GoldenEye: Rogue Agent Designer Diary #3
Multiplayer lead designer Adam Isgreen discusses GoldenEye: Rogue Agent's multiplayer features.
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Multiplayer is where it's at!
By Adam Isgreen
Multiplayer Lead Designer
Multiplayer is a HUGE part of Rogue Agent, as it was with the original N64 classic, and we've put a lot of focus on it from the beginning of production. With independent dual-weapon triggers, death traps, and GoldenEye powers at your disposal, our style of multiplayer is all about competitive energy and show-off bragging rights. Rogue Agent features over 20 multiplayer maps and will take you through famous James Bond film locations in addition to original environments designed in collaboration with Sir Ken Adam. We're taking you inside gaming's most authentic rendition of the Bond universe, featuring maps from several classic films as well as original locations.
Although our intense single-player campaign is tons of fun and full of action, at the end of the day multiplayer is where it's at! The game's pick-up-and-play accessibility, addictiveness, and great replay value makes this shooter the instant "couch classic" we were striving for.
Most of our arenas are based off of (or inspired by) the most memorable showdowns from classic Bond films, including locations from Dr. No, Goldfinger, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, A View to a Kill, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, just to name a few. The arenas range in size from small to large, accommodating anywhere from two to eight players. We paid special attention to one-on-one maps, because we wanted to capture the intensity of those classic showdowns between Bond and the supervillain from that film. It felt like an area abandoned by most FPS games these days, even though it is the most likely scenario for playing a multiplayer console game. But we also have a huge variety of four- and eight-player maps.
These environments are dangerous. Almost every location is riddled with death traps, ranging from simple trapdoors and automated guns to the more exotic shark-filled tanks, exploding fire pits, and even an animatronic Al Capone.
Traps are tactical, so if you don't catch someone in one (and yes, you get kill credit if you do), you can force players to play differently by triggering them at opportune moments. Open a trapdoor behind an opponent to limit his movement, fill a room with poison gas to prevent others from getting to that powerful weapon, or drop a bridge so you can cross it once it closes, knowing it takes a few seconds to reset the trap. Knowing how the death traps work in each level will certainly give you an edge over your competition.
Death traps are triggered by switches placed throughout the levels. If you don't happen to be close to a switch when your enemies are just begging for a squishing, you can use your GoldenEye's Electromagnetic Hack ability to trigger the death traps, making it even easier to catch players in them.
If you're not in the mood for death traps, you can always disable them in the map-setup options, but then you'll miss out on a great source of victim-taunting material!
Rogue Agent has a great selection of weapons for you to use, and since most of our 14 multiplayer weapons can be dual-wielded, you are bound to find a combination that caters to your play style.
I have yet to hear the same combination of weapons touted as the "perfect" combo. Everyone argues about what's best and that's exactly what we wanted. The tactical differences between each weapon give them each a unique personality. There are some pistol-purists here that always go after the high-powered, accurate .357s. We have players that like to charge, who swear by dual-submachine guns or pistol/MG combos. Some prefer the finesse of the Mag-rail and Assault Rifles for their long-range capabilities and unique behaviors. Others like to cause explosive chaos with remote detonators, goblin mines, and harpoon rockets. It's fun to mix and match weapons, and sometimes it's hard to give up a weapon you like, even when it's almost out of ammo!
Weapons have unique fire effects, tracers, and sound, making it easy to tell what you're being attacked with. Knowing what's coming at you allows you to make decisions on how to counterattack. If you see green tracers zipping past, your enemy has a venom gun, so you may want to charge in close, as it's hard for your enemies to hit you at close range with venom. See a trail of superheated rings punching through the wall? Someone's using a Mag-rail to snipe--time to turn your polarity shield on (so you disappear from your enemy's MRI vision) and hunt 'em down! And if there's ever anything stuck to you that's beeping and glowing you better hope you've got armor!
Your GoldenEye powers bring a suite of unique new tactical features to the multiplayer experience. Each eye power can be countered by other eye powers, so what power you use may determine what power an enemy uses. Since eye energy is pooled, you need to manage your eye energy and wait for the right time to use any power. Using eye powers too soon in an encounter or attempting to use some at a range that doesn't complement your weapon loadout can leave you vulnerable later in the battle.
For example, if enemies use their eye's magnetic polarity shield, giving them four seconds of invulnerability, do I shield back and try to melee them (canceling out the two shields) and put the fight back on even ground, or do I launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from my eye to hold them in place and get away? Should I try to outlive the shield effect and then EMP them, knowing they won't have the energy to hack out of it after using their shield?
Choices like those above happen in real time as you're shooting, dodging, and reloading. Sounds like a lot to grasp? Not really. Eye powers are easy to select and easy to turn on/off, with different visual and audio effects in both first and third person, so at a glance you can tell what a player is currently using just by looking at the color of his eye, which glows brightly when powers are active. So if you see one of your enemy's weapons suddenly begin crackling with an electrostatic effect, then someone has hacked that weapon (with his eye's EM Hack) and it will misfire for a several seconds. Time to make your move!
Rogue Agent's multiplayer is divided into three categories of games: Duels and Showdowns, Team Showdowns, and War Games. Duels and Showdowns are your classic free-for-all encounters for two to eight players. Team Showdown is a team version of the same, where your team is out to cause as much destruction to the other team as possible.
The final multiplayer game category, War Games, features objective-based team games which come in three variations: Tug-of-War, Domination, and Countdown.
Tug-of-War is a contest to move a bomb from the center of the map toward either of the team's goals on either end of the board. The bomb is securely fixed to a crane or a train car and instead of picking the bomb up and carrying it off, you must battle the other team to take over control stations used to move the bomb farther along its path. You race from control station to the next control station in order to move the objective, while your opponents try to do the same. Team coordination is critical, since the switches are never in places you can quickly move from one to another. This is our alternative to "capture the flag" and we're very pleased with the way it turned out, because the combat always stays focused around the moving objective rather than having players scatter all over the map looking for action.
Domination's goal is to get your opponent's counter to zero before your team's counter expires. You do this by eliminating enemy players and capturing domination points located throughout the arena. The more domination points you capture, the faster the opponent's counter drops. Own them all, and you can force "sudden death," where the other team has only 20 seconds to capture one back before losing outright.
Countdown is the reverse of Domination, focused around a single objective. There's something you want to do before your opponent (like fuel a shuttle), so the objective is to hold the solitary countdown point for as long as you can, making your timer "count down" to zero first. These battles are intense, as everyone is trying to assault or protect the countdown control station, which results in some incredible, pitched battles.
The host of any match has control over victory conditions, custom weapon sets, and some other fun modifiers, including random weapons (you respawn with a different weapon every time you die), The Man with the Golden Gun, You Only Live Twice, and some other modifiers that you may recognize
What's better than having three other friends over for some four-player split-screen action? Eight players online (or System Link), of course!
With online play, you get the screen all to yourself, have twice the number of friends (or enemies) to play with, can still yell at said friends (enemies) over headsets, and you don't have to fight for the pizza!
Rogue Agent supports online play for both PS2 and Xbox and is the first EA FPS title that supports Xbox Live. All of the maps and multiplayer modes are available in online play and many of the maps have special online variants with improved graphic detail (since we're not rendering the screen two to four times as in split-screen). Countdown mode and the "Temple" map are exclusive to online play as is the Tug-of-War version of Atlantis (this map is also enhanced with a shark-infested death trap).
You can check your online statistics and global leaderboards from inside the game, and our EA Messenger features let you invite friends directly into a game (or they can invite you), making it very easy to connect with familiar teammates and adversaries.
Rogue Agent's online gameplay has its own unique pacing and style compared to split-screen play. Online strategies and tactics evolve differently--it's hunt or be hunted--keeping the gameplay interesting and the challenge fresh even if you're the neighborhood pro in split-screen matches.
We're looking forward to jumping into the player-hosted online games once Rogue Agent hits the street. It's always a blast to get in there with the fans and see which maps, weapons, tactics, and game types they like best.