Interview: Rogue Planet Games Talks 10 Years Of PlanetSide 2


For the past 10 years, Rogue Planet Games has been developing the massively multiplayer online game Planets 2. To celebrate this momentous achievement, we sat down with some developers to talk about what it has been like creating one of the most popular MMOs of all time. Read on to find out their favorite moments, as well as their insight into what makes Planets 2 so special!

This through line from gamer to developer isn’t brand-new in MMOs, nor is it special to Planets 2, but its fitting that a gamer who invested their time using insights into what players wanted out of the video game in its earliest days is now the one listening to players in its newest ones.

These special and novel experiences are what drew me and some pals to the MOPS years ago. The concept of having the ability to not just jump in and make a difference on the planet in a small method, but participate in enormous, intense battles for control over a world was compelling. And for numerous it is still compelling even today. Enhancements to the formula are always going to be needed, even for the best experiences out there.

Throughout its life, Planets 2 has actually seen over 17 million accounts produced to delve into the fray. Because time, players have actually combated on Planets 2’s lots of continents for 506,271,035 hours.

A few of those examples Michael provided were the intro of Bastion fleet carriers, or the Colossus Tank. A current example might be the introduction of the Other continent, specifically the complete overhaul of water physics, including the ability to battle underwater now. These types of updates essentially change the mathematics in a battle situation, but likewise enable new and exciting methods to play the MOPS that keeps veteran gamers engaged, while also drawing the attention of brand-new players to the MMO.

Considering that introducing in 2012, Planets 2 has seen massive change in our industry, and some even near home. Launching back throughout the Sony Online Entertainment days, Planets 2 has gone through its own share of growing discomforts, with designers, creative leads and more going and coming during its lifetime. It saw the change over from SOE to Daybreak Games, and has actually lived through the most recent acquisition that has seen Daybreak enter into EG7, while PS2 has actually been spun off into its own advancement business within Daybreak, Rogue Planet Games.

It’s not just creating these experiences themselves, but also the ambition behind them, and not being afraid to possibly change swathes of the MOPS for the better. Henderson points out that with video games as a service-style video games, like Planets 2, it can be difficult to create significant updates and material while still staying real to the core of the video game.

However, what that staying power really boils down to, according to Creative Director Michael Henderson, is Planets 2s uniqueness, and Rogue World Games capability to tap into that unique feeling to provide, what he calls, unique experiences.

Throughout its lifetime, Planets 2 has seen countless updates, additions, and a lot more, however the core of the long-standing MOPS has stayed the exact same: large scale, integrated arms fights that see gamers contending for territory across the numerous continents in Planets 2. This tight, extremely well-tuned gun play, along with simply the sheer scale of a few of the fights, has actually kept gamers returning year over year.

While every MMO goes through growing discomforts, population fluctuations, and more, Planets 2 has actually stood the test of time thanks in part to a passionate, active neighborhood who are still visiting day in and day out to take part in among the only genuine massive MOPS titles on the marketplace. It feels distinct in the landscape of MMOs out there, standing on its own with a vibrant sandbox that sees gamers contesting continents, structures and more each day. The comparisons to EVE Online are apt thanks to it being a massive impact on Planets 2s sandbox too. Gamers determine the circulation of these battles, and gamer dropped bases thanks to PS2s construction system can help keep things fresh compared to the static bases that dot the map.

You know, what I believe it actually boils down to is having the ability to re-engage through intriguing and possibly even unique experiences, Henderson informed in an interview last month.

I think games as a service, there can just be excessive accretion, and it can be extremely tough to continue to keep the core of the game as strong a foundation as you discovered it after years, Henderson states. So the interest of being able to re-engage the neighborhood. I think it’s the aspiration of the types of updates that were creating. There have been so many times throughout the games’ history where we’ve not reinvented it, but gotten quite close.

In a market where MMO and other live service games can reoccur as rapidly as the wind, for one to stand the test of time is a big offer. It’s an even larger one when that MMO is more specific niche than even this niche category: a full PVP MOPS that pits hundreds and thousands of gamers against each other in a continuous fight for supremacy over a world. Planets 2 is such a video game, having celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

Remarkably, Michael got his start in Planets 2 as a player who developed popular YouTube videos about the MOPS after launch. However, a couple of years later he was transferring to San Diego to sign up with the Rogue World Games group, assisting to shape the future of the game. Because former executive manufacturer Andy Sites stepped down in 2021, Henderson and Chris Farrah have been co-leading Rogue World Games, bringing the MOPS into the next years.

Structure on the past for the future

One area where any MMO, despite whether it’s a standard tab targeting RPG or an ever-evolving FPS sandbox like Planets 2 needs to improve throughout the years is its foundation. As innovation advances and player hungers for different types of content expand, a game needs to have the ability to adapt and develop with those patterns.

10 years on, Planets 2 is continuing to do that, most recently showcased with the new Expedition Other release previously this year. Technical Director Brad Heinz has been here since the start, building the facilities that Planets 2 depends upon, from repeating on the engine to dealing with the technical side to assist in the gamer counts that this MOPS counts on to develop interesting battles anytime.

It’s not simply what the players have actually stated they desire that helped to form Planets 2s trajectory over the last decade, however also the designers own experiences, both in other video games and making other games. As more devs have signed up with the Rogue World team over the course of PS2s lifetime, that experience and those concepts have helped to form the MOPS for the better.

So you’re always taking pieces of what you’ve learned somewhere else and folding it in, states Heinz. And there are things that we desired to do initially with Planets 2 that maybe fell off because they were too ambitious, too huge. Pieces from Planets 1 that we intended to have that we were not able to get in.

Early on prior to the preliminary launch of Planets 2, then head of Sony Online Entertainment John Smedley and previous creative director Matt Rigby specified in interviews that PS2 was heavily influenced by EVE Online sandbox, as well as FPS titles like Call of Responsibility and Battlefield 2. Over the years these impacts have changed with the market, as well as the individuals in it, assisting to bring more concepts to Planets 2.

Planets 2 uses its own proprietary engine to accomplish all of this, which suggests that when there is a big addition, like the new water in Other, to add in, Brad mentions that the group has to do some of that all by themselves.

That’s what were constantly trying to do, were attempting to execute things, but still just include to the toolbox. Particularly if we can include things for the designers where they can type of go off and try things on their own and see if they can make things take place that are enjoyable and fascinating.

We’ve tried to keep adding things to keep having things for players to do, Heinz informed us in our interview. Obviously, what the gamers like to do shapes that.

Heinz in fact is a holdover from the initial Planets games, and he’s accountable for assisting to create the lots of systems that power Planets 2. On the whole, he’s contributed to the MOPS development because 2012, consisting of the huge undertaking of building the systems needed to power Other previously this year.

Heinz informs us that their physics implementation didn’t really have a good concept of how to do volumetric water. Effectively it worked like an aircraft: if you were above the airplane, you were above water, if you were below it, you were in the water. The team had to effectively develop out this new system that resulted in the brand-new water mechanics for Other. As a result, it allows the Planets 2 team to construct on their past to inevitably assist create brand-new experiences moving into the 2nd decade.

Evolving the tone

Now however, as PBR is the requirement for numerous video game engines, Rapids mentions the team has actually gone back and polished those older assets that were not quite dialed into what we would think about today’s industry standard. The art team likewise tried to restore some of Planets 2s character that may have been lost throughout the last years also.

Other is likewise an example of developing not just the tone, however likewise the gameplay and shaking it up after 10 years. Others makeover included vibrancy that drew me back into Planets 2 when it first hit, however it likewise shakes veteran gamers out of their comfort zone according to Rapids. Bringing a new location with such a different fee, along with brand-new fight zones assists evolve not simply the appearance, however the real core gameplay that is essential to everything a player does.

We took more impact about developing a sense of identity to our soldiers so that you would look cool without constantly having to show that huge, bright primary all over, Alien tells. That opened us as much as a lot more variety. And the game has enabled us to include a bit of humor from time to time; a bit of theming that we didn’t perform in the very start..

The technical foundations are constantly being modified as well to support the players as well as the designer’s visions. Moments of stress occur when there are a heap of players in one area together, consisting of the times when Planets twos gamers have actually broken world records, cramming over 1200 players into a single space.

The concept was for an arena, but it had to feel like it was off world, some asteroid. I was able to create a single time of day, which offers more control over the lighting and look.

The look of the MMO needs to evolve as well, keeping up with the current making strategies out there so that the MMO doesn’t look as dated as it may otherwise. With the current 10th anniversary update, the group has updated a lot of the art possessions used to provide the video game a fresh coat of paint moving into the next decade.

PlanetS ides team has actually likewise branched out into other tasks over the decade, with its short-term Planets Arena releasing in late 2019, just to be shuttered in early 2020. Nevertheless, while Planets Arena might not have actually succeeded, it wasn’t a waste, as numerous of the enhancements made to Arena were later on given Planets 2, such as DirectX 11 assistance.

It’s not just a simple water system. It is a volumetric location system. If we wanted to create lava, or mud, or some other possession or something that had various kind of homes, we would be able to use it for that..

Being able to iterate quickly and make material that is compelling is also another quality that Alien believes the Rogue World team has actually been able to leverage to assist Planets 2 stand the test of time.

However, those challenges and puzzles can in some cases lead to great systems that power the future of Planets 2. One example given was the mission system and the campaign system which were carefully associated. Brad discusses that on the back end where his group works, the way these systems were executed offered a lot of versatility to the designers on Planets 2.

If INDAR was a bit of whatever, Rapids explains, big open environments without a lot of line of sight blockers, tight canyons with a lot of crevices, and then highlands with deep valleys; Samir was entirely open, there was a lot of danger from air, so you had to be careful when you move from place to place. Airplanes vision was truly obscured, and they had to combat and fly in tight channels..

Henderson indicates events in the MOPS and content drops that have shaken the structure of a few of the most crucial maps, such as exploding the Warp gate on Samir or developing the brand-new Sanctuary zone to assist create a little downtime to kick back in a social area. Or even, as Alien explained, the Desolation maps easy appeal of its lighting he is especially happy of.

But as the years have actually gone on, the art group has had the ability to develop the tone and look of Planets 2, giving it its own vibrancy and life while still remaining real to its roots.

If a video game is constantly launching the exact same formula on its maps over and over, Alien describes. At the end of the day, it’s just a green map, then the blue map with a red map. If different maps require various tactics, different devices, it really changes up the play design..

At the start, environment art lead Alien Rapids, says that Planets 2s primary plan seemed like you were playing a zoomed-in RTS. In the early days of Planets 2, the appearance of the MMO was something that, as Rapids puts it, was a little toy-like..

However, while Brad specifies it can be demanding, the special challenges developing a live service facing his group are simply part of the gig.

Rapids has actually been dealing with Planets 2s art group since the beginning also, assisting to form the appearance and visual tone of the MOPS for the last 10 years. Releasing with 3 continents-Indar, Samir, and America, the PS2 team has actually contributed to that with the swampy Hos sin, the small island of Kilter, the battle islands of Desolation and Nexus, in addition to the recent release Other. While there are some areas that share design language (such as America and Kilter), there have actually been locations that the environment group has assisted to produce that completely alter how you approach encounters throughout the lifetime of the MMO.

We tried to restore a few of the color grading in the zones that was probably drawn back a little to make the video game a little more grounded in reality, however lost a few of its character in the wake. We’re just taking a step back towards some of that intense color..

Keeping Planets 2 Fresh.

There are a lot of unique difficulties when you make a video game like Planets 2 due to the fact that there’s no map for how to do it due to the fact that very few people have actually done it, and really few people have done it well. We have to be able to keep the game running, even if everyone on the continent desires to go stand in the exact same area and fire their guns.

One thing Brad mentioned in our interview that I found interesting was his desire as a technical architect was to assist build systems that might enable the designers to truly develop and do new and intriguing things in Planets 2. As Brad put it, that exact same water mechanic that was designed for Other doesn’t have to stop at water.

Reflecting on ten years of Planets 2, and its future.

When Planets 2 first introduced, physically based rendering in video games was just beginning to get its footing. So successfully the Rogue World group would paint the color of a product, then you’d paint the shininess, and then the regular map of the texture.

One thing I’m actually happy of is how nimble our team is, Alien stated. I see other games, and you understand, they have like an update a month, an upgrade every 2 months.

10 years is an eternity in the video game space, especially in the MMO world where a game could be and release canceled within the span of a year. For Planets 2 to stand the test of time here is a testament to the studio, but also the gamers who have actually helped form the neighborhood that has rallied around Planets 2 to keep it going all this time.

Everyone has their preferred moments from their time in-game, and the development group is no various. When requested a preferred moment over the last 10 years, either as a gamer or as a designer, Michael mentions that it was difficult to come up with just 1. And while Other is something the whole development group seems to be very happy with and thrilled for what it gives Planets 2, there was a moment where Michael said the event felt really old-school Planets..

We’ve done a lot of structure over the previous 2 years and a lot of systems work. And now I believe we need to sort of refine what Planets is and loop some loose ends and keep it an experience gamers will have no choice but to keep returning to.

And in combating in the northeastern part of the map, which is where the warp gate blew up, the project will take you there, that felt very Planets. And those experiences that I hallmark as really Planets: its running and shooting while automobiles are driving up next to you and airplane are yelling overhead or like you’re chasing off opponents.

Surprisingly, Michael got his start in Planets 2 as a player who produced popular YouTube videos about the MOPS after launch. Early on before the initial launch of Planets 2, then head of Sony Online Home Entertainment John Smedley and previous creative director Matt Rigby mentioned in interviews that PS2 was heavily affected by EVE Online sandbox, as well as FPS titles like Call of Responsibility and Battleground 2. There are a lot of unique obstacles when you make a video game like Planets 2 since there’s no map for how to do it due to the fact that extremely few people have done it, and very few individuals have done it well. And while Other is something the whole advancement team appears to be really happy of and delighted for what it brings to Planets 2, there was a moment where Michael said the event felt very old-school Planets..

The group isn’t stopping either. Henderson states that, like every professional, the group needs to continue to develop their craft.

Planets 2 is such a video game, having actually commemorated its 10th anniversary this year.

As long as the gamers are here for Planets, Planets 2 will continue to be here for the players..