PlanetSide: Core Combat Interview

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 to thank Fang once more for sending in the great questions!

You can find descriptions of the new vehicles and weapons at the official Planetside site!


- Certis


hmmm, maybe I will join up PS when it gets cheaper...I just need to get my friends involved ^^

Nice interview. I liked the specificity of the questions. We should keep a resident expert on hand for every game for opportunities like these. Also, you heard about the double Galaxy here first! It's practically a done deal what with that winking emoticon and all.

It's a shame, though not entirely unexpected, that these additions are coming in the form of an expansion rather than additional content given to subscribers. However, it is nice to see that even those that don't buy the expansion can benefit from those who do.

I think this is my last month of Planetside. It's just not holding my attention. And to be fair, I'm a bit pissed that they're already planning to start charging for new features. Maybe I'll come back later, but I kinda doubt it, especially since I'll not have the expansion.

Your pal,

I still love the game! I play almost every day and am in an outfit that plays as often as I do and doesn't just follow the Zerg. To be honest if I wasn't playing with the same guys all the time and wasn't involved in an organised outfit which just adds that extra dimension of gameplay I don't know wether or not I'd still be playing...

I am definiately buying the Core Combat pack. I hope he's right about it bringing in new players however as Emerald and Werner are the only servers i still regularly see 4 dots on the server population list.

Much kudos to DD.  I asked some pointed questions.  Not because I wanted to be mean, but because I really wanted to know the answers.  I am very pleasantly surprised.  These guys are good eggs.  The answers were just as direct as my questions when they could have given vague diplomatic answers.  They are really on top of their product.  I would wager Planetside will remain a niche product, which is unfortunate as I wish them much more success.  I would like to see them tackle other ailing products... Like Asheron's Call 2!!!!

Yay Good Job guys this articles getting lots of links on the PS forum!

Thanks for the interview, good to see GwJ getting around!

I can't believe they are going to charge for upgrades already. I thought that's what we are paying monthly for - so they can keep developing?!

I think this will be the straw that breaks the camels back for a lot of people who can't justify buying the expansion, yet don't want to play with the disadvantage of not having what others have.

Coming from the FPS world, this is my first experience with a pay-to-play game. Is this normal for these games?

Nope snakes, its a bit early to talk about expansions typically with MMO games.  But this is an MMO with an FPS at its core so they can write their own rules and the future will have 20/20 hindsight on whether it was a good decision.

I closed my PS subscription last month, after not playing it for weeks on end. Figured out for myself that I simply don't have enough continuous evening time to commit to slow pace of PS. CS 1.6 works just fine for my FPS fix.