Date: Dec 31, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article  |  DISQUS With Us: 2 comments

fae yule 2013 review header

Ah, Fae Yule. It’s always been one of my favorite RIFT holidays. Ever since last year’s addition of the little sledding mini-game and the IAs, it’s always struck me as one Trion’s better world events. There are plenty of things to do, there are plenty of holiday goodies to stumble across in Telara, and there are adorable boglings in Santa hats running around and plenty of things to get drunk on. What’s not to love?

I also have to admit upfront that I’ve been a little harsh lately regarding Trion’s recent cash shop incentive additions to the game. Mech Week and the like were poorly handled in my opinion, as was Autumn Harvest to some degree. Luckily, Trion seems to have taken our feedback to heart and has given us something much better balanced this time around. ‘Tis the season for Fae Yule and for improved holiday events.

Date: Oct 15, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, News  |  DISQUS With Us: 16 comments

unification plans header

For a while now, Trion’s been working on a plan that will allow us to play with as many other players as possible within the same shards and clusters. This grand plan will eventually allow players from different parts of the world to play RIFT together while each playing the game in their own language thanks to some behind-the-scenes tech magic. While this technology isn’t quite ready for its debut yet, Trion will be moving toward that plan next week when the team condenses our shards and forces players to transfer to specific shards where this “unification” process will begin.

These transfers will happen automatically next week during the normal downtime period: Wednesday, October 23rd for NA shards and Thursday, October 24th for EU shards. All guilds and friend lists will remain intact when the transfers occur, and players will need to do nothing beforehand unless they wish to reserve a name or two ahead of time. Players will have to rename any characters (for free) if their names are taken on the new shard. Here is the list of shards being affected by the merges:

North America

Necropolis users will be migrated to Seastone.
Shatterbone users will be migrated to Wolfsbane.
Threesprings users will be migrated to Deepwood.

Europe

Volan users will be migrated to Bloodiron.
Blightweald users will be migrated to Gelidra.
Argent users will be migrated to Zaviel.
Nomi users will be migrated to Brisesol.

Date: Jul 1, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 14 comments

pride writeup title

This past weekend was RIFT‘s first player-run, in-game Pride event. It was hosted by the awesome folks of The Last Prophecy on Greybriar and thanks to solid player organization (thanks Danitsia and crew!) and RIFT‘s nifty cross-shard grouping feature, the event was a pretty damn fine (and fun) success. There were over four raid groups of parade participants and a bunch more of us who showed up fashionably late (yep– I might be talking about myself) and just kinda hopped in on a Greybriar alt and had a blast.

Contrary to what some players on the forums anticipated, the event went off without a hitch for the most part. While there were a handful of players participating in various global channels that had a few negative comments and whispers for those organizing the event, for the most part the atmosphere was entirely positive. There were quite a few players who were genuinely confused about the event and what it stood for exactly, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that Pride parades and events exist to spread awareness and community– but also knowledge. Knowledge, even in a video game, equals power. The fact that players were curious was an excellent sign.

Date: May 15, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 29 comments

free to play editorial title

In lieu of hearing a simple announcement regarding an arrival date for Patch 2.3, we received some other big news yesterday along with that patch date announcement. Yep, RIFT’s going free-to-play on June 12th, which is also when 2.3 will be opening its doors (and Dendrome). Most of us saw the hints of this move coming months ago in between the layoffs at Trion, the addition of the in-game shop, and Scott Hartsman’s departure. Yesterday’s news still came as a surprise to many of us, however, especially given the timing of the news.

Bill “Daglar” Fisher mentioned yesterday that the team had been planning this move for more than a year, but despite the fact that the team pushed one-year subscription plans during the launch of Storm Legion, veteran players were only given one month to absorb the F2P news. Many one-year subscribers are understandably feeling a little let down by this move, especially considering the fact that some are paid up with over 300 days remaining on their accounts.

Date: May 13, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 8 comments

hellbugs rng title

RIFT’s Hellbugs– they come in pretty colors, look awesome when they jump, and are currently helping fire rifts see a lot of action. One problem, however. The drop rates on these little and not-so-little guys are very random and a little low for many players’ tastes. The combination of the two makes completing a Hellbug mount/pet collection fairly time consuming. Unless, of course, the RNG gods are on your side so to speak.

RNG, which stands for ‘random number generation’, is the acronym us gamers like to use when our odds of obtaining goodies are purely left to the virtual dice. By now, most of us are familiar with the concept of RNG mount drops in RIFT and remember it from past world events where players were either lucky or, well, weren’t. Trion took a hint from players after Waves of Madness and promptly started offering mount rewards during world events that didn’t require a whole lot of luck. The past few world events mounts have been really easy to nab, in fact.

Date: Mar 11, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 12 comments

carnival editorial title

Despite the fact that we’re right in the middle of RIFT’s second anniversary and Sanctum, Meridian, and the dock area of Tempest Bay are full of cheerful NPCs, colorful balloons, and carnival games galore, there’s one thing missing among the festivities on many shards. One group of things, rather. Well, okay, not things exactly. People. Despite the popularity of last year’s Carnival of the Ascended, this year our carnival grounds seem a little sparse.

Not all shards are experiencing this sparseness, of course, but even on high and medium population shards, folks are noticing the lack of carnival goers. I know I have. It was hard to miss the giant raids of balloon stompers last year even on low population shards. This year, the first day had a few smaller raids forming up on the two PvE shards I frequent, but now even during peak hours there are rarely more than three people wandering through any of the carnival attractions. So, what gives? Why aren’t the carnival games as popular as they were last year?

Date: Feb 18, 2013  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 6 comments

crossing the pve and pvp divide

When Trion added Conquest to RIFT, one of the team’s stated goals was that they wanted to help build a bridge between dedicated PvP players and dedicated PvE players. Conquest was planned as the perfect large-scale playground for players who enjoyed slaying other players, of course, but it was also designed with PvE players in mind. The roles of crafting and objective taking were going to be brought to the forefront, and the developer team hoped that small, organized groups would play a vital part. The plan was to make Conquest’s rewards worthwhile to both PvE players and PvP players.

During the first months of Conquest, this plan went fairly well. Without taking the early catastrophes of Conquest into consideration, everyone at least tried out the new feature, even players who weren’t known to PvP. Despite Trion’s hopes, Conquest quickly delved into a large-scale zerg fest where small groups generally weren’t formed and Conquest became a battle between which side had the most players clumped up. A large portion of PvE players still took part despite the lack of PvE gameplay for two reasons– Conquest Point perks and the stat trinket– both of which were great for PvE purposes.

Now we find ourselves three months into Storm Legion. Our Conquest map hasn’t changed. We’ve seen some quality-of-life updates to Conquest including a better queue system, but for the most part, the three-faction system plays similar to how it played at level 50. It’s a PvP zerg fest, essentially, which is great for players who enjoy that type of PvP action. For other players, those two desirable rewards still stand out. The problem with the perks and trinket this time around, however, is far more pronounced and is beginning to leave a sour taste is many PvE players’ mouths.

Date: Nov 9, 2012  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 10 comments

Storm Legion is almost upon us, and thanks to the fun-filled beta weekends, Patch 1.11, and Trion’s media coverage and live streams, the last few weeks have literally been a storm of new information for fans to digest. There’s no denying the fact that there are some cool, new features headed our way in Storm Legion, but what about what’s already changed in 1.11? We’ve just seen some major changes to our favorite callings, and some of the new Storm Legion souls are quite impressive. At times like this it’s almost inevitable that many players will rethink their main classes.

There’s also the fact that many of our current souls have seen complete playstyle shifts. One of most challenging aspects about RIFT’s intricate soul system is the fact that Trion has to almost keep constant watch on balance, and be ready to tweak certain callings if necessary (and they certainly aren’t afraid to do so!). The tweaks aren’t always to everyone’s liking, naturally, but perfect balance between every single calling is something we may never see, unfortunately, which is part of the reason why we see constant tweaks.

The good news? RIFT’s complex soul system does have some obvious perks, and one of those is the fact that since we have so many options available to us, if we’re unhappy with a particular role, spec, or soul, it’s fairly simple to change things up and try our hands at a new playstyle. And if that doesn’t work? With Storm Legion upon our doorstep, now’s the perfect time to consider changing mains.

Date: Sep 11, 2012  |  Written by Jessica Cook  |  Posted Under: Article  |  DISQUS With Us: 10 comments

Free-to-play (and its cousin buy-to-play) are undeniably the hot payment methods right now for games. Subscription MMOs are becoming the minority and yet RIFT and Trion seem to be holding firm in their support of the subscription model. Is this a good decision for the game and its players? I would argue despite the current trend that yes, subscriptions certainly suit RIFT and F2P would actually detract from the game’s charms.

MMOs Are a Service

It’s tempting to think of an MMO as a piece of software, but that’s ignoring its most important element: the persistent world. The software you install is merely a beginning — players also expect regular content updates, which makes it more of a service.

RIFT of course is pretty infamous for its aggressive update schedule, even amongst folks who have never visited Telara. While I’m certain that in part Trion just likes making cool things, it’s also relevant that their business model relies on regular, sustained subscribers. We pay our subscription each month, and in return we get regular content. Releasing large frequent updates makes the players happy and supports the game’s payment model.

With F2P games, the company generates its income from cash store purchases. Suddenly, large frequent content patches no longer support the business model and instead the company would be better served by creating eye-catching store items. That’s not to say that RIFT would totally abandon the update schedule that made their name in the MMO marketplace, but if we’re no longer paying for a service I wouldn’t blame them for no longer being entirely focused on giving us one.

Subscriptions Help with Group Content

One of the neat aspects of F2P games is that they require less commitment. You can show up and play for a bit and then wander away for a month and not feel obligated to get value out of your subscription. That’s great, but it’s also nice to have games like RIFT that might support a different playstyle.

RIFT was made from old school game DNA, and I would argue that it’s a lot more like WoW’s The Burning Crusade expansion than, say, newcomer Guild Wars 2. It has a heavy emphasis on group content at level cap (dungeons or raids) and some of the most challenging bleeding edge raid content available right now in any game. This content that requires a coordinated group is best taken on by people who play together regularly and who possibly have some communication structures outside of the game, like guild forums or a Mumble server.

While it’s great that F2P encourages a more flexible playstyle, that flexibility hurts the chances of making a stable, committed team to tackle content. (And you can ask any guild leader — recruitment is a pain in the butt under the best of circumstances.) A subscription game, on the other hand, encourages a more consistent player base and more commitment to a title, two things that suit RIFT’s high level content extremely well.

Signs of the Future?

Despite these things, RIFT’s future payment model is not set in stone.

An eagle-eyed player spotted an in-game shopping cart icon on the screen during one of the PAX livestreams. Rumors of imminent F2P madness hit the official forums, but Scott Hartsman himself explained that the new button would just be used to buy things like the expansion from inside the game. That’s all well and good, and I’m certainly not saying that there are more nefarious plans in the works, but adding a shopping cart icon and an in-game way to buy things seems useful infrastructure should Trion wish to offer a free-to-play option in the future.

The addition of dimensions is also possibly a sign of the future. Before Storm Legion, I’d have been hard-pressed to come up with small items that RIFT could sell consistently in a cash shop. Dimensions are certainly a new awesome feature for players, but they also really open up the potential for an in-game store — would I buy a new skin for a table or a flowering plant? It depends, but I can’t say it wouldn’t be tempting. Again, after the launch of Storm Legion RIFT will possibly be in a good place to try other payment models.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with free-to-play and buy-to-play and similar systems, and in fact they can introduce some neat diversity to the MMO market. In my opinion, though, a subscription model best suits RIFT’s amazing patch schedule and focus on group content at level cap, and I hope a year from now when my annual subscription runs out I’ll have the option to renew.

Date: Jul 9, 2012  |  Written by Laura Hardgrave  |  Posted Under: Article, Editorial  |  DISQUS With Us: 4 comments

RIFT’s 1.9 patch came at an interesting time. With the announcement of Storm Legion flying through the MMO community, many gamers who had previously played RIFT or just kept an eye on Trion’s successes were well-aware of the patch. Many even resubbed. Conquest was the huge draw in 1.9, and has caused quite a ruckus– both positively and negatively– in the RIFT community. But what about the patch as a whole? Is it building up on the exciting expansion momentum, or was it, as the saying goes, “a swing… and a miss”?

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