The nice folks at Hi-Rez Studios, creators of Global Agenda, were nice enough to invite us (For those of you keeping score, “us” is my second-in-command, Trevor, our staff barista, Ian, and yours truly) to their offices so we could have a look around and even get our hands on a pre-alpha version of the game.
To start off, we got to take a look behind the scenes and meet the artists and developers who are bringing this game to life.
The demonic red glow in his eyes was a comforting sign that this game will not coddle the weak or the Carebear. (either that, or our photographer loves his flash a little too much) We also noticed a number of signs around the office that say “No Elves”. There is a kind of attitude at Hi-Rez that shows that these guys love what they are doing, and those are the kind of people that make really good games. We were looking forward to getting our hands on the real thing, even if it was described as “pre-pre-pre-Alpha” code.
Reality being what it is in the gaming industry, we all had to sign a stack of non-disclosure forms about the actual content in game, so you won’t see any screenshots or inside information (yet… keep reading). However, we did manage to take some shots of the concept art that they had on the walls in the office. I can only wish that my office decor was as cool.
If you check our gallery, you can see full-size pictures which show significantly more detail, but at least you can see a little bit of what is going to go into this game. It did not escape our notice that there are more than just the standard sci-fi “urban dystopia” settings that so many sci-fi games drown in. The outdoor scenery was quite impressive. Michal, our host for this tour, even said “The outdoor scenes look like places I would want to go on vacation. Except for all of the guns and bombs and stuff that we’ve added.” We had to agree. It was nice to see such a wide variety of settings and terrain.
Finally, they took us to the game testing lab! Hi-Rez has recruited game players from the local community and invited them to come in with their friends to play and provide feedback on the game. As it was, we happened to hit the gaming lab on a day where the room was packed (you wouldn’t know by this picture, but there were players waiting to get a turn at the game.)
In fact, the three empty chairs you see in the center of this picture are the ones that our butts were about to fill. We were encouraged to figure out the mechanics on our own as best we could to see how intuitive the interface was, and for the most part, it was quite familiar. Our host was nice enough to “bump us up” a few levels, then they turned us loose on some PvE missions. The game has 4 basics classes (which you can read about on their website), and we tried a little of each. Michal said that she would be back for us in 20 minutes or so, but we played for nearly an hour before we decided that we needed to wrap things up. (Rush hour traffic in Atlanta is no joke.)
Our opinion? (and it was unanimous) We each took turns begging for a beta key, and we can’t wait to see the finished product. Those of you who mourned the passing of Tabula Rasa will be especially happy as this game does a lot of the things TR did, but does them better. It borrows some concepts from many different games, but has enough unique elements to make it a unique specimen of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.
As a special treat for all of you who read this wall of text and pictures, I’d like to announce that we are currently working on having a hands-on, pre-beta, demo of Global Agenda at Dragon*Con this year. Hi-Rez will have a 1-hour Q&A/Demo session on Sunday afternoon, but we’re working on setting up an “open-all-nite” gaming lab at the Sheraton where folks can come and play the game until the wee hours of the morning. Believe me when I tell you that you will not want to miss it.