Not all themeparks are created equally

Going to comment on something Tobold wrote today, related to Rift launching and how themeparks are similar. Here is the piece I want to focus on:

But I do know that Rift is not completely unlike World of Warcraft. It has the same basic “theme park” guidance by quests structure, it has classes, levels, talents, spells, and a combat that works very similar, and even the user interface is somewhat similar to that of World of Warcraft. I also know that Star Wars: The Old Republic will also fall into the same basic scheme.

Of course Tobold is right that the very basics are similar. The Rift interface is similar enough to the one fans created for WoW that you know how most of it works before you even load up. It does have levels, souls/classes/talents, its high fantasy, etc. But a UI does not define a game, and just one difference can completely separate one game from another.

Imagine, for instance, if someone released a game that was 99% just like Darkfall (we will call it Lightfall), but turned off the FFA PvP. Same UI, same combat, same world, same crafting, all of that, just instead of being able to bash whoever whenever, you could only fight other players in designated areas. Would anyone playing Darkfall view Lightfall as another MMO option? Of course not.

Or if you want an example from the past, how did Darktide play compared to every other Asheron’s Call server? Same game exact game, just one little rules tweak, yet the end result was black/white in terms of in-game activity and overall flow.

I’m signed up for Rift, but I don’t view WoW as another MMO option, newly rehashed instance coming ‘soon’ or not. When I recently watched my father play his 121k hp Pali, solo’ing a pull in a lvl 83 instance before heading to the portal area of Stormwind to show me some of the ‘changes’, I was not looking at something that was kinda like Rift. When he jumped on an alt and ran Mara with four of the absolute worst players I’ve ever seen, most under-leveled for the instance, and no one even came close to dying despite stuff like running repeatedly into the Princess’ poison, I was not looking at something kinda like Rift. And like he himself said, WoW is a great solo RPG now, and that’s cool, but I’m looking for an MMO to play.

It does raise an interesting question though; what will those that ARE looking for more WoW do? Will they tourist back to Azeroth after a month, or stick around once they see what an MMO actually plays like? My guess is that many jumped on the WoW bandwagon after the removal of the MMO parts, so perhaps for millions, they have never seen what a virtual world actually looks like, even one as relatively ‘tame’ as Rift.

Considering the MMO genre is a niche market (hi Mark), I expect a lot of bags to be packed 30-60 days from now.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Asheron's Call, beta, Darkfall Online, MMO design, PvP, Rift, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Not all themeparks are created equally

  1. Torcano says:

    I pretty much agree with you, but I’d take it a step in another direction.

    WoW proves that there is a *huge* market for SW:TOR. Not only are there the millions of WoW solo players, but millions of Bioware’s previous customers.

    There is a massive market for what is essentially a solo online RPG – WoW proves that. And Blizzard’s ‘original’ fanbase consisted of multiplayer fans. So what happens when Bioware does the same thing, but with a fanbase of players who *want* to be able to solo the game. Not to mention the whole SW brand name.

    • SynCaine says:

      A huge market for people to buy the box, yes. But come month 2-3? I’m not seeing it.

      WoW works as a solo game because of the sheer amount of content, and the deep social ties people have from years of ‘investing’ in their character; two things SW:TOR won’t launch with.

      Again, fun RPG? Most likely. Good long-term MMO? Nope. Hopefully the beancounters accounted for this as well, but I doubt it.

  2. Mala says:

    I think Rift fits into a little bit of no mans land for basically the reasons you listed actually. You call it a “tame” virtual world. Frankly, if I want WoW I’ll play WoW, and if I want a virtual world I don’t really want a “tame” one. I’m passing on Rift for precisely this reason. Those who want more WoW will go back to WoW, and frankly, I’m expecting the same exact drop off we’ve seen in other AAA MMO releases over the least 2-3-4 years.

  3. Bariwyn says:

    I’m not sure if I’m going to play Rift or not, but I was interested when I first heard of it. I think what has turned me off more than anything are the constant comparisons to WoW. If I wanted to play WoW, I wouldn’t have cancelled my sub.

    I play MMO’s because they are MMO’s. I like solo RPG’s as well, but I don’t need to pay $10-15 a month to play a solo MMO. I pay for it and I’m done.

    Unless I see something really different or special about Rift that sets it apart from WoW, I’ll be sticking with LotRO and DCUO for my MMO needs.

  4. Bhagpuss says:

    For what it’s worth, in Virtual World terms I think Rift is more like Vanguard than WoW.

    The UI is a lot like WoW, and the crafting’s pretty similar, but the gameplay not so much. The exploring is orders of magnitude more involving and intriguing than WoW.

    Typing this as I sit at 67 in the queue after first server down. A lot better than the 1128 in the queue I logged in at first time round.

  5. Dblade says:

    Actually a lot of people might be attracted to Lightfall, because then the spool-up time to survive PvP wont matter. Xyson, for example is very much trying to be Lightfall while a minority of FFA PvPers want the opposite.

    I’m betting Rift is going to see a huge fall off, especially in the PvP servers once all the soul combos get theorycrafted and FOTM appear.

  6. TheSwede says:

    Your father was showing you the parts of WoW you can easily do alone. That doesn’t mean that’s the typical WoW experience. Heroics are demanding again, and raiding requires attention and practice, and end game is greater than it’s been in a long time. Sure, leveling is easy, and leveling instances provide little if any challenge, but there’s a reason for that; leveling and low level instances were demanding in 2004, but today they’re a path to the end game.

    This is what Rifts has to compete with. A game with excellent end game. And this is where all the other competing MMO’s have fallen flat. The greatest leveling experience in the world won’t help if the end game isn’t top notch. And WoW endgame is as good as it gets today.

  7. Dan says:


    “When I recently watched my father play his 121k hp Pali, solo’ing a pull in a lvl 83 instance before heading to the portal area of Stormwind to show me some of the ‘changes’, I was not looking at something that was kinda like Rift.”

    When did Rift hit the store shelves, and how long has WoW been out? As a game ages changes are made. A comparison such as yours is not completely valid when comparing a brand new game to a game that has had years to be refined and changed.

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