Wilhelm over at TAGN wrote today about how RIFT is definitely in the post-boom period from its switch to free-to-play. I was surprised to hear that Trion is cutting the number of servers by half, but it made me realize that although I once considered RIFT to be my one true MMO love I haven’t logged on in.. months? Huh. How did that happen?
(By the way, mad props to the PR team over at Trion for writing a real doozy of a post about the shard mergers. It’s not low populations and server closures, it’s advanced technology bringing players closer together! You asked for it, and now you get it! I have serious professional respect for that level of spin.)
So why am I not playing RIFT right now? I did for years leading up to the F2P announcement, and to be fair I played quite a bit afterwards, too. Then I just.. kind of wandered off.
Certainly as someone who dislikes F2P models on principle I found myself clashing with the new system while enjoying the game. I was really extremely super bummed when it turned out that the new outfits associated with Summerfest were all only available through the cash shop, and on top of that were quite expensive compared to everything else. (If a bikini costs more than a space pony mount, the pricing is wrong.)
Then in September patch 2.4 came out and promised new hairstyles. I logged on that night, excited to play Pretty Princess, only to discover that there were a couple of new hairstyles but most were only available though, yes, the cash shop. You could only buy the hairstyles as one big purchase, and they were also quite expensive. I know that a F2P game must make money from the cash shop to survive, but continually having to shell out for fun new casual fluff that I once could play the game to get became too much of a bummer for me.
I admit that I’m also not immune to that standard MMO player fear of failure. When your genre of choice relies on a critical mass of players to be playable, much less exist at all, it’s hard to resist jumping ship at the slightest sign of instability. RIFT (and Trion Worlds in general) has definitely been giving off signs of trouble for a while now, what with the closure of the San Diego office, their non-presence at PAX Prime this year, and the fact that one of the long time and much loved Community Managers, Elrar, was let go.
I still really like Trion, I’m just not sure I’d heavily invest time or money in their MMOs right now.
Of course neither the cash shop nor the feeling of producer instability truly affect gameplay. I could still be running around doing events and warfronts with almost no change from two years ago. But I’m not, and … I don’t really know why. I just got bored, I guess, which I suppose is as legitimate a reason to stop playing as anything other.
One of the things I love to do in RIFT is devise new costumes for my characters. When the game launched back in 2011 there was no wardrobe (although there was a nice dye system) and the costume options were weird and funny looking. Fortunately for those of us who love hats, over time Trion added a wardrobe with up to 12 different outfit slots, the ability to change the appearance of weapons, and an expanded selection of costume gear.
I would love to see some more over-the-top fantasy costume pieces — RIFT’s artists tend towards a gritty, ornate aesthetic — but there’s a good bit of flexibility. Anyway, below are three of my favorite outfits for Mercredi the cleric. Have a great weekend!
I think of this as the nomad warrior look. The mask/hat combo is the Flame Mask from the annual Carnival of the Ascended event. The armor is part of the Defiant guard uniform, which you used to get through Veteran rewards but I assume it’s part of the new Loyalty system now. The uniform is dyed Dark Red. I like this outfit, but it’s also one that other people wear and I just don’t like being twins.
This is my Victorian cyberpunk look. The mask/hat combo is yet another offering from the Carnival of the Ascended event, this time the Planar Mask. The dress is the Wedding Garb, undyed. I lucked out with the shoulders — they just happened to be what I was wearing way back when I first worked on this outfit, and I think they really tie it all together. I love this costume a lot a lot a lot, but I’ve been wearing it for at least a year now and I’m kinda tired of lookin’ at it.
Look at that hat. Just look at it. It has a crown and giant wing-like things and feathery objects sticking out everywhere and a metallic nose guard. It’s amazing. It’s an achievement reward for doing all of the major zone events in Ember Isle. By default the hat is colored red and green, which while gloriously hideous is also hard to match without looking like a Christmas elf so I spent 32 platinum (quite a bit for me!) to buy White Dye and tone it down to silver. The top is from one of the Premium jester sets, which means I spent 400 of my subscriber credits on it. I am slightly full of shame.
I think I need to find an ostentatious gold staff to really tie this look together.
I’ve been unable to get out and about as easily as usual this week due to a damaged toe, but it’s apparently done wonders for my creative productivity.
Behold! A short video tour of the new RIFT store! Happy Friday everyone!
I had kind of fallen into one of my “off again” phases with RIFT shortly before the free-to-play announcement, and of course being a grump I certainly wasn’t going to log on again after. In fact, I wasn’t planning on logging into RIFT at all, but as is so often the case my friends are terrible enablers.
One of them IMed me late last night and said simply, “Hey, did you know you can buy the space horse with F2P credits?”. For over a year the space horse, a.k.a Nebula, was the thing I coveted most in RIFT. Was it worth relenting on my grump stance and checking out the game’s changes? For a horse that looks like it’s made of space? Um, duh.
The first thing I noticed — thanks to the big pop-up and tickertape rain — was the new loyalty system. What was previously sold as veteran rewards on a special vendor is now available through loyalty tiers. Loyalty was granted to subscribers based on their activity, and can be earned in the future by buying and using cash shop currency. To be fair you get perks sprinkled throughout a loyalty level and a bunch of stuff at the end, and the gifts seem to be everything that was on the old veteran reward vendor plus funky new things like a pet gift box and hats. Apparently I’m already halfway through the “epic” loyalty tier.
Speaking of the cash shop, I have to admit that I’m pleased with the amount of credits I received in the F2P switch as permanent subscriber and one of the suckers who got the Storm Legion 12-month package. I had almost 12,000 green diamond thingies, worth about $60 on the store, and mounts ranged from 200-1200 in price. The selection of items in the shop is pretty much the usual — mounts, pets, costumes, dimension stuff, cosmetic changes, and so on.
A new set of gear is available for players every 10 levels, going up to a tier below whatever is current. Someone on the official forums worked out that it would be roughly $50 to buy gear from level 10-59, although why someone would spend money on level 20 pants totally escapes me.
The new cash shop also seems to have replaced the lingering post-event vendors. Applicable items can be bought with the pre-requisite event currency (for those who participated but forgot to buy things) or green diamond thingies. This new system enabled me to buy my pretty space horse, so I recognize the hypocrisy in what I’m about to say, but I hope event items aren’t available for cash until after the event is over.
I like spending a week or whatever collecting special currency for event items, and it will honestly degrade the value of said items to me if someone can come along at the same time and plop down $5 for an instant horse. Honestly, I feel sort of bad for people who went through the huge grind during Summerfest to get Nebula, particularly as it was a grind I opted to skip at the time because it seemed so heinous.
But now is not the time for sombre reflection — now is the time for ponies. I spent just over 800 green diamond thingies for the space pony, and then picked up an Akylios balloon for another 200. Judging by the prices that’s roughly $6 for the mount and $1 for the pet, although thinking about it that way makes me feel awkward. The remaining 11,000 or so credits are unspent. I’m not sure if I’ll get anything else, or at least not for a while.
So, in conclusion, ponies are nice and the RIFT F2P conversion seems to be pretty generous for long time subscribers. Meridian and Port Scion looked quite busy, although the quality of General Chat was much, much worse.
Logging on again did remind me of one thing — I truly have loved RIFT, in a way that was previously reserved only for World of Warcraft. It’s a great game, run by what I think is still a great company. I’m sorry to see that they had to resort to free-to-play, but on behalf of me and my spacepony I wish them nothing but the best.
I kind of fell out with MMOs for a bit. Back in December I had a million new single player games from the Steam Sale taking up my leisure time. In January I just kind of lost the urge to play games, and instead I spent most of my hobby time trying to cook the perfect chili. (FYI: No beans, lots of home-roasted chili peppers.) I think that happens often in long-term hobbies though, and I figured the urge to play games would return when it was ready.
Boy, was I ever right. I now find myself involved to some degree with three different MMOs at the same time!
Before Christmas I hit 60, the new level cap, in RIFT, and I was sort of feeling directionless. Fortunately around then I also joined the RIFT chapter of AIE, and those good folks recently started organizing retro raids of “Chocolate RIFT” content that most of us had never seen in its prime. My love of group content is no secret, but even I was surprised by how revitalizing it was to spend two hours running around killing dudes with 19 other pleasant people on Ventrilo. The bosses weren’t hard, but doing something that vaguely resembled raiding put a spring in my virtual step.
I’ve logged on RIFT regularly since then, my interest in character development renewed. I’m also looking for more large group event opportunities, as clearly that’s where my heart lies in a “main MMO”.
But as I wrote about earlier this week, not every day is right for engaging content. Sometimes you just wanna run around and kill some junk, and for those times there’s World of Warcraft. Liore (the original Liore!) is up to level 87, and currently.. defending turnips from evil rabbits, as far as I can tell. The quests in Pandaria are occasionally less than epic in scope.
I enjoyed the Jade Forest plotline, in the first expansion zone, although I think it highlighted one of the problems with standard MMO questing which is that we’re really just helpless bystanders in the story. I knew right away that creating armies of monkey dudes and fish people to fight each other would cause nothing but problems, but no one asked me! There also seem to be more cut scenes so far in Pandaria questing than in previous expansions, and again I feel like it’s just wresting control of my own character from me for the most part. (It ain’t no Wrathgate.)
My loose WoW plans are to “12433″ my way to level 90 whenever I get the fancy to play. I have no idea what will happen then, but I’m not worrying about it either.
MMO producers and business people, if you’ve ever wondered about the true power of social ties when it comes to getting people to play your game, ponder this: I, Liore, renowned hater of catgirls in tiny skirts, downloaded and occasionally play TERA entirely because an awesome friend is enthusiastic about it and I want to hang out with them. The power of peers, ladies and gentlemen! The game went free-to-play a couple of days ago, so in my defense at least I’m not paying for it.
TERA, if you’re not already familiar with it, was likely based on the stolen codebase of Lineage 3, which means it’s strong in the tradition of grindy Asian MMOs. It is also ludicrously obsessed with sexualizing the female figure. My goat-lady started out in a skirt with NO BACK. Look design people, if I wanted to stare at lady ass every moment of my gaming I would put a mirror on my chair.
The mildly concerning “little girl” race aside, truth be told the male gaze in TERA’s design is so over the top that I find it hard to take seriously or offensively. I mean look, even their fountains are suggestive! It’s pretty hysterical, if eye-rolling.
The gameplay thus far (at my advanced age of level 5) is.. grindy! I have a Sorcerer (mage) who shoots things with spells. The much vaunted “action combat” is essentially circle-strafing although it certainly requires more movement than the average “hotbar” driven MMO.
But hey, as I said before the player company is great, and that is what counts in any MMO.
I would like to dedicate this post to the official RIFT forums.
As something of a veteran of MMO expansions at this point, I generally know what to expect. There’s always a period of adjustment, and feeling overwhelmed by all the new content. If you game has character levels usually the cap is increased. You know, the usual stuff for WoW and WoW-style themeparks.
And yet, each and every time an expansion comes out it seems the official forums explode with shock and dismay. So let’s just clear up some things about the usual MMO expansions that we all need to learn to accept, okay?
Yes, you have to level.
So here’s the deal, folks: when you play an MMO that includes character levels and they release an expansion with a new, higher level cap.. you’re going to have to level. I know, I know, it’s so unfair, insert the rending of clothes and wailing of small children.
And hey, I kinda dig it. I don’t like levelling either, vastly preferring the more open-ended level cap activities. But man, I knew it was coming and that’s the way these games work. At my super casual pace I predict I’ll spend about 5 weeks getting to level 60. Storm Legion should be around for at least 18 months, or 78 weeks. That’s a pretty small part of the time to be leveling.
Yes, your old gear will no longer be good.
Expansions are, generally, gear resets. I too have had to put hard-earned, attractive raid gear in the bank when I picked up a superior, ugly green item, and it made me a little sad. But hey, that’s how this whole thing works.
A gear reset every couple of years is often a good thing too. They give players a chance to switch mains with no damage to their raid team. They give new players who may have joined the game halfway through the previous expansion a chance to catch up. It levels the playing field.
Besides, if you hit 60 in your top-of-the-line level 50 gear wouldn’t you be kinda bored? The fresh level capped character is honestly my favorite period of an MMO because everything is an upgrade. Achievers rejoice!
(And don’t start with the “time sink” complaints about the gear grind. That’s like saying that watching 40 minutes of Law and Order is a time sink when you just wanna know who did it. Gear treadmills are the entire point of Everquest/WoW style games, otherwise you really don’t have much of a game there.)
Yes, new content is hard.
At the end of an expansion’s life, there usually isn’t much new under the sun. People have had a year or two of gear collecting and running content. Progressive nerfing makes things easier, as does progressive buffing of classes. We can slam through dungeons in 15 minutes while watching television on the other monitor because we’ve run it a million times before and have excellent gear.
Then the expansion hits. Gear is reduced to a mish-mash of whatever we can put together, and we have no idea what any of the mechanics are. The new dungeon content is scary and mean, and we die a lot.
This too shall pass, my anxious player friends. Again, in another month or two we’ll be a lot more familiar with the fights, and have filled in many more holes in our gear. We’ll understand our new specs better, and have taken the time to read all the new spell icons. New content is tricky. Patience is key.
Certainly some of these things could be changed from the original design outset (I’d be interested to see an MMO with no character levels, for instance), but that’s not really going to happen unexpectedly in the expansion for a WoW-style MMO.
So suck it up, buttercup. In another six weeks you’ll be 60 and experienced and better geared and then you can start the 12+ months of whining about how you’re bored at level cap.