Friday, October 14, 2011

Ashes in the Wind : Rift

 No, much though I enjoy a bit of Joan, that's really not what I meant!

Flares are back!
So, the Ashes of History event started, finally. On the face of it, it looks remarkably like the last one. And the one before that, come to think of it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Find something that works, you may as well run with it, I say.

I'd been doing Night of the Dead stuff in EQ2 for most of the evening so it was late when I logged into Rift. Only took me a few seconds to find out where the event began. Look!  Over there! A bunch of strangers standing around the same quarter of Meridian's yard where the last lot decamped a couple of weeks back. In the exact same spots I do believe. I think they may even have rented the same tents.

Sun comes up, out go the lights. Or not.
The first quest sent me looking for a Travel Stone. It wasn't hard to find. In fact it was straight out of Meridian's main gate and up a path to the right. If that wasn't plain enough, someone had thoughtfully planted a row of torches. You couldn't miss it, frankly. Nor the huge, blue crystal at the end of it.

Mrs Bhagpuss had gone to sleep so I was playing with headphones on for once. I'd also had most of a bottle of Chilean Merlot by then so it's just possible I may have been in a particularly receptive frame of mind. Whatever, when I clicked on the crystal suddenly I was pulled sharply, unexpectedly into the world before me. By the song of a long-dead dwarven bard.  

Erm, that didn't come out of your spider by any chance?
Sound gets a raw deal in MMOs.Many people turn it off altogether or turn it down and play music instead. I often have the radio on while I play and pay more attention to that than the sounds of the world I'm supposed to be inhabiting. I don't usually play with headphones on, but whenever I do I remember just how important a part sound can play in creating that elusive, desired sense of immersion. This, however, went far beyond that.

Imagine Sound Clip Here
The voice was unearthly. Softly sibilant, airy and distant, it wasn't even the  tone that chilled. It was the phrasing. Phrasing is the key to song as timing is to comedy. Get the phrasing right and everything follows. Whoever voiced this had the phrasing perfectly wrong. No human would emphasize those syllables, take those pauses. It was a voice from another world, another time. Magical. Appropriately, for once.

I was impressed. And I went on being impressed with the following quest, which also used sound excellently and atmospherically. It all bodes very well for the rest of the event. Just because you re-use the frame doesn't mean you have to paint the same picture.

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