PlanetSide. Boy, does that ever invoke images of Halo and Tribes, doesn’t it? Except, in my staunch determination to never let anyone ruin the game for me, I successfully managed to avoid all pre-release information about it since the original press release… until now. So if you know all about it, you probably won’t read anything new here.
PlanetSide is a massively multiplayer FPS that should be launching any day now. The whole idea is that not just teams are brought together, but sides in a war. SOE is planning for servers to run from 3500 to up to 5000 players on several continents. Continents are designed for 500 players, and characters are free to move between them through warp gates or stratospheric pod drops from shuttles.
The characters in PlanetSide will, of course, have levels. Unlike most MMORPGs the focus is on getting those levels quickly. To keep everyone playing, there will be 60 certificates (skills) to learn but the most anyone can know at any given time are 23. Certificates are like a very broad but shallow skill tree… no, not a tree – a flat line. There is no armor skill 1, armor skill 2, super armor skill 1, super armor skill 2. Players just know how to use tanks once they’re certified for them.
Skill point assignments are easily changed, and the current plan is to allow the player to exchange certificates once every 24 hours. To gain certificates, one has to do good in battle and gain battle experience. Unlike a MMORPG, a character isn’t necessarily as good as his level, but as good as he is played. A heavy weapons skill won’t make him any better at combat if the user running the character is inept.
In addition to battle experience, gamers can also pick up command experience. By leading teams to victory in their objectives, leaders will gain experience and notoriety – good or bad. This will allow them to draw in bigger and better teams.
Penalties for dying are simply a respawn timer – no experience is lost. To cut down on griefers, PlanetSide will feature coded grief moderation. Destroying equipment, killing allies and other forms of active grief may lead to restrictions or even the locking of an account.
Dave Georgeson, of MechWarrior 2 and Tribes fame, also made it a point to mention that SOE plans to roll out features over the coming year and watch the community for ideas. The plan is to keep things fresh and interesting, and these features are already in the system. They’ll be released systematically to test their popularity.