Archive for the ‘Rift’ Category

After seeing a handful of posts over the past couple of days throwing out the idea that Trion’s Rift is now becoming over-hyped and/or over-exposed, I must admit to throwing my hands up in frustration. As I posted over at Bio Break:

I don’t understand it. Gamers are playing themselves sick on limited beta weekends, and the problem is with the company in any way? (not that you’re saying this, Syp, but it seems to be the impression I’m taking away from several comments on the blogosphere)

Sometimes I think I’ll never understand some of my fellow MMO players. I sometimes feel that this is purely a side-effect of our fast-moving internet and blogging culture, where people feel compelled to say something every so often (we don’t want to fall off of those blogrolls!), and so play themselves sick on games so that they have something to report on, and if they can’t (goodness forbid) play, speculate themselves into a frenzy of hype and delusion, the outcome of which can only be PR disaster.

That’s… not on the company. That’s on us.

I’m impressed at the culture we as MMO gamers have created for ourselves. We have the people who won’t buy at launch without a free trial (thus risking impacting a company’s ability to use money acquired through initial sales to improve and/or continue to develop the product); we have the people who are concerned about endgame and scoff at betas that don’t allow access to the higher levels of content. We have the people who scoff at betas because they are glorified marketing ploys/”soft launches”; we have the people who worry that a company who actually implements suggestions or makes changes due to feedback during beta lack vision.

So we have a game that used beta testers to beta test, limited beta access (presumably in part to build hype, and in part to restrict testing to targeted systems) but increased access with each beta event, increased the level cap with each event, opening up the map and dungeons for scrutiny, will show off near-endgame content to an open beta audience, giving us plenty of time to not only pre-order, but pre-order with discounts, and even lock in a reduced subscription rate after launch, and our problem is that now we’re over-exposed and wish Trion would turn it down a notch.

No, maybe our problem is that we have to talk about everything so much and so often that we’ve already played Rift for three years in our heads. Next!

Now, make no mistake: it is absolutely in the best interest of gaming companies to help us manage our expectations, whether that be by limiting content or revealing it. It is also true that we as a general gaggle of gamers have little to no idea what we really want; transparancy apparently leads to over-exposure and “over”-hype; a tight-lipped stance leads to ArenaNet having to post a blog in which they simply re-iterate that they’re still working on the game, or BioWare having to address rumors of a budget for SW:TOR many times larger than reality allows, impending doom and gloom, etc.

It would seem the only thing that hasn’t, in fact, been sped up by the internet is the actual development time of a quality MMO. Given the number of times I’ve now seen comments posted on various sites saying Trion should “just release Rift already,” I’m not sure we’re far off from forgetting that as well.

But what do I know? I’m talking about Rift, too, already as sick of the controversies about endgame and nerfing of racials and open PvP changes as everyone else. If Trion relied on my blog to generate hype, Rift would have already failed, since I no longer participate in the beta weekends, saving that content for launch – and as such, I haven’t much to say. Except, of course, to complain like the old, crotchety gamer that I am.


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Of Gaming Lulls

Whilst waiting for the Rift Beta 5 event to take place (although I’m not yet certain I will be able to participate much due to timing and my fear of growing sick of the game before it even launches), Mr. Randomessa has taken it upon himself to give the newly-released Bloodline Champions a try. I would let him speak for himself as to the merits of this game, but he hasn’t spoken a word to me since first loading it onto his computer last night, so I’ll just assume he’s having fun. (I kid, of course. He has been playing it steadily all weekend, though)

Inspired by his experimentation, but put off by the top-down/isometric view BC locks you into, I tried downloading Land of Chaos Online (LOCO) instead, and lasted through the newbie tutorial before acknowledging that this sort of game is Just Not For Me(TM). That, and I’m terrible at them, so the feeling is mutual.

Speaking of games that are not for me, something on the Leakerz website made me check out Firefall’s development progress. Here is a video of gameplay footage with developer commentary that I found very compelling. While I had seen a couple of trailers, I had not heard such a complete feature list until specifically going to the site to seek this information out. I did not realize, for example, that Firefall claims to provide dynamic content, much along the lines of Rift and Guild Wars 2, including player hubs that can be taken over during invasions by hostile NPCs and subsequently cannot be rescued unless other mission objectives for reclaiming said hub are completed. All this, and a seamless world plus PvP and PvE matching and storyline missions, for free (yes, free to download and free to play, with a cash shop). Why, I can almost hear a gauntlet being thrown down as I type this. It won’t release until the end of 2011, which is more of a release date than ArenaNet has provided, so I look forward to these two duking it out over the next year. The winners are us, the gamers!

Of course, while I quite like the cell-shaded and admittedly anime/manga-inspired visuals of Firefall’s future Earth, I just cannot see myself being able to invest much time or passion into an FPS/TPS game. I simply haven’t got the skills… yo. The videos are quite fun to watch, though. I even like the ubiquitous Blur cinematic.

I’m using this lull between choice gaming content for myself to finally finish reading Guild Wars: Edge of Destiny, which is making me want to play a mesmer in Guild Wars 2 so badly (you know, whenever that information is released), and Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension, which is making me wonder if rolling a Riftstalker in Rift would be a close enough approximation of a Mistborn.

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To Sum Up:

Yes, Mr. Randomessa and I have pre-ordered Rift, including one Collector’s Edition box for the goodies. No, we will not be taking Trion up on their generous multiple-month subscription discounts. Resolutions to keep, and all that.

Although we’re pretty much sold on the game, we were really waiting to try out this weekend’s Warfronts, something it turns out I will barely be able to do, what with my extended work schedule that always seems to coincide with beta weekends. A part of me shares Syncaine’s concern that, like Warhammer, Rift will not be able to withstand the population behaving differently at launch than they are in beta (a behavioral change I admit I don’t understand, but then I am that odd gamer who is neither competitive nor reward-driven).

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have traded my headstart and first six months of Warhammer Online for anything, and if the absolute worst Rift can do is give us six months of rip-roaring fun, that’s a bet I’ll take.

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I have started and stopped this post in progress several times already, and it has evolved from a “2010 in Review” post to the slimmed down version I offer today, a day late. Seems my first resolution for 2011 is to keep things simple.

Other resolutions I have on offer:

  • No more long-term subscriptions. I have now made two poor gambles in long-term subs in the hopes that I could get around my distaste for monthly payments, but it is now obvious to me that long-term consistent gameplay is not really where I’m at. Even in the event that a game captures my interest, I would do better to bite the bullet and subscribe only as needed than to go all-in for a year (or the game’s lifetime).
  • Accept that Fantasy is “the” genre for me. DC Universe Online was fun, and Star Trek Online has its moments, but the moment I glimpsed my Bahmi Chloromancer in robes, fighting chained spirits, or my Dwarf cleric in her chainmail, I felt at home. This will save me a lot of trouble when it comes to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • No more arguing on the internet about alleged vs. known facts about upcoming games. However, I do expect to have to make a post in around a year’s time about ArenaNet’s actual claims about Dynamic Events, akin to my post about Mythic’s Public Quests. I’m collecting my sources and I’m checking them twice.

I’m also encouraged about other gaming options that are coming to fruition in 2011. There will be not one, but two D&D-inspired multiplayer games, as well as a multiplayer Lord of the Rings RPG, and I could not be more excited to see if these scratch any of the itches I have previously been unable to get anywhere but in MMOs. I am also extremely excited to play, of all things, a single player game in The Sims Medieval. For some reason, The Sims don’t ping as a single-player game in my mind, with all the resultant problems of feeling lonely and caged in not raising their ugly heads.

That most of these are expected out in spring of 2011 means I will have to ration my time between them and Rift (there arises that dastardly subscription opposition again), but I hope they will help me get over the tricky hype road to SW:TOR and beyond. And, of course, if Guild Wars 2 should see a 2011 release, any and all bets for gaming outside of GW2 are off.

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ArenaNet, You Wound Me

Just when I was basking in the realization that I would not have to choose between Rift and Guild Wars 2, that each can offer me MMO goodness in their own respective ways – that I could, in fact, have my cake and eat it, too – ANet throws me the curveball of releasing Edge of Destiny, the second Guild Wars novel, on December 28th.

This is no problem at all, unless, of course, one was also invited to Rift’s Beta 3 event, which begins on December 28th.

Don’t worry about being late to the party, Hunter – I’ll be joining you a week into Edge of Destiny mania, just as soon as I’m finished pounding epic rift invasions into the ground.

Happy day off to those of you fortunate to have it, enjoy your respective festive celebrations, and happy retail hell day to our fine women and men in the service industry.

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Rift Take Me Away

Rift’s beta NDA has officially been dropped (I believe alpha testers are still to remain mum), so I can go ahead and say that I was extremely lucky in being randomly invited to both beta weekend events, and then managed to snag two VIP keys for Mr. Randomessa and myself, so that we could play Beta 2 together.

It seems everybody has something to say about Rift, so I’m not sure I have much to add. Since I don’t play WoW, many of the similarities other bloggers noted and commented on were missed by yours truly and Mr. Randomessa; we were more likely to compare Rift to the Warhammer we actually have experience with, with smatterings of EQII and Aion thrown in for variety. About the most damning thing anyone has to say about Rift is that it doesn’t do much that is new, and how damning you find that will completely depend on how new you like your gaming experience to be.

I went into the Beta 1 weekend thinking that I wanted things to be about as different as possible, because the only game that has drawn and kept my attention for years isn’t even on the books as a “real” MMO, but I am also the same person who played the heck out of Warhammer for six months before the population took a nosedive, and farther back from that, played a cleric and healed berserkers back in my text MUD days. It turns out that my “I like different” battle cry shriveled up as soon as I found out that in Rift I could be a chainmail-wearing, hammer-wielding cleric with a pet. Just like I used to in StrangeMUD fifteen years ago! And so it was that I was sold.

Rift’s appeal for Mr. Randomessa and I lays mostly in the little things: in the markings on Kelari faces, in the lazy character running animations (much hated on the forums but charming to me), in the way loot automatically goes into a bag on your UI when you participate in a Rift, so you can always collect even if you die. Rift appealed to us when I opened the map and hollered for Mr. Randomessa to “LOOK at it, LOOK AT THE INVASIONS” and when Mr. Randomessa yelled at me to “LOOK at that TREE, LOOK AT IT!” There was a lot of yelling at Chez Randomessa on Sunday night of Beta 2.

I found myself enjoying healing a group in a chaotic situation long after I thought I’d hung up that hat. I poured hours into leveling in the hopes that I would be able to experience a dungeon, came up short, but got to kill a tree with over 300,000 hit points, and keep people alive while doing it (while Mr. Randomessa crafted in a corner; something he always found disappointing about Warhammer). I got to hang out with a couple hundred people in the same area without a server meltdown, dance with a dwarf, and watch a bit of Rift lore unfold without having had to attain an elite level range or armor rating.

Beta event 3 will take place squarely in the middle of a week in which I have to work, and will end the morning of my only day off, so my story ends here. Mr. Randomessa, on the other hand, has strict instructions to devour everything and take notes. We’re going to need some more information if we’re to make this our new home, after all.

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Between KTR’s post about MMOs charging subscriptions for content, and Syp’s post about MMOs claiming to re-invent the wheel and what may or may not be foolhardy about that, I’ve had a lot of food for thought over the past couple of days, and done more commenting than I usually do. So, I says to myself, self, I should probably slink away to my blog and continue here.

The beta testing and gaming I’ve been doing recently has helped me learn more about my tastes WRT MMOs (and I’m still learning): my reticence to maintain subscriptions has always had to do with feeling compelled to play, which, to others, might merely be a sign that I don’t enjoy a game as much as I should – and in some cases, as with LOTRO, it’s certainly true.

But I keep coming back to the sub-1000 hours I’ve spent playing my most favoritest game in the whole wide world, Guild Wars, over the past five years. I have literally played this game as much as I can stand, and enjoyed 99.8% of it – the only times I don’t enjoy it are when I end up having to repeat missions to get to the next nugget of story, or when I actually do dip into the grind/farm in order to acquire that elite armor, or that minipet, or that faction tier. That’s when I find myself playing for hours a night for, say, a week, and then leaving for a month because I need some time to myself.

There is so much I haven’t done in Guild Wars. I’ve never seen the inside of an elite dungeon. I haven’t finished the Titan quest chain. I most certainly haven’t Vanquished more than a few small squares of any given continent. I will never play any aspect of the game enough to get T1 Friend of the Luxons/Kurzicks.

But I love this game. I adore it, I think about it, I blog about it, I read the lore and I pitch it to every person I come across who might seem the slightest bit inclined to computer gaming. But ultimately I haven’t logged on since I completed Hearts of the North, and I’m really okay with that. I didn’t have to cancel my subscription, and I don’t feel that GW has somehow let me down because I didn’t have anything to do but “grind” after I was finished. I’ll be back when the next part of the story continues, and so on.

The subscription mentality, naturally, resists the prospect of a game being “finished”, because a) for most people the game isn’t the story, and b) because why pay a subscription for content that ends?

Well, why, indeed?

I’d been feeling mildly guilty about signing up for and playing betas and other things that fill the void for me between content bursts in GW and news about GW2 – and its eventual release – but I think I’ve been going about it the wrong way, approaching it from a viewpoint not my own. If I don’t mind that GW’s content has an endpoint, there’s no need for me to feel guilty about not logging in each day to chase carrots in which I have no interest, and in addition, there’s no subscription compelling me to do it.

Similarly, if I’m okay with leaving GW intermittently, there’s no need for me to feel I must remain “loyal” to GW and only play other games as a stopgap between GW updates. So what if I want to buy Rift when it comes out? So what if I want to buy DC Universe Online?

What if the people who only subscribe to WoW long enough to reach max level, then return to level through an expansion, and unsubscribe again, have it right? Is it so wrong, is it such a failure of the game, indeed, of the genre, to do that?

I am not in any way suggesting that the genre move entirely toward this sort of model just because it suits me. I will admit to having no solution for those unsatisfied with the model, because I do not crave what they crave. What would an MMO that didn’t heavily feature the endless pursuit of higher numbers and more bars to fill up look like, if it does not already exist in games like EVE or Darkfall or A Tale in the Desert, or if it did not explictly claim that it has a story that ends, such as A Secret World or Guild Wars 2?

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