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The Secret World has been foremost in my mind recently, spurred on by some really excellent prodding by the lovely Gryph of LFGryph and her post about TSW’s dailies.  Namely, a specific aspect of The Secret World always strikes me.  And that is the Investigation Missions.

In case you’re not familiar, Investigation Missions are quests in the game where instead of dealing with monsters or killing 10 rats, you solve clues and follow a trail to uncover answers to a riddle.  It involves using nothing more than the provided in-game browser and some lateral thinking.

Though in the process of investigating you’ll likely find a cheat.

It is some of the most rewarding stuff in the game, and the single most amazing feat of quest creation I have ever seen in any MMO ever.  The only time I had to kill something was when I was running in to baddies in the world while searching for a location or having to wrap up a mission that ends in a fight.

I have recorded a couple of my playthroughs of these style of mission because I almost always am flabbergasted at how it all ends up working out.  These missions run me through a gamut of emotions that range from delight to frustration to annoyance to “I AM THE SMARTEST PERSON ALIVE!!”, and I sort of thought that these would be fun to record and cut together in to a video.

Problem is I am spectacularly boring to listen to, so…

At any rate, it got me thinking more about mystery games.  I have always had a passing fascination with these style of game and I am sort of amazed at why I didn’t think they would work in an MMO.

I was first introduced to this sort of game, like many others, by the title Myst.  I also had played a huge amount of other not-as-good but still classic titles like The 7th Guest, Return to Zork and the Labyrinth of Time.  These kinds of adventure/mystery games were some of my biggest forms of escapism when I was growing up, and they still strike that note today.

Don’t knock it. This was a dreamscape back in the day.

Come to think of it, it’s a style of game that would be amazing in a themepark MMO.  It requires almost no combat whatsoever, it can be done solo or cooperatively, it shouldn’t be that difficult to create in terms of resources other than a clever team of writers and designers….

And with titles out there now like Life is Strange and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter–two games that I REALLY should pick up some time–this kind of thing should not only be possible, but incredibly engaging.  Being embroiled in a mystery and looking deep in to the world to find clues is captivating.  It would immerse like no other themepark MMO out there.

The Secret World has not only proven this thing is possible, but it has a market.  Even though Funcom is underwater, they have gone on record as saying the IP is running at a profit.  In today’s gun-shy investor market that might not be a substantial enough amount of assurance, but considering fans like Gryph or others who I have spoken with who gush on and on about the game and its storyline and content, this sort of MMO could be an absolute smash.

Besides, I am personally exhausted of doing nothing but combat.  It’s why I love to RP in XIV or like to visit houses or build my own in WildStar so much.  Sure, dungeons and questing and gear progression are all well and good.  Even fun, if done reasonably well.  But man, there is more to a world than using it as a backdrop for a litany of battles.

Wits are cooler weapons than swords anyway.

As I type this, I am attempting to apparently repair my install of The Secret World because I realize that there is something missing from MMO’s, and that thing is the ability to be drawn in to a world through uncovering its mysteries.  And that’s not PR speak for “Move from quest hub to quest hub’.  That’s literally trying to solve a mystery.

Maybe this time, I’ll actually get the hell out of Kingsmouth…