Planetarion (commonly referred to as PA) is a browser-based massively multiplayer online game. Created by Fifth Season AS in early 2000, then bought by Jolt in 2003, and then bought by Renegade Games in 2009, and currently owned by Jagex Games Studio, the game has placed players in control over a planet, with the ability to mine its asteroids for resources, and construct a fleet of spaceships to attack other player's planets. Although its popularity has declined with the emergence of other similar games and the introduction of a pay-to-play model, the game is currently still active.
The objective of the game is to attain a higher score than your opponents, which can be achieved primarily by stealing their asteroids and destroying their fleets. The game offers a player the choice between five races, each with their own ships and advantages, allowing for a variety of strategies. Every few months, the game is reset, at which point winners are declared and a new round of play starts, commonly with a number of new features and updates to keep the gameplay balanced.
The game updates once per hour, which is called a tick in-game. Every action within the game, from the construction of a factory to the attack of another planet, takes a set number of these ticks, which gives the game a unique mix between turn-based and real-time gameplay, as it allows players only a limited window of time to react to other player's actions. Because of this, cooperation and communication between planets is a necessity, which leads to a strong sense of community play as the players organise themselves into alliances. As such, Planetarion has an active presence on the NetGamers IRC network for direct communication between players.
When the game was launched in 2000 it quickly achieved great popularity, receiving eleven Multiplayer Online Games Directory Game of the Month Awards.
Whilst originally free, the crash of the dotcom bubble also meant a decline in advertising revenue for Fifth Season AS, the Norwegian company behind Planetarion. As a result, the move was made to a pay-to-play model with the start of Round 5. This led to a sharp decline in the game's userbase.
In 2003, Planetarion was sold by Fifth Season AS to the UK-based company SimTech Ltd., a daughter company of Jolt, who provide hosting for the game.
In 2007, round 22 ("Shards of Infinity") once again was a free round. A notable feature is that inactive players will automatically be moved to an inactive part of the universe.
On 6 February 2009, Peter Zaborszky from Renegade Games Limited confirmed that they had purchased the rights to Planetarion and that they would continue to run the game.
In August 2013, Jagex allowed a newly formed company called Ranul Tech Ltd the licence to operate and manage the game, whilst still maintaining ownership.
Planetarion currently has five races from which players can choose when creating their planet, each offering particular bonuses and different styles of play. Since the introduction of separate races there had always been four; the twentieth round saw the introduction of a fifth: the Eitraides, who are said to be a Terran race that broke off in search of profit. Making extensive contact with the other races, they receive mostly financial bonuses, as well as a mixture of ships which previously belonged to separate races, such as ships with EMP, cloaking and stealing technology.
- Terran (Ter)
- Terrans are a human race, whose ships use conventional weaponry. Generally they favour the larger and heavier ship classes to attack and inflict damage with.
- Cathaar (Cat)
- Cathaar are a humanoid feline race, who possess advanced EMP technology, resulting in the ability to use highly efficient but non-lethal weaponry.
- Xandrathii (Xan)
- The Xandrathii are a highly advanced insectoid race using small and fast ships equipped with cloaking technology. Their high firepower and speed, combined with the unpredictability of their fleets due to cloaking technology, is offset by the fact that their ships are quite fragile.
- Zikonian (Zik)
- The Zikonians are a mysterious race about whom not much is known. It is claimed that they are an ancient race come to claim domination over the universe, others say that they are a rebel offspring of the Cathaar. They have the uncommon ability to steal enemy ships, thus giving them a variety of ships from each race.
- Eitraides (Etd)
- The Eitraides are humans who decided to leave their home planet and pursue profit, rather than war. This has made them the traders of the universe, receiving great financial advantages. Additionally, their travels have brought them into contact with the other races' ship technology, giving them a mixed arsenal of ships to deploy in their efforts.
The game takes place in so-called rounds, the length of which has varied throughout history, but which is currently at approximately two months in length. At that time, the winners are declared and the game is reset, upon which everyone can sign up for a brand new planet. New rounds generally also bring changes in gameplay, ship statistics or even universe makeup, as a result of feedback from the players during the active round.
In between rounds, speedgames are frequently held over weekends which generally run at one-minute ticks, instead of hourly ones for more fast-paced action. In the past, these speedgames have been run at LAN events such as The Gathering in Norway and the Multiplay i-Series in the United Kingdom, and have also been used for competitions such as the Planetarion World Cup.
PC Zone reviewed version 2 of Planetarion in October 2000, at which point, there were over 30,000 players. PC Zone described the gameplay as having a "charm and subtle addiction that is a pleasant change of pace" and highlighted the quality of support available for the game via volunteer staffed IRC channels. The game was awarded a score of 72%.
Michael Dougherty reviewed Planetarion on 28 August 2007, stating that if you sit in front of your PC twitching uncontrollably when you do not kill a PC/NPC or blow something up on a regular basis then this is definitely not the game for you. However, if you are a strategist who enjoys a slow-paced, turn-based game then you will not find anything better than Planetarion. The keys to this game are strategy and patience, couple this with the proper player base and the right frame of mind when entering the game and you just might find yourself pleasantly surprised and extremely addicted. The score awarded was 7/10.
Awards and accomplishments
Planetarion has won the MPOGD game of the month award 13 times, most recently in January 2012.
- "Multiplayer Online Games Directory / GOTM". Mpogd.com. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
- "Planetarion going all pay to play?". boards.ie. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Planetarion Portal > News > Read > Round 30 signups". Planetarion.com. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Planetarion Portal > News > Read > The future of planetarion". Planetarion.com. 6 February 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Planetarion Portal > News > Read > Jagex purchases planetarion". Planetarion.com. 26 July 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Planetarion Portal > News > Read > Planetarion Shall Continue!". Planetarion.com. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- "Planetarion Forums - Latest Round 20 News, Stats & Changes". Pirate.planetarion.com. 17 January 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Jed Norton (October 2000). "Planetarion review". PC Zone (94): 72.
- "MPOGD's GAME OF THE MONTH". Multiplayer Online Game Directory. Retrieved 1 October 2012.