The Secret World “should’ve gone more commercial” – designer

Tuesday, 9th October 2012 07:19 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The Secret World gambled on the pursuit of a design vision rather than commercial concerns – and lost, according to original lead designer Martin Bruusgaard.

Speaking to the the PA Report, Bruusgaard said a developer’s original vision almost never makes it to market.

“It’s a shame to say, but I think it’s very, very few cases where you can sit down and make the game that you really want to do, and it turns out to be a success,” he said.

“Unfortunately I think that in order to be a success in today’s market, you need to make the game a bit more commercial.

“You have to consider what sells. You just have to. Not doing it is a huge risk. Yes, you might get lucky and everything works out great, but I would not do that again,” he added.

Bruusgaard feels the end product might have benefited from even more mass appeal tweaking, noting that the famous level-free progression system is problematic.

“I think we probably should’ve gone for something that was maybe a bit more familiar,” he said, noting the MMO’s unusual lack of classes and suggesting that having levels might have helped.

“It’s all familiar, but with a twist, and I don’t think we should’ve twisted that many things,” he said.

“I have to stress I really like the game the way it is now, but if I’m thinking about making the game a more commercial success, I think we should’ve gone more commercial.”

In fact, Funcom did compromise on its vision; according to the former staffer, the team was aware that it had to make a game with wider appeal, not just the one it wanted to play, personally. The Secret World went through a significant amount of playtesting and iteration, becoming less “intricate”, “complicate” and “convoluted” until it had been “commercialised”.

The Secret World is turning a profit but at the cost of a significant portion of Funcom’s staff.




  1. TheWulf

    Or how about no? It would have been more successful if it had been a single-player (or co-op) game. Actually, I’d love to see more co-op puzzle & adventure games. They’re rare, before Portal 2 the last good one was probably Uru, but I digress.

    The thing is is that the dialogue writing of TSW was lacklustre, and the combat was brain-numbingly mediocre (and that’s being generous)… so what would you have left if you remove those? A somewhat decent setting, and some pretty great puzzles. This would, on its own, have resulted in an above average adventure game.

    But if it had been single-player, more focus would likely have been put on the dialogue, and the terrible combat could have been removed entirely.

    The problem with TSW as an MMORPG is that the only good part of it (the puzzle solving) is something that you either want to do alone or with a friend. However, in TSW you had random strangers spoiling things for you, or ruining things. It was a game where being a hermit and a loner is encouraged as much as WoW (albeit for different reasons), because if you encounter a random person, chances are they’re going to ruin something for you or about your experience.

    To be honest, I’m positively glad TSW failed. That’s not to be nasty to Funcom, but it’s a lesson that they needed to learn, because many people knew off the bat that it was something that should never have happened, when they could have been developing a title for one or two players, max, instead.

    So with that sordid affair set aside… how about The Longest Journey 3, eh?

    #1 2 years ago
  2. roadkill

    LOL!! I don’t know if these guys are retarded or completely ignorant.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. dsr

    To be honest, TSW in not THAT unfamiliar. Its basically WoW with Cthulhu. But instead of grinding levels to get to the new stuff, you grind skills. Adding the wheel in place of the talent tree is a bold move, but hardly as revolutionary as they want us to believe.

    Same quests(In addition to sometimes brilliant investigations, there are still “kill 10 rats” type of quests), same “endgame” with dungeons and raids but instead of bows you shoot rifles at the huge boss. The graphics, while technologically advanced, look horrible and lack any kind of proper art direction but “add pwetty textures on boxes”. Player models look like ones from Sims 3, but unfortunately, animated like its Morrowind times all over again.

    As the poster above me noted, if they’ve made it into singleplayer adventure or maybe even coop game, they would probably get a fair amount of fans.

    But now in its current form. Not a chance. Maybe F2P will help them to get some extra money, but it won’t be any more popular.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Hobz

    They tried to make an MMO with dumb questing and combat when they could have made a great adventure game. How is that not a “commercial” decision ?
    The best content of the game is the more original and least “commercial” bit.

    Yet instead of acknowledging the failures that made his game a mediocre one, he prefers to blame gamers for being too dumb to appreciate a so-called non-commercial game.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. SplatteredHouse

    “While outwardly Funcom has remained confident about the game’s player numbers, Bruusgaard described the internal reaction to the game’s release.

    “I could tell by the sort of frequency of certain meetings and certain people talking. You sort of get this vibe that something is wrong,” he explained.

    Bruusgaard also reported that almost the entire team were placed on furlough, an enforced leave lasting 30 weeks that comes with minimal pay. “I think it was five people who weren’t put on forced leave.” Bruusgaard quickly found a job with a software company.” – report, tying in to the above piece, suggesting of a publisher putting a brave face on in the wake of a bad situation.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. TheWulf

    That doesn’t surprise me. I have nothing against Funcom, at all. To the contrary, for the Longest Journey and Dreamfall I have much love for them. But they did grate on my nerves with tying Ragnar into this nonsense.

    The problem with an MMORPG is that you need fresh ideas. The WoW franchise is dying, it’s only really big in China any more, and people are just getting sick of the formula. It can’t work, now. TOR proved this, and TSW proved this, and so many other games will probably continue to prove this.

    People are sick of WoW. Bolting half of a good adventure game onto a WoW clone isn’t going to work. Did Bioware learn that? Maybe. Has Funcom learned that? Maybe. You need to come at it from left field, you need to provide an experience which is unique in the MMO space.

    If they’d done it like Uru with instanced areas where only your party is present, and large player hubs, and no combat… then it could have been good. But instead, they bolted WoW onto it. And yes, that’s a commercial decision. It’s a bloody stupid commercial decision.

    And frankly, I’m hoping it’s taken money enough away from them that they won’t try another MMORPG for a bit. There are a lot of old adventure gamers who’re clammoring for a return to The Longest Journey’s Universe. A new game, there. Look how popular the Doublefine KickStarter was, that proves that the genre is healthier than ever.

    They just have to do it right and not be cynical. If anything, if Funcom hasn’t learned anything from this, then they need new management. They clearly can’t be original with MMORPGs and everything ends up being a bloody WoW-like hotkey experience which no one wants. So stick to single-player games.

    You have a fantastic IP, Funcom.

    USE IT.

    Yes, I’m more than a bit exasperated by this. I don’t want Funcom to die off before they create their magnum opus, which will be the last The Longest Journey game, which ties everything together. And hopefully has the walls between Stark and Arcadia falling and the two realities mingling together, if what’s been hinted at with prior games is any indication.


    Please Funcom, put this stupidity behind you.

    I think this is one of the reasons I’m most angry at WoW. It’s cancer. Everyone wants to be WoW, but in doing so they bring about their own ruin. Instead of working on new IPs, Bioware wanted to be the new WoW and it ruined them. Instead of working on The Longest Journey, Funcom wanted to be the new WoW and it’s ruined them. It’s a fucking cancer.

    When will they learn? If you touch it, if you even think about it, then you’re going to meet a miserable end.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    @3 I don’t totally agree. It’s not WoW with Cthulhu, it’s Champions Online with Cthulhu, played through random anonymous looking yuppies from the 21st century.

    Imagine if they had gone for a turn of the century feel instead. Old revolvers, rifles, that depression era muck and gloom. Maybe instead of grinding monsters by burning them down with virtually the same procedural mechanics as the last three MMOs, the challenge would be in reloading and actually hitting them with the old weaponry instead. A little suspense and drama to go with the good idea.

    It would have been a lot more appealing. Lovecraft knew how to set the scene for his stories, I don’t think the same can be said for Funcom.

    It was like a Lovecraft themepark, not a Lovecraft experience, and the gameplay was so stale it couldn’t make a difference either way.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. YoungZer0

    “It was like a Lovecraft themepark, not a Lovecraft experience”

    Exactly that. Such a pity if you look at the fantastic art-direction. Some of the creature design is nothing but unique. If i had to use one word to describe the secret world it would “Waste”. Such a huge waste.

    I knew exactly that the game would fail when they said it was going to be another MMORPG. That’s what they do; they fail.

    Just imagine what the Secret World would’ve been if they insteadn decided to make it a singleplayer game.

    Seriously, how many Hellblazer-Like Games do we have? One: Constantine. Based on the movie that had little to do with Hellblazer. And it’s not good. It’s an action game.

    So few RPG’s use our time as a setting. Right now i can think of only one: Vampire Bloodlines and that game was good. Not excellent. Just good.

    All we get is the fucking Dark Ages. That’s exactly why i don’t care about Obsidians new game: Boring shit we’ve seen a thousand times before. No i don’t care about your story. There’s nothing this setting can deliver and it’s your fault.

    Fucking Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves, Elves and Dwarves …


    I can’t bare this shit any more. USE a new Setting and NOT for MMORPG’s. You have no chance against WoW and definitely no chance against Guild Wars. Do something new, go back to making Singleplayer Games.

    How about an Adventure with multiple layers and dialog choices and paths based on Secret World? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Kind of like The Walking Dead Videogame but bigger?

    The best thing about John Constantine is that he never used guns to win. He always used his wits and his charm to get where he needs to go. Magic in Hellblazer isn’t just throwing fireballs out of your hand. It’s so insanely awesome and unique that it would be impossible to use it as some kind of skill to fight monsters.

    For example:

    Constantine picks up a piece of tree branch from africa that has information for him. He picks it up and it throws him into a dusty world, drenched in yellow. There, he meets an old guy who tells him that he’s being hunted by an african warlord, but that this man saved all the information he had about Constantine in this tree branch, so he’s save for now, but the tree branch is also a beacon for the Warlord.

    The Warlord seeks to capture Constantine, to manifest his soul (and with it, his magic) into his brain and devour it, so he can gain his magic. But since the soul is trapped inside the brain, it can never be free and the person will endure horrendous suffering until the Warlord is dead.

    That’s fucked up and totally awesome.

    Why can’t we have that in videogames? Why is it always Elves and Dwarves and a huge dark evil that is totally not Sauron that’s just out to get all good? That is so. Fucking. Boring.

    #8 2 years ago

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