Monday, April 25, 2011

Rift: This is where the MMO community let me down...

As I log in to my server now, though still quite busy, I can feel it.

It is somewhat emptier than it usually is.

The city still bustles with people during prime time hours. The guild fills up a bit late Saturday and mostly Sunday. But, the feeling that the game is emptier than it has been, is palpable.

I started to really think about this after reading the article...5 Reasons Rift is the New WoW.

His points are precise and spot on. Rift, though familiar, is as well, a very good game. Why it now is emptying out is beyond me...besides the fact that probably most who are leaving are MMO burn outs.

Lets look at each point and see why I think the MMO community is starting to disappoint me and why there are those who just need to stop playing MMO's altogether.

1. Rift is a finished product.

"Unlike just about every MMO released in the last five years, Rift isn't half-assed or half-finished. The game has PvP, PvE, and a large diverse world for questing."

Which is true. Just most people wish to see it as EXACTLY like WoW. And to a degree it is. YET, there is so much that could make the game different if a player put in the effort. This I think is the main reason people leave.

WoW did not launch to such a glorious lead off. It took time to get there. The patience of todays player is ludicrous though. If it was a year into Rift's game and they had hit a roadblock of no new content, no fixes, no balancing...then I could see the players point. But, it's not...it is barely two months in.

Effort, people...effort.

I will talk about this more later...

2. There's an endgame.

"Taking a page from WoW, there's a lot of loot to work for in Rift."

Loot. We love it, but then we sneer at it, thanks to so many factors.

Grind...Gear Scores...repeated dailies...just a few of the reasons people look at this factor as a letdown in most MMO's.

But, I try to figure out this elusive "endgame" nirvana that most MMO's supposedly do not offer that some players continue to ask for...and wonder "WTF do you want then?". I see the term "meaningful" endgame mentioned, but never explained. Do YOU want to tell me what you expect? What does that mean? Yet, I never see anyone flesh this out. Some throw out expectations of huge sieges and what not...but, really, expectations are set too high for what our current technology can do. It has been proven time and again.

This is why I think what players REALLY want....they can't have for another 10 or 15 years. So, for my own benefit, just quit playing MMO's for that amount of time and leave the forum punditry to those who still enjoy this genre.

Oh, and that effort thing I mentioned? Applies here as well....more soon.

3. The game isn't buggy.

"Bugs have killed off more than a few MMOs. Age of Conan and Warhammer were both decent MMOs and both of them were so fraught with bugs they brought about their own too early demise."

This is the one that kills me. Every time I see another "I'm right forumite" spout off verbal diarrhea stating "Rift will be just like WAR, and fail over" "I expect Rift to fall to as many subs as Age of Conan", I want to slap someone (and my Wife is STILL pissed about that to this day...sorry Hon, did it sting a little?).

I have yet to have ANYTHING in this game stop me from completing a quest or asking a GM for help. I expect they may be there...but, the consensus has been through my guild and a lot of people writing about Rift, that we have been playing a well made game. PERIOD.

This is huge. To this day, Age of Conan, Warhammer, heck...even EQ2, all have existing issues that I am FORCED to communicate with their tech support to help me out of a jam. This is ridiculous.

Rift is just a well made game, that will progress...if people would just shut up and play.

4.  There's a lot to do.

"Rift has something for everyone."

This one is important...and true. So much exists in Rift to keep you occupied. The problem is ...a lot of it existed in other games, thus this makes Rift an instant bore for those who have played MMO's to death.

This is why I think a lot of MMO players need to just leave this genre behind and go do something else for a while. Anyone crying they have nothing to do in Rift is either not looking, has no friends, or is done with MMO's in general.

Every time I log in, I instantly have plans, or at least can look at my roster of alts and decide...today is a good day for..."____" (you fill in the blank, as I already decided...and I can't make that decision for you.)

Now, if you will excuse me...I need to go take a break as I already thought of something else I want to do in Rift.

/AFK

5.   Rift is the cure for your WoW ennui 

Rift doesn't suck. Rift rocks. It's addictive and fun. It's what an MMO should be. There's nothing fancy about, but what it does it does well. Rift is the excuse players have been waiting for, the excuse they needed to leave the comfort of WoW for something new."

Yes it does rock. But, the issue continues to be WoW. It is like saying Crack can be replaced with crocheting.

Whats funny is, that is what WoW is. Just like Crack. The problem is most MMO players have been "users" for so long, they cannot understand what it would mean to leave that behind. This is where that EFFORT really pays off. Put an effort into not thinking about WoW. Put an effort into not playing Rift like WoW. Make a concerted effort to try and work through the soul system, find what you have not found, play the game like you have not played before.

Laziness is my only assumption here.

EFFORT is what Trion put into Rift. Why not do the same?

The one way it shows the most effort is the lore.

For the first time in quite a while, we have a unique IP. A new story, a new world ...something that is NOT WoW's warcraftian world. Something not based on a released novel, movie, comic book, etc.

Yet, no one puts in the effort to look upon this aspect...and instead are banking all their chips on... you guessed it... another non-original IP (Star Wars: ToR will be our Saviour...blah, blah).

This is why movies like "Scream 4" (though still not "too bad", is still regurgitated material) are made, and sell quite well...while critical and well written movies like "Source Code" fall over.

The McDonald's consumptive world ruins our MMO's.

And for the first time, I want to just hang up my hat for my fellow players. I want to leave them behind because they let me down. They want pre-existing IP crapola on a stick, and want it to be unique and interesting.

It won't be though.

I guarantee we will be in the same boat come launch of SW:ToR. Players will complain about features that Star Wars has that are unique. Yet, the base will be full of players who will pry open the gem that is SW:ToR and note how "It is just like WoW".

And it will be.

No matter how good the story, no matter what unique aspects they add to the game...there will be that contingent that state.."It's like WoW".

Well, I will continue to log into another brilliant game, that will most likely be watered down in the hopes the masses will return. It has happened to so many good games who had great ideas, but due to the buggy nature of their release and the need to balance based on desk jockey programmers who want THEIR class and playstyle to be "meaningful", plummeted in subs and could never get back up.

Rift is a damn fine game...just no one will know it because WoW has already ruined their perception of what a good game is.

I feel let down by my fellow gamers.

11 comments:

Stabs said...

There's a lot of truth in what you say.

I think though that the forum whiners are the vocal minority. In my experience most people playing Rift are really enjoying it.

I came to the conclusion earlier this year that I wanted to put down roots in a game and not hop from one MMO to another. So far Rift is that game so when I see people saying they're just playing Rift while marking time for TOR I get the feeling they'll play TOR while marking time for GW2 then play GW2 while marking time for something else.

Elementalistly said...

@Stabs
I do not think it is just forums. Blogs and various other news outlets and their commenter's are all giving bad reviews...which is crap.

Look at Metacritic where one user for example gives Rift a ZERO because "There is really nothing NEW here"

And what is new between say...Halo and Call of Duty...besides setting....which is what Rift and WoW have...unique settings.

And like I said...emptier servers make me wanna puke. Most are not playing because they either raced to the top and had no one to play with, or treated Rift like WoW (go to quest giver, click accept, don't read...move on)..

But, as noted in my "movies reference...only two reviews at Metacritic gave low scores (who were Eurogamer sites from Italy and Sweden...lol)...thus, critically, Rift is a hit...

Just the player is what's broken.

Troy said...

I was very excited about Rift when I heard about it, but I have been burned by so many titles over the years that I have finally decided to wait 6 months before playing.

I have seen so many games go through exactly the same cycle. Unbelievable hype, skyrocketing subs, whining and complaining in forums, players racing to the top in a matter of days, then a slow death spin into oblivion. Vanguard and Age of Conan come to mind when I think of MMOs with this pattern.

Hopefully in 6 months the bugs and patches will be ironed out, but more importantly the cheaters that ruin games over and over will have moved on to their next victim.

I played a demo of the game and it looks very interesting.

Elementalistly said...

@Troy
"Hopefully in 6 months the bugs and patches will be ironed out"

But, that is just it. This game RIGHT NOW is really feature rich and content complete to keep a "normal" player busy..

You know the normal player...right? The one who reads quest text, investigates their surroundings, enjoys the camaraderie of others..

Bugs are pretty much a non-issue.

Also, Rift is not even CLOSE to the quality of AoC or Vanguard...it IS WoW quality...the quality WoW had after fixing it's own crap after 5+ years...

Rift is a game that looks like it could have launched years ago and has been developed for years.

So, quit hem-hawing and go buy it now...on sale at Target for 39.99.

DO IT!!!!!!!!!

Allen said...

Having a unique setting doesn't make a game original. Unless we're talking single-player, story-driven adventure games. And in that regard, the single-player story-driven part of Rift *is* original. But that's where the originality ends.

MMOs are about the gameplay. That's what makes people pay money every month to play. People aren't going to shell out $15 a month for a story, no matter how good, once they've completed that story. The gameplay is the hook.

Trion took WoW's gameplay and transplated it into a world of their own creation. It's still the same gameplay, it's just in Telara.

You accuse the players of being lazy. Sorry, but most players don't play games to put in work. They play games to have fun, and that is where WoW just trounces Rift. The potential for fun in Rift is basically the same as in WoW, but in WoW it's just so much easier to ACTUALLY have fun, instead of TRYING to have some fun.

If I want to have fun in a dungeon in Rift, I either have to wait for someone to put a group together, or stop what I'm doing and put a group together, which takes an unpredictable amount of time (might not even happen at all). Then once I start, if one guy pulls the classic "sry gtg" and abruptly disbands, you get to start shouting LFM again. And not having fun in the meantime.

In WoW, you just push the button and a replacement pops in in a few seconds to a few minutes. You may deride that as instant gratification, but please explain to me what the value, the FUN, in sitting around waiting is. Does it make completion more satisfying? Not to me.

Bottom line, people are leaving Rift because new lore does not make up for the basically-the-same-but-not-quite-as-good gameplay. All the same core gameplay elements, but without a lot of the cool features that Blizzard has come up with over the years.

I'm sorry that we players do not live up to your standards; I guess we are just too focused on that silly thing called fun and don't want to spend our game time working.

skapusniak said...

What do I want from an endgame? Nothing, I don't want an endgame, I don't do endgames, if I ever get to the endgame and I still want to play I roll an alt.

What I actually want is slower leveling, so I'm not continuously becoming more and more overlevelled for the quest chains I'm doing, nor feeling like I'm hurtling at unstoppable speed toward the endgame I don't want to play, or feel the pressure to drop everything and do that one dungeon right now this very moment, regardless of the fact I haven't done the quests leading up to it, just so I'm not stupidly overpowered for it. I don't even need everyone else to get less xp, I just need *me* to get less xp.

The more fun stuff you give me to do, the more 'xp space' I feel I need to have to do it in. And Rift has lots and lots of very fun stuff to do, but is also determined to shovel XP at me at a quite furious pace.

(split because blogger hates me)...

Elementalistly said...

@Allen

"The gameplay is the hook"

And it took 7 years for Blizzard to get to this "hook". Can you explain to me why Trion is not treated with the same respect and instead needs to have as much content and game in two months?

"If I want to have fun in a dungeon in Rift, I either have to wait for someone to put a group together, or stop what I'm doing and put a group together"

Which you had to do in WoW for at least the first 2 years...or until it grew. Also, you act like the LFD tool existed from launch. It didn't.
The fact that in one to two weeks Rift will have the same feature though makes your argument moot.

"Bottom line, people are leaving Rift because new lore does not make up for the basically-the-same-but-not-quite-as-good gameplay."

But, this is a personal opinion based on the fact you wish certain features were EXACTLY the same...yet, they are not. Rift offers gameplay items like the collections, the dynamic Rifts and endgame at launch that WoW does not or did not have.
We can also take into account that Blizzard has millions upon millions of dollars to work with thanks to years of offering the most similar gameplay with little development beyond an expansion every two years...and is still similar to when it launched, just with more tacked on to equal gameplay.

Trion launched quite well, has a fully fleshed out game, and is different enough to offer a new world for players who are sick of WoW....just addiction has kept players like you attached.

skapusniak said...

...(blogger hates me, but I continue)

Of course it's the same furious pace that every other MMO I've played a bit in the last two years has shovelled XP at me, LoTRO, STO, that bit of WoW Cataclysm. Games where I started spotting myself actively avoiding doing things I would otherwise go and do for fun simply because they would give me XP, and thus give me levels the make a whole bunch other stuff I wanted to do no longer fun. So yeah, pretty much a burnout case here I guess.

Still subscribed to Rift, still play occasionally when I can ignore what appears to be the current style of MMO pacing.

But the experience has plainly crystalised my discontent, with the upshot that I'm now mostly playing EQ2 (Extended even) which I've previously bounced off before, simply because I can turn XP gain off whenever I like in that game.

Elementalistly said...

@skapusniak

I often wonder if we may see an /XP off feature thanks to developers from SOE being onboard at Trion.
We of course would need some add on like the AA system though to make it worthwhile. Most will not want to turn off XP to get nothing in return.
Of course balance has to take place so they can see where improvement needs to take place to add those AA addons. Just wish the playerbase would stop offering all the wrong suggestions for fixes.

Glad Trion at least listens.

My personal opinion is that once I DO get to end, I will have a lot to go back and find...which I know I have missed.
We have noted quests with our group going gray, and certain items, like notoriety, that we have not completed.
I am level 43 and do not expect to be to the end until sometime in May...thus making my run fluid I feel.

Once I get to the end though, expect me to discuss how that feels, and what Rift can offer...as I see a lot to do yet.

Ryne said...

"You accuse the players of being lazy. Sorry, but most players don't play games to put in work. They play games to have fun, and that is where WoW just trounces Rift. The potential for fun in Rift is basically the same as in WoW, but in WoW it's just so much easier to ACTUALLY have fun, instead of TRYING to have some fun."

Say what you will about Rift, but this is just crap. You're telling me that WoW has no "work" component? Answer me this... How many times have you run the same dailies just to get your reputation up to get that 359 item? How many times have you run the same heroics repeatedly to increase reputation or that piece of gear to drop? I can say without a doubt that people do things in WoW all the time that they don't enjoy to get a piece of gear.

On a related note, why are DPS are missing their queues to get into their random dungeon? It's because they fak'ed (fell asleep at keyboard) in Stormwind or Orgrimmar because they have nothing else to do in the game world. How is that fun?

Rebecca said...

I agree with skapusniak. MMOs in geneal - including Rift - are throwing too much XP too quickly at me.

Strangely, in WoW I don't mind. i don't have any particular desire to slow down and see everything. but in Rift, I want that bit of breathing space to feel comfortable that if I go off the beaten track of the questing, I won't return later to find that the quests are grey.

Rift is an extremely polished game. It's doing many things better than WoW, including how it's interacting with its playerbase. Though I'm perturbed by the inclusion of an LFD tool in Rift. Frankly I'd prefer to wait for (and indeed organise) a run with same-server people who will actually talk and interact than to instantly (or, if I'm DPS, automatically) be grouped up with people who have no interest in the dungeon they're doing or the people they're doing it with.

One thing's for sure - opinion on Rift is split. People either love it or hate it. But I've seen a lot more people saying positive things than negative, especially if you discount the "it's like wow" mantra.