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Is Rift’s Emergent Gameplay Just Reskinned PQs?

Forgive my ignorance here, because I haven’t been following Rift too closely. I just found this developer diary on YouTube where they talk about some of their neat plans for the game. One of the bigguns is the rift system. Actually, considering they’ve named the game after it, I’d say it’s probably how they’re trying to define themselves in the MMO industry.

From what I understand (Ferrel, I’m looking at you), these rifts are supposed to represent the game’s take on emergent gameplay. It works something like this, throughout the world, at random times and places, portals to different planes of existence will open and allow the evil forces within to come forward. From what Ferrel’s researched, the system for these was built up before the game itself, so it should be pretty good.

This dev. diary makes me wonder just how new it is, though. Here are some choice quotes they’ve used to describe the system:

Once you encounter a tear and cause it to open into a rift…”

One type, for example, you might be fighting creatures from the plane of death. And so, over time the waves that you’re fighting are getting stronger and stronger… As you’re doing this, you’re increasing the value of your rewards over time.”

We are currently implementing a system that rewards anybody that participates in a rift. You can even turn up at the eleventh hour and you’ll get something. People that actually are involved in opening the rift will get better stuff…”

While these all sound cool, here are the key facts I take away: 1) rifts will be optional since they have to be initiated; 2) rifts will be ranked events in which players compete for participation based rewards; and, 3) rifts will proceed in stages.

If you played WAR, you’re probably nodding your head right now. Those are the three defining stages of Public Quests, as well. The first two points also proved to be problems for Mythic. Problems that, over a year since launch, they’re still working to fix.

A tear before it opens to a full rift

That’s not to say the concept isn’t good. Frankly, if done right, I think public quests are a great system and a wonderful gateway to quick co-op fun. But, even so, PQs in WAR are largely ignored. Players want to min/max their way to “end game” content. Unless this kind of activity is incentivized out the wazoo, it will be ignored quicker XP elsewhere. Determining player contribution is another can of worms entirely, and one they’ll likely hear complaining about until the servers shut down years down the line.

The bigger issue this video raises for me, though, is how exactly Rift is different than any other game out there. The art is good and eye catching, and the customizable class system is interesting, but I like to see something new in the games I get excited about. Refining ideas and making them your own might be the key to long-term success, but at this stage, I haven’t bit yet. I’m a fish in a big lake and Trion’s hook doesn’t look any different than a dozen others.

But, like I said, I’m pretty ignorant about this game. Hopefully, I’m missing something. It has Scott Hartsman, which is good. Ferrel is excited about it and it’s infectious. I want to be on board.

What do you guys think, is there anything really new in Rift: Planes of Telara?


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  1. Ravious

    Sounds more like Tabula Rasa’s control points than anything, but yeah it sounds like more of the current (good) trend of getting people together on the fly in a persistent world.

    1. Chris

      I never played TR but, yeah, I like the idea of letting people work together on the fly. It’s drop in/drop out fun. I just like to see games stir up the pot as much as they can in the pre-release cycle. It’s always fun to get excited for a new game and the shininess of its features add a lot to that. I’m very interested to see what Scott says they’ll be announcing soon.

  2. Scott Hartsman

    Healthy skepticism always appreciated. 🙂

    Some of the info that comes out over the next few weeks should do a better job communicating what makes this a hell of a lot more than “reskinned PQs.”

    I’d be very interested in hearing if it does or doesn’t! EMail address is in the comment header – Feel free to drop a line and let me know a few weeks from now.

    – Scott

    1. Chris

      Hi Scott,

      Wow, thanks for stopping by! I hope my comments don’t come off as belittling. I like the idea and think it has a lot of potential. This was based on that developer diary as it was the first thing I’ve seen trying to get into the pre-launch excitement for the game. While the two systems sound similar when zoomed out like we are at this stage, I’m sure Rift will differentiate itself and shine in its own way. For what it’s worth, conceptually and aesthetically, I’m certainly interested right now.

      I’ll be waiting for more news and watching the game more closely. I’ve talked to Ferrel several times about your influence in SOE’s development, and we’re both excited to see your design philosophies applied in a new world. As a blogger, it’s easy to be critical at times (not my intention), but I think most of us have a tremendous respect for the work and passion you put into your games. Keep it up!

      Thanks for stopping by, Scott!

  3. Yogi

    The games name is new ;D

    I share the same concerns. I want to be all over this game, but I have yet to see the innovation behind the trademark system. Main reason I am looking at this game at all is that it has a different back story and lore. Im just in the mood for something with a little different story I guess. It may not sound like the best mmobbq on the horizon, but I have to admit, it does sound fun.

  4. Tramell

    Just to add, they don’t want the Rifts to be optional, they are working it to where you want to do it or else there will be consequences in the game world. Looking at the featured upcoming MMOs Rifts is the closest one to sticking with the old model and trying to put the shinies on it. Its definitely a good concern because in the end it isn’t as so much as they system is broken its the players who choose what to do.If players deem it unnecessary and the consequences from not doing the rifts are huge, then yes it will be ignored and essentially become a add-on and not a core mechanic.

  5. hunter

    I’ve been thinking its too unknown to figure out whether they’re different or not. I know a lot more about gw2s dynamic events but I still don’t really know how they’re going to play out. Rift’s….rifts are even more ambiguous at this point, so I’m trying not to judge early.

    1. Chris "Syeric" Coke

      Agreed. Perhaps I should have held this post back. Scott’s comment has my interest piqued, however, so I’m going to come back with another after we find out some more info.

  6. Scott Hartsman

    Nothing belittling taken at all – Very glad you didn’t hold the post back.

    Healthy skepticism from experienced players forces developers to make more interesting games, and also helps us figure out how to most effectively communicate the things we’re trying to get across.

    Both of those are good things. 🙂

  7. Ryan

    I actually played this at E3 with the lead developer talking me through it. I told you on the phone that this MMO may finally get me to cross over to the dark side. I tried to contact them to get beta codes and more information but they seem to not be e-mail people. Guess I’ll give them a call…

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