Saturday, September 24, 2011

Screenshots Or It Didn't Happen : Rift

I wish I'd taken more screenshots in the Rift beta. Actually, I wish I'd taken notes. It seems such a long time ago now, although it's not even a year since that first beta weekend.

Notes? Do I look like a secretary?
I have a very rational and deep mistrust of memory so I'm always aware that what I think happened may not have happened the way I remember. It may not have happened at all. So, keeping that in mind...

Something SynCaine said in a discussion over at Hardcore Casual recently started me thinking about how Rift has changed since those early days. I still think it's an excellent MMO. I'm subbed for another six months and looking forward to patch 1.5 with its promise of AAs (alright, PAs if you must but it just doesn't sound right) and solo/duo instances. All the same I have this nagging feeling that good as Rift is, it isn't quite the game I remember.

Got to get the blood off somehow

Well, what do you expect?  It was all new then, wasn't it? Fresh, exciting, unexplored, different. Naturally it doesn't still have that zing. How could it?

Is that all it is? The inevitable ennui of familiarity? I'm not sure. If only I'd taken those notes. Hmm but wait, here's something...

" What’s really interesting is the way the planar invaders pour out and take over the countryside.
I particularly liked the way they interact with each other and with the local population. They have their own agenda that carries on with no player involvement and I found it fascinating.
One of the best moments I had was watching a Life rift open on a beach and establish itself, clearing all the wildlife I’d just been questing on (while I stood in the surf, watching). They put up an idol, established a foothold and began worshiping it. I crept out and began to pick off the surviving whelks for my quest and then a Fire Rift opened further along the beach. The creatures from the plane of fire poured out and surged over the Life foothold. There was a short but spectacular battle, which Life lost. Fire established its own 
foothold. "

 I said that here in December 2010. When did I last see anything like that happen in Rift? Not in a long time. I'm not sure I ever saw it after launch, although the first month or so was so manic no planar invaders lived long enough to fight anything much. 

Ok I think we got it going. Who's got the steaks?

In beta I'm sure I remember the roads being unsafe most of the time. Didn't I often have to jump into the bushes to avoid a posse of goblins with mushrooms growing out of their heads barreling down the road towards me? Wasn't it actually safer to travel across country than use the roads at all? Didn't rifts from opposing planes spawn within sight of each other and show more interest in fighting amongst themselves than fighting us? Didn't our quest camps and outposts get overrun and stay that way until we did something to get them back? 

That's how I remember it. That's how I liked it. I wish it was like that now. And I'm not alone. But it seems those days are gone forever, if indeed they ever existed. Here's Scott Hartsman, quoted from a recent Massively interview:  

"He added that the devs are creating mechanics for what happens after a zone is taken over, so that it's seen as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience".

Oh dear.

1 comment:

  1. short answer to the last part: footholds are getting an incrementing incoming damage debuff very similar to what the Dragon Motes currently have - so if you come across a foothold that's been established on top of your quest hand-in for a long time, you'll be able to kill it quickly.

    as for 'is it any easier now?' i started Rift in June, and my first experiences (and thus strongest memories) are very similar to your meta memories: ie, 'this isn't LOTRO; get the hell off the roads if you want to live'.

    i remember my wife showing my Gloamwood for the first time (she started before i did): it was (i thought) constantly dark, and the roads were swarming with Werewolves, seemingly always.

    fast forward 1 month and 2 alts later, and we spent two evening killing time in Gloamwood waiting for an invasion that didn't spawn.

    fast forward to last night, and as we're running from one rift tear to another to do some crafintg rifts in Shimmersand, we calmly veer off the road when the invasions come barreling by.

    i wasn't in beta, so i have no idea how it played; i didn't get to see Syncaine's 'game-ending' 1.2 patch; and to my knowledge, nothing has changed in 1.4 or 1.5 to make invasions less threatening. it's just that i'm much more familiar with the game and it's mechanics, so i account for them without much conscious thought; and i can judge quite quickly how threatening a given situation is: (minor rift or foothold: not; invasions: opportunity; major rift or foothold: quite dangerous, if solo; pvp rift: deadly if the opposition is present in numbers and my side isn't).

    as i said, i wasn't in Rift earlier, so conceivably there *has* been a qualitative reduction in difficulty since beta. however, the experiences you describe are *very* similar to my own, and i haven't experienced and game-wide nerfs. i'd suggest your own experiences are the pungent flavour of 'new and incalculable' compared with the muted flavours of 'weighed and understood'.


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