With Hi-Rez Studios' Global Agenda enjoying its first year online, both Ten Ton Hammer and MMORPG.com capitalized on the opportunity to interview executive producer Todd Harris about where they've taken the massively multiplayer shooter/RPG over the past twelve months, and where it's headed in the future.
Ten Ton Hammer: What would you say are some of the major lessons you've learned over the past year with Global Agenda?
Todd Harris: Two major lessons come quickly to mind.
On the marketing side - we should have proclaimed our BuyOncePlayForever model earlier and more loudly. We launched Global Agenda intending to have an eventual subscription for premium content including AvA. As you know, we never ended up charging that subscription. Based on player feedback, last summer we shifted to a Buy Once model - like Guild Wars - which definitely fits the game better. But there are still people under the false impression that a sub is required for some content, or for AvA. Now, as we head into year two, we continue to attract a lot of new players once they understand we are indeed buy once to play forever.
On the gameplay side - We've adjusted many systems to strike a better balance between commitment and accessibility. As a team-focused game much of the fun within GA relies on having other people around to play with and play against. At the same time we support many different game-modes and at any one time I as a player might be interested in questing, instanced PvE, instanced Mercenary PvP, more competitive pre-made team PvP, 10-person Raids, or AvA. Our players are committed to the game but also expect the instant pick-up-and-play satisfaction like other shooters. And most want a predictable schedule for events they can plan the rest of their lives around. For example - our very first AvA season had a win-condition that was not date based. It was an extended war between agencies to construct a Particle Forge which was fun and epic but it also caused burnout. Our current AvA seasons are scheduled such that each season is 2 weeks long and the board open hours are also predictable. Another example would be special mission types like Defensive Raids and DoubleAgent. We put these missions on timed alerts - making them available less often but drawing more attention and players when they occur.
MMORPG.com: What's the live service like these days? How have players responded to the many changes you've put in place, and what have you learned in this first year to use going forward?
Todd Harris: Adding content and features has only reinforced that Global Agenda's strength remains our intense, squad-based combat. We entertained raising the player-cap within GA missions but felt it would change the core gameplay too much; and not for the better. So, going forward we're continuing to focus on intense PvE & PvP combat with player max of 10 per side - just more interesting ways for players to experience that fun gameplay be it within OpenZones or instanced - and we plan on a mix of both going forward.