Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Keep A-Knockin' And You Might Get In : Rift, ArcheAge

Well, that was unexpected.

Almost five years ago, when this blog began, Rift was my primary MMO. Mrs Bhagpuss and I tried the beta weekends, liked the game a lot, bought it at launch and played for a little over six months before we ran out of enthusiasm. By then I already had my sights set on GW2.

Rift turned out to be one of those MMOs whose luster dimmed with familiarity, something not helped by Trion's increasingly nervous attempts to hold on to a declining audience. There were gameplay and ruleset changes that made the game feel less and less unusual. The USP of huge PvE zergs fighting sky-ripping rifts or massive inter-planar invasions became diluted and diffuse.

Eventually there were server merges and that largely put the tin hat on things. I've found over the years that, when push comes to shove over making the hard decision to move on from an MMO, a server merge is usually enough to tip the balance. I suspect that's one reason developers now seem so determined to find any solution short of outright server merges when trying to manage a declining population.

Knee pads for dogs. It's the latest thing, don't you know?

Even on leaving we anticipated that, as has happened so many times before, we'd return for another run. We both pre-ordered the Storm Legion expansion in that belief but it turned out to be an expensive mistake. Storm Legion was so dull I barely lasted a week. Mrs Bhagpuss returned long enough to spend through the currency gifted her by the conversion to F2P but she spent her entire second run in Rift building houses behind the gates of her private Dimensions. Then she was gone, back to GW2.

For a while afterwards I kept the game on my hard drive and the icon on my desktop. I logged in very occasionally to look at something or other Trion had added. Finally the day came when I needed to make a little room for something new and, as I looked down the list of installed MMOs for the ones I felt I was least likely to play, Rift's name floated to the top.

Nothing, as they say, is forever. In recent weeks I've read some blogs and seen some screenshots that brought Rift back into the realms of possibility. I began to feel that annoying little itch. The final straw was Bhelgast, apologizing in advance because he thought he was going to start posting regularly about the game. If I'm going to keep reading about it I might as well at least have it installed. Or so I thought.

ArcheAge has the best maps.

So, I spent some considerable time yesterday, with no success whatsoever, attempting to re-install Glyph and get it to patch Rift. Glyph is a completely unnecessary, annoying front end that Trion insists its customers use to access any of its games. Games like Rift, ArcheAge and Trove, all of which I used to have installed and immediately accessible via their own desktop icons.

I have used Glyph before and it worked but now it doesn't. Not, at least, for Rift. Every attempt to run Rift brings up the 1012 error, for which extensive googling cannot provide a solution that works. I tried most of the possible fixes without success, including multiple uninstalls and re-installs, changes to processes and the sacrifice of a number of small woodland animals. Nothing worked.

In the end, in the interest of science, I thought I'd try installing one of Trion's other games, to see if the problem was generic to Glyph or specific to Rift. Which is how I found myself back in ArcheAge again for the first time since I stopped playing, suddenly, abruptly and unintentionally, over eighteen months ago.

Now, see, this is how direct action gets started.

The story of how I abandoned ArcheAge is the mirror image of what happened with Rift. There was no long, slow decline of interest; no hand-wringing or fraught, emotional leave-taking. Quite literally, one day I was playing and the next I wasn't.

The only explanation I can give is that I finished a session with my Labor Points pool filled for the first time ever. I had never actually used Labor Points for anything but I had been aware that they were a limited resource and apparently my subconscious mind translated that into a "win" condition. Yes, I know it makes no sense. I never claimed to be a rational decision-maker.

Anyway, it seems Glyph is perfectly happy to let me play ArcheAge, something I had absolutely no plans on doing, or at least not right now. ArcheAge itself seems equally confused by the turn events have taken.

On first log in all the introductory cut scenes played, which is par for the course on a fresh install for any MMO. My stalled level 28 character was safe at character select so I logged in expecting to find her wherever I'd left her, somewhere level appropriate, but no, nothing so obvious.

I don't remember tree houses...I want one.

Instead I found her at the very start of the game, facing the NPC who begins the main questline. Which he proceeded to do. Confused, I completed the first couple of "go see this guy up the road, he has a job for you" quests before deja vu took hold.

A quick check of my quest journal showed that I had indeed completed these quests already. Taking inventory of my...well, of my Inventory...I found all my quest rewards and other gear from the last 28 levels present and correct. I had my horse and my two dogs and a full set of blue armor.

So I hit the road. By the time I logged out I'd ridden as far as Crescent Throne. I didn't pass many player characters along the way. I overtook one wagon and found disturbing evidence the lack of animal health and welfare regulations in the village of Wardton but apart from that I might have been in a single-player game.

Log in to take a screenshot, it's midnight. Is there some kind of law?

I don't imagine I'll be playing ArcheAge much but then I didn't imagine I'd be playing it at all so who knows? It might be interesting to see how it compares with Black Desert, another one I'm not playing. ArcheAge is certainly much more of a traditional tab target, hotbar MMO under the thin sandbox skin, which is probably a better fit for me, but Black Desert is quirkier, weirder and more intriguing. Plus, Black Desert horses handle like ferraris, while AA nags corner like milk floats. That's a factor.

As I type this, though, I am back where I intended to be all along - in Rift. This morning I fired up Steam and installed it that way.

It still didn't go smoothly. I got another error, a different one, and at one point my entire monitor went completely black and I couldn't do anything at all. I thought I'd have to switch the PC off at the wall but first I tried hitting all the keys I could think of and after I pounded on Escape a few times the original cinematic played so I let it run and sat and watched. Apparently that was the logjam because after that everything worked.

Telara here I come!








4 comments:

  1. I have fond memories of pre-first expansion Rift. There was much there to like. But whenever I think about logging in, I remember I have to deal with the problematic Glyph and I move on to other things. It isn't a huge barrier to entry, but it is a barrier higher than many other options. Even EA was wise enough not to put SWTOR behind the Origin barrier to entry.

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    1. Yes, that's how I see it. Whatever advantage you gain from having all your games in front of customers every time they log in you surely lose by making it harder to start playing any of them at all.

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  2. I haven't had any trouble with Glyph. Guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

    I really enjoyed Rift at the beginning, but eventually drifted off to play SWTOR instead. I had a resurgence for about 4 months when Storm Legion hit, but then drifted away again and, well.... whenever I log in to Rift anymore I see a mass of stuff in my bags that I don't recall what any of it is (but it's organized, so it must have made sense to me at some point). But I also don't recall what my skills are, why I made the macros that I did, my various saved soul sets..... I tend to get overwhelmed pretty quickly and just go "screw it" and log back out after a short time of trying to make sense of it all.

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    1. Yes, I have that too, in Rift and in most MMOs I go back to after a long lay-off. I logged two characters into Rift today and between them they had three Souls that had all the points refunded to be respent. Not much chance of that happening!

      On the plus side I see that at some point bank space was increased so I have more storage to play with. That's always good!

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