Dallas Dickinson, producer of the upcoming Planetside expansion spared a few moments to answer some questions sent in by our resident Planetside expert, Fangblackbone. The interview contains some info about the new vehicles in the game, the new underground areas and much more.
If you have any interest in the upcoming Core Combat expansion be sure to read on!
Gamers With Jobs: New expansions usually fall in between two extremes: content to revolutionize and expand gameplay and content to liven and freshen up to keep the population happy. Examples of these are the Kunark expansion (former example) and Legacy of Ykesha expansion (latter example) for Everquest. Does the new Planetside expansion fit one of these molds, or is it somewhere in between?
Dallas Dickinson: Core Combat both expands gameplay and freshens the existing game. The caverns of Core Combat offer dense environments for hardcore, urban fighting. This is guerilla warfare, with building-to-building battles and close combat. This type of gameplay hasn't yet been experienced in PS, and will promote a whole slew of new tactics. In addition, the Ancient Modules that players can secure from the core are going to power up surface bases, and change the dynamics of surface gameplay. Owning certain bases with certain power-ups will afford empires serious advantages in the continental war, and will reward serious strategic planning on the part of commanders.
GWJ: Current gameplay can be frustrating on lower populated continents or whole servers. What measures have you taken to ensure that the new underground areas won't dilute the population further?
DD: We're confident that this expansion will bring in a whole new group of players, including those who have adopted the "wait and see" strategy to joining MMO games. PlanetSide is still growing, and the game gets better and better with each day, so we fully expect the injection of new players to push server populations to the limit. In addition, the underground areas are meant to be places players and squads go on "missions." You wouldn't really want to stay down there too long, as the point of being down there is to secure the Ancient Modules for installation on the surface.
GWJ: Planetside has been excellent so far in balancing the three factions and the numerous weapons specific to them. Do you have any concerns about large imbalances due to the haves and have nots? ( i.e. players with the expansion dominating players without it)
DD: We have taken a number of precautions with the expansion to ensure that does not happen. The new weapons and vehicles are not overpowering - they simply offer a few new strategic opportunities to the players who have access. The benefits of Ancient Modules, which are the major new feature, can be utilized by any member of an empire who installs one. The modules power up bases and the characters around those bases, so as long as some people in your empire have the expansion, you are not cut out of the action. Of course, the more players in your empire who have the expansion, the better your empire will do - but we don't expect that, for instance, only TR players will buy the expansion. :)
GWJ: If the underground cities prove successful, are there any plans to expand to sea warfare or space battles?
DD: Those are both design possibilities we have discussed. Each is pretty cool and offers lots of interesting game elements. However, we have not yet decided for sure whether one of those arenas will be next on the list.
GWJ: Being a big fan of the infiltration suit, there is constant turmoil over whether I would like to see the stealth gameplay explored further or whether doing that would risk the influx of everyone wanting to do it and watering down the fun of the few skill players. Right now, it is an absolute thrill attempting to infiltrate a base populated with a few wandering guards and littered with Combat Engineer traps. Do the underground cities in the expansion have areas that encourage that kind of gameplay?
DD: Infiltrators will always have cool roles to fill. And we are definitely looking for ways to expand on the existing "classes" and their roles. That said, I'm not sure we are ever going to add new gameplay that is only for infiltrators. The general design principle here is that there should always be more than one way to skin a cat. Objectives can be achieved by a squad of infiltrators in surprising ways, but they can be achieved with equal success by a group of Reaver pilots. It's all about rock/paper/scissors, and choosing the right strategy and tactics for your squad.
GWJ: Obviously it may be a minority opinnion, but the Skyguard seems like an upgrade to the limited use Harrasser. Are the vehicles in the expansion upgrades to existing less than useful vehicles or do they stand on their own?
DD: The new vehicles are pretty different from what currently exists in the game. Two of them play roles that do not exist at all in the game (the Router and the Flail), and one is a pretty different style, even among ATVs (the Switchblade).
GWJ: Are there any plans to go bigger with vehicles either in free content or future expansions? (double Galaxies on land or air, giant MAXs)
DD: Hmm. Interesting thoughts. We don't currently have these ideas in the near-future queue, of course, but they might be very cool. No promises. ;)
Thanks again to Dallas for taking the time to do an interview. We'd also like toÃ‚Â thank FangÃ‚Â once moreÃ‚Â for sending in the great questions!