Rift’s biggest issue? The hype

Has anyone seen anyone post about Rift? So hard to get info about that game…

I kid, and of course, I myself wrote about it yesterday, so pot kettle black blablabla. Head over to Virgin Worlds to find the latest (I’m too lazy to link to them here).

Now having read many bloggers who I respect (or just follow), I think two items are very clear: Rift is nothing new, and Rift is not broken.

I’ll get to the first point in a minute, but let me cover the second real quick. It’s sad that even in 2010/2011, not being broken is seen as a feature in MMO land. That “the game worked when I installed it” is still noteworthy praise kinda says a lot about our genre. Still, working is always a plus (though not required), so +1 for that.

Now that whole ‘nothing new’ part. I don’t see it as a crime, and I think there are a ton of gamers out there looking to do ‘more of the same’ with just a palette swap. The issue here, and what I think will ultimately disappoint some, is that the Rift devs claimed on day one of release Rift would “move the genre forward”. I don’t understand the motivation behind saying that, and I can’t imagine it’s because they actually believe it.

Look, you made PQs v2.0 and called them rifts. That’s not a bad thing, as the general concept behind PQs was solid in WAR (plus you help Mythic get one thing right, in that people would copy that feature. They need all the points they can get here!). But let’s not pretend rifts are some amazing new innovation to the MMO genre, and more importantly, let’s not hype them as that so people going in expect them to be so. Hype them as “PQs that work, and they move!”, and people will be excited.

Same goes for the character system. It’s not a revolution; it’s multiclassing that allows for more… multi in it. Again, that’s cool (assuming you can balance it, especially for PvP), but don’t hype it as something that will blow people away with its mega-innovation, because most will log in, see WoW’s system but with ‘more stuff’, and feel disappointed. Selling it as “more flexible talent trees” is really ok, people would buy that and look forward to it.

Finally, it’s curious that so many beta testers leave with “it’s nice, I’ll play it at some point, but I’m not dying for it”. I think that’s a little worrisome. Beta is always the time when your MMO plays best (in terms of everyone enjoying themselves, not the tech side), so if during that time people are still leaving feel just ‘ok’ about your game, that might be an issue.

I think the whole thing can go in one of two ways; Rift launches, does what a themepark does well, and while not blowing anyone away, keeps them happy enough to keep playing, ultimately leading to success because, well, a lot of people are looking to do more of the same. The other scenario is that a large portion of the player base goes in expecting greatness, finds ‘good’, and rages loud enough to upset others and start a downward spiral of negativity. We’ve seen this happen before, and while the Rift hype has not been anywhere near WAR levels, there have been a few silly things said about the game from the devs that might come back and haunt/harm them.

If the second comes to pass, or ends up causing even a minor issue, it might be a very clear example of just shutting up and delivering. If you have a solid product, just ship it honestly. Players will respect the honesty, and go in with measured expectations. Hell, maybe you will over-deliver based on your tame hype, and the players themselves will pick up the hype banner and run with it for you.

16 Responses to Rift’s biggest issue? The hype

  1. I was in Rift Beta One and wasn’t sold on either Rifts or the Soul system. But what would you expect them to do but hype the only things that could conceivably be seen as concepts that weren’t ripped off wholeheartedly from other games?

    They’re trying to sell the game; of course they’re going to hype it up – that’s their job. Your job as consumer is to see past the hype. Same as it ever was.

    • Torcano says:

      Not sure if you read it, but the link to Syp’s write-up in Syncaine’s previous post will fill you in on a few things, namely that between Betas One and Two there were major improvements in the areas beta testers complained most about.

      Specifically I remember that he said Rifts were made much, much more interesting. In 2 they evolved from PQ-level to full scale invasions of zones and stuff like that apparently.

      I can’t remember if he actually said whether Souls were changed or not, but I would guess so as he did rave about the system. Maybe its just taste.

  2. Ravious says:

    If they made rifts THE PvE game rather than the shake-up filler, I think it would be more… genre moving. Plus it’s getting harder and harder to want to devote to a sub game that is kind of like many others (and some F2P’s).

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I don’t get why so many themeparks that are primarily PvE tack on PvP. The people who really like MMO PvP already have options, and the PvE crowd is bigger anyway. Now not just max everything out towards PvE if you are doing a game like Rift?

      • Randomessa says:

        From my perspective, it’s more like tweaking for outliers. There are people like my husband who are looking specifically for a high-fantasy PvE game with arena-style PvP, who doesn’t like WoW. We’re also looking for a game we can play together. I could easily do without a PvP component in my games, but he won’t. So we shop for a game that provides both, and isn’t WoW.

        The question is, do these MMO devs realize they’re only tweaking for outliers like us?

  3. Wilhelm2451 says:

    I don’t know. Bragging about things like a bigger, better, more viable version PQs seems to be less of a problem to me than “Oh, yet another fantasy MMORPG, let me add that to the already too long list.”

    Anybody who knows enough to spot the hype is probably more likely to be put of by the sameness. Anybody who doesn’t, probably won’t know or care that these features are incremental improvements to the genre versus brand new ground breaking features.

  4. Mig says:

    Totally unrelated, but Blood Bowl legendary edition is on sale for $20 through Steam.

  5. YelloBird says:

    technically it is PQ v5.0, as Cryptic has them in CO and STO. Also TR had them for the outposts, and we all know where that one went.

    Problem is also, that Rifts competes with all of them, and they had quite some time to iron out the bugs.

  6. [...] NDA has been lifted and I find myself asking the same question that Syncaine has asked recently: Is the biggest problem with Rift Hype? Perhaps I have become jaded, perhaps I am no longer looking for next big fix now that I have [...]

  7. bhagpuss says:

    I strongly agree about the hype issue, although it comes almost entirely form that deeply stupid video they put out.

    Trion should sell Rift on the basis that it’s a topnotch, polished MMO in the classic style. That is PLENTY of pitch. Saying it’s going to re-invent the genre is just asking for trouble.

    It’s not like we’re drowning in new, topnotch, polished MMOS after all. Although maybe Rift is just the outlier of the new trend and soon we will be…

  8. Hey :)

    I’m as anti-bizarre-hype as the next guy. In my perfect world, games just launch, and the world finds out about them and reacts to them on their own merits. (What do I know — I just make games, not sell them.)

    That said, don’t think of “a low level rift itself” as what’s supposed to be new and cool. They can be neat, but they’re really building blocks. (That said, later ones do get far more interesting, all the way to including raid content.)

    If you get a chance to take a look at a beta event with the full epic zone events, I’d be even more interested in hearing your impression after that. (You’re always welcome to drop me a line at the comment email, too.)

    I think that those are something unique that people are instantly recognizing as something that they’re not going to be getting in any other game, present or unreleased.

    Those were where the “Holy crap” moments come from.

    We saw more community building and people pulling together in the zone events of Beta 2 than I think I’ve seen in any MMO in the last 10 years. :)

    Thanks for the writeup!

    - Scott

  9. bonedead says:

    Wow, Mr. SynCaine, hittin big time.

    • SynCaine says:

      Hittin?

      This has been ‘kind of a big deal’ for a while now. You, oh loyal one word/sentence follower, should know this already :)

  10. Mala says:

    Hartsman is correct regarding the big invasion zone events. That is absolutely rift at its best and a good mechanic/feature/mechanic. I hope that rift moves more and more towards that kind of content.

  11. Shadow says:

    “Players will respect the honesty, and go in with measured expectations”

    I think we all know by now, that “players” as a whole, will never have anything even remotely resembling measured expectations.

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