Planetside 2 Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Planetside 2 RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network PlanetSide 2's Escalation Update Marks the Beginning of the Future https://www.gameskinny.com/40aes/planetside-2s-escalation-update-marks-the-beginning-of-the-future https://www.gameskinny.com/40aes/planetside-2s-escalation-update-marks-the-beginning-of-the-future Wed, 27 May 2020 16:09:14 -0400 Gabriel Moss

Ever since releasing in November 2012, the free-to-play MMOFPS PlanetSide 2 has survived, and enjoyed, nearly eight long years of life — a venerability that many of the long-dead MMORPG projects from the late 2000s and early 2010s could only dream of.

For nearly 17 years, PlanetSide and its sequel, PlanetSide 2, have occupied a niche of MMO-dom that broadly similar titles like World of Warcraft and even the Destiny series have never sought to venture upon: large-scale warfare — like that of a Battlefield game — with persistent characters and servers that can host massive assaults and battles between hundreds of concurrent players at one time.

Now that the franchise is approaching its 17th anniversary, developer and publisher Daybreak Game Company (previously Sony Online Entertainment, or SOE, until its reformation in 2015) has decided that it's finally time to kick things off for a new turn in the franchise's development. 

Under the command of Rogue Planet Games, the studio that spun off from Daybreak Game Company earlier in 2020 to focus solely on the development of the PlanetSide series, PlanetSide 2 has already launched a brand new update in 2020, called the Escalation update.

To gain a clearer insight into the update's development and what it means for the game, we sat down with Andy Sites, the Executive Producer of PlanetSide 2, and the head of Rogue Planet Games.  

GameSkinnyFrom the top, give me a state of the game, because I haven't really been following PlanetSide 2 since it launched in 2012. It's been eight years since I played it, and I know that Daybreak is kind of split off into three different micro-companies.

Andy SitesYeah. So, you know, as you mentioned, we launched the game almost eight years ago, back in November of 2012. And the game has been pretty healthy. But over the years, we've been declining a bit in players. And really over the last three years, the number of updates and features and content going out slowed down quite a bit.

Just because we'd pulled a lot of people off the team to help on the various other projects. And towards the end of last year, when the decision was made to spin off the sub studios, and to really ... [have] franchise-focused efforts by each one — with Rogue Planet being focused on PlanetSide 2 — we wanted to really kind of reengage and double down on the effort that we're putting into PlanetSide.

And like all MMOs, if it's successful, it could last not just eight years — it could last, like in EverQuest 1's case, 21 years or longer. So, towards the end of last year, we ended up ramping the team up to about three times the size of what it was.

Today, we're three times larger than we were just six months ago. And part of that was the roadmap that I had put together and the proposal to get the increased team size approved for this year. And ... rather than just talk about how we're going to improve the game, we wanted to show how we were going to improve the game through an actual meaningful, big update.

So we kind of went silent towards the end of the year. And then, when we announced the inception of Rogue Planet Games, we started interacting with the community a lot more. We were able to start getting more updates out just because of the increased team size. And then in early February, we announced the first big beat of our 2020 roadmap, which was the Escalation update.

AS: To say that we were confident in the features and everything ... we really had no idea we were gonna have the reaction that the community had when it was actually released. We had originally planned to roll it out towards the end of February and we started doing a lot of playtesting with the community. At first, it was invite-only for several weeks through our private public test server. And then once we decided that it was time to start scaling it up, that it would be just a little too difficult to do invite-only.

So in an effort to ensure that we were going to not only make a splash, but [that] it was going to be a really positive splash, we actually ended up delaying the update three weeks to the 11th of March. And we were a little concerned about delaying that long because we had announced the release date early in February, and we really wanted to stick to it. But at the same time, we knew that we had to get this right because we had a lot of eyes on us.

We've had over 16 million [players] on PC and PS4 since the game released. We wanted to get as many of those players to come back as possible, so we knew we needed this update to be highly polished and really stable. So, fortunately, the community was very appreciative of us holding it and not releasing it and then hotfixing all the issues once it went live. We held it for three weeks, we rolled it out — and again, we had high expectations — but they exceeded every expectation we had.

Concurrent player usage is the highest it's been since the beginning of 2014. The number of players coming in each day is the highest it's been in over four years.

GSSo I have followed a few of the more recent updates recently. I know that there was a battle royale update that came out recently. And I'm just curious about like, how did that impact the player base? Was it something that gained traction with the player base? Or was that something that didn't do as well?

ASYeah, so it wasn't an update. It was a separate game called PlanetSide Arena. It was definitely a polarizing decision because our plan long-term was for PlanetSide Arena to not be a standalone battle royale game. Our intention was to go into Early Access and not really do any sort of major marketing, just because we wanted to iron out all the kinks.

And really, the thing that kind of put the nail in the coffin was going into Early Access with just the battle royale. Even though we incorporated some changes that lent themselves well to PlanetSide — like it was much larger-scale, it had much larger team play, we did a lot of stuff gameplay-wise that sped up the mechanics and the match experience — at the end of the day, the PlanetSide community loves PlanetSide for what it is, which is an ongoing, massive-scale, never-ending battle.

Battle royale was not something that they were excited about. They were excited about the various arena modes, but unfortunately, we just didn't have those ready at the time that Early Access began. And because of that, we just didn't get the traction that it needed.

Frankly, we knew that PlanetSide 2 would be better off with our focus back on that. So we decided to shut [PlanetSide Arena] down earlier than we had hoped for, so we could basically get back to focusing on PlanetSide 2, which is what happened toward the end of last year. 

GSWere there any specific things that worked really well in PlanetSide Arena that you implemented into PlanetSide 2?

ASYeah, I mean, for example: We made some fairly significant engine improvements for PlanetSide Arena, because the PlanetSide 2 core engine was developed over eight years ago at this point. We did some fairly significant server and graphics optimization improvements in PlanetSide Arena that we ended up carrying over to PlanetSide 2.

There are a lot of learnings from some of the mechanics that we've carried over. There's also a lot of things that we learned that we were considering carrying over to PlanetSide 2, that just once we got them into PlanetSide Arena and then evaluated them for PlanetSide 2, we decided it just wouldn't be a good fit.

So much like all the MMOs that we've worked on over the years — PlanetSideEverQuest and such — we like to innovate, we like to try new things. So we don't have any regrets about the effort that we put into PlanetSide Arena with everything we've done before, we always like to learn lessons. We definitely learned some lessons with PlanetSide Arena on what works well and what won't work well.

GSRight. And you decided, or you rather discovered, that people really don't care about battle royales when they're playing PlanetSide as opposed to playing as the —

ASYeah, yet again: The long term vision for PlanetSide Arena was never to be just a battle royale game. It was meant to have the various types of arena modes that — when they were rolled out, the intention for the arena modes was to capture the massive scale and the fast-paced moments that you get in PlanetSide 2. Not quite as frequently, but it was basically a guarantee that you get in, play a 30-minute match, and you're gonna experience some epic battles that you would, you know, you might not experience every time you play PlanetSide 2.

But, unfortunately, we just weren't able to. The game didn't live long enough to get all the additional arena modes done. So we cut bait and refocused our efforts back on PlanetSide 2, which is where we are today.

GSSo, what does the future of PlanetSide 2 look like in the wake of the Escalation update and this new roadmap?

ASSo like I said before, we really wanted the Escalation update to kind of set the bar for not only ourselves in terms of what we know we could deliver, but to set expectations with all of our players.

This update was the biggest update that had rolled out since the launch of the game. And even with that being the case, we've published some pretty big changes over the years. But one of the results from those previous updates would be [that] we get a lot of players coming back checking it out, but then we wouldn't be able to follow it up with any real significant new features or new content updates for a while just because of the smaller team size.

AS: Our intention beginning with the Escalation update was to roll out major beats like that, at least twice a year. And then between every four and six weeks, we roll out smaller themed updates that have new features, new content, new weapons, new vehicles, new changes to the world.

So, players that do come back, they don't come back, enjoy the game for a month or month and a half, and then wonder when the next big update is going to happen. We don't want anyone to have any reason to want to leave the game, so we have to convince them to come back again.

GSWhat barometers are you looking for in the wake of the Escalation update. What are you looking for as a player response, in terms of how you gauge the success of the update and how you go forward with the next several updates?

ASWe have a lot of hooks in-game that help us understand what mechanics players are using, and where players are spending most of their time in the game and in the world. But really, it's a combination of the anecdotal feedback we get from the community through social media and posts and such.

But it's also just looking at the high-level data of the numbers that I told you before. Our peak concurrent usage is the highest that it's been in six years. And there's a reason for that. It's because this update really resonated [with players].

Game development is completely subjective. So, those data points can help inform us of our decisions. But at the end of the day, we need to have our finger on the pulse of the community and the entire team really needs to understand what's working well and what's not.

GSDo you ever look at forum posts and get feedback from what people are saying on the forums?

ASOh, yeah: [We get feedback] through Reddit, through our official forums, through Twitter. There are a handful of us on the team that are constantly interacting with the community.

GSDo you have plans for a third PlanetSide game?

ASYeah. We've had plans for a third PlanetSide for a while now. Kind of like PlanetSide 2 compared to PlanetSide 1, there are pretty high expectations. We need to be confident that we're not just adding a three and improving the graphics. We need it to be a revolutionary experience and not just a minor evolution of what PlanetSide 2 was.

So, we actually started doing design work over the last several months, but it's still at a point where we're not ready to start sharing any of those details.

AS: But at the end of the day, it's to make sure that this is going to resonate well with our community, and that it's going to do the PlanetSide franchise justice. So, yes, we are absolutely working on it. Is there a timeline? No. But PlanetSide 2 is going to hit its eight-year anniversary this November.

I think that the updates that we've started doing this year, and the real kind of revival of the player base in PlanetSide 2 shows that PlanetSide 2 has a lot of life left in it. We're going to continue focusing on that while we're also continuing behind the scenes efforts on PlanetSide 3.

GSHas the [COVID-19] pandemic affected the development of the PlanetSide franchise?

ASThe biggest, most obvious changes to the development situation [is that] the entire Rogue Planet Games team has been working from home for the past month-plus now. Fortunately, we're a much larger team than we were six months ago, but we're still reasonably sized and everyone is a very tight-knit team.

So everyone knows each other. Everyone's fully engaged in PlanetSide 2 and the whole development process. ... We were kind of expecting a decline in productivity just because of the logistical needs for when you go from everyone literally working within earshot of one another to everyone physically being miles from each other. But we've kind of just moved forward with business as usual with regards to how we're developing the game.

We have our team meetings multiple times a week, we have our feature and content planning meetings, meeting whenever there are new update planning sessions in progress — and the only difference is instead of me being able to  sit across the table from team members to discuss it and having a whiteboard behind us, we're on webcams, and we're on voice chat, just having these conversations.

AS: So far it's been pretty good. No major hiccups. And we're going to continue planning on working this way for the foreseeable future. And there should be really no perceived difference for the player base with the exception of we're doing our dev stream at the end of the month, and it'll be the first time that we're not broadcasting from the Daybreak broadcast room, and we're all going to be connecting through webcams from our homes.

GSJust from the logistical standpoint of running a division of Daybreak games, how does that really affect things like server uptime? And the technical side of running an MMO? Does [COVID] affect it, or?

ASHow does that work? You mean, now that we're all working remotely?

GS: How do you keep the servers running? Who keeps them running?

ASFortunately, none of the live servers are actually physically based at Daybreak headquarters. They're all located in various data centers throughout the world. Japan, Europe, East Coast and West Coast here in North America.

We've fortunately been able to kind of continue forward without skipping a beat because almost everything we do is done in some remote fashion. The Daybreak central tech ops team still runs all of our back end infrastructure. And those are all people that we typically interact with remotely anyway. Even though most of them are located in the same building, a lot of it's done through messaging, chat channels, and over email and phone calls.

So the only real change has been just the development team's physical location. So that's really the main reason why we've been able to move forward without missing a beat; we haven't had to change our short term roadmap in any way. The team has also done an incredible job of being able to adapt to this as well.

Every team member [at Daybreak] chose to be at these studios working on these games. So everyone that's on Rogue Planet wants to work on PlanetSide 2, wants it to succeed, and wants to be proud of it. So it's been really kind of business as usual.

GSOkay. I think that's gonna be it. Thank you so much, Andy.

ASYeah, no problem. And yeah, thanks for making the time, man. Thanks, Gabriel.

---

PlanetSide 2's recent Escalation update launched back in March. If you haven't played it yet, it brought a lot to the game, including Bastion Fleet Carriers, War Assets, the persistent social hub Sanctuary, and heaps more. For the entire developer run-down, check the official announcement here

Curious about trying the new update? You can grab PlanetSide 2 for free from the Steam store. 

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Why I Rarely Play Free-to-Play Games https://www.gameskinny.com/dqt6u/why-i-rarely-play-free-to-play-games https://www.gameskinny.com/dqt6u/why-i-rarely-play-free-to-play-games Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 ReverendShmitty

I do not dislike all games of any genre, especially of Free-To-Play MMOs. I’ve enjoyed games such as Runescape, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Planetside 2, Elder Scrolls Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. There is simply a common trend in these games that do not appeal to me.

That said, I would never write an article with complaints if I didn't think it could prove to be helpful to game creators as constructive criticism. So let’s get into it.

Being Free

Most of these are MMORPG’s that take the same ideas as every other MMO ever, and only run with them. Health bars, mana bars, cool down bars, and little icons you click on to do stuff. Got it. But being free-to-play, which often times have a tighter budget, means they often aren’t allowed to try something new.

I’m glad they’re free so people can easily get their hands on them, but as such, they become obligated to go the safe route, which all too often means unremarkable in virtually every way.

Suggested Fix

Don't be afraid to charge for your game.

The MMO market is flooded with free-to-play titles. Over-saturation has led to stagnation in the field, with games like Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online switching between the two.

World of Warcraft, Legion

World of Warcraft is still the biggest MMO in the world, with an estimated 4-6 million active players. And how do they keep players entertained after 12 years? Dropping enormous updates and expansions that rejuvenate the game across the board.

How do they do this? By charging a monthly subscription and putting a price on their expansions.

This not only gives them a bigger budget, which is absolutely critical for any business, but also expresses to the audience that they stand behind this product and believe it is worth your money. Free-to-play games are on the rise, but much like mobile gaming apps, majority of the money is made by a very small minority due to the lack of quality pervading the genre.

By no means should everyone abandon the model for a subscription service, but any developer who believes their game is worthy playing, should also believe their game is worth paying.

Marketing

I get it, it’s a product they spent a lot of money and time on and here I am playing it for free. As suggested above, they should at least heavily consider charging for it.

But do they really have to put an ad to sign up and become a member into every little menu? Go to a shop to buy something and boom, sign up now and immediately x amount of in-game money. Go to my character menu to see what my new armor looks like, bam, sign up for monthly drawings to win free gear.

It just gets a little tedious to look after a while of the guilt racking up, sort of like being asked to donate money during your checkout when oftentimes you can’t afford to pay, hence the reason you were playing a free game.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Suggested Fix

Less intrusive advertising.

Keep the main menu and character menu ads, but remove them from in-game menus. Show them during loading screens and the launcher, but not right below my equipment. Have a dedicated screen for it in the options so players can go sign up at any time, but don't show it and that really-cool-weapon-I-wish-I-had right above my claimable rewards.

Let us know we can sign up without shoving it down our throats or rubbing the things we're missing out on in our faces.

Perks

The biggest and by far worst aspect of free-to-play games is directly related to the Marketing point above.

The fact that members who pay a monthly fee get benefits is only reasonable, of course they should. They work for their money and should be rewarded for supporting the game.

But to constantly show this to every non-member is a bit ham-fisted. Sprint ability is a low-level ability for members but you have to wait till you’re 15 so why not sign up? Can’t customize your ally’s appearance unless you sign up. Picking out your end-of-quest reward? Can’t get these two, but members do.

By showing players what they can gain, they are also showing them what they lack. And by slapping that all over inventory menus and quest reward menus, it only succeeds in belittling everything you've done.

How do you feel accomplished after completing a punishingly difficult mission when the game immediately shows you the bonuses you're not going to get. You did the same amount of work and put in just as much effort, but because you haven't signed up (which you genuinely may not be able to afford as kid or student) you're excluded from getting the full package.

It just seems to me that selling convenience to members means creating inconvenience for non-members.

Overwatch,characters

Suggested Fix

Have perks be non-critical items and abilities.

Rather than withhold a low-level ability from non-subs, give those who do pay a sub-only cape, dance animation, or armor piece. Reward your subs not with abilities and items that everyone will get eventually-albeit much slower-but with clothing and color palettes exclusive to those who support the game.

Items like these are visible, so everyone can see who is a subscriber, while also being cosmetic items that don't allow them innate advantages. Overwatch's Loot Boxes are often looked at more favorably that Supply Drops for Call of Duty specifically because they are cosmetic items only.

Reward your subscribers without punishing everyone else.

Now, these are all relatively small matters so by no means am I trying to say free-to-play games are bad, some are quite good.

Play them all, try them out and see which ones really fit your tastes and play style. It’s all a matter of opinion and to be taken with a grain of salt. Hopefully with enough input from us players the companies will listen and make their great games even better.

]]>
Best MMO Worlds of the Last Five Years https://www.gameskinny.com/v5759/best-mmo-worlds-of-the-last-five-years https://www.gameskinny.com/v5759/best-mmo-worlds-of-the-last-five-years Mon, 30 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 SpaceGamerUK

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This is only four games just to show the variety of options. Hundreds of worlds await their own fans. Some of those are great and legendary titles such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Planetside 2, The Lord of The Rings Online and many others which could be also on the list of the best MMO worlds.

\n

The best thing about MMOs is that there probably is always one more realm which will draw attention of other gamers.

\n

What do you think? Which MMO world was the best for you? Please let us know.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/l/i/elite-dangerous-09252016-20232002-54b55.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/l/i/elite-dangerous-09252016-20232002-54b55.jpg","type":"slide","id":"149033","description":"
Elite: Dangerous
\n

There are two MMO games on the market which stand out from other projects. First one is EVE Online, but his game was released in 2003 and regardless being very successful in last 5 years, was one of the best MMO’s way earlier.

\n

But there is another title, somewhat like EVE due to the action being placed in space. The game is called Elite: Dangerous, and was released in 2014 as a first person spaceship MMORPG.

\n

In Elite, there is no persona's which could walk around spaceships or space ports. Only thing you can see from your character is part of the legs, and both hands on the steering system. That’s because characters in the game are always sitting in their ships. Sounds completely boring I guess, but do not be fooled by simplicity of description!

\n

Elite: Dangerous has a demanding system of expanding your character and ships. There are no established classes but to gain more from your game, players must constantly expand abilities of their commanders. They also need to take care of ships which can be, not only expensive, but also require additional engineer input or module production.

\n

But the real reason why I think Elite: Dangerous should be on the list of best MMOs of the last five years is the world that is in the game.

\n

The Milky Way Galaxy itself -- a simulation of the small chunk of space where our Solar System is located. Every star system in Elite has its' own planets. And there are millions of Star Systems available for for keen explorers.

\n

I have spent many months clocked while travelling to the centre of the Galaxy and further. I saw things which are beyond imagination and I think that nothing bits the view of the Nebula when you are on a small planet in your ship cockpit -- landing there for the night rest. Just for this view it is worth to soak in unusual MMO which Elite: Dangerous is.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/w/stwor-9c76b.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/w/stwor-9c76b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"149032","description":"
Star Wars: The Old Republic
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An MMO for the Star Wars franchise started in December 2011 which means a little bit longer than 5 years ago, but I felt that regardless -- this is still one of the best MMO worlds staying on the market for last five years.

\n

Huge success of this MMO is undoubtedly connected with the popularity of Star Wars franchise. For decades now, there are millions of fans who would do everything connected with this Universe. Therefore, when game was released, it took less than month to gain more than million players online.

\n

I have spent good couple of hours playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. And I think that the main strength of it is that the game keep close to what we remember from long hour spent in the cinema following eternal struggle between Republic and Empire.

\n

In STWOR you can be Jedi, Bounty Hunter, Sith, Stormtrooper or virtually anybody else you remember from the movie. Virtually you can do whatever you would imagine to do if you would BE inside Star Wars movie!

\n

This is a very good feeling. Plus, STWOR offers a very consistent storyline, quests and system of building in-game characters. By now, the game has huge Clans of players fighting with each other’s and building own empires.

\n

It seems that this MMO should not become boring any time soon thanks to ongoing expansion packs.

\n

One of my friends, much bigger fun of the game, told me his secret... He managed to collect in his in-game house all rare furniture placed in game. He needed to fight for some of the items from his collections, and some of them costs a lot in-game currency. I am not exactly sure what should I think about this hobby, but it certainly shows how deep Star Wars: The Old Republic goes with building its realm. And I am not sure, if my friend’s in-game and alien wife are happy how they are spending credits earned on dangerous Jedi missions…

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/k/y/skyforge-06ea4.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/k/y/skyforge-06ea4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"149031","description":"
Skyforge
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This project goes from 2010 but first Open Beta was released in 2015. Perhaps I am very brave putting not finished beta project next to the legendary MMO's such as Final Fantasy franchise is. But I must say that I have very good reason to do so.

\n

I cannot deny -- Skyforge is flawed from time to time, it can be bumpy due to being in development.

\n

There is one thing though which made it an easy pick when I was thinking about best MMO Worlds in last five years.

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Skyforge has the best possible in-game world I can imagine. A mixture of fantasy and sci-fi as if those two were one reality. Everything is possible in this game. Sea creatures, nymphs, attacking ports which looks like something taken alive from the future. And if it is not enough, there are also goods who can nicely deal with technical support for attackers or... expect you to give them a t-shirt as a token of your appreciation.

\n

I know it sounds random but this is whole power of Skyforge!

\n

The game is full of surprises and if the world is not enough, it also gives amazing character classes which feels powerful from the beginning. I am sure this is way better than running around nearly topless with singular spear as it takes place with so many MMO’s we know.

\n

Skyforge is certainly something every MMO fan should consider as a valid alternative to much bigger titles. And it’s free now. One more reason to give it a go.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn
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Released in 2013 as an attempt to save the first release of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010 -- which had very negative reviews. Realm Reborn was a desperate attempt to save the fictional in-game land of Eorzea.

\n

It seems that a completely new game engine, improvement game mechanics and progression system saved the day for the Final Fantasy XIV project. Since 2013 the game had two major expansion packs. In 2016 more than 6 million MMO fans were registered and actively played the game.

\n

Right now, Final Fantasy is one of the most legendary MMO titles on the market bringing regular improvements and additions, such as housing for characters, PvP arena, additional missions and huge player raids which can accommodate up to 24 players.

\n

What I particularly like in this world is the Japanese cultural impact on the in-game world. A pinch of far east philosophy which lets different worlds and aesthetics to function in the same realm. Variety of characters and fantastic, aetheric storyline.

\n

It is hard not to at least register and play Final Fantasy XIV for the 14 day trial. It is even more difficult to not decide to pay for further game access after. If not for anything else, then at least to simmer in mesmerising views of the realm of Eorzea.

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Year by year the gaming market is flooded by endless titles aiming to become next best MMO, gather couple of million player base and sell millions on subscriptions, season pass and in-game items. It seems that recipe is rather simple -- stick to the rules of MMO and you will have your successful game.

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But what many are forgetting is that simple copying of success is not going to work every time or even will work barely ever. Spark is required. This one thing which makes game worth to play.

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There are MMO games which managed to dominate the market and have this "thing." Some of them stay on top of the charts regardless of being on the market as long as five years or even longer.

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They have similarities and differences, but all of them gained the respect of critics and appreciation of fans, who quite often are ready to pay significant amount of money to be part of favourite MMO worlds.

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There are few of them I have decided to treat with special attention. These are the Best MMO Worlds of the Last Five Years.

"}]]]>
The best in-game events for Halloween 2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/r0de0/the-best-in-game-events-for-halloween-2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/r0de0/the-best-in-game-events-for-halloween-2015 Fri, 23 Oct 2015 21:08:53 -0400 Brandon Morgan

If you're anything like me, then Halloween is your favorite holiday of the entire year. The time when spooky spirits come out to play, random strangers give you candy, and horror movies play on television for hours and hours on end. It's easily the best day of the year, hands down.

However, as gamers, we get to enjoy another facet of the holiday: the in-game holiday events that happen in our favorite games. These generally include some spoopy atmosphere, characters in their own costumes, candy that offers some stat boosts, and a quest or two involving a headless horsemen or other legendary creature.

So, without further ado, here are the best in-game events to explore for Halloween 2015.

1. EverQuest II

Oct. 8 - Nov. 11

Players of of the old-school massively multiplayer online role-playing game can enjoy Nights of the Dead once more this year, where freaks abound and scary happenings occur in the world of Norrath. Festivities, obviously, are plentiful, and previous year's items and events have returned, including Halloween-themed Player Studio items, costumes, and weapons.

2. PlanetSide 2

Sept. 23 - Nov. 12

Most people wouldn't even consider a first-person shooter as a game that would have a Halloween event, but PlanetSide 2 certainly does. Sony will bring about the Nanite of the Living Dead, where players may collect pumpkin seeds by shooting said pumpkins to obtain Halloween Helmets. Season-themed weapons are included in your arsenal, too!

3. DC Universe Online

Oct. 1 - Nov. 2

The city of Gotham is about to become a little more twisted than usual, as the Witcher Hour has returned for this Halloween season. Players will earn themselves Spooky Bites every single day they play the game during the event, which can be used to visit Skeet's Boo-tique to buy creepy tricks, treats, and items for their bases or guild halls.

4. H1Z1

Oct. 27 - Nov. 12

Sony, obviously, loves Halloween. Just look at all of their in-game Halloween events for proof of that. In H1Z1, the studio is delivering zombies with pumpkin heads to celebrate, which can be killed for special tricks and treats. A rare scarecrow mask has also been included in Battle Royale airdrops.

5. Landmark

Oct. 8 - Oct. 29

While this one may end soon, the Halloween Livestream Party is well worth checking out. The Landmark developers are going to visit "Halloween Island," where Halloween builds and other spooky stuff has been constructed for the event. Players can visit the island and check everything out themselves, too.

6. ARK: Survival Evolved

Late October

Dinosaurs may not be what most people think about during Halloween, but the developers of ARK certainly are! ARK: Fear Evolved will take place over one week near the end of October. We will see bats, creepy-themed creatures, carvable pumpkins, and "bloodthirsty zombie Dodos."

7. Guild Wars 2

Oct. 23 - ?

Beginning today, Guild Wars 2 will introduce their annual Halloween event, entitled The Shadow of the Mad King. Nearly two weeks of holiday fun, including undead armies, decorations, Candy Corn, and visits from King Thorn, complete with his pumpkin head and all.

8. WildStar

Oct. 19 - Nov. 2

WildStar recently went free-to-play, which means now is the perfect time to get into the Halloween spirit in-game this year. Shade's Eve, the in-game event, is a celebration after a dreadful plague nearly wiped out life centuries ago. Daily quests, public events, and housing challenges will be available.

9. World of Warships

Oct. 20 - Nov. 2

This year, the Rise of the Phantom Fortress event will allow players to battle against ghostly enemy ships in random PvP to earn boxes of new items and goodies. A spirit Japanese destroyer, the Fujin, has been added to the Premium Shop for purchase.

10. World of Warcraft

Oct. 18 - Nov. 1

Every single year around this time, Hallow's End comes to the world of Azeroth to celebrate the Forsaken stepping away from the Scourge. Players can receive event-exclusive collectibles, go trick-or-treating for costumes and candy, bob for apples, and plenty more this season.

Will you be participating in any of these events? What else is going on for Halloween in your favorite games? Let me know in the comments!

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Daybreak Games announces tons of Halloween updates https://www.gameskinny.com/kkjd7/daybreak-games-announces-tons-of-halloween-updates https://www.gameskinny.com/kkjd7/daybreak-games-announces-tons-of-halloween-updates Thu, 22 Oct 2015 18:30:44 -0400 Jordan_Biazzo

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Landmark: Oct. 8 – Oct. 29
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Get ready for a Halloween Livestream Party! On October 29, the Landmark developers will host a special livestream to visit “Halloween Island”, the place that was created specifically for Halloween builds to celebrate all things spooky. Players can visit the island, see the builds, and hang out with other players as the event unfolds live. There will be giveaways for players during the event if they find the livestream hosts on Halloween Island.

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What do you think of these updates? Will you be taking advantage of any of them? Let me know in the comments!

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H1Z1: Oct. 27 – Nov. 12
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As if things weren’t scary enough, the zombies seem to be catching the Halloween spirit. Survivors can expect to come across zombies with pumpkin heads, which they can kill and loot for special treats. Battle Royale also offers players a chance to find a rare scarecrow mask from airdrops.

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PlanetSide 2: Sept. 23 – Nov. 12
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Do not beware the pumpkins; shoot them all! In this year’s Nanite of the Living Dead, players can collect pumpkin seeds from shooting pumpkins to purchase Halloween Helmets. All-new, menacing seasonal weapons can be added to players’ arsenals! So whether they are into slashing or shooting, there is an abundance of tricks and treats for everyone!

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EverQuest II: Oct. 8 – Nov. 2
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Marketplace Items: Oct. 1 – Nov. 2

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Nights of the Dead rises again! Frights and freaks are on the prowl in Norrath, but the festivities are bountiful! All the previous year’s items and events are back with a vengeance, including new Halloween-themed Player Studio Items, costumes, and weapons to make every Norrathian a little more frightening.

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EverQuest:  Oct. 28 – Nov. 11 
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Marketplace Items: Oct. 1 – Nov. 11

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Players can enjoy this year’s Nights of the Dead celebration with the return of their favorite holiday events! Both tricks and treats are plentiful as festive merchants return to starting cities just in time for the holiday festivities. Tricks and Treats abound for Norrathians, with the reappearance of 35 previous Halloween marketplace items, along with some new ones as well!

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DC Universe Online: Oct.1 – Nov. 2
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Gotham is a lot darker than it usually is, as the Witching Hour theme event returns with some new twists. Players have a chance to earn Spooky Bites every day during the event. Earn enough and you can pay a visit to Skeet’s Boo-tique to purchase creepy tricks, treats, and items for their base or guild hall.

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The Halloween season is upon us, everyone! Fright Fest is on AMC, the weather is cooling down, and the games are nearly here! And on that note, Daybreak Games is kicking off its annual Halloween seasonal events and promotions for players across their multiple games.

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The Halloween event is starting now and will last until early November. During this time period, players will have a chance to participate in various in-game Halloween events, contests, and activities as well as gettig showered with promotional items. Here are all the details.

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John Smedley Starts New Company https://www.gameskinny.com/wsg28/john-smedley-starts-new-company https://www.gameskinny.com/wsg28/john-smedley-starts-new-company Sun, 23 Aug 2015 08:29:26 -0400 TheDeadlyMouse

It was reported the other day that John Smedley has officially left Daybreak Games and has started his own company.

In case you are thinking "Smedley who?" He was the president of SoE, which then became Daybreak Games after Sony sold it. In other words, they're the company behind EverQuest, EverQuest 2, PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe Online, just to name a few.

As of now all we know is what's posted on his official Facebook page. The post states that he started working as CEO at a new company and that more info is coming soon.

So that means there is no word as to what this new company's name is or what type it shall be. We're not sure if it will be an MMORPG only or if it will be a non-online gaming company - or both. They could focus on different options such as PC, console, or mobile gaming. Of course, it could turn out to be a mix of the three.

We all should know something in the coming weeks. Keep an eye open on here and on his Facebook and Twitter pages for more news on the matter.

Let us know what you think on all this in the comments.

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Transparency: A look at John Smedley's influence on games https://www.gameskinny.com/jyt9a/transparency-a-look-at-john-smedleys-influence-on-games https://www.gameskinny.com/jyt9a/transparency-a-look-at-john-smedleys-influence-on-games Fri, 24 Jul 2015 08:32:14 -0400 Larry Everett

I have actually only talked to John Smedley once during an interview in 2012. He talked about Planetside 2 and a little bit about EverQuest Next, but mostly he talked about the direction of SOE and the influence of free-to-play games on the MMO industry. During that discussion, he said and reiterated that he didn't think that SOE would ever create a game that wasn't free-to-play ever again. 

As the driving force behind many of the games that I played, he has had an influence on my gaming career for about 12 years. I believe that everyone that pays attention to SOE or Daybreak Games was floored when the word came out that Smedley was taking a break from gaming for awhile and stepping down as CEO.

Of course, everyone that I know wishes him well and hopes that he returns soon. Anyone who has talked to him for any period of time knows that he has a passion for online gaming like no one else, and many hope that he returns to Daybreak very soon.

I know that many people have had issues with some of what Smed has said in the past. He said things that didn’t quite sit well with the gaming community at large, and he’s also made some decisions that didn’t make people happy.

But what I’d like to do today is talk about some of the amazing things that have happened and many groundbreaking steps in gaming that Daybreak and SOE made under John Smedley's leadership.

The popularization of the MMORPG

We cannot talk about John Smedley without talking about one of the greatest accomplishments in not just online gaming but gaming as a whole: EverQuest. Of course, EQ wasn’t the first fully online game to release. We had seen Ultima Online, Meridian 59, and a handful of others before the release of EverQuest. However, if anyone were to look at gaming historically, it would be EverQuest that brought MMORPGs to the forefront of gaming.

For many people EverQuest became much more than a game, it became a lifestyle. Although I cannot condone people becoming addicted to games, it was with EverQuest that we really began hearing stories of over a hundred hours a week being spent on games.

Mainstream media even picked up on it. Of course, mainstream media didn’t understand it, but the community managers, developers, and yes, John Smedley understood the importance of the game in people’s lives.

I believe it’s safe to say that EverQuest was a first. Although EQ wasn’t the first MMORPG, it paved its own path, and without EQ -- without John Smedley’s work -- there would be no World of Warcraft or many of the other MMORPGs that we enjoy today.

Taking huge risks with major IPs

My first major influence in the realms of MMORPGs was Star Wars Galaxies. I had played Ultima Online and Asheron's Call, but they didn’t hold me for a number of reasons that weren’t at all related to the games themselves. However, serendipity would allow me to play Star Wars Galaxies for a lengthy period of time. I had told my wife that I would likely not play the game for more than a couple of months before quitting. But this game grabbed me.

Of course, I don’t think that Smedley was the primary reason that I stuck with the game. In fact, given Smed’s statements about how H1Z1 would be the new home for Star Wars Galaxies player, I don’t really know that he understood why people played that game in the first place. But it was his influence as CEO of SOE that allowed the game to be made.

I think one of Smed’s primary skills isn’t necessarily being able to do everything himself, but he knows how to find and motivate good talent. And that’s what happened with SWG. Smed put together an amazing team of designers including the much beloved Raph Koster.

Although there were many major failures with Star Wars Galaxies, it still stands as an example of a company taking huge risk, not something you see very often anymore. And although Smedley gets more hate from the NGE than credit for taking a risk with SWG in the first place, I will give him credit and thanks for bringing that game into my life.

Leading the way for free-to-play in the western market

If creating Star Wars Galaxies was taking a big risk, then Free Realms was even bigger. I don’t think people give Free Realms enough credit for being a huge, groundbreaking MMORPG. Many of the things that we now take for granted were first found in Free Realms. I beta-tested this game, and I can tell you that Smedley was leading the charge in some of this games’ most innovative features.

The MMO press and players like to credit Dungeons and Dragons Online as proving that free-to-play MMOs can turn a profit and make a viable game. Then Lord of the Rings Online did it, too, giving developer Turbine the press-power to show the world that F2P works. But six months before the F2P conversion of DDO, another game launched and made amazing bank for its developer. Free Realms released in April 2009. I remember talking about it with other SOE fans and influencers, saying that there is no way for SOE to make money off this game unless they have a subscription. But Smed and his crew insisted that F2P was the wave of the future for MMOs in the west, and it would start with Free Realms.

The first persistent online first-person shooter

Alongside Star Wars Galaxies, another MMO launched in 2003 from SOE, it was an MMOFPS called Planetside. Some people called it way ahead of its time, and wish I could comment on it, but really wasn’t my kind of game at the time.

However, I can talk about Planetside 2.

In many ways this game was Smed’s baby. You could tell by the way that he would post random pieces of concept art on Twitter that he was really looking forward to this game’s release. In fact, it’s possible that Smed’s desire to get this game into players’ hands pushed its soft release too early. Regardless, the game was groundbreaking. The ability to have foot soldiers, vehicles, and aircraft all in one persistent had never been accomplished to the level of Planetside 2 before. Some can even say that it hasn’t been done since.

Needless to say, Smed’s made a huge impact on the gaming world. There are many I haven't even mentioned. I have not always agreed with every decision that he’s made nor every game that’s he’s spearheaded, but I cannot deny the influence he’s had on the gaming world. Speaking for myself, I’m glad that he’s taking a break from games and the like.

But, I do hope that he returns soon. The gaming industry needs more risk-takers and positive influences.

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PlanetSide 2 is making its way to the PS4 this month https://www.gameskinny.com/b6jz7/planetside-2-is-making-its-way-to-the-ps4-this-month https://www.gameskinny.com/b6jz7/planetside-2-is-making-its-way-to-the-ps4-this-month Wed, 03 Jun 2015 19:07:59 -0400 Manisha Hossain

Earlier today Andy Sites, the Director of Development for PlanetSide 2, put a release date out for the game on the PlayStation blog. The game is set to be released on June 23rd, 2015 for the PS4 after many months of beta testing.

PlanetSide 2 is a free to play massive first person shooter online game that has been recieving a lot of buzz lately. It does not require PlayStation Plus in order to be played. This isn't your average FPS, in fact, instead of having a strong focus on solo missions, this game is all about team work. You will rarely find yourself in a 1v1 situation. 

Check out the trailer from the 2014's E3:

An addition that will set the PS4 version from the PC version is the exclusive battle map of Kotyr. There will be more additions that we'll have to wait for June 23rd to experience.

Oh and here's a fun fact: PlanetSide 2 recieved a Guinness World Record for Most Players Online in a Single FPS Battle by having 1,158 players online fighting, side by side. Now that's pretty rad, if you ask me!

So there you have it! To all you console gamers out there, I hope you are prepared for this revolutionary version of a FPS. The planet of Auraxis awaits you.

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Planetside 2 Holds Record Breaking 1,158 Person Battle https://www.gameskinny.com/ixlcj/planetside-2-holds-record-breaking-1158-person-battle https://www.gameskinny.com/ixlcj/planetside-2-holds-record-breaking-1158-person-battle Sun, 25 Jan 2015 17:23:28 -0500 Ryan Mayle

After countless hours organizing and planning, players of Planetside 2 have broken the Guinness World Record for the most players in a single first-person shooter battle. This was completed with a final count of 1,158 players, split among Planetside 2's three factions. 

It didn't take very long for Guinness to approve the record that was set by the Planetside 2 community. Planetside 2's Producer David Carry already has the certificate proving that, according to Guinness, they did break the world record.

This is an excellent show of what gaming has come to and what is possible in the future. Previously the record was held by a browser-based FPS called Man vs. Machine, which featured a battle of 999 players. What separates Planetside 2 from Man vs. Machine is that Man vs. Machine was developed specifically to break a record, while Planetside 2 was developed as a game that meant to be played like any other. 

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PlayStation Starts Signup for Planetside 2 Beta https://www.gameskinny.com/j9d55/playstation-starts-signup-for-planetside-2-beta https://www.gameskinny.com/j9d55/playstation-starts-signup-for-planetside-2-beta Sun, 07 Dec 2014 20:16:23 -0500 Mary-Kate Wagamon

Sony Online Entertainment has launched registration for the Planetside 2 PlayStation 4 beta. The game was originally only for desktop, but SOE announced last year that a PlayStation 4 version was in development. 

Planetside 2 is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMOFPS), where players fight for one of three factions in an effort to control massive maps: the factions are the Terran Republic, New Conglomerate, and Vanu Sovereignty. Players can also choose between six different classes to play as: light assault, heavy assault, combat medic, engineer, infiltrator, and MAX (Mechanical Assault Exosuit). 

According to the website for the beta of the PlayStation 4 version, there is not a set date for when the beta will start, only a vague "coming soon." SOE intended for the actual game to release before the end of this year. However, it looks more like the beta will launch early next year, and then the game will launch later in 2015. 

If you'd like to signup for beta consideration, you can do so here 

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[Video Countdown] Top 5 Free-to-Play Shooters for PC. https://www.gameskinny.com/jxazp/video-countdown-top-5-free-to-play-shooters-for-pc https://www.gameskinny.com/jxazp/video-countdown-top-5-free-to-play-shooters-for-pc Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:02:47 -0400 Richard Whelchel

 So, maybe you've dropped a boatload of cash on a new rig and realized you don't have enough cash left over for some new first-person-shooters to add to your collection -- or perhaps, you need some free-to-play distractions from your favorites.  Either way, these five games are sure to get your blood pumping and your wrists carpal tunneling...all completely free of charge. 

5.  Loadout

Starting off the countdown is Loadout; a game so gory and violent that if it wasn't portrayed in such a loveable, cartoony atmosphere, it would most likely be banned in the US.  Loadout features a fast paced, shooter gameplay element that doesn't rely too heavily on strategy, and is one of the only games where watching your character die in a variety of gruesome deaths, is actually fun. 

The game also features in-depth weapon customization that allows you hand-pick almost every detail of your own personal killing machine.  Loadout's cash shop is very balanced and offers mainly cosmetic purchases -- thus, avoiding the dreaded "pay-to-win" title many so called free-to-play shooters seem to embody these days.  

4.  Tribes: Ascend

Number four is an oldie, but definitely a goody, it's Tribes: Ascend.  Tribes is your standard sci-fi shooter complete with full class customization, but with a unique twist: skiing.  The ski mechanic in the game sounds kitschy at first, however, it not only makes Tribes: Ascend one one of the most reflex-oriented shooters available, but leads to some pretty impressive ways to kill your foes. 

Purchase options offer XP boosts and early weapon unlocks, but their presence is not at all game breaking.  You could also drop a flat fee of forty bucks to unlock every class and combination available all at once. 

3. Hawken

The third game on the list just happens to be one of the most beautiful free-to-play shooters in existence, and that game is Hawken.  Hawken is not only pretty to look at, but is an amazing shooter -- and if you're a true mech fan, it should be your GO-TO GAME!  With tons of game modes and intricate customizations, Hawken makes other recently released mech-shooters look like Fisher Price games for toddlers. 

Like all of the shooters on this list, the cash-shop keeps the game skill-based, limiting purchases to cosmetics, emotes, and early unlocks.  Warning: this free-to-play shooter is best enjoyed with a high-end PC only.

2. Planetside 2

Planetside 2 takes the silver medal in this countdown.  Sony's free-to-play massively multiplayer first-person-shooter or, F.2.P.M.M.O.F.P.S (for all of you abbreviation enthusiasts), is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences on the free-to-play market.       

Pick one of three factions at war and battle it out over massive continents, with hundreds of players on each side.  Are you tired of running and gunning?  Well, you can take to skies like a futuristic maverick, or hop in one of many vehicles to change up your gameplay.  

If you're a casual player, you won't even bother with the cash shop.  However, if you plan to take this game seriously, you might have to invest in some early unlocks -- but it is well worth it.  Fear not console kids, Planetside 2 is heading to the Ps4 this year.

1.  Team Fortress 2

 I almost didn't include the number one game on this list, as it is a no-brainer to all PC free-to-play shooter fans.  However, in the end, it just didn't seem right not to have Team Fortress 2 at the top spot; despite the obvious.

If you own a PC, love shooters, and aren't playing TF2 then stop, just stop.  You're doing it wrong.  Seriously, go sell your computer and return to that rock you've been living under all of these years.  Valve's iconic shooter is a staple in almost every PC gamer's library, and after six strong years, TF2 continues to provide so much entertainment value.  Not only that, but it's paved the way for what the best free-to-play shooters should truly be.

It's a mainstay, a tradition, a god-damned legacy.  And there are hats... ALL OF THE HATS.

That's it for this countdown, don't forget to like this video and subscribe to the Gameskinny YouTube channel.  As always you can find me on Twitter -- and hey -- let me know what you think of this video, I'll be putting out a new one every week, so if there is anything you'd like to see, let me know below.  

Thanks for watching, now get out there and go shoot something... for free! 

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Interviewing Music Composer of Dawngate & I Am Alive, Jeff Broadbent https://www.gameskinny.com/g2aq1/interviewing-music-composer-of-dawngate-i-am-alive-jeff-broadbent https://www.gameskinny.com/g2aq1/interviewing-music-composer-of-dawngate-i-am-alive-jeff-broadbent Sat, 17 May 2014 17:40:15 -0400 Proto Foe

I love video game music. I have said before, in my interview with Ryan Roth, that I feel that music composers are the creators of memories. I can hear a piece of music and it will transport me back to a level or moment within a video game.

This can be hearing some of the incredible work by former Bungie composer, Marty O'Donnell, and being sent back to the ring world of Halo. Or it can be hearing the message tone of someone's phone and being sent back to the battle-end screen of Final Fantasy VIII. The less we say about Madonna's Beautiful Stranger and Civilisation II, the better.

I encourage you to listen to some of the music from Dawngate, composed by Mr. Broadbent himself, whilst you read this interview.

Jeff Broadbent

Jeff Broadbent is a Hollywood Music In Media Award-winning and Global Music Award-winning composer whose passion for music and sound has been heard around the world in numerous video games, television programs, trailers, and films. 

[Official Site]

I have heard  Mr. Broadbent's work without even knowing it. From Planetside 2 to I Am Alive, the scores grip you as much as the combat, or art style, respectively.

Mr. Broadbent, thank you for this opportunity. For the benefit of our readers who aren’t aware of your work, please introduce yourself?

Certainly!  I’m a composer (and also sound designer, though I specialize in composing) for video games, film, television, as well as trailer music.  I’ve composed for a variety of video games including PlanetSide 2, Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online, I Am Alive, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and more.  For television I’ve had my music featured in many shows and networks including CBS, Fox, the Disney Channel.  I’ve also composed music for video game trailers, and recently had my music in a Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit film trailer.

All my life I’ve loved music. In addition to composing I play the piano, saxophone, and guitar.  I studied music composition at Brigham Young University (master’s degree) and also film and video game scoring at UCLA.

Who or what was your inspiration to get in the world of composing?

Growing up it was probably the film scores of James Horner (Titanic, Braveheart, The Land Before Time), Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), and John Williams (E.T., Star Wars, Empire Of The Sun) that have inspired me.  I enjoyed listening to how these composers used the orchestra to convey so many different emotions.  The Final Fantasy video game scores composed by Nobuo Uematsu also inspired me.  His use of themes to represent the different characters and areas of the games is exemplary - they are very memorable and help to support the story telling of the games.

What has been your favourite video game to compose?

If I had to pick one it would be Ubisoft’s I Am Alive.  The story involves the protagonist in a post-apocalyptic world searching for his lost family.  Along the way the main character also meets a young girl named Mei and protects her.

I Am Alive was unique in that in addition to the usual ambient and combat music the story allowed for some emotional and dramatic music cues to highlight the search of the man for his family, and also to portray his bonding with Mei.  It’s rare in video games to have the opportunity for dramatic music like this, and I really enjoyed writing for the characters.

Because I Am Alive takes place in a modern post-apocalyptic setting, the creative direction called for original sound-design-inspired music.  Rather than use the typical orchestral instruments I had more freedom in the sonic palette employed.  For the ambient cues I mixed a variety of ambience and instruments derived from objects that might be found in the areas of the game (like metal pipes for the subway area, creaking tones for an abandoned ship, etc).  The combat music allowed for some very dissonant tones combined with unique percussive sounds to create a realistic and frightening sense of danger and urgency.  

What do you consider your best work?

This is a hard one!  Every project I work on I give my very best effort, and always try to make each score distinctive and original.  One of the recent games I scored, Dawngate (Electronic Arts), I feel was creatively successful. 

The art style of Dawngate is inspired by Eastern influences, as well as the animation work of Hayao Miyazaki.  I’m a big fan of the Miyazaki films (Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), so this visual style struck a chord with me.  In similar fashion I wanted to incorporate Eastern elements into the music – I composed a variety of Eastern harmonies and melodies. 

For the score’s instrumentation I chose an exotic mix of world instruments (flutes, Tibet metals, gamelan, harps, and percussions), orchestra, and modern electronics (to represent the magic of the game).  It was a sonic combination I thought was original and different from other game scores. I really enjoy composing in many colors and so Dawngate has been one of my favorite scores to date.

Can you share anything you are working on?

The projects I’m currently working on are still undisclosed so unfortunately I can’t comment on them.  But later this year some of them will release – my website,  has the latest project news and highlights. 

You have composed for other media, what has been your favourite? And why?

While I have the most experience with video games, I don’t think I can pick a favorite between the different media.  However, I’ll describe what I like best about video game music and also film/television music.

For video games there is actually a bit more compositional freedom at times because the cues are longer (2-3 minute looping music tracks), whereas in film/television the music has to change pace at a faster rate to match the on-screen situation.  So I enjoy the extended music tracks of video games as they allow you to get into the groove of writing the cue and developing it a bit more. 

Another aspect that attracts me to video games is the hybrid nature of the scoring.  Orchestra is used in video game music, but is often combined with electronic/modern music elements, as well as many different music styles depending on the game (world music, guitars, etc.)  Video game music offers a lot of variety, which I enjoy.

One advantage of film/television music is that it is closely tied to the story/narrative of the film or show.  The music is closely intertwined with the characters and their development, as well as the overall arc of the story.  This allows for more dramatic and personal music than is found in most video games.  Film/television music has the tension and combat music cues found in video games, but also more dramatic/emotional music, which is a real pleasure to write. 

Do you play the games you compose for? If so, what was your favourite?

I do enjoy video games and usually play every game I work on.  Recently I had a lot of fun with PlanetSide 2.  This is an online first-person-shooter where you engage in huge battles with all types of infantry, weapons and vehicles.  It’s a very exciting experience and the teamwork element is great.  I’m looking forward to its upcoming release on PlayStation 4 as well =).

Do you ever hear your work in passing and point it out to others by saying “I made that” and smiling?

Actually, yes, that has happened on a few occasions =). While I was at the Game Developers Conference expo floor (San Francisco) a couple of years back I heard the PlanetSide 2 main theme playing at one of the presentations, that was fun.  At times while watching television I will hear a cue or two I’ve licensed to television shows.  When I was composing the music for the Transformers: Dark Of The Moon video game and at the same time seeing the trailer for the film in movie theaters, that was nice.  I also get a kick out of all the YouTube game soundtrack uploads and the comments people will make about the music.  

How do you feel about remixes? Have you heard any of your work mixed and sent the mixer a message?

I did hear a remix of the main theme I composed for Dawngate, as well as a piano rendition of the main theme I composed for Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online.  I feel honored that people want to remix my music, I think it’s a fun way to give the tracks a new twist and interpretation. 

And would you allow someone to remix your work to use for use on YouTube/Twitch etc.?

Personally I’m all for it, but the vast majority of the music I compose is actually owned by the video game companies  so it would be best to inquire with the game companies before creating a remix.  But as far as the concept of remixing goes, I’m all for it!

I would like to thank Mr. Broadbent for his timeand I look forward to hearing more of his work in the future.

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Sony's G.I.R.L. Scholarship Program Empowers Female Designers https://www.gameskinny.com/1eyvz/sonys-girl-scholarship-program-empowers-female-designers https://www.gameskinny.com/1eyvz/sonys-girl-scholarship-program-empowers-female-designers Wed, 26 Mar 2014 11:23:18 -0400 Mary Yeager

"Females aren't a large part of the gaming populace, and especially not as developers or designers."

This is a comment seen on a variety of big gaming publications on the web today. Some commenters are more vocal about the fact more and more women are becoming part of the video gaming industry. These vocal commenters are usually against more women being apart of it. But what do gaming companies think of having women developers and designers?

One gaming company, Sony Online Entertainment, wants to see more women entering the world of game design. Seven years ago, SOE implemented the G.I.R.L. Scholarship Program. G.I.R.L. stands for Gamers in Real Life. This competition provides a $10,000 scholarship award prize. What makes the grand prize even better is that SOE offers a paid intern position, up to 10 weeks, in San Diego.

According to Laura Naviaus, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing at SOE:

The G.I.R.L. Scholarship aims to be the first step towards empowering bright careers for young women in the video game industry. By helping to create more opportunities for women in game design, we are helping to shepherd fresh perspectives and new ideas into our industry.

Before you guys start getting upset and asking where's the program for dudes, this program is open for both female and male submissions. If you feel your concept art is up to the task to submit to SOE, feel free to apply as well. Past winners have had opportunities to work with Planetside 2 and Everquest II.

The 2014 program closed submissions last week, but this gives interested parties till next January when submissions reopen to get ready to apply.  You can find out more information on the G.I.R.L. program at their website, including their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

(Article Image by SOE)

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SOE Confirms EverQuest Next For PS4, Planetside 2 Coming Soon https://www.gameskinny.com/qag74/soe-confirms-everquest-next-for-ps4-planetside-2-coming-soon https://www.gameskinny.com/qag74/soe-confirms-everquest-next-for-ps4-planetside-2-coming-soon Fri, 24 Jan 2014 18:36:10 -0500 Fathoms_4209

Let's say you're the proud owner of a shiny new PlayStation 4, and you also happen to be a big MMO fan.

Oh, have we got news for you.

During an AMAA-style (Ask Me Almost Anything) Q&A on Reddit with Sony Online Entertainment head honcho, John Smedley, we learn about all sorts of MMO goodness for Sony's new machine. You can check out the assembled points of interest at DualShockers; here are the highlights:

Firstly, Smedley finally confirmed that the well-received EverQuest Next is indeed headed to the PS4. He didn't give us an exact date but at least we know it's coming. Secondly, he revealed that Planetside 2 is slated to hit Sony's new console during the first half of 2014. Even though it's "taking time to do this right," he says the project is going quite smoothly. He also said his team has "lots of plans" for the implementation of new continents, by the way.

Thirdly and lastly - and this is the most exciting part - Smedley confirmed that a new IP is in the works at SOE!

"SWG PLAYERS – OUR NEXT GAME (not announced yet) IS DEDICATED TO YOU. Once we launch it… you can come home now."

Smedley says it's a "completely new IP" and in fact, if you're willing to look around, the data for this mystery title is hiding somewhere online. MMOs aren't my cup of tea, so I won't be looking. If you wanna try, however, good luck with the search!

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League of Legends Generates $624 Million in Revenue for 2013 https://www.gameskinny.com/fqhs2/league-of-legends-generates-624-million-in-revenue-for-2013 https://www.gameskinny.com/fqhs2/league-of-legends-generates-624-million-in-revenue-for-2013 Sun, 19 Jan 2014 20:35:12 -0500 Amanda Wallace

League of Legends places second in a list of the top 10 online free-to-play games as far as earnings for the year of 2013. With revenues of $624 million, League is only behind Korean military shooter CrossFire, which made $957 million last year. 

The real winner in the free-to-play market is publisher Tencent, who is behind both CrossFire and League of Legends. Between the two games, Tencent pulled in a total of $1,581 million in revenue for 2013. According to Super Data, which put the information together: 

The US digital games market grew 11% in 2013, reaching $11,766 million in sales across all segments, up from $10,582 million a year earlier.

Other big winners in the free-to-play market are publisher Nexon, which has three of the top 10 games including Dungeon Fighter OnlineMaplestory, and a part stake in Counter-Strike Online and a total of $800 million in 2013 revenue. 

Overall, the free-to-play MMO market seems to be dominating, going up from $1,991 million to $2,893 million in 2013, while the Pay-to-Play market experienced a loss of 19% from 2012 to just $1,126 million in revenue. The trend seems to be moving more towards games like League of Legends, as well as PlanetSide 2 and Dota 2

What do you think of those free-to-play numbers

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A Guided History: Beta Testing and Its Controversies, Part Two https://www.gameskinny.com/3z5yx/a-guided-history-beta-testing-and-its-controversies-part-two https://www.gameskinny.com/3z5yx/a-guided-history-beta-testing-and-its-controversies-part-two Wed, 08 Jan 2014 07:49:10 -0500 Corey Kirk

Click here for part 1!

So what does this mean for multiplayer games? 

Whenever a person gets an invite to a closed beta, or there is an open beta, we are not getting access to an actual developers’ beta. More often than not, participation in a beta today means that the product is in its intended release state. Any changes that need to be made at this point in development will either be bug fixes that the QA didn’t catch, or if the problem is anything major, it will have to be fixed in one of those dreaded day-one patches.  

All of this means that the devs are not necessarily going to change anything in the game by the time it reaches the public beta state, and are more than likely just checking to see if their servers can handle the loads of people downloading and playing their game on launch day.

Let’s be clear though: sometimes things in the game do change a little bit. Balance, for example; devs are constantly looking at the power balance between different weapons in Planetside 2, or the effectiveness of cards in Hearthstone. However, let’s also be clear that they make these changes after launch as well. It’s just that under the guise of “beta,” they can make these balance changes without the fear of the fans reacting negatively because ‘hey, it’s in beta.’

What about early access?

A trend that is quickly becoming the norm is the ability to pay for “early access.” We see this on Valve’s Steam service all the time. Basically, early access is a way for the consumers to play a game which is not in its final state.

Unlike betas, early access does allow a person to play an unfinished product, while also helping to fund the development. You could look at it as almost similar to Kickstarter, where your money is going directly to the developers to finish the game.

The problem with early access is that people have gotten used to public betas. When a dev team decides to do an early access campaign to get more funding, the people paying for said access are expecting the game to work. They are expecting it to be a finished product and will complain when the gameplay, graphics, or sound is not up to par. And why not? People are used to having these public betas in which the games are finished products, ready to ship to customers.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2459/3920517234_ca459da157.jpg

 I still don’t get why the developers don’t/can’t change (X) before launch day. Why is that?

To put it simply, by the time a game reaches the open beta status, the game has already been distributed to the manufacturers for physical copies and sent for certification for digital. They can’t change anything. They don’t have enough time.

Any changes that need to be made will have to come after the game is released. Of course, there will be folks who think that since the game is still in “beta,” then there is still time to fix major issues. This just isn’t true.  Day-one patches and server downtime on release day are a result of not having time to fix what needs to be fixed.

Then how do you explain games that still don’t work after the day one patches?

Didn’t the devs learn anything from the beta? What’s the point of a public beta if the game is still broken upon release? Click here for part 3, controversies of betas!

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Five Games to Brighten the PS4's Future Part 3 https://www.gameskinny.com/t9psz/five-games-to-brighten-the-ps4s-future-part-3 https://www.gameskinny.com/t9psz/five-games-to-brighten-the-ps4s-future-part-3 Tue, 07 Jan 2014 06:31:45 -0500 Brandon Morgan

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2014 will be the year of the PlayStation 4. These five games can attest to that, but what we still have to come will show exactly what the new system can do. The likes of games we have never seen before, the experiences we will share, and the characters we will fall for will only grow as the PS4 gets older and older.

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Check out next week for another set of games, and as always let me know if there is something you think I should check out. I’m always looking for new games, especially those that haven’t come out yet. I just love to torment myself with all the info on these titles.

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PlanetSide 2:

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The free-to-play market is relatively new on the consoles, but thankfully we launched with a couple of titles on the PlayStation 4. We could always use more, however, and Sony Online Entertainment understands this. So we shall see PlanetSide 2 on the next-gen console this year. The first-person shooter will be ported over from the PC to the home console. It seems like the type of game that could make use of a controller rather well; we'll have to see.

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PlanetSide 2 is a large-scale MMO featuring massive battles with up to 2000 players per continent. These players will duke it out on foot, in the air, and in land vehicles. The game can be immensely confusing for new players, being thrust into this huge war spanning a massive continent. But once you really get into the gameplay and the factions, PlanetSide 2 is a brilliant shooter promising many, many hours of fun and more than enough grinding to last a long time.

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Infamous: Second Son:

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Some of you are probably thinking, “How did it take this long to include Infamous: Second Son on these lists?” Easy answer is that everyone knows of the game already, and I’ve been trying to keep the big name ones to a minimum. Unfortunately the fanboy in me could wait no longer; Infamous: Second Son looks brilliant and I cannot wait for the game to hit the PS4. March cannot come soon enough.

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Infamous: Second Son will feature a new city, new powers, a new main character, and new moral choices for the player to drive themselves crazy with. Set in Seattle, the player will take on the role of Delsin Rowe, a superhuman with the abilities of smoke. These new powers look brilliant from the gameplay shown off by Sucker Punch so far, and the moral choices have been discussed a bit. Your brother will play a large part in the game and choices affect not only your relationship with him, but also with the entire city.

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Basement Crawl:

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Bloober Team (quite possibly the best developer name) is hard at work on a maze-based action game with strategy elements called Basement Crawl. Taking inspiration from such classics as Spy vs. Spy and Bomberman, the gameplay will revolve around setting traps to take out other players. There is a large focus on multiplayer here as well, but a single player campaign filled with the infamous AI bots will also be available.

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Basement Crawl will support 4 player hot-seat and 8 players online, plus a combination of both. This could be a perfect party game, just like Secret Ponchos, for those drunken weekends with friends or family. Players will have their choice from a selection of 4 available characters, each with their own unique skills to use against each other. This type of game screams DLC, so we will probably see more characters and maps in the future.

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Driveclub:

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When the PS4 launched we received Need for Speed: Rivals, a racing game with less realism than some would hope for. At first we were supposed to receive Driveclub at launch, unfortunately it, along with Watch Dogs, was delayed for further improvement and tweaking. Now we will finally get our hands on Evolution Studios’ upcoming racing game this year.

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Driveclub is not trying to gain the title of a racing simulator; instead it plans to be a rival to Grid 2. The game will focus on road racing, instead of off-road racing like Evolution’s previous title MotorStorm. Team racing is the feature that interests me the most so far, allowing players to manage racing teams and use the PlayStation Plus network and PS4’s “Share” features to manage other players. Racing clans are some of the most fun groups to be a part of in the gaming world, in my personal opinion, as the competition is always there but the lighthearted camaraderie is as well.

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Secret Ponchos:

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I’m not usually into multiplayer-only games, but we, as gamers, need to see more Wild West-era video games. Secret Ponchos promises to take us back in time to that period of the world where gunslingers and sheriffs roamed around on horses, shooting and doling out justice at will. Except in Secret Ponchos the players will take on the role of the outlaws every time.

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Secret Ponchos features a top-down perspective, another aspect I am not overly fond of generally, with a focus solely on player versus player combat. The combatants will duel online against other outlaws to gain reputation and notoriety. With five maps, multiple game modes, and multiplayer playable characters, this is more of an arcade game than anything. Indie developer Switchblade Monkeys will bring about an experience that should last for quite some time, as long as you have good friends to play with at least.

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2014 is finally here, which means we may start to see an influx in new games coming to the PlayStation 4. It’s about time, right? This month, January, we will only see two that I know of off the top of my head: Don’t Starve and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Neither of these can be fully counted, as they are nothing more than ports masquerading as next-gen games. But, hey, at least it’s something new to play on that shiny hardware we shelled out for.

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Thankfully, the months following January and February look so much better for the PS4. We will see a ton of great games coming to Sony’s new system. Now all we have to do is wait it out and hope the days pass by quickly. At the very least we can keep using that $400 console as a glorified Netflix stream machine; that’s what I do lately.

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Planetside 2 Devs Will Celebrate Anniversary with Free PS4s and Titans https://www.gameskinny.com/w7yuj/planetside-2-devs-will-celebrate-anniversary-with-free-ps4s-and-titans https://www.gameskinny.com/w7yuj/planetside-2-devs-will-celebrate-anniversary-with-free-ps4s-and-titans Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:43:00 -0500 Corey Kirk

Right now would be a really good time to be a fan of Planetside 2.  Its community is celebrating the one year anniversary of the game this week. Since it is a celebration, the folks at Sony Online Entertainment are going to be doing some special stuff.

The special stuff includes giving away an anniversary bundle which contains a variety of weapons, special anniversary armor for your character and vehicles, and 50 percent more experience for the next six months. According to a post made by Margaret Krohn, the Community Manager for Planetside 2, the bundle will also be able to be purchased for only $39.99.

However, those things are just kiddie stuff when compared to what they will be giving away at random times during a livestream on Wednesday.

The NVidia Titan. Ooooo.

During the livestream, viewers will be able to win one of three NVidia Titans, the same video card the PC Gamer crew used in their recent gaming PC build. Viewers will also be able to have a chance to win a PlayStation 4.  Given that the PS4 is selling like hotcakes and it is hard to buy one right now, this could be your chance to snag one before the holidays.  

Click here to go to the Planetside 2 Twitch channel and join in on the festivities tomorrow!

Are you a fan of Planetside 2 or SOE? Comment below!

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PlanetSide 2 for PS4 Postponed Until Early 2014 https://www.gameskinny.com/8ywfe/planetside-2-for-ps4-postponed-until-early-2014 https://www.gameskinny.com/8ywfe/planetside-2-for-ps4-postponed-until-early-2014 Thu, 07 Nov 2013 23:51:00 -0500 Raven Hathcock

Free-to-play MMO first person shooter, PlanetSide 2 has been delayed until 2014. This marks another title set to go live on the PlayStation 4 console as postponed.

President of Sony Online Entertainment, John Smedley, confirmed that PlanetSide 2 for PS4 will be available in “early 2014” in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“We’re actually helping the Sony PlayStation 4 launch on November 15 by having our free-to-play game DC Universe Online [...] come to the PlayStation 4 for its launch. And we’re going to be following up that in early next year with our next game, PlanetSide 2, for the PS4,” Smedley said.

It was back in June that SOE announced that DC Universe Online, and PlanetSide 2 would be available for PlayStation 4 in late 2013. So far, we have no information on why PlanetSide 2 has been postponed.

In a previous interview, Smedley said;

“The game literally has to be the best, if you want people to pay for it, you better give them something amazing, because they can play for free as much as they want. So you have to do something amazing to earn their money.”

Do these delays have any effect on where you put your money in the console war? Are you still looking forward to PlanetSide 2?

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SOE President: Game for Free in the Next Generation https://www.gameskinny.com/ri7gb/soe-president-game-for-free-in-the-next-generation https://www.gameskinny.com/ri7gb/soe-president-game-for-free-in-the-next-generation Wed, 30 Oct 2013 00:17:51 -0400 Brian Armstrong

Geoff Keighley, of GameTrailers TV, interviewed Sony Online Entertainment’s President John Medley yesterday, the first day of GamesBeat 2013--and let fans know they can expect to spend less money on games in the future.

In a panel titled The Democratization of Gaming: The Evolution of the Online Game, Medley said that the focus of SOE is set squarely on the free-to-play model, as well as opening up the creation of the games to the players themselves.

Get Involved

“We’re going to see this big movement and we are already seeing it, where gamers are going to be participating in the process... They’re not just going to be participating by playing the game, they’re going to be participating in the ecosystem around the game. And they’re going to help drive the game.”

Medley said that not only is SOE and its slew of games (Planetside, EverQuest, and other titles still in development) focused on the free-to-play idea, but the PlayStation 4 is as well.

“Sony gets it, free-to-play games are going to be a big part of what the PlayStation 4 is... PCs and consoles are getting closer.”

He ended the interview saying that one of the exciting parts of the next generation of consoles and PCs is the possibility of content being able to be shared between all these consoles in the future. He also said that SOE’s goal is to be as “invisible as possible”, meaning they don’t want to separate gamers by selling content or levels - which is, of course, good news for gamers.

If You Build It...

Medley spent a large portion of the interview talking about player-created content and how it will be a big part of gaming in the future. He mentioned that when they were developing EverQuest Next, they realized that creating content for the game was so much fun that they wanted to let players experience that fun.

Similarly, players are able to create content in Planetside 2, and then turn around and sell it on the in-game market for real money. It’s this kind of freedom that Medley said SOE likes and wants to implement even more.

For example, honing back in on the topic of the democratization of gaming, Medley said they constantly share with the community some ideas of what they are planning on implementing into their games in the future. The community can then vote on what they like and don’t like, thus helping to shape the direction of the game.

He doesn’t believe this gives too much power to fans, as all of the ideas they present are ideas they have created and are comfortable implementing. So in the end, the game is still heading in the direction the developers intended, but with a little feedback from the community on the specifics.

The Future Is In Our Hands

If Medley is correct and the democratization of gaming is on the rise, this can only mean good things in the end. Free content, entire games open to all players, and the ability to create and sell your own content are all next-gen ideas. And get ready folks, because the next generation is almost upon us.

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