Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rift: The Rebuttal (or who mentioned "Jesus"?)

Seems the discussion about my posting on Rift and why I am let down by the MMO community is making the rounds. My favorite remark in one post has been used several times, and I think we need some rebuttal here...

Rift: No, it’s not the “Jesus” game

If I may...myself, I have never noted Rift as the "Jesus" game. First, the remark makes no sense.

Jesus died....MMO's have not died (at least not yet)...Jesus was resurrected...uh, doesn't something have to die to be resurrected. Jesus is our savior (according to the Christians!)...

So, is it the savior part? Is Rift here to SAVE us?

It could be. But, only for those who are willing to help this market grow.

But, I digress on this point...maybe on another post? Lets get to the nitty gritty of this debate though.

Some of the commentary on this particular posting has a few concerns that I think we should look into. (Check out this link to Massively Multiverse for more on this story).

"Apparently, if I have loved WoW at any point in WoW’s history but haven’t fallen head-over-heels in love with Rift in the same fashion, then I should leave the MMO genre entirely because I am nothing more than a burnt out, jaded gamer who has simply played far too many MMOs in his day. Come to think of it, I am a burnt out and jaded gamer during these, my MMO twilight years….*snickers*…but that’s beside the point!"

Not entirely true. But, to instead look upon Rift as just "copying" WoW is where the main issue lies. If you cannot look at Rift with an open mind and either like it or leave it alone, is where it causes concern.

Again, I must refer to the infamous Metacritic rating by a standard user who felt the need to give Rift a ZERO ...and why?

"There is really nothing NEW here that hasn't been done before."

Fair enough. I have no issue with this. People will find a lot to not like in other MMO's. I can clearly point out EVERY issue with Lord of the Rings Online and why I feel this is an inadequately made game. But, I would never give it a ZERO, because it still has some things going for it, like a company who cares, a community who rocks. This would be a FAIR rating.

A lot of what I read about Rift is NOT fair. Again at Multiverse...

"There are only two things in Rift that are somewhat unique. The Invasions and the Soul system are the two features that should be touted by Rift fans everywhere."

So, the AOE looting, map transparencies, instant change loadouts for class skills between specs, hover over healing,...all the background workings that advance the way we play don't count because you can't see them?

This I think is the main issue in that Rift has advanced a lot of game mechanics that we normally do not think about (like the invasion mechanic...though not entirely new, used a different way here makes even quest hubs a danger zone... or how about the quick change soul specs, though mainly seen in Guild Wars, has the added option of being able to use it ANYWHERE).

Lets talk about the off-healing mechanic. What game has a smart heal system that looks at all players in a group and decides who needs the most healing when group heals take effect?

No, these are not innovative, because they are not TANGIBLE to the player. These are not NEW.

Multiverse goes on to say...

"As for the Soul System, it was probably the key ingredient that I enjoyed the most while playing Rift. It is a step in the right direction for MMOs, and I am more than happy to applaud Trion for its creation. But at the end of the day, it has two things working against it. First of all, that many souls will prove to be horribly difficult to balance over time, especially for PvP. I’m not sure if Trion will ever be able to get the balance right. Secondly, just like the talent system in WoW or EQ 2, certain flavor of the month builds will emerge and dominate as they always do, proving once and for all that we don’t really need a better class based system."

Good point. Yet, no one has done it yet. What MMO is 100% balanced and ready to play? What MMO does not get some type of balance change on a regular basis?

WoW is still not balanced to this day. Why should this be a strike? Instead it should be noted as ongoing development...because isn't that really what MMO's are about? A never-ending cycle of patching and balancing, content addition, etc.

What about a "better class based system"? As I discussed in my *Futura* post yesterday, only one of many MMO's releasing will have it. How will it work? And will the current MMO player of course find a way to ruin it?

Moving on...

"The bar has been raised and developers need to adjust their ambitions accordingly."

This one says it all. Who raised that bar? Who said that the genre MUST be 100% different to be a GOOD game? This is where the "jaded" gamer comes in.

My constant example is the "Halo/CoD" argument. Even though in different settings, they are basically the same play style, same gameplay...gun, run, don't get killed or be killed. THAT's IT. These games continue to thrive...yet, the MMO genre must make a whole new change.

Better yet, lets use our current market. LOTRO, EQ2, WAR, AoC (lets even go ahead and leave WoW out of this). What unique features does each of these games offer that the other does not? Out of all these, WAR is the most different of the lot. Tiered gameplay, Realm vs Realm....actual crafting that requires the player to really be involved...

Yet, it is one of the lowest populated games on that list. Can we blame the bugs? Maybe. But, DEDICATED players will look beyond this and wait for development to take place. Instead everyone gave up as the game was not READY yet.

Rift is ready though. Trion is committed to listening to their customer base. Talk about your concerns with the devs and support a growing game. But the outright slamming it for trying to appease a large audience who wants similarities to begin with (heck, look at all the posts on the forums for those who WANT the LFD know, what another game has), seems out of hand.

That has been my main issue all along. The growing need of a "jaded" MMO community who want things to be different from WoW, but cannot see it if it hit them in the face leads to bickering about a game that should be able to let itself grow.

Finally...and in line with what has been said...

"Rift offers little in the way of true advancement. And just because it does its job well, does not mean we should all conform to hailing it as the greatest MMO on the planet."

Again, as I have said before. The background technology, the emergent gameplay (even though it is something YOU do not like, does not mean it is not an advancement), the willingness to ask the player what they want and ADD it (that alone is the single most advanced feature, thanks to so many devs of other MMO's ignoring their playerbase), already is a step up.

Rift is NOT the greatest MMO. But, it is what other MMO developers and games should aspire to be. Great at launch, fully fleshed out and ready to play.

The bar has been Trion actually. It is not JUST about the gameplay and features, but about the company. If we as a playerbase decide that because the game has similarities to another game, it should not be supported, then maybe we need to accept that all future games will be like WAR and AoC.

As well, until proven to me otherwise, I do not believe players want a NEW experience anyways. Otherwise they would support titles who are trying to make changes to the genre (Age of Conan was a perfect example of a game that had skill be the single most important requirement...yet players cried until it was revamped 6 months later to be a standard MMO).

So, is this market the way it is because of WoW? Sure is. Is the playerbase largely responsible? Yes...

But, is Rift "Jesus"? No. But, it sure is a damn fine game, well made..and if you can just let go of your preconceived notions of WoW and the "been there, done that", you could enjoy it more.

Psalm 69!


Longasc said...

You are heartily invited to join me on the upcoming LOTRO Server "Morthond", full of German speaking EU aliens! Maybe one of the many Rifts in Rift will lead to Nûrz-Ghâshu :)

Joking aside, people had so much time and so many reports and tests of Rift, many even Beta access - they should really have got it what they have to expect.

Maybe you react too strongly to the usual "big mmo forum whine" that is the more common the more the game is alive. Things get critical when the whine stops and nobody is left to hear, after all.

WoW and GW have forums full of complaints every day, and so does Aion - the games are still running. And so does Rift.

What I can't understand is that people took months to understand where Rift innovated and where it was a very classic MMO. Very tempting to comment on the blogs in question that they are damn slow! :) I am afraid the same guys will realize after half a year what is damn bloody obvious about SWTOR already months before launch, that there is no fundamental shift in MMO design to be expected from this game.

People are so allergic to anything new that I sometimes still wonder that Guild Wars 1 became such a success. GW2 seems to play it a lot more safe while trying to innovate at the same time. I'm looking forward how this will turn out. If there is a Messias, it's GW2. Which should not prevent anyone from having fun with Rift.

Bhagpuss said...

Rift is getting along just fine.

It's obvious already that enough people are playing it for it to be around a good, long time, many years most likely.

Unless you're actually a Trion investor, that's surely all you need to know.

Scarybooster said...

I like the fact the game is hard for people to grasp it's balance of classes. Maybe, it is balance and the imbalance comes from the players' lack of knowledge? That's right, I'm calling the players flawed not the game.