behind SOE's upcoming spy title, The Agency, was in full force at this
year's annual Fan Faire event. I'm glad I was able to attend one of the
team's panel discussions before a nasty bug took me out for the rest of
my Vegas trip. Matt Wilson, Creative Director for The Agency, is a
force to be reckoned with in person. He's a ball of energy and
obviously full of passion for the project, so it made for an
One of the core principles of The Agency is the concept of "Fun now -
no waiting." It may sound like yet another platitude spewed forth from
the mouths of marketing gurus around the world, but from what I saw, it
was obvious the team meant it. Every system in the game should be easy
to access, easy to understand, etc. That doesn't mean players won't
have to wait for some things at different points in time, but it does
mean the team tries to eliminate the standard "hurry up and wait"
mentality we've all had to deal with in MMOG's for years.
Part of this comes into play when talking about the world. Prague and
Kiev may be interesting places to explore, but if you have to travel
between the two of them, do you want to spend your time walking, or
hopping on a jet and get there in style? Would James Bond put on his
jogging shoes and run the distance? Of course not! Not only would that
make for an unbelievably boring movie, but the same can be said for
gameplay. The team members at the SOE Seattle studio seem sincere in
their commitment to make you *feel* like a super spy.
One of the more interesting things that came up during the panel was
the discussion about finding a balance between realism and fun. For
example, if you have traveled to Prague before and then saw it within
The Agency, you'd still feel like you recognize the city. Landmarks,
architecture, and other aspects of the city would feel familiar to you.
That flower vendor you saw on the corner during your trip may be there,
but now he might also be a contact that will show you where the secret
entrance to an enemy base may be. Is that gentleman sitting across from
you actually reading that newspaper, or is he taking pictures of you
with a micro camera? So while the setting itself will be familiar, you
can never quite be sure of what's going on around you.