Hi-Rez Studios revealed their plans for Global Agenda:
on Tuesday, offering a subscription-free way to play
the award-winning multiplayer shooter core of the game while optionally
reserving the Conquest campaign layer of the game (and many typical MMO
features) for subscribers when Global Agenda launches next year. The href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75755">pricing info
and features list of both the core and Conquest options
provoked plenty of questions among the Ten Ton Hammer team, and
Executive Producer Todd Harris was kind enough to
offer some answers.

Ten Ton Hammer: The pricing options really seem like an interesting way
to offer subscription-phobic gamers more than just a window into the
game, but a complete standalone game that works hand-in-hand with the
MMO portion of the game. Do you view the pricing options as a way to
layer in or introduce the game to an unfamiliar audience? What makes
the non-Conquest experience of
Global Agenda different from what some gamers might be used to with a
typical lobby-and-instance online shooter?

Todd Harris:
Whether or not you view it as layering in the
MMO experience - we've always thought of the game as an MMO from the
beginning, and always thought of the AvA [Alliance vs. Alliance
campaign game] as a big draw- I think about it more as carving out the
really fun multiplayer gameplay and making that available in the core
single-purchase package.  

Ultimately we wanted to give people an experience on-par or better than
online shooters or even multiplayer shooters that are adding a little
bit of persistence. We get a lot of comments that 'Wow, this game
really is different... the gameplay is super fun... I'm not sure if
it's an MMO, but I really like it.'  With that core game, we
wanted to remove any obstacle that people might have about a
subscription or hangups about what an MMO is or isn't, because it's

And again, just really capitalize on the strengths people have
recognized: really fun multiplayer gameplay. We looked at the feature
sets of multiplayer games that are single-purchase - Team Fortress 2,
Call of Duty, Battlefield - and we wanted to make sure that core
single-purchase package stacked up really well against them. You can
level up your character to max level by doing PvE or match-made PvP or
mixing them as you choose. Obviously we do have a city that we think
compares well to just a menu-based lobby, we have currency, vendors,
and allow those players to not create their own agencies but join other
agencies and members of a persistent group, we've got built-in voice
chat. A lot of the features that are listed there measure up well
against other games in that category.  So if people just want
that experience of fun online mulitplayer combat, they can buy the game
once and try it.

Of course, we've always thought that the real stickiness of the game
comes from not only ongoing content, but competing in the conquest
gameplay. That's where the MMO aspects come in, plus other features
common to MMOs like auctionhouse, crafting, and some of the other

Ten Ton Hammer: In the core game features, the press release
that players would be able to progress through the first 30 levels. I
think you mentioned that non-Conquest players could get to max level,

Todd: That's definitely true, and in general we
tried to make the non-Conquest game much more than just a gimped
version of a
full MMO. It wasn't like we said, 'Here's a full MMO, let's take away
some stuff and make it a teaser.'  We wanted it to allow
people to pay their $49.99 and they get a very full experience that
compares favorably. For one, subscribers and non-subscribers 
are all in the same world. The non-subscribers can't participate
in AvA territories but as far as seeing each other in pick-up
groups, teaming up for pick-up matches - PvE or PvP, seeing each other
on agent search functionality, all that sort of stuff, they're in the
same virtual universe.

cellpadding="10" width="253">
style="font-size: 20px; line-height: normal;">"In general we
tried to make the non-Conquest game much more than just a gimped
version of a
full MMO. It wasn't like we said, 'Here's a full MMO, let's take away
some stuff and make it a teaser.'  "

We didn't want to give a power differential between the players. Within
the Conquest gameplay, you will have more options. For instance, access
to the auctionhouse is a pretty powerful option because if I get some
loot, upgrades, or implants that I can't use, as a subscriber I'll be
able to go to the auctionhouse, put them up for sale, and using that
money to get something that I do need, whereas someone without Conquest
won't have that option. Things like that might make me progress a
little slower, but fundamentally you can get to max level. Any devices
we introduce after release - say a new stealth device for recon or a
new healing device for the medic, our intent is that those devices
would be available to both groups as well. We really want to keep the
two communities very integrated but have the differentiation be the AvA
gameplay, which is really a whole different tier of gameplay, and also
getting ongoing content over time that the non-Conquest users may not
be able to access.

Ten Ton Hammer: Non-Conquest users will be able to use any weapons,
devices, or implants in the game. If they can't craft these items or
use the auctionhouse, will they have to rely on player to player trade
to get the items they want?

Right now the main loot that's part of the progression
are upgrades, more like persistent buffs. When you're playing PvE,
there's components that will be dropped to make them, and they also
fully drop in certain PvE missions - typically the harder ones. There's
also a token system in PvE and PvP where you can , by playing and
winning, turn in tokens for the gear you want. So there's multiple ways
for subscribers and non-subscribers to earn them, but subscribers will
have more options to get the items they want.

We will have a category of devices that are specific to the AvA
gameplay - they're a little more siege oriented than personal infantry
oriented. Those sort of things only make sense for those AvA
territories and can only be used in AvA territories, so non-Conquest
players won't have access to them because they're not usable in the
other maps.

Ten Ton Hammer: Since 2005, the monthly pricing fee among MMOs
has remained fairly constant at about $15. Why did you choose to price
the Conquest
subscription at $12.99?

Todd: We just wanted to go a little more
aggressively on our price. It'll be interesting to see what the
industry does, whether it comes down, but obviously there are competing
models that people are choosing from: free-to-play, expansion pack,
microtransactions, etc. We looked for something that would be very very
competitive and attractive to people that were already used to paying a
subscription. When we looked at our cost models, it validated that we
could continue to have a really thriving community at that price point.
We tried to make the most attractive price point to consumers while
still letting us make the money we need to keep the game going and
deliver new content, and that's basically where it came in at.

Ten Ton Hammer: As I look over
this list, another thing that I
don't think we've talked about before is this virtual reality fighting
arena. Was this something that came about as a result of testing?

Todd: No, we've actually had that since very early
builds, but it's nothing that we've talked about. We just decided to
call it out and give it a bullet point; it's not really a new thing,
just newly advertised. I think what we've seen, particularly with this
model, there may be folks that go into the game and just really want to
do co-op PvE, and the VR fighting arena has turned out to be a nice
transition for people into PvP. You don't lose anything, the
other team isn't winning anything. It's just a completely
no-consequence, non-judgmental way to go up against other players. It's
individual; no one on your team is going to be telling you to do
something or not do something, it's just a nice way to transition
players into the match-made PvP.

Ten Ton Hammer:  Being that the VR arena is
individual, will teams be able to go in there and practice tactics?

Todd: You
go in as an individual and then it assigns you to a task force. There
are two sides, but the system is arranging you. It's less for team
tactics and more for individual tactics, by design.

Ten Ton Hammer: Facilities - are these crafting hubs that are
capturable, or what are facilities about?

Todd: We're
not going into too much detail, but at the high level AvA, the maps are
instanced like PvE and PvP, but they have a persistent state on the hex
board. There's a set of board game rules about what types of facilities
are available to an agency - to build or to upgrade. These facilities -
labs, factories, and mines - have different output types that the
agency makes decisions about, and as long as the agency is holding that
facility during the open conflict window, they get the output from that
zone. There's the whole strategy aspect on how much territory you want
to try and hold and how you want to concentrate your output and
production, and the conflict aspect of attacking other agencies, plus
base raids.  

So at the end of a zone open period - let's say
I'm in an agency competing for a zone that's open three hours a day
that I've kind of self-selected into. The status of the hexes that I
won or lost, those are going to have meaning in the world until the
next zone open. So if I have a factory and it's making x widgets,
going to get that production cycle over that time. So that's where the
persistence comes from and how we can have a game where it's more than
one match and then the map disappears. Again, we'll be getting into a
lot more detail on that once we get through a few more Conquest cycles

Ten Ton Hammer: Base Raids  - can you tell us a little bit
about what these are about?

Todd: At
a high level, the zone is open for a certain period of time. These
hexes are persistent territories, and one type of territory (instead of
a facility that's producing for me, this is a very distinguished type
of facility) is a base, which is also a much bigger operation to attack
or to defend. Base raids are something that we actually have tested
with the alpha group. It worked well, as far as coordinating six
different strike teams in a coordinated fashion to take over the

Ten Ton Hammer: One other point of clarification - this is
probably obvious, but the game will do a good job of telling you who's
a subscriber and who isn't, so you don't try defending your base with a
bunch of non-subscribers?

Todd: That's very important to us. Agency
management for the Conquest players is a big piece of it, so there's
functionality to form your agency and ranks and permissions and all
that's part of the gameplay. At a high level, yea, as an agency leader,
you will have good visibility into subscriber status. For the most
part, as envisioned right now, a non-subscriber can be in your agency
and that's someone you can easily team with for PvE or match-made PvP,
but you won't be able to accidentally invite them to your strike force.

Ten Ton Hammer: On the core features list, I see you can create up to 8
characters. Will subscribers get more?

Todd: That's not a "gimped" thing - that's just our
current number of slots for both groups. Depending on how you want to
do it, that gives you two of each class.

Ten Ton Hammer: We've definitely seen more of the non-Conquest
game to-date. It shows really, really well at PAX and those kind of fan
events, being at its core a multiplayer shooter. Does this mark a
turning point in what we're previewing? Can we look forward to more
info on the campaign game in the coming weeks?

Todd: That's our primary focus right now. We've
really taken the non-Conquest gameplay on the road, it's been hit hard
because we play it every day, the beta community's played it, and we've
taken it to shows and it is a show-friendly sort of game because you
can hop in and immediately have fun, and people can get a feel for
whether it's their type of game or not. That part we feel really good

So right now, we're doing additional content on the PvE and we're
focused on the AvA side. In the coming months we're going to be
introducing that to our beta community - that's our next big
development milestone: getting [AvA] to the point where beta players
can play it alongside our development group, and then talking a lot
about it externally. As you know, we tend to want to prove things out
internally with the beta group before we set expectations that we have
to change. The pricing model, I think, does kind of  put our
money where our mouths have been. We've always said thatthe gameplay's
fun, people will come for the gameplay, but they'll stick around for
the AvA.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will non-subscribers be able to support their
agencies in any way, especially since they can't go along on missions
or craft?

Todd: As envisioned right now, they really won't,
because it's a secondary set of gameplay and set of maps that they
can't join. Right now, the intent is that if I'm a non-subscriber, I
can be in an agency, but really it's for the purpose of joining with
them for co-op PvE and PvP. Right now we're drawing a pretty hard line
there. Having a persistent group there really makes it easy to find
folks, and maybe you're attached to the name of a group that's doing
well in AvA. But we really want some incentive there for folks that
want to contribute to AvA - maybe they want to get in there and fight
or contribute resources - that's really what the Conquest subscription
is for.

Our thanks to
Todd Harris and the Global Agenda team for taking some time to answer
our questions on a very busy week!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Global Agenda Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.