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Tornquist: New Settings For MMOs A 'Respite'

Funcom's Ragnar Tornquist talks The Secret World's uncommon contemporary setting -- "you can make an MMO in any kind of setting," he insists, with a team
As the MMO genre gets more saturated and more competitive, developers must turn to new ideas and new settings to stand out. That's what Funcom's Ragnar Tornquist hopes to do with The Secret World, selecting a contemporary, original fantasy setting. "Of course, there are a lot of people behind this game. It's made by a team. But it was something I wanted to do for a long time," he says of the uncommon decision to create a modern world. Speaking as part of a new Gamasutra feature, Tornquist recalls a never-used concept he wrote for a single-player title set in a universe like The Secret World's. "After we launched Anarchy Online, we were looking for the next concept," he explains. "We held off a whole bunch of ideas, but again, this popped up, this idea of a contemporary universe -- to get away from sci-fi, to get away from fantasy." The early idea, titled The Entire World Online, was about "traveling the world, fighting monsters, uncovering ancient mysteries -- that sort of stuff," says Tornquist. "It was more of a pitch than a fully fleshed-out concept. We've just been working on it, iterating it over the years and trying to translate the ideas for the universe into an actual game." "You can make an MMO in any kind of setting," says Tornquist, a point of view he firmly backs despite the general skew of MMOs toward more traditional fantasy and science fiction. "The difficult part is making sure there's a link between the gameplay and the story, and that there's a reason for players to do what they're doing there, and that it feels like a real place," Tornquist explains. "It feels like a solid game world." How can developers accomplish that? Lots of collaboration and iteration, Tornquist explains -- he says all of the Secret World staff is "really invested in this," and interested in the shared vision of the world they're building. "It's a respite from the fantasy worlds of MMOs," he adds. "It's nice to get away from that. It's nice to be able to carry guns around that shoot things in the head. It's nice to have zombies -- all those things." "When you get all those people and get all those idea and everybody's on the same page, it's quite easy. Everybody's working in the same direction, and I think everybody understands the universe very well. They know exactly what we're trying to do." You can now read our full feature interview with Tornquist on creating Funcom's The Secret World (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites.

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