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.