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Old 2011-07-13, 10:22 AM   [Ignore Me] #1
2coolforu
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Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Now that the development of Planetside 2 is confirmed and the information is really stepping up I think it's time looked back into PlanetSide history and examine what caused the game to stop being popular.

I played the game for a long time, I was incredibly lucky to be able to play it at all. The story behind it is incredibly amusing, when I started I was pretty young, by 'pretty young' I mean I was still in primary school aged 10, I was an avid PC gamer even in 2003 aged 10, and I still am in 2011 aged 18. My first PC game was C&C aged 2, shortly followed by Doom just to give you an idea of how ridiculous my past was .

Anyway I'm getting sidetracked here, the only reason I got to play Planetside was through my teacher, now just think about how funny that is. I didn't learn about it through TV, advertisements, the Internet or any typical media outlet. Instead I learned of PlanetSide's existence through word of mouth, think about how unlikely that is. Now I was in trouble and through sheer chance I mentioned playing a few PC games at the time, the teacher immediately told me about Planetside which he had got onto the beta for and was really enjoying so when I got home I hit it up on the internet and flicked through the latest PC Gamer magazine which just happened to be offering a 7-day trial and had the game on disk in demo form. So I got the game installed and began playing with about an average of 5 frames per second. But the game had hooked me and I got broadband, got the proper game on disks and got an account in mid-2003.

Now the entire point of this story is how hard it was for me to start playing, the only reason I found out about the game was due to someone mentioning it to me. Consider how many people actually had Planetside on the month of its release; probably around 30,000 at a guess. Imagine the odds of running into one of those people in a small town in the UK. That's how lucky I was to learn about the game, even with that considered I only managed to play it and test it out because of PC Gamer having a trial! The guys at PC Gamer UK are massive Planetside fans and they consistently wrote articles on the game and how good it was, I'd advise SOE to give these guys all the information they can because they will be such good advertisers.

Which leads me to an incredibly important aspect of success

Marketing, Marketing and more Marketing
Planetside had quite a few subscribers for the time period and given the quality of internet and computers at the time. I believe it peaked at around 100,000 subscribers, Planetside 2 has the power to go far, far beyond that. Star Wars The Old Republic has a handful of trailers and multiple game-play videos on the internet, it's widely known about and they've had tons of stories in the gaming media. What Planetside 2 needs is something similar, I've seen that Higby is doing interviews with PC Gamer and other media outlets which is pure awesome, hats off to him for getting the word spread! But It'd be even better to see banners on websites and even a TV advert campaign, SOE will see a return in the money paid back in sales and subscriptions, or in the cash shop.

Get a trailer together showing a huge battle, galaxies dropping guys on a base as dozens of tanks and aircraft duke it out in the hills around it. Dozens of troops planting C.E. and mines everywhere and squads defending the control console, zoom out and show the continent with battleplans and troops on it, then zoom out and show the globe with multiple similar battles going on in different continents. Convey how large scale and incredible Planetside is.
Now that I had the game I played and played, obviously I'm looking back at Planetside through the rose-tinted glass of childhood nostalgia but the game was extremely good, probably the best game I have ever played (Accounting for the differences in technology and hardware) But that didn't stop it having flaws. One change was both positive and negative - The addition of broadcast Warpgates.

Sanctuaries

Before we had Brodcast Warpgates you had to take the direct route via normal continent-continent Warpgates, what this meant is that you had to attack with overwhelming force and organization otherwise you would be kicked right back to sanctuary, or to a tower with zero vehicle support. This effectively forced people to create huge raids in which all the vehicles and support you needed were there. My greatest memories of Planetside are the the huge raids, 50 Prowlers driving out or OsteKake's pop-lock's worth of galaxies are my favourites. The raids were awesome because they gave that feeling of being an Empire and having all these other humans here fighting with you, in current battles people can just warp to the continent and make their own way to the battle very easily without the need for overwhelming force. The faster you can get into the battle the lower the stakes are, with low stakes killwhoring benefits as your life is worth less to you. In Planetside death is inconsequential and the only cost is to the personal time you have to enjoy yourself, if dying means that you have to go all the way back to sanctuary then you try to maximize the odds of survival by using overwhelming main-force attack.

The Sanctuary was therefore a vital part of the game, it was a safe hub that allowed empires to create that main-force attack and organize effectively. In the early days of Planetside the hub was always bustling, it is empty in the current era because it has been obsoleted by broadcast warpgates and low populations, main-force attack is no longer needed and teamwork is less valuable. I think in Planetside 2 something similar to a Sanctuary is needed, perhaps the unconquerable 'foothold' will fill the role but I think it's important that we remember that Sanctuaries were once a highly important tactical area.

BattleFrame Robotics

I have two vivid memories of BFR's, my first was testing them on the testing server. I pulled the one man ground variant and stomped off into Ceryshen with no idea of what I was doing, it just so happened that I ran into an NC reaver along with a vanguard and around a squad of infantry. At first I though I had been dumb for just running in blindly, I crouched and fired at the vanguard expecting to be totally screwed, even with everything firing at me I took very little damage and in a matter of minutes I destroyed the Vanguard and scared off the Reaver and infantry.

I had put myself into a terrible situation with no support, I had put myself up against 3 elements of Planetside's Rock-Paper-Scissors, Air-Infantry_Armor. If I had been in any vehicle from the pre-BFR era I would have died VERY quickly yet in this one man BFR I defeated them all without any real skill, teamwork and I didn't sustain any permanent damage.

The second example was logging in the time period between release and nerf, I was in an AMP station and I ran outside to defend the base, I did not see a single infantryman, tank, aircraft, jeep or AMS; instead the ridge opposite the base was lined with BFR's and there were around 20 in total. I just logged off in disgust and didn't come back until they were nerfed.

The BFR was a perfect example of doing everything wrong and going against the core principles of the game, it did not need a gunner only a driver. All the gunner added was a little extra DPS, you could operate a flying, self healing deathmachine that could travel extremely fast, reach any point on the map, fjord rivers and be switched to counter any other vehicle or aircraft in the game. They had a high survivability due to their ability to run away, self regenerate and switch loadouts to match the play of the battle which meant battles were ground to a halt. Their weapons often had incredible range and damage that matched the next best unit it the category their weapons were fitted for. Even after their nerfing they still outperform any other vehicle and are the most prevalent vehicle other than a mosquito.

When they were first released their shield regeneration could totally negate the damage of multiple infantrymen, a tank or many other vehicles. This violated the key foundation of Planetside - That two people working together as a team was always more effective than one person. If you drove a tank you could get a lightning or a Main Battle Tank. The lightning gave the weaponry to the driver but two lightnings could not defeat a two-man Vanguard. The whole of the 2 People working as a team was more than the sum of its individual components, this is Planetside sacrament.

I love the fact that the devs have acknowledged that BFR's were bad and are not bringing them back for Planetside. I am also glad that we are seeing an increase in the reliance on teammates, the importance of teamwork is huge, the fact that we will have to rely on people being medics or engineers is great. However we should make sure that we don't get another 'BFR' moment, the BFR really cut Planetside down far before its time. No vehicle should ever be able to span across so many roles at once - it hurts the variety of the game and the players who enjoy the different roles.

Last edited by 2coolforu; 2011-07-13 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 2011-07-13, 10:33 AM   [Ignore Me] #2
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Originally Posted by 2coolforu View Post
Sanctuaries

Before we had Brodcast Warpgates you had to take the direct route via normal continent-continent Warpgates, what this meant is that you had to attack with overwhelming force and organization otherwise you would be kicked right back to sanctuary, or to a tower with zero vehicle support. This effectively forced people to create huge raids in which all the vehicles and support you needed were there. My greatest memories of Planetside are the the huge raids, 50 Prowlers driving out or OsteKake's pop-lock's worth of galaxies are my favourites. The raids were awesome because they gave that feeling of being an Empire and having all these other humans here fighting with you, in current battles people can just warp to the continent and make their own way to the battle very easily without the need for overwhelming force. The faster you can get into the battle the lower the stakes are, with low stakes killwhoring benefits as your life is worth less to you. In Planetside death is inconsequential and the only cost is to the personal time you have to enjoy yourself, if dying means that you have to go all the way back to sanctuary then you try to maximize the odds of survival by using overwhelming main-force attack.

The Sanctuary was therefore a vital part of the game, it was a safe hub that allowed empires to create that main-force attack and organize effectively. In the early days of Planetside the hub was always bustling, it is empty in the current era because it has been obsoleted by broadcast warpgates and low populations, main-force attack is no longer needed and teamwork is less valuable. I think in Planetside 2 something similar to a Sanctuary is needed, perhaps the unconquerable 'foothold' will fill the role but I think it's important that we remember that Sanctuaries were once a highly important tactical area.
THHHHIISS, no ant races in PS2? NO THANK YOU

But seriously, the arguement against Sancs was that it took too long to get to battle. I really don't remember it being a huge hassle to get from sanc to the battle? Not so much as to completely remove them from the game.

Last edited by Logit; 2011-07-13 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 2011-07-13, 10:36 AM   [Ignore Me] #3
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Marketing??? Whats that... because


Originally Posted by morf View Post
any other way it wouldn't be Planetside anymore
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Old 2011-07-13, 10:40 AM   [Ignore Me] #4
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Originally Posted by Infektion View Post
Marketing??? Whats that... because
I'm giving examples of what Planetside did well, and what Planetside did badly and how the sequel can benefit from these.
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Old 2011-07-13, 10:43 AM   [Ignore Me] #5
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Originally Posted by 2coolforu View Post
I'm giving examples of what Planetside did well, and what Planetside did badly and how the sequel can benefit from these.
I'm just pulling your wiener.
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Old 2011-07-13, 10:45 AM   [Ignore Me] #6
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Originally Posted by Infektion View Post
I'm just pulling your wiener.
Hehe
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-07-13, 11:04 AM   [Ignore Me] #7
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


I have an entire section of my manifesto devoted to this topic (see sig for link).

The short concise version of past mistakes...

1) Lack of sufficient marketing

2) Lack of communication & vetting of ideas with the players (BFRs the obvious example, core-combat to a certain extent too)

3) Not sticking with core game principles (BFRs & teamwork, clear roles etc)

4) Too strict hardware requirements

5) steep learning curve for newbies, no real education system for ramping them up to how to play the game, make loadouts, explain the conquest system, etc.

6) Not keeping up with OS updates. New PCs shipped with Vista, PS didn't work reliably on vista until like 2009, that's gg right there if they do that with Windows 8+.

7) Hacking, Hacking, and more Hacking. Way too much hacking in the game.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-07-13, 11:10 AM   [Ignore Me] #8
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Oh I wanted to add that with that list I just mentioned, of those I believe every one of the issues has been addressed or at least acknowledged.

1) Marketing, well...they're on it now and we'll have to see how it turns out.

2) They are communicating the 3-year plan. This looks like a big step in the right direction.

3) No BFRs, but I'm not sure they understand why BFRs were bad. They are moving toward clear class system and roles so I think there's evidence they get this to some extent.

4) hardware requirements look good with the goal to run on ~4 year old machines. So far the game doens't appear too fancy with the engine (that's a good thing, we gamers turn most of the fluff off anyway).

5) Missions will help a ton, as will more rapid pacing. The class system may be more intuitive for FPS vets. I think there's always more that could be done here. New players are the lifeblood and the higher the retention rate of new players and the better their first impression the more successful the game will be.

6) No indication on this one way or the other and is too early to really tell.

7) They've described hacking as a top priority and their biggest threat. Supposedly there's a sub-team devoted to security and addressing this issue. Seems like they're doing the right thing. I'll give them the benefit of hte doubt here.
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Old 2011-07-13, 11:23 AM   [Ignore Me] #9
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


I read the Planetside manifesto you have in your sig, it was well written and made me write this just to provide my own anecdotes on how I got into Planetside and just how lucky I was to learn about it and the problems I saw in the original.

I agree with everything you say, the dev team has definitely learned from the experience gained from the original game and are really devoted to the game and the community. The only other developer I've ever seen care so much for their community is Bohemia Interactive and they are also really great guys who made some awesome games so hopefully Planetside 2 will be my next 'Best game of all time'. As for marketing I mentioned that Matt Higby has been the pinnacle of this, he's been giving interviews to all the major gaming magazines and he's been taking time out of his own schedule to do Q & A's here and on reddit among other things, it's incredibly epic to see such devotion to the game and I'm sure we'll see lots of marketing when the development of the game gets further along.
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Old 2011-07-13, 11:29 AM   [Ignore Me] #10
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Sancs were mostly unnecessary, and were certainly an impediment to getting to the fight. Sure, they weren't all bad, but they were poorly laid out, and the hart timer was just silly. The strongholds on each continent will mean you always have a foothold with vehicle spawning available. Raids can be organized on a controlled continent, or one that is at least empty, and then you can all go spawn in the actual target, or travel there, if there are warpgates.

I realize you guys hate BFRs, but please remember it was the implementation that was bad, not the big stompy robots. They would have been just as bad if they had been heavy tanks. I'm a mechwarrior fan, and hence a fan of big stompy robots. I'd love to see some in the game. I fear BFR hate will prevent this.


Originally Posted by Malorn View Post
2) Lack of communication & vetting of ideas with the players (BFRs the obvious example, core-combat to a certain extent too)
Players can really only be trusted to break the game. Little else. Sure, one hopes they collect feedback and use that to guide their decisions, but a balance decided by players would be horrid. They are, in general, far too blinded by self interest.
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Click here to go to the next VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-07-13, 11:30 AM   [Ignore Me] #11
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Yes Matt is doing great marketing, particularly the viral kind with the different social media. Facebook page,etc, even Smeds tweets is a sign that they're trying something new and at least interested in marketing the game. I just hope they keep it up. Its fairly low-cost, but I'm sure they don't have a whol elot of time in the day to do that sort of thing. They do have a product to make, conferences to attend, interviews to do, and occasionally see family and sleep.
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Old 2011-07-13, 11:30 AM   [Ignore Me] #12
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Here's my 2 pence, from my Upgrade Project:

While PS has lasted much longer than some MMO games in my opinion it was never a large scale success and I feel that this is due to a variety of factors namely:
  • Lack of potential player base; at release almost all MMO games were RPGs with quests and PS was radically different from them as it was an FPS (with the exception of World War 2 Online). This meant that it was really aiming for bored MMORPG players and FPS players that wanted larger battles and more persistence for their characters (now we see many FPS games having awards and unlocks for persistent characters).
  • Monthly fee; FPS players themselves had experienced Battlefield 1942 which probably was the most similar game to PS at its release. This was a game that had large fights (although only 64 players) yet there was no monthly fee. FPS players still are not used to paying monthly so subscriptions are going to be an issue until they are used to it. Ideally I would instigate new payment system.
  • Under par game mechanics: No headshots, poor flight physics and an odd recoil system all turned off many players at release as these were all features that Battlefield 1942, other FPS and flight games had perfected before Planetsides release. Note that since PS was released other games have used the same cone of fire system for recoil, so it is much less of an issue these days.
  • Poor post release development; Core Combat was simply not the urban combat many people expected, and BFRs could have been fantastic heavy tanks yet destroyed the game for many due to their shocking implementation and following year long beating with a nerf bat to get them to fit. Add to this a seemingly 4-6 month gap between game updates and the huge influx of hackers in recent years.
  • Poor graphics; while most people see past under par graphics (particularly in MMO games due to their massive nature) there are many who will not even attempt to play a game with poor graphics, especially FPS players.
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This is the last VIP post in this thread.   Old 2011-07-13, 11:35 AM   [Ignore Me] #13
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Originally Posted by CutterJohn View Post
Players can really only be trusted to break the game. Little else. Sure, one hopes they collect feedback and use that to guide their decisions, but a balance decided by players would be horrid. They are, in general, far too blinded by self interest.
I would have liked the opportunity for very early BFR design feedback. By the time players were informed the train had already left the station.

I don't like polls becuase I think ideas should stand on their own merits and not be subjected to the mercy of the masses. And polls can be easily misconstrued and affected by wording quite substantially. They're just plain misleading. But still a good argument with some sound reasoning and a devleoper willing to read it and consider it could have prevented the poor implementation of BFRs and we might have gotten something more workable that didn't throw the game into upheaval.

(And I agree with your assertion that the implementation was bad, not the idea. BF2142 is evidence of this...they had a mech in that game and it was strong but not that much stronger than a tank and had its own advantages/disadvantages. The shielding & jumping were the monumental mistakes of BFRs IMO)
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Old 2011-07-13, 11:35 AM   [Ignore Me] #14
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


Originally Posted by CutterJohn View Post
Sancs were mostly unnecessary, and were certainly an impediment to getting to the fight. Sure, they weren't all bad, but they were poorly laid out, and the hart timer was just silly. The strongholds on each continent will mean you always have a foothold with vehicle spawning available. Raids can be organized on a controlled continent, or one that is at least empty, and then you can all go spawn in the actual target, or travel there, if there are warpgates.

I realize you guys hate BFRs, but please remember it was the implementation that was bad, not the big stompy robots. They would have been just as bad if they had been heavy tanks. I'm a mechwarrior fan, and hence a fan of big stompy robots. I'd love to see some in the game. I fear BFR hate will prevent this.




Players can really only be trusted to break the game. Little else. Sure, one hopes they collect feedback and use that to guide their decisions, but a balance decided by players would be horrid. They are, in general, far too blinded by self interest.
In what way is organising on an empty continent different to organizing in the sanctuary? As for footholds I don't see how we will get the great feeling of locking a cont if we can never make it fully secure, although I don't know all the details of the foothold system so I can't really comment on it. For all I know the devs could have fixed the problem of locking a cont and having footholds.

As for BFR's there was no reason for them to come in, what roles are left for a big robot? Inevitably they are just there for Rule of Cool and nothing else, if robots are in then replace the tank with a robot. However I'd rather it just be tanks and infantry, the robot in this game is the MAX, I don't think mechs fit into the aesthetic of the game, the BFR's just looked totally out of place in the game.
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Old 2011-07-13, 11:39 AM   [Ignore Me] #15
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Re: Devs - Past mistakes and Teamwork (History is important!)


if you go and look at marco polo's planetside advert on youtube the comments list is full of people asking why they'd never heard of the game i assume they're lots of people looking in after hearing of PS2
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