Hi-Rez Studios held a second Developer Chat two weeks ago (posting the recording days later), and I’ve finally found the time to digest everything in the hour plus conversation. Executive Producer Todd Harris and VP of Game Operations Stew Chisam fielded the questions chosen from community submissions, with PR Specialist Michal Adam handling the moderation duties. The second chat was much like the first, long and repetitive. It’s buried, but there is information in the podcast worth highlighting.
One of the topics of discussion I brought up was pointedly asked by Michal:
“Is Hi-Rez going to do something about the advantage that large alliances/agencies have over smaller ones, or is it going to be a free-for-all like EVE Online?”
Todd responded that the company envisions Global Agenda as a game that will enable small agencies of talented players to be competitive. This very concern is why the Theft Mission structure (read about it here) was created. By enabling any agency to assault production facilities the developer has given smaller squads the ability to hurt large ones. Todd believes the new mission type will lead to a contraction of agency size; the larger the agency the more vulnerable it becomes. Defense Facilities (also in the notes) help small agencies as well.
The topic came up later on, at which point we were told that Hi-Rez Studios will “continue to be very, very focused” on agency balancing.
The lack of new content for level 30-50 was the largest complaint of the live chat channel. The background is that after level 25 there is very little new content for the players to access. There’s no additional game types (PvE or PvP), and all of the deployable equipment has been unlocked. The only thing to look forward to is additional skill points for the plain specialization trees. So it’s a very fair complaint.
In the near term, all Hi-Rez Studios can do is placate the playerbase. We can expect additional payload options for sections that currently have only one option – boost, jetpack and melee weapons – to roll out soon (TM). The options would unlock depending on level. The gear would be focused on versatility as opposed to making a character more powerful. Adding consumables (like from those “elf” games) was kicked around as well. These “potion like” items would give players temporary benefits, act as a money sink and open up additional crafting tasks.
The most talked about point of interest was the lack of an open world. To date, everything in the game is instanced. There’s no where to adventure, no exploration, no quests and no ability to leave Dome City besides to do battle. That is going to change via a “premium” content patch (won’t be available to non-subscribers).
Initially, I thought that the decision was horribly unfair. After all, Champions Online was taken out back when Cryptic tried to charge for the upcoming content patch. That being said, the more I heard about it, the more I realized how deserving subscribers are of the addition. The open zone sounds like it’s going to be rather massive in size, “several minutes to jetpack across,” with much to do. The patch will come with a new mission structure for the desert area. Basically, Hi-Rez’s version of a quest hub. Missions will include PvE and PvP choices. Hi-Rez is rewarding its subscribers, not charging them extra.
The lack of an open world in Global Agenda was one of my main concerns, so I am glad the issue is being taken to heart. Can’t wait to hear more about it.
A heart breaker to some will be that there are no new classes “in the short-term plans.”
Todd did most of the talking, but Stew verbalized the most memorable sentence of the chat. He proclaimed that the developers are “here to earn your subscription.”
I’m still waiting on my pony Stew.