Round and Round We Go

This is a tale – a cautionary tale to some, a humorous tale to others.

Back in 2012, I bought a lifetime subscription to a game called The Secret World. It’s a unique story dealing with secret societies vying for behind-the-scenes world domination and dealing with a mysterious outbreak of every bump-in-the-night monster story come to life. It’s a gritty, real-world horror tale, and when it was introduced it had a one-of-a-kind combat system where you could learn any skill and use any weapon in the game. Levels and classes didn’t exist; instead, you had an ability wheel with over 500 active and passive abilities to choose from, at any point in the game you wish. (As an example: I once was in a single-player mission that was eating me for lunch, so I stopped – in the middle of the mission – for a little bit and learned new skills with a new weapon, then used materials to construct and enhance one of the new weapons before moving forward to easily complete the mission.) The game eventually went from a subscription model to a pay-to-play, where you bought the game client and then had free access to the content therein.

Fast forward to 2017, and the decision has been made to retool TSW into a new game called Secret World Legends. This new game would be free-to-play, using a microtransaction model to generate income. The story would be the same. The combat system would be revamped; more traditional levels and classes and weapon specialties would take the place of the ability wheel. Everyone was to receive a fresh start with the new game; characters would not be able to cross over, but one name from your TSW account could be reserved for use on the SWL servers. Certain cosmetic items would be able to be transferred over from TSW to SWL. Subscribers to TSW would be able to continue as “patrons” in SWL; lifetime subscribers to TSW would have permanent status as a patron. TSW and SWL would be completely separate games; TSW would no longer be updated, but would still be playable through its legacy servers.

And here is where the tale really gets started.

On Friday, I decided that I needed to verify that the items that I wanted to transfer over from TSW to SWL were accessible in the right manner in TSW, so I logged into the TSW launcher, expecting a fairly sizable patch as it had been some time since I last updated the client. Instead, I was met with the option to do a minimal install of SWL (involving the first five hours of the game) or a full install of the entire game. I backed out of that, but not before the launcher had been updated to automatically defer to SWL instead of TSW. So I hit the internet trying to find an answer.

It seems that this was expected behavior, but behavior that wasn’t communicated to the player base, so many players had blindly begun the switch-over before stopping the update in progress once they realized what they’d done. (I was lucky and never started the new install, so the only thing that was affected was the launcher.) Those players were understandably upset because their TSW game client was no longer usable. Players were directed to go to their TSW account page on the internet and download the legacy launcher and use that to create a fresh install of the game. Eventually, someone posted a shorter workaround that only took about 25 minutes to copy files into a new folder rather than the several hours for a fresh, new install, so I did that to fix my launcher problem and access the TSW legacy servers to ensure everything I wanted to transfer over was transferable.

The next step was to go onto the SWL account page using my TSW credentials to link the two accounts. I decided to first go onto my TSW account page to check on the status of my reserved name. When I clicked the link for name reservations, I was given the dialogue of someone new to the page who had not registered a name, no reserved name was shown on my account, nor was there the opportunity to reserve a name, presumably because the servers were at that point live for early access. Noting this for later investigation, I continued on to the SWL account page. I did so and noticed that under “Status” it showed me to be a “Non Patron.” This is incorrect, as I mentioned above; I should be a permanent Patron thanks to my lifetime membership to TSW. I had heard that completing the transfer process will unlock two additional character slots on SWL, so I wanted to be sure I was doing it right, as the transfer process would only work one time. So I opted to head back to the internet to find a solution.

Upon doing so, I discovered that threads on the TSW forums were being closed, all with a note to another thread explaining that the TSW forums were for TSW only, along with links to the subReddit that had been established for SWL. After a little more research, I discovered that there are no official SWL forums, nor is there any intention of creating any. Frustrated by the continuous areas in which it appeared the game studio dropped the ball, I decided to pursue their live chat to get some answers.

I signed into the live chat feature and was met with “we are experiencing higher than usual volume, please be patient and we will respond to inquiries in the order in which they were received.” No problem, I expected this, so I settled down to wait.

Five minutes went by, then ten, then fifteen. Thirty minutes went by. An hour went by. Finally, after almost an hour and a half, the window changed.

To the notice that live chat was closed for the night and what the hours for live chat were.

I was quite frustrated by this point, and settled in for a fruitless evening.

If the game studio wanted this to be a seamless transition, they have handled it in possibly the worst possible way to do so. There is outrage on both the forums and in the subReddit. People are threatening to quit both games if something isn’t done about these issues. I’m not that bad off, but my desire to play SWL is somewhat tempered by the difficulties at launch. If my reserved name is claimed by someone else, I’ll be even more upset.

So that leads us up to this morning, where I’m about to sign onto the live chat service as soon as they open, to hopefully get an answer before too long. Wish me luck. I’m afraid I’m going to need it. I’ll update my progress tomorrow.

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