There’s currently a sort of lull in between major RIFT content patches. We know Trion has some solid plans in development, but for the moment, there isn’t a whole lot to do besides dailies, PA farming, and raiding. Not that there’s anything wrong in content lulls. In fact, content lulls give us a chance to work on things we may not always have the time to do. Working on alts, grinding out the last of a faction reputation, or farming for artifacts, PvP ranks, or pets– Now is a great time to get all of this done.
One possible side effect to this lull, however, is a sort of… period of reflection that many RIFT players are currently experiencing. This is partially due to the content lull, partially due to the fact that RIFT’s one-year anniversary is approaching, and partially due to the thrum of other MMOs as they spin around the internet. For the record, I still think RIFT will stand solid among this thrum as discussed here, but my point is– There’s a lot of talk going around about what RIFT could incorporate. How RIFT could be a better game than it already is.
One of the ways in which RIFT could easily be improved, I think, is if more options were presented for players who sometimes run out of things to do. The game has a good variety of endgame content that’s geared for raiders and solo combat-oriented players, but there isn’t currently a lot of ways for players to just relax in Telara. Let’s face it, MMOs are social environments. It’s sometimes enjoyable just to chat among friends while questing and queuing for groups. Once the queues, quests, raids, rifts, and crafting options run dry, there aren’t a lot of options available.
Many MMOs have combated this issue with the addition of various “fluff” features. Games like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online both have quite extensive systems for fishing and cooking. Both are entirely optional, but there are benefits to taking up both crafts. LotRO took the hobby idea a few steps further and introduced an extensive musical system, wardrobe system, housing system, and crafting professions that make goodies for the player and kin (guild) houses.
These features not only give players something unique to do during content lulls, but they also serve as perfect ways to enjoy roleplaying and socializing in general. Guild housing offers guilds a way to meet up and hold special events outside of raids, and player housing grants players a place to call their own within the game’s world. It’s a great way to store personal mementos and trophies of hard-fought battles. Housing also becomes a bit of a cash sink for players who find themselves with more cash or tokens than they know what to do with.
Player housing is a feature many successful MMOs have, and it’s a feature that many RIFT fans have been wanting for a long time. The game is the perfect world for such a system, I think, and I could easily imagine several instances of housing in areas of Silverwood, Gloamwood, Freemarch, Shimmersand, and even Iron Pine Peaks. Housing areas would grant us more of an immersive feel as we make our way around Telara, and they would also serve as a perfect location for all of the holiday and world event goodies we will surely see in the future.
RIFT is also a perfect game for the familiar fishing, cooking, and first aid hobbies. The game boasts plenty of beasts that could supply a large portion of the cooking materials, and also plenty of bodies of water in which to fish from. There are even chef NPCs located in the game, as pictured. These chefs could easily serve as the cooking trainers. During beta, the auction house even had sections reserved for bandages and meat, which suggests that the hobbies were originally intended to be part of RIFT, but the idea was eventually thrown out. The exact reason for this is unknown.
In Meridian, there’s even a vendor with a table full of fishing supplies in front of him. The table shows fishing traps and poles, which is interesting, considering no vendor actually sells items of the sort. Fishing and cooking could provide players with another source of materials to farm for raiding and other endgame activities.
While thinking about hobbies that could be added to RIFT, it’s also fun to think outside the box of hobbies we’re already familiar with. I’ve personally always wanted to see a woodcrafting profession in the game. Woodcrafters could be responsible for crafting staffs and bows, as well as fishing poles, furniture for player housing, and even planks of firewood for cooking. We already have the ability to gather wood. Why not create another use of it?
Other MMOs have tried a few unique ideas when it comes to providing players with optional activities. Gardening is one option I’ve seen that may also work well in RIFT. Besides the normal mount and pet collecting, mount racing or pet breeding may be an interesting option, though that may be difficult to implement. Some sort of gambling system often works well in MMOs, although I’m not honestly sure gambling fits the tone of the overall game. A music system similar to LotRO’s might work rather well, especially considering the game’s different cultures. It’d be a fun task to come up with some unique types of musical instruments for the various races.
Trion has a lot on their plate currently, there’s no doubt about that. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see most of these ideas in-game anytime soon, if at all, but there’s no harm in wishing. For some of these ideas, such as cooking and player housing, I hope they’re one day at least seriously discussed. Trion is already in the process of creating a wedding system, and player housing seems like one possible next step beyond that addition. RIFT already also has the wardrobe system built in, which is exactly the type of system that will help keep players immersed.
Telara could use a little life, and its players could use a little fun, color, and flavor. There’s nothing wrong in looking ahead, thinking about what could be, because you never know– It just might become what will be. I’m sure there are other great ideas floating around out there. What fun sources of entertainment would you like to see in RIFT one day?