The Game Archaeologist goes PlanetSide: Your journeys

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|02.22.11

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The Game Archaeologist goes PlanetSide: Your journeys
While war itself is a hellish, nasty activity that we'd be better off without, there's always been something compelling about playing war as both kids and adults. When you strip war of death and suffering, the play version can become downright compelling as we get engrossed in tales of heroics, deep strategies, risky gambits, and clear-cut victories. It's why we invest so much time in simulating war throughout our lives -- in snowball fights, toy soldiers, laser tag, and MMOs.

For the soldiers of PlanetSide, the war has been raging for over eight years now with no end in sight, and that's just fine with everyone involved. The game was designed to be a perpetual struggle between military forces -- not due to politics or prejudice but simply for the love of the fight.

In the year or so I've been writing this column, I've never seen so many people come forward when asked to share their experiences with an MMO as have done for PlanetSide. There's definitely something compelling and unique about this MMOFPS that's become a dear part of many gamers' memories, and I'm pleased to be sharing those stories with you today. Hit the jump for the glory, trooper!

Matthew Allen: The commander

My memories of the game go beyond the game itself; of the comrades I have made in the game, several have become life-long friends. In your interview with Hamma, I remember reading a lot about the community, and I would have to agree that you'd be hard-pressed to find a more close-knit following of any game.

Anyway, of the seven years that I've been playing, the best memory I carry of PlanetSide is that of my outfit, Darkfire Company. I made the outfit back in '07, if I remember right, and we've been a pretty steady group since then. Most of the players in the outfit are people I've been fighting along side nearly my entire service record. I have never found a group of players that I like better than the individuals I've picked up in this outfit.

Together, these people make up a family, and we truly are that in my eyes. Most of these people would do anything to help each other in and out of game. I know that a few reserve their sense of family, seeing as it is a gaming clan, but the core of the outfit is very much connected in a way larger outfits will never know.

That this is possible is one of the things that makes PlanetSide so great. Good luck finding the same level of loyalty and friendship that PS players have in RPGs and other games.

Mike Jenner: The cloaker

I was a cloaker. I stole everything, especially tanks. When knives were OP, I would trail tank crews with my cloaking ATV and ambush them when they got out to repair. That got nerfed, so I would just hack the tank while the crew was out of it repairing, leaving them in the dust. I even "jacked" a CSR's BFR once. My lockers were full of enemy tank ammo so my buddies and I could go joyriding later.

Sean O'Hara: The sniper

I have so many great memories from the game that it's hard to pick one, such as the four-day-long at the bridge between Leza and Tore on Cyssor between NC and VS forces, or a three-way battle at a base on northern Amerish. At the last one, my brother and I each got over 90 sniper kills and were so good all the enemies snipers eventually stopped.

Ben Lesh: The boss

I remember that PlanetSide was the originator of "Tony Danza raids." I remember logging in one day only to find the entirety of the New Conglomerate were named "Tony Danza" with a number attached. I was killed by Tony Danza 84 once, but I could never figure out how many there were.

Russell Clarke: The skydiver

My favorite memories include:

  1. 7th Corps (NC) forever!
  2. Sneaking over rough terrain to deploy my AMS right outside enemy bases.
  3. How I hated the VS Lasher!
  4. My time as an ace (well, average) Skeeter pilot. But damn those things were fun, especially the endless spiral turns you could pull.
  5. Tower defence drills -- guard the stairs!
  6. The initial excitement, followed by regret and disappointment, at the release of Core Combat -- a real turning point (downward) for the game.
  7. Mass skydives from a Galaxy onto the roof of a tower, with a hail of fire incoming – just an electric sensation!
Jason Leroux: The campaigner

The day came when we were going to go up against this TR outfit. They had blown everyone out of the water and had their sights set on us. They were talking about how they were just going to walk over us like nothing.

We had other plans.

We made the decision to play a defensive game, although this was NOT popular with some of our guys. But in retrospect it was a brilliant strategy, because we were there to prove a point. Nobody walks over us.

So the day comes; GSKSP1 has his defense squad all geared up and in position, mines and turrets are everywhere. The match started, and just like we expected, in came a squadron of Skeeters, afterburners roaring, going for the gen drop. The problem was they never even got close! Five Skygaurds, five Magriders and two Starfires lit those mothers up!

I remember I was sitting there on a hill with a huge grin on my face blasting the hell out of Skeeter after Skeeter, and what I couldn't bring down (the flak of the Skyguards), our Magriders tore to pieces.

Now as luck would have it, the match was coming to an end. There was time for one last push. Barney made the call, "Defend the base!" So all our forces turtled, and it was a damn smart move because this time they brought everything. We brought down as many as we could, and the fighting was ferocious, but they had no intentions of keeping those birds in the air, as they all just ditched them the moment they were over our base.

Now this... this was bad. As much as I hate to admit it, these guys were good at what they did, and if they got their foot in the door, you were in a lot of trouble. On this day, however, they ran into 30 of the most determined troopers ever, because there was no way in hell we were going to lose. As the match's final seconds ticked down, we were mopping up the remains of their forces. We may not have "won" per se, but it was, in my opinion, our greatest victory.

Mark Lima: The veteran

My best memory for Neosix had to be dinging CR5 when I was mashed out of my mind at a LAN at Crashly's house. From then on the night was filled with outfit sanc raids, OSes aimed at friendlies, and Mossie hot drops to try and change the tide of battle.

My memory for Lochdog had to be the stalemate vs. the VS in late 2007. After eight hours of pushing a base, one of the GMs I was frequently chatting with said to gather up some troops and message him. So I did. Then, without hesitation, about 10 of my closest outfit mates and best-suited for a ToD captured the tower, resulting in TR taking the base within 45 minutes.

Adam R: The techie

I beta tested PlanetSide and continued to play it for at least a year after release. I was old-school, starting with multiplayer Doom, to the point that I burned out on FPSs after Tribes and Tribes 2. PlanetSide reawakened that sense of exhiliration I felt in Tribes after sneaking into the enemy base spawn building with my disc gun.

But on a technical level, PlanetSide was also quite unique. Not only were there some huge battles, but it was the first game I was ever able to play across three screens. PlanetSide holds a very special place in my heart.

Ryan Culver: The driver

My favorite group memories always involved raids with my outfit Point Zero, galaxy drops, gen holds, and llu runs. Personally, I loved driving my Magrider, as long as I had a good gunner.

Cliff Woodward: The pilot

I started in PlanetSide from launch. I ended up getting hooked when I joined an Outfit and I designated myself a pilot. My role was to fly escort for the drop ships. I even had a designated wingman, and we'd fly in formation as much as we could.

I absolutely fell in love with the combat and the organization. I truly felt like a soldier with a purpose. When it wasn't time for our outfit to take to the offensive, I'd snag a four-wheeler and go cruising. Only the expansion stopped me from playing.

Robert Carter: The romantic

My best memory was my first memory. Upon logging in, I slapped the Instant Action button so I could see what the fuss was about. I was hot-dropped into a seemingly desolate stretch of desert near a small tower bearing the banner of the enemy.

As I plunged down in my pod, I passed directly through an air-to-air conflict between some teammates and the VS. When I hit the ground, I observed several hover tanks doing battle with friendly, conventional-looking tanks off in the distance. As I turned towards the tower, I saw a shower of teammates, some wearing large suits of power armor, fall onto its roof and infiltrate its defences. Tracers, shells and laser bursts were sailing in every direction in the sky above me. Suddenly, an enemy tank popped out from the far side of the tower; his gunner dialed me in quickly. With two shots from the main cannon, the gunner gave me my first tally in the "D" column.

I fell in love instantly.

Fredriks: The co-pilot

My favorite time in PlanetSide was when I was just walking around and found a Norweigan guy. He told me that he needed a co-pilot, so we found a helicopter and started bombing things and taking bases. Since you had to cooperate in some vehicles and things were easy to learn but hard to master, your skill as a player was worth evolving and became attractive when grouping. And it definitely paid off in rewards and XP.
When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.
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