MMORPG: How will the mission system work? What opportunities does this system offer squad and platoon leaders? And how do you plan on expanding on this feature later?
Matt Higby: The mission system is designed to fulfill two main goals. The first is to always have an answer for the question “What should I do next”, and the second is to provide a bridge between newer players, who are just getting their feet wet with PlanetSide 2, and the more dedicated veterans. The mission system accomplishes these goals by having objectives for the current combat area (either the area you’re in, or where your squad leader is, if you’re in a squad) clearly displayed for players at all times. Objectives in the initial implementation will be basic things like capturing a control node, defending a control node, etc. Squad leaders can change mission parameters for their squad by moving to different battles or selecting different targets in the current battle.
The initial implementation will require limited input from players and will be more like an automated objective system, while the 2nd implementation phase adds a lot more mission types and parameters for squad leaders to use to accomplish simple goals. The 3rd implementation phase takes the functionality and expands it beyond squads / platoon, and makes it possible to create global objectives that any friendly players can accomplish. Our current plan has the first phase going live within the next month, with the 2nd and 3rd phases completing in the next 3 months.
MMORPG: Can you put a number on the sort of performance increase players can expect in the Amerish overhaul?
Tramell Ray Isaac: I mean, it’s across the board. We touched everything. Amerish was the last map that we had to optimize, so we went through and reduced vert counts on a lot of assets. If I had to give a number, I’d say maybe 10-15 frames.
The last optimization patch we did cleared up a bunch of that stuff, but it set a lot of ground rules for us, and that’s the reason we had to go back and refocus on Amerish and make sure all those rules actually apply to Amerish as well. During the optimization phase, we focused on the other two maps and got those up to par, but Amerish was kind of the last bullet on the list while we were cleaning up assets, reducing texture usage, rearranging some of the parts of maps to fit with the new lattice system. The lattice system was part of the update as well.
We kind of reduced the number of uniques, as far as unique assets that are actually out there in the world, so we reuse a lot of stuff, and that also helps with performance. Across the board, design, art, and programming allowed for this update to come across pretty well. I think we’re in a good spot with it now and we’ll continue to work on it.
MMORPG: What is the lattice system? And how will it improve Amerish?
Tramell Ray Isaac: It’s another effort to direct players to any particular location. What we had before was kind of a free form; the bases were connected to each other via hex. They’re still connected via hex, but now you only have two or three different locations, in some cases one, in which you can actually attack from. If I’m at one particular base, then I know that the enemy has to come from a particular direction. As it was before, you could come from any direction and actually capture that base. The lattice links allow you to say, “Well. The front line is here.” And you can push against this front line. As a defender you can mount an attack or defense based on the knowledge of where the lattice links actually connect to.
MMORPG: Can you talk about your progress on the 64 bit client?
Tramell Ray Isaac: It’s actually coming along pretty well. We have to make a couple changes to some animations. We have to re-export a bunch of things for the 64-bit client. I think that’s going along pretty well. Our goal is to get it done for March or somewhere around there. Obviously, we’ll see how things go. We’re full steam ahead on that and we’re going to make sure it gets out there in the best way that it possibly can. We don’t want to rush anything. It kind of goes along the same lines as the PS4. Just keep developing on it until we get it to a good spot and then we’ll put it out there.
MMORPG: What does it mean for people who are only going to be able to use the 32-bit client? I read something about only being able to load up to a certain quality level.
Tramell Ray Isaac: The full effects of people who were playing on 32-bit clients have not been fleshed out yet. We want to try and impact them the least, try to get something out there that doesn’t impact them in a dramatic way. Though that has yet to be determined, we don’t have a firm decision on what we’re going to do about the 32-bit client.