Smedley’s Meddling: Planetside 2 Changes Incoming

By Craig Pearson on October 17th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Stop right there. Don't change a thing! You're perfect just as you are!
I keep forgetting that Planetside 2 is in closed beta. It’s so big and busy that my brain tricks me into believing it’s been launched. But there’s still a lot to do, and SOE have shared the more immediate fixes with the players. SOE President John “Smed” Smedley took to the forums to outlay a bunch of upcoming changes, including some dramatic changes to the in-game economy, the announcement of another continent, and he even teased when the release date would be announced.

According to Smed, the most important area is performance. I’ve not suffered any problems myself, but I’m special: “As it stands now we know the game needs improving in all areas. We are currently CPU bound which means it’s more important what kind of CPU you have versus what kind of graphics card. As I said we have major improvements coming. This isn’t magic. It’s hard work. Planetside 2 is always going to have a higher end requirement than other similar games because of the scale of fights we have.”

But that sort of fix is a given in a beta, especially in a game as demanding as Planetside. Interesting fact regarding performance issues: the Planetside 2 beta has already had more people playing it than ever played the original.

Next up is the metagame. This is more of a problem for me than the performance issues, with the continent being too easily gobbled up by a single empire, leaving sides with barely resources to claw back. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be possible, just that there should be something to fight over if the continent is fully locked down. There was an underlying cause that I hadn’t thought of: Planetside 2 was designed as a three continent game. Indar was recently launched as a foil to Esamir, but Smedley announced that Amerish will be added for launch.

The economy will be simplified. Right now there’s Auraxium, Cert points, and Station cash. Auraxium, which was earned through healing, capturing and kills and was used to buy guns, vehicle weapons and upgrades, will be phased out, with all its purchase power transferred over to Cert points. To that end, according to Smedley, “we will be dramatically increasing the speed at which you gain certs. Something like 4x.”This is particularly good news. There was too much going on in the economy in a game about manshoots, and keeping track of what unlocked what was getting annoying. Standardising the system clarifies the upgrade paths. The costs of weapons will soon be set, and all the unlockable certifications will added within the next two weeks.

There’s a real push to simplify the game in time for launch. There’s going to be a tutorial, and in another post Lead Designer Matt Higby went into specific details of squad enhancements that simply team play.

Spawn beacons will no longer cost resources or use up a tool slot.

Squad leaders who are actively leading a squad and have unlocked the beacon cert will be able to place a beacon on a timer.

The nearest “hard spawn point” to your squad leader will be available to all squad mates to spawn at regardless of their location on the map

Squad vehicles like Sunderers will be available to be spawned at regardless of distance.

Players will be able to “Instant Action” to their squad leader as long as the instant action timer is available.

The most frustrating element of the game, finding a fight, is slowly being fixed. With these tweaks, and a working ‘Instant Action’ mechanic (currently it’s pot luck if you end up where you clicked on the map), getting into battle should be a lot slicker. They’re aiming to have it tweaked before the game opens up to the masses, a date that’ll be announced sometime tomorrow evening. To whet your appetite, there’s some classy machinima below.

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42 Comments »

  1. thepaleking says:

    “This isn’t magic. It’s hard work.”

    I like when developers say stuff like this.

    It’s nice that they’re adding new squad spawn mechanics, but I hope they don’t simplify it too much. Right now managing to get a spawn point like a Sunderer or Galaxy into a hot zone is a huge tactical advantage, and one of those moments that feels pretty dramatic, it would be a shame to lessen the impact by having the process become too easy.

  2. Flukie says:

    I hope they allow us to choose between what we want to utilise more, CPU or GPU.

    My GPU is underutilised with this game compared to my CPU which is really strained, Even if the GPU doesn’t work as well as the CPU in running aspects of it i’d at least want it to try rather than load everything on my poor CPU.

    Then again I have no idea how it all works in the context of their game.

    • Reefpirate says:

      I’m not totally familiar with all this stuff either… But I think the CPU is a LOT more powerful than you GPU, and Planetside is necessarily a CPU-hog kind of game. The graphics are easy to render, and although they look pretty I’m sure your GPU has had harder tasks to tackle. The real trouble is in calculating the positions, loadouts, velocities, aiming vectors, bullet-drop, vehicles etc. in battles with 300+ people potentially on screen. Not to mention the net code that keeps it all in sync. That stuff is all CPU-bound.

      • Maczek Wolniek says:

        Although I do agree with you, my GPU utilization sits at 99% most of the time. I have GTX 460 and I run on High preset. Getting around 30 fps at most battles, with dips to 20-25 at heavy ones, and ~60 at warpgates. CPU, on the other hand, sits at randomly at 25-50%, and I’m not even sporting an 2nd or 3rd gen i7, it’s only an 950 model at stock speed.

        So all in all, PS2 does use GPU heavily. DISCLAIMERFACE: I know beta is a beta, and optimization is a continued process, but I’m just throwing this out there.

      • Stromko says:

        I know exactly how much difference a weak CPU can make in Planetside 2. With an AMD dual-core 2.8 ghz, I was getting about 10 juddery frames over the span of 5 seconds, and that was before I even arrived at the front lines. I went up to the fastest CPU I could find for my motherboard, a quad-core 3.4GHz, and framerate just isn’t an issue now.

    • Didero says:

      The biggest problem for me is RAM usage. I know that my 3GB of RAM is a pretty low amount these days, but I’ve nonetheless never seen it fill up. Until I played PlanetSide 2.

    • Cooper says:

      A GPU simply cannot do the kind of work a CPU is doing at anywhere near the efficiency a CPU does it.
      A GPU is an incredibly dedicated bit of hardware, designed for a special set of instructiosn.

      You might as well ask why your sound card can’t pick up nearby WiFi connections.

      • foop says:

        I’m not sure I entirely agree. GPUs these days are effectively massively multi-core CPUs. Which is why they’re so good at handling stuff like PhysX calculations, and why nVidia make a range of GPUs that don’t actually have a video output (such as their Tesla cards).

        A lot of serious computation, especially stuff that is embarrassingly parallel, is starting to be done on GPU hardware.

        That’s not to say that Planetside can be improved by handing stuff over to GPUs, of course.

  3. Dusk777 says:

    The performance optimisation is good to hear. I have a fairly old CPU and it gets bummed everytime i try to run PS2. Lags out my machine after it’s closed too. I look forward to actually being able to play it.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      Ditto. I’ve had to drop settings down far lower than I have for any other game just to get it to (questionably) playable levels.

  4. utharda says:

    Two things, one naughty and one more serious.

    First, What about the vision TM? (I played eq far to heavily and I can’t talk about an SOE game without the old joke.)

    More importantly, I’m in, but totally lost. Can anyone recommend an overview to help me get my bearings? I didn’t have time for the original, so I’m lacking background badly.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Someone made an infographic like a month back. It’s not totally up-to-date now but it’s mostly accurate.

      If you mean background from more of a lore/what was the last game perspective, tvtropes is a good resource. Not too important due to the whole multiplayer shooter thing, but it’s kinda interesting to read.

      • utharda says:

        Much obliged sir!

      • dontnormally says:

        That thing is a piece of work, thanks!
        A few inaccuracies but overall really helps clear some things up.

  5. Eggy says:

    Never seen this level of interaction with the community from a professional developer before. This is a proper beta and good feedback is taken into consideration and implemented. Refreshing to say the least.

  6. Lobotomist says:

    So far games crashes in -2-5 minutes after starting. Every time ( for me )

    :(

    • TormDK says:

      Sorry to hear there. I’ve been a part of the beta since before the Technical beta was opened up, and I’ve crashed to desktop once.

      I was very surprised at how stable the game was at that early age. There are some memory leaks though, but luckily I have the hardware to bruteforce most of those issues :P

      • Sassenach says:

        I’ve also crashed only sporadically. Last time I did I felt terrible. I spawned at the main base and made my way over to a galaxy with only a pilot inside and take up one of the passenger slots and open up my book to wait.

        “Leaving in five minutes”, the pilot says.

        It’s really about as quiet as I’ve ever seen the warp gate and there are other transports competing for traffic.

        “Leaving in one minute!”, he says 4 minutes later.

        I casually suggest to them that they might have better luck finding a just captured base and picking up a rabble of infantry, but they don’t seem that keen on the idea. We take off and I try to offer some words of sympathy. After all, they’re just trying to help out their team, but their team refuses to be helped. It’s at this point of mild pity that my screen freezes and the sound breaks.

        So there is this galaxy pilot whose lone passenger has up and disconnected. As I say, I felt acutely bad about the affair.

    • sharks.don't.sleep says:

      Have you tried to turn off your antivirus software?
      When I entered the PS2 beta my game would crash constantly when I had my AV on, though they fixed that.
      Worth a try I guess. :)

  7. Premium User Badge

    Clavus says:

    When playing yesterday I already noticed a healthy boost in performance and responsiveness. This game is going to be great.

  8. Quine says:

    A Planetside 2 update and a Squarepusher reference combined.

    Top marks, Sir!

  9. Tei says:

    This is one of these games that is fun even when is broken, hope has a bright future and success. Is kind of interesting how the gameplay is affected by changes. I loved when galaxies where the king of the game, now the king seems vehicle combat (tanks),…

    Hope the game is balanced for fun, and not balanced for fairness.

    In Planetside 2 you play has a New Conglomerate soldier, defending personal freedom and all the things defended by Ayn Rand. Your enemy is the surviving army of the terran tyrany, a army with traits from the nazy and communist armies that claim to fight for “unity” but actually means “oppression”. The other enemy faction are the Vanu. The Vanu put the whole planet at risk of destruction by playing with alien technology that don’t really understands (and in planetside1 actually we learn that can cause a apocalyptic event know has “The Blending”).

    You must choice a faction:

    - NC: Personal Freedom / Economic Progress. Powerfull weapons. Defense. Patriotism™.
    - TR: Fascism / Comunism / Opression. Unefficient weapons that shot lots of bullets. Looking evil.
    - Vanu: experiments that can destroy the planet. Lasers and alien tech that do weird stuff. Pink style.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Why, that’s completely unfair to the VS. We have a purple style, thank you very much.

    • Brun says:

      TR: Fascism / Comunism / Opression

      How can they be Fascist and Communist at the same time? Those are polar opposites.

      • Tatourmi says:

        I logged in just to say that. I know that in some countries communism and fascism are just synonisms of “evil”, but man!

        LET ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE AND LEAD, THEN OVERTHROW OPPRESSION AND HELP THE MASSES, WE ARE ALL EQUAL! Wait a second there…

        Well, to be quite fair there are some similarities, but it is less of a case of: Oh, fascism looks a lot like comunism doesn’t it? Than a case of: Oh fascism looks a lot like stalinism doesn’t it? Easy mistake to make I guess, but still…

    • Commissar Choy says:

      TR: Fascism / Comunism / Opression. Unefficient weapons that shot lots of bullets. Looking evil.
      It’s traitorous talk like that that got you kicked out of our glorious army in the first place. Everyone know the NC are just a bunch of rebels steps away from starving to death and woefully short on ammo/medicine/discipline because they don’t have the strength, unity and resources of the Terran Republic.

  10. Cooper says:

    A plug for the RPS outfits.

    We currently run a VS outfit (which is meeting up tonight) and a NC outfit (which meets on Fridays)

    Details on the forums here:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?5970-Rock-Planet-Beta

    Steam group here:
    http://steamcommunity.com/groups/RPSide

  11. Chimpyang says:

    Things are going in the right direction for sure – but the game breaking design aspect for me right now is the linking of the rate of fire with your FPS. It means I have to go for vehicles/tanks to get anything out of the game, and cannot participate at all in the largest fights, in which my FPS would be playable in any other game, but not enough to give me parity in the shooty shooty stuff. Personally I am praying for some radical optimisation in the near future – currently my attempts at INF end up with me getting frustrated because I can’t send off as many shots as the guys with the uber PCs.

    Sure, it doesn’t help that I’ve picked a faction (TR) where ROF is considered an “advantage” that I’m supposed to use! But even for generic cross faction things such as a Skyguard – those becomes almost ineffectual the larger the airspam the enemy brings!

    • Dark Nexus says:

      “the linking of the rate of fire with your FPS”

      ….seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY? The game does that?

      • Chimpyang says:

        Yeah – if you’re in the beta – Alt-F to show your FPS, your gun will fire noticeably slower in full auto/burst in a low FPS situation compared to a normal/high FPS situation. I can only assume that this is because the “bullet firing” is done clientside to take the stress off the server – imagine the server having to calculate/acknowledge THAT many people shooting. However, since FPS drops are common as they optimise the game, this ruins the INF to INF combat for me in what is otherwise a very enjoyable game.

        EDIT : Linked is a very misleading term and I apologise for using it inj the original comment- “correlated” is a more accurate way of describing it

      • Rugged Malone says:

        Same goes for your turn rate, actually. (For example, it is dramatically harder to turn a Magrider, the main tank of the VS, during moments of low FPS.)

  12. alilsneaky says:

    I just hope they mean genuine optimisation of their code, and not taking a crap on the amazing high quality object motion blur (best and only good motion blur since the original crysis) or sweet lighting.

    That is what’s usually done when devs ‘optimise’, e.g ue3 engine demo from 2004 showing soft shadows, till it turned out ue3 shits the bed when trying to do dynamic shadows and it took 5 more years and udk 3.5 (and far more powerful hardware) for them to show up in any ue3 game.

  13. Armante says:

    I’ve been in the beta a while now, and I play TR.
    The NC are sly bastards and kill me far too often.
    The Vanu are weirdo aliens with hover tanks, and kill me far too often.

    So what I’m looking for is a good ol’ dirty TR recruit.
    I have a spare beta key. Tell me why you should have it.

    EDIT: Due to lack of interest, I gave it away below..

  14. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Two nitpicks and a comment!

    Comment: I love that they call it “the metagame”. Sure, some of it is, but mostly the bits they are calling the metagame are actually just the game. As in, that’s the whole difference between PS2 and genero shooter.

    Nitpick 1. “Indar was recently launched as a foil to Esamir, but Smedley announced that Amerish will be added for launch”
    Er this should read “Esamir was recently launched as a foil to Indar”. Please, some accuracy when talking about silly names of fictional continents. Honestly.

    Nitpick 2. “Right now there’s Auraxium, Cert points, and Station cash. Auraxium, which was earned through healing, capturing and kills and was used to buy guns, vehicle weapons and upgrades, will be phased out, with all its purchase power transferred over to Cert points.”
    It might have been wise to make it more explicit for non beta players that normally, historically Auraxium was earned by capturing bases. It was changed only recently and as an obvious stop-gap measure when it came out that a faction could effectively camp on an entire continent and just sit there not really playing (beyond a bit of spawn camping to keep the stranglehold) and just rake it in while ignoring the other (there are 2 currently) continent.
    See, there’s your article right there. It was a bit of a game design fail because, in conjunction with changing base capture rewards it essentially meant people were encoraged to farm xp, again instead of actually playing. (I’m happy to see proposed changes now).

  15. Askis says:

    I’m a bit concerned about what will happen when they phase out Auraxium…
    Right now all of the equipment you can buy with that can also be bought with Station Cash and that’s fine for the most part because there’s few outright upgrades in there.
    (Of the top of my head, only Rocket Pods and A2A Missiles for the flyers and the homing missiles for the heavies are straight upgrades)

    But there’s a ton of direct upgrades in the certification system, more resilient infantry, faster healing for Medics, more flight time for light assaults, heck the Sunderer is just a huge bus until you unlock the Advanced Mobile Station to make it a spawn point, same for the Galaxy.

    If they switch all Auraxium unlocks over to certs, what are they going to make their money on?
    I doubt it’ll be just the subscriptions and visual customization…
    100 Cert points for 10$?
    Come on man, buy some power!

    I really hope they find some other way to make their money >_>

    • Wunce says:

      At the moment, it’s the direct upgrades which concern me the most- regardless of if people can pay for certs or not. Without giving some certs* a negative effect, it seems like they are making it even tougher for new players to get on even ground with vets.

      To address your concern, I’m fairly sure they will make it so that Station Cash can only be used on new weapons.

      * namely the ones that straight up make your armour stronger

  16. Synesthesia says:

    i cant wait till it gets to open beta, i love big battlefields.
    On the other hand, i have a concern. Maybe some of the closed beta people can help me: on the few gameplay videos i have seen, guns seem to lack weight, kick. Theres no “physical” response from the avatar when firing a heavy weapon in full auto, the crosshair just keeps static, and most shots hit center of mass. That kind of stuff is not hard to fix, i imagine they are just animation and spread tweaks.

    Is it actually like that? Has it been fixed/is there a plan to fix it?

    • Armante says:

      I don’t think there will be an open beta. The game is set to launch on 20 Nov 2012 :)

      I still have a beta key if anyone is interested..

      • Synesthesia says:

        i meant to write that here, so, ahem: me!
        8bitbukowski is my profile name. I’d put that beta key to good use.

        • Armante says:

          Here you go – sorry to keep you waiting. Was away for the weekend :)

          E624-AR73-M4N3-ZJXF-GMM9