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Agencies Interview

Garrett Fuller Posted:
Interviews 0

Global Agenda's Executive Producer Todd Harris recently answered questions from our own Garrett Fuller about Agencies and other aspects of gameplay for the upcoming MMO.


Tell us about how the Agency vs. Agency combat came into play, where did the idea stem from?

Todd Harris:

As you know, Global Agenda's AvA Conquest gameplay allows player-created groups, called Agencies, to compete against one another for persistent territory, resources, and technology. And this idea really evolved from a couple of basic observations:

  1. Coordinated squad-based combat is a lot of fun! Especially when it is balanced. Just look at the continued popularity of online multiplayer FPS games be those co-op or competitive experiences.
  2. If those matches actually mattered, that is - if what happened in the match had consequences and affected the persistent world itself, it would be even MORE fun!

Our dev team has a long history with MMOs and many favorite memories from other MMORPGs are related to group vs. group combat. That said, many MMO end-games seem to devolve into being about who has the most players online at that moment, or who has grinded hardest to get the highest level character and/or gear. We wanted to try a different take that I would categorize as "persistent world PvP" (territory win or loss is meaningful) as opposed to traditional "open world PvP" which is subject to the zerg or gank. Basically we have tried to design our AvA end-game to be more about player skill and tactics in battle, and to incorporate player strategy outside of battle.


Can you tell us about some of the tactics you had in mind that Agencies would use when you created the system?

Todd Harris:

Sure. Regarding tactics in mission - one simple example involves the forward spawn teleport beacon that each team has access to. Once one of your team members places the beacon exit within the mission space, your other team members can step thru a beacon entrance from your drop-ship and be instantly teleported to that exit point.

Within a single PvP mission, one of the biggest differences we see between pre-made Agency groups and pick-up groups is the way that this teleport beacon is actively protected and/or hunted. Most of our PvP mission types revolve around controlling a specific objective area. Therefore, a team with an aggressively placed beacon has a huge advantage, and a team with a destroyed beacon is at a huge disadvantage. As expected we find that pre-made groups often have pre-determined tactics and roles regarding their beacon and the enemy beacon.

When it comes to AvA however, there are also more strategic, resource-oriented decisions around how many beacons to bring into each mission with you because that is a variable you can control. However, there is also cost associated with each of those beacons. So, to what extent will your Agency decide to manufacture beacons within your factories vs. the other items you could be manufacturing?

Perhaps you will choose instead to trade with a friendly Agency for beacons, or buy them off the auction house, or simply risk it with fewer beacons or no beacons?

Even around this one basic forward spawn beacon example ,you can see the potential for a variety of Agency-specific in-mission tactics and above-mission resource decisions. And Beacons are just one of the multiple item types that can be manufactured and consumed within the AvA Conquest gameplay.


How will the classes like Assault and Medic work together? Are there specific concepts behind the make up of an Agency group?

Todd Harris:

Global Agenda has a few different concepts and terms to support grouping and working with other players. What we call a "Team" is a temporary grouping of up to 4 agents so you can play PvE or matchmade PvP with those people on your side, but that is not a grouping that persists once you logout. What we call an "Agency" is indeed a persistent group of say around 100 people, much the way a Guild works in fantasy MMORPGs and we include some built in tools for creating and managing your Agency. So, as a player I can belong to only a single Agency, and all territory is owned at that Agency level. Agencies can also form "Strike Forces" which consist of 10 players working together to attack or defend specific locations on the world map. Finally Agencies can formally group with one another and form "Alliances".

As for classes working closely together in mission, that is certainly the intent. Global Agenda is very much a team-oriented game and it will be up to each Agency to determine what class mix they feel is most effective when they form Strike Forces. Some of our Beta Agencies have been speculating on the ideal class mix but it is all just theory-crafting until the Conquest zone opens and it is proven on the battlefield! This will be coming soon in our second phase of Closed Beta testing.

The Assault-Medic combination you mention is one of the most familiar pairings. MMO players understand Tank-Healer and FPS players are also familiar with this pairing from TF2 and other games . We are consistent with the core roles but very much expand the options available to both Assault and Medic. As one example, as a Medic I can choose one type of Heal device that buffs my ally's damage in addition to healing him, or the Biofeedback heal gun that allows me to alternate between healing my ally and myself, or a Pain Gun that slightly slows and de-buffs the enemy target; or maybe I focus on healing off-hands like Healing Grenades so I can stay a bit farther away from the action, but still heal - at least if my aim is good.


Talk about the type of tactics a Robotic player might use. How will they balance attack and defense?

Todd Harris:

Robotics definitely has an unrivaled set of cool gadgets including a quick deploying forcefield which is one of my favorites. On attack they are most often helping the team advance by fortifying key staging locations - perhaps protecting the Beacon we spoke of earlier, bolstering teammates through deployable health or power stations, keeping an eye out for Recons by using a deployable Sensor that reveals stealth players on their mini, or popping AI-controlled drones when they need extra firepower.

On defense many Robotics players opt for one of the many turret options including a machine gun style turret, a plasma turret, and a rocket turret - each with different arcs of fire and range.

Within AvA Robotics players are in demand because in addition to all the above they can use their in-hand Repair device to fix damaged siege oriented Mechs.

Finally, because Robotic players do have AI-controlled pets and turrets, it can also be a great class choice for players who want to concentrate on positioning and tactics over twitch. Alternatively, they could equip a rifle or shotgun and run & gun with the best of them if they so desire.


How much will weapons and equipment play into the tactics Agencies will use in a fight? Are there specific items that play an important role?

Todd Harris:

Yes, your class specific weapons and devices do define your core character abilities. These abilities can then be further enhanced or specialized thru the way you spec your skill-points within talent trees and by what Upgrades you acquire and equip on your character.

By the time Agents participate in Conquest most will be familiar with their class-specific devices and tactics; having honed those extensively thru matchmade PvP and/or PvE as they choose.

But Conquest does introduce an additional set of devices that are usable only within those persistent territory locations. As with the respawn beacons we were discussing earlier, these AvA items can be manufactured in your Agency factories or purchased on the player auction house and these items are later allocated to Strike Forces by Agency members. So, yes - there are unique items within AvA - siege-type Mechs (robotic suits) being one example - and these items do play an important role, but it is up to each Agency to decide which items they choose to invest toward and build.

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Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.