Pale Rider Gaming

Planetside 2 is an amazing piece of technology. As a game platform it is quite fun. Unfortunately it is getting trashed in the game design aspect. The whole alert system has stumbled like a drunk who has pissed all over himself badly while shuffling down the sad ally of shittiness.
But first… the obligatory picture of a dog taking a shit.
“hey, we’ll do this for the Alert system.”
Once upon a time it was pretty simple. Whoever holds the most territory at the end of a period of time won, continent closes and everyone moves onto the next map. The reward for winning was various depending on the continent. Half price Max suits, Half price ground vehicles etc…. These were strategic, and worth fighting for.
However, after wacking the employees and closing down the buildings (the one that had the flood was demolished a couple of weeks ago) and getting some sour grapes from the community it became evident…”we must look like we are doing something to continue the products”. So …. some old artwork was found and slapped in as “new” transition screens (Copyright is 2014 on them in case you didn’t notice). A little more digging, and the Ant system was found in the repo. Well… lets finish it up and stick it out there! Bada-bing … we have new / old content.
Along with the Ant system, the alerts were changed. They turned into “who ever builds the most hives wins”. Points for biolabs, warp gate touches etc… The reward for winning a continet was dumbed down. Over all, it was a bad change. Alerts started to suck, people started to ignore them or pay minimal attention. The alerts would go like this, Alert starts, one faction builds a shitload of hives, alert end at 20 VP.  Territory control started to matter less. It turned into a “check off list”. Whoever burns through the check-off list faster wins. Get Biolabs, check. Touch VS warpgate, check. Touch NC warpgate, check. Touch TR warpgate, check. Build shitload of hives hanging off the edge of the map, check.
Not to be outdone though, the alert system got another overhaul. Lets take something crappy, and turn the lousiness dial up to eleven! Now the alert system is an abomination. It has turned into this short timed “whoever is in front needs to hold territory” thing. Was this dreamed up on a napkin? Was someone taking a dump, looked in the bowl before sending the load to the ocean and thought “wow, that is inspiring me, I think I’ll make the alert system mimic that curled up log”. What a fucking noob design. Now how does the alert go? Lets see…. who has the most population grabs the most territory and triggers the alert. The intent of this new alert system is that the other 2 factions gang up on them and try to grab territory in order to make them lose. If they win, they get a boobie prize. Everyone gets the ISO stuff that nobody buys. Now we get to the part where this alert system concept fails. Collusion in some cases. If you have 2 outfits in 2 factions, well you just have faction oufit #2 keep the 3rd faction busy.  Then outfit #1 wins, always. Another reason? “who-gives-a-fuck” kicks in. Since the time period is so short, everyone looks at the map and makes a judgement call. They have too much pop, they hold too much territory, fuck it.
I suspect, the devs are few, perhaps inexperienced and overwhelmed. They do not have the resources to realy do anything cool. They are stuck just looking into that swirling bowl to see what nuggets they can employ.
So what the fuck would I do with the alert system? Well, having been in and out of the game industry for too many years, I’ve worked on spectacular successes as well as unbelievable crash-n-burns. Right now, guys, you are not heading down that “spectacular success” path. I would make the “lattice system” random when a continent opens up. The fixed lattice system means that everyone simply follows the same old paths between warpgates. It is now muscle memory. If you made the lattice lines randomly setup, then the dynamics would change on a continent openning up. You would then add a degree of strategy instead of “ok, lets all go to the Crown” drudgery. Some of those “lattice lines” would of course wind up between bases with no roads. This a bad thing? Nope. Now suddenly you have areas where you MUST have air battles. Galaxies, libs etc… scrapping over mountain ranges.  Guys fighting on foot in mountains. Then when the alert starts? Just time the fucking thing (1 or 2 hours) and whoever holds the most wins. IF you want to be a smarty pants, make two lattices change connection every 5 minutes (cut one, add one). Suddenly territories would get cut off and added into a set of links. Game becomes dynamic. No need for this ever convoluted alert dog shit that is evolving. Guys, often times simple is better.
And while you are at it, stop tweeking the maps & art. It’s not impressing anyone. The endless mesh tugging and base tweeking. The small art changes. That IS NOT THE PROBLEM with anything. If anything, you are making matters worse.
While at it I would stop the “nerf”/”buff” cycle on weapons. Gather data from the kills, generate metrics. Automate the balance (we have computers that add and divide). Make it dynamic and slow so weapons/armor gradually change and balance between factions. Use damage, bullet drop, reload speed etc.. as variables that slowly change. Have it done once a week using the previous weeks stats. Right now you are guessing, and guessing very poorly. You may as well throw darts at a wall with numbers with the current system. The players will ALWAYS outthink your efforts, and they will always gravitate to the best weapons and armor. Let the computer do the work of evening it out.
To the owners, hey guys you are bankers, remember it takes money to make money. Invest in PS2, EQ2 and give them legs for the future. Give your devs what they need to build these products for the future. Spend a few bucks, get someone with experience and depth (or a couple of people) who can steer the design away from shitness to good design. You do not know development or this market and do not realize what gems you are squandering. There titles are not totally dated and have features that can really give you a LOT OF MONEY if you invest in the products (instead of raiding old art and code bases). You could (Yikes!) advertise a bit too. Make it compelling to pick up the monthly subscription. Coming up with that horrid random number generator ISO crap was just a money grab (we all saw it for what it is). That was nothing but short term thinking, think about the long game. Get people to subscribe, think about that, not how do we squeeze a few bucks out of these suckers for as little cost as possible.
“Stop obsessing about becoming a fat rich cunt, If you think about making a great product great again, you will then become the fat rich cunt you want to be”
Oh…and give the Asians their server back. Those will be paying customers. That makes revenue.
So, no matter the cause of it (cheap owners, lazy or noob devs, too few devs, bad marching orders, whatever it is) …. this “Dog Cunt of the Week” goes out to bad game design.
See also  Business Card Design

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