Monday Dec 04, 2023

Interview: Speaking 10 Years Of PlanetSide 2 with Rogue Planet Video games

Interview: Speaking 10 Years Of PlanetSide 2 with Rogue Planet Video games

In an business the place MMO and different stay service video games can come and go as rapidly because the wind, for one to face the check of time is a giant deal. It’s a fair larger one when that MMO is extra area of interest than even this area of interest style: a full PvP MMOFPS that pits tons of and 1000’s of gamers towards one another in an ongoing battle for supremacy over a planet. PlanetSide 2 is such a recreation, having celebrated its tenth anniversary this yr.

Since launching in 2012, PlanetSide 2 has seen large change in our business, and a few even near residence. Launching again throughout the Sony On-line Leisure days, PlanetSide 2 has gone via its personal share of rising pains, with builders, inventive leads and extra coming and going throughout its lifetime. It noticed the change over from SOE to Dawn Video games, and has lived via the newest acquisition that has seen Dawn grow to be a part of EG7, whereas PS2 has been spun off into its personal improvement firm inside Dawn, Rogue Planet Video games.

All through its lifetime, PlanetSide 2 has seen numerous updates, additions, and way more, however the core of the long-standing MMOFPS has remained the identical: giant scale, mixed arms battles that see gamers vying for territory throughout the assorted continents in PlanetSide 2. This tight, extremely well-tuned gunplay, in addition to simply the sheer scale of a few of the battles, has saved gamers coming again yr over yr. 

All through its life, PlanetSide 2 has seen over 17 million accounts created to leap into the fray. In that point, gamers have fought on PlanetSide 2’s many continents for 506,271,035 hours.

Whereas each MMO goes via rising pains, inhabitants fluctuations, and extra, PlanetSide 2 has stood the check of time thanks partially to a passionate, lively group who’re nonetheless logging in day in and day trip to participate in one of many solely actual large-scale MMOFPS titles in the marketplace. It feels distinctive within the panorama of MMOs on the market, standing by itself with a vibrant sandbox that sees gamers combating over continents, buildings and extra every day. The comparisons to EVE On-line are apt because of it being an enormous affect on PlanetSide 2’s sandbox as properly. Gamers dictate the move of those battles, and participant dropped bases because of PS2’s development system might help maintain issues contemporary in comparison with the static bases that dot the map.

Nevertheless, what that endurance actually comes right down to, based on Artistic Director Michael Henderson, is PlanetSide 2’s uniqueness, and Rogue Planet Video games’ capability to faucet into that distinctive feeling to offer, what he calls, “novel experiences.”

“You understand, what I believe it actually comes right down to is with the ability to re-engage via attention-grabbing and possibly even novel experiences,” Henderson advised MMORPG in an interview final month.

Certainly, these novel and distinctive experiences are what drew me and a few mates to the MMOFPS years in the past. The concept of with the ability to not simply bounce in and make a distinction on the earth in a small approach, however participate in large, intense battles for management over a world was compelling. And for a lot of it’s nonetheless compelling even at the moment. However enhancements to the method are all the time going to be wanted, even for the most effective experiences on the market. 

It’s not simply creating these experiences themselves, but in addition the ambition behind them, and never being afraid to doubtlessly change swathes of the MMOFPS for the higher. Nevertheless, Henderson factors out that with video games as a service-style video games, like PlanetSide 2, it may be troublesome to create significant updates and content material whereas nonetheless staying true to the core of the sport.

“I believe video games as a service, there can simply be an excessive amount of accretion and it may be very troublesome to proceed to maintain the core of the sport as strong a basis as you discovered it after years,” Henderson says. “So the curiosity of with the ability to re-engage the group. Additionally, I believe it’s the ambition of the kinds of updates that we’re creating. There have been so many occasions all through the sport’s historical past the place weve not reinvented it, however gotten fairly shut.”

A few of these examples Michael gave have been the introduction of Bastion fleet carriers, or the Colossus Tank. A current instance may very well be the introduction of the Oshur continent, particularly the whole overhaul of water physics, together with the flexibility to combat underwater now. Most of these updates essentially change the mathematics in a fight scenario, but in addition allow new and thrilling methods to play the MMOFPS that retains long-time gamers engaged, whereas additionally drawing the eye of recent gamers to the MMO.

Apparently, Michael obtained his begin in PlanetSide 2 as a participant who created well-liked YouTube movies concerning the MMOFPS after launch. Nevertheless, a number of years later he was shifting to San Diego to hitch the Rogue Planet Video games crew, serving to to form the way forward for the sport. Since former government producer Andy Websites stepped down in 2021, Henderson and Chris Farrar have been co-leading Rogue Planet Video games, bringing the MMOFPS into the subsequent decade.

This throughline from participant to developer isn’t new in MMOs, neither is it distinctive to PlanetSide 2, however it’s becoming {that a} participant who spent their time providing insights into what gamers needed out of the sport in its earliest days is now the one listening to gamers in its newest ones.

Constructing on the previous for the longer term

One space the place any MMO, no matter whether or not it’s a conventional tab concentrating on RPG or an ever-evolving FPS sandbox like PlanetSide 2 wants to enhance through the years is its basis. As expertise advances and participant appetites for various kinds of content material develop, a recreation has to have the ability to adapt and evolve with these developments.

Ten years on, PlanetSide 2 is constant to do this, most not too long ago showcased with the brand new Expedition Oshur launch earlier this yr. Technical Director Brad Heinz has been right here because the starting, constructing the infrastructure that PlanetSide 2 is dependent upon, from iterating on the engine to engaged on the technical facet to facilitate the participant counts that this MMOFPS depends on to create participating battles at any second.

Heinz truly is a holdover from the unique PlanetSide video games, and he’s answerable for serving to to create the various programs that energy PlanetSide 2. On the entire, he’s had a hand within the MMOFPS’ evolution since 2012, together with the large endeavor of constructing the programs wanted to energy Oshur earlier this yr.

“We’ve tried to maintain including issues to maintain having issues for gamers to do,” Heinz advised us in our interview. “Clearly, what the gamers love to do shapes that.”

It’s not simply what the gamers have stated they need that helped to form PlanetSide 2’s trajectory over the past decade, but in addition the developer’s personal experiences, each in different video games and making different video games. As extra devs have joined the Rogue Planet crew over the course of PS2’s lifetime, that have and people concepts have helped to form the MMOFPS for the higher. 

Interview: Speaking 10 Years Of PlanetSide 2 with Rogue Planet Video games

Video games affect different video games – this can be a recognized amount within the video games business. Early on earlier than the preliminary launch of PlanetSide 2, then head of Sony On-line Leisure John Smedley and former inventive director Matt Higby said in interviews that PS2 was closely influenced by EVE On-line’s sandbox, in addition to FPS titles like Name of Obligation and Battlefield 2. The latter was an enormous affect on the car fight in PlanetSide 2 apparently. Over time these influences have modified with the business, in addition to the folks in it, serving to to convey extra concepts to PlanetSide 2.

“So that you’re all the time taking items of what you’ve discovered elsewhere and folding it in,” says Heinz. “And there are issues that we needed to do initially with PlanetSide 2 that possibly fell off as a result of they have been too bold, too massive. Items from PlanetSide 1 that we meant to have that we have been unable to get in.”

PlanetSide 2 makes use of its personal proprietary engine to perform all of this, which implies that when there’s a giant addition, like the brand new water in Oshur, so as to add in, Brad states that the crew has to do a few of that each one by themselves. 

Heinz tells us that their physics implementation didn’t actually have an excellent idea of learn how to do volumetric water. Successfully it labored like a aircraft: when you have been above the aircraft, you have been above water, when you have been beneath it, you have been within the water. The crew needed to successfully construct out this new system that resulted within the new water mechanics for Oshur. However because of this, it permits the PlanetSide 2 crew to construct on their previous to inevitably assist create new experiences shifting into the second decade.

“That’s what we’re all the time making an attempt to do, we’re making an attempt to implement issues, however nonetheless simply add to the toolbox. Particularly if we will add stuff for the designers the place they’ll form of go off and take a look at issues on their very own and see if they’ll make issues occur which might be enjoyable and attention-grabbing.”

Evolving the tone

On the outset, setting artwork lead Alen Lapidis, says that PlanetSide 2’s main coloration scheme felt such as you have been taking part in a zoomed-in RTS. Within the early days of PlanetSide 2, the look of the MMO was one thing that, as Lapidis places it, was a bit “toy-like.” 

However because the years have gone on, the artwork crew has been in a position to evolve the tone and look of PlanetSide 2, giving it its personal vibrancy and life whereas nonetheless staying true to its roots.

“We took extra affect about creating a way of id to our troopers so that you’d look cool with out all the time having to show that massive, vibrant main coloration in all places,” Alen tells “That opened us as much as much more selection. And the sport has allowed us to throw in a bit little bit of humor at times; a bit little bit of theming that we didn’t do within the very starting.”

Lapidis has been engaged on PlanetSide 2’s artwork crew because the starting as properly, serving to to form the look and visible tone of the MMOFPS for the final ten years. Releasing with three continents – Indar, Esamir, and Amerish, the PS2 crew has added to that with the swampy Hossin, the small island of Koltyr, the battle islands of Desolation and Nexus, in addition to the not too long ago launch Oshur. Whereas there are some areas that share design language (similar to Amerish and Koltyr), there have been areas that the setting crew has helped to create that utterly change the way you method encounters all through the lifetime of the MMO.

“If Indar was a bit little bit of every little thing,” Lapidis explains, “massive open environments with out plenty of line of sight blockers, tight canyons with plenty of crevices, after which highlands with deep valleys; Esamir was utterly open, there was plenty of danger from air so that you needed to be cautious once you transfer from place to position. After which Hossin was the alternative. There was plenty of overhead foliage. So plane’s imaginative and prescient was actually obscured and so they needed to combat and fly in tight channels.”

Oshur can be an instance of evolving not simply the tone, but in addition the gameplay and shaking it up after ten years. Oshur’s new look added vibrancy that drew me again into PlanetSide 2 when it first hit, however it additionally shakes veteran gamers out of their consolation zone based on Lapidis. Bringing a brand new space with such a distinct payment, in addition to new fight zones helps evolve not simply the look, however the precise core gameplay that’s elementary to every little thing a participant does. 

“If a recreation is continually releasing the identical method on its maps again and again,” Alen explains. “On the finish of the day, it’s only a inexperienced map, then the blue map with a purple map. But when totally different maps require totally different ways, totally different gear, it actually modifications up the play model.”

Preserving PlanetSide 2 Contemporary

One factor Brad talked about in our interview that I discovered attention-grabbing was his need as a technical architect was to assist construct programs that might permit the builders to essentially design and do new and attention-grabbing issues in PlanetSide 2. As Brad put it, that very same water mechanic that was designed for Oshur doesn’t must cease at water. 

“It’s not only a purely water system. It’s a volumetric space system. So if we needed to create lava, or mud, or another asset or one thing that had totally different form of properties, we’d have the ability to use it for that.”

The look of the MMO has to evolve as properly, maintaining with the newest rendering methods on the market in order that the MMO doesn’t look as dated as it would in any other case. With the current tenth anniversary replace, the crew has up to date most of the artwork belongings used to provide the sport a contemporary coat of paint shifting into the subsequent decade.

When PlanetSide 2 first launched, bodily based mostly rendering in video games was simply beginning to get its footing. So successfully the Rogue Planet crew would paint the colour of an merchandise, then you definately’d paint the shininess, after which the conventional map of the feel. 

Now although, as PBR is the usual for a lot of recreation engines, Lapidis states the crew has gone again and polished these older belongings that have been “not fairly dialed into what we’d contemplate at the moment’s business customary.” The artwork crew additionally tried to convey again a few of PlanetSide 2’s persona which may have been misplaced all through the final decade as properly.

“We tried to convey again a few of the coloration grading within the zones that was most likely pulled again a bit bit to make the sport a bit bit extra grounded in actuality, however misplaced a few of its persona within the wake. So we’re simply taking a step again in the direction of a few of that vibrant coloration.”

Henderson factors to occasions within the MMOFPS and content material drops which have shaken the inspiration of a few of the most essential maps, similar to blowing up the Warpgate on Esamir or creating the brand new Sanctuary zone to assist create a bit downtime to take a breather in a social area. And even, as Alen described, the Desolation map’s easy fantastic thing about it’s lighting he’s significantly happy with.

“The idea was for an area, however it needed to really feel prefer it was off planet, some asteroid. So I used to be in a position to create a single time of day, which provides extra management over the lighting and look. So you’ve gotten this kind of sand dune canyon on an asteroid with an asteroid belt within the sky. And I believed that was actually dramatic in comparison with a few of the extra Earth-like settings that we have a tendency to drag off on Auraxis.”

PlanetSide’s crew has additionally branched out into different initiatives over the last decade, with its short-lived PlanetSide Area launching in late 2019, solely to be shuttered in early 2020. Nevertheless, whereas PlanetSide Area could not have completed properly, it wasn’t a waste, as most of the enhancements made to Area have been later delivered to PlanetSide 2, similar to DirectX 11 assist. 

The technical underpinnings are all the time being tweaked as properly to assist the gamers in addition to the developer’s visions. Moments of stress happen when there are a ton of gamers in a single space collectively, together with the occasions when PlanetSide 2’s gamers have damaged world data, cramming over 1200 gamers right into a single area.

Nevertheless, whereas Brad states it may be worrying, the distinctive challenges constructing a stay service dealing with his crew are simply a part of the gig.

“There are plenty of distinctive challenges once you make a recreation like PlanetSide 2 as a result of there’s no map for learn how to do it as a result of only a few folks have completed it, and only a few folks have completed it properly. And once you’re coping with the kind of scale we cope with, that may be very difficult. And it’s an open recreation the place folks can go the place they need. So we have now to have the ability to maintain the sport operating, even when all people on the continent needs to go stand in the identical spot and fireplace their weapons. So distinctive challenges are positively a part of the gig once you’re engaged on this recreation.”

Nevertheless, these challenges and puzzles can typically result in nice programs that energy the way forward for PlanetSide 2. One instance given was the mission system and the marketing campaign system which have been carefully associated. Brad mentions that on the again finish the place his crew works, the way in which these programs have been carried out offered a ton of flexibility to the designers on PlanetSide 2

Having the ability to iterate rapidly and make content material that’s compelling can be one other trait that Alen believes the Rogue Planet crew has been in a position to leverage to assist PlanetSide 2 stand the check of time. 

“One factor I’m actually happy with is how agile our crew is,” Alen stated. “I see different video games and you understand, they’ve like an replace a month, an replace each two months. And PlanetSide’s all the time like, ‘You understand, we’re simply releasing this fast replace or fixing the area, we moved this factor, it was blocking gameplay.’ So if one thing is obviously fallacious, it’s not going to be for very lengthy, as a result of the designers won’t relaxation till they repair it.”

Trying again on 10 years of PlanetSide 2, and its future

10 years is an eternity within the recreation area, particularly within the MMO world the place a recreation may launch and be canceled throughout the span of a yr. So for PlanetSide 2 to face the check of time here’s a testomony to the studio, but in addition the gamers who’ve helped form the group that has rallied round PlanetSide 2 to maintain it going all this time.

Everybody has their favourite moments from their time in-game, and the event crew is not any totally different. When requested for a favourite second over the past ten years, both as a participant or as a developer, Michael states that it was laborious to give you only one. And whereas Oshur is one thing the entire improvement crew appears to be very happy with and excited for what it brings to PlanetSide 2, there was a second the place Michael stated the occasion felt very “old-school PlanetSide.”

“We blew up the Warpgate on Esamir, completely modified the construction of the sport, added a marketing campaign system which was form of exceptional. And in combating within the northeastern a part of the map, which is the place the warpgate blew up, the marketing campaign will take you there, that felt very PlanetSide. And people experiences that I hallmark as very PlanetSide: it’s operating and taking pictures whereas autos are driving up subsequent to you and plane are screaming overhead or such as you’re chasing off enemies. It simply feels just like the group is form of there.”

The crew isn’t stopping both. Henderson says that, like each skilled, the crew must proceed to hone their craft. 

“We’ve completed plenty of basis over the previous two years and plenty of programs work. And now I believe we have to form of refine what PlanetSide is and tie collectively a few of the free ends and maintain it an expertise gamers can have no alternative however to maintain coming again to.

“So long as the gamers are right here for PlanetSide, PlanetSide 2 will proceed to be right here for the gamers.”


Back to Top