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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2012-10-11, 08:00 PM   [Ignore Me] #81
Malorn
Contributor
PlanetSide 2
Game Designer
 
Re: Joining the PS2 Team


Originally Posted by Mechzz View Post
Well done Malorn, you're joining the team at an important time. Hopefully your sensible voice will be heard in the big pool that is the PS2 Dev team.

Oh, and I'm glad to see you're continuing the honoured tradition of SOE Devs posting anywhere except the official forums

My question is this (seeing as everyone seems to have a free question):

What are your thoughts on the need for dynamic population balancing?
Assuming you see the need for it, would you consider dynamic server balancing to be an option?
(i.e. as pops fall into the night, close servers as they depopulate and migrate players to consolidate numbers, then open them up again as pops rise)
Obviously toons need to be portable, but I don't think we've ever been told they won't be?

Anyway, congratulations and good luck!
Thanks! Population scaling is a challenging problem. As population increase you want to increase the area of battle to match, and as it falls you want to consolidate back down so you have a raging battle the entire time without it being either too zergy or too sparse. That's not easy, especially when people can go wherever they please and you have a wide open world.

Looking at other games, Battlefield series does population scaling by reducing the combat area and number of objectives on the same map. So 32 person conquest is the same map as 64 person conquest, only with more objectives and more playable area. That's the natural way to ensure that your population density stays as expected.

PlanetSide is much harder because our unit of scaling really is the Continent. We go from one continent to two, or two to three.

It's also harder because the scaling needs to happen while people are fighting on those continents.

In spite of this, PlanetSide managed to scale fairly well due to the cross-continent conquest model. Typically an empire would pour into one continent and another empire would pour into the same and that would happen across several different continents simultaneously. As population increased more continents would fill up and get used. As population decreased they tended to go down to fewer contested continents at a time.

The ability to "lock" a continent was actually an important part of PS1 population scaling. If the population died down, you'd typically encounter little resistance on a continent and lock it quickly. Then you'd go looking for another fight and most players would choose an existing fight over creating a new one. So that's how it down-sized itself. If the population increased then it would pour over into a new continent and the battle expanded. That's how it scaled up.

So I am a firm believer that cross-continent conquest is the key to solving the population scaling problem. The unit of scaling is the continent. The level of scaling depends on number of continents and how they link together.

Unfortunately PS2 is resource bound so it might be rough for a bit with only 3 continents. However if they all inter-connect with each one having a home continent what I think you will see happen is that the population will tend to converge on one continent when population is low and then spread out to others as it increases. That might require footholds on each continent to work correctly, or neutral/conquerable gates. The fear I have with that is that it will encourage double-teaming, while a static 3-foothold model will still allow the scaling to some extent as people simply ignore two of the continents, but still allow any empire to take up the fight elsewhere as population increase. We'll have to see about how that plays out. Long-term I see inter-continent conquest as the solution for population scaling, just like it was in PS1. The key change I would make there is reducing the downtime at the end of a conquest and at the beginning, so encourage people to stick around through the end and encourage people to defend freshly invaded continents.
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