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Reader Comments (22)

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 10:38AM Kalu said

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For me as a massive mmo player and fps player alike, PLANET SIDE would have to be and i can safly say is the number 1 online MMO game i have ever played, having had the best and most exciting gaming experience its hard to beat - nothing can compare!!! 200 on 200 battles -

Its the only true MMOFPS (apart from WW2 online which is fun as hell, despite the graphics)

All I can say is the MMO market craves a new MMOFPS!


Posted: Jun 19th 2009 10:39AM (Unverified) said

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I recently, for no real reason other than going back to that old "girlfriend" that I had often thought so fondly of, resubbed with Planetside.

I have to say, even with 6 years of wear and tear...its is still one of the most unique and most rewarding (while simultaneously frustrating) games ever.

The PvP doesn't seem nearly as contentious as other games, which is probably because of the complete absence of PvE. And because of the competition being completely other players, success in PS has always had a substantially more meaningful feeling to it.

While the genre itself hasn't caught on completely, I can see where if handled correctly...especially marketing...it could be a great hit after modernization.

Now if I only had the monetary resources to buy the IP from SOE...sigh...where did I leave that lottery ticket?

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 10:45AM (Unverified) said

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MMO design and marketing paradigms demand that dedication, not skill be rewarded. MMO Culture is what it is, and it has been formed and trained for the Holy Trinity Fantasy Grind. The more variations you have, the more of them you lose. There is a notable segment that finds all context either unnecessary or abhorable and considers only how fast they can get the biggest numbers to be of any value. To them, maxing is the point of an MMO and while it sounds absurd and abstract, in practice, it is absolutely correct. That is the culture, and it is the only culture that won't cry foul and being charged a subscription fee.

If you want to make an MMO for a different culture you have to either A) create a new culture or B) NOT charge a subscription fee. If you choose A, as Planetside has, and don't do it right (timing, catering, marketing) you are going to have smaller numbers. Maybe too small.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 10:47AM Miffy said

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I loved Planetside but the problem is it came before WoW and the MMO genre didn't appeal to FPS players back then. Also SOE stopped putting funds into the game in development to focus on EQ2 and SWG so the game was half the game it woulda been at launch. Then SOE gave the developers 3 months from launch until Sept to do an expansion pack with no testing which was shit and alot of people left the game because they were getting bored of capturing the same bases. Then BFRS came in and I remember everyone quit cause they sucked so much and the subs never came back. Since then SOE hasn't marketed it and has really patched it all the much, lots of the same bugs still exist and it doesn't even work on Vista without having to go to the forums to get help. SOE ruined another gem and you know if it was made by Blizzard or someone then the story would be different. Shame cause Planetside will never come around again, such a unique game and coulda been a whole lot better. I quit college to play this game throughout 2003.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 11:01AM (Unverified) said

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Of course there is a place for the MMOFPS, but the genre’s success depends entirely on its design and implementation. Can you imagine Team Fortress 2’s style and theme expanded to a persistent world? I imagine a huge success if it did.

One thing that would help in the matter, is to remember that you are making a FPS first and foremost. After that you add a persistent world with MMO elements. Maybe include some base creation and destruction so your players can carve out their own little piece and call this world their home. The point being, if you have a good FPS game then your fans will follow and maybe appreciate all the extras a persistent world gives them.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 1:02PM (Unverified) said

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It seems that Global Agenda Online is trying to do this. A mixture of TF2, ET:QW and MMORPGS in an persistant online world. Whether or not it can be titled as a MMO is another question. But as long as the game itself is fun and has a good game design I do not care. Fact is, most recent MMORPGs were good at following the typical formula: throw in classes, lots of items to farm fort, bosses, a world, PvP here and there, add in some instances - ding, ding - and we have a new game - without providing a solid and fresh game design.

Being a long time FPS player I am really looking into the upcoming FPS games. Because auto-targeting, watching cooldowns of spells or watching cast-times (Zzzz) isn't my thing at all. The pace of Guild Wars, though, was actually not bad. But still the combat feels more like chess due to the controls of the game.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 11:45AM (Unverified) said

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Like someone else said, PS was wayyyy ahead of it's time.

IMHO it's most unique feature was not only it was a FPS but the world was completely open and persistant and to some extent, explorable. Nothing stopped you from wandering anywhere / planet / place other then opposing firepower.
A quality that has been lost on most new MMO's that have turned to more traditional shooter features like "maps" aka "battlefields/grounds".

It's a shame no one has revisited what PS tried to do.

IMHO, PS will go the way of the Matrix but it is unjuctified. SOE never put anything into the game and let it die (just like Matrix) Becasue of it's timing the industry ignored it and moved in a different / more conventional and less risky direction. Then WoW hit changing the face of MMO devs up to this point and we got an endless parade of broken fantasy clones for 6 years now.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 11:51AM Slayer said

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I love me some PlanetSide. I just don't like playing games that may eventually get shut down.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 12:08PM J Brad Hicks said

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I was a huge Neocron fan for a very long time (I despair of ever again getting to play an MMO in a world as pretty and as cool and as detailed as Neocron City was), and there's a problem with MMOFPSes that you haven't mentioned.

The dirty little secret of MMOs is that because of communications lag and server-side lag, you and the other people around you don't "see" exactly the same thing. The person you're aiming at can easily be (on their screen) anywhere from 5 even 50 feet away from where it looks (to you) like they're standing. Including, gods help us, around a corner where they can't see you, where they're sure you can't see them.

Without much better synchronization than anybody has ever managed in an MMO, FPS combat leaves the referees having to deal with an endless stream of complaints about (mostly non-existent) aim-bots and hacked clients letting people shoot through walls and around corners. Even if you can explain to your customers what is really going on that's making the game look like that, the best you can hope for is that every several minutes, your players will be very powerfully and annoyingly reminded of just how buggy your combat engine is.

Unsurprisingly, most successful MMOs have mostly relied on melee combat, and removed most actual tactical considerations in favor of (as you say) theorycrafting and other strategic considerations. More's the pity.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 12:42PM Aganazer said

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The Chronicles of Spellborn is definitely worth mentioning in this article. It has one of the best twitch based combat systems we have seen in the genre. For twitch based RPG systems I would put it on par with the DDO combat system. Its much much better than Darkfall's combat system which did get mentioned.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 1:22PM (Unverified) said

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I think we are going to see more and more genre of games come out in MMO flavouring. RPG's were the start, and now we are seeing more FPS MMO's, and you could argue that we have some casual mini-gaming MMO's with Free Realms. But expect to see RTS MMO's (Warhammer 40K?), Strategy MMO's (Cities XL?), and various other genres of gaming.

MMO's have such a huge appeal because they are persistent and social. Once companies learn to move away from the subscription model and go with box sales and RMT, you'll see the MMO market grow more and more.

Games like Planetside would have been far more successful if they didn't try to rely on a subscription model. Many other MMO's would be wise to try to drop the subscription model and move to RMT. Box sales, but subscription just limits your audience too much.

People always wonder what the WoW killer will be. It won't be a game. It will be the subscription cost. Too many other options coming out that don't require that huge commitment. I got enough monthly bills already, thank you very much.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 1:48PM Anatidae said

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A game like Planetside could do well with a micro-transaction model. Even where you can pay a few dollars a month to rent a vehicle, otherwise your a foot solider.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 1:44PM esarphie said

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The largest problem in with FPS style gaming has always been the communication delays. Various shooters have tried various position predicting algorithms to try to smooth this out, but nothing beats keeping that communications rate down in the under 50 ms ping rate. This is one reason why in this age of world-wide computer connections the ultimate shooter game event has always been the LAN party.

Trying to bring the FPS into an MMO runs straight into this speed problem head-on. Unless you just happen to live near a game server, your speed to server is going to be fairly high by twitch gaming terms. Add in the time to process by the server, with possibly tens of thousands of connected accounts to an MMO world this might not be an inconsiderable amount, plus the travel back time to any opposing players... and all of a sudden you're talking delays that have a huge impact on a fast-moving game.

To put it in more concrete terms, say you have a 500 ping to a game server, and you shoot someone. It takes half a second for your shot to hit the server, then another half second to hit the opponent's computer, plus some more time to process the packets. During that second plus, he stepped a foot to the right and behind a tree, so from his perspective you shoot him through a tree, while you see him stand there, take your shot, then move for cover.

Age of Conan ran up against this in their original plans to have active shield use and parrying. They found that it's hard to parry a sword swing that actually took place a second earlier. They ended up compromising with a directional shield system straight out of a space game... yeah, I know, concentrating defenses in a direction... but seriously, little stacked arcs around you is pretty standard force-field indication.

What all this means to me is that I'd be surprised to see any serious FPS mmos that actually work well in the near future. Until broadband speeds reach the point where we're all just 5ms away from a game server any fast moving, manually aimed combat system will be endlessly frustrating.

Don't get me wrong, there are exceptions that work due to their mechanics. Any persistant-motion vehicle combat can work, like Air Warrior (once upon a time) or Jumpgate. I'd think an automobile based combat game would also work... too bad the only one ever attempted went with auto-attack. (I still think if AutoAssault had followed the Interstate 76 style of combat it would have succeeded.) Either that or something where relative movement is slow enough that lag isn't an issue like Pirates of the Burning Seas, or a Mechwarrior style game can work as a shooter.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 2:10PM Anatidae said

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Maybe I don't get it, but it seems that the FPS mulitplayer games work just fine. Back in the day I was playing Tribes and Tribes 2 with huge teams on each side and the shooting through a wall issue was not that big of a deal. And today games like TF, Unreal, etc... can have larger teams with little complaints about lag effects.

I can see how when Planetside came out, the additional strain on a server cluster handling 1000s of players instead of 32 to 64 might have caused additional latency in the gameplay. Bugs and bad coding making it worse. However, with the advancement of processing power, it seems technically feasible to design a server architecture that can handle large numbers of players in a FPS setting.

But, I have not been involved in game programming now for about 6 years. So I really can't speak to the advancements in the tools available.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 3:48PM Stanzig said

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Best mmo I have ever played, and I'm very nostalgic of EQ. If any company could make a game similar to PS I would be all over it. I’ve never played another mmo where a lowbie can compete with the elite.

I don't understand why anything currently in development for mmofps has to be a third person shooter. Is this because everyone is used to seeing their character run around in wow? I'd really like to see some realism, not all this bunny hopping while you frag people at 10x normal speed as in typical fps.

Sticky targeting and small scale maps with awesome graphics should really be scrapped if someone wants to make a great game. Planetside had both first and third person, but you can't actually do combat in third. You can however see around corners, etc. (which I always hated, should be reserved for piloting vehicles only). I'll be sad to see this mmo go away. It really is one of a kind and no other pvp game comes close to the epic battles that are possible in Planetside, that go on days! The only time sink involved is having fun. Rank for the most part makes no difference in your ability to get kills. PS is a game of skill and tactics in most areas (some weapons do need balancing...).

I can only hope someone who has played and loves this game develops a similar game with crafting, resources, and vehicular combat included. I pray for world of starcraft (starcraft ghost), or eve-online walking in stations to somehow eventually be like Planetside. Sony really dropped the ball on promoting this game. It will be missed. Current mmofps developers really need to look at sacrificing graphics for massive scale, realistic, epic battles before I ever think about touching their game.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 5:22PM (Unverified) said

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I'm upset no one has mentioned how well thought out of an article this is, probably the best article I've read on any MMORPG based website. THANK YOU.

I think the points you make are fantastic. The idea of a tactical approach that an MMORPG takes while an FPSMMO is skill based. MMOs are based heavily on communication and an FPSMMO would not allow your fingers to be as free as an MMORPG.

I haven't played Planetside so perhaps I am missing out on a great example of what I don't think will work in an MMO setting.

Progression vs. Skill:
Fighting in an MMORPG you normally see a numbers game before you even begin. While there is strategy/skill in how you approach a class (Rogue trying to kill a Warrior Pre-BC WoW was SKILL), a lot of it is a numbers game. Have you all the gear from this dungeon? Have you spent your time in game to earn what you do to dominate your opponent? Most people, and remember most people involves casuals as the primary audience because they make up the largest % of gamers, HATE this idea of "I spent more time I get better stuff, I kill you easier." Sadly because the idea of an MMO was a world where you LIVE in essentially. Blizzard has made the MMO a popular game experience because its made it possible for a casual player to enjoy the MMO format. I appreciate Blizzard for opening up the market, I think it is good for video game companies, but I am upset at the trend it has created in the gamers mind of "I should be able to accomplish everything despite my time commitment." People now-a-days want everything and want it NOW, without the commitment.

So saying all of that it translates into how an MMORPG model does NOT sit well with the FPS gamer type. FPS gamers want to be on equal level and let skill be the way that the PWN or get PWNED (god I hate that word). The point of a persistent world is that you spend time in it. No one will spend time in a world where they gain nothing from it. So you must be given SOMETHING for time put in. So inherently, a persistent world demolishes the FPS player's desire for a level playing field. So the skill aspect will get watered down because people with the best gear wont require as much skill or tactics to take down a weaker enemy. If the weaker opponent isn't having fun they will just quit.

No skill involved, FPS players will get upset. Having to aim yourself, RPG players will get upset as the tactics requires the twitch.

How to make them both happy is a crap shoot. The only thing I can see working is the model that APB seems to be going with, 100 people in a small shard. The goal will be similar to that of Counter-Strike. Because with a smaller playing field there is more likely to be consistent controlled action as opposed to an open worlds wandering which will have players wondering "why can't I just jump into action?"

I don't see it working, anyone have any thoughts of how these polar opposite concepts could work? I've debated this with friends a lot and really want closure on it!

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 9:50PM (Unverified) said

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I would have to disagree with you that FPS = No Tactics.

Sure... the killing part would probably require a twitch skill but if you are to complete a objective you would need tactics.

Capture the Flag, Capturing Points, Sieging and many others

You can't compelete these just by yourself, even if you ARE the best player in the game.
I think i speak for both FPS and MMORPG that once you have the flag, pretty much everyone on the opposite team would try to kill you, you would need your team mates to protect you while you do this.
For capturing points you would need a group to capture points and also protect them from the enemy.
Sieging you would all your team mates to charge in at once, and so forth.

A good example of tactics and team play in a FPS is Team Fortress 2 and Kill Zone 2.
Because each class has it's own strong point and weak point, it provides lots of options for team play.

But ofcourse all I'm talking about here is PvP.
But it wouldn't be so hard to add in a team play or tactics element in instances or quests.
Fallout 3 is a good example. Just charging into a bunch of enemies with a pistol isn't a good idea. I remember running around being chased by 5 monster mutant thingies for a few mintues before i was able to kill them off one by one.
If you ever played Call of Duty World at War, the zombie level is very fun playing with your friends, having to work together to keep the zombies out and constantly repairing and shooting the zombies while trying spread out evenly and watching each others backs.

I beleive the MMO FPS formula is possible, it's just that it's still a new genre that people are still experimenting with it.
Next year would be a amazing year with many of these MMO FPS titles coming out, I know everyone of them would have their Pros and Cons, but future developers would be able to learn from them and keep moving the MMO FPS genre forward.

Posted: Jun 20th 2009 9:32PM (Unverified) said

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I appreciate your response.

I think that my tactics vs skill is a debated topic itself. Do tactics involve skill? Can they work independently?

I think they both include a piece of the other. I think it takes skill to be tactical and it takes tactics to bring out the skill of a player. When I used "tactics" i think I used it loosely.

MMORPGs use timed spell rotations and proper positioning while an FPS is based off a twitch system. Both require an incredible amount of skill (well as long as the developers don't make something OP :P ), but just different types of skill.

So here is what makes them so different. Think of the gameplay of an RPG as two stages and the FPS as two stages...

1. Click or Tab target.
2. Employ a series of spells that encompass different effects. Proper use of spells will give you the advantage.

1. Targeting/placing cross-hair on the enemies head is the primary purpose of this genre. This is where the skill lies.
2. Click with whatever weapon you chose prior to shoot with.

I hear people talk about the targeting as being the primary difference, but I feel like they miss out on half of the other argument. There are two steps to the way they are played. The FPS first step is more complex than its second step and RPGs are the complete opposite.

RPGs enable calculations to make the difference. Since you are already targeted the skill lies in muscle memory of your skills. Recognition of how your enemy plays and knowing your enemies class.

FPSs don't specifically allow for calculations because it isn't a numbers game as to how quickly you get to the enemy players head. So progression will rely in a step that seems too simple, a single click. So progression and complexity in an FPS will only make the enemy player seem to be a cheater.

Posted: Jun 19th 2009 9:36PM (Unverified) said

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The only downside i beleive of fastpased MMOs or FPS MMOs is that the quests are reallllllllllllly BORING!!!!!

For some reason killing 10 wolfs while pressing buttons on my spell bar is more intresting than jumping around and pushing my mouse button.

I loved Tabula Rasa's PvP (even though it was optional) and grouped instances. I think they were probably the reason why i stilled kept on playing TR on a 1.6ghz laptop with only a 256kbps connection :P

But really... the quests just got so old.... it felt like i was playing Serious Sam 3 or somthing..... just mindlessly shooting at everything that moves.........

Sine quests are one of the major parts of a MMO, if they don't make them intresting, you loose your players right there.

Let's just see how Global Agenda, Earth Rise, Fallen Earth, All Points Bullent, Jump Gate Evolution and..... all the other FPS MMOs coming out do.
If they can fix the quest issue, i think they have a pretty solid FPS MMO

Posted: Jun 20th 2009 12:34AM (Unverified) said

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I think you're wrong. The MMOFPS model will likely be less to do with kill x and more to do with capturing, eliminating, etc. Quest are major parts of an MMO, but not because players enjoy them. Making it the best way to level up gives the developer control over rate of progression. Most people would rather start maxed out and become interested in the meat(PvP, Raiding, RP). The treadmill quest model is something of the past, at least in the manner of EQ/WoW. Questing in this new generation seems more in line with character and story building than the ones of today.

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