The sequel to the cult 2003 hit PlanetSide is incoming. Sitting down with the creative director of the upcoming MMOFPS, Matthew Higby, we spoke about how PlanetSide 2 differs from its predecessor, and the problems that arise from developing a game in this rarely seen genre.
Q: What is PlanetSide 2 for those who aren't aware?
Matthew Higby: PlanetSide 2 is a massively multiplayer online first person shooter. It allows thousands of players to directly and simultaneously compete with each other in a huge open world game. There are air vehicles, ground vehicles.
Q: How does it relate to the first game?
Matthew Higby: It's not a sequel. We consider it to be a re-envisioning. You know, it's on the same planet, it has the same factions. They're just kind of more starkly contrasting. And they have a little bit of a different motivations, more well defined motivations, and sort of different priorities.
Q: Why not go for an entirely different world?
MH: We wanted to explore Auraxis a little bit more. It's a really interesting world, it has some really interesting story that never really got fleshed out in the original game, about how the planet was formed, what sort of people lived there before, that kind of stuff. And we're really looking forward to being able to explore that space a little bit more.
Q: There are rumours of it coming to console, is this true?
MH: Right now it's PC only.
Q: Have there been any plans to test those waters?
MH: I don't know! [laughs]
Q: Do you think branching out to new platforms is going to be a way for MMOs to evolve in the industry?
MH: I think so. You know, it's much different to make an MMO for a console than it is to make an MMO for a PC. It takes a lot of work. The most difficult thing is porting all the UI over. You have to create UI that is joypad-friendly, and that's hard. But yeah, there's a lot of work that needs to be done on the engine, and consoles have a very small memory so, I mean there is a huge amount of work that needs to get done to bring an MMO from PC to PS3.
Q: Could you describe the actual combat?
MH: It's 100 per cent PvP. The entire game is PvP and it's basically, very fast-pace, very faithful to the original PlanetSide, but it's a lot quicker. That's something that people who played the original game will notice right away. But it's incredibly massive. If you look at something like Battlefield where you have 32 players versus 32 players, you might be having 320 versus 320 versus 320. You can have battles with 1000 people actively participating in all three teams.