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Looking Ahead with Higby at PAX East

Michael Bitton Posted:
Interviews 0

We recently caught up with PlanetSide 2's Matt Higby at PAX East to discuss SOE's plans for the game this year. From Hossin to the Outfit captured bases, there's a lot coming to PS2 over the next few months. Read on!

MMORPG.com: Can you offer us some highlights of the stuff added to PlanetSide 2 in say, the last year or so?

Matt Higby: Sure. The biggest things that we’ve done in the last year are kind of smoothing out some of the things that we launched with. So, making the new player experience a lot easier for players, like, we added a basic tutorial to the game. When we first launched the game you actually just got dropped into the biggest fight on the entire continent. So we decided we’d maybe teach people how the game works a little bit before that.

We’ve got new systems that help guide players and teach players what to do. We’ve improved a lot of the things that make battles flow together. It’s a lot more predictable for you to find a fight. It’s a lot more likely that fights will perpetuate themselves. 

We’ve added a system called Lattice to the game, which basically means that these two bases are connected to each other and the fight goes along that route. Before, what ended up happening was lots of players would show up to a fight and they’d have a really good time at that fight and then players would disperse to any of the eight different territories around that fight that they could go fight at afterwards.  With lattice, it’s a bit more concentrated, so it created a much more likely scenario for you to find a more massive scale fight and for you to play that massive scale fight for your entire play session.

Throughout the last year we actually had to retrofit all of our continents.  We did massive revamps on them to be able to get the Lattice system to work.  That took three to four months per continent since our worlds are so large. That was a big thing.

And, of course, we spent a huge amount of time doing optimization. We took about four months last year and stopped the entire team from working on everything they were working on and put everybody on towards getting the game to run faster on as many different hardware configurations as possible. That process ended up working out very well. We launched the update, which we called ‘OMFG’ or ‘Operation Make Faster Game’. We launched that update and people were getting 50-70% faster frame rates on average.

For the last few months and the first couple of months this year, we’ve moved over to doing weekly updates, so we’ve been continually adding new content to the game at a very rapid pace, which lets us iterate, it lets us figure out what works and doesn’t work, and it lets us quickly respond to what the problems are within the game and what players are telling us about the game. We’re making some adjustments to that plan, still. In the last 18 months, we’ve been trying to figure out what’s the best way for us to sustainably deliver content to this game. For a long time we were doing two week patches, or every month we were doing updates, and then we had that very long break where we were doing the OMFG patch where we didn’t put any content into the game at all, really. And now we’re doing weekly updates, which is going to the very opposite end and we’re seeing what reactions are like to that. And all this is helping us figure out exactly what we want our approach to be in the future.

MMORPG.com: Is Hossin still locked for May?

Matt Higby: It’s on test server now, so we’re continuing to grow it. Our plan for Hossin right now, this is kind of a scoop, so we’re going to be releasing Hossin before we feel like it’s finished, because Hossin will take probably six to eight months for us to get completely done and players really want it now. And we know as soon as we get a continent in front of players, we very quickly realize all the things that we did wrong.

We’re going to be releasing Hossin with all of the facilities and all of the bases are going to be there. But a lot of the smaller outposts between the different facilities and the bases are not going to be the 100% handcrafted ones that we have on the other continents, they’re going to be more like stamped out ones, and over time, each week as we release new content, that stamped out base will be replaced and this one will be replaced by a fully featured tower base or maybe even a full facility. 

So we’re able to get the continent out very early, we’re able to see what the battle flow is like on there and understand what type of bases we really need to put in these types of areas, and that will hopefully allow us to speed up the development a little bit, to where we’re not waiting for the thing to be completely finished, and then putting it out to players and spending three months fixing all of the things.

MMORPG.com: What’s Outfit Base capture all about? What sort of benefits do Outfits get for capturing a base?

Matt Higby:  We’re still talking about the benefits they’re going to get and we do want to have some kind of benefits associated with it, but in a nutshell, the way it’s going to work is the Outfit that does the most to contribute, the ones who are actually flipping the points, the ones who are blowing up the generators, things like that. That Outfit that cumulatively does the most to capture the base will be credited with the base capture. 

It’ll do cool things like, now you have the Terran logo under a base, except now it will have the Terran logo and under that it will have the Outfit logo. And that’s another thing we’re doing, Outfits are going to be able to select their own emblems. They’ll be able to create their own decal, submit it through Player Studio, [and] select it as a decal for their attire.

Some of the things we’re talking about are maybe they get reduced respawn times at that base. Maybe they get reduced cost for vehicles at a base that they’ve captured. But really, it’s a bragging rights thing, too. As you’re mousing over and looking at things on the map, you’ll be able to see this was captured by TRG, this was captured by Future Crew, this was captured by DevilDogs. That’s a pretty neat thing, too.

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Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB