The Secret World's horizontal progression system created challenges for the development team when attempting to create the New York City-based raid, Manhattan Exclusion Zone, designer Graeme Lennon revealed in a recent blog on title's website.
In the Funcom-developed MMO, players have the ability to take on any class role instead of choosing a single character class to play, as is required by most games in the genre. Traditionally, users participating in MMO raids are required to perform the duties particular to their class of choice; However, in The Secret World these roles are much more opaque.
"TSW's open skill system and unusually horizontal progression make designing a raid extremely challenging," wrote Lennon. "How do you provide meaningful tank challenges when potentially everyone could be taunting? How can healing be kept meaningful over a long fight with renewable resources? We faced some of these when designing the launch dungeons, of course, but more players and higher expectations make everything harder.
"I started doing the initial design work before launch, to make sure we had time to get it right. While we kept a close eye on players' progress through the Nightmare dungeons, I spent a lot of time talking with the group content teams on Age of Conan and Anarchy Online, making sure I was absorbing the lessons they had learned over years of creating this type of experience. And then lots and lots of iteration! The entire team has been helping me test over the last two months, and I'm extremely grateful for all the feedback and testing provided by our volunteers on the TestLive server."
The Manhattan Exclusion Zone is a 10-player instance whose story begins in Brooklyn. Players are alerted of "something amazing" in the Midtown area, while columns of black smoke will be visible across the East River. To find out what is going on, users will find a way into the Manhattan Exclusion Zone. Players must wait 32 hours to play through the raid again after downing its final boss.