Global Agenda: Interviewing the Executive Producer

Questions by Rick Charbs, Onrpg writer

Answered by: Todd Harris, Executive Producer of Global Agenda

I have had the pleasure to interview Todd Harris, the executive producer of Global Agenda, a highly anticipated MMORPG. Many unique features their interesting RPG and FPS fusion styled gameplay, a player-run environment, a campaign mode, and many others. The unique jetpacks, an item acquired in the game, are even an enjoyed aspect of the game by its developers: “The other day on our Alpha server I jetpacked up to a roof to surprise a sniping recon and then used a concussion grenade to push him over the ledge!” said Todd Harris. That being said, Global Agenda sure sounds like a breakthrough in the MMO department! For tons of awesome info on this MMO, be sure to take a peek at this interview.

Onrpg: Global Agenda is an upcoming MMORPG using the graphics engine “Unreal® Engine 3”. What brought you to making the decision of using this engine?

Well, we chose Unreal Engine 3 because it supports our fast-paced action combat, while also enabling our artists to deliver an immersive, graphically stunning world. It delivers great aesthetics and great runtime performance.

Beyond combat, our sophisticated database and networking back-end supports character advancement, gear acquisition, agency management, and other MMO aspects of Global Agenda.

Onrpg: It has been said that players will have great control on how the world of Global Agenda is played. How is this so?

Global Agenda is definitely a player-driven world. Traditionally MMOs offer a few, top-down developer created factions and players must choose from one of those preset factions. We do offer NPC factions but we also allow players to create and manage their own in-game agencies and form alliances with other agencies, yielding very dynamic group interaction and politics.

Players joining these player-run agencies compete with other agencies in a technology race for advanced gear and to capture key locations. In fact, the results of an agency versus agency battle in one location can actually influence another location in real-time.

So, we have created the world setting but the ongoing story develops based upon the in-game behaviour of actual players.

Onrpg: What is the main setting of the game?

Global Agenda is set on 22nd-century earth after a worldwide disaster has wiped the slate clean. Most of the familiar countries and cities of today are gone, replaced by new factions battling for control over the limited remaining resources. Wars are no longer fought with massive armies, however. Instead, elite teams of special agents are outfitted with the most advanced technology available and they travel around the world on sub-orbital dropships. You can expect to find yourself and other agents within a variety of exotic and futuristic locations including snow blown arctic bases, dusty desert outposts, mountainous ruins, and futuristic cities.

Onrpg: Global Agenda focuses on RPG and FPS elements. Could you please explain the system of the game?

Certainly. Our dev team really enjoys the action combat and cooperation found in many multiplayer online shooters, but also wanted deep character progression and an immersive, persistent world setting. We didn’t see any games out there with all of the above so we had to build one ourselves! So, Global Agenda is really a hybrid of multiple game types – all within a single MMO.

Global Agenda has elements of an FPS because our in-mission combat plays like a multiplayer online shooter. Yet due to our distinct player classes and other game mechanics, our combat is not decided simply by who has the fastest reflexes. It is more about positioning, team cooperation, and using the appropriate device and counter at the appropriate time. Basically, tactics are more important than twitch.
Global Agenda has elements of an RPG because your character does progress thru a levelling process, advances new skills, acquires gear, and visits cities & vendors, We offer four distinct but broad player agent archetypes and a large set of usable devices including ranged weapons, close-combat weapons, stealth & deception devices, remote controlled robotic pets, turrets, force fields, and many, many more.
Finally, Global Agenda has elements of an RTS (real time strategy) game based upon our episodic Campaigns. The Campaigns give agencies an opportunity to actually gain territory, construct facilities, produce or steal resources, and compete in an approximately 45 day competition to construct a protected complex for your allies before your rivals do.

In this way, your character actions affect the outcome of a single mission (like an FPS), the career of your agent (like an RPG); AND the long-term Campaign goals of your agency (like a giant strategy game).

Onrpg: How deeply can a player customize their agent (character)?

We offer very deep customization. A player starts by selecting from one of our four broad agent archetypes – Assault, Medic, Recon, or Robotics, and customizes his skills and equipment over time. For example, a Medic within Global Agenda could spec to maximize healing of a single target or healing of multiple targets or distance healing by lobbing grenades or debuffing targets via poison or even doing significant direct damage or damage over time via ranged weapons or close combat. So, each archetype supports a variety of skills, gear and play styles.

Visually, players can really customize the look of their agent as well. We have a large library of suits and apparel, custom dies & patterns, and a very sophisticated face customization system.

Onrpg: Could you please briefly explain some of the unique features this game will offer?

Sure. One very unique feature for the MMO genre is true action-oriented combat. Players are actually aiming their gun via a free reticule and evading oncoming projectile fire rather than the traditional, tab-target, button-mashing. As mentioned previously, we have been inspired by combat systems found in modern multiplayer online shooters. But rather than try to describe the combat system I’d encourage your readers to visit our website and check out the gameplay trailer for themselves. To date we’ve received very enthusiastic feedback from MMO players looking for a combat system such as ours.

Secondly, we’ve chosen a “spy-fi” setting which we feel is a nice change of pace from fantasy. In general this setting allows us to incorporate standard MMO features such as player levelling, skills, achievements, social areas, vendors, PvE content, agencies (akin to guilds in other MMOs), but each implemented in a slightly unique manner given our futuristic setting.

Also, we’ve spent a lot of time on features that make it easy for you to group and play with your friends within Global Agenda. There are a hundred little design details that support this concept, but one basic example is that we do not have separate servers you have to join by name when you create your character. So there is no need to transfer servers in the future if you find a group of friends you want to play with, or against!

Finally, the most unique feature of Global Agenda would have to be the Campaign mode I mentioned before. Player agency leaders are engaged in a high level game of territory control and expansion, like a board game of global domination, but with the actual conflicts being resolved by other player agent combatants.

Onrpg: Do you consider Global Agenda to be a highly PVP focused game?

Yep – lots of PvP! But PvE and co-op PvE play a very significant role as well.

Onrpg: What is your favourite aspect of the game so far?

That’s a tough question because the game has so many different layers that it’s hard to pick a single favourite. I love that our game design allows agencies to leave a lasting impression on the world. It allows you to feel like you’re really working toward something meaningful.

My favourite aspect of the in-mission gameplay would have to be our jetpacks! I’ve always enjoyed flying within other MMOs, and we spent a lot of time making sure our jetpacks were well integrated into the overall control and combat system. They support very fluid player movement and enable rooftop battles which are an absolute blast! The other day on our Alpha server I jetpacked up to a roof to surprise a sniping recon and then used a concussion grenade to push him over the ledge!

Onrpg: Will users require very powerful systems to run this game? What do you expect the minimum requirements will seem like?

Users will be able to customize in-game video settings to accommodate a wide range of hardware configurations. In general, we expect the game to run very well on PCs that play other Unreal 3 engine based games.

Onrpg: When do you assume the game will be prepared for closed beta release?

We are currently in closed alpha with an active community of well over 1000 players. We will begin the closed beta in the second quarter of 2009 and are accepting applications for this beta now. So come apply to join the fun and play Global Agenda. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there!

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