Exclusive: Senior Producer and Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist Discusses The Secret World

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Funcom’s The Secret World will release on July 3, 2012, for PC. In anticipation of its release, Dread Central set down with Ragnar Tørnquist, Senior Producer and Creative Director of the game, to learn what gamers can expect from the highly anticipated MMO!

The Secret World puts players into a modern-day world where every myth, legend and conspiracy theory is true, and where secret societies pull the strings of entire governments from the shadows. Players get to travel the world – from New York to London and from Egypt to Transylvania – as they fight the evil that has infiltrated myths and folklore for centuries.

secw - Exclusive: Senior Producer and Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist Discusses The Secret World

AMANDA: The highly anticipated MMO The Secret World will feature three conflicting secret societies–the Illuminati, the Dragons and the Templars–who stand divided despite their one common priority of pushing back the creatures of the night. Where did the idea for these three units come from, and how much will gameplay and storyline change depending on your chosen secret society?

RAGNAR: We knew early on that we wanted players to be able to join one of three secret societies, in order to establish a really interesting dynamic and a more complex political and power balance. With three sides, no player-versus-player match will be as simple as one side dominating the battle — the tide may turn at any time, depending on changing alliances. In our setting, there are more secret societies and cabals than the three playable factions, but the Templars, the Illuminati and the Dragon are the ‘Big Three’.

Every secret society is a member of the Council of Venice, an alliance of major and minor factions — something that’s going to become very, very important as the story progresses post-launch. When we created our world, it made absolute sense that the Illuminati would be pulling political strings and controlling corporate North America; the Templars’ army would rule over Europe; and the Dragon… Well, the Dragon has a lot of influence across East Asia in particular, but the Dragon’s agents are everywhere. They are quite disruptive.

AMANDA: The Secret World is said to break many RPG standards by allowing full customization of the game’s characters rather than choosing classes and following predetermined leveling patterns. When we load up the game for the first time, what all features will be available for our characters, and what types of things can be unlocked to ensure we continuously have something to play towards?

RAGNAR: There are no classes or levels in The Secret World, and anything is possible. You can be anyone you want to be, and you can play any way you want to play. You can really grow and develop your character in any direction you want — be it with a specific weapon or combination of weapons, focusing on being a damage dealer or a healer, or coming up with a completely unique hybrid character that mixes and matches various styles of combat. The choice is yours.

At the very beginning, however, players only have to deal with one weapon — be it a ranged weapon, like the assault rifle, a melee weapon like a Katana, or a magic school such as Elementalism — and a small collection of abilities. As they progress through the world and earn experience, they are able to train new abilities, add new weapons, and develop their characters in any direction they want.

AMANDA: Many different monsters, demons and beasts can be found in your upcoming game The Secret World. From a horror perspective, what type of scares can we expect to see in the full game, and what is the overall tone of the game?

RAGNAR: The tone really changes depending on which part of the world you’re playing in. Solomon Island, a small community off the coast of Maine, has a very distinct small-town-Stephen-King-meets-zombie-apocalypse-meets-Lovecraft theme to it. The population of Kingsmouth Town has been turned into the walking dead, and players have to unravel the mystery of an eldritch fog that surrounds the island. Mix in some Cthulhuian monstrosities, slimy creatures from the deep, Native American mythology, weird science and the Illuminati, and you have a pretty interesting and distinctly American horror mix.

In Egypt, there’s more of an Indiana-Jones-meets-the-Mummy vibe, mixed with ancient Egyptian mythology and lore, and (again) a slightly Lovecraftian twist to the proceedings. An ancient cult has risen in a remote part of Egypt, and they are attempting to resurrect the Black Pharaoh Akhenaten…along with the sun god Aten.

Transylvania, meanwhile, opens with the players fighting to hold back the Vampire Crusade in the Romanian farmlands, but quickly evolves into a cool mix of Eastern European mythology, Soviet-era occult science, Templars and Roman history and fairy tale creatures — plus some really big twists to cap it all off…for now.

There are also nods to other horror genres and conventions, including a visit to a haunted asylum in Seoul, South Korea, and a trip through a Tokyo subway station infected by something called the Filth: a horrific substance leaking out from gaps in-between dimensions. And behind it all, there is a cosmic horror that has yet to be spoken of…

AMANDA: The Secret World has a modern setting but features many mythical monsters and creatures that have spanned the centuries. How difficult was taking some of the game’s classical enemies and placing them in environments from which they may not typically derive?

RAGNAR: Our monsters and creatures vary a lot depending on where you are in the world, and there is huge variety between each location. In New England, for example, you’ll be encountering the walking dead, Wendigo, animated Scarecrows, and Revenants — but also creatures from the deep called Draug; the reanimated corpses of dead Vikings who visited North America a thousand years ago, along with their army of Deep Ones. In Egypt, you will find yourself up against a host of mummies in various sizes and shapes, there are giant scorpions and sand golems, fire spirits and Jinn, and you’ll also meet representatives of the ancient Egyptian gods. And in Transylvania there are, of course, vampires, werewolves and, last but not least, mutant Soviet super-soldiers — hybrid vampire-humans — the result of a 1960s era occult research program initiated by Stalin.

Elsewhere in the game there are spectres, ghouls, golems and a host of other monstrosities — and, of course, humans infected by the Filth. But we have made sure that our monsters feel like they belong and fit into their environments — both visually and in terms of story.

AMANDA: In addition to The Secret World, what other games do you have in development or recently released that you could tell us about?

RAGNAR Funcom already has two massively multiplayer online games running — Anarchy Online and Age of Conan — but right now The Secret World is our main focus, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. We have tons of exciting things coming up post-launch, and the team remains committed to delivering new content for a long, long time to come!

Be sure to visit the official The Secret World website to learn more about the game.

secw1 - Exclusive: Senior Producer and Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist Discusses The Secret World

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Written by Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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