If you'd stared into the dark heart of the internet, well... you're probably too busy being curled up in the foetal position to read this. For game makers, balancing a lively community with the need to maintain a safe space for both developers and players is an age-old problem. In a profile on GamesIndustry.biz, SOE's director of global community relations Linda Carlson outlined the company's approach to dealing with abusive members of their community. One of the more interesting methods outlined involved holding players accountable for their actions outside of the game. Even players posting abusive messages on Twitter can now find themselves on the wrong end of SOE's banhammer.
It's a bit like Minecraft, quite a bit not like Minecraft, and it sure sounds like it's going to be big: earlier this month, SOE announced EverQuest Next Landmark, a surprise voxel building MMO releasing this winter as a precursor to EverQuest Next. Today at PAX we learned some new things about it—female dwarves can have beards, for insistence—which we've condensed here into an easily digestible info pill.
Sony Online Entertainment has announced that it is laying off an unknown number of employees at its Austin and San Diego studios. The veteran MMO publisher best known for the EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, and PlanetSide franchises is currently ramping up on EverQuest Next, and describes the reduction in staff as meant to "strategically align resources" toward current projects.
Planetside 2 already has the ice world, the desert world, and the kind of bland greenery world. What's next on the video game bingo card of potential environments? Water world? Too soggy. Lava world? Too deadly. Dinosaur world? Too... awesome? Instead, they've gone with the slightly less common swamp world, introducing the boggy fourth continent of Hossin during last weekend's SOE Live event.
Forget about smashing voxel castles for a second—that's crazy, but EverQuest Next is also kicking down the pillars of its own D&D foundation. SOE is changing fantasy MMO tropes it helped define and which its fans are used to—we're talking getting rid of traditional leveling and introducing a multiclassing system, as well as handling expansions with Rallying Calls, which are grand scale, multistage storylines that permanently change a server's world. These aren't totally new RPG ideas, but they sure are for EQ.
EverQuest Next's entire environment—hills, forests, deserts, and cities—will be made of voxels, little bits of matter which can be smashed apart by explosive spells and giant Golems. Before we start breaking things, though, SOE wants us to start building—the developer is announcing today that it will be sharing its voxel building tools in EverQuest Next Landmark, a separate free-to-play MMO going into beta before the end of the year.
PlanetSide 2 has received another game update, this one focusing on how battles work on the super-chilly continent of Esamir. As Massively note, it revolves around the 'lattice system', which is quite possibly the best name for a system I've ever heard. Lattice was introduced way back in update 9, but it's only just gone live - via update 13 - for Esamir, and the map's been updated to compensate. In other news, I have no idea what 'lattice system' means in this context, but now all I can think of is delicious pie.
For most multiplayer FPS's a 96-player map would be considered pretty big. For PlanetSide 2 and it's continent wide military manoeuvres, it's a vast reduction. It's one being made with a view to better supporting e-sports - reducing the size of the conflict to something more suited to competitive play. SOE have produced a video showcasing the first planned map, Nexus.
SOE have detailed Game Update 11 for PlanetSide 2. It's
due to arrive today out now, and brings what creative director Matthew Higby describes as "a pure 'Quality of Life' patch." That means no fancy new buggies, empire-specific rocket launchers or latticed maps. Instead, you're getting a huge changelist of tweaks and enhancements to make your experience in-game that much more pleasant. At least until you're shot or something.
The latest major update to PlanetSide 2 has landed, bringing some sweeping changes to the balance and design of the game. The most significant overhaul for "GU09" is the trialling of a new map system, that replaces the previous Hex-based conquest path with a "Lattice Link" of criss-crossing attack avenues. So rather than expanding out in any direction, now your invasion is going to rely on somebody in your squad being able to read a map.
A series of tweets by SOE's president John Smedley have revealed an imminent promotion for PlanetSide 1, offering players of PlanetSide 2 - and former PS1 recruits - six months free membership to the original MMOFPS, ahead of an eventual plan to make it fully free-to-play. I'm guessing age will play a large part in whether you react to the sight of the 2003 shooter with a new-found respect for its many achievements, or recoil in horror at its graphics and creaky netcode. It was the best we had, damn it. Don't judge us.
PlanetSide 2's Game Update 8 rolled out this morning, and rolling in with it came the Harasser, a three-seater buggy spacious enough to accommodate a bulky MAX suit in the rear passenger seat (though he'll look hilarious). After that, the patch just kept on rolling...and rolling, and rolling—be cautious of scroll wheel fatigue while digesting the patch notes.
Planetside 2's test server has been updated with some big additions and overhauls, ahead of their eventual introduction into the main game. It's also good news for fans of tooling around a battlefield on bouncy buggies, with the introduction of the three-man Harasser. It's also good news for fans of giant stompy robots: the MAX suits are being buffed with faction specific abilities. And that means bad news for fans of not getting blown up by giant stompy robots.
At The Crown, the sections are prepared. On Esamir, they're straining at the leash. The PC Gamer community runs a different Planetside 2 event every night of the week. Our drop-pods bear the mark of hundreds of deployments. Our Mosquito gunships are the scourge of the skies. Our tank platoons achieve a record amount of not-upside-down-time. This Thursday, however, the plan changes. Readers, staff, everyone: there's a river on the run. Like the flowing of the tide, PC Gamer is going to war.
The sharp flap of leathery wings signals an incoming message from GDC: SOE have released a trailer for Dragon's Prophet, a free-to-play fantasy MMO that seems to have been developed with the design philosophy "more dragons = better". It's a theory that didn't do Skyrim any harm.
February was a difficult month for the battle-locked soldiers of Planetside 2's Auraxia. During the four week period, over 100 million soldiers fell in glorious war - before subsequently respawning and presumably dying again. And SOE have provided a slew of other stats celebrating their bloody conflict. Among them is the revelation that 42.31 recruits are dying every second. If that rate holds steady, it means 380.79 players saw their end while I typed that last sentence. Only a sentient torso remains.
An MMO reaching the grand old age of 14 is a pretty big deal, so I hope EverQuest's anniversary bash has jelly, cake, pin-the-tail-on-the-goblin, and all the other things that make a party worth attending. The event - scheduled for this weekend - definitely features new "epic ornamentation quests", five player-created missions and all previous anniversary content, so now might be a good time to revisit the planet of Norrath if you've been more active in other fantasy worlds lately.
Sure, the March update for Planetside 2 brings plenty of features and adjustments - there are new rocket launchers, increased cert points for members and adjusted interface options. Clearly though, the ability to zoom about the continents of Auraxia on your Flash quad bike with a buddy riding pillion is the most notable. Of course, this being a world at war, the extra seat isn't designed purely for BFF hijinks. With their hands free, your passenger can use their weapons to protect your rear flank. Fun and practical.
In an address to Reddit, SOE's John Smedley explained some of the methods and miscommunications behind their continued efforts to ban cheaters from PlanetSide 2. It's clearly an issue that Smedley feels strongly about, and he doesn't pull punches when describing the team's attempts to track them down. "It's a constant effort," he writes. "We just want you to know we hate them just as much as you do and we're busting our asses to get them out of the game. Do we do it as fast as you might like? Not all the time no. But we also don't want to falsely accuse people without solid proof."
PhysX, Nvidia's fancy-pants physics engine, is due to be added into Planetside 2 at some point in the future. The middleware - often used to add pretty, if largely pointless, physics-based visual flourishes - was previously available in the MMO shooter's beta, but has since been greyed out in the options menu. Players using GeForce's latest 313.96 beta driver can, however, enable the effects right now with some light .ini file tweaking.