Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise. - PlanetSide Universe
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:07 AM   [Ignore Me] #1
Lieutenant General
Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Time and time again, I see players who create personal pet peeves and make up "facts" with supposedly "horrible PS1 mechanics" to blame the entire demise of the playerbase on.

The latest example of such an utterly false "fact" I came across, was one person who said that not only the lattice was introduced AFTER the player populace dropped, supposedly to group them up as a response to a declining playerbase. This is utter bullcrap, to put it mildly. The lattice was introduced DURING PS1 beta, in response to randomised backhacking and no large scale fights forming as the populace was simply too dispersed over the continents (something that might just happen to PS2 once more continents are added, mind you).

The lattice then, already existed at release. So this person who keeps clamouring that the lattice was introduced later (in fact, he argues it was added after Core Combat), is simply spreading lies.

And that same thing happens for a lot of different sub-systems of PS1. "Oh everyone always hated that". No, they did not. Quite often players who like a certain PS2 system (or think they will like it anyway), will create some sort of pet peeve with a PS1 system and pretend it's a fundamental, globally hated system that almost brought upon the apocalypse. Not to mention supposedly drives players away en mass, or even prevents others from entering the game.

Page 11/30 shows the playerbase growth for PlanetSide.

It clearly shows a very steep rise from release (May 2003) up to Core Combat (October 27, 2003). The response to Core Combat which was a small drop in players. Next, you see a pop stabilisation as Flails got patched, followed very shortly by another temporary positive response to the Bending (August 14, 2004). Then came Aftershock (October 18, 2004) and in november 2004, World of Warcraft was released. This was the biggest doublepunch to PlanetSide.

You can clearly see the effects of all these expansions and patches. And... marketing.

Core Combat:
Three main issues: split up of playerbase over TopSide and (empty, campable) CaveSide pay-2-win, easy-win-button-long-distance-killing (tape mouse button down for dozens of free kills per Flail shot - when Flail wasn't nerfed yet). Maelstrom was rather overpowered back then as well and still used en mass (later on next to nobody used it anymore).

The Bending:
Removed the feel of a single planet and made fights feel more independent. Added Battle Islands which were poorly implemented due to their internal "Oshur" lattice (instead of being added separately to the lattice, like caves). The problem with the sub-continents, was that you split up the playerbase into multiple sections, each increasingly independent from the other, while your opponent would leave one side to ghost, get bored and leave, while fully concentrating on the other portion, camping warpgates, or simply waiting till everyone grew tired of ghosting. Furthermore, players were arbitrarily barred from using and acquiring particular weapons systems on the islands (even though necessary, due to for instance Skyguard being bound to the Tech Plant - something a lot of players have always considered a mistake due to aircav being omnipresent and counters being needed).

Had these islands been added somewhere in the continental lattice, this whole issue would have been avoided and they'd have been considered fun, quick conquest maps. It's their grouping that made them fail first and foremost, second it was design with for instance next to no cover and long distance travel on Extinction (sniper heaven and thus farmable footzerg).

Aftershock (BFRs) and WoW
Upon their introduction without any significant play testing and not hindered by any knowledge of the law of leverage and fair balance on part of the design team, the BFRs (paid expansion for back then) made another pay to win addition to the PlanetSide "team". They were so powerful upon introduction, that a Magrider could not outdamage the repair rate of a crouched GV BFR. FV BFRs would just bunny hop, camp base and tower doors, screw over 'normal' vehicle combat, created stalemates, there'd be 8-20 covering each other in every battle and the impact on the frames per seconds of most players was a drop below 20 fps and well into red digits where people used to get 60fps or more. And... oh well dead horse. You can read up about this everywhere: suffice to say, they pretty much stomped on whatever game play and balance there was in outdoor battle, completely ruining the experience for most players. Basically anyone that wasn't manning one and LIKED manning one, considered leaving.

The playerbase literally gave the dev team about two to three months to balance the BFRs (took about a month for a lot of players to come back and check out BFRs and then to acquire FV BFRs, in which period you see a slow, but steady decline as players cancelled subs hoping to force SOE to take action, while others gave them the benefit of doubt and some time to come up with a solution. After patience of most players ended and disgruntlement with SOE management was at its peak, a very, very, very sharp player decline (free fall) occured, which in turn removed content (read: players to fight) from the game, making the game itself also less self-sustainable.

Soon after, SOE stopped providing subscription numbers and other data, so we had to guess based on unique character logins per day per server (planetside stats).

In the period 2003-2005, SOE only marketed expansions mildly and mostly to former players. Marketing for PS1 was very poor.

On november 8, 2004, EverQuest II was launched as a direct competitor to World of Warcraft and basically took the entire marketing budget and all marketing efforts for itself. From there on, more games were introduced and PlanetSide had lost so many subscribers by then it was deemed uninteresting to spend money on.

Once FodderSide began, thousands of new players came in and old players returned. The battlefield livened again for a good period of time and clearly showed the effect of a good marketing plan. Unfortunately, PlanetSide by then had a reputation and stigma of "very nice, but apparently its concept must have failed".

Plus then a small group of extremely disgruntled old players and cheaters thinking they were funny used the opportunity to start a harassment campaign using extreme hacks to disrupt combat. This was one of the final nails in the coffin, next to server mergers.

Other FPS games did not use subscription models, but one time purchases. SOE instead of lowering cost over time, actually INCREASED subscription costs "to be on par with all other games in the SOE game plan", without there being anything more in return for players. Now, players were ALREADY paying a subscription fee for a promise of "continued development", which we hadn't seen for years by then. You think some players might just be a wee bit pissed off about that. Especially Europeans, who, due to EU VAT taxes for "imported games" already paid higher subscription fees than their American brethren - even if they were in Europe, but not part of the EU (lol?), like Norway. This just rubbed the wrong way.

Effect of other patches
In fact, there is one other event that structurally raised the population for some time: new CE. This however occured in a period of time where SOE ceased to provide services for stat sites.

The introduction of the Phantasm and Galaxy Gunship caused a temporary surge, though the Phantasm's 12 mm gun then probably caused quite a few (temp?) unsubs as well.

Then of course we had the infamous balance patches, which again were poorly tested. Where the Lasher suddenly became something "completely different" and "rather overpowered". Not to mention the Reaver getting a completely unwarranted armour buff. Poor testing has always been a bane of SOE, typically they would test any and all new weapon systems with play tests on Desolation, where only one base design exists (tech plant) and they would typicall do this by providing all ES vehicles to all empires, telling players NOT to fight inside bases or try to capture them and never even considered the effects of new systems on other bases and combinations of bases and systems, such as you know... Interlinks/DSC (siege), Capital shields (Gal Gunship at Ceryshen bridge anyone?) and typical campable bases (Bio Labs, AMP station).

I mean, what's the point of testing HA rifle and ES MA pistol balance with a primarily outdoor playtest, particularly on a continent where you'll in the live game will never be able to use HA and doesn't even resemble any other continent in layout and skewed empire benefits? Hence I consider SOE test setups to be one of the largest structural problems, because no patch or expansion set that came out of it could ever hope to be balanced for the real game.

"Betrayal" of core philosophy
Next to the two introductions of pay2win expansion sets (later made freely available to all), there was another fine example of erring from the core design philosophy that all players have to make trade-offs so a new player can compete with any other player.

BR40 was another nail in the coffin according to many PS1 players. If you ask around, most longer term players will tell of you of "BR20". The time when balanced trade-off setups were still enforced by the cert system. The introduction of new CE caused an increase in available cert options, without a re-evaluation of cert cost for pre-existing certifications at the new amount of cert points available per player. This lead to an overall rise in the much complained about cookie-cutter loadouts and the spreading of many innate abilities that till then had been reserved for specialists. It reduced the feeling of uniqueness amongst players and disrupted the numerical balance of high power weapons (aircav, HA and MAX numbers increased sharply).

Server mergers
The effect of server mergers was felt quite significantly. The first significant server merge occured right after release with Jackson (European server) being merged with Werner. Werner itself kept growing in size, but there simply never was enough population to warrant two servers. In late 2003, the same was admitted for Konried and Johari (player growth had not been as high as hoped, even though there had been substantial growth, just not enough for four US servers).

After all the above events happened and their effects wore out and low pop downward spirals occured for all three remaining servers, something had to be done and the second server merge occured. Gemini was born out of Markov and Emerald, who together equaled more or less the populace on Werner (source: SOE employee, won't name him).

However... the immediate effect on Werner was that droves of people left Werner to "merge themselves", due to the promise of a big server with a bigger fight. Werner emptied almost over night (span of a week from several hundreds online to mere dozens, total). Players who did not want to make a new character on the US server or didn't consider a US server playable due to ping, simply quit because there was no alternative left. Some players who fell in the first category (no new character) returned after Werner was merged into Gemini too.

Of course in the meantime, graphically PS1 hadn't kept up to date. This was also why the PS Next program at first aimed for a graphical update of PS1. of course a number of other systems had also aged and the design of the map and other systems had never evolved in all this time, simply because nobody at SOE worked on the game. Particular systems that hadn't aged well were the CSHD (which was more noticable on a merged server due to higher pings being more common) and gun mechanics (cof/recoil systems, no customization options or even at least many weapon options to pick from).

However, the concepts behind most systems never did age, as much as they had stagnated in development since 2003. In 2003 they had been extremely innovative to the point where other games didn't even dare try them. Many PS1 systems simply never have had the chance to evolve and be refined and yes, many needed that: base design, lattice, cert system. That doesn't mean they're inherently bad, they just never been given a proper chance to live up to their potential. It also doesn't make PS2 "loaned from other FPS systems" inherently better alternatives to a 2012 evolutionary update of those systems.

Thank you for having the patience to read it all.

Last edited by Figment; 2012-08-09 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:13 AM   [Ignore Me] #2
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Originally Posted by Figment View Post
The lattice was introduced DURING PS1 beta
I can confirm this and will pretty much agree with everything else in the post. Nice collection, sir.
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Last edited by exLupo; 2012-08-09 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:27 AM   [Ignore Me] #3
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

You put this in the PS2 section by mistake
....if all other sources of whining dry up. Blame it on F2P.
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:33 AM   [Ignore Me] #4
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Originally Posted by Firearms View Post
You put this in the PS2 section by mistake
Perhaps the wrong section officially, but not by mistake: I want PS2 players to read this and realise they can't use PS1 as an example of random failing systems.

If you look at the above, pretty much ALL reasons of failure are related to mismanagement. SOME systems can be blamed, BUT these are always development mistakes that the players have always immediately pointed out.

Often in advance.
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:36 AM   [Ignore Me] #5
Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Originally Posted by Firearms View Post
You put this in the PS2 section by mistake
It's valid for it to be there. There are many to try to describe their 'love' for PS2 by linking it to a 'hate' of PS1 (I'm exaggerating of course).

But there's no need for it. Just say you like whatever it's supposed to be better and not the 'everybody hated X - no they didn't.

If PS1 was as bad as some are making out, why tag this new game with the planetside moniker?
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:39 AM   [Ignore Me] #6
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Its sad to see some would twist the facts.
Thanks for the real story!
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:45 AM   [Ignore Me] #7
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

yes this is true

the only thing imo that ever needed changing was the gun "feel" to modern standards (only because of the age of ps1) and the rest of the game kept the same - ps1 had great gameplay mechanics imo

but yes lattice was beta

edit: also br20 was MUCH better than do it all br40
editx2: i left during the bending - making oshur into battleislands sucked bad (came back a few years later though)


Last edited by fod; 2012-08-09 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 2012-08-09, 05:51 AM   [Ignore Me] #8
Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TL;DR make ur things shorter there to long to read -_-
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Old 2012-08-09, 06:06 AM   [Ignore Me] #9
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Originally Posted by username View Post
DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TL;DR make ur things shorter there to long to read -_-
If you can't be bothered reading the post, or make any useful contribution it's better to just not post.

@Figment, well written and spot on!
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Old 2012-08-09, 06:07 AM   [Ignore Me] #10
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Nicely put. It's easy to see where SOE dropped the ball on a number of things concerning PS. But they made an awesome game overall and we can just hope they continue to listen to the player base and our suggestions.
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Old 2012-08-09, 06:20 AM   [Ignore Me] #11
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Excellent post, the biggest exodus for me on werner was aftershock and the BFR fiasco.
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Old 2012-08-09, 06:20 AM   [Ignore Me] #12
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

This is all nice and everything, but it doesn't help that with playing PS1 now it doesn't feel as 'good' as it used to.

It hasn't aged well. But you still find some of the most fantastic gaming experiences you'll ever have (for now).
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Old 2012-08-09, 06:30 AM   [Ignore Me] #13
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Well put Figgy!
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Old 2012-08-09, 06:31 AM   [Ignore Me] #14
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

Well, my issue is this: There are a lot of half-wits on PSU who insist that this game must play, handle and essentially be an upscaled version of Battlefield to have any chance of real success.

I'm with you Figgy. Nice post.

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Old 2012-08-09, 06:35 AM   [Ignore Me] #15
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Re: Debunking some myths regarding PS1 playerbase demise.

This is probably the best summation I've seen so far. If we went in here discussion all the balance patches we'd be writing a novel. But this should probably be stickied and people should be forced to read it.
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