I sense a Rift in your guild

It seems the self-sacrifice that EuroGamer made for the good of our community is being forgotten, and it’s getting embarrassing. It’s been just over two years since the infamous “5 minute MMO review”, and yet here we are today, with people passing judgment and making sweeping statements about an MMO based on limited experience, and doing so without a smirk or heavy use of sarcasm. It’s kinda sad really.

In addition to misguided ‘opinions’, there are other factors at work here. In MMO releases past, the tourist population was always thriving, and so it was a guarantee that whatever your numbers in the first month, the second month they would be drastically lower. It helped that most of those MMOs were also flawed in one way or another, but the true tourist would have returned home regardless. Many of those players today are not looking like tourists though, and we mostly have WoW’s Cata to thank for that (EVE tourists would be the most rampant if EVE had 12m subs, as almost all EVE players eventually return home, but with 350k or so subs they are not that noticeable. That they are also not as obnoxious as WoW players helps too).

Back when WAR was released, WoW was ready with WotLK, and many who went over to WAR knew they were coming back. WoW itself was also not in the shape it’s in now, as things had not begun to seriously deteriorate during the BC era. The C team that ‘updates’ WoW now has done a fine job setting the stage for Rift. Why, it’s almost 2004 EQ2-like in nature. Who would have ever imagined Blizzard would ‘borrow’ that strategy from SOE.

And much like WoW’s original perfect-storm release, outside factors have shaped up nicely for Rift. WoW has never been lower, the response to Rift is to re-released more rehashed content ‘soon’ (and not even originally excellent content like Nax), and any potential AAA contenders (GW2, SW:sRPG) are a ways off. Factor in that everyone else in the themepark genre is either spinning in circles or playing in the F2P minors, and it might as well be 2004 all over again, with the crown sitting on a pedestal begging someone to put it on.

Then there is the product itself, so familiar yet clearly able to confuse those who just quickly glanced. Take, for instance, invasions. To the EG review crowd, they are simplistic events that require nothing more than showing up to collect some loot, and this is very much the case in the first zone. Because, well, it’s the first zone and it’s just an intro to the game. If that was all invasions were for 50 levels that would be pretty weak. If that’s all they are for the newbie zone, yea, that’s pretty understandable (and you would not want lvl 35 complexity invasions beating up on level 10 players anyway) WoW conditioning has, unfortunately, taught many that what you do at level one is what you will be doing until you hit the cap and start the ‘real’ game. Fixing that terrible design decision is seemingly incomprehensible to many, yet that’s exactly what Rift has done.

Which is not to say you can’t faceroll your way to 50, solo, without interacting once with another player. That option exists, and while for an MMO fan it’s about as fun or interesting as punching yourself in the face, lots of WoW players love the abuse. It’s not entirely their fault either, they simply don’t know any better after having been in Azeroth for so long. But the option existing is very different from it being the optimal path, which it certainly is not. Later invasions require solid coordination, running instances at or slightly below level can be a very worthwhile challenge, and tackling rifts in a small group requires more than drooling on your keyboard as well. People who have reached 50 also report that in addition to being plentifully, the end-game content is a very solid challenge.

It’s almost like Trion build Rift knowing the common pitfalls of an MMO, and had the time/resources to figure them out, plus the talent to actually do it right. Kinda like, oh, in 2004 when WoW fixed many of EQ1’s shortfalls, delivered a game of an above-level quality for games at that time, and had the talent/resources to keep the momentum going.

Finally, one has to ask why Rift is causing so much angst for those who are not playing. When Darkfall gets hated on, it’s more understandable, as carebears have a natural fear of PvP MMOs and anytime one pops up they can’t help themselves. God forbid a sandbox gets popular enough to influence changes in themepark land; scary! But Rift is very much a non-threatening themepark, so why the hate?

My guess is that for many, they are seeing guild members log in to their old game less and less, perhaps only to show up for pre-planned events like raids. The rest of the time, they are playing Rift. While silly, that builds a certain animosity in those who are not yet ready to leave their current home, either because they can’t (weak hardware, no money, whatever), or their EG experience with Rift was not mind-blowing and they believe the game to be just another quick trip away from Azeroth. That Rift is not frontloaded like WAR or AoC is likely a factor, and like games of old, it takes more than a glance to see all of its depth and innovation (of which it has plenty, you just never saw it in beta). That’s tough for the one-month-and-done tourist crowd to grasp.

Plus, facts ruin so many good rants.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in beta, Blogroll, EQ2, EVE Online, Guild Wars, Mass Media, MMO design, Rant, Rift, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to I sense a Rift in your guild

  1. PeterD says:

    Geez, I’m agreeing with you so much lately. It’s creepy. Stop it!

    Can’t we get a rant on how sandbox MMOs are the only way to go and everything else sucks, or something?

  2. Rem says:

    Back when WoW first appeared on the stage, I was over in competitive-FPS-land. Years later, a friend from those times said reflectively: “We didn’t hate WoW for being good or bad, for requiring skill or not, for being stupid or clever. We hated it because it was taking away our friends, people we had known for years disappeared left and right and never came back. We hated WoW because it was giving all those people what our community could not.”

    You just reminded me of that.

  3. Sean Boocock says:

    “Plus, facts ruin so many good rants.”

    Irony at its best.

  4. Hrmm… where is all this anti-Rift angst?

    I must be reading the wrong blogs again.

    • Jezebeau says:

      I think it’s a response to Tobold’s disquiet as he stresses over the fact that he might go back to WoW after playing Rift.

      • SynCaine says:

        That’s one source, including the people commenting as well. Tobold is far from the worst one here though.

        • And you’re going to wait for Friday blog wars to tell us the worst one is? Come on, you’ve never been afraid to point fingers before. Tell us.

        • SynCaine says:

          Waiting for you to post about it so I can attack you. It’s been too long, and I’m sure you can find some nuance of the UI that drives you crazy (sadly L does open the quest log, and I think you can remap everything anyway).

          On a serious note, it’s more about the general feel I get from non-players who talk about Rift more than one EG-level piece. “I played beta, and I know invasions are just smash smash smash” “I played up to level 20, the instances are just as easy as WoW”, that kind of stuff. I’ve yet to see someone say “I got to 50, Rift really is just WoW in a different world”. The points being made are very clear-cut in terms of who is saying what.

  5. bonedead says:

    This is happening to my WoW guild funny enough. I don’t think anyone besides mebbe one or two guys is really getting mad about it, most are just jumpin on the bandwagon. I guess they’re getting close to getting Chogall down though, whatever that is lol.

    IMO the hate comes from the same BS that our current outstanding US politics comes from. Football. Yeah, I said it. My team is the best and your team sucks and no matter what happens, I will always hate your team cus my team is better. Real issues and real life matter not! My team is gonna win and I don’t care how we do it.

    R-tard to the max

  6. Saucelah says:

    I’m just pissed because I thought this blog was about Mount & Blade: Warband

  7. Mallika says:

    I find it rather irritating that on blogs that are more WoW-oriented (and nothing wrong with that per se), many posts are written that are smug smirks or even downright hostile, talking about how ‘people will be back’ because Rift is just a clone, nothing new, etc.

    When people complain about rifts being the same all the time, I have to wonder if the people even got out of the starting zone. I’m level 37 at the moment and I have encountered different types of rifts, and even the same kind (for example, earth / fire) sometimes have different mechanics. Yes, they’re all the same like all ice cream flavours are all the same because they’re made of ice cream.

    The thing is, I don’t mind differing views at all and would happily discuss the pros and cons of whatever topic we’re talking about, but I find smugness being one of the most unattractive traits a person can have, and when it comes out in that person’s writing, it tends to make me not want to read more.

    Which, to be honest Syncaine, is why there was a period when I only came by just to quickly do a scan of your posts instead of reading (I guess I could call it ‘EG-style reading’?). :) The above paragraph, however, wasn’t aimed at you. Just a general thing about the blogging atmosphere these days.

    • Mallika says:

      PS And no, I don’t need the blogs to be written in adoration of Rift. Not at all. I don’t need someone else to validate my choice of MMO. I just find it annoying when someone else seemingly gets so insecure that s/he needs to become hostile about someone else’s choice.

  8. Zapod says:

    Well I left WoW permanently post-Cata and moved to LOTRO. Joined a solid kin and now am an officer assisting with the kin day-to-day admin.

    We’ve had a number of our players move over to Rift with the full blessing of our kin. They have not been kicked or demoted or backstabbed.

    At the end of the day the people you group with is what matters. This doesn’t happen in the guild-of-a-minute typical WoW community as no one gives a shit about each other or the guild in general.

    Rift is a wake up call for Blizzard and WoW and I wish it every success. When I get some extra free time I definitely would like to try it.

  9. thehampster says:

    Rift is a decent game, but after playing through about 20 levels, I didn’t see a single thing that was very interesting. The game is just bland.

    For example, compare the first time you entered Meridian to the first time you entered Undercity. The graphics and environments in rift are general and forgettable. The gameplay is decent, but if you’re already bored of WoW, then Rift certainly isn’t going to see fresh and interesting.

    It’s true that I never got to a high level, but if I’m already bored of the game by level 20, I don’t exactly see myself grinding my way up to 50 just to check out the end game.

    • Bhagpuss says:

      You kind of make SynCaine’s point here. Rift is a bit different from other modern MMOs in that the gameplay actually progresses as you level. Silverwood and Freemarch are almost extended tutorials.

      It’s arguable whether making players wait more than 20 levels before beginning to show the more interesting and involving gameplay is wise, but on balance it’s probably necessary. It does run the risk of having people decide they’ve seen it all before and it’s all too easy before they even get out of the first zone, but conversely if soloing was as risky and required as much thought at 10th as it does at 30th, or if invasions required real co-ordination and teamwork at 15th as they do at 40th, then it might well be too much.

      In the end, none of this matters. Word of mouth will ensure the medium-term success or failure of Rift. Even the people who turned their back on the game before they got out of Freemarch will come back for another try if it turns out their friends are still playing in three months.

  10. thehampster says:

    All that said, I guess I’ll be playing single player games for awhile until another good MMO comes out.

    Off topic, BTW, ty for the DA2 review. After reading PC Gamer’s review, I was dangerously close to ordering DA:2. Fortunately your review prompted me to look into it more and see what garbage it is (and what garbage pc gamer is).

  11. Spidubic says:

    My guild has been pretty lucky. We all seem to tire of games at the same time. We got back into WoW a few months before Cata after a few years away. Good times were had. Then Cata came out and we played it for the first month, maybe two. We have been in Rift since Beta and pretty much everyone has purchased the 6 month subscription plan. One of our guildmates always says you have to play an MMO at least till 20+ to really start to get the feel for it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If a person’s plan is to mostly solo an mmo, then I think WoW is increasingly becoming the perfect game for them. By the same token, something like Rift is likely going to seem bland and uninteresting to such a person because, in terms of what you actually end up doing, its really not much different.

    What Rift does do well is to bring back incentives to actually make friends, to help each other out, and to actually work together towards common goals. Rather than come home after a long day and logging on to kill 10 rats by myself, or craft 10 swords, or whatever, I find myself coming home not caring about shinies or character advancement at all. Instead I find myself logging on to see what people are doing, and to then go help them do it.

    Even if those people are complete strangers.

  13. Spidubic says:

    I do love the public group option. Last night while running around I stumbled upon a Rift. One guy was fighting the baddies so I jumped in to help. When we had closed it he asked if I would help him kill this guy for a quest he had been having problems with. 10 minutes later the quest was done and he was happy.

  14. Tobold says:

    Would you consider “the game gets fun AFTER the first 20 levels” to be a good marketing strategy? How many people are going to try it for some hours, conclude Rift is bland, and will never play long enough to get to what you consider the fun part?

    • SynCaine says:

      No no no, “the game gets fun after 20 levels” is very different from “the complexity of invasions, quests, etc increases noticeably after 20”.

      The issue burned out WoW players are facing with the first 20 levels is unique to them, because they quit before seeing more. Rift being my first themepark for a few years, I had a good time 1-20, and I know many others did as well. If the first 1-20 were not fun, Rift would have failed already.

      Plus, it’s not like 1-20 is dozens of hours of gameplay. 1-10 is a couple of hours, and I’m guessing you could reach 20+ with under 10 hours played. Would you rather have 1-20 start slow and build up, or 1-85 be identical?

  15. So I suppose nobody is going to be receptive to the idea that we often like (or dislike) things for deep and often irrational reasons that have much more to do with our inner being than what is before us and that we then spend a lot of effort distorting logic and reason to rationalize our emotion-driven opinions about these things.

    Nah, your game just sucks, mine rules.

    • SynCaine says:

      Sounds like you are mad for playing EQ1 and not Rift.

      It’s cool, we understand.

      (Half the fun of being a fan is being irrational and hating ‘the other side’ for simply being ‘the other side’. That WoW does in fact suck is a side note)

  16. Pingback: Rash Generalizations or Why Are You So Defensive? « The Ancient Gaming Noob

  17. Angry Gamer says:

    Just came over here from Tobolds…

    GREAT post wish I had said it. I liked your comment about the tourist evaluation… right on target.

    So any ideas what to say to the wow-klingons? I am at a loss Tobold always came across as a reasonable person. But, I think he represents a cross-section of players that NO MMO will tempt away from Wow until it’s obvious the ship is listing to port.

    Just curious really…

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