PlanetSide 2's Core Problems
With some proposed solutions.
Four Core Problems
there is no meaningful purpose.
The second is that…
there is a huge population issue.
The third is that…
progression is shallow.
The fourth is that…
game mechanics and lack of guidance lead to a frustrating experience for newer and even veteran players.
What I mean by "Meaningful Purpose."
This in itself isn’t bad. There’s a reason PlanetSide 2 intended to be a persistent war, and it should stay true to that mission. The problem is that there’s no attachment to what we gain or lose. There is no consequence, which is a word you’ll be hearing me use a lot.
Consequence creates meaning, which creates attachment, which spurs involvement.
To elaborate on that. In order for you to want to defend something. There needs to be a fear of losing it, first. If you’re a parent who cares about your family, you’re gonna lock the doors, or you’re gonna move to a nice neighborhood, or you’re gonna buy a big dog. If you know that your company is looking to lay some people off, you’re gonna work harder and make yourself indispensable. Etc, etc.
And there are some elements in game that allude to this sense of consequence, namely the big facilities.
Lose your Tech Plants, you can’t spawn MBT or Galaxy, lose your Bio Labs, you don’t regen over time, lose your Amp Station… well, who cares about the Amp Station.
From a public or “random” player’s perspective, they just see that they can’t spawn a Prowler, so they spawn a Harasser instead. And if the fighting dies out, they’ll hit the instant action key and go somewhere more interesting. There’s no real attachment to one thing or the other.
From an Outfit’s perspective, they may lose a convenient
foothold to spawn heavier tanks… but if they need to Gal drop, they can just
spawn back at the Warp Gate and get organized again, in a less chaotic
Aside from that, losing a Tech Plant, which is currently the most “important” facility in the game, will do very little in the scheme of things.
No one is saying “We need this facility if we want to be able to do x, y, or z.” And in a nut shell, you need that sort of mentality in order to create a sense of purpose. You want people to feel need.
Back when the game was still fresh, 3 months, 6 months in, it didn’t matter where you fought, so getting a “bonus” for owning a facility was just a neat little thing that happened, because you were focused on the fun and interesting fights and locations. But as time goes by, fighting across any number of bases hundreds of different times, the battle itself isn’t enough anymore. You need purpose now, even though it may not have been a requirement at the beginning.
Resource System Changes
- Periodic resource gain is now very low, and also standardized across factions. So it’s the same regardless of the number of territories your faction controls. Subscribers, however, still get an increase in periodic resource gain.
- Resources are no longer earned from experience gain within a zone.
- Flipping a base gives resources to the attacking faction. So the faction to gains control of a base dispenses a sum of resources to the allied players in that territory.
- Resources “accumulate” on specific base over time. So the longer the base sits under your faction’s control, the more resources will be accumulated on that base. Remember that these resources does not transfer to the owning faction. The resources literally just sit there on the base until the enemy comes and takes it.
- Players can now barter for resources via an auction house style system, or in person. Much like trading in any other MMO. You’ll be trading one resource type for another.
- Acquisition timers are removed. Instead, individual vehicle loadouts are purchased and stored with the resources gained. Much like Grenades, mines, and C-4 are currently.
- The number of vehicles you can purchase depends on how big your “garage” for that vehicle, which is the new path that replaces the acquisition timer. You can maybe hold 5 ESF at any given time, 10 Flash, 3 Galaxies, 4 Sunderers, 5 Main Battle Tanks, etc etc. The numbers can always be tweaked.
Impacts of Resource System Changes
- Instead of a single faction snowballing uncontrollably and infinitely due to periodic gain, they now have to work for their resources.
- This means less warp gate camping, as even if you do snowball, you’ll eventually get pushed back as your resources start to dry, or people start to leave the continent to pursue more resources.
- It influences the meta, as outfits may prioritize attacking “long-held” territories that have more resources on them.
- This in turn encourages battles deeper into enemy territory, which allows more bases to be fought at, more often.
- It increases continent diversity, as players will leave an exhausted continent to gather resources from another.
- Creates a cross-continent economy, and sets a value on resources. All three types of resources will always be useful to someone. So regardless of which zone you take, you’ll be able to either use or barter your resources for others.
- It increases player interactions within a faction, due to resources being exchanged both in person and over trade.
- Subscribers and players who spend a lot of time in-game are rewarded for doing so, as they will have more resources to barter with.
- Encourages every player to help take a base that they want resources for, opposed to sitting in the warp gate of a continent where you own a lot of territory, until your resources come back.
- Dedicated pilots or dedicated drivers should always have their favorite vehicle available to them, at the cost of trading the resources they’re not using.
- More importantly though, is that it shifts the mentality from “My vehicle is on cooldown, I’ll just pull a different one,” or, “my vehicle is on cooldown, I’m going to log off until the cooldown comes back” or “I don’t have any resources, I’m going to go to another continent and sit in the warp gate.” It shifts that to a mentality of “I have a couple vehicles left, is it a good idea to use them right now?” and “okay, I don’t have any resources, what can I trade to get more?”
- Players will generally be more conservative with vehicle use. Pulling them for a purpose, instead of just because they want to be in a vehicle of some sort.
- This decreases vehicle spam overall, unless you’re doing it in an organized fashion, say with an outfit.
Reasoning behind Resource System Changes
The current mechanics in themselves aren’t bad, but the way tend to deal with them, is. So we are offering new mechanics that encourage attacking bases and otherwise playing the game, instead of just sitting in warp gates, or logging off, or doing other things that the player may not necessarily want
to do, because they have no choice…
Which vehicle do you want to have ready? Well that’s the one you should be stockpiling, right? You have to make a decision. Don’t have the right resources? Then trade the ones you do have. Don’t have any resources? Then go find a fight. Not a fight at a specific base with specific resources, but any fight. Go find any fight, and if you don’t win the right resources, you can broker them for the ones that you do want.
And like I mentioned earlier, I do know that they have a Resource System revamp in the works, one that includes the ANT, or ANT-like functions. I think this is good, it could be fun, but the problem you have, is that it’s outside of the core gameplay. Which is to fight and win. So you’d be pulling people away from that goal, to do something else. Not necessarily a bad thing with the proper incentives. But you’re relying on those specific people who enjoy doing that one thing, just so that you, as “normal player,” can play the game the way they want to. That deep seated reliance which is outside of the core gameplay, isn’t something that I’d count on from the playerbase as a whole.
That’s not to say that the ANT system can’t be tacked on to this revamp after the fact, but I just don’t think it’ll solve the inherit problems that the current resource system is causing.
As much as people like to think that this is a team game, it’s not. It’s only a team game for organized outfits, they are the ones who control the meta. For everyone else, it’s just another day of killing things and playing the way that you want to play, the core of the game needs to support both sides of the spectrum.
So the downside to this system, you may have been thinking, is that it only rewards attacking. Which can lead to bad things like zergs going circles around one another, like back in the old non-lattice days. Now that the lattice system is in place, a lot of this will be avoided, but to emphasize that, I’ll go on to the next idea.
Territories should be Bigger
- Outposts and smaller bases, should not exist as a normal lattice link. They should exist as separate elements within much bigger hexes.
- If you have a lattice link connecting you to a main base, all outposts are available for you to capture.
- Outposts should be staging points allowing you to get a foothold onto a larger territory, much like the old hex system, but being supplemented by the lattice’s guidance.
- Outposts should specifically aid in the attacking and defending of the major territory. So there should be an emphasis on those outposts having turrets, teleporters, or jump pads which help you accomplish this.
- Lattice links will need to be revised to support this change in game flow, and bases will need distance adjustments, as well as some bases being “upgraded” to the focal points of bigger territories, and some downgraded to smaller outposts that surround them.
- And lastly, resources and partial experience gained by claiming or defending an outpost or larger base will be shared with all allied forces within the current zone. The claiming party will earn more experience, but not more resources.
Impacts of Bigger Territories
- Flipping a larger outpost now has a more substantial impact, due to it being a larger chunk of territory. Not just on the map at a technical level, but also an emotional level. It makes the territory feel more important.
- Smaller outposts act as an early warning system, to notify players of an impending attack.
- Players will still have incentive to attack these smaller outposts due to the resources accumulated on them.
- Fighting is spread out over more of the zone, instead of being extremely localized.
- Small, but organized squads will have an important role in reclaiming fallen outposts which can have large impacts on the overarching battle.
- The majority of the forces can move on to the heart of the territory, instead of making pit stops that ruin the natural flow of the game.
- At the same time, the major forces aren’t penalized for not making those pit stops, as they’ll still receive their resource reward, and a partial experience reward.
- And probably most importantly, smaller outposts will now have a better chance to defend themselves or at least be reclaimed once the zerg passes them by.
Reasoning behind Bigger Territories
But the reason that the zerg is here ruining everyone’s life, is because they have to be. They have to stop at these outposts and crush whoever is there. Because it enables the next lattice link. They don’t want to be sitting on a small base, twiddling their thumbs. They want to get to that tower, or that Amp Station, or that major base, because those are the meaningful captures, those are the places with the big, fun fights.
If you convert smaller bases into outposts where the zerg doesn’t need to stop, then they won’t have a reason to sit there, at least not really. They may crush it really quick, and then move on to the heart of the territory, but after that initial
hit, the pain passes. Later on, smaller squads can drop in and retake that outpost, without immediately forcing people to turn around, abandon what they’re doing, and come back and retake the outpost.
Right now, if your little outpost, that little lattice link is being flipped, it prevents you from flipping new capture points on the base you want to be working on. This shouldn’t be the case, not for the little pit stops.
The resource gain for flipping an area and individual outpost is shared, because organized outfits are already sending their force on to the next base before the first is even finished capping. Sharing experience and resources through the zone helps remove the penalty that they normally incur due to not sitting around waiting for the base to flip.
At the same time, it mitigates the penalty on the individual player, who steps outside of the capture zone, or decided to spawn at that far away Sunderer at the wrong time, or that ESF that’s trying to chase enemy fighters off.
Big territories, remember?
Outposts will also serve as staging grounds for not only your foothold into an enemy territory, but as a way for defenders to outflank attackers who neglect to retake an outpost. On top of that, many outposts should offer some additional firepower against the main facility.
TI Alloys versus the Crown is the best example of this that I can think of. And really, that relationship acts exactly how I’d like to see things in the future, but without the lattice link. Crown is your big, major base, it should be the all-encompassing territory… but TI Alloys is your staging point. Not only that, you can use the turret outside to help you drop the defenses of Crown itself.
At the same time, Ceres Hydrophonics should be an outpost as well. I know I’m not the only person who misses charging up that hill from Ceres to TI Alloys. Re-enabling this sort of relationship by removing the lattice link requirement can create additional dynamics between attackers and defenders.
People defending the Crown can say, okay… we’re having a hard time right now, and we need to take TI Alloys away from the attackers. We’re making no headway by attacking from the bridge that connects the two, so let’s spawn at Ceres and out flank them.
You’re creating options and territory wide meta, while still pointing everyone toward the main objective, being the Crown.
I want to say, before moving onto the next idea, that using numbers, in PlanetSide 2, should not be penalized. The point is to create big, fun battles. But we also shouldn’t we rewarding zergs. Because right now, PS2 is a numbers game due primarily to the bases being so difficult to defend from massive swarms of enemies. So if you can spread those numbers out, by creating multiple and purposeful objectives, then you’ll end up with more dynamic and interesting fights, regardless of who outnumbers who.
That said though, when a fight is 3 to 1, it’s not fun for either side. So there needs to be a way to counter this population imbalance. Using numbers is smart, important, and fun. But you want those numbers to clash like fighters in the same weight class would, not like a feather weight matched up against a heavy weight.
Ideas for Deincentivizing the Zerg
- Dynamic spawn timers based on how badly you’re outnumbered. This number is tallied based on enemies versus allies in the entire territory, it’s not base specific. Because remember that Outposts are now a part of larger territories. If you are outnumbered three to one, the spawn time for the enemy will be increased, and the spawn time for you will be lowered.
- Bases should contain rush-style capture points, or a micro-lattice for capture, as in, all points must be captured in sequence before a base is flipped. Opposed to a capture and hold methodology, which usually devolves into a capture two and farm for ten minutes mentality. I’ll show examples of this when we get into the reasoning section.
- Points should become increasingly defensible as they are taken. This is almost how the game currently works. Points on the outside are generally easier to take from the attacking faction. But, since there’s no point to taking that last, point, you can just hold your ground.
- Remove the SCU, or make it only power secondary and tertiary spawn rooms. Instead of losing your spawn point when the SCU is destroyed, drop the spawn room shields for 30 seconds once the base is taken. After that time, reenable the shields for whoever owns the base, and deal damage over time to enemies still left within.
- Players should be periodically forced to leave the spawn rooms in large, organized assaults. We’ll call this mechanic “surging,” and again we’ll talk about this in a bit.
- All available spawn points in both the contested hex, and “one back” from that contested hex need to be offered to every player, regardless of where they die. The Lattice spawn point system, even with multiple changes, is far too strict, and has the opposite effect of what it’s trying to encourage.
- The exception to that rule is, if your faction outnumbers the enemy 3 to 1 or more, your ability to spawn into that contested hex from elsewhere on the map, is removed. You will instead only be able to spawn at that zerg fest if you are already a part of it, ie. you die in the vicinity.
- Instant Action is removed. Entirely. Instead, players who have just logged in are prompted to spawn at a base of their choosing, given the lattice options available. Spawning at the warp gate, however, is always an option.
- Distance penalties to spawn timers are removed as well.
Impacts of Deincentivizing the Zerg
- Respawn penalties for zerging players deincentivize painfully overwhelming force.
- Respawn bonuses for outnumbered players creates artificial numbers that helps bolster efforts to defend the base.
- Respawn bonuses also make death less painful for the defender, which encourages leaving the spawn room more often.
- Medics become more desirable to attacking forces. This indirectly diminishes the firepower of a zerg by having less Heavy Assaults and MAX units on the field.
- New spawn system allows defending players can easily respond to areas where the enemy outnumbers them.
- Attacking players can shift strategy when they’re at a stand-still and spawn at new lattice links, or back from their position.
- Not being able to spawn directly into a contested hex that is overcrowded will route most players into areas where their presence is actually required.
- Zerging players who are too impatient to wait for their long respawn timer, or a medic to revive them, are indirectly encouraged to respawn into different battles entirely, much like respawning at a Warp Gate is instant.
- Crafty players, or organized outfits, who decide to spawn a hex back and go into the overcrowded, contested area anyway will be faced with more travel time to get to their destination, which lessens the hard impact of an insta-zerg.
- Rush style capture system makes for battles that become increasingly tense and frantic as the enemy draws closer to capturing a base.
- It also lets everyone in the zone know exactly what their next objective is, in order to take the territory.
- Capture points that are increasingly easy to defend means that less defenders, even when outnumbered, can make more of an impact on the base’s defense than they could normally.
- “Surging” from a spawn room as a group provides an increased chance to topple an attacking force, opposed to trickling out one by one.
- Being forced to leave the spawn room also reinforces the mentality that you should be leaving the spawn room, instead of sitting in a window and firing out.
- Both increased respawn times and surge mechanic mean that spawn camping will be less prevalent overall.
- Victory or Defeat becomes more absolute thanks to the Rush style play, and spawn shields dropping for that last hurrah. This creates a perceptual start and end point for a battle, carrying with it a stronger emotional impact on the player.
- Instant Action’s removal, in conjunction with the new spawn system, means that players will end up either at the warp gate, or at a base where their support is needed. They just won’t be able to drop into the location as a drop pod.
- Distance based spawn timers have been removed due to the new spawn mechanics.
- All of this, in turn, will help deincentivize the 4th faction, and incentivize playing the outnumbered faction. So it means helping balance the overall population.
Reasoning behind Deincentivizing the Zerg
I’m talking about dropping from the sky onto a liberator, or behind a bunch of enemies. These things are fine, but they should be restricted to an intentional action and goal, much like squad spawn beacons are placed in a specific spot. Enemies can see the beacon’s light, so they know it’s a threat, so they can expect threats. For instant action, this isn’t the case. The new spawn system will address the need to find battles instantly, and alleviate some frustrations. Instant Action won’t be completely removed, but it’ll take a different form, which we’ll talk about later.
That said. We all know that the zerg is a problem, but it’s a problem because there’s no penalty to running with one. Continually capping enemy territory with a large force is preferable to trying to defend it against one. So if you deincentivize the zerg, and encourage the behavior of creating balanced forces, then people everywhere have bigger battles, more fun, and a better game.
If you were to incorporate a modified rush style gameplay, you are forcing enemies to procedurally take objectives, in order to capture a base. This leads to dramatic and rewarding style play, opposed to just sitting in the same spot for 10 to 12 minutes while the base slowly caps. It creates the feeling of urgency.
Here is how I would implement the system in PlanetSide 2.
Attacking enemies with a lattice connection into the defenders’ zone would be forced to start with a singular "gateway" capture point. That capture point would be located in a way that it makes sense to start with, based on the angle you’re attacking from.
In other words, if I'm attacking a base from the east, my gateway capture point shouldn't be located on the western side of the base.
After that initial, gateway capture point is taken, it must be held for a duration before it's considered captured.
After the“gateway capture point is taken, attackers can start in on the meat of the base. Usually B then A points. These capture points must be taken, regardless of faction.
So after attackers take out your gateway point, then they’d take B, and finally they’d take A.
After A goes down, the your spawn room shields drop, and you suffer that crushing defeat that ends in your death. This is a much different feeling than being kicked out of a room for hanging out there too long, or getting kicked out of an entire zone and watching the timer count down, just because your SCU is gone. It sounds like small changes, but they have huge impacts that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Certain bases already drop spawn room shields when the SCU blows, and this is a good start, but the base usually isn’t taken by that point either, so you feel like a guest who overstayed their welcome and finally got the hint that they should leave, instead of someone who actually lost a base, and suffered a defeat. Which is the way that it should be.
Remember that these points should become more defensible the closer the enemy is to capturing the base. But not impervious to capture, (like a BioLab can be with 300 defenders firing at choke points.)
The rule of thumb, though it wouldn’t have to be the case for every base…
- Is that the Gateway points we talked about earlier, should be heavily impacted by vehicles.
- Point B could be supported by vehicles, but not completely camped by them.
- And Point A should not have an outcome weighted by vehicle use at all.
So if NC take C point, then they’d have to work on B point. We’ll say that B point is where A point normally is in the Tech Plant, but instead of being completely invulnerable to vehicle fire… we’ll blow a hole above the gate shown in the photo below. This way, ESF and even tanks in some cases, can get shots off through the window. In other words, this point can be supported by enemy vehicles, but cannot be camped and conquered by them.
This window could be covered by a shield, initially, which could be controlled by a generator to grant more strategic depth.
such a way that attackers can’t camp the spawn directly, not without dying easily, but they can defend their A point, after they get control of it.
All of this, helps neutralize the strength of a zerg, without ruining the importance of numbers.
The last thing I’ll touch upon is the “Surge” mechanic that I mentioned briefly earlier.
When enemies have captured point B, and all you have left is A. You need to act, it is your last chance. But the pub mentality, is to just sit in the spawn room, firing at
enemies who poke their heads out, until they’re finally kicked out of the zone, and respawn elsewhere.
When all you have left is A, or when A itself has been taken, a countdown will appear periodically. It could be a flat 30 seconds to a minute, but when the timer drops down to 5 seconds or so, your faction’s announcer will tell you, over the comms, that you need to retake the control point.
At that moment, everyone in the spawn room will be dealt damage over time until they die. This doesn’t include people who just spawned in, and are otherwise not part of the current Surge. On your screen, there could be a lighted pathway that shows you
the route to point A, and encourages you to get there.
The simple act of charging out of the spawn room at the same time, instead of trickling out one by one, does wonders for the pub mentality. It offers guidance where the previously was none. And more importantly, it gives the defenders the chance to
make some headway, and it gives the attackers something more to do than camp the spawn room doors.
Making Defense Mean Something.
Why would you want to defend a base when you might be able to find some free resources elsewhere? For that, there needs to be both consequence, and benefits. I don’t have any solid answers here, there are plenty of ideas already floating around. Instead of being super specific, I’ll just list off some general concepts that could be included.
- You could attach conditional equipment to owning a facility. For example, owning a Tech Lab could give access to faction specific weapons on all vehicles. Examples would be Railguns for NC Main Battle Tanks, Chainguns for TR Lightnings, PPA for VS Flash Units, etc etc. These weapons would still be purchased with Station Cash, but they would be conditional weapons, and it would be stated explicitly up front before anyone purchased one.
- Same thing goes for infantry. If you own, say, an Amp Station anywhere on the map, then everyone has access to a conditional utility slot that restores shields instantly. Or owning a Tech Lab could unlock a new Heavy Frag that all classes have access to, and deals damage over a wider area, but deals less overall.
- You could manage crucial aspects of the current game flow through owning Tech Labs, BioLabs, and Amp Stations. Examples could be, without Tech Labs, your vehicle shield generators are offline. Or without Amp Stations, the SCUs in attached lattice areas are always offline. Or, if you don’t have a BioLab, then you can’t revive MAX units. These may be harsh examples, but the point is that it gives more tactical value to those major facilities.
- Since Squads control the meta-game anyway, you can add deep squad, platoon, or outfit incentives for owning major facilities, or a number of them. Some ideas could include call-ins, like dropping a non-AMS Sunderer so that Squads can get easy transportation even under difficult situations, or calling in small bunker that offers a spawn point as well as some partial defenses, or call for an artillery strike, etc, etc.
- You could have non-facility bases “research” new weapons and abilities that you are already planning to add to the game. So, instead of everyone getting everything as soon as a new patch comes out, the dominant faction can research these technologies over time, and unlock them before other factions do. After a couple of weeks, they could be automatically unlocked to all factions regardless. Or, you could use this same method as an alert reward. In addition to all of the certs, and experience, you can get partial research completion toward a new item for the faction, when you win the alert.
- Or, non-facility bases could do something less dramatic, and offer pure, but substantial benefits, like increasing the maximum Garage capacity for a specific vehicle, or increasing the number of grenades or utility slot items a player can stock up on.
- Most importantly, every one of these changes needs to have clear UI indicators pointing to why or why not they have or do not have these abilities or unlocks, at any given time. And it needs to be blatantly obvious on the tactical map showing which facility will give you what.
Impacts of Defense Ideas.
- Conditional unlocks provide new ways of fighting, potentially new strategies to employ, for each and every player. Examples being Artillery vehicles that could only be pulled from Tech Labs, but are effective much further away than a normal tank.
- Conditional unlocks can inspire the userbase to purchase new items.
- Conditional unlocks feel more substantial than a simple bonus granted by a base, because you can feel it in your hand, and make use of it specifically, and likewise, you’ll notice when it’s missing.
- Restricting game elements creates the need for tactics, the need to hold locations in order to ensure optimal play.
- On the other hand, new players will not know why or why not they can or can not do something, unless it’s blatantly obvious through the visual feedback of the UI.
- Giving squads additional benefits will encourage squad cohesion, it will encourage non-squadded players to seek these benefits…
- And it will encourage taking of tactical locations on the lattice, for organized outfits.
- A “research” system will pace the release of new items, and increase faction rivalry in the same way that the World Domination Series does.
- Flat benefits like increase Garage capacity, or maximum grenade stock, can add a little more emphasis on the importance of facilities, because it’s tied in with the resource system. But even so, I don’t feel like it’s a great motivator, because there is no true sense of loss.
- Probably the most important feature of this whole thing, is to increase the visible feedback of what owning or losing a specific territory will do for you as a player, and hopefully as a faction. It needs to be painfully obvious, it needs to give you a reason to look at the map and say, “man, I want that,” or “man, I don’t want to lose that.”
That's all I got.
If I lost you in all of that, then I apologize, but hopefully you were able to sit through enough of it to understand where I’m going with this.
If you feel like these changes could be worthwhile, if you feel like this would create a better game overall, then try to pass a link to this post to the devs on Twitter, and rate it up on Reddit, so that the devs can see it. They’ll likely want to know your feedback as much as I do. If you have some thoughts, agreements, or objections, you’d like to share, just put them down in the comments, or tweet me, or respond to me on my Twitter page @WrelPlays, or through Reddit
Let’s turn this into a good discussion.
Thanks very much folks, Wrel signing off.