We sat down with Global Agenda's executive producer Todd Harris to talk about the closed beta that the game is going through this month. Todd had some great things to say about how the company is handling beta feedback and what their plans are for launch. If you have not been following Global Agenda, the game falls into the spy-fi genre with some serious tech for gear heads, player controlled areas in the Conquest portion of the game, and overall shoot'em up quickness of an FPS.
Todd started off by talking about the feedback they are getting from closed beta. "We are being very up front with our community on what we are testing," he said. Todd wants the players to know what they are in for when they enter beta. "We are not planning to use beta for marketing," explained Todd as reminds players that Hi-Rez is very focused on getting the game play accurate and fun.
When Global Agenda was in Alpha, the company worked very hard to make sure the core combat of the game met their standards. They wanted to put gameplay first above all other areas of the game. Once this area was in a great place for the developers they started doing closed beta one. In that test, they focused on player progression, loot, crafting, mail, and auctions. This was basically to test out all the trimmings of a typical MMO. But Todd was very serious about getting the game play right first, before adding in all the extras.
In the closed beta two, currently going on now, players who have pre-ordered the game have access to test out specific areas. This allows the team at Hi-Rez to look at their infrastructure, stress testing, and technology to make sure the game can handle players and balance out performance. With a game that has high PvP in an FPS format, you want to make sure lag is not an issue. "We collect a lot of surveys at the end of each beta," explained Todd. Hi-Rez really wants to make sure the game is running well and works on all fronts before launch.
The Conquest area is another element that the team is testing with beta. This is a persistent zone where PvP rules the environment. Players can set up Agencies (guilds) and battle it out for domination. Todd said that players really enjoy the game combat and they are interested to see how it impacts the persistent world. They have high hopes for the Conquest zone, which will be the battleground of the future. The area incorporates elements of RTS play allowing players to create facilities for research and development of technology.
"So far performance in beta has met our standards," began Todd as I asked him how the beta was running from a tech side. He said that this January time frame is critical because it will test the stress on the servers. "The team is focused on resolving any server issues that might come up," he said. In a game like Global Agenda performance is very important to player enjoyment and the team hopes to have a very high performance game running by launch time.
I asked Todd about the game itself and he was excited to use the term "spy-fi." It does fit into the spy genre but has a major science fiction element to it. With endless gadgets and weapons players will have a lot to explore in maxing out their character's potential. Technology is a big theme in the game and they want it to play into the explosive agent style of the game. Todd explained this is not the cocktail party, poker playing spy game. It is more intense and combat driven. They want the fast paced fights to keep game play intense and fun.
We asked Todd about game balance and he quickly said, "That is the number one obsession of our lead designer." Todd said that it is hard to balance a game for both PvP and PvE. So they started by balancing it for PvP first. Since that is where they expect the bulk of competitive players to be. Then they went in and added PvE enemies which were designed around the PvP balanced game play. Basically the system takes into account the players first. Another area that was important to balance was stealth in the game. Stealth and recon play major roles, but Todd said that there are some equal counters to stealth based characters.
One example he gave of something that ended up on the cutting room floor was a sleep dart for stealth classes. While great in theory, it caused some major issues with crowd control and knocking players out of a fight without them even knowing what happened. Todd said this is a good example of how they are taking very important things into account when balancing the game.
Right now Global Agenda is deep in testing and gearing up for launch. Todd pointed out that if you pre-order the game you can get into the beta test early to try things out and give feedback to the team. Hi-Rez has high hopes for the game to catch on via word of mouth because they believe very strongly in their game play. Currently in testing Hi-Rez is very eager to see how the Conquest area works out for players because it is the major PvP zone in the game. We wish Todd the best of luck with launching Global Agenda and you can continue to find coverage over the next few weeks as the game enters launch in February.