Planetside now and soon

It looks like many of my clan are back playing Planetside in preparation for the Planetside 2 playtests and beta events, also helped by SOE giving old players a free month of playtime.

It’s nice to be pop into Planetside again and many old outfit members have started to surface, making contact with us via our forums. It still remains for me the best game for team work on both a local and global scale. I’ve invested more time over the years than is health to admit. Despite the game is being heavily populated at the moment, my drive to properly pick up the game isn’t that strong.

It still confuses me that the existing game is a monthly sub game (one of SOEs last) while Planetside 2 will be a free to play game. Almost seems a little pointless to invest at this time. Plus I’m currently sticking to one sub at a time and I , like many other, don’t have the time to commit nowadays.

Anyone else in the same boat over Planetside and debating about going back at this late stage?

Auraxis, How I miss thee

“The planet of Auraxis in a distant star system cut off by a collapsed wormhole from their homeworld, locked in a three way struggle for power on an alien world where the dead come back to life.”

Over the last 8 years I’ve attempted to find another game but too many MMOs seem to focus on tempting you deeper into the game with various phat loot carrots, rather than inspiring a sense of accomplishment or teamwork. Running through-out Planetside was a underlying feeling of comradery that I haven’t encountered in any other game, this was every person working together as part of the global team and thus giving reward to everyone for their hard-work if it came to fruition.

The game is designed around support, both direct and indirect, it was the back-bone and heart of the game. It was sadly was discarded as they began to reward people for less team-work, for achievement whoring and kill-stat information, it was at this point the foundations of the system began to crumble and the 110% effort that people gave began  to drop and loyalty wavered. This was followed up by a never ending stream of cheaters that slowly strangled the last good elements of the game.

Some of my best and most vivid memories include base re-secures with 5 seconds left on the clock, a wave of MAX suited troops charging across the terrain of Cyssor & the determination that people had to stop just one base falling to the enemy. A unified feeling from all players that what you were doing no matter how trivial was important and that the global fight could benefit.

Here are a few screenshots from my time in Planetside and with it my hope that the sequel is half as good as the original was.

OK stop the press! As if by magic I started to write this post and discover that John Smedley has tweeted this:

And my faith in the new version of the game increases slightly.

If you want to learn more about the history of Planetside I suggest you start here : http://planetside.station.sony.com/howto/manual_detail.vm?chapter=0

Planetside:Next

It will hardly come as a surprise to anyone that knows me that I’m very excited about the recent news about Planetside 2/Next.

For those that haven’t encountered Planetside before, it is a true MMO-FPS that exists in a persistent world, it is purely based on PVP with no PVE elements at all. The game battles 3 opposing empires in large continental battles fighting against each others with massive battles contain up to 399 players, featuring a mixture of vehicles, aircraft, Power-Armour and soldiers alike. That blurb doesn’t do it much justice but you get an idea.

At first I thought that SOE may create an entirely new game based in the same universe, but after some consideration about the timescales, the use of the “Next” name and fan-bases loyalty, I now think that SOE may be going for a complete overhaul of the 7 year old game to bring it up-to-date with the modern gaming scene rather than making something new.

It’s my opinion that the following elements of the existing game need to be addressed for a new version:

  • Engine – Despite not being a big part of the game, the most frequent comments I hear about Planetside is that it looks old. I sadly have to agree, the graphics haven’t really been updated launch. Moving beyond DirectX 8 will been the biggest benefit as the game doesn’t utilise any of modern graphic card functionality.
  • NetCode – CCP have demonstrated that designed & dedicated technology is able to manage large scale battles, SOE can gain maximum benefit from streamlining the netcode.
  • ClientSide – One of the biggest problems that Planetside had to overcome at launch was how to manage the 100’s of players running around and blasting away at each other. The now infamous client-side functionality has been one of the areas that lead to this games downfall. Hackers manipulated the client-side processes to their own gain and ultimately drove out the honest players.
  • Of course don’t forget that SOE surveyed the players to ask various question about the game, I would expect many of those improvements to be included as part of “Next”.

As normal I may be way off the mark but I’ll remain hopeful that the key components of the game will be preserved despite the overhaul.

Are you going to sign up?

Super troopers

PSScreenShot0249We are a few days away from the final Planetside server merge, but as Dok pointed out why would you run a ‘welcome back’ month where most of the free time occurs before the planned event happens? A rather unusual set-up I think you’ll agree.

I’ll be happy to play my (once were) Max level characters again, I really doubt that I’ll re-activate my account once the trail is over. It’s rather sad to see this once proud game reduced down to one solitary server, containing the remnants of the whole player-base.

Through-out the last few years it was made very clear that the EU and US servers weren’t scheduled to be merged. There aren’t many reasons to perform such a feat. unless you are looking to reduce the overheads of the game. The EU server Werner has barely seen any users since the US servers merged and this latest move just looks to delay the eventual closure of Planetside, a move that after Matrix online SOE is willing to make if needed.

It pains me to say that the game is littered with hackers that blatantly exploit the client-side coding without fear of punishment from the company. Excluding the older-school FPS games that drew cheaters in droves, MMOs are normally free from exploits, of course this is the exception to the rule.

The game still continues to be advertised on the SOE site and receives subscriptions from honest and cheating players alike. Frankly I’m disappointed that Sony Online Entertainment do nothing to stop cheaters from ruining one of the most unique games of the MMO genre, not to mention that they still back a product that is known to have exploits.

At the end of the day SOE don’t appear to care who is paying them and cheaters money is as good as an honest players, sadly at some-point the only ones left playing the game will be the cheats.

The world is just illusion

492545_multiple_choiceDuring our recent outing to London I was having a conversation with Mr Van Hemlock about element of games I find interesting. During this conversation it became very apparent that I favour games that offer me the chance to throw a little individuality to my gameplay. Shocking as it may seem I have never really been able to identify the forces that drive me in my gaming choices, especially those that drive my MMO habits.

In the three MMOs that I consider my favourite the ability to choose or customise skills in ways to suit my gameplay or mood is highly flexible and configurable.

  • Planetside – The power to pick up and drop skills in any order brings unique benefits to your team play. Specializing in  heavy assault or proving much needed support at the correct time.
  • City of Heroes/Villains – The power selection may appear limited but you can choice
  • Guild Wars – Limited to 8 skills at one time but with a bank of hundreds to choose from. GW certainly makes you question how you approach each challenge the game offers.

On the other hand, although I found it wonderfully detailed and immersive playing Lord of the Rings online, yet the skills offered to my character (providing you have the currency) made them the same as any other player of that class in the game.

Yes there are unique features that set you apart from the crowd, such as weapons, armour and traits, but these always seemed more like small modifiers to the wider picture. I admit that I’ve never made it to level 30 in the game and maybe it all changes in the end game I guess I’ll never know.

I feel rather silly that it’s taking so long to discover this rather simple fact is the one element I appear to yearn in MMOs, but now I can hopefully bring those elements to the forefront of my gaming experiences.

* Image source : http://www.sxc.hu/photo/492545