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Global Agenda Developers Blog

Just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, exquisitely talented developers have been working to create a unique and immersive MMO experience. Global Agenda is a 'Spy-Fi' Action MMO set in a dynamic world of advanced technology and player-driven conflict

Author: HiRezStudios

The Path to E3

Posted by HiRezStudios Friday May 29 2009 at 5:43PM
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 Who do we talk to about getting E3 rescheduled?

Seriously, it couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time in relation to Global Agenda’s accelerating timetable, with our plans to enter beta testing very soon. We’ve been working toward this goal for almost four years now and the buzz around the studio is becoming audible, filling our studio with excited energy at all hours of the day and night. For us, constant play testing is critical. For the past three years we've been playing the game ourselves every single day, but for the past month we've stepped up the frequency of external tester visits to 3-4 times each week. So far the player feedback has been great and, if you’re fortunate enough to be attending E3, we hope you'll stop by to see and play the game for yourself.

Executive Producer Todd Harris said it best: “Global Agenda is something that’s best experienced rather than merely explained.” We’re itching to illustrate his point next week when we host the first worldwide unveiling of the project. Here’s my stab at summarizing the game: Global Agenda is an action-packed, third-person, team-oriented shooter/RPG hybrid with character advancement, visual customization, and guild-level territorial conquest set in a post-apocalyptic future Earth where rival factions of elite super agents equipped with advanced technology struggle to control and rebuild the world while simultaneously opposing an oppressive world government. OK, so maybe it IS a bit hard to explain. As the MMO Report recently quipped: Global Agenda - "FPS...RPG...MMO...WTF?"

Bottom line, if you stop by our booth you'll get a taste of exciting match-based PvP missions, co-op PvE missions, stylized graphics and visceral combat sequences. You'll see agile soldiers in power armor jetpack across battlefields scattered among various environments, from arctic wastelands to perilous mountaintops, ocean platforms to metropolis skyscrapers. We were saving most of this until Closed Beta but decided that it would be worthwhile to give the crowd in Los Angeles an early sneak peak!

So, while we’re very proud of Global Agenda and eager to share it with everyone at last, we’re still going to ask around about putting the convention off until we’re ready to drop our beta on the world. The game is ready, but we need some sleep! You can all still get your airline tickets and hotel reservations rescheduled, right? Alright, alright, so that would be a pain. I guess we’ll just have to sacrifice a little more rest in order to get everything setup for our public showing.

If you stop by the Hi Rez Studios booth in the South Hall at E3 and everyone there looks like zombie movie extras in matching t-shirts, just remember that they’re living on a diet of excitement and energy drinks to bring you a preview of their baby. We don't really have full-time marketing execs, nor suits, nor hired booth babes. We'll simply be bringing a few members of the actual development team; although admittedly some of us ARE babes. :) See you there!

- Michal

A Minute To Learn, A Lifetime To Master

Posted by HiRezStudios Tuesday May 12 2009 at 12:05PM
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A Minute To Learn, A Lifetime To Master
Todd Harris, Executive Producer

In early 2005, when we first opened the doors of Hi-Rez Studios, we were asked to describe our team's philosophy in making games. Our answer was "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master".

Erez (our company founder & Lead Designer) and I grew up in the coin-op arcade era, where if the game did not grab your attention and give you a taste of victory within the first 5 minutes it wouldn't earn another quarter from you. Yet the best games also managed to engage & challenge the best players for hours, and sometimes on that same quarter!

Easy to learn, hard to master seems like a great, common-sense approach, yet it is not uncommon for titles to take a seemingly opposite approach - overly complicated/confusing/difficult from the start; or not remaining fun/interesting/meaningful over time. With Global Agenda our intent is to offer multiple 'tiers' of game-play such that players can engage and master each of those at their own pace. Particular players may progress at different speeds based on their prior gaming experience and player skill but the game should remain challenging and engaging for a very long time.

Specifically, the major tiers of gameplay within GA include:

1. Action/Shooter mechanics and reflexes
2. RPG/Build
3. Team Tactics and Cooperation - Per Mission Instance
4. Domination Strategy & Coordination - Per Alliance vs. Alliance Campaign

Each of these could actually be subdivided in more detail but the general point is that each tier builds upon the one before it.

1. Action/Shooter
When first starting out, a player has a limited number of devices so he/she can become familiar with the basic WASD+mouse, jumping, crouching, grappling & jetpacking involved with player control in Global Agenda. Players that come from FPS/action backgrounds will master this tier quickly; and those players that have high situational awareness and learn the specific map layouts will likely progress even faster. But for those players coming from more traditional fantasy MMOs that do not play FPS games there will be some new player skills to learn and master.

2. RPG/Build
As players accumulate new skills and devices for their character, they make a different set of decisions quite independent from their twitch skills or map-knowledge. Some of these decisions are made at skill-point allocation time, some are made at mission equip time, while others are within the middle of fast-paced combat. We have the concept of different attack types (melee, aoe, range) and different damage types (physical, fire, poison, & energy) per device. And we have various passive and active protections against those different attack types and damage types. So, this layer adds the 'stats' element to the core action element. My devices matter; but it also matters what devices my enemy has and which he is wielding at that moment. And, this is the layer of gameplay that is more familiar to traditional MMORPG players ("I designed the leet build... take a look"); but may be less familiar to some action/FPS players.

3. Team Tactics & Coordination - Per Mission Instance
Our intent is for team-work to make a huge difference within mission, and with more variety and role options than just the traditional Tank+DPS+Healer combo. Indeed, the value of teamwork is consistently demonstrated within our playtest sessions where we see coordinated teams beating a collection of high-scoring individuals. The distinct roles of our classes, map layouts, and gameplay mechanics such as the HERMES teleport beacon, are designed to reward teams that are coordinated.

4. Strategy - Per Alliance vs. Alliance Campaign
Finally, with Alliance v. Alliance conflict, we provide a territory-oriented Campaign that is winnable in the way a sports season is winnable. A more strategic set of decisions are introduced at this tier in terms of which other organizations to ally with, which to target, how to allocate resources, and how to best construct and defend your own facilities toward dominating a region or accomplishing other agency goals.

So, how are we doing with these goals?

- Well, our dev team has been playing the game every single day for three years and things haven't gotten stale yet! It is always bittersweet when we have to stop playing Global Agenda in order to keep developing Global Agenda and that is a good sign.
- Also, for months we have playing alongside our 1000ish Alpha users. We have not yet exposed the Campaign to Alpha but the community has been very enthusiastic about tiers #1, #2, and #3 based on their experience to date. Thanks to this active, passionate Alpha community we feel very good about these elements.
- For us, the next step is rolling out the Campaign and group vs. group territory control elements with a larger test community. That will happen sometime within our Closed Beta phase which we are fast approaching. We're very excited about the potential and invite interested others to join us!




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