We here at Lore Hound enjoy a world event as much as the next pup, but when you let loss a pack of us in a virtual universe we’re going to have questions. We’re going to wonder why this or that changed since we last logged in, or why other mechanics have stayed the same.
We cheered Hi-Rez Studios on for delivering such a unique and fun experience for Halloween. Then we decided to hit them with some hard questions. You’ll find out where Global Agenda is headed, how it will diversify itself from Tribes Universe and the first details on the next paid-for expansion after the jump.
Todd Harris: Yes. The Halloween even was very popular and we had a lot of fun putting that together. So we’ll definitely be doing additional-game events – some of them based on real-world holidays.
LH: Why was the merc group max set to two? Any chance that we’ll see it increased soon?
Most players want more skills points, and we understand that it’s a balance issue of epic proportions. But are there any current plans to increase the skill point cap?
Todd: As we say often, Global Agenda is a very team-focused game. But that also means that a tightly coordinated four-player pre-made team is hard to balance against another team that is pick-up. In fact, even seeing four aligned, well-known players grouped together on the Scoreboard was enough to make some pick-up players no longer interested in Merc because they assumed that would lead to a steam-roll. One of the reasons we introduced the Challenge feature was to support four, or more, friends grouping together and playing against other similarly grouped teams. So we’ll continue to add functionality to Challenge in support of pre-made activity. But we don’t have plans to increase the group-size for Merc in the near future.
LH: The game universe features a lot of atmosphere and creativity, yet the skills trees are very blandly written. In the short term, is there any chance we could expect a revamp of the trees for the sake of creativity?
Todd: A revamp of trees might sound exciting… but could really upset the balance and bring the wrong kind of excitement. Instead we’ll be focusing the dev team’s creativity on additional content! Future content will be even more heavily themed in terms of fiction and atmosphere.
LH: For many maps, particularly Scramble, four medics, four robotics, one recon and one assault are an unstoppable/optimal team. Is this imbalanced class distribution going to be addressed?
Todd: In Merc the matchmaker puts the same number of classes on both sides so that keeps things generally balanced even if there are some classes that are considered optimal. I think it depends entirely on the map. Some maps are arguably more robotics friendly while some are unfriendly to robotics and more sniper friendly for example. It is primarily a map design consideration and a very important one as we develop new maps.
LH: AvA has changed dramatically since the game’s launch. Do the developers feel that they are closer to their intended goal now? Any word on additional AvA vehicles?
Todd: Closer yes. But we definitely haven’t arrived. I think the shorter seasons and leaderboard give more tangible short-term goals for agencies to strive for. With 1.38 and going forward there are also more visible prestige awards for AvA accomplishments. And this season we are seeing new agencies forming and trying AvA. But we are continuing to enhance AvA because I’d like to see even greater participation.
LH: Sandstorm brought a little bit of everything to the table, from low-level content to high-level content. Should we expect the same breath in future expansions or will it be more depth in a specific area?
Todd: In the very near future we’ll be releasing a 1.39 update that contains a few new Mercenary PvP maps and that update will be free to the entire community.
After that we’ll release Global Agenda’s first DLC. It will be primarily focused on high-level PvE content and thematically it will focus on the Recursive Colony faction. It will contain some PvE Open Zone content, new themed weapons, a new PvE Defense Mission, and our first 10-person PvE offensive Raid. A 10-person team will be able to infiltrate a hive colony node and fight new Recursive Colony bots and bosses.
So updates will continue to expand all our existing gametypes but the DLC will focus on high-level PvE content.
LH: What dev cycle is Hi-Rez aiming for with the expansions? 6 months? A year?
Todd: We expect to release expansion DLCs every 4-5 months.
LH: Hi-Rez made big news when it acquired the Tribes intellectual property then announced a new MMOG based on the property in the same breath. Is the company worried that it may cannibalize its own players from Global Agenda?
Todd: No – Tribes Universe is going to be a very different type of game from Global Agenda.
Here at the studio a group of us have been regularly playing basketball after work. A few weeks ago we started playing football as well per request of Ramon – concept artist and weekend warrior. We now have some people who prefer basketball, some who prefer football and most of us actually play both.
Similarly GA and T:U are entirely different games with different focus areas and will appeal to different audiences. GA will continue to focus on class-based, smaller squad combat and T:U is going in a very different direction.
LH: Will Global Agenda’s next expansion be designed to highlight its differences from Tribes Universe – PvE, (relatively) small scale battles, raids, etc?
Todd: The next expansion will continue to focus on what GA does best – squad oriented content that emphasizes teamwork – combining twitch/action gaming skills with coordination between distinct classes. For example the new Defensive Raid is still 10-person max but will likely require a pre-made team to beat it because of how much coordination is required. The new Recursive Colony Raid will definitely require a pre-made team; and that team should expect to fail often on their way to discovering a winning strategy. Similarly with PvP we will continue to add features that support more competitive play. So, no plans to increase the player-cap within GA – we’ll just continue to challenge players and teams with new compelling content oriented around teams of 4-10 people for PvE, PvP, and AvA.
LH: And the obligatory question, when can we expect the next expansion?
Todd: We’ll put version 1.39 on the Public Test server within a couple weeks and live shortly after that.
The Recursive Colony DLC is a much bigger update and will be released in the first quarter of next year.
LH: Thanks for your time.