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PlanetSide 2: The Rum and Cola Interviews

Tramell Ray Isaac and Matt Higby talk to ZAM about everything from player tutorials to player owned motherships for PS2.

Being an unabashed fan of PlanetSide 2 (PS2) – TR represent – it was with no small sense of anticipation that I sat down with “King of the Vanu” and Senior Art Director, Tramell Ray Isaac and the New Conglomerate rabble rouser, Creative Director, Matt Higby.

Excitement surrounding PlanetSide 2 reached fever pitch at SOE Live in Las Vegas – where, across a couple of days, I interviewed PS2’s most outspoken developers. Partly due to the announced November 20 launch of their game, both devs were brimming with enthusiasm.

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The theme of SOE Live was empowering players to create their own experiences. With this in mind, I asked what the team had planned for promoting outfits, particularly the rivalry between outfits that can add even more competition and teamwork to the game. Isaac was clear that adding functionality to improve that aspect was being planned:

“I think our appearance on Friday Night Ops was the first effort to do something on a smaller scale. What we really want to do is give PlanetSide 2 players an outlet to play in tournaments or outfit vs. outfit or even squad vs. squad. Me challenging Higby to a 12 vs. 12, we didn’t exactly get to the point of having a private server but we’re working toward that.

In the future we want an outfit to challenge another outfit, actually have a three way challenge on a private server going on, where you can fight for supremacy or fight for points, then at the end of the month you take the best TR group on the map this month and they get whatever. We want to give people that option to go into that competitive mode, without taking away from the real game.

What we’ve talked about is outfits accumulating points across a month and then at the end of the month if they want to challenge another outfit in the top 10 then they can do so.”

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The subject of outfits led me to talk to Matt Higby about the development of in-game voice for PlanetSide 2. The flexibility and practicality of VoIP in PS2 is striking. The ability to talk to your outfit, your squad and anyone in the nearby vicinity gives a natural social interaction and utility that isn’t present in any other game in quite the same way. Higby said it was a very important part of the game’s development for him personally:

“It’s funny because when we were first talking it, I was very excited about doing it. The game requires a lot from players, it has a steep learning curve, so I wanted to create a tool which would let the advanced players be able to seamlessly teach the less advanced players; which is what I think proximity chat does. When we were first talking about proximity chat there were so many people who said “That is dumb, I’ll turn it off as soon as I can. I’m never going to use that; I’ll always be on TeamSpeak.”

But it works seamlessly and it’s ubiquitous and I think having that helps us tighten our user groups. That helps a lot as the game is all about community.”

Page 2: Higby and Isaac talk New Player Experience and Continent Design>>>

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