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Fan Faire Update

By Carolyn Koh on August 14, 2007 | General Articles | Comments

Fan Faire Update
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Panel Members:

Senior Artist - Scott "Wonder Pony" McDaniel

Producer - Glenn Snyder

Programmer - Adam "Beady" Polomchak

Moderator: Community Relations Manager - Joel "Raijinn" Sasaki

If the panel presentation was anything to go by, Planetside fans are in for a treat as the team revealed their plans for future of development of the game. The team, as it stands, is pretty young. Glenn Snyder has only been in the position of Producer for three months, Scott McDaniel has been Senior Artist for six, and Adam Polomchak has been with Planetside for a little over a year. The ideas that were revealed though, showed a dedicated team that is excited about their game. Compared to previous FanFaires, where the number of Planetside players attending could be counted on the fingers of one hand, this session netted about 25 players and would-be players.

"You may have heard something about Black Ops," said Glenn as they launched into what was coming with the next game update. "They are some guys in green, of a neutral faction that will cause some havoc in game, and they will be played by players."

Adam went on to explain what made them different. There were the color and textures of course and they would spawn in Agile armor (although Reinforced would also be available), have 1,000 HP - "Should have been 1,337!" quipped Scott - 500STA and twice the regen rate of a normal play character. Scott also mentioned that Black Ops will have access to every vehicle and weapon in the game.

"This is not a fourth empire," cautioned Glenn as questions flew. "We want to make sure we are doing stuff that's cool. Stuff that's different." Black Ops will be limited play since they are meant to be an elite squadron, and they have yet to finalize the rewards structure - apart from the opportunity to wreak havoc against other empires that is.

The team was eager to have a good exchange with the players, assuring them that they were not only moving forward but were also looking at the old code and old problems. The team shared their challenges - a small development team, budget and the limitations of code that is five years old. "You know, having you guys here with us in this panel has essentially doubled our design team," said Scott, as he also revealed that they had a list of legacy bugs that were being worked on, and that his personal mandate was to fix every bug connected with art.

"We have a two month development cycle," said Glenn. "One and a half months is devoted to development and two weeks are spent on bug fixing - old and new." Some discussion ensued with a Planetside tech-guy fielding questions about new technology compatibility with Planetside's code, including dual-core processor issues. Although the Planetside code made use of multi-threading, the dual-core processor issues were complicated - some being synchronization issues, the problems being different between ATI and Intel, and also different generations of chips. Glenn stated that players were welcome to download and use some of the third-party software found at sites such as Tom's Hardware to assist with the dual-core processor issues. "We will not ban you," he assured the room.

They then continued to happier topics. "Have you guys heard about the Phantasm?" For those of you who haven't, here's a brief summary. The Phantasm is a flying transport vehicle that can cloak like the Wraith. Capacity is driver plus four passengers. The pilot has control of the cloaking device and a small "pea shooter" like the Mosquito. It is not very maneuverable despite its nice top speed, has slightly more armor than the Mosquito and with HP closer to the Liberator. If moving at 30% of maximum speed or lower, it will be completely cloaked, and it can't get locked on if cloaked. There's no limitation on the armor the pilot can wear and as described, is basically a personnel drop vehicle.

They then went on to the Galaxy Gunship. "Basically a retrofitted Galaxy Transport," said Adam. "It's a buffed transport." It has three guns with similar power but a faster rate of fire than the Liberator, and two front ground-pounders.

In answer to player comments and questions about the ships, Glenn admitted that the Galaxy Gunship had not been play-tested. Black Ops, the Phantasm and the Galaxy Gunship were pushed out to be ready for a cool Live Event at Fanfaire that Jason had been talking up on the forums.

"We're going to roll in and we're going to mow over some people," stated Glenn; to the cheers, protests and laughter of the crowd. "You guys get a chance to play Black Ops tomorrow. Be there. We'll do the tweaking later."

Scott kept adding to the excitement by telling the players about the art assets that he was building in preparation for future development. "We have new scopes, new barrels, barrel extensions..." and he threw out many speculative improvements to weapons to the delighted howls of "Dude!" "Sweet!" "Overpowered! Nerf! Nerf!" from the players.

Not to forget the Fusion Blade. A merit item for pre-registered players (much to the chagrin of a few walk-ins) attending the FanFaire. "It's a katana light-saber," said Scott. "It has a secondary fire mode. When you hit that, you're Luke Skywalker." It doesn't do a whole lot, we were warned. It's a "flash" item rather than some game-unbalancing uber- weapon.

Glenn made note that having new weapons like these opens up a lot of development possibilities, and Scott again threw out the tidbits of new art assets ready for new things. "We have 152 new animations. Our main problem is that the old models are low poly and it's hard to get them to do some things," he said, telling us that the change from single-handed use of the Fusion Blade to two-handed use of its secondary mode is a little strange.

Also on the laundry list are advanced certifications, with advanced hacking being the next on the line. T-Wreck is the code name of what they referred to as an "evil" wrecking skill, which, if successful, would mess with the controls of the enemy ship.

Finally, in response to player questions about the Battle Islands and Outfit Wars, Scott again dropped a teaser, "I just got in a new tool that works with the code to easily create maps. I'll be able to create small maps that outfits can have little wars in. Would it be cool to have a fight in a parking lot or some Vanu ruins?" The room exploded with excitement and suggestions "Capture the flag scenarios!" "Grudge matches!" and the session ended in a buzz of excitement.

Live Event

All Planetside players at the FanFaire were ready; their regular armor transformed to Black with a green undertone and bluish green shoulder pads and they had been familiarizing themselves with the new ships and playing with their Fusion Blades when I arrived. Some were coordinating in order to work as a group.

"Do you want to play?" Glenn asked me. Not I. It has been years since I played Planetside... and only if I had GM powers, I grinned. I've been on the GM side before. I knew what to expect. Then it was on! With a squadron of 30, they went in prepared to wreak some havoc... and met resistance never seen before. Not fifteen minutes into the event, their gens were blown. Two GMs and 28 regular players. Well... it was massive carnage, on both sides.

The Devs were in high form, walking around and encouraging the Black Ops group, making decisions on the fly as they were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. "Double the zone cap!" "Done!" "We'll have to buff them to give them a fighting chance." "OMG! I have 10,000HP?" "Still gonna die soon." "Give them more ammo."

RaijinnBlack was a one man army as he ran around buffing his squad mates on the fly - not an easy job as he had to have them targeted to buff them - taking Mont by himself, dying, re-spawning, dying again and again. "My god... I've never seen a completely red circle," said Glenn as he watched over Jason's shoulder. "Your health is dropping like a rock!" 10,000 HP doesn't last long when you have 20 gunships, 2 BFRs and any number of ground troops on you, 2x regen rate or not.

Then the Rabbit event was triggered and more chaos ensued as I encouraged Raijinn to go grab the rabbit and the air turned black with enemy gunships trying to shoot him down. I watched as he went down and was immediately surrounded by ground troops and a BFR, waiting for him to re-spawn on the spot.

"Vanu has figured out you are part of them, guys. Reinforcements coming!"

"1,100 on Emerald and climbing."

"No more meteors! We'll crash the server."

"Can we triple the zone cap?"

Massive carnage. That's what it was. Despite how quickly they died when they were not buffed, the players had a blast. I watched as a Phantasm infiltrated an enemy airspace, completely cloaked until they opened fire. Five guys wreaking a little havoc before their unbuffed Black Ops characters died under the defensive onslaught. The Live Event had been going on for more than an hour when I left, but the players were all still having a blast, and the Dev Team were talking about having more Live Events for Planetside.

Check out the video trailer for Planetside Black Ops:

Planetside: Black Ops Planetside: Black Ops
MMORPG.com is pleased to present this video from Planetside, featuring Black Ops.
Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.
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