Join the Illuminati

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Funcom is making this the “Week of the Illuminati” as they continue gearing up for the release of their MMO, “The Secret World“, expected in April. There’s also a Q&A with the developers coming up on Facebook on January 15th, though Funcom has started taking questions so be sure to check it out.

We’ve touched on Secret World before in the past, but in case you’ve missed some of our coverage, it’s not your usual MMORPG.
Taking place in a version of our modern world where conspiracies are all too real and secret rituals steeped in the arcane are as tangible, the Secret World is set to challenge the usual trappings of its genre. It boasts “no levels” in developing your character allowing you to push them in whatever direction you want with a greater emphasis on storytelling not often seen in other titles.
But if the Illuminati’s “civil” exterior is too pedestrian for you, there are two other factions to throw the dice with. You call roll with either the crusading Templars, or sow chaos with those of the Dragon. 
Each faction also has their own starting area based on real-world locales such as New York where the corporate-minded Illuminati call home. Or take the initiation test to help make your decision.
A batch of nifty screenshots have also been released showing off the Illuminati’s digs and a few of the people that secretly hang with them. Check these out right after the jump or visit the main site for a deeper sampling of its secrets.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic beta weekend

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The Inquisitor looked at me expectantly, hoping to see what nugget of information I would pry loose from the victim strapped to the table. The man coolly went about his business while my prey writhed in fear of what was to come. But after a few words of calm and a promise of help, his will melted before this unexpected kindness. And I kept my word, seeing that he would leave Korriban’s tombs and its Academy politic far behind him.

I was Sith. Sith, with a heart of compassion for those that deserved it…and an unrelenting storm to those that did not.

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The Secret World reveals…more secrets

Funcom has released a new trailer that delves into the shadowy stories and conspiracies making up its backdrop.

Everything from the Tower of Babel to the Ark of the Covenant are being used as potential jumping off points for this new MMORPG. In it, players will take part in a secret war for the fate of the world as three factions will vie for supremacy using magic, technology, and mythology. Sounds like it could be a winning combination.

The Agency is no more…along with over 200 jobs

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The Agency was supposed to be an MMO based on spies and a worldwide theater of covert ops. It was hugely ambitious with real-world cities to be used as hubs for missions and teams defending the world against other players determined to steal it. It sounded awesome.

Unfortunately, it seemed to exist only as vaporware with the occasional screenshot or video released every few months to remind players that it was barely alive. And now we’ll never know if we could have been in like Flint, or as slick as James Bond.

That’s because the project was canned along with most of the people working on it. According to the news over at the Hollywood Reporter, Sony Online Entertainment had also announced shuttering three studios – all of which were involved with the Agency along with a number of other projects.

Over 205 employees are to be laid off in the restructuring as Sony focuses more on two other MMOs: reviving the action shooter MMO, Planetside, as Planetside: Next, and continuing to build atop one of the oldest MMORPGs out there, Everquest.

It’s not the first time that a promising project like the Agency has been shuttered. The game industry is, unfortunately, filled with more than a few stories of canceled titles due to a number of reasons ranging from a lack of funds, corporate restructuring, or simply losing focus or interest in the project. Hopefully everyone affected will be able to quickly land on their feet elsewhere.

New trailer for “The Secret World” spells out what you can expect

Funcom has released a new trailer for their upcoming MMORPG, “The Secret World”. If you’re wondering whether it’s something you want to play other than World of Warcraft, that depends on whether you want to fight for the fate of the modern day world as a member of one of three secret societies who know the truth of what goes bump in the night. From New York City to Seoul, South Korea, players will get to shoot it out or use the kind of magic Harry Potter can only dream about to fight this secret war.

I’ve been keeping an eye on this one for awhile and it’s been shrouded in, well, “secrecy” since the start, but it looks like Funcom is getting ready to show off more than just a few fancy trailers with a little taste of the gameplay.

For more info, check out the press release right after the jump below.


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Space raiders destroy real money in EVE

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EVE, if you haven’t heard of it, is a space-based MMO run almost exclusively by the players. The economy, wars, and conflicts within the game are mostly against corporate empires run by and filled with real people piloting and building ships making it a place where anything can (and has) happened.

MMO site, Massively, has the goods on this latest collision between real-life and what should have been a relaxing evening for one trader in the game.

In short, the main currency used in EVE is called ISK and, like gold farming, has its own shady cottage industry where people with money can “buy” ISK instead of earning it the old fashioned way. It’s not legal according to the game’s rules, so as one way to fight this, EVE’s developers created the 30-day Pilot License Extension. Players can buy these with real cash to extend their membership.

Now here’s the rub: it’s also represented as an item in the game which can then be traded for ISK. Thus, people can buy a PLEX (as the Extensions are called) and trade it to other players for massive loads of ISK if they want to. We’re talking billions. Later, they made it so that PLEX could be carried on ships for transport. You can see where this is going.

One player apparently had 74 of these things in their ship when two raiders came by and attempted to seize it…only to end up destroying the ship and its cargo. Real world value? $1,294 USD. And in EVE, since this was technically within the rules of how it is played where risk is everything, I don’t expect any of that to be coming back to the owner.

Ouch.

E3: A look back on Day One

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Another E3 has come and gone leaving behind clouds, motion controls, and a bevy of sequels. So what does it all mean? I’ve had a few days to gather my thoughts on what we’ve seen on the show floor and behind closed doors, so here are a few ideas on the message left by waggling hands and brutal teddy bears.
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There are…creatures…here…

As Funcom’s MMOG, The Secret World, creeps closer to release by inches, the mystery surrounding the sleepy Maine town of Kingsport reaches another level with the discovery of a blog written by one of its characters.

There’s some weirdness bubbling up from its streets, and here’s the proof:

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The author says it “might” be the Toad-Woman…or it might not. There are a few other ‘photos’ on the site that try to shed light on just what it going on down there, but if you happen to be driving along a lonely stretch of coastal road running through the New England States and have the itch for lobster, you might want to think twice about dropping by Kingsport. Unless you happen to belong to one of the secret societies that’s trained for this kind of thing.

So I took a superhero test…

…and it turns out that I might have a future in rescuing kittens from trees because…

Noble and true, you are the hero other heroes aspire to be. You are a natural leader, selfless and kind, who will put the lives of others above your own, and are steadfast in your pursuit of justice.

As part of the promotion for Cryptic’s new MMO, the upcoming Champions Online, they’ve provided a clever quiz for you to take in order to see just what kind of hero or villain you might be. Unlike their previous work with City of Heroes/Villains, Champions Online is actually based on the long-running pen and paper system developed by Hero Games which is replete with its own pantheon of super-powered characters.

So why not take a break and take the quiz. Punching through it again, and being a little more creative with my answers, it also turns out that I might also have a future as a Bondsian megavillain with wicked powers, because…

You are pure evil, and hate personified. You don’t care anything about your fellow man, and are guided only by your desire to rule over your inferiors, i.e. everybody but you. ‘Mercy,’ you ask, prior to grinding an enemy beneath your mighty heel, ‘What is mercy?’