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6:18pm on Monday, 8th July, 2013:
I was looking for an MMO to play this summer, but the one I had in my sights (Age of Wushu) hasn't launched in Europe yet. I therefore decided to check out the most recent MMO that has impressed me to see how it's getting on. That MMO is Funcom's Secret World.
I was surprised to find that even though I haven't played for around 8 months, I'm still #1 in the guild for experience points gained. I haven't seen anyone else in the guild log in (although there are about 40 members) so I expect that explains it. Maybe I'll empty the guild bank and switch to another guild (which isn't as cynical as it sounds, as I sold all my gear when I quit and gave the cash to the guild; about 10% of what I gave is in the guild's coffers).
Interestingly, this week is TSW's one-year anniversary. This is being celebrated by an event across all servers, which I'm not sure is going entirely to plan.
OK, so in TSW you progress by getting what they call APs (the A standing for Ability, I think). If you do quests, you can normally rack up about 10 of these an hour. In the celebration event, though, you can get 10 for killing one of the 8 bosses that are roaming the world, or 20 if you drank the potion they gave you to double AP gain. These bosses have 15,000,000 health points and it takes an army to kill them, so Funcom were probably not expecting people to down many. Each one only spawns once every few hours and if you miss it, you have to wait. Also, you need 50-100 players to down them in a reasonable time. So, quite a good event, then?
If you have a friend on TSW, you can issue a "meetup" command. This takes you to your friend's server. You may have missed the boss on your server, but it could be alive on your friend's. It's also possible to set up a communications channel that players can read from every server.
This is what has happened: a channel ("anniversity") has been set up. Spotters are posted on every server. As soon as one of them spots a boss spawn, they inform the channel and anyone who wants to kill that boss makes the spotter a friend. The (temporary) friend then issue a meetup command, which the spotter accepts. Seconds later, a hundred players have descended on the boss; 10 minutes later, it's dead. You can kill 4 to 6 bosses in an hour this way, racking up 40 to 60 AP. There's a 2-hour cooldown on each individual boss, so after you've killed all 8 you either take a turn as a spotter or you switch to an alt and repeat. There are regularly 800 people on the channel. APs are raining on them from the skies.
It's not just AP, either. The bosses drop other stuff, some of which is useless (fireworks, pets) but some of which is not. In particular, they drop rare signets (I've made millions selling mine so far) and "black bullion", which is TSW's currency for endgame items. My alt isn't yet qualified for the endgame, yet has enough black bullion to buy some over-powered gear with it. I expect I'll get more, too.
It gets worse (for Funcom). A ninth boss was put in the middle of one of the PvP zones. If you want what it drops, you need to go into the PvP zone for it. PvP isn't tremendously popular in TSW, so there aren't many PvP servers. People have been queueing for 6 hours to get into the PvP zone to take on the boss yet still not making it there. To fix the queueing, Funcom needs a patch, which won't happen until Tuesday. This means they have to expand the anniversary event for another week, so the APs will continue to fall from the sky and shorten the length of the end-game. Some characters are going to be close to maxed out as a result.
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