My Small Part of a Guinness World Record

Last Saturday, January 24th, Planetside 2 set a Guinness World Record for most players in a single FPS battle. The record, originally set by Planetside 1 and then taken by Man vs. Machine (a game purpose made to do so), now stands at 1,158 players – as determined by Annie Nguyen of Guinness and myself.

Yes, myself. A few weeks ago (around the holidays) I received an email from Raquel Marcelo, a member of the community/PR team at Sony Online Entertainment, asking if I was still in the San Diego area and interested in helping set a record. Sure, why not? Turns out, every Guinness World Record is verified independently by an Expert Witness, along with the Guinness representative, and for something relating to “Most Players in a FPS Battle,” an expert witness would be someone with experience in server logs, connections, that sort of stuff. And it just so happens that I was a Server Engineer at SOE up until November of last year.

On Saturday, I drove down to SOE Headquarters and showed up to find a skeleton crew in attendance – Raquel and Annie were of course there, as were Planetside 2 Producer Dave Carey (who recommended I be the expert witness), Spencer Sturr from A/V, and RadarX. I had no idea what exactly would be involved in my task, but I was happy to lend a hand. After meet and greets were exchanged, we got down to business. The ServerSmash kicked off as Annie and I were sat down at a PC.

On one screen, SOE’s internal monitoring software was displaying a graph of all players on the world, as well as players distributed by continent. The important number here was the number of players on Hossin, as that is what would count as a ‘single battle’. Within about 20 minutes, that number stabilized around the 1100 mark and things were underway in game. At that point, we transitioned to spotchecking individuals on the server to ensure they were human players and not some nefarious ruse perpetrated by SOE to set the record.

I was given control of RadarX’s account, told how to turn on Godmode and Invisibility, and went to town. Annie picked the names of players at random from a list of all current connections to the server, and I zipped over to them, observed for a moment, then sent them a random question – stuff like ‘Do you prefer ties or bowties?’ and ‘What’s your favorite color?’. Once the player responded to the question in a non-robotic way, they were checked off the list and we moved on.

Ten minutes into the process, Dave Carey suggested that we ‘unleash the hounds’ – each faction had 50 reserve members that could be used to replace disconnects and cancellations. With the population holding around 1100, there was no real reason not to pump the reserves in to boost the record. The previous record was 999 – already easily beaten – but bigger is better. The reserves were sent in and we waited, watching the graph climb steadily upwards to 1150 before leveling off at 1156.

1156 was very nearly the new record. Everyone seemed happy and satisfied that it wasn’t going to go up any more, so the call was made to make it official. As paperwork was being reviewed and filled out, though, I ducked back into the control room to take another look – and sure enough, the number was now 1158. Once verified by Annie, that became the number, and the rest is history.

All in all, a pretty fun way to spend a couple hours on a Saturday, I have to admit!