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.