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The Firing Line: PlanetSide 2's Matt Higby on the MMOFPS revolution

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, The Firing Line

The Firing Line interviews PlanetSide 2's Matt Higby
Sony Online Entertainment has begun carpet-bombing media outlets with publicity relating to its upcoming PlanetSide 2 MMOFPS. The game has been in development for quite a while now, but up until very recently the devs have kept a low profile. Now the title's Twitter feed is exploding on a daily basis, awe-inspiring alpha gameplay videos are finding their way into the public eye, and interviews abound.

I managed to get creative director Matt Higby's attention for a few moments, and he's got some interesting things to say about PS2's upside. Would you believe that MMOFPS is about to become a new industry buzzword? Read on after the break.

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The Firing Line: Epic SOE memories on PlanetSide's ninth anniversary

Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, PlanetSide, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Opinion, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, The Firing Line, Anniversaries

The Firing Line - Epic SOE memories on PlanetSide's ninth anniversary
So PlanetSide is nine years old this week (nine!), and Sony Online Entertainment is journeying down memory lane to look back at its ground-breaking MMOFPS. The firm is of course hard at work on the sequel, but some of the devs have taken a time-out to share their favorite memories with us.

Though the word "epic" is overused in MMO discourse, it's a recurring theme here. Due to the size, scope, and sheer ambition on display in the original PlanetSide, it's actually appropriate too. While you're reminiscing with the devs, take a stroll through our side-by-side gallery that compares vehicles and equipment from the original PlanetSide with their counterparts in PlanetSide 2.

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SOE games down Monday for 24-hour maintenance

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Pirates of the Burning Sea, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, Family

SOE logo
We imagine that the word downtime makes Sony Online Entertainment employees cringe, convulse, and eye-twitch for hours on end after last summer's disastrous hacker-induced service outage. Happily, though, the next service interruption is planned, and we've got plenty of notice.

SOE will be performing maintenance this Monday, April 23rd, and the firm says that all of its game services will be unavailable for approximately 24 hours. The downtime starts at 3:01 a.m. EDT. Commerce transactions and account management functionality will also be affected, so you might as well cross all of your SOE-related plans off Monday's calendar.

The Perfect Ten: Free-to-play holdouts

World of Warcraft, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XI, PlanetSide, Warhammer Online, Ultima Online, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten

Perfect Ten
In the increasingly diminishing field of subscription-only MMOs, two distinct camps have formed. There is the Old Guard that has its established playerbase and is simply not interested in jumping on board the F2P train, and then there are the New Kids on the Block (which would make an excellent band name, by the way), who argue that their premium features and AAA content warrant a subscription in the F2P age.

A few years ago, doing a list of the final few F2P holdouts would have been a ridiculous proposition, but now it's actually difficult to get to 10 of these. Each company has a different reason that it hasn't given these games more flexible payment options (FPO should replace F2P; pass it on!), and while some have addressed this publicly, others say nothing and leave us to speculate on it.

For today's Perfect Ten, we're going to look at the 10 biggest current F2P holdouts in the industry and muse about what's going on behind the scenes. Will this list be impossible to do in a few years or will subscription-only titles come back in a big way? Hey, I don't predict things; I just make lists.

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The Game Archaeologist: Bio break!

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, EverQuest, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Everquest Online Adventures, The Game Archaeologist

Anarchy Online
Man oh man, why couldn't I just take a month or so off of this column without getting sucked back into it? Why must classic MMOs be so compelling and newsworthy these days?

I planned to take some time off of TGA while I went through Dark Age of Camelot in Choose My Adventure (which you're all reading, yes?), but there was so much to talk about regarding older MMOs that I couldn't sit back and stay mum. Ergo, I've dashed off this special "break" column devoted to commenting on recent news about classic games. Hopefully this will help tide you over until I get back into the full swing of things in April.

On the docket for today's discussion is Vanguard's forthcoming F2P change, EverQuest's recent conversion, Anarchy Online's stunning graphic engine video, and more!

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The Firing Line: A couple of PlanetSide 2 concerns

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

The Firing Line - A couple of PlanetSide 2 concerns
Now that the glow of PlanetSide 2's GDC demo reveal is a couple of weeks back in the rear-view mirror, I've had time to digest it all and adjust my expectations of the game accordingly. Nothing I saw from Matt Higby and company dampened my enthusiasm for Sony Online Entertainment's MMOFPS opus, but a few things I didn't see are niggling at the back of my mind.

Don't get me wrong -- PS2 is still at the top of my most-anticipated MMO list, but there are a few points of contention that could relegate it to the status of fun diversion instead of zomg-must-play-every-day title.

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Massively Speaking Episode 189: GDC Tuesday

Betas, Podcasts, PlanetSide, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2
Massively Speaking Episode 189 is a special GDC edition hosted by two of our attendees, Shawn Schuster and Jef Reahard. The two assemble for a short, early-morning debriefing on yesterday's PlanetSide 2 demo, which as Shawn describes it, "pretty much blew [him] away." They compare the game to its predecessor and chat about the combat styles, immersion, interface, hype, and the massive feel of the game, even in alpha.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when the pair will be joined by fellow Massively staffers MJ Guthrie and Karen Bryan. Our ground crew will be reporting back on DUST 514, Trion Worlds, MechWarrior Online, and more over the next few days. (And don't worry; the Justin and Bree show will return next week.)

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Firing Line: Controller wars edition

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, PlanetSide, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Consoles, MMOFPS, DUST 514, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

The Firing Line - DUST 514 merc banner
Welcome back to The Firing Line, shooter fans. Some interesting stuff went down this week, much of it related to DUST 514. Even if you're not partial to what some have dubbed "the controller wars," there's still plenty of online shooter news for you to peruse after the cut.

Join me on the other side for a glimpse of Hawken, Firefall, and my PlanetSide character!

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Some Assembly Required: A virtual world roundup

Fantasy, Super-hero, Aion, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Darkfall, Dofus, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Final Fantasy XI, Flyff, Lord of the Rings Online, PlanetSide, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Second Life, Star Trek Online, Ultima Online, Vanguard, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Virtual Worlds, Mabinogi, Mortal Online, Wizard101, Runes of Magic, DC Universe Online, RIFT, Xsyon, Family, Post-Apocalyptic, Some Assembly Required, Sandbox, Origins of Malu

Some Assembly Required header
If you are perusing this column, chances are you are a fan of virtual worlds and the sandbox genre. Join the club! (Dues will be due on the third Tuesday.) The aspect that compels many aficionados to delve into a game is the ability to make an impact on the world in some small respect instead of making them into Hive Member 1593072 running a static, predetermined gauntlet. How that impact is accomplished, however, varies; there are multiple features that can facilitate it, and which ones are considered most important depends on the player.

With the loss of one of the best sandbox games just last month, some players may be feeling a void. Others still are looking/hoping for the "ultimate" sandbox that contains nearly every virtual world feature. Certainly, there are some upcoming games that make some drool-worthy promises, but what about playing something now? There are actually games out on the market that have at least one aspect of the genre, if not more.

To start off the new year, Some Assembly Required looks at some of the top features of virtual worlds and lists games that incorporate these features. While this list isn't exhaustive (considering the sheer number of games when you include all of the smaller free-to-play titles, I'd run out of column space!), it is a comprehensive enough overview to point you toward some games worth playing that perhaps you hadn't considered before.

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The Firing Line: The pleasures and pitfalls of PlanetSide 2

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, The Firing Line

The Firing Line - PlanetSide 2 trooper opens fire
My time in PlanetSide was a blur. It's also a ways back in the rear view mirror, and I've played so many MMOs in the interim that I can't even remember exactly when it was. The game originally shipped in May of 2003, and I was entrenched in Star Wars Galaxies from its June 2003 launch going forward. That would put my six week (de)tour with the Terran Republic somewhere circa 2004, maybe? I forget.

The point I'm getting around to, though, is that regardless of hazy dates, PlanetSide stands out as one of those seminal MMO experiences that showcased the possibility inherent in this particular genre. The upcoming reboot, then, should be pretty spectacular and deserving of some fanboi adulation, right?

Well, yes and no.

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The Game Archaeologist seals up 2011

A Tale in the Desert, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, Lineage, Meridian 59, PlanetSide, Shadowbane, Everquest Online Adventures, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

Guild Wars 2
You know what I love about the end of each year? The lists. Man, but I'm a sucker for lists, especially when they come in "best of" varieties. In the lull between Christmas and New Year's, there typically isn't a lot happening in the world of entertainment, so it's a good time to look back before we head forward.

And so it is for The Game Archaeologist. 2011 marks the second year I've been doing this column, and it's been one of my personal favorite series to write. Every week I'm learning more and more about the history of the MMO genre, and I'm encouraged to see just how much passion and interest there are for the titles that started it all and got us to where we are today.

So before we head into 2012, let's take one last glimpse back at the road we've traveled. If you've missed out on any of these columns or want to revisit your favorite classic MMO, I've compiled a huge list of everything I talked about this year, from histories to interviews to player stories. There's also a special request for you (yes, you) at the end of this column, so do me a favor and hit that jump!

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SOE gearing up for PlanetSide 2 dev chats

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2 - soldiers firing large guns
PlanetSide 2 is in the news again this week, but to be honest we don't know all the details as of yet. Sony Online Entertainment has sent out a press blurb stating that it will be "brief[ing] the troops on anything and everything related to the art of PlanetSide 2." This includes a chat with senior art director Tramell Isaac (whom die-hard fans will recognize as the art director on the original PlanetSide) scheduled for Tuesday, September 27th.

Tramell will be discussing "the original PlanetSide's legacy and influence on PlanetSide 2's art style, and how SOE's powerful ForgeLight engine will carry this vision forward."

Thursday brings a PlanetSide 2 webcast (also with a focus on art direction). After that, fans can look forward to a Twitter chat on Friday, and the dev team will be fielding multiple questions relating to the upcoming sci-fi MMOFPS.

SOE's services disrupted by massive California blackout [Updated]

EverQuest, EverQuest II, Pirates of the Burning Sea, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, Miscellaneous

A massive power outage that is affecting southern California this evening has severely hampered Sony Online Entertainment's services. The outage, which began during the late afternoon, has cut power to millions in San Diego, southern Orange County, and Palm Springs, as well as sections of Mexico across the border.

Because of this interruption, some of SOE's MMOs and websites have gone offline, as SOE's servers are located in San Diego. The company sent a brief note over Twitter and Facebook saying that players might not want to hold their breath at regaining these services tonight: "The San Diego power outage could persist throughout the night affecting login servers, forums, and websites. We appreciate everyone's patience as the City attempts to restore power."

According to authorities, power is expected to be restored by Friday.

[Update: Some of SOE's services, such as EverQuest II, Pirates of the Burning Sea, and Clone Wars Adventures, appear to be back up and running.]

Update #2: SOE tweeted the following on Friday morning: "We appreciate everyone's patience during the recent power outage. Power has been restored and all services should be back online."]

[Source: Twitter]

New PlanetSide 2 screenshots show troops in action

Sci-Fi, Galleries, PlanetSide, Previews, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2

In our opinion, there can't be enough news about Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming PlanetSide 2 these days, which is why we'll enthusiastically shake hands with Tony Park if we ever meet him. Park heads up The9, the Chinese publisher for PlanetSide, and he's posted a couple new screenshots of the hot title on his blog.

These PlanetSide 2 pics show armor-clad soldiers getting into position for action. It's interesting to note the distinctive colors that will surely help teammates differentiate friend from foe.

We heard a lot about this sequel to SOE's PlanetSide at Fan Faire, including the trailer, a general overview of the game, and an in-depth look with the developers. You can eyeball the new pics in the gallery below!

Gallery: PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2 info coming tomorrow

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, MMOFPS

Look lively PlanetSide 2 fans. Your long, dark winter is almost over and spring is coming in the form of a major new announcement on July 7th. That's tomorrow if you're counting at home, and Sony Online Entertainment has even provided a helpful countdown timer on the new PlanetSide 2 website to assist in said counting.

There's also a new Facebook page with a cryptic teaser for "classified information incoming," so mark your calendars and set your alarms for 7:00 p.m. PDT tomorrow.

Is SOE getting ready to drop a release date in the laps of eager sci-fi MMOFPS fans? Are there gameplay feature reveals in our immediate future? We're not sure at this point, but we are sure that tomorrow can't come fast enough.

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