Global Agenda's first closed beta session is set for this weekend, and we caught up with Executive Producer Todd Harris to catch some of the excitement going on right now inside Atlanta's Hi-Rez Studios. Todd tells us how those invited to the first round of closed beta got so lucky, plus what the initial focus of testing will be and what testers can expect when they log in this weekend.
Ten Ton Hammer: Global Agenda must be pretty deep in the beta crunch right now, with closed beta scheduled to begin on July 24th. Can you talk a little bit about the mood in the studio right now? I'm guessing there's an air of excitement at Hi-Rez Studios.
Todd Harris, Executive Producer: Oh yea, excitement, stress, anticipation. We just threw out the Chinese takeout boxes from late last night. Before that it was pizza, tacos, a lot of late night food that still seems to be around in the early morning that the folks that get here early aren’t afraid to jump on.
So yea, it’s an exciting time. Whenever you’re going to take the stage, you have that combination of anticipation plus a little bit of nerves, but also the knowing that you’re ready. I just asked our lead programmer how he’d describe his mood, and he said stressed, which is exactly as he should feel at this time, so that made me happy.
Closed beta test one will focus on character progression and the fun of combat from levels 1-20.
Ten Ton Hammer: Harsh, but understandable. Looking forward to closed beta, how was the initial round of beta testers chosen?
Todd: For our alpha, we had a pretty extended and sizable alpha test - we went beyond friends and family and had about a thousand people. In alpha we looked for the fairly hardcore - the guild / clan focused approach where we were looking for longstanding members from both the MMO community and the shooter community. That drove our alpha, because there we were focused on the fun of combat at a high level in Global Agenda. The fun and macro level class balance.
That’s the process that we’re just ending, but it gives you a little perspective on where we’re going in beta. Fortunately the visibility of the game has grown a lot since alpha, so we have a good pool of applicants to look at (though we’re always interested in more - [sign up for beta]). We want a good cross-section of both PvP-focused and PvE-focused MMO players and, again, shooter players that maybe this will be a game that introduces the MMO genre to them.
Also, we have held a number of contests leading up to the very first closed beta, so we’ve prioritized winners of those contests and those that have been the biggest, most passionate fans and those that have posted good quality information on the forums. Those were the two big criteria. Also, diversity of hardware specs against what we were wanting to test was another consideration.
Ten Ton Hammer: What can closed beta players expect when they jump in? You mentioned fun and balance were high on your list in alpha, so what’s your focus at the outset of closed beta?
Todd Harris: In alpha, we kind of worked backwards. Once players are at very high level, they’ve unlocked their skill points, so is that fun? Is that balanced at high levels between classes and all the major devices?
So, new to closed beta are a lot of small things, but two primary things. One is character progression, leading up to that high level, and two: we want to get good feedback and testing on the fun of combat at lower levels. That’s a pretty important dimension to us, because as you know we’re a shooter but we also have stats which affect your shots. So having that be fun and balanced at the high and low level is pretty important to us. There’s a bunch of systems that have to come together well to support that, and this closed beta test group will be experiencing that for the very first time.
CBT #1 players will also see the economic side of Global Agenda for the first time.
Specifically, next weekend, the level 1-20 process, they’ll be exercising that through the weekend and we’ll be getting feedback on that progression - how it felt, the balance, all those things. Another big dimension is the introduction systems leading towards economy, loot, crafting, and we do have a player-driven auctionhouse. So those are very fresh systems for us; most of those were not in alpha and they’re fairly fresh as far as external testing to the closed beta test group.
So both individual progression and the economic aspects that affect individual character progression are the two major categories that have a lot of supporting systems that we’re going to be asking the closed beta test group to look at first.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is the larger-scale PvP map, the campaign game, in the initial round of Closed Beta? I’m guessing it will come in as beta progresses.
Todd: Yea, that’s right. We’ll have multiple phases at the highest testing level. So closed beta test one is again around character progression and some of these economic systems that affect individuals. Then we’ll have a closed beta test two - and I want to point out that these are pretty broad phases; even within one we’ll have multiple dates, so the very first closed beta test 1a, if you will, is July 24th through 27th. We’ll have other testing dates where we’re still focused on those systems specifically.
So we’re level 1 through 20 right now, we’ll look at the different level tiers at the next testing weekend after that. When we feel that character progression is solid, we’ll introduce the campaign system for testing, and that’s what we’re calling “closed beta test 2.” The campaign system is all about player created groups fighting against each other with consequences beyond individual progression.
In this initial phase, characters are doing PvE or match-made PvP and they’re able to level up their character, earning achievements, etc. just by doing those match-made PvE or PvP missions. When we get to the campaign system, there will be consequences for the group based on wins and losses because it all takes place on this territory map, like a grand strategy game or a big board game, basically.
Ten Ton Hammer: The campaign game is more of an endgame or elder game system anyway, so it makes sense to introduce it later on in beta.
Todd: It definitely is. We are looking for opportunities for other player to contribute, but it is more of an elder game system, so that’s why it makes sense to introduce that after we know that the progression system’s been well exercised.
Thanks to Todd Harris, Michal Adams, and the Global Agenda team for this series of closed beta Q&As.
Look for one each week throughout Global Agenda's closed beta.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Global Agenda Game Page.