Hossin. If the name of Planetside 2’s new continent sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been bandied about since the game’s launch – and been in development even longer.
“We’ve figured out that creating a ‘good’ outpost in Planetside 2 takes about 2-3 weeks of level design, art playtesting and iteration time minimally, per outpost,” said SOE’s Matt Higby. “Multiply that by 80 or so, and you’ll get a good idea of how much work is required for a high-quality continent.”
Even now, Hossin isn’t done.
“There isn’t any other way to say it except to say that Hossin is not finished,” said Higby. “If we wanted to ‘finish’ Hossin without sacrificing the quality level we’ve established, it would probably be three months before it was ready to go live.
“We don’t want to wait that long, and we don’t think you want to either.”
Currently, SOE are happy with the level design and visuals for about half Hossin’s bases. 25% are at a ‘first pass’ stage of development and distinguishable in-game as such. A further 25% are identical placeholder areas based on an existing outpost SOE already know works well.
The level design and environmental art teams at SOE will spend the next few months iterating on those, and every couple of weeks more bases will be finished and patched into the game. In the meantime, Hossin is a sort of live beta area.
The Planetside 2 Public Test Server isn’t an option, says Higby, simply because hammering out a continent isn’t the same as tweaking a weapon: it involves large scale balance and flow testing.
“We know that we won’t really discover what works and doesn’t work in the continent until it’s live,” explained Higby. “We’ve had to go back and redo a lot in our other continents once they were exposed to the masses and we expect Hossin will be similar.”
Elsewhere in the update, SOE have implemented continent locking – a system which makes huge swathes of the map unavailable for spawning or interacting in once it’s been captured, until another in dominated and locked by an empire.
But undoubtedly the first thing you’ll notice on logging in is the dirty great new landmass. Do you think you’ll give it a good trampling?