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Joystiq interview: Sherry Floyd, producer, The Agency

Kevin Kelly

Sherry Floyd is the red-headed fireball who currently spends her days and nights producing Sony's upcoming The Agency. While you might think producing a spy and espionage MMO for PS3 and PC is all fun and games (nyuk, nyuk), apparently there's some work involved as well. We caught up with her to ask a few questions, which she managed to work in between the firing range and ... mud-wrestling?

Read on, dear readers, to get the complete scoop -- and also check out our interview with the lead designer of the game.

Gallery: The Agency | 41 Photos

So, what made you all develop The Agency? Why now? What prompted the development of this game?

For us, living the life of an elite agent immediately brings to mind the thrills, chases, espionage and conspiracy that really gets our adrenaline going. Many games have covered the darker, realistic side of the genre; we felt it was a good time to try something new.

The game has a very distinct look and feel, what inspirations did you draw from?

Our Art Director, Corey Dangel, had a very distinct vision from the beginning.

He formed, in conjunction with Sam Wood lead Concept artist, a lush colorful world of iconic shapes, deliberate characters and playful attitude. With the added genius of Patrick Shettlesworth, RK Post and Eddie Smith the Agency unfolded and exploded into a fantastic ideal space for fun. I love working with them. Best. Team. Ever.

What makes the gameplay in this title unique?

To me the "fun now with no waiting" approach to a game of this scale is intriguing. There have been many online games I've wanted play but didn't have the 40-50 hours of time to dedicate to just getting my character up to a level where I can really play and have fun.

Personally, I'm all about immediate gratification.

Was there any really fun research you got to do for the game? Firing guns? Watching bad spy films? Parachuting out of a plane?

All of the above, except for the plane thing ... I won't jump unless it's in flames.

Mostly I've been concentrating on the "living the life of an elite agent". Experiencing first hand what the social dynamic is for UNITE and ParaGON agents. My research on martini lounges, dive bars and fun cars has become extensive. I'm excited to hit the shooting range.

When you play the game, do you prefer the spy or the mercenary side?

Mercenary, for now ... depends on my mood.

What's been the biggest challenge in developing this title?

It's HUGE!

As a female working in what has typically been a "boy's club", how has your experience been on this title? Given that spy movies typically only feature the women as femme fatales or cleavage-candy, what roles for the female does The Agency offer?

I love working with our team. Introducing them to the joys and beauty of shoes, designer suits, fantastic handbags, and deodorant warms my heart. Explaining the finer points of "classy cleavage" and what not to wear is fun to no end as well. For them, they get to train me in styles of weapon grip, tactics and how not to drink beer like a girl. Of course we have many females in the office making the game, it's actually very civilized, the boys let us wear bikinis when we're forced to mud wrestle on our lunch breaks. Just joking.

The women in the Agency are all very powerful, triple threats- intelligence and beauty wrapped up in a sharp shooting package. How good of an agent you are isn't determined by your gender, just by your dedication and skill.

How do you intend to make a successful MMO for a console? It's not the most well received genre on those systems.

I think folks are beginning to understand that the audience for online games is a lot larger than just those already playing them. Recent titles have really underscored that.

What we're working to overcome is the assumed barriers to entry. We want folks to know they don't have to play for hours every night to have fun. We want folks to be able to identify with the world and their place in it without having to steep themselves in weighty lore or dead languages. We want folks to know that if they can't play for a few weeks they won't be left behind by their friends. Basically, we want people to have fun in our game and we think the rest will follow.

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