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The Agency

SOE trademarks 'The Agency Covert Ops'

New Titles, The Agency, News Items, Rumors

In the world of videogames, trademarks can mean just about anything. So when Sony Online Entertainment filed for the trademark to The Agency Covert Ops it's no surprise that rumors of a name change were floating around, especially since we haven't seen hide nor hair of The Agency for some time now.

We contacted SOE for a statement. Here's their response: "We are always trying to plan ahead for our titles in development and at times that means acquiring TM's or URL's that we feel we may want to own in the future. At this point SOE has made no official announcement regarding this Covert Ops TM and any information in the marketplace about it is premature."

What could this mean? Well, it could be a name change, but SOE has several studios from Seattle to L.A. down into Tucson and Austin, too. So, while it's very possible that Covert Ops could be a name change, our bet would be on either a wholly different game or potentially a future expansion. That's just our guess, of course. And there's always the possibility we may never know.

SOE Seattle staff departures shouldn't affect The Agency

MMO Industry, New Titles, The Agency, Spy

In the wake of the recent layoffs at SOE, we're now getting word from Eurogamer that some voluntary departures had happened at the beginning of the month as well. Studio Director and Executive Producer Matt Wilson, Art Director Corey Dangel, and Producer John Smith had all left the Seattle studio to form a new venture called Detonator Games. This Seattle studio is currently producing the upcoming espionage MMO The Agency.

Eurogamer also states that a source "in the Seattle game development community" suggested to them that this means some major changes to The Agency, possibly delaying it beyond its projected 2010 release date. SOE responded to that rumor by saying, "The Agency is not undergoing a reboot of any sorts - that is incorrect. The team in Seattle is still working diligently on this project and we're looking forward to showing you new content in the future."

Whether these departures will affect the production of The Agency or not, we'll just have to wait and see. What we do know for sure is that the game is playable and looks quite good, according to a demo we saw at E3 earlier this year. Best of luck to the SOE Seattle team and to Detonator Games for whatever project they may be developing.

SOE's 3rd annual Community Address to be broadcast live this Friday night

Video, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, The Agency, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Everquest Online Adventures, Free Realms, DC Universe Online

Not being able to attend this year's SOE Fan Faire doesn't mean that you'll miss out entirely. Aside from the biggest news that we'll undoubtedly bring to your attention right here on Massively, you will actually be able to watch SOE CEO John Smedley's community address streaming live on Friday the 26th of June, at 7:00PM PDT. Although visiting the link for the event right now seems to prompt us to register, Amnerys' post on the EverQuest forums says that this isn't necessary: "You don't need to register or have a password! Just visit the page and view!"

This will be the third year of SOE's annual community addresses. To get an idea of what to expect this Friday, you can check out the presentation from Fan Faire 2007 on Youtube. The link to keep bookmarked for the live event is this one right here.

E3 2009: A complete roundup of Massively's coverage

Jumpgate Evolution, MMO Industry, New Titles, The Agency, All Points Bulletin, Global Agenda, Free Realms, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Champions Online, Home, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dragonica Online, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 proved to be a significant event for the gaming industry once again, with a fair amount of news and announcements related to MMOs. Massively was there on the ground for E3 this year and we've been putting up breaking announcements, interviews, and hands-on previews throughout.

Given how much info came out of E3 on Massively, here's a roundup of our coverage, day-by-day. Be sure to check out the rest after the jump as there's plenty more content, plus you'll find E3 galleries for these games as you click through. To cap it all off, we've also put together an E3 2009 wrapup video for you at the end of this post. Read on to see where the MMO industry is headed in the next year and beyond!

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E3 2009: Massively's day 2 roundup

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, The Agency, News Items, Consoles, Spy, Global Agenda, Free Realms, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids, Final Fantasy XIV

We thought the first day of E3 2009 turned out pretty well, with announcements for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, and All Points Bulletin. That's in addition to the packed interview schedule we lined up so we'll have plenty more to show you in the coming days. While the Massively team frantically taps their fingertips down into little bloody tater tots to bring you more fresh E3 goodness, have a look at some highlights of what day 2 of E3 2009 brought in MMO news.

Want to see more? We've got E3 galleries to flip through for these titles and events after the jump.

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E3 2009: The Agency in-game footage

Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, The Agency, News Items, Massively Meta, Spy, Interviews (Massively's)

As part of our extensive E3 tour through SOE's newest games, launched and upcoming, we got a fairly good look at some gameplay footage in The Agency. Of course, you know The Agency as the spy MMO that had everyone talking at last year's E3. With this new gameplay footage, you lucky readers (or, viewers) get to see what to expect when the game launches.

Click through after the jump to see the game's lead producer, Lorien Gremore, show us around a bit with combat, stealth, minigames and even a bit of female persuasion tactics*.

* Not from Lorien

Massively is on the ground in Los Angeles this week and covering all the latest E3 MMO news coming from the convention. Check out our breaking coverage (or all the Joystiq network E3 reporting) and keep your eye on Massively's front page for the latest developments.

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The Agency declassifies intel for revamped game site

The Agency, Spy

One of the new titles on the way from Sony Online Entertainment is The Agency which promises to bring espionage into the world of MMOs. There were no announcements for The Agency at today's Sony press event at the E3 Expo, but we've noticed that there's new content to be found on the game's official site.

A quick search of The Agency site reveals some new screenshots and wallpapers, concept art, info about both playable factions -- U.N.I.T.E. (spies) and Paragon (mercenaries) -- and a tongue-in-cheek 'evaluation quiz' for recruitment to each faction. In addition to the new art assets, they've also got their latest trailer up on the site as well. If you've been looking forward to some spies-and-mercenaries gameplay in an MMO, check out what's new on The Agency's revamped site.

The Agency: New CG trailer builds excitement leading up to E3

Trailers, The Agency, News Items, Free-to-Play

We're at least six months away from release but it seems like hype for SOE's spy MMO, The Agency is starting to build up. Maybe it has something to do with E3 happening next week in L.A.. Do you think we'll see a polished and playable demo? Fingers crossed! Either way, you can be sure we'll bring you some juicy info after we've cornered a developer and prodded him or her with a blunt microphone.

Hopefully, this news will tide you over. An exclusive CG trailer that originally premiered on X-Play just made it up to the G4TV website. There doesn't appear to be any game play footage, however, this does look as though it could be a mission introduction cinematic.

Catch the video after the cut and stay tuned for exclusive Massively news about The Agency from E3 2009.

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Infiltrating SOE to get a sneak peek of The Agency

Interviews, The Agency, News Items, Free-to-Play

Eurogamer's Oli Welsh had a chance to visit SOE headquarters and chat with Hal Milton, Lead Designer of The Agency. We think it's fair to say this is the most we've heard about the spy-MMO in a long time and it has us excited about what we might find out at E3 2009.

We have known for a while that SOE was aiming to release The Agency on both the PC and PS3, but we weren't sure if they could pull it off. Apparently, development for the console is going well because Oli got a chance to watch two developers play a mission together on both platforms and says it looked pretty good. When asked about whether or not the game would use the subscription or F2P/RMT model, Hal responded by saying that they are aiming for the lowest barrier of entry for PS3 players, which probably lends itself to the latter.

The interview uncovers many details on planned methods of progression, including a mashup of reputation, influence, skill/item usage (à la Darkfall?), operatives, and XP unlocks. Operatives are one of the more difficult concepts to understand and the author explains them in an interesting way: "...operatives are loot, and hopelessly irresistible loot at at that. Pursuing and sorting an ideal roster will be akin to assembling a perfect gear set in an RPG - if your gear argued with itself, made more gear for you while you were offline, and you could equip 100 pieces at once at max level."

To learn more about the game including their plans for missions, the environment, PvP, and even gambling mini-games, check out the monster three-page interview.

The Agency still has a pulse, fact sheet confirms

New Titles, The Agency, Consoles, Spy

Sony Online Entertainment could have a PC and console hit on their hands if their spies and mercenaries MMO The Agency lives up to expectations. The Agency has fallen off of the media radar of late, but development is moving ahead on the title.The last word we've received on when we'll be able to get our hands on the game is that The Agency will be released in 2010. Massively has some previous coverage of The Agency but we're always looking out for more info, and that's what we found today.

While we've touched upon some of this information in the past, SOE has released a brief fact sheet that explains the concepts behind The Agency and its "modern setting of bullets, bomb blasts, and betrayal." We're still hoping that there will be more info announced about the game at the E3 Expo in June, but until SOE declassifies their intel, you can check out The Agency fact sheet below the cut:

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SOE wants to know what you want at Fan Faire

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), The Agency, The Matrix Online, Vanguard, Everquest Online Adventures, Free Realms, Legends of Norrath, DC Universe Online

Looks like things over at Sony Online Entertainment are really gearing up for this year's Fan Faire in Las Vegas. Sure, you know something big has to be coming because it's the 10th anniversary of EverQuest this year, but to sweeten the deal SOE is looking for player input. Did you hate that you didn't have enough time for Q&A on your favorite SOE title last year? Would you have preferred to hear John Smedley sing something other than Guns & Roses at karaoke? Did you really enjoy the silly competitions that Brenlo held during dinner? Perhaps you'd like to suggest a whole new panel that they haven't considered doing yet? Whatever your reasons, be sure to pop by the Fan Faire forums and let them know!

DC Universe Online and The Agency get a 2010 release date

Super-hero, The Agency, News Items, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online

John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment announced that both DC Universe Online and The Agency are slated for release in 2010 during his GDC keynote speech. This will come as disappointing news to anxious fans, but probably great news for Cryptic Studios who appear to be on target for a 2009 release of their own super hero MMO, Champions Online. NCsoft will breath a little easier too now that they will only have to deal with one threat to City of Heroes this year instead of two.

The news of DCUO in 2010 is not surprising, but many fans were expecting (read: hoping) The Agency would come out some time this year. The team-based spy thriller will eventually be playable on both the PC and console platforms and delaying too much longer could give rise to issues if the PS4 is ever announced. That said, SOE should be more plugged in to their own company's console than other developers, so they would be best equipped to deal with that potential situation should it occur. Perhaps this is the very reason The Agency is being delayed? Without much official news on the title lately, fans can do little else but speculate.

What happens at Fan Faire, stays at Fan Faire

EverQuest, EverQuest II, Pirates of the Burning Sea, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), The Agency, The Matrix Online, News Items, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Everquest Online Adventures, Free Realms, DC Universe Online

Vegas, city of lights, nightlife, and SOE's Fan Faire! Sony has announced that they will once again be heading for Vegas to party down in high-rolling style. This year they'll be holding the event from June 25th to 28th at Bally's Hotel. The location they've picked is right in the middle of various Vegas attractions - although we're sure if you're there for the SOE party, you won't need to worry about that too much.

Having attended last year's Fan Faire, we can definitely say that it's a great weekend of fun and interesting panels, nice people - and this year's lineup appears to be just as interesting. So far the scheduled events include:

  • Special announcements and sneak peeks of upcoming SOE titles at the Third Annual Community Address from SOE President John Smedley
  • Autograph signings with members of the original EQ development team and other key contributors
  • Lots of in-game tournaments; and live, game-themed competitions and quests
  • Developer forums and roundtables
  • Cool giveaways and other fun items!
  • Player of the Year
To top it all off, prices for Vegas vacations are quite good, currently. So if you've been thinking about getting away, really dig SOE's games - or upcoming titles, and enjoy partying down with a great bunch of friendly, welcoming people, then definitely make some plans to attend this year's Fan Faire.

New details emerge about The Agency

Game Mechanics, Interviews, The Agency, Consoles, MMOFPS

The Agency HQ fansite had a chance to interview a group of developers from SOE Seattle who are working on upcoming MMOFPS/RPG title, The Agency. If you don't know much about this cross-platform game, check out our past coverage and the excellent primer up on Wikipedia. That said, the game is still in development and things may change.

Questions asked during the interview were thought up by fans from the HQ forums, so you know they're going to be insightful. SOE's answers alluded to signature "class" abilities and counters, planned progression motivators with the "you are what you wear" system, a more intensive resource management system (e.g., ammo) than you'll find in most FPS games, and the MacGyvering, er, crafting system based on schematics and resources (e.g., chemicals and minerals).

Perhaps most interesting was their example of how role dynamics can play out in the various group-oriented missions. The tank/combat player will try drawing enemy fire while the stealth/special-ops type will try finding an advantageous position (e.g., sniper's nest) to lay support fire down. Meanwhile the tactical/support will try disabling the area defences (e.g., turrets) and the field medic will give support as needed.. The game will also support those of the soloing persuasion.

SOE hires crime fighting gnomes to fend off credit card worms

EverQuest, EverQuest II, Pirates of the Burning Sea, PlanetSide, Interviews, The Agency, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Free Realms, Legends of Norrath, DC Universe Online

Online credit card fraud is big business and even MMORPGs aren't safe from it's far reach. We recently had a chance to sit down with Executive Director of Global Customer Service, Brad Wilcox, and discuss how SOE is dealing with gold selling and power-leveling services for their games. They are taking this war so seriously that they have put all transactional business under keen gnomish scrutiny.

Can you tell us how this fraud prevention task force came to be?

Brad Wilcox: Since the inception of EQ1, we always had components of a fraud prevention team. These were game masters and individuals tasked with looking at the game economy and making sure that people weren't exploiting. Since September 2007, we started to see a big increase in fraudulent activity in regards to stolen credit cards. That is when it was decided to put a few more resources specifically related to the fraud that was happening with accounts and subs being created with these stolen credit cards. That's when we formed what we call the NUGIT team, which stands for Norrathian Underground Gnome Investigation Team. As you can tell by the name, our employees enjoy having as much fun on the back end as we do on the front end of these games

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