Following The Agency's unfortunate and incorrect "cancelation" by GameFly yesterday, SOE reached out and asked if we'd like to talk to the game's lead designer, Hal Milton. Considering the title had been dark for quite some time, it certainly seemed like an opportunity to ask a couple direct questions about the current development state of The Agency.
Joystiq: So, what's going on with your game? It keeps popping up on radar, but it appears like nothing seems to be going anywhere.
Lead Designer Hal Milton: (laughs) Well, it's going a lot of places in our studio. We announced the title rather early, showed some pre-alpha last January. It's really important that we did this. But, if we have the team in different places around the world talking about the game, how are they supposed to be working on the game?
So, you've got your heads down right now making the game?
Yeah, since we showed off some stuff in January, now our designers are fleshing out about six or seven locales. Working on Operative functionality, backstories, story lines. It's a lot of content. Between content and feature support, there's a lot of work to be done. We don't want to keep having hype sessions just showing movies and crap. We need to make the game and not just keeps promoting it. After we went dark in January, it's been a really, really, blessed thing.
We already know there won't be cross-platform gameplay and we've been told the game is still slated for both PC and PS3. Do you still plan to release them at the same time?
That one is something we're going to address as we get closer to release. Things can vary between the two platforms. We're still actively developing on both right now. Which is a challenge for the UI team because designing for a monitor is completely different than a television. (rapid-fire discussion about technical user interface issues) Any hardcore RPG or SRPG worth its salt has shown it can take complex menus and make them manageable on a console.
Has development of the PS3 version contributed to delays?
I wouldn't say that the PS3 contributed to delays. Frankly, in every interview, I haven't discussed release dates because we want [the game] to stand on its own, so we don't want to shoot for some arbitrary date for shelf space reasons.
So, when do we get to touch it?
(laughs) I'm thinking it's called "expeditions" or marketing things by this summer. I think people will be surprised at how much progress we've made in the last six to nine months.
How did you react to the GameFly incident?
Laughter. Amusement. These things are always goofy. They get information from one company or another and that led to GameFly controlling our fate. SOE is now part of SCEA, so when publishers change, mailings can get sent out wrong. If the message had come from an SCEA source, I'd have been crying about the cruelty of the world. It happens all the time. I love GameFly, I have a four disc subscription. I have to say, though, I'm glad people cared.