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.
Sony Online Entertainment
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.
You know, Sony, you really impressed me with your unveiling of Everquest Next. How did you know I was sick of level-based progression? You're so considerate. I don't know how you could be any nicer. Wait, what's that? Two more expansions? One each for EQ andEQ2? Gosh, I don't know what to say.
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.
Okay, so we probably don't have the tech to put an MMORPG into your MMORPG yet, but we can herd up a bunch of veteran MMO developers and squish them together into a new studio. That's what some former Sony Online Entertainment and Blizzard employees have done, coming together to form the super-hot Molten Games.
"Yoink!" That's the imaginary sound we hear when a long-planned feature in PlanetSide 2 gets yanked from an upcoming patch to the game. Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley tweeted yesterday that following community feedback, consumable, class-boosting implants would not be part of the free-to-play MMO shooter's next update.
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.
Top news for bossy players: PlanetSide 2 will be introducing user generated missions. SOE's MMOFPS is set to give those carrying the correct command certs the ability to specify objectives, letting others browse and pick a player-made mission that takes their fancy. It certainly sounds a more elegant system then spamming "ATTACK THE THINGS!" in chat.
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.
Dragons. Let's face it: the poor beasts are generally woefully misrepresented in video games. Dragonborn's dragon-riding feature was decidedly underwhelming, and the Sims 3's attempt at beastliness doesn't look capable of roasting more than a marshmallow. To top it off, WoW's Vial of the Sands simply transformed you into something dopey-looking and vomit-colored, and people would demand to ride on your back. That's why we're hoping that Sony Online Entertainment's next free-to-play MMO, Dragon's Prophet, will restore badassery to the serpentine beings when it opens for beta at the end of this month.
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.
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.
The original EverQuest released nearly 14 years ago, and its quest and class structure helped define a genre that would soon explode in popularity with World of Warcraft. It's still active to this day, and last week, its community celebrated (via Polygon) the return of Brad McQuaid, one of EverQuest's principal designers, back onto the original EQ team after over a decade apart.
It's been a while since SOE provided a big update for PlanetSide 2's ongoing war for Auraxis' precious resources, so it's filling the fourth major patch with an extra armory's worth of re-balances and additions for release on Wednesday. Creative Director Matt Higby outlines the patch's contents in a forum post, and some interesting features are set to arrive after the base-tweaking focus of the last update.
Do you know what the ever-wars of Auraxis needs? More wars. SOE seems to think so, at least, and Creative Director Matt Higby posts word of a few server merges taking place next week to help supersize battles raging in low-population realms during peak hours.
Whenever something big happens in PlanetSide 2, you'll probably hear a dramatic score swelling beneath the bullets, bombs, and aaarghs of combat. That's thanks to SOE's audio team and its efforts to pack an aural punch into the super-scaled battles of Auraxis, as shown in this brief behind-the-scenes look at the game's soundtrack.
Soldiers of PlanetSide 2's Miller and Connery servers might've noticed they're spotting other mudfoots at a greater distance. Though we can't totally rule out the possibility that everyone's goggles received a secret spit-polish overnight, the more likely explanation is that SOE is testing out a range increase for infantry rendering.