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PLANETSIDE 2 Pre-Viz: M439 Vanguard

Concept art © 2012 Sony Online Entertainment LLC. SOE. All Rights Reserved.

Planetside 2 is out soon! Watch the trailer here: [link]

Current Planetside 2 design, and Planetside 1 design.

So, with the new trailer out, and the tonnes of beta footage, concept art and media floating about I think its safe to release some of my pre-viz work I did for SOE from 2009-2010. I will be releasing in the order of what is only out already in the media, and then finally once the game is 'gold' then the rest will follow in updates to come.

Planetside ([link]) was, and is, an unimaginably amazing true-MMOFPS franchise that should have taken the world by storm 9 years ago. It was the only game back then that could hold my attention for more than 7 minutes. Defending a hard-earned facility, Mass Gal drops, MAX Raids had me rushing home from school and logging on and doing my part for the TR/Vanu. Most of the defining moments of my life's gaming experience is credited to Planetside and its open-world 'sandbox' nature, allowing hundreds of players to wage epic freaking war in a 24-hour long persistent world server. The network connectively was surprisingly sharp, and the frenetic gameplay, camaraderie and immersion to be had was nothing short of exhilarating.

I eventually left the game due to the introduction of BFRs (Don't get me wrong it was fun as a Collosus killing shit and acting out my Mechwarrior fantasies on live human opponents, being a troll even before it became a popular meme, but the entire battlefield dynamic just changed too drastically for comfort. I mainly enjoyed the combat with 50% infantry, 30% armour, 20% air vehicle mix...)

Fast forward 6 years, and right after finishing up my Space Vagabonds commission and wanting to take a holiday, a phonecall came in from SOGA Taiwan. It was for a project titled Planetside Next. I think I screamed a bit. A combination of self-doubt, horror, and eventually facemelting joy followed by a frantic followup email and a test and the job was awarded to us at IFS! :) (Helped to be a fan and swearing on my life that I'd do my best to homage Planetside and update it respectfully, too.) It was then supposed to be just a revamp of Planetside, a sort of Planetside reimagined. Explains why you don't see glass cockpits on my vehicle concepts, that was an early creative decision when they weren't sure they wanted to show off the characters or not due to engine limitations (IIRC they wanted to vastly increase the player count with the same engine or something, so something had to give). I also chimed in saying it was fantastic idea, because we'd be able to create a truly hard-sci fi futuristic look where high end optics were commonplace, removing the need for fragile transparent components. A cold, hardened look that is reminiscent of drones. I still think its a great meaningful look, and I always feel kinda broken-hearted when I see how in the current iterations the cockpit areas of my designs got carved up into glass, because it was a real labour of love for myself, and the early team members (GM John Laurence, Programmer/PM Steve Wang, AD William B. Yeatts) that went into designing all that stuff.

While I may not agree aesthetically with those changes, I can definitely appreciate and understand why they went the direction of showing off glass cockpits and crew especially now that the project has the brilliant Forgelight engine to bring that world to life. (Don't get me wrong, if its an open canopied jeep or ATV by all means uncover it all, show the crew, the rawness and exposure has beauty too... just that my design approach at the time was simply based around the original principle of being a hardened cockpit coffin and the pilot buried behind layers of protection. To my mind, it is very hard to just swap a part out and change the context and expect the design to carry the same meaning anymore. Players might not ever care, but I just felt the need to say my peace on that tiny matter. :) )

So anyways, I spent almost an entire year (2009-2010) on the project. It was one of the most transformational periods of my life professionally and testing in my personal life as well; the relationships forged and artistic growth, the incredible brain drain endured along with the soaring creative highs, no money can buy any of that. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have experienced it all and especially to have worked on the project of my dreams alongside some amazing people (credited above!), the game that made me a gamer. Can't wait to show more when I can and I sincerely hope my efforts have added to the joy of fans worldwide! Long live Planetside! :)

More on this piece:
-Credit to Steve Wang/John Laurence for the copy writing and backstory unless stated otherwise.
-One of the ideas I had to re-present Planetside faction tones was to adopt a Command and Conquer type palatte (yes, read on). Coincidentally, C&C had Nod, GDI and the Scrin that held very familiar colour palattes to the more colourful and saturated Planetside counterparts. Yet, at the same time these worked very well because the C&C palatte reflected what I would accept as grounded camoflague tones and meaningful colour accents. For example, the NC could shift from Yellow to Tan, a meaningful desert scheme that also reflected their guerilla nature, and have the blue and black as accent markings that also made sense from a visual standpoint. The TR would be generally Grey with red accents to reflect their origin (no spoilers here) and the Vanu, well, WYSIWYG. :p
-Anti-infantry weaponry ideas as a fan, this was to see less infantry engaging tanks up close and actually fearing to tread anywhere nearby.
-Vanguard also doubles as arty platform because that seems to be a smurf tactic, esp with the Phoenix guided munitions and all, it seemed to fit into the theme! Long distance turtling, or up savage CQB.
-On the styling. I suggested early on that perhaps the TR and NC could have their shape language swapped, not only to give each a fresher read but to better bring out the backstory and purpose of either faction. The NC would have a rounded, smooth Russian in-your-face aesthetic, while the TR would sport some ergo-stealth, oppressive angular design.
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senkosan8005's avatar

*points at scratch* "I thought they said it was impossible to destroy!"

Interesting work, though, looks like a drivers hatch is a shell trap zone. 
zJoriz's avatar
Awesome design! Pretty much what an 'ideal' main battle tank would look like.
A Leopard 2 without modifications? I like the News Conglomerate (Coilguns FTW!), but would have killed them change their HEAT guns for railguns?
zJoriz's avatar
... I don't really understand your reply. Sorry...
Planetside 2 tanks look exactly like modern ones (minus Vanu of course). Hell, they still use gunpowder instead of lasers or coilguns.
zJoriz's avatar
Ah, you dislike the normal cannon? Can't really blame them. The Railgun idea may sound cool but is still (apparently) drastically outperformed by normal guns and even missiles, especially on the fields of reliability, portability and cost per shot.
I agree that it's time to explore some new weapon types though, especially in games, where such arguments don't need to apply. Even lasers and coilguns are getting a bit stale tbh.
The problem is that its the 29th century. Halo has a good reason for using cased ammo (26th), but Planetside already has fully automatic, small-arm coilguns.
zJoriz's avatar
I see, you're right in that case. 1000 years should be enough time to evolve both the human species and its weaponry almost beyond recognition.
Well, that only applies to the Republic. The NC and the Vanu use definitely sci-fi weaponry (coilguns, railguns, lasers and plasma); its only weird when the guys that use magnetically propelled rifles still use chemically propelled guns for their tanks.
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VelkyMisha's avatar
Ever thought about making something Soviet like? I mean something lower, less armoured and expensive, but faster?
knetch's avatar
is good for the NC style gameplay
POPTART117's avatar
"I did...Sorta...."
NOAX00's avatar
NOAX00's avatar
Love the oveal design language on this one, well done !
brand1237hu's avatar
An Artillery mode would be a good balance to help the NC. "Freedom over oppression!"
TheMonkeysUnkle's avatar
The prowler kind of has that already. I do think it was a poor choice to give the vanguard a panic button ability. It really is a noob's ability when compared top the magrider and prowler.
Jax1776's avatar
Awesome tank! :D
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