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The News, Pt. 3 (ICO in other games)
The last piece of news today will be a little less gloomy than the two previous ones.

As always, despite what might befall ICO in TSW, I would very much like to save as much of our original team, so that we can play other games together. This will allow ICO to carry on, rather than die completely. The only games where I can assure ICO's success are the games that I find genuinely enjoyable, so these are the ones I'm trying to recommend.

I have previously mentioned that I enjoy playing Overwatch, and, despite my expectations, I'm enjoying it still. I thought it would be a short-term interest, but Overwatch has somehow managed to stay fun, and I regularly play its Competitive mode. If you would like to join me there, feel free to add me on BattleNet: Cogneter#2661 (Europe, but I don't mind switching to America or Asia if your ping is better there).

Star Citizen is also steadily marching towards its release, although not as fast as I was expecting. Not too long ago, it added a new "Spectrum" functionality, which comes alongside the long-awaited org forum functionaly. I have previously intended to use this site (ico.mn) as a redirect to our new Star Citizen forum, and I'll probably do that, but only after we finish with this whole SWL debacle. In the meantime, drop by to say "hi" on our new Star Citizen org forum, and also join our org from the main org page.

I don't have long-term plans for any other games, but I would like to hear your suggestions for other games you'd like to play as ICO in. If you have any such suggestions, or you simply want to chat, feel free to contact me in Steam - my Steam ID is still Cogneter.
The News, Pt. 2 (Secret World Legends)
Some of you might have already heard that The Secret World will soon be relaunching as Secret World Legends. For those of you who haven't, I direct you to the official site, which has some answers regarding what it is, and what is the purpose of this relaunch. The TSW game director has also given a few interviews with further clarifications, which you can easily find in Google.

I have read these intreviews, because I wanted to get a deep understanding of what was going on with this relaunch and why. By now, I think I have formed a pretty clear picture in my mind. Funcom have analyzed which were the core strengths and weaknesses of TSW, and now they are trying to do a new launch of TSW under a new name, capitalizing on its strengths and addressing its weaknesses. It makes sense - back when TSW was originally released (does anyone here still remember the original release?), many players were off-put by its subscription requirement, as well as its combat mechanics and somewhat confusing progression. But many did praise TSW's storytelling, so that's what SWL will be focusing on, going as far as sacrificing its MMO elements (and labeling) in the process. The new launch will be free-to-play from the start, as well as featuring improved new player experience, progression and graphics (although they are still using the same old engine). Funcom are clearly aiming to improve new player retention this time around. If I were them, I would also spend some extra budget on marketing, because it was a weakness of the original TSW launch as well - the mainstream crowd simply didn't know that game existed.

There was one particular piece of information I was looking for in these interviews, one which you won't see mentioned on the official site. I am talking about PvP. The lack of its mention on the official site was already telling me that the three-faction conflict would not be the focus of SWL. Given that Funcom has not been a very successful company lately, and their resources are very limited (I was surprised they could even muster this relaunch), it was clear to me that little-to-none resources will be assigned to the areas of the game which are not considered its core strengths and do not largely affect new player retention - these areas include dungeons, raids and, of course, PvP.

My fears soon came to reality, when I found this interview. It has a paragraph which is the only official mention of the fate of PvP in SWL, so I quote that paragraph in full:

Regarding PvP, in SWL we want to incentivize players to have fun rather than focusing too much on the faction tension. At launch we will be including TSW's most successful PvP minigame: Shambala. Based on feedback and demand we will be updating the remaining minigames at a later date.

Ok, wow. The game director of TSW and SWL has just literally said that the faction tension is the opposite of fun. He also considers Shambala as the "most successful PvP minigame" in TSW, which is probably not related to it having unique signets and much lower queue times.

This didn't come as a surprise to me, but, sadly, this relaunch will not be used as an opportunity to address any problems with PvP in TSW, or with the faction conflict overall. If anything, it's the opposite - 3 out of 4 PvP battlegrounds are going to be disabled, and PvP will be sidelined further into obscurity.

Needless to say, this is not a good news to ICO as a PvP cabal. Or to any remaining PvP cabals in TSW for that matter. Does the cabal system even exist in SWL? I found no mention of it in any of the interviews.

The development of new content for TSW will be halted, and all remaining TSW players will be soon switching to SWL. So I guess it's the definitve end of the faction conflict in TSW, as well as any chance for a fun and competitive PvP experience, assuming anyone besides me was still hoping for that.

I will probably be giving SWL a try - I still haven't completed the main storyline, so I need to finish that in either TSW or SWL at some point. But, given the impending fate of PvP in TSW/SWL, the current state of ICO and my current inability to commit to its restoration, I'm afraid it might be the time to put ICO in TSW to rest. And there's not really much need for a PvP cabal to be created in SWL.

I'll be following the news regarding the launch of SWL, but, in the meantime, I would like to hear your opinions on it, as well as your expectations for the fate of ICO in TSW/SWL. There's already a thread on the forum, so feel free to post there, or leave a comment on this news article.
The News, Pt. 1 (Cogneter's confession)
Hello everyone.

It's been a while since I last posted, and today I'll be posting three pieces of news instead of one. There are some important news regarding the recently announced Secret World Legends, as well as some Star Citizen updates, but before I get to those, I would like to explain myself and my, let's say, rather underwhelming recent "return" to TSW.

The explanation starts with my motivations. I make it no secret that I am very proud of what I, as well as everyone in ICO, was able to achieve in TSW. For a long peroid of time, we were widely regarded as the strongest PvP cabal in the game. Unbeatable, fearsome, respected. Operation Blue Dawn, which brought down the domination of 70 Templars in Fusang and which ICO spearheaded, was notorious enough that even the Game Director mentioned it (and me personally) in one of his interviews. Those were the good days, and I always wanted to relive them.

It was really hard for me to abandon ICO in TSW three years ago. I had a good idea of what would happen to it if I left, and it was precisely what happened. But the game was so extremely not fun to me at that point, that logging into it daily was feeling like a burden. That's not how a game should feel, games should be fun. I tried to delay by unlocking all possible achievements in TSW (even all those horrible 10k farms), but then I did. So the best I could hope for was to entice you all to come with me to a new game, which I would actually find fun - that is Star Citizen. Some of you did come, and I'm very grateful for that - we will yet have plenty of space adventures together!

Back to the topic of ICO in TSW though. As years passed, the thoughts of returning back to TSW crossed my mind more and more often. I needed a catalyst, a final straw that would entice me to return to TSW and rebuild the glorious ICO of the past. And I found that catalyst last summer - I found a girlfriend, who had previous experience with TSW, who was also looking forward to returning to TSW, and who was willing to help me with running the cabal.

You know the next part. I announced my return to TSW, rallied a bunch of ICO veterans, caused a big spike of ICO activity... But couldn't maintain it. Some members felt underwhelmed, some even questoned my motives and accused me of breaking my promises, and, in the end, that burst of ICO activity vained. So you might be wondering what was going on with me during that period and why.

Before I proceed to explain myself, I want to say that ICO has always been a very leader-centric cabal. Some guilds and clans have wide networks of officers, who can maintain and even develop the guild in the event of their leader disappearing or stepping down, but that was not the case with ICO. ICO was very dependent on having a strong leader, and, as such, I only hold myself responsible for everything that happens with ICO, and for not using the opportunities that I myself have created. So I can only explain the vaining of activity in ICO with my own personal inactivity, which I will detail below.

The catalyst I have discovered, which was supposed to motivate me to return to TSW, has proven to be somewhat ironic. Yes, me and my girlfriend had some good fun times in TSW together, but, after that, we had to move to a new appartment, which took away all of our gaming time. At one point, I literally haven't played any game for weeks. So much for being a gamer. And then, around December, me and my girlfriend had a sort of a falling out, at which point my catalyst was gone.

I tried to bring myself to come back to TSW since then, but there are two main reasons that prevent me from doing so, and they are the same reasons why I haven't played TSW before my "return":
1) I'm feeling very guilty about what happened to ICO. I know it was unavoidable, unless I forced myself to daily play a game that was completely not fun to me, but it was still my actions that were the main reason of ICO's downfall in TSW. So it's hard for me to log in and look the few remaining active members in the eye, although I'm extremely grateful that you guys are still sticking around, despite everything.
2) I'm still not finding TSW fun. I was hoping that, after taking a break for a few years, I would find new appreciation for its gameplay and combat mechanics, but it just didn't happen. If I took ICO completely out of the equation, I would not even consider playing TSW, because it's not a game that I find fun, relaxing and enjoyable in its current state, especially after I have already seen most of what it has to offer.

So, there you have it. I hope this explains my recent actions and motivations, so they won't seem too erratic to you. I should've explained myself sooner, but I was feeling a bit too guilty to communicate, and was subconsciously trying to sweep this all under the rug. I am really sorry for disappointing those of you who expected more than I could deliver.

Currently, I do not know if I'll be returning to TSW again, especially in the light of the recent news about Secret World Legends. And this news will be the focus of my second news piece.