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PlanetSide 2 Interviews: The Hardcore Interview

By Derek Czerkaski on March 02, 2012

Hello once again! My name is Derek Czerkaski, and I'll be conducting an additional interview today with some more of the PlanetSide 2 development team! These questions were submitted by readers of my previous interview, and I wanted voice some of their questions/comments related to potential aspects of the game! I designed this interview to be a bit more on the technical side.

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MMORPG.COM: Last time we spoke PlanetSide 2 Creative Director Matt Higby provided some interesting teasers related to the new proprietary Forgelight™ engine utilized to build the game. Can you give us some more insight?

MATT HIGBY: We’re working really hard to get the engine optimized to run fast and look good at all settings levels, building the engine from the ground up to handle scale well is the first step, but a lot of tweaking and tuning are still happening to get us all the way to where we want to be. At next week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, we’ll be doing a demo presentation that will show off some of the amazing features that Forgelight provides like incredible massive-scale battles in enormous open continents and cutting edge graphics including atmospheric light scattering and highly detailed character and environment shaders.

MMORPG.COM: Speaking of epic visual engines, is there any sort of estimate as to what sort of system specs will be required to run the game? Several readers wrote in looking for a sort of ballpark estimate related to what sort of hardware they'll need to have/upgrade to in order to get the best performance from the game. With talk of 1000 people on screen at a time, I too am curious! What game’s requirements could you compare it to?

MATT HIGBY: I contacted our PlanetSide 2 Technical Director, Ryan Elam to get detailed answers to these next two questions. Thanks Ryan!

We expect the game to launch running at good frame rates on any Shader Model 3.0 or higher video card and at least a dual core machine. Individual resolution and graphics settings certainly affect performance, as you’d expect. PlanetSide 2 is a game where you will see more players on the screen than any FPS to date, but if you are in a continent where thousands of people are all fighting at the same time, you would realistically only see a small portion of those thousands at any given point as our continents are huge! You would only see around 1km at any given point and then only in a single direction at a time. Also, since you have a gun and so does everyone else, the time period when that many people would be in front of you and still breathing is limited by the size of your clip as much as your clip plane.

MMORPG.COM: One of the more in-depth questions I received was related to hit detection. In the world of FPS, precision is everything. What sort of measures are being implemented to ensure timely, accurate placement of both bullets, projectiles, and character location? (Note: The reader said that this was an issue with the mosquito, and his actual question can be noted here if my question seems somewhat unclear.)

MATT HIGBY: I contacted our Technical Director, Ryan Elam:

PlanetSide 1 was groundbreaking and really ahead of its time when it originally came out in 2003.  Being able to track potentially thousands of projectiles per second and evaluate that many players’ movements and aiming was unprecedented.  We learned a lot of lessons from the original game. That experience, along with the experience garnered from other MMOs that we have developed over the years has given us some pretty compelling solutions to those original issues.  We have a modern physics engine which helps us with thousands of times more collision checks per frame, a fully-realized ballistics system, multiple validation systems, and several “secret sauce” solutions I’m sure we’ll be hinting at in the near future.  I’m by no means trivializing the problem, it IS a very tough problem that keeps us on our toes; I’m just saying we got this.

MMORPG.COM: The discussion of classes being implemented into the game has generated lots of buzz. However, some people have voiced concerns related to the game, arguing that switching to a class system will take away from the freedom of the game. In the prior interview, it was stated different classes would have different bonuses. Could you expand on this a little bit more? Also, will there ever be a "create-your-own-class" that comes without bonuses?

MATT HIGBY: Each class has a distinct role- medics heal and revive fallen allies, engineers repair and place combat deployables, etc. The weapons, certifications, and abilities each class has access to reinforce these roles and ultimately help create well rounded squads and armies. We’re not planning on making a freeform class though. Giving a single soldier access to heal themselves, cloak, use jump jets and AV weapons all at the same time without any tradeoffs forces us to make those things individually weaker, and less cool, in order to be able to be balanced when combined in weird ways. We think it’s more fun to have them be powerful situational abilities that you can always have access to (since you can freely switch between classes), but not simultaneously.

MMORPG.COM: In the last interview, the notion of leadership certifications was discussed. I am a fan of leading my own squad; I was hoping to hear more about the leadership tree (if possible). What sort of incentives will there be to promote good, consistent leadership amongst players?

MATT HIGBY: Squad leaders will have access to a variety of abilities that will greatly enhance the effectiveness of their squad, for example squad spawning, enhanced information about spotted enemies, and even respawn timer reductions. Additionally, Squad Leaders will be able to issue battle commands which when followed will result in experience bonuses for both the leader and the squad.

MMORPG.COM: The sheer size of this game can only be described as "epic". Huge wars, multiple continents, and a large diversity of play styles are being accommodated in the game. Just how large is the in-game world? Let's say we needed to travel from one side of the continent to the other: how long would this take?)

MATT HIGBY: It totally depends on the travel method you use! In a Mosquito you’ll get across it a lot faster than on foot. Our continents contain dozens of square kilometers of gameplay space, traveling from one side to the other takes several minutes even in the fastest vehicles.

MMORPG.COM: Matt also mentioned the "Mission System". Based on what little bit I do know, I was highly intrigued. Can you tell us more about how this will be controlled and regulated, what incentives are there are for both the players that take the missions and the players that assign them?

MATT HIGBY: Participating in mission gives additional rewards both in resources and experience to players.  Players who create missions will also get bonuses when their missions are successfully accomplished.  Currently we’re working on ways to leverage the mission system to ensure we get players spread out well on the map, encouraging large battles but ensuring that there are multiple areas in heated contention at all time to prevent over-crowding.

MMORPG.COM: I've asked you several difficult questions today. I'd like to take this time to ask you if there's anything you'd like to talk about or show off to the fans. Please, tell us about the experience, your favorite aspects of designing the game so far, etc?

MATT HIGBY: As an FPS fanatic, and huge follower of competitive gaming and eSports, getting to work on a game like this is a dream come true. The reality of making a persistent, fiercely competitive battleground where players can always find an epic fight keeps me excited to come to work every day. As far as my favorite aspect of working on the project, I’d have to say it’s being able to interact with the community. This is the first project where we’ve been really actively involved and communicating with our fans on a daily basis, via twitter (some good twitter accounts to follow if you’re interested: @Planetside2, @mhigby, @PS_TRay) message boards, or Facebook.  We’re constantly releasing behind the scenes and “work in progress” pics on Twitter, talking with folks on the boards about game design details, and just generally having fun interacting with the passionate PlanetSide community.  It’s honestly been a lot of fun for all of us on the team.

MMORPG.COM: Lastly, I have to ask, and I'm sure you knew it was coming, but with Beta signups underway, will there be any fun competitions or prizes throughout the net sponsoring a closed beta spot? Any idea when the beta will officially commence? How extensive will the test be?

MATT HIGBY: I’m sure we’ll have some fun activities to secure a beta spot, but no announcements on beta timing, start date or scope quite yet… In the mean time stay tuned and sign up for Beta on www.PlanetSide2.com!

Thanks again for your time and patience! I appreciate any and all answers you provide! Say Hello to the rest of the PS team for me! Derek Czerkaski, signing out.

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