An Unexciting Video About Optimising Planetside 2

By Craig Pearson on September 25th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.


… but you should watch it, anyway. In my very casual time with Planetside 2, I haven’t ran into that many egregious technical troubles. I think I must be in the minority, or perhaps even the only person who hasn’t had his game hitch or crash or exhibit any slowdown, because SOE has (virtually) downed tools on a lot of content updates to focus on making the game run better. They’re also documenting this process for the fans in least visually exciting gaming video series, ever. You know how seriously they’re taking this when they have a game with Planetside 2′s visual oomph but put out a video of people talking in a room. Operation: Make Faster Game’s (O:MFG) first video is below.

It’s encouraging to see a company take on the challenge of making their game work in such a forthright way. SOE’s President John Smedley laid the gauntlet down for the team a few months ago, stating: “The PS2 team will be shifting their priorities to focusing purely on optimization. It’s unacceptable as it stands.”

He wasn’t kidding. As Planetside 2′s Tech Director Ryan Elam puts it: “All of our teams have been given the freedom to fix things that take significant time to fix. What you’re going to get at the end of this is a serious, noticeable increase in frame rate, PLUS some ancillary benefits that are capable as a result of some of these architectural advances. Every single member of the team, no joke, is actively looking for and implementing ways to make the game faster so we can deliver a better gameplay experience to you.”

That will cover everything: physics, animation, UI, view distance, and more will all be looked at to see where they can be improved. Expect major changes. There’s a document with a fair amount of info about what they’re looking at as a companion piece to the video below.

I think it’s a trick. I just looked at some PS2 screenshots and had a powerful urge to load it up, so if they only put out videos of people talking in a room then fewer and fewer people will play it, and it’ll appear as if they’ve made it better. A cunning plan, no doubt.

Now let’s all admire the game they’re making.

, .

39 Comments »

  1. phelix says:

    Unexciting? I disagree! It’s the fruit that counts, not the labour!

  2. Njordsk says:

    Please optimize it so EQN runs better !

  3. Horg says:

    I look forward to the day when I can maybe play PS2 again. Wont be holding my breath for it though. The games been out almost a year, and they are only now coming round to the idea that performance needs to be seriously addressed? I’d be willing to bet a small pastry that optimisation problems drove away more players than the business model or any game play changes ever did.

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah I have to wonder how many more players they’d have right now if they’d optimized it a year ago (or just launched later). I also have to wonder, if it wasn’t for the PS4 version, would they even be bothering?

    • Leonick says:

      Yea, took them this long to get to optimization, incredible. And look what else have happened during the year, as infantry you still have to use every single rocket you can carry to take down a single tank (even if we assume you can hide from the tank long enough to do that with the silly reload time and pretend that there isn’t an engineer said in tank ready to do even a tiny bit of repairs there will still likely be another tank around when you’re done) meanwhile, all AA weapons have been made even stronger which was hardly needed.

      I wonder if the improved the draw distance for MAX suits, was always fun how they could shot down a fighter in seconds while being an infantry sized unit with a short draw distance compared to the fighters. Kind of goes without saying that a weapon shouldn’t have a longer firing range than the draw distance of whatever is using it.

      • MrUnimport says:

        Heavens, what kind of Planetside have YOU been playing this past few months? Tankerside is all but gone, thanks to most bases having shell-proof barriers erected around them, AA MAXes are nearly extinct thanks to the price of a MAX being more than tripled and the Burster receiving an accuracy nerf. More and more players unlocking lock-on launchers (especially the TR Striker) have put an end to the age of a horde of invincible tanks shelling every base into submission.

        Also if you sneak around a tank and shoot it in the butt it’ll go down in only two or three shots. In a world where life is cheap and vehicles are expensive, I should EXPECT it to take more than one infantryman to take down a tank, don’t you?

        • fish99 says:

          Why? Just because the tanks costs some meaningless resource that everyone has coming out of their ears? Now if the tank *had to* have more than 1 person to make it viable, then fair enough, maybe, but while 1 person can drive an MBT and fire the main gun, why should he be 10 times more powerful than infantry? And before you say ‘because it’s a tank’, in real life a well aimed anti-tank rocket absolutely can take one out.

          Vehicles are just throw away in PS2. Everyone has their timers minimized, vehicle resources are never scarce. Being in a tank is just a choice, a play style, that happens to make you way tougher, just like a MAX suit does.

          They need to make you earn resources. You personally, not your empire.

          • the_madman says:

            That “meaningless resource” will only spawn you one tank at a time. They’re *that* expensive. If you’re good at the game, you’re good at the game and no amount of resource limitations are going to slow you down – but if you lose that tank quickly, you’re going to be fighting quite a bit to afford a new one – and if you lose that one quickly, it’ll be taking you even longer. The times where you could pull tanks out of your ass are gone except for those that are careful.

      • King Eternity says:

        Yeah, seriously balance is fantastic at the moment, you don’t know what you’re on about. Of course there is more work to be done but the general flow and balance of battle is excellent.

      • the_madman says:

        If you’re hitting it from a 45 degree angle, maybe. It takes 2 rockets in the rear at 90 degrees to kill even a main battle tank. It’s not difficult. Between rockets, AT MANA turrets, C4 and tank mines, there are plenty of ways to insta-gib a tank. Maybe you’re just bad?

        The lock-on rockets have been fixed so air can avoid them more reliably. Flares hard-counter lock-ons. Flak MAXes have had their accuracy reduced and their damage-at-range reduced. Small-arms fire does less damage to ESFs. If by, “All AA weapons” you meant, “Exactly one AA weapon which was underpowered before, costs 250 tank resources and makes the tank useless for all other purposes”, then you’d be right. One max cannot kill one ESF – you’d have to be nosediving into 4 or 5 of them for them to kill you “in seconds” which is equally as stupid as if you’d done it as one infantry against 4. Again, maybe you’re just bad?

    • Snakejuice says:

      Yeah you can count me amoung those who stopped playing because of bad performance. When the rest of my game library runs at 60 or 120 fps vsynced, playing that one tearing game that has a habit of dipping down to ~30-40 fps just makes me physically ill.

      • King Eternity says:

        Really?! A game with a massive open world and hundreds of players on screen doesn’t run as fast as your single player games?! THAT IS TERRIBLE!

        • Hahaha says:

          poor engine is poor

        • the_madman says:

          It’s nothing to do with the scale. Forgelight is a young engine – possibly only 2 1/2 years old. It takes time to optimize.

          Lets be fair to people. Occasionally they have a fair point.

  4. Schiraman says:

    I’m pretty sure this rush for optimisation is a result of them trying to get the game ready for the PS4.

    Historically, PS2 has run very poorly on AMD processors, partially because it’s not well optimised for multiple cores. Since the PS4 is basically an AMD PC-in-a-box and will rely heavily on multi-threading to run modern games at any reasonable standard, pre-optimisation PS2 would never have been playable on it.

    • povu says:

      Oh definitely. PS2 in its current state would run like crap on a PS4.

  5. Jhoosier says:

    PS2 is quite enjoyable, but I wish more of my friends would play. Being stuck in Asia with a bunch of non-FPS-playing friends kinda sucks.

    • SuicideKing says:

      This. Are there any servers in Asia yet? I stopped playing because of lag and the CPU bottleneck.

      • Jhoosier says:

        There was one in Australia, I believe, or at least it was full of Aussies when I played. Never really got into any of the groups, and never found regular people to play with.

  6. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I misread the headline and expected a “tweak guide” type of video :(

    This is great, though, just not as fun as a tweak guide.

    It runs fine for me, but still gets slowed down in heavily populated battles.

    I read somewhere that turning everything up to ULTRA settings will improve frame rate. That doesn’t make any sense but I tried it. It did nothing for my framerate, but it didn’t have a negative effect, either. Plus it looks way better than my original medium settings.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      if you want a tweak guide, look at a guy called wrel’s channel on youtube. There are a few things you can do to improve performance.

  7. Wedge says:

    Nah, I’ve been incredibly lucky as well I guess. Just have an i5-2500k and a 7950 (both gently overclocked) and have pretty much always run the game fine at max settings other than some issues way back in the beta. And riding around in the passenger slot of a vehicle watching the incredible day/night system is often the most fun I have when playing it. I do have a group to play with, but it’s never given me the team feeling quite like PS1 had so far. Maybe if they finally add Phantoms and EMP grenades in again someday…

  8. Cooper says:

    If anyone fancies trying out PS2 again, the RPS outfits are still going strong. All details are on the forum here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?10315-New-players-start-here

    There’s still a large number of us who are playing the game and we’re always welcoming new people; to join in with us you have to do nothing else but just hop onto Mumble (our voice comms, details in that forum post). We’re not just here for the Call to Arms events!

    Especially if you haven’t played for a couple of months. There’s been some minor optimisation stuff that’s helped a few of our members with frame rates / stutteryness and there’s been some interesting changes to the game too.

  9. Reapy says:

    This video was uncomfortable as fuck to watch. It is totally a bunch of introverted developers in that uncomfortable justification to your boss what you’ve been doing this week status meeting. The thing where it is like if I don’t answer right am I going to get fired? Added awkwardness for being filmed. I like how the ‘joke’ they seemed to had basically was the one guy walking into one of those ‘you are about to get fired, on camera, settings’.

    Ugh.

    • Larington says:

      By the sounds of it, the SOE coders work on the scrum development methodoloy, which involves doing that on a daily basis just without the cameras around. I think it’s reassuring in a way, I mostly lay the blame for the shoddy performance at trying to push the game out in a very short development window (Think I read somewhere they made the game in like, 18 months, which is ludicrously short for something of PS2′s scope) but sometimes I was left wondering just how skilled those people were what with all the bugs that get by QA, this video helps address that by showing the cogs whirring inside the coders heads so to speak.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Eh, from my experience (developer/programmer/whatever, but not of games) standups of this sort are less about not getting fired and more about getting programmers to talk to each other and to project leads. Depends on the work environment, I suppose, but I’m guessing that any awkwardness is just good old fashioned American nerdlidom.

    • jamesgecko says:

      I did scrum for a number of months at my last job. Like others have stated, it’s really more just about status updates; making sure that nobody is stuck or veering off in the wrong direction. Not shown on video, there’s also frequently interjections like, “Oh, I did something related to that a few weeks ago. Do you have time to pair later today? I bet we can finish it pretty quickly.”

      Scrum updates _can_ be slightly weird, though. We did them in the middle of the afternoon, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to get knocked out of the coding zone and suddenly realize I had to articulate the technical thing I’d been doing all day to people who weren’t working on the same thing in terms that they could understand.

      The awkwardness is certainly related to the cameras. Even when they’re being used in remote meetings with people you know, it’s always just a little bit more awkward to look at the black eye when you speak.

  10. Larington says:

    By the way RPS, the devs have been running a ‘World Domination Pre-Season’ thing for the past week or so, figured you might be interested in two linkies:

    Current state of play (Complete with run away TR population & territory advantages)
    https://players.planetside2.com/#!/wds

    Post on PS2 forums addressing how they’re going to improve the event in future.
    https://forums.station.sony.com/ps2/index.php?threads/wds-preseason-and-upcoming-changes.152266/

  11. DanMan says:

    Due to my very low anxiety threshold, this was a most exciting watch. Now excuse me, i need to take my medication.

  12. Lev Astov says:

    Great. Now, if they’d just support extra wide screens, FOVs and multi-screen setups like they had originally promised, they’d have a decent product.

  13. Skabooga says:

    Well, I had given up hope of ever being able to play Planetside 2 until I bought a new computer, but maybe these optimizations will allow me to run it on my current one at greater than 10 FPS. What? A person can dream!

    Still, I am interested to see how far down they can bump the minimum requirements.

  14. geldonyetich says:

    Anyone who does not play Planetside 2 may not realize how badly it needs to be optimized. It’s been a weird, weird game, by PC standards. A game whose frames per second bottleneck on the CPU instead of the video card.

    I’ve heard some claims that this is because the MMORPG overhead means the CPU needs to work that much harder to track all the various hundreds of players jumping around you. Yet, if this were the truth, why is it that tweaking one’s graphic settings make a significant difference to one’s frames per second? The game logic that purportedly is responsible for the CPU bottleneck should be the same regardless of the video settings.

    Because of that, I think the truth of the matter is that Planetside 2′s proprietary engine was not optimized well enough to take proper advantage of GPUs. So, that they’re finally getting around to this is a very good thing indeed, albeit with a regrettably backhanded serving of, “Better late than never.”

    From where I’m sitting, my AMD FX-8120 CPU has never been a great bottleneck for the game to sit at, but I just bought a GeForce 650 TI Boost, and were Planetside 2 optimized to actually offload more of the work onto it, I’d want to give the game a spin just to see the difference.

    It’s going to make a big difference to the way the game plays, too. If you’ve ever seen videos of supposed Planetside 2 pros gunning down droves of other players who are acting as though they simply don’t see them until it’s too late, that’s no coincidence: unless you have a top-of-the-line CPU, you won’t see someone who does gunning you down until it’s too late, and there’s not a whole lot of skill to praise said pros for. If this GPU optimization works out, that battlefield is about to be leveled, possibly resulting in a saving grace for many players, or even the game itself.

  15. MeestaNob says:

    It would be fair to say Planetside 2 must be making some descent money if they are prepared to take the time to implement significant performance changes. Good on them!

  16. RProxyOnly says:

    Craig, it’s BASIC grammar.

    “I haven’t ran into that many egregious technical troubles.”

    “I haven’t RUN into that many egregious technical troubles.”

    Sorry to be “That Guy”.. but it sticks out like a sore thumb.

  17. Grey_Ghost says:

    Been trying to play this game for a few days now, and I don’t have any major frame rate issues. However I just don’t find the game to be fun. As an early Planetside 1 player, I really want to like it… but it’s just not turning out that way.