Rift Doesn't Have Soul

I just now realized this. There was always something... off about Rift. Even in the betas I saw it, but I could never place my finger on it. Now that I've played endgame some (and gotten a chance to play the game a lot more), I've finally realized what exactly is wrong with Rift: it has no soul.

Rift is what would happen if you told a robot to make an MMO. Technically speaking, it would be near flawless with extraordinary amounts of polish, but it would lack this certain human touch. The places are environments; not landscapes or worlds. The people of Telara are "NPCs"; not characters. Nothing feels like it's wonderful or enchanting or captivating. It's just a stock fantasy story with stock MMO mechanics with no human touches.

Rift is fun and well made, but it doesn't feel human. It feels plastic... like the people who made it were following some kind of MMO textbook to the letter without trying to create art. The game just doesn't have soul... it doesn't have that wonderfully, witty spark that draws you in. I'm not saying Rift is a bad game, but it doesn't have an identity or anything. It's like oil on water... it's just kind of... there.


So I downloaded the Rift perpetual trial last night, and after playing for roughly 5 hours I noticed something... odd.

For example, when playing Witcher 2, it's all 'Waoooh - this is a beautiful game!'

In Rift's case, what kept niggling in the background was, 'How come this isn't as beautiful as Guild Wars, despite how recently it was launched?'

Personality! Personality is the problem. While I no longer play WoW, it definitely has a ton of personality.

In fact, I'd say WoW, Forsaken World, GW, and Allods all benefit from art direction that renders them equally unique and charming - just handled differently (though GW is the only overtly realistic one in that list).

Rift is just... bland. It's like cardboard. In all those other games I mentioned, having played it, you'd know where you were. Rift... Rift could be anywhere.

There's nothing wrong with the rendering quality; it's more of the lack of quality in what's being rendered.

Gameplay wise, it's fine - standard rat pellet MMO, and a very polished dispenser at that - so I'll probably get my two trial characters to 20 and sate my pellet cravings in the process.

...I just wish the pellets weren't made from cardboard.

P.S.: I'm reading ALL the quest text, which is not usual for me, in an effort to give it a chance. It's not wooooorkiiiiiing.

Who says video games don't teach transferrable skills?

The skills you would want to develop in this way, skills that apply to all tank classes, are;

  • Getting the pull clumped up on casters. (Silencing/pulling casters to you, Line of Sight pulls, charging groups, etc).
  • Watching a 360° radius for patrols and runners and bringing them in to you before they hit anyone else.
  • Watching your own health to time survival/mitigation cooldowns.
  • Watching your party health as a clue to pulled aggro.
  • Controlling enemy groups and maneuvering them out of fire/acid/green/bad.
  • Positioning yourself consistently to make it easier on melee.

We'll conveniently ignore that said skills are only transferrable with a small subset of videogames, and within that subset, only among games that have 'threat' skills, mmkay? XD

Big Bear Butt Blogger » No One Told You When To Run

Cluebot: If they’re not willing to group with you and help you take advantage of Recruit a Friend to get you to max level so you can play with them… well, they’re not really a fgood riend, understand? They’re just people you know that said, “Hey, why not pick up the game and join us, it’ll be cool dude.” No, this is more about you wanting to get yourself to max level so you will be worthy of joining them in what they’re doing. Friends are usually at least a teensy bit interested in spending time with you, no matter the level, especially if it’ll help you get to play with them and their max level characters faster. 

Ah baar, you are so wise. And yet, you forget, environments change people. :( The Stanford Prison Experiment isn't just a university experiment.

Gamasutra - Features - World of Warcraft and Life After Cataclysm

"One of the primary reasons I stopped playing was that I felt like so much of what made raiding interesting and fun was that elite end of the game where you have access to content that only a few people every get to see," Doug Thomas, Associate Professor at USC and co-author of A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, said. "Systematically, I felt what Blizzard has done is taken their high-end game content and made it increasingly accessible to larger group of players."

"Even if you couldn't get the high-end Epics, you could get something that was pretty much equivalent through token systems. That kind of thing kind of eroded one of the core dynamics about what was fun about the game for me."

Translation: There are always more people who would rather wave their peens in other people's faces, rather than get better at using those peens privately.

Thus, if you remove the option to have the rarest, biggest, purplest pixellated peen, those peeners would then rather quit than continue.

...what do you mean the sex is the fun part?

Glitch - Farmville meets Adventure Game, with MMO Sprinkles (But Alas, No Blood)

Incredibly cute and charming, despite the lack of blood. Ended up passing my beta ID all over the office so our coders and art folk could ogle and learn and *ahem* steal.

It isn't just the cuteness of the graphics - what really sells Glitch to me is the smoothness of the controls, the amazing intuitive polish of the UX, and of course, the utterly crazed sense of humour.

Any game that wants me to massage butterflies before milking them definitely charms me... even though it hasn't got any killing. ;)

P.S.: If you want to poke a nugget for some reason, before the beta wipes and splats everyone, I am SusieDerkins. >.> Cmon look at the default toons. I'm surprised I got the name!

Forsaken World - It seems bizarre, but I love that FW is cash shop based.

Which is rather odd, coming from someone whose other MMO 'love' is Guild Wars - which is pretty much at the other end of the spectrum. Where what you get, you pay for with skill.

More specifically, I love how FW has built the entire game architecture around its cash shop.

Yes, it's Pay2Win, just like any other CS game.

You want the BEST gear? The BEST character? Pay for it - either in cash, or in scads of time. And it works beautifully.

It works beautifully because you can indeed pay for it in scads of time. Unlike other PWE games, there really is no NEED to use the cash shop. If you play 18 hours a day, every day, you most certainly won't need to use the cash shop. This is rather different from say, Jade Dynasty, where if you wanted to play 18 hours a day, every day, without using the cash shop, it would be so agonising as to be impossible. (Yes, I know China's JD doesn't have cash-shop-fuelled, PWE-approved bots. I don't even want to think about what JD would be like without those bots - or espers, as they're called.)

By 'pegging' the prices of RL currency to in-game currency, and further balancing that by making mobs and quests give untradeable currency, PWE has solved the inflation problems that plague this genre in one fell, elegant swoop.

And it isn't just the triple currency system which makes it shine. It's how they've thought out and integrated every single thing that has anything to do with economics, the game economy, and currency. They haven't just limited their economic controls to their trio of virtual currencies, one of which interfaces with real cash. They've elegantly tied crafting, consumables, gear drops and the player propensity to trade and hoard stuff into the system as well. And they've even created a crafting system where the crafted items are valuable at least half the time. Sometimes extremely valuable - and sometimes even more valuable than 'set' pieces even with their special bonuses. It's really nice to be able to sell the stuff you make for a decent price, to other players, and at least break even from crafting, if not always make a profit. (Gear is in the Diablo/WoW style, with both randomly statted pieces, and set pieces with random stats and set bonuses.)

What's more, it's because of this thought and integration that every single piece of gear in FW is BoE. No BoP gear. Ever. There *is* BoP stuff... but this BoP stuff is advanced crafting materials used to make potions and consumables. And it's bound because they want people to join guilds - and guess where these things can be bought? Ayup, higher level guildhalls.

Guilds (or more specifically, guildhalls) in FW require daily tradeable gold to maintain, in addition to other various point system scoreboards. For those of you who've MUDded, it's very much like the old 'rent' systems you'd find in some MUDs, with the main difference being that only guilds pay rent - players don't.

But back to the pure-BoE gear.

Even with gear being pure BoE, people do still run instances for gear because it is, after all, cheaper than buying it off the auction house - if you don't count the time you spend in instances hoping that something with stats you can use / the set piece you're looking for will drop.

What it means, though, is that you really, really, REALLY don't need to kill something(s) over and over again with people you can't bloody stand, just to get more/better stuff so you can... rinse and repeat.

But what, you ask, are you paying for, O gloriously juicy one? Are you pimping your yous out with your wallet? Should you not be buying crispy battered chicken instead?

Nah, I'm not paying to be THE BEST. On the level of cash shop whales, where spending goes into the thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands, I have neither the means nor the desire to compete. What I find myself spending money on is mostly (lol) bags for my packrattitis, and stuff like that. Since I started playing FW slightly over 6 months ago, I've dropped US$50 on it - and I haven't even spent most of it yet. Meaning, I've bought the currency, but I think I've only actually *used* US$15 of that $50.

I do like earning my in-game tradeable cash by myself, even if it only exists because *other* people are spending money. It isn't the 'I'm too leet to cash shop' mentality - it's more of the, 'I currently don't feel any burning NEED (unless I'm feeling really lazy)'.

At levels 70-80 (my highest toon ATM is 60), I have a feeling that I *will* drop a bit of cash on my gear to bring it up to a standard of passability that satisfies me. However, PWE has designed FW so well that I know that I don't HAVE to spend that cash...

...if I play 3 times longer than I do now. XD

But hey, put it like that, and I'm suddenly very sure that I'd much rather drop the cash on it!

Interestingly, because of the odd mentality in CS games, people are somewhat more easygoing in instances than they are in subscription games, and CSing is NOT seen as being compulsory if you want to get into groups. There's a curious ambivalence when it comes to players who CS, not least because there are arena rankings as well.

On the one hand, people are happy that things die faster (as long as the things aren't themselves), when they're with a CSer. And on the other hand, there's the desire to poke one's nose in the air and say, 'All people who use the cash shop are clueless nubs, and not leet like meeeee...' But the end effect is that people in FW are pretty forgiving of gear that isn't all that good - vs gear that is poorly chosen but expensive. Poorly chosen expensive gear is met with vocal derision, due to the CS dynamic, and of course - envy! He blew all that cash on his gear, and it's stuff that's totally shit for his class? NOOOOOOOB!!!!

All in all, I'm surprisingly - and incredibly - happy with Forsaken World, despite its being the polar opposite of Guild Wars. Never thought I'd say this, but I love them both!