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Hi-Rez Acquires  Tribes  Franchise For New MMO

Hi-Rez Acquires Tribes Franchise For New MMO

October 25, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

October 25, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

Global Agenda developer and publisher Hi-Rez Studios has acquired cult-favorite first-person shooter Tribes from GarageGames, and plans to launch an MMO titled Tribes Universe. The company did not disclose any terms behind the series' purchase.

Hi-Rez is now operating with two teams, one working on its existing MMO Global Agenda and the other division on Tribes Universe. The company plans to move to a new and larger office space next month to help accommodate its growth for the additional project.

The publisher intends to set up an Alpha/Beta registration site "in the near future", and will begin Alpha testing "about three months from now". Global Agenda players who have level 50 characters will receive priority for entering Alpha and Beta testing.

Originally introduced with Starsiege: Tribes for Windows in 1998 by Dynamix and Sierra On-Line, the sci-fi first-person shooter series was praised for its emphasis on teamwork strategies, vehicles, jetpacks, and support for a large numbers of players.

Sierra On-Line and Dynamix released a sequel in 2001, which was followed by the Inevitable Entertainment-developed Tribes: Aerial Assault for PS2 in 2002, then Irrational Games' Tribes: Vengeance for Windows in 2004, which saw poor sales amid strong competition.

Though the franchise was quiet for the past half-decade, several games with similar elements have since launched or been announced, such as TimeGate Studios' Section 8 for Windows/Xbox 360/PS3, InstantAction's browser-based Fallen Empire: Legions, and Hi-Rez's own Global Agenda.

Global Agenda, though, was was designed around 10 vs 10 team play, not Tribes-style large scale battles. As the game switched to a subscription-free model in June, Hi-Rez experimented with adding larger warzones but found there was "no practical path" for scaling the game up significantly.

"We can't transform Global Agenda to a large scale battle format, but since we liked this concept a lot, we decided to create a new game based on large scale fighting," said Hi-Rez CEO Erez Goren in a forum posting (registration required). "In order to develop the new game many significant steps had to be taken."

Those steps included combat alterations, "a significant rewrite to the unreal engine servers to allow for 100+ players to be fighting in the same map, a new UI system that is more efficient, a different implementation of character visuals, a new terrain system, etc."

Goren added, "... We kept coming back to one old and loved game that represented many of the concepts we where incorporating into the new game. Many of you will know this game as Tribes, the original online multiplayer shooter. As of now, Hi-Rez Studios is the proud new owner of the Tribes franchise."

Tribes Universe will feature three factions, full clan/agency support, ground and air vehicles, a persistent world with territory control and no instances, a focus on Player-Versus-Player combat, large scale fights with over 100 players, jetpacks, skiing, and more.

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