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Role Playing (Games)

SOE Officially Announces The Agency, FreeRealms 80

Posted by Zonk
from the killing-trolls-in-sexy-leather dept.
Today the embargo ended for news on Sony Online Entertainment's two newest Massively Multiplayer Online Games. One, entitled The Agency is slated for the PS3 and PC formats, and will feature a spies and mercenaries theme so far unseen in the Massive genre. The other is FreeRealms, a fantasy title deliberately aimed at non-traditional gamers. It will feature whimsical gameplay and offer users the ability to create their own content, another first for a Massive title. Gamasutra has an interview with Matt Wilson, the studio director of SOE-Seattle, discussing the inspiration behind The Agency . "I think our big inspiration to develop this game actually came from watching movies. If you pay attention to all of the summer blockbusters there are lot of movies that come out around the spy/espionage genre. Whether it's James Bond, or the Bourne series all the way from Mission Impossible or even TV shows like 24 or Alias, it is a really big genre of information that is out there."
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SOE Officially Announces The Agency, FreeRealms

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  • And here. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday June 11, 2007 @03:22PM (#19468711) Homepage
    And here, my friends, will SOE feel the full brunt of the backlash of their raping and pillaging many games in the MMO genre.

    The very fact that SOE is at the helm will cause many people to not even want to READ about these titles, much less play them (and yes, I am one of the many folks pissed off at what SOE did to completely DESTROY Star Wars Galaxies which was, at one time, probably the best and deepest MMO around)
    • So very true. I said a while back that SOE is where MMOs go to die. These things will just be still-born.
    • SWG one of the best MMOs around? When was that? Back in Beta or Pre-Beta?

      Because when I was testing the game, it was a wretched abomination unto the Star Wars license.

      Oh, I agree with you that SoE ruins everything it touches. I canceled my Vanguard account when they purchased Sigil. But SWG retains the #2 position of my All Time Most Disappointing Games list, so... it's a sore spot for me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bieeanda (961632)
      Amen to that. If what they did to SWG is any indication of their attitude toward 'non-traditional' games and content, aimed at the so-called masses, then SomeUnlikelyDefinitionofFree-Realms is dead already.

      It certainly doesn't help that SOE has gone from being the mill against which all MMO grinds are measured, to becoming the industry's elephant graveyard, where the likes of Matrix: Online, Vanguard and SWG go to die.

    • ... when you are aiming at non-traditional playerbase.

      (but then again, I'm one of the Sony Faithful, I still play EQ ...)
    • Re:And here. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WCMI92 (592436) on Monday June 11, 2007 @04:03PM (#19469351) Homepage
      "And here, my friends, will SOE feel the full brunt of the backlash of their raping and pillaging many games in the MMO genre.

      The very fact that SOE is at the helm will cause many people to not even want to READ about these titles, much less play them (and yes, I am one of the many folks pissed off at what SOE did to completely DESTROY Star Wars Galaxies which was, at one time, probably the best and deepest MMO around)"

      Yep. SOE has sown the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.

      They have the absolute worst reputation amongst all MMO developers and are probably the most despised company amongst MMO developers.

      Hopefully soon we will have our Pre-CU SWG back, it's already playable with most combat working over at www.swgemu.com

      To those thinking of trying those games: DONT.

      SOE has and WILL make drastic gameplay changes, including completely invalidating your character achievements even deleting whole aspects of the game! That is what they did to SWG. If they did it before they could do it again.

      SOE is not trustworthy enough to invest the time that a MMO requires into.

      • Re:And here. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by garylian (870843) on Monday June 11, 2007 @05:05PM (#19470363)
        It always seems that the most vocal critics of SOE are the ones that played SWG. Since that game wasn't very good to begin with, I don't see how them taking a chance and screwing it up even further, warrants such hate. Rabid SWG players "Pre-CU" are more disinterested in taking a hard look at the game from a honest viewpoint than UO players were. The bottom line is, subscription numbers were dropping, new subscriptions weren't being picked up, and the common thread of people leaving or not joining was "this game isn't a whole lot of fun." Some people will complain about anything for eternity. I still know people that think the Planes of Power expansion for EQ1 ruined the game because travel became easier. Most folks loved it, though.

        It's rare you will get a UO fanatic to admit that unless you were into a gank-fest type mindset and in a guild that were similarly minded, UO sucked for anyone interested in soloing or non-PvP combat, until it was revamped. When it was revamped, the people that would have loved that change had already left for EQ1 and weren't coming back. It was a classic case of "too little, too late". The remaining player base was mostly furious over the change, as the gankfest had ended. It's kinda funny that once they didn't have folks not interested in PvP to attack and kill easily, the PvP side of the game (the dark shard) was almost always deserted. I'm hoping they git it right in the upcomming beta for the new UO.

        It was similar for SWG. Most people that really wanted to play the game (myself included) left well before the CU update. SOE was trying to stop the bleeding of customers of a game that had a title that should have rightly seen several hundreds of thousands paying and playing, but instead saw a dwindling subscription base. In doing so, they got it wrong, but they tried. They've admitted they botched it, even. But, they had to do something. SWG was dying a slow but painful death, and only the diehards that actually enjoyed the crapfest that was SWG have kept on whining. Much like UO, the change came way too late, and pissed off the majority of the remaining subscriber base.

        They did a great job with EQ1. Lord knows I played it for 5.5 years straight. And so did a large number of other people. Until WoW came out, it was the biggest MMO in North America, by most people's reckoning. I stopped playing after I got into the closed beta for WoW, seeing something that would fit a more casual playstyle better than EQ1. That lasted a whole 9 months after release, and then I was bored out of my skull with the poor endgame that WoW had.

        They got off to a bad start with EQ2, and it got crushed by WoW, and rightfully so. But, I'd say that today's EQ2 beats WoW. It's very solo, duo, and group friendly, with the largest raid force needed stuck at 24. After quiting WoW and going back to CoH and some CoV, I went back and tried EQ2. I haven't left since, despite several beta runs in games like LotR:O, V:SoH, and others.

        And a few people have ranted about Vanguard sucking. Well, it sucked before SOE got involved with it, and it's gonna suck for a long time, unless it gets a serious revamp. You can't blame SOE for V:SOH's weaknesses and all around crappiness. Sigil did that on its own.

        Maybe if Tabula Rising really pulls it off, I will slow down on EQ2. But for now, I'm very happy with this SOE game. And so are a lot of folks that come over from WoW, having burnt out on the end-game content there.

        The bottom line is, SWG players need to get over it, much like UO players need to get over it. I'm sorry a game you loved got altered in a way you and most of the rest of the subscribers didn't like. But just because 1 game was altered that way, doesn't make the game company suck. There are a whole lot of other games that sucked that some people really liked, that got canned instead of the company trying to fix things. At least SOE tried, even if they did screw it up.
        • by anduz (1027854)
          Usually I'd be one of the silent lurkers who just don't buy SOE products and keep all quiet about it, but I just wanted to comment - because I actually liked SWG in the beginning. ;) However I disliked EQ, I hated EQ2 and while I'm not sure if it's fair to call V:SOH a SOE product I sure found it, and the way it was handled, upright repulsive.

          It might be fair to mention that the MMOs I do like (asherons call, shadowbane and eve-online) are far from the EQ model, well maybe except for anarchy online and da
        • by Grimwiz (28623)
          Heres a critic who got fed up of EQ. I put up with them for about 6 years and having tasted the breath of fresh air that other companies provide, will not return.

          --- These comments are aimed at why I dont want SOE supporting my MMORPG...

          SOE only listened to the hard-core vocal players, leaving the casual players without a game - did you ever try soloing past 60 with any non-kiting class? I had 2 accounts going so that I could make headway with tank/healer combo.

          They had games masters who interfered, on self
        • by Reapy (688651)
          I never played swg. I saw what kind of game it was before it was release by reading and keeping up on the reviews/reactions and such. I also saw the beta at a friends house and was surprised it was even being release. Anyway, I knew for myself to stay away, but really, I am still pretty shocked at what they did to the game with the NGE.

          The ONLY sacred thing about an mmo is your character. All your time goes into these guys. When you've played something 5 years you look at your character slots as trophies of
        • by murdocj (543661)

          That lasted a whole 9 months after release, and then I was bored out of my skull with the poor endgame that WoW had.

          My how the times have changed... WoW has an incredibly rich and entertaining endgame now. I suspect you left right before the first endgame additions came out. Even the older endgame like ZG is a ton of fun, and with the BC and the new free Black Temple expansion there is plenty of fun for everyone.

      • by StikyPad (445176)
        SOE has and WILL make drastic gameplay changes

        Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

        including completely invalidating your character achievements even deleting whole aspects of the game!

        You mean games end? Nonsense. I still have my character from Legends of Kesmai and my pilot stats from Air Warrior III! Oh wait. I don't. So Sony decided to overhaul the game. They took a risk and lost. Maybe you enjoy the same generic, repetitive RPG with a different wrapper, but I applaud any effort to
        • by fractoid (1076465)
          [quote]Characters are investments the way cars are investments -- they're not. They have barriers to entry which scale geometrically to meet arbitrary standards, but as a rule, their values always decrease. At least there's a chance that a car could increase in value through scarcity, but usually only if you deprive yourself the pleasure of driving it. I have yet to hear of anyone storing a level 1 character and selling it decades later for a small fortune.[/quote]I think you misunderstand what people mean
        • by DerWulf (782458)
          What? Did you miss the part where he said 'time investment'? Dialog means actually comprehending what the other side has to say, you know?
          • by StikyPad (445176)
            This may be a new concept for you, but time == money.

            Moreover -- and this is the tricky part, so try to keep up -- an investment is something undertaken with the expectation of a return. There is no "return" at the end of an MMORPG, there is only the immediate pleasure of playing it. And no, making friends does not count, because the GP was complaining about the game mechanics, none of which prevented him from continuing a relationship with anyone.
            • by DerWulf (782458)
              If you build up a character so that you may, at a later date, partake in advanced game content that would be an investment? Correct, good Sir?
              What if the publisher basically scraps the advancement concept making you start over again? Have you then lost the time you spent doing things for your character which you wouldn't have done if they weren't a requirement for said advanced content?
              I'd also like to see you explain how time and money are the same thing you ignorant-arrogant twerp.
              • by StikyPad (445176)
                I never said it wasn't an investment, I said it had a negative return, and more prestigious vehicles (or higher levels) require a larger investment (barrier to entry). Nonetheless, they all decline in value. The GP is just unhappy that his "investment" declined in value.

                Additionally, "advanced game content" is just new content, which is what the GP got. He just happened to like the old (or old potential) better than the new.

                And finally, a sample size of one does not a trend make. Being bitter (about SWG
      • SOE has and WILL make drastic gameplay changes, including completely invalidating your character achievements even deleting whole aspects of the game! That is what they did to SWG. If they did it before they could do it again.

        They did it in other games already. Try EQ2 whole classes swung between random extremes, and the whole set of spells got changed at least twice. E.g., one of my characters swung from primarily dual-wielding damage-dealer, to primary tank who can't even solo random mobs without a tower

        • by toolie (22684)
          The biggest reason SWG was screwed from the get-go was that the shots were called by the dynamic duo of fucktards, George Lucas and Raph Koster. Since neither will be working on either of the new games, they automatically have a leg up on SWG.
          • Well, that's technically true, but you have to wonder exactly how much of a leg up.

            On one hand, indeed SWG got screwed more than their other existing games. On the other hand, some things _are_ common to all SOE games. As I was saying, the wholesale changing the whole bloody spell list happened in EQ2 too. It wasn't of the magnitude of the NGE fuck-up, but it was a fuck-up anyway.

            I don't know... applying Occam's Razor, I find it less likely that a bunch of independent teams independently decided to fuck-up
            • by toolie (22684)
              Raph Koster was still the creative director at SOE when EQ2 was in development. I would be more inclined to say he fucked EQ2 up and they've been trying to repair it ever since. Its gotten tons better since he left the company, but I guess it would have been hard to get worse.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by 777a (826468)
        Since most people are mentioning SWG I'll put my comment about PlanetSide (think Tribes with 100's of players and minor character levelling).

        I fair enjoyed PlanetSide, a new patch with bug fixes and a heavily requested feature would be released every few weeks, and all was well. The developers were active both on the forums and in the game, all was well, the golden age of PlanetSide.

        Then they annouced that they'd bring in clan owned bases and 'platoons' (groups of squads), in the next patch. It sounded real
    • When was it the "best and deepest MMO around?" I paid to play SW:G's beta and I didn't like it. The game felt like a terrible mashup of EQ and the tabletop Star Wars (altho' to be fair I hadn't played the old SW tabletop, just the d20 version, so maybe it was more true to the mechanics of the older system). They planned right from the outset to delay implementing vehicles and starcraft, they restricted access to force-sensitive characters, etc. One of the only MMOs that gave players a real choice betwe
    • Did you actually PLAY Star Wars Galaxies? It was massively unfun to start with. I agree that NGE did not improve things but lets face it, the game NEVER had the mass appeal something with a Star Wars license should have had.

      The game as released did not feel like a Star Wars game, but instead like Ultima Online, only with 3D graphics.

      Some people like this kind of game, but obviously not enough of them, or SOE would not have tried NGE.
      • by Pojut (1027544)
        hmm...I found that being able to create your own class, being able to play the game without killing a SINGLE THING (i.e. becoming a merchant), as well as the "no two weapons are the same" due to the differences in material quality and type....it actually was a fantastically fun game; just not an accessable one.

        Frankly, I think it fit the Star Wars universe PERFECTLY. I mean, after all, how often in the books or movies do you see crazy little gadgets, or stores, or things of that nature? In the Star Wars s
        • by toolie (22684)
          In SWG, the way it was orginally run, no two players were alike. If you want cookie cutter, it was not the game for you.

          You played a different SWG than most of us, then. No two crafters were alike, that is true, and it was an awesome part of the game. However, if you wanted to fight at all, you had to be one of a very limited choice of classes to have a chance at succeeding in PVP, Rifleman/Combat Medic, Pistoleer/Expert BH, or Fencer/something I forget. Nothing else was viable.

          Hard to get more cookie cu
    • Star Wars Galaxies which was, at one time, probably the best and deepest MMO around

      Did they destroy it? Most assuredly. Was it the best and deepest MMO around? Get a life.

      But this is what Sony does, they destroy. My favorite example was PlanetSide which I played literally up until the minute the beta servers went down. The next day my roommate bought himself a copy--I hadn't been paid yet that week (luckily)--and discovered that everything about the experience system had changed and significant gameplay alt

  • The other is FreeRealms, a fantasy title deliberately aimed at non-traditional gamers.

    Their marketing dept. is on fire... After all of the PS3 debacles, they one-up themselves by announcing a MMO for *casual* gamers. Brilliant!

  • by the dark hero (971268) <[adriatic_hero] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Monday June 11, 2007 @03:31PM (#19468823) Homepage
    The other is FreeRealms, a fantasy title deliberately aimed at non-traditional gamers. It will feature whimsical gameplay and offer users the ability to create their own content, another first for a Massive title.

    That...uhhh...sounds like Second Life with a little WoW thrown in for good measure.

    • The Agency sounds like WoW or Anarchy Online with a coating of James Bond paint. For godsakes, it's been TEN YEARS since Ultima Online was released, and the best they can think of is Yet Another Dungeon Crawler...with social features...and a new theme!

      UO2 could have been something, until it quickly got canceled, because they were so sure everybody would want to play the original UO forever. Horizons was shaping up to be the greatest game of all time, until the designer got kicked out, and they decided in
    • by KillerCow (213458)
      Actually, it sounds like a classic MUD [wikipedia.org].
      • by MacroRex (548024)
        That was my first thought too. Sony can claim "first" but it doesn't alter the fact that twelve years ago we were creating whole new areas complete with monsters and loot and whatnot for a MMO game.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bluetick (516014)
      Yeah, but... Second Life isn't a game.
  • Nice (Score:3, Funny)

    by Esteanil (710082) on Monday June 11, 2007 @03:34PM (#19468869) Homepage Journal
    This looks like one of those times the Sony boycott [sonyboycott.org] will be easy to uphold :-)
  • Remember SWG? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cmize (573277)
    After what they did to Star Wars: Galaxies I will never play another game connected in any way to SOE. Why put in the time, effort and money when they will inevitably make drastic changes to the game in a lame attempt to match WoW's subscriber base?
    • I've occasionally heard this gripe from other people. What did they do to ruin Star Wars Galaxies?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SpacePunk (17960)
        That's a tall order. They removed 37 individual professions which you could mix and match, and made 9 'iconic' professions that best fit a 12 year olds idea of what star wars is about. That's just the tip of a very large ice berg. It was a sandbox game for the most part. It was YOUR adventure, now it's just one of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess leia, etc... SOE completely re-worked the game, and forced a lot of players out that had the money to maintain multiple accounts. It is no longer an adults
      • by Anonymous Coward

        SWG was an MMORPG with a difference. You have to remember that most current MMORPG's are Everquest clones. You also got to remember that Everquest clones are RPG's light.

        There is typically NO moral choice. If there is "evil" and "good" they are often purely based on race, and completly seperate the players, only to interact in Player vs Player combat. In Everquest 2 players can betray their alignment and go over to the other side BUT that is a one time deal.

        You do NOT choose your own alignment like in the h

      • Additionally... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Moraelin (679338)
        In addition to what was already said, let's put it like this: the NGE turned the whole game into a whole other genre. It went from being a SF MMORPG to a FPS with a bad interface, plus a rigid no-choices class system which just says which special attacks you get at which level. The most common metaphor for it is that they turned SWG into Planetside, but that doesn't even do it justice: it's a Planetside with a bad interface, and with actually less freedom than Planetside.

        Pay attention to that part about tur
        • Thanks for those explanations. Wow, I had no idea how bad it was. I used to play DAOC, and so I can imagine how messed up that is. I guess someone higher up wasn't happy with the subscription player base numbers, and decided to totally dumb down the game so the game would appeal to almost everyone. I guess they thought that the niche they had on the old game was worth losing for the sake of mass market penetration, after all it is star wars. I guess they were wrong lolz.
          • by cmize (573277)
            That's exactly what they did. They took the game and made it a really crappy copy of WoW with a Star Wars skin. A friend of mine still plays it and it's depressing when I'm at his house and he has it up on his computer--cities that used to be full of players are now complete ghost towns.

            I almost wish I had never played the original SWG. It was my first mmorpg and I absolutely loved it and now I can't play anything without making the comparison and every other game just seems so shallow.
            • Sorry, I play WoW and I've played SWG. The post-NGE SWG is _not_ WoW. I actually like WoW, I wouldn't have minded it too much if the NGE just aligned the interface to the WoW one.

              Seriously, the new interface and mechanics are _Planetside_ with a SW theme, not WoW with a SW theme. Except it's worse than Planetside too, in the classes department, since Planetside too is a classless game where you get whatever combination of skills you think fits your style more.

              You really have to wonder what they were smoking
          • That's pretty much it, yeah. They figured it's worth fucking their old players up the ass, to try to appeal to the larger WoW group.

            Except here's the sad part: they didn't manage to look better to WoW players either. I'm someone who actually likes WoW, in fact I think it's the best MMO ever. And lemme tell you, even from that perspective, the post-NGE SWG just sucks.

            I wouldn't be able to even transfer my existing WoW skills and all the stuff I liked about the WoW interface to it, because the new SWG is a FP
        • by brkello (642429)
          Imagine a person who thinks that people don't understand how others can be upset with SOE for changing an MMORPG. Now imagine that these people actually do understand but don't really care. Now imagine that original person writing a long post about how awful it was and how they just don't get what they have been through. Finally, imagine everyone still not caring.
          • Ah, a retard. How cute...

            Now you may notice that (A) this was an answer to someone who actually asked, and (B) apparently he was satisfied with the detailed answer, since he thanked.

            Did anyone ask whether _you_ care or not? I don't recall that. But you just had to butt in and pretend that anyone actually gives a damn about your pathetic delusions of self-importance, didn't you? It must give meaning to your pathetic loser life to pretend that someone will give a damn about your personally approving of their
          • by murdocj (543661)
            Imagine someone reading a discussion about SOE coming out with a new MMO. Imagine that someone being so dumb that they can't connect the dots when they read about how SOE trashed a different MMO.
      • by murdocj (543661)
        In addition to what everyone else said about gutting the character classes, they did it *right after* selling an expansion. And by right after, it was something like within a week of an expansion going on sale, they did the revamp and blew away most of the character classes. Needless to say, the folks who actually like the game they had been playing, and who had bothered to buy the expansion, were not amused.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Todd Knarr (15451)

      Bear in mind that, contractually, SOE had no say whatsoever in any of the things you complain about. In fact, SOE vehemently objected to every single one of them. But LucasArts, and George Lucas personally, have the final, absolute say over all game mechanics, rules, customer-service policies and such in SWG. SOE are essentially contractors doing the server administration, providing CS bodies and providing some coders working to specs provided by Lucas. The general opinion about SWG I've heard from the SOE

      • by unity100 (970058)
        and lucasarts did not use their final word up until soe tried to make empire look as "not evil", shattering all star wars lore in order to attract more monthly payments. they intervened only by then, but up until that moment game was already frecked up by soe's attempts to steal players from other games - in the game being an AXEMAN was meaning being much more powerful than anyone with a blaster, KARATE classes were knocking down people from 30 yards range and killing them without giving them a chance to re
  • Until I started to read the articles.

  • I'm pretty sure that Ryzom beat them to this punch. Or Second Life for that matter...
    • by fitten (521191)
      It's much older than those if you get a little less "massive" (down in the 100s to 1000s of players arenas).
      • by Knara (9377)
        MUSH and MUSE (and prolly other MU* variations) had end-user content in a multi-user game in the late 80's/early 90's. Internet access just wasn't as pervasive back then.
      • You don't have to go all the way down into the 1000s. Furcadia has 60,000 regular players (who log on at least once per month), and it's still growing. (Or if you count every account ever created, like Second Life seems to, we're over a million. Woot.) It launched in 1996. It's the earliest user created content focused game to reach the "massive" size category as far as I'm aware. Dr. Cat
  • Does anyone actually call them "Massive" games? Isn't MMO the usual term?
  • FTFA:

    "...Mr. Smedley said he wanted to diversify his customer base, which is 85 percent male and 32 years old, on average. Women have become the major driver of the casual games business (games like Bejeweled and Bookworm), and Mr. Smedley wants a piece of that action.

    "We want to get our average age lower, probably into the low 20s, and I'd really like to see the gender breakdown go to 50-50 or even slightly more women than men, to reflect real life," he said."

    "...when we got more women on the

  • These two quotes show the direction sony is looking towards:

    "Right now our revenue is almost all subscriptions," John Smedley, the unit's president, said in an interview. "In two years, we would like to see no more than 50 percent of our revenue coming from subscriptions, and five years from now we think less than 10 percent of our revenue will come from subscription sources."

    and . ..

    In general, Mr. Smedley wants to replace subscriptions with a combination of microtransactions, advertising and what he calls

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