The Agency - All News
Friday - July 31, 2009
The Agency - Senior Staff Leave
Eurogamer report on another new start-up Detonator Games.
Eurogamer has learned that several senior staff have left Sony Online Entertainment's Seattle studio - the developer currently making espionage MMO The Agency for PC and PS3 - including the studio head.
Studio director and executive producer Matt Wilson, art director Corey Dangel, and producer John Smith left at the start of July to form a new studio called Detonator Games, as confirmed at the Detonator Games website.
Wednesday - August 27, 2008
The Agency - Interview Part 1-3 @ The Agency HQ
Following up on the SOE Fan Faire '08 coverage from The Agency HQ, I find that they've published a three part interview with the developers of The Agency. An overview:
Wednesday - August 20, 2008
The Agency - Interview Session #1 @ HQ
The website "The Agency HQ" has a transcript of an interview with developers Hal Milton and Matt Wilson at the SOE Fan Faire:
One last thing on the PS3, at E3 you mentioned that you had episodic content every couple weeks. How’s that going to work with the PS3?
[Hal] Our version of episodic content, we’ll of course have substantial content that introduces entirely new locales, rules, etc. Our episodic content is something we’re calling ACES right now. Every two weeks there is a short 5 to 10 minute combat or non combat mission that plays out that extends the world story. It puts Paragon and Unite into competition for point scoring, etc. We haven’t announced all the details on that because we’re actually still working on some of the guts, but it should be transparent to both the PS3 and PC players. When we say episodic, there is not an extensive download associated with it.
When we go to expansion, that’s where things get more interesting in determining how you’re going to be getting content onto the PS3 through PSN. Thankfully, the PS3 has a really robust architecture for being able to download products that you can actually add on and install to existing games that are there. Siren is a really interesting episodic model that just came out that does that. That’s what were going for.
So the ACES system in general, which may or may not have it’s name changed, is all about giving that water cooler experience that every two weeks something different is happening in the world, and you can help contribute to either Unite or Paragon ability to overcome it. The other thing that I like about it, is if you don’t play the game for a year, you don’t miss those episodes. It’s kind of like a backlog of television episodes, you’ll have like, if you’ve not played for a year, 26 of these waiting for you to go through at your leisure. It’s a very interesting adjunct into the main career story of the world.
Sunday - August 17, 2008
The Agency - Cross Platform Play in the Bin
Eurogamer has a news story reporting that a speech held by Lead Designer Hal Milton at SOE's Fan Faire puts cross platform play between PC players and PS3 players in the thrash bin:
Speaking at SOE's annual Fan Faire in Las Vegas, Milton said, "There's no technological reason why you can't play cross-platform, but there’s a philosophical reason why design doesn’t want to do it. If we have to compromise one platform to support both, then we won't.
"A couple of members of our team gained a lot of experience working on Shadowrun, and no matter how well you fine-tune it, you end up with a player-base that's polarised," Milton said, referring to Microsoft's ill-fated cross-platform shooter for PC and Xbox 360.
"PC guys say, 'PS3 guys have aim assist and the controls nerfed for them'. And PS3 guys say, 'PC guys have a mouse and keyboard - it's all easier for them'. Even if it's not true.
"So what I would rather concentrate on is taking all that delicious persistent data and the community capabilities and try to find more interesting ways of putting that together," Milton added, and yes, he did describe persistent data as being "delicious".
When we quizzed him further on what kind of "interesting ways" he had in mind for combining the PC and PS3 player-bases, Milton said, "The community stuff's pretty easy - there's an economy, and there's chat. On the gameplay side, I can't talk about what we're planning. But there are metagame elements that allow us to say, 'Hey PS3 guys, the PC guys care more than you!' And they’ll be, 'No they don't! I'll show you!'"
During a Q&A session on The Agency, design director Matt Wilson also suggested that with a single account, you should be able to create characters on both PS3 and PC versions of the game. But as Milton confirmed, you will not be able to pick up on PS3 where you left off on the PC version or vice versa, and two different copies of the game will be required.
Source: Blues News
Friday - June 13, 2008
The Agency - Interview @ Eurogamer
The Agency's Lead Designer (Hal Milton) and Director of Development (Matt Wilson) are interviewed over at Eurogamer.
Eurogamer: The game's been designed with solo play very much in mind, and very little content that's exclusively for groups. How come?
Hal Milton: There's a designer who I've adored for years who's a good friend, called Dan Rubenfield, who puts this best. For player-versus-player combat, and for all those things that challenge the player, all of our online games are The Lord of the Flies. It's our job to protect Piggy from having his head bashed in with a rock. That stuck with me because it's absolutely accurate - we want to protect the sheep from the wolves.
So we make sure that that core experience that you paid to play, that you want to have fun with, is not a going-to-work simulator which punishes you for not playing it the way we want you to. It doesn't preclude the notion of having that type of gameplay - it just means that it's consensual and the player knows what choice they're making, and everything else is something you can get through with your own wits and skill.
Thursday - June 12, 2008
The Agency - Preview @ Eurogamer
Oli Welsh gets a look at The Agency.
The demo we're shown takes place in the game's second act, set in Europe (the two locations we catch wind of in our time at the studio are Prague and Panama). The Agency seems to feature an unusually structured storyline for an MMO - albeit one that's some hundred hours long - with acts in which multiple plots, including separate paths for Paragon and UNITE, gradually converge on a single bad guy.
The globe-trotting, Earth-set theme necessarily means the game is going to be geographically broken up rather than a single contiguous world. It'll be based on a hub-and-spoke system with social hubs leading to private and public encounters - some of the spokes may be gameplay challenges, we're told, which leads us to suspect that the game's vehicles may come into play here. "So, you know, it's Diddy Kong Racing", Milton sums up, adding that there will be combat areas simultaneously open to large numbers of players. "We're not going to segregate everybody, we want to have happenstance encounters between players who find themselves magically in the same space shooting at the same bad guys."
Friday - May 30, 2008
The Agency - Screenshots @ MASSIVE Forums
Some new screenshots for The Agency, a PC and PS3 espionage MMO in development, can be viewed at the MASSIVE Headquarters forums.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - May 21, 2008
The Agency - Preview @ IGN
IGN previews The Agency:
According to Smedley, The Agency's development mantra is "fun now, with no waiting" because they know that players do not want to wait to get into the action, a lesson he says they learned with their 2003 MMO Planetside. Now, although the game is primarily a shooter, there are some elements that place it in a class of its own. What they call "living loot" are actually operatives that help the player accomplish his goals in the game, both online and offline.
How does that work? Operatives are contacts that can be acquired through missions and can be traded between players. Their physical representation in the game is actually in the form of trading cards and, as Smedley describes them, you can think of them as Q in the Bond movies or Chloe in 24. They can provide active help during missions or make goods or provide services for you remotely. So if you need some research done for example, or need a new car or a new gadget, all you have to do is get an operative to do it for you while you are out on missions or even logged out of the game. When it's ready, the operative will contact you and deliver the goods. In the video shown, this took the form of a huge crate dropping from a helicopter, which opened up to reveal a fancy new car!
Source: Blues News
Thursday - May 15, 2008
The Agency - To have Real Money Trading
Eurogamer reports that The Agency will have RMT supported via Live Gamer. Making this possibly free to play though EQ2 runs this as well and is still subscription based.
SOE president John Smedley seemed to hint as much in his comment on the deal. "We are actively exploring free-to-play and other revenue models, and always looking for new ways to engage and entertain gamers," he said. "Live Gamer is a proven partner that protects and supports our gamers who participate in RMT [real money trading]. We trust them to handle this area of the business for us so that we can focus on creating and growing our games."
Live Gamer president Andrew Schneider added that The Agency and Free Realms were "titles for which the idea of RMT has been built in from the very early stages of design". The press release notes that The Agency will allow players to customise their characters through "attire, weaponry, gadgets, vehicles, gear and aliases that tailor their game play" - all of which could be sold.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - April 16, 2008
The Agency - Interview @ The Agency HQ
Part one of an interview with Hal Milton, Lead Designer on The Agency, is up at The Agency HQ:
[00G] You’ve mentioned an intel camera for taking pictures of handoff’s, liason’s, etc. How is this used in the game? What benefits does it give?
[HM] So intel is a pretty big system. There will be visual intel, physical intel, and maybe another type which I’m not going to mention. You generate visual intel by bringing out your camera and taking pictures of events or objects that are going to highlighted when you look through the view finder. That means that A) I see a teddy bear with a gun sticking out of it’s stomach, “I bet that’s an intel object that I’ve never seen before”, I take a picture and get credit for it. B) I see a liason between two people, I bring up my camera, “Hey look that’s an intel object!”, take a picture of it and get credit.
What does this mean? Well, the intel can include finding physical intel, packages, microfiche, etc. This intel can then be analyzed by operatives and converted into things like unlocking a new mission, a monetary reward, or it may turn into schematics that lead to crafting weapons, objects, gadgets, technology. So, the entire world becomes this explorable space where you’re taking pictures of stuff and then checking if that intel can be analyzed by operatives to turn into something special. At the top level, it’s an achievement mechanic, you walk around the world fishing for stuff that you’ve never seen before. But as you begin to explore it, it turns into one of the most vital elements for operatives, and for advancing or opening up side missions for players. As well as some other fun affects which we’ll go into another time.
Friday - April 04, 2008
The Agency - Preview @ CVG
A preview of SOE's PC/PS3 espionage MMO, The Agency, is up at CVG. Something on platform problematics:
As well as a de rigueur stylised cartoony look, Sony Online are currently developing The Agency for the PlayStation 3 with half the team playtesting with controllers and the other half with mice and keyboards.
However, whether you'll be able to spy on console players is still undecided according to O'Hara: "We could allow it, but the bigger question is should we allow it? We're well aware of the arguments against doing so. In fact, our own internal rule is: we won't compromise one platform's gameplay just to support both."
Tuesday - March 25, 2008
The Agency - Q&A @ GameSpot
Q&A on what is planned for The Agency.
GameSpot UK: What can you tell us about the Player vs Player action in the game? Will this include world PvP, or is it limited to certain arenas?
Hal Milton: The Agency is an action shooter; therefore PvP is a very important feature. There will be a mix of PvP arenas that support casual and official game modes that feature common and unique multiplayer game types. There will also be some optional crossover PvE missions that may find UNITE and ParaGON agents coming into conflict over shared or competitive objectives within a given area.
However, we need to make certain a player's first experience is not being repeatedly shot in the brain every time they set foot in the world. Therefore, player versus player content is always consensual and never a surprise.
Wednesday - March 19, 2008
The Agency - Interview @ EuroGamer
Oli Welsh interviews Matt Staroscik about the upcoming PC & PS3 MMO The Agency.
The Agency is one of our most-wanted MMOs at the moment, and not just because it's coming to PS3 as well as PC. The spy-themed massively multiplayer shooter from Sony Online Entertainment - creators of early hit EverQuest, and Star Wars Galaxies - looks like it will be one of the first major MMOs to offer a convincing alternative to the epic fantasy RPG grind. Players will enter a sharply-drawn, stylish, but none too serious world of intrigue as either a UNITE super-spy or ParaGON mercenary.
Eventually, you'll graduate to start your own agency, staffed with NPCs you can collect who will do much of the game's hard work - intelligence gathering, equipment creation - for you. We interviewed designer and lead writer Matt Staroscik to find out how things are progressing.
Monday - January 14, 2008
The Agency - CES Report @ MMORPG.com
Carolyn Koh reports back from CES on Sony's upcoming MMO, The Agency.
Operative “cards” were shown for the first time – in the manner of I.D. tags with pictures and stats – except that the sides to the card are endless. Turn it over, you get more stats and as your operative improves and levels, his or her skills grow, so too will the number of “sides” to that card. Operatives are your Qs, Moneypennys and Oracles. They help you to retrofit your vehicles and improve your armor, they provide you intelligence and improved weaponry. You can have a stable of 100 operatives, we were told, but like any bunch of employees, they could slack off, quarrel and refuse to work with one another, or you could receive a text message (if you turn on that option) one day from one to the effect of “On 2 wks vaca w Sonia, Cya” and you realize you’ve lost the use of your top two operatives for a few real life days. Interesting… operatives have love lives. So how do you grow and level your operatives? There are “operative” moments in game that if you use, will give them xp. These are found during missions where you can dial your operative and make a request to help you perform an action. For example: short circuit a key function in the building, bust a steam valve, give you information or intelligence.
Thursday - January 10, 2008
The Agency - Developer Walkthrough @ GameTrailers.com
GameTrailers.com has posted a three part developer walkthrough video of The Agency, Sony's upcoming spy-themed MMO.
Saturday - September 22, 2007
The Agency - Interview @ RPG Vault
RPG Vault talks to Hal Milton, the Lead Designer for The Agency.
Jonric: What would you like to say about The Agency to introduce it to our readers? What's it about, and what kind of massively multiplayer game will it be?
Hal Milton: The Agency is a game that allows players to live the lives of elite Agents. The world is one in the very near future, where spies, mercenaries and their agencies are ubiquitous, to the point that even the general public is bored by some of their antics... until, of course, stuff starts to blow up. Players will experience tactical action shooter gameplay, a host of non-combat activities, and develop their own agencies through a roster of collectable operatives who live to analyze intel, build the latest weapons, gadgets and vehicles, and go all over the world to unlock, assist or otherwise give the player new missions and fun to pursue.
Source: RPG Vault
Information aboutThe Agency
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: SOE
· Platform: PS3
· To be announced
· Publisher: SOE