has truly tried to maintain a AAA MMOG in the basic time periods of the medieval past, sci-fi future, and the present. More often than not its often divided into "Fantasy or Sci-fi" and very rarely, "Present based games", none of which really come to mind at the moment. (You thought I was going to make a pun saying "presently" didn't you?) That said, I'm ashamed to say I have no serious thoughts other than the fact I applaud Funcom (again) for their attempt at diversity, and I truly hope that this game will have a better start than anyone else had. The real goal is that you may scrat!ch your chin and think about it as well. Is it a coincidence? Are they actively trying to fill every niche they can think of? Is this the final piece of their puzzle, or is there something more?