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PlanetSide Interviews: Wayback Thursday with PlanetSide Devs

By Robert Lashley on July 04, 2012

June was a busy month for Wayback Wednesday, so much in fact that we had to go forth and create a special edition Wayback Wednesday Thursday to fit all the games in.  Last week’s bonus episode showcased Planetside and I was joined by special guests Tramell Isaac and Matt Higby from Sony Online Entertainment.  Tramell was the original art director for Planetside and is currently the senior art director for Planetside 2.  Matt is currently the creative director for Planetside 2 and in the past has worked on other SOE titles such as Everquest II. 

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Planetside is the most successful MMOFPS to date.  It also features the holy grail of MMORPG PvP: 3 faction persistent warfare.  We showed off each of the three factions at the beginning of the stream before we converted to black ops.  Matt was in disguise as the New Conglomerate, Tramell represented the Vanu Sovereignty, and I dressed up as a member of the Terran Republic.  We decided in advance of the show to be black ops members and take on the entire server.  We did this because while it is fun for players to fight alongside the developers it is infinitely more fun for the players to kill the developers.  In the end we may have bit off more than we could chew.  Tramell challenged the server to “bring it” and the server quickly responded.  An adventurous group of players managed to find us before we even began our journey.

One of the first things I noticed upon logging into Planetside after an extended hiatus was that for a game that is over 9 years old (released May 20, 2003) the graphics have held up very well.  While the game is obviously not using Unreal 3 engine technology Tramell and his art team do not have us running around shooting it out as stick figures.  Besides the art there are also a number of RPG elements to this first person shooter that stand out.  You gain experience through combat and completing objects, such as capturing enemy bases, which allow you to gain ranks and develop your character.  One example of character progression is the ability to unlock upgraded weapons and to earn licenses to operate vehicles.  Matt did say, however, that licenses for vehicles would be removed for Planetside 2.  Everyone will be able to drive all of vehicles in the game right out of the box, and this is just the beginning of the improvements.  While we played Planetside the conversation quickly shifted focus to Planetside 2 and Matt along with Tramell fielded questions for almost an hour on what players could expect to find in this reincarnation of Planetside.


-This is a reimagining of Planetside and not a direct sequel

-No longer need certifications to use vehicles

-The environment will directly impact game play

-Huge amount of cosmetic and short cut items in cash shop

-74 degree FOV

-Planetside will not shut down when PS2 launches

-Team is aiming for the game to be playable on 4 to 5 year old computers

-to many to list… check out the video!

One of the most interesting things we talked about was the impact that the environment would have on the player in the game.  A day night cycle will appear in Planetside 2.  To use the night cycle to their advantage players will have the ability to obtain night vision optics.  You can imagine the tactical advantage this will give players in the dark.  Players will also be able to find creative ways to hide when is not dark outside.  Tramell told a story how aerial vehicles could take advantage of the sunrise and hide their approach on the horizon by keeping the sun at their back.  Aerial vehicles will also be affected by sandstorms.  While they do not have to worry about sucking sand into their turbines and crashing they do have to worry about line of sight issues created by the storm.  They can also figure out ways to use the storm to camouflage their approach.

This episode featuring Planetside was a lot of fun and the in game event was highly attended. We managed to crash the server twice from too many players in the zone at once.  Some of the more ridiculous items that we discovered are: Tramell cannot fly vehicles, friends do not let friends drive under the influence of pizza, trees and rocks need to get out of the way while I’m driving, Matt uses Head and Shoulders.  SOE is currently running a welcome back promotion and anyone that has ever had a subscription to Planetside can log back into their account and have access to the game for the next 30 days.  Currently the population has sky rocketed back to peak levels that have not been seen since 2003. If you want to reminisce on the old action there is no time like the present, also if you are a Planetside noob and want to find out what all the fuss is about this is the perfect time to jump into the game.  There will be no lack of people willing support or kill you depending on the faction you pick.

Robert Lashley / Rob Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob''s bald and when he isn''t blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen.

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