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Dev Discusses Upcoming Spy-MMO, The Agency 75

Kheldon writes "The MMO Gamer recently sat down with Lorien Gremore, lead producer on SOE's upcoming spy-shooter MMO, The Agency. They discussed various aspects of its development, such as the 'stickiness' of session-based games, striking a balance between FPS and MMO players, and whether or not The Agency even falls under the definition of a traditional MMO at all. 'You might be in Prague, and experiencing play with a lot of different other players; you might have come in at your field office and gone out into the city, encountering many other players doing missions that you are also doing,' Gremore said. She added that the game's areas are large enough to have 'lots of different people in them, collecting intel, engaging in public combat, all of those types of things. These areas are big enough that there’s shops, there’s secret spaces, photos to be taken of suspicious objects, things like that. They’re all out there in the world. We’re really trying to create a balance, where you’re encountering a lot of social situations, chances to get into groups with other people, just by merit of the fact that you guys are doing the same sorts of things in the same sorts of places.'"
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Dev Discusses Upcoming Spy-MMO, The Agency

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  • by JazzXP ( 770338 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:22AM (#29766733) Homepage
    I remember seeing a trailer for this a couple of years ago. I assumed it had already come out without any hype around it. I guess like most games, they've released a trailer way too early. I think it hurts sales doing this too. Build up hype, people get excited assuming it's coming out soon, then something else comes out in the mean time and then you're over the hype. Seems to doubly apply to MMO's. At least to me anyway. Was super pumped for Jumpgate, now I'm not sure if I'll get it or not.
  • by BarMonger ( 884208 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:23AM (#29766741)

    For your next mission, I want you to collect 12 pictures of supermarkets, 14 mysterious hats and a lost 'spys briefcase'..

    Intel gathering MMO? Really?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cjfs ( 1253208 )

      The interview doesn't exactly alleviate those concerns either:

      You could play through a mission as a stealth role, and then play through it again as a combat role and get a new experience that way. You may also want to replay a mission because you didn’t get the highest level of rating on that mission.

      So if you got a bronze the first time through, you might think, “Well, it’s fun to have the bronze, I can go on and now do the missions that that bronze level unlocked me, but I might want to go back and redo it through the silver rating or even the gold rating

      Not exactly something I'd focus on when trying to hype up a game.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:20AM (#29767747)
      To add to realism, if you're spotted taking pictures of a bus or a policeman by accident, you're arrested, lose all of your kit, and have a very intimate dialogue with a 23st trucker named Jim.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Beyond that... I can't see how much fun it will be when you know that every single player you encounter is guaranteed to be a spy...
    • by Follier ( 901079 )
      Intel gathering MMO:
      "It seems that I lost my [microfilm] down the sewer, and I fear the [a giant rat]s may have eaten them. Go slay them and bring back my [10] [microfilm]s."

      ... can't wait.
    • For your next mission, collect 12 KGB spleens for my MI-6 Goulash....only 20% of KGB agents actually drop spleens after you waste them, however.
  • Looks full of fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:25AM (#29766755) Homepage Journal

    We've got this idea for a game see, and it's about spies, but rather than come up with any truly compelling gameplay we're just going have a really big world and put it online.

    • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:02AM (#29766879)

      Sounds about right.

      I'd like to see an MMO that's like a cross between Hitman and The Ship, only without the pants-on-head stupid that plagued both of them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ubrgeek ( 679399 )
        I'm trying to figure out from the videos if it's first-person or third-. They keep calling it an FPS, but is that just in comparing it conceptually to one, or is that really the camera angle?
    • by craagz ( 965952 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:09AM (#29766903) Homepage Journal
      Can we become a double-spy and leak intel to the bad guys? That would really create a storm in a tea cup!
      • by ubrgeek ( 679399 )
        No, but the Horde would probably pay well :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Talderas ( 1212466 )

          Pay for intel? Geez, some people have two accounts just so they can have a character of the opposite faction on PvP servers to watch the general chats and trade chat looking for indicators about whether city raids have been discovered yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrVomact ( 726065 )

      I think I know how to fix it. We don't need no steenkin' computers! Instead, if you sign up for the game, you get phone calls in the middle of the night from someone who plays the "handler" role, and who asks you to do strange errands, like locate a certain package hidden behind some bushes in an industrial area, then drive across town and deliver the package to someone's mailbox. Next morning, you note a surprising coincidence—the TV news says some guy who works for the Ukrainian embassy as "trade li

  • Ingame news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:34AM (#29766787)

    "John Ubuli, Fictiana's prime minister, was assassinated tonight. Apparently 12502 assassins entered the embassy simultaneously screaming 'LEEEEROY JEEenkins!'"

    • by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:42AM (#29766813) Homepage Journal

      "John Ubuli, Fictiana's prime minister, was assassinated tonight. Apparently 12502 assassins entered the embassy simultaneously screaming 'LEEEEROY JEEenkins!'"

      Looting was cut short when the intruders realized the zone wasn't instanced and the pm was on a 5min respawn timer.

      • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:38AM (#29766993)
        Prior to entering the embassy, the group had agreed that the leader would share expensive items on a fair basis. This ended up with the master taking everything for himself, with many of the other players taking their issues up with the HR department. Common phrases used in missives were "OMGWTF NINJA LOOT I AM RPRTIN U ASSHOLE!!" and "I'm never grouping with you again, and I'm telling everyone in Trade that you are a douche."

        The leader didn't seem phased; He had all of the loot. Suckers.
    • A spy-based MMO? I think what's more likely to happen is players will go around calling everyone and everything "Gentlemen."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bertoelcon ( 1557907 )
        Every char will be named some form of James Bond too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
        A world filled entirely with James Bonds will be very elegant. But the world's casual clothing manufacturers will suffer greatly.
        • hey! bond wears levis

          granted the particular ones he wore are not sold in the states but...he's british! Also they may or may not be worn with $1200 John Lobb shoes...

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Reading this thread made me lol harder than I have in a long time.

      This does bring up a point though... it worries me. I actually had hopes for this game being not exactly anything above average, but being one of those games that opens up new concepts, leading to the release of a different and more bitchin' game. This new game would have all the good, liked, new developments from The Agency, and have the bad parts either filtered out or watered down by a plethora of other concepts, ideas, and methods.

      Sort of

  • Too early to say (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Necroloth ( 1512791 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:14AM (#29766915)

    I'm not gonna knock the game yet... it has an interesting twist to the normal beat-em-up mmo's so will wait and see how they implement it. As it's an mmo, you will always have the grind factor etc so will just have to weigh up the good points.Some ideas that come to mind are:

    (*) it would be cool to be travelling the world disguised as normal npc so other players may not be able to tell you're a player unless they have higher skill and so you never know how many people may be after the same target.

    (*) You could be in rival spy-assassin companies and build company/player reputation.

    (*) Being able to use sniper weapons, cameras etc like an FPS

    (*) Ability for espionage, infiltrating rival companies or sabotaging their objective etc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      Yeah, you don't actually think they'll have NPCs do ya? Or, if they do, they'll allow them to be turned off. Or, they'll be clearly marked as such..

      This is much like The Matrix Online.. getting a rich urban world to work is hard enough without trying to populate it too.

  • Spy's engage in combat?

    This sounds like a mix between WoW and Splinter Cell. That'll be just ACE.
    • Re:Spy MMO? (Score:5, Funny)

      by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @07:02AM (#29767059) Homepage Journal

      You thought grinding xp by combat was bad, wait until you see stealth grinding.

      Follow 20 different sewer rats for 1min each without being seen.

      • You thought grinding xp by combat was bad, wait until you see stealth grinding.

        Follow 20 different sewer rats for 1min each without being seen.

        The prime minister will come here at some point in the next three days. Stand in this dark corner until he passes by and give him this piece of paper.

    • White hat spy bashes Black hat spy with a large stick, repeat. Please have at least half the gadgets (and humor) from spy vs spy. I

      The Spy Genru is a very good idea for a MMO genru, more of us (probably) have grown up with spy movies than dungeon and dragons genru. Still D&D has been evolved for game player for many decades (from board to computer), while spy games haven't really. I hope they've done a good job creating a game environment. Looking at the trailer though, it look very much, like a point

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ottothecow ( 600101 )
        The only issue I see with MMO spy is that there are not that many spies out there.

        They need to make a spy MMO that leeches on some other mmo. Entire servers populated with normal people living out their lives (playing the standard game) with a spy game orchestrated on top of it with only a small number of players participating. The normal players have some idea that there are spys around--there may be occasional spies working for their guild as well as bad spies who they can tell are trying to spy on th

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:45AM (#29767021) Journal
    MMOs, historically, haven't really been able to do anything about the problem that, in game, everyone wants to be the protagonist; but every protagonist needs extras.

    Something involving spies seems much more problematic than usual in that regard. Meet another PC? Oh, now what are the odds that he is a spy, no matter how clever his cover?
  • by srothroc ( 733160 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @07:56AM (#29767259) Homepage
    Why should we care about being a spy in a game where everyone is a spy? Part of the fun in the idea of being a spy is that you do neat stuff while masquerading as a normal person... among normal people. If everyone's a spy, it's kind of boring, sort of like playing a Hitman game where everyone is the Hitman...
    • by Tarsir ( 1175373 )
      I think the obvious solution to that problem is to populate the world with NPCs going their daily business, and then have it so there are no obvious differences between PCs and NPCs. Then your task is to blend in with all the real NPCs while doing your quest. Not that that would remain fun for very long, but I'm sure the devs have thought up other game mechanics.
      • Perhaps players can get some XP by figuring out which characters are actually PC's, that would be neat, you never know who's watching, so you'll have to fake being an NPC to survive the game.

        Then again, what's the penalty for being caught? Can't be too harsh, otherwise it would be too unbalanced...

    • by mjensen ( 118105 )

      1. My character takes a picture of an non-descript window, while looking conspicious (acting like a cadet spy).
      2. Your character notes this, goes to a secret area (like a pro spy), contacts your agency saying I'm a spy.
      3. You get 2 points, I get -2 points.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Who wants to be a normal person (ie, the dupe) in a spy game? -1 doesntgetit.
    • The sex. Because you cannot have a good spy story without the sex. Apparently, everyone in this game has sex with everyone else. And all the female characters are named "Pussy Galore."
  • *yawn* (Score:1, Troll)

    by crossmr ( 957846 )

    Apparently this company has developed time travel. They should be able to get some capital for that. On paper this doesn't sound like anything above and beyond the first MMO out there. How many years ago was that? Why, this far in, are we still doing this garbage? There are dozens of clones of this time of game with varying themes all over the world and they're all the same and people get excited and bored twice as fast each time a new one comes out.

  • ... the first MMO will use public surveillance cameras for input when populating their environment with NPCs.

  • I hope they have car chases. Dibs on the Aston.

  • by AP31R0N ( 723649 ) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:23PM (#29770527)

    Which isn't a coincidence. It also makes me want this game.

    i like the "you are what you wear" classlessness. It's one of my favorite features of PlanetSide(PS). i despise classes in other MxxGs.

    Normally i'd say the 4 player teams is lame, but in this case it fits with the setting. It does erode their claim that it is a massive. Only the public spaces are massive. Sounds a bit like Global Agenda (which i didn't care for after being in the beta).

    Switching to third person is clever, as long as there is no auto aim BS. The over the should shit is fine for an MRPG, but not for something calling itself a shooter.

    Missions SHOULD be PvP, one agency defends, the other attacks.

    The lack of persistence is disappointing. What my team does in Prague has no effect on what your team does in Prague. It's counter strike with a loose plot tied on to it. PS has one and only one instance and everything is persistent and interconnected. My team capturing Hossin gives your team on Ishundar a benefit. Hossin stays captured until someone takes it back. In tA, the map resets.

    PvP appears to be tacked on like it is in much of GA, WoW and other massives, rather than a part of the whole game.

    i hope they find a way to make console and pc players integrate. Without auto aim the PC players will wipe the console players with little effort. Or maybe... consoles should *GASP* allow keyboard and mouse as input!

  • If you try to leave, you'll find yourself on an island, subject to the whims of Number Two.

  • I have tried several different consoles and always ended up selling them (XBox,PS3,Wii) because the gameplay is completely underwhelming overall. This is just another console title, and as such leaves me completely uninterested.

    PC Gaming is inherently superior, the games tend to be more challenging and complex (because the interface for them makes that possible) and the idea of MMO gaming on an console is just full of suck IMHO.

    Call me a dinosaur or whatever, I really don't understand the attraction to cons

    • by brkello ( 642429 )
      Some people would rather kick back in their recliner and play a game. Controllers are better for certain fighters and racing games. They work well for RPGs as well. I'd rather play FPS/RTS/MMO with a keyboard & mouse.

      Many people also are attracted to consoles because if they buy a game for their 360, they know it will work. They don't have to upgrade video drivers or buy new hardware to get it to run.

      I like playing on both and hope that neither is ever abandoned.

      Though, maybe in the

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian