Meet SOE, The Agency

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Hello! Matt Wilson here – I am the Director of Development for Sony Online Entertainment’s Seattle studio where we are working on development of The Agency for the PS3 and PC. This is my first entry here on the PlayStation.Blog and I just wanted to give a quick introduction to our studio in my first post.

The Agency Logo Martini Glass

We get a lot of questions about how the SOE Seattle studio got started… In 2005, a few of the core Mythica development team broke away from the Microsoft games group to form a startup company called “FireAnt Games.” Our primary goal when we founded the company was to bring the MMO space to more of the mainstream gamer audience. Specifically, we wanted to target the shooter audience and the console gamer. Well, it happened that SOE was thinking the same thing, and they asked us to start up their Seattle studio. More than 3 years and 80 people later, we are well into building The Agency. Our goal is to deliver an online world where players can “live the life of an elite agent,” full of the over-the-top action, exotic locales, and extravagant lifestyles the spy genre is known for.

TheAgency - Devastation Screen copy

We just held an open house event here at our Seattle studio for folks attending the ION Game Conference. It was a blast! We showed off some of the amazing art our talented crew has been generating in a never before seen art gallery, and we introduced The Agency to a bunch of new people. Of course, we also showed how you can take some everyday frozen water and turn it into an amazing Agency sculpture capable of delivering some hard spirits. A warning I gave during my introduction threatened to become our new tagline: “Don’t lick the gun.” (I personally think this is good advice in general, regardless of what the gun is actually made out of.)

Ice Gun

You can get a more detailed behind the scenes peek at what went down at the SOE Seattle open house on G4’s X-Play, tonight (May 19th) at 8:00pm EST. You can also view our most recent trailer for The Agency on their website.

I look forward to keeping everybody informed on The Agency’s development right here on the PlayStation.Blog, please look out in the future for more posts from me and my team. Thanks for reading!

This message will self destruct in five…four…three…

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59 Comments

5 Author Replies

  • @49,

    Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying :).

  • Wowza, great stuff Matt. “M” strikes again, I want one of them glasses too. :)

    But I’d be willing to trade it for a beta slot.

    Looking good!!!

  • I’m not sure if I want this or not. Looks like something I’d have to try first,luckily I’m in G.A.P. so hopefully I’ll get to. Not a fan of online play but still thought Warhawk was great.

    What was that thing lllooonnnggg ago when the game site was first put up and it asked to e-mail our PSN ID and perference to work for U.N.I.T.E or ParaGON? Can’t talk about that?

  • Looks interesting.

  • The concept for this game seems very strong, taking a genre that is based on “never-ending” experiences and mixing it with a genre that usually only comprises 10 intense hours.

    I have a few questions, if you wouldn’t mind answering. I’ll accept vague answers as I assume that the team is still under NDA at this point:

    1. In a game designed for massive amounts of players, it is often hard to discern different players based on their looks alone. This is one issue which I think Blizzard has done excellently with “World of Warcraft”, where the armor/weapon variety is diverse enough to make everyone look unique in battlefields and within populated community centers. I know that Spies/Mercs doesn’t exactly allow for crazy medieval/fantasy armor like most MMO themes, however, does the team plan on making equipment with a wide variety of visual “looks” so as to really make everyone stand out?

    2. One of the most important aspects of an MMO, in my opinion, is the sense of community that such games provide. The combat certainly looks intense, however, I haven’t heard much about community centers. Does the team plan on making tremendous centers of trade, communication, and interactment as found in places like Orgrimmar (WoW) and Freeport (EQ2) or will the game take a more spread-out approach with smaller areas for “shady meetings”? (this is a Spy game, after all) Or will there be a mixture of both?

    3. The death systems in MMOs always gain a fair amount of hate. Some players find the more punishing systems (as found in the older EQ games) to make the gameplay unrewarding in the long run, whereas others find the less severe systems (WoW) to leave the game extremely easy through the endgame content. Is the team trying to find a balance between the two, or will this game take one of the two approaches?

  • I can’t wait till this game is in my ps3 and I’m playing it. I like the concept of a shooter MMO. I’m not sure if that’s ever been done really. But it’d be real cool. More info on it and release date please ^^

  • I’m looking forward to this title but if it has added costs attached to it then i won’t be picking it up.

    I hope one of your revenue models is that its free because i’m sure it’d sell a lot better if it were

  • Looks great guys, One question though, I’m a very hardcore, avid gamer, I play everything under the spectrum, from mamsy pamsy bullcrap, to kids games, to Metal Gear Solid, and Final Fantasies, and Elder Scrolls, and have spent many years on various mmorpgs, my question for you is… Is the much anticipated(and I must admit I do as well) ‘The Agency’ Going to have enough variety, and diversity to keep players like me interested for a long period of time? say years?

  • @55 – I’ve been following this game for some time and have tried to consolidate all known information at http://theagency.massivehq.com/intel. I don’t really have answers for 1 & 2, but do know a little about the death penalty.

    Since the game is a shooter they are expecting people to die, so the death penalty isn’t going to be harsh. When you die you can:

    * Be rezzed by the field medic specialty of the support role.
    * Go back to the med center at the nearest field office for your faction.
    * Go back to a custom checkpoint created by a field tech specialty of the support role.

  • Argh, I can’t even get a link right, what kind of Agent will I make. Try http://theagency.massivehq.com/intel-briefing/ instead.

  • Hola Matt,

    I’m just across Lake Washington from you. Let me know if you need a beta tester. I’d be glad to brave the nomadic hinterlands of Bellevue to offer useful advice free of cost.

  • I’ve been eagerly anticipating this game since word of it first leaked out.

    I just hope it doesn’t use the monthly fee system… because I won’t pay a monthly fee. I’d far rather pay as I go for new areas or missions. Some months I’m busy playing other new release games… and other months I may play nothing but a game like The Agency – but I don’t want to be tied into paying a monthly fee for a game I might not play a lot during that specific month.

    … besides, it makes more sense to not charge a monthly fee – you want people buying and playing other games don’t you? :)

  • SONY:

    Will this MMO be an open world game, or will it be a number of skirmishes (like COD4 but with a greater story behind it)? From what I have seen of The Agency, I believe it will be the latter… thus not a classic MMO. I think that some of the MMO audience will be captured by this, even new people brought in, however…

    The PS3 has the potential to be “THE” MMO console. We need more MMOs of varying genres. Please no more EQ, we already spent a number of years playing that. As a baseline, there should be an original classic-style MMORPG with all the potential the PS3 has to offer. This wildly interconnected next-gen console has been out for 2 years now, with internet capabilities since the beginning, and the only MMO I can play on it is a browser based game.

    Please, more MMOs, not just The Agency. Get 3rd party MMOs on this console! What happened to Age of Conan? FFXI would have done great too. Please Sony, more MMOs.

    -K

  • @63, they’ve stated taht The Agency will take place in a hub and spoke world. There are three types of spaces within the Agency.

    * Public – you’ll be able to meet up with others in locations around the world. Some missions will take place in public spaces as well, allowing you to meet up with others that are performing the same mission.
    * Private – private spaces take your team off into their own instance of the world. This allows the developers to include the over the top action expected of a super spy game including better AI and interactive and destructible environments.
    * Public / Private – this is a public area that will spawn a private space for a specific battle. An example given is your team walks into a bar. Other players are in it and you see them, they see you. When you get to the bar, due to a mission one of the players has a boss spawns outside the building and comes crashing through the door to confront you. A private space is created for the boss battle.

    A lot of the game will be in these private spaces, but there will also be a good portion that takes place in open spaces like a traditional MMO.

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