Saw BuzzCutPsycho's post on reddit and it inspired me to finish up my own, now's the time for us as a community to brainstorm solutions so this game can be made as awesome possible! I didn't agree with all of his solutions, but there were tons of good ideas and he's spot on with what's at issue. Here's another personal take on the many issues surrounding this great game. I've enjoyed it over the past month, been compiling a list of things to talk about and finally put together this perspective of ideas. Hopefully it's not a bore to read, the issues have been hashed over many times, but it's the suggestions that make each of these posts unique and interesting, at least that's the hope! Anyway, enough of this intro blather, lets get into the discussion! Planetside 2 is an interesting beast of a game from an interesting beast of a developer. No game company has been marred or blessed in their lifespan like SOE by their players. They have a fervent and loyal customer base who has stuck with them through thick and thin, and the recurring monthly SOE business model makes catering to this relatively small but loyal slice of gaming their lifeline. Though they haven't fully recaptured their past glory as the kings of the MMO, they've stayed alive by learning to listen to their community. It's not the most lucrative, but it's steady, and that's fairly rare in this industry. Why am going over this random bit of info about SOE and what does this have to do with gameplay discussions in planetside? Because the internal struggle of keeping this loyal base and expanding their games into a larger mass audience is an obvious and core concern for this game. The original planetside players represents a VERY important consumer slice that may not represent a massive chunk of gamers, but are very stable, exactly what you need in an MMO. As such, we can see a lot of the original planetside in planetside 2, and we can see a lot of things brought over from planetside 1 that though they are a bit clunky and unrefined, serve to make the game familiar to this base. For better or worse this game is the sequel to the original MMO FPS. Much of SOE game systems are done not to make the game better, but familiar to their loyal user base. If these games are to break the mold and catapult to the level of success they have the potential to, design needs to be put 100% into make their games accessible and great in its own right. You can't muddy game design and hope for a product that's rock solid that will be a success for years to come to an expanding audience. The current design of planetside 2 feels safe, what's brought over to cater to the planetside vets feels clunky. Dated vehicle terminals, clunky map navigation, boring base mechanics and some of the rushed new systems feel clunkier still. Not in a rough sort of way, in a fatally designed sort of way. The sooner failing systems are gutted from planetside 2 and replaced with solid cohesive systems the sooner the game can start making a recovery in its meta game. The overarching objective and vehicle systems are a cancer to the game that could end up killing it in the short term if they absorb too much design time. The shelf life of games isn't very long and you only have so long to make a lasting impression. The best comparison for Planetside 2 in its current state would be Diablo 3. A Sequel, a Loyal fanbase, strong release sales, but fundamental flaws that could kill the game not long after release if they're not sorted quickly. Players are leaving fast and server pops are dwindling. Game dev takes substantial time and resources, there needs to be a solid foundation of ideas to move toward, as these systems work together to form an experience worth playing. For better or worse, planetside has more of these systems that can break the player's experience, if they come together the game could really sing, but if they fail, that's that much more game to be a terrible unfun mess. 99% of this game could be absolutely amazing, but it only takes 1 broken mechanic in a system to plunge it into mediocrity. Ok, before we jump into a laundry list of what's unfun and needs fixing, lets focus on the POSITIVES! What actually works and is fun in planetside? What are the gameplay scenarios we need to foster to make this worth playing in the long haul? I wouldn't be making this post if there wasn't a game underneath the current meta that wasn't an absolute blast to play. Infantry vs infantry is awesome... nothing else to add. If this game was nothing but infantry it would be rock solid, not planetside, but a solid as hell MMO FPS. I miss the initial week of combat at launch before everyone learned how to spawn vehicles, or end combat by actually taking over a base. It was an absolute blast when there was an established point of attack, and defenders in a region. Once in a while vehicles would enter the fray, but they served to accentuate the combat, not dominate it. Sure they would chew through 50 infantry at a time, but they were few enough in number that they did not snowball into a giant ball of death (we'll touch on this later). There was also tremendous variety of play that came from infantry in various region types. In large open fields, snipers would dominate and suppress forward progress, light assault could sneak in the sides and take out huge chunks of enemies with their explosive charges. The push would eventually get far enough forward that the heavy assaults would start to dominate and start pushing into the base. There's an inherent organic and fun nature to infantry vs infantry combat that makes it very special. This more than anything in planetside is good to go, but as stated earlier, planetside has many systems, and there are more places for this game to **** up than most. The current popularity of mass vehicles is suppressing the wonderful infantry heavy battles that once graced the majority of the battlefield. What else is fun? Vehicles, they're not all bad! Vehicles are ******* AWESOME.... in the right circumstances. Planetside often feels like a game with GM powers turned on for the players. Now what do I mean by this? Given the chance, players will ruin their own and everyone else's play experience by making themselves too powerful. It's the ultimate reason why there are rule sets in games, to create a fun, even playing field of multiple varieties. At any time in planetside, 50 players can spawn 50 tanks and liberators and just flat out decimate the entire enemy team. BUT! When there's a reasonable amount of ground and air power fighting off against each other, it is AWESOME. It's a totally different but just as exciting game experience as infantry combat, but doesn't have quite the same depth or polish and would say this would be best in a little more moderation than infantry combat. There's something awe inspiring about seeing 2 impenetrable offensive lines slowly whittle each other down in a battle of long ranged fire. Or a smaller skirmish of 1 or 2 tanks corner strafing in a small encampment, trying to position themselves for the killing blow, but being mindful of the slow guerrilla style attacks of nearby heavy infantry. Vehicle combat is definitely something worth saving, it just needs some tweaks at the top level to help the players create fair and fun engagements. The actual mechanics of driving tanks, buggies and sunderers is rock solid as is. Air! Air is fun.... sometimes. We're going over what works here, so lets save air discussion for later as it feels a little more rough around the edges in terms of core balance than the other two. Almost every system in this game is fun as hell in the right environment, the game is 100% salvageable, it's the overarching mechanics of objectives and resources that govern vehicular purchases that need tuning up. On top of all this, this game isn't very good at telling the player where to go or what to do, the players simply don't have a governing system to get them to a big fight which has resulted in the massive *********** of indar's crown which is the defacto "go to spot" where players can get some action. This results in mundane and repetitive fights. So here it is in a sentence what this game needs to do to be engaging for a massive number of players: "Communicate more elegantly where players can go for action while intelligently throttling powerful vehicles acquisition and objective exp gain for more compelling engagements." From here on out i'll be offering suggestions that seek to remedy these overarching issues while simplifying some of the bloat and creating dynamic combat situations in the many locals that this game offers. It's important to focus on what's fun and what works above while thinking of the mechanics to foster these compelling engagements. You want systems that nudge players to fun fights, but you don't want systems that take away all player freedom. What's the point of having a large open world game if players feel forced into certain areas? Lets brainstorm some systems that compel players into a range of scenarios, while leaving it up to them where the ultimately fight and how they fight to a reasonable degree. ======================================================== Issue #1 Base cap dynamics ======================================================== Three things need to happen to make base capping more exciting. As many have stated both defending and attacking need to be made lucrative in terms of exp gain, but equally important, areas of importance need to be prominent on the map so players know where to go to contest these areas, and spawning needs adjusting to maintain these long fights in a balanced manner. As it stands areas of contention will give X experience after being capped, and their contention times are determined by a muddy and confusing influence %. This does little to foster decent engagements and to the average player means nothing but a confusing modifier in how long it takes to cap a usually empty base that they may not even be aware of. Ideally we don't want players to go to an area to sit around and watch progress bars go up while they afk to surf the net, we want players to gravitate towards areas that need more players for defense or attack. What this means is an objective should entice players to defend if the offensive in the area is very strong, or if there are many players defending with no one to kill, entice players to come to the area to assault it. How can the game do this? Rather than flat capture bonuses there needs to be a dynamic point value assigned to an area easily read on the map to reward objective based combat. We don't always want the same areas to see action all the time and want to spice up play with new locals of interest. Imagine a system where territories grow in point value the longer they sit under any empire's control. Think of the "free parking" spot in monopoly with house rules, the longer the game goes on, the area accumulates in value until someone takes a massive pot. This same system could be brought over to planetside. Additionally, this system doesn't promote rapid fire capping of empty bases, because jumping from point to point would not be very lucrative, it's self regulating. Areas behind the front line would not increment in value to keep point tallies sane. These values are almost arbitrary in a way, they're the carrot on the stick, they lul the players in but it's the objective based combat many are after, the back and forth sway of battle over generators and cap points that gets us to log in. We don't want base capture mechanics because it's fun to watch a bar move up or down, they're the catalyst that starts the battle and can serve to offer new modes of play, their implementation must reflect this. So when a faction moves in to take a cap point, we want systems that foster a good head to head fight by attracting the right number of defenders or attackers. As for making defending a base lucrative this is an easy and exciting fix. Simply make the points up for contention for both the attackers and defenders. If the area is defended, the defenders get the exp instead of the attackers, maybe just a % like 50% to adjust for the defenders advantage of home base. At this point the base point value would go back to 0 to encourage battle elsewhere. These points are currently only bestowed at the end of the engagement when the battle is won, and objective play is barely incentivized. It's at a point where a large group of players are unaware of objectives even work because the personal exp gain is next to nothing. Two birds could be killed with one stone here by tying the capture point value normally given for taking the base with objective play. Take out a generator or flip a cap point? Your team gets 10% of the cap value right then and there, maybe with a boost for the players near the objective, removing this gain from the overall point value of the contested area. This serves to not only reward objective play but to give the other side a very real reason to defend the objectives while adding more moments of excitement and reward during an assault. Did the enemy team destroy your generator? BAM they just took 10% of your reward points from you. Want a bit back? Get in there and repair it! But expect some actual resistance since the other team doesn't want you stealing their points either! EXP modifiers: Not everyone cares for objective play and sometimes players just want a big massive battle without the fuss of moving around the map, this is where exp modifiers will help pull players into big action spots so there is incentive to fight in a big *** battle even if there may not be objective exp to be had and serve as another mechanic to drive players to a good even fight. This builds on the prior mechanic of dynamic point values for bases and would help build even fights in all locations be it objective based or not. Lets say there's a massive TR force in a region, like 60 units, displayed very boldly on the map for VS and NC to see would be a "x3 EXP" letting these factions know that any kills or any other exp giaining action they perform here will net them three times what they would normally get. This will seek to normalize battle populations and give players an incentive to fight the massive hoard. Players on the dominant team may even see exp detriments if the player population is too out of control. You may be thinking, "But 3x exp is too much people will get too much exp!" Keep in mind it's the vast minority getting this boost, and with such a boost it would likely be a bit short lived as more players should start funneling in for the bonus. It's exciting to think about how the above 2 systems could work together to create all kinds of highs and lows and reward players for all manner of play. I can envision a small elite squad of players who go after moderately saturated bases for quick exp acquisition, popping from base to base cashing in on bases before they're big enough to really register as "the place to be". Conversely, defensive play could be very lucrative, where players pop in fast and take back objectives for rapid exp cuts on the objective exp. Take a few objective points in a matter of minutes and you can steal a massive chunk of the contested areas point value in a matter of minutes, adding a twitch element to objective play that just doesn't exist currently. Such a system would require tuning of course, are bases being taken before they reach a point value that spurs the massive fights that this game screams for? Or do they go stagnant and players just bunny hop all over the map. Growth values could be tweaked, accelerated or decelerated at the high and low ends to ensure all manner of fights break out. The fact is that the current base mechanics are boring, somewhat uneventful, and do not promote a range of battle sizes. They are flat and imbalanced, favoring only assaults. Spawning! Sundy's are used a a crutch right now for offensive spawning. This is another area where too much of the control is in the players hands to create a good engagement. A well coordinated strike on a sunderer(s) can outright decimate an offensive's ability to stay in the battle. Vehicle mine cheese, as well as C4 can make any fight 1 sided in the favor of the defense, and currently they're incentivized to NOT kill the sunderers! Why kill the one source of exp when you're defending!? Imagine how bad it would be if they had an actual reason to repell the attackers for exp gain! There needs to be permanent outpost areas for offenses to spawn to keep battles interesting. These points should not be so close as to keep sunderers relevant, but it would be great if there were spawn systems in place to keep a good fight going and not relying on a well coordinated team to keep sunderers well placed and protected. I'm sorta glossing over this one but I don't want this post to spiral too far out of control, but spawning is an issue. I hate to request spawn timer adjustments, but this is another area where 1 sided fights could be evened a bit. Speed up the underdog spawn, lengthen the horde's, pretty obvious suggestion.