Agenda is celebrating their
one year anniversary. This Massively Online Shooter has been a hit with
players, and their recent style="font-style: italic;">Sandstorm
expansion amped up the action. Ten Ton Hammer talked with Todd Harris,
Executive Producer, about the game’s past, present, and
Ton Hammer: What would you
say are some of the major lessons you've learned over the past year
Todd Harris: Two major
lessons come quickly to mind.
On the marketing side - we should have proclaimed our
BuyOncePlayForever model earlier and more loudly. We launched
Agenda intending to have an
eventual subscription for premium content including AvA. As
you know, we never ended up charging that subscription. Based
on player feedback, last summer we shifted to a Buy Once model - like style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
- which definitely fits the game better. But there are still
people under the false impression that a sub is required for some
content, or for AvA. Now, as we head into year two, we
continue to attract a lot of new players once they understand we are
indeed buy once to play forever.
On the gameplay side - We've adjusted many systems to strike a better
balance between commitment and accessibility. As a
team-focused game much of the fun within style="font-style: italic;">GA
relies on having other people around to play with and play
against. At the same time we support many different
game-modes and at any one time I as a player might be interested in
questing, instanced PvE, instanced Mercenary PvP, more competitive
pre-made team PvP, 10-person Raids, or AvA. Our players are
committed to the game but also expect the instant pick-up-and-play
satisfaction like other shooters. And most want a predictable
schedule for events they can plan the rest of their lives
around. For example - our very first AvA season had a
win-condition that was not date based. It was an extended war
between agencies to construct a Particle Forge which was fun and epic
but it also caused burnout. Our current AvA seasons are
scheduled such that each season is 2 weeks long and the board open
hours are also predictable. Another example would be special
mission types like Defensive Raids and DoubleAgent. We put
these missions on timed alerts - making them available less often but
drawing more attention and players when they occur.
Ton Hammer: How did this
Todd Harris: style="font-style: italic;">Sandstorm
goes along with that accessibility theme. We added the
introductory open zone where players can actually play solo whenever
they want and completely at their own pace. New players
progress a narrative but, just as importantly, they are introduced to
the shooter gameplay in a more casual way. Then they
transition into the squad-based, instanced PvE or PvP that is much more
Players enjoyed the narrative open-zone and so future expansions will
include that type of open-zone content as well as additional instanced
Ton Hammer: Your latest
announcements had mention and allusions to e-sports. Can you expand on
these plans at all?
Todd Harris: The various
game-modes in style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
attract different kinds of players. One growing segment
Agenda, and gaming overall,
is the competitive PvP player who wants to prove his skills on a
balanced battlefield. Gear matters within style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
but to a lesser extent then other MMOs, so we attract a lot of gamers
based on the importance of player-skill. These players may be
less interested in crafting usable tech and vehicles to help win AvA by
whatever means necessary, and more interested in going head to head
against other pre-made teams; basically e-sports like
competition. Many pure shooters have similar LAN tournaments
or online tournaments that are managed completely out of game by
e-sports leagues. For style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda,
we will have teams and tournaments managed out of game, on the website
AgendaStats, but we will then recognize and reward tournament players
within the game itself.
Ton Hammer: What's next for style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
players? What do you have planned over the next year or two?
Todd Harris: In the very near
future we'll be releasing a brand new mission free to all style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
players. In the Dome Defense mission, 10-players will be
protecting an instance of Dome City itself. The vendor shops
are boarded up and Recursive Colony bots are smashing thru the walls
and trying to take out the hero NPC Bancroft. It is a very
intense mission and we'll be putting that on the Public Test Server
within the next few weeks.
Beyond that we have a roadmap of expansions with version 1.5 being the
first in line.
Ton Hammer: We're seeing a
few more plans from other companies for Massively Shooter Games. How do
you feel the genre as a whole is catching on?
Todd Harris: It is refreshing
to see more MMOs introducing action and shooter oriented
gameplay. At the same time, shooters continue to add more and
more character progression so the genre lines start to blur.
For us the appeal, and what I hope catches on, is less about requiring
a certain number of players to be categorized as 'massive' - it is more
the combination of action gameplay with character progression and world
Ton Hammer: Where do you see
the genre in the next 5 years?
Todd Harris: I hope to be
playing at least one "pocket-MMO" on a portable device and I hope it
has shooter-oriented combat.
Ton Hammer: What do you have
planned for style="font-style: italic;">GA's
Todd Harris: One major
Midweek Madness sale on Steam starting TODAY to celebrate the
Plus, this month we're running a contest where the 500 players who win
the most qualifying missions, Merc PvP and/or Defensive Raid PvE, will
get their character name permanently inscribed on a wall of VR
Arena. The top 25 players will have names within Dome City
itself. And all players who win at least 50 of these missions
before end of February will get Limited Edition Matrix Dye.
And of course, GM crazily spawning bots all day!
Ton Hammer: Is there anything
else you'd like to share at this time?
Todd Harris: Just the
appreciation of our entire dev team to the Global Agenda community!
Our thanks to Todd Harris for the interview.
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