‘Tis the little rift within the lute.

One of the general themes buzzing around the topic of Rift at the moment is a general consensus that the game is well produced, but offers little over World of Warcraft. But familiarity isn’t necessarily bad in all contexts, and I think this is a mistake many MMO developers have made in the recent past. There hasn’t been a car manufacturer in recent years who has decided to mount the steering wheel on the roof of the car, or moved the steering column controls to the seat, to be operated by the driver’s buttocks. Maybe someone will come up with a revolutionary new way to control a car – most likely coinciding with some leap in technological capability – but in the meantime, incremental adjustments to the familiar is the way that industry moves forward, while style, design and build quality are what attracts customers. As far as I can see, Rift incrementally improves on the familiar, has an attractive style and design, and reports are that the general build quality is of a high standard.

Yes, intuitions, new principles, new ways of seeing this gaming genre are important. But they are not essential to creating an enjoyable new game. For me, Rift offers a new world in which to adventure, explore and exist; if I’m honest with myself, that’s why I got into MMOs in the first place.

I think, as Tipa, that there are two sides to this: there are those people like Tobold who are happiest with the familiar world of Azeroth, and there are people like myself who have tired of that world. For the second sort of person, a new world to explore might be just the ticket.

And although things may feel a little strange and uncomfortable to begin with, the expected structure and function is still satisfied, and the clinging cloying feeling from previous experiences will hopefully begin to subside, while at the same time a newfound enthusiasm and a feeling of fresh, airy, comfortable freedom takes hold. Much like changing the style of your underpants.

8 thoughts on “‘Tis the little rift within the lute.

  1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    Well, the problem is that if Rift offers nothing really new, then there’s not reason to leave your investment and friends in WoW. So, the ideal audience for Rift is the person tired of Azeroth but not themepark, directed gameplay and who doesn’t have a lot of social connections in WoW. Not a huge segment, I suspect.

    I prognosticate 150-250k players for Rift. Maybe more if they unleash a lot of advertising. We’ll see if that figure is failure or merely “mediocre” depending on how much Trion spent on the game. As I understand it, Trion is developing multiple MMOs, so even if it is a failure then they might still have another success coming up. We’ll see, I guess.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    “So, the ideal audience for Rift is the person tired of Azeroth but not themepark, directed gameplay and who doesn’t have a lot of social connections in WoW. Not a huge segment, I suspect.”

    It’ll certainly be interesting to see. I wonder if after six years of the same world, players will begin to tire of it, or will they become even more entrenched. If only a small proportion of players do decide they’re tiring of it, out of the umpteen million people that Blizzard have turned on to MMOs, that’s still quite a few people.

    Social connections, however, is an excellent point. I would counter by saying that it could take as little as one person from a social group moving on and raving about a new game to generate a landslide change in opinion. I imagine you’re correct, however, and that a general disinclination to move based on social attachments is quite likely.

    I’m certainly not suggesting here that Rift is going to be a runaway success; I imagine we’ve all suffered far too many hyped-up MMO failures to believe in WoW-killers and the like. I do, however, consider Rift to be a valid option for those who have tired of WoW, and thus I think it shouldn’t be dismissed outright simply because it is yet more WoW only ‘not in Azeroth any more’.

  3. Gankalicious

    While not a large proportion of the gaming population, I understand, there are some of us who are bored with our current games and have never played WoW. I suspect for me, it will be new and interesting, because I don’t have the WoW background as a basic building block. That said as a pvp-oriented gamer if RIFT can’t deliver on that front I will likely lose interest farily quickly.

    150-200k? I don’t usually make predictions (at least not on a site I can’t edit my post later so I appear to have been right)but if Warhammer (my current game) can maintain around 300k I think RIFT may do slightly better in the long term, but who knows? For once I’m going to buy the FOTM and run with the herd (while eating it) just to see what all the fuss is about.

  4. Pid

    The problem I see with your car manufacturer analogy is that there is a finite lifespan on automobiles. Car companies will continue to sell cars and only have to modify the bells and whistles from model to model because there is a need for new cars. You might get bored with WoW or your game of choice, but it doesn’t get to the point where the game breaks down or becomes a money sink with repairs. You keep playing and wait for that next expansion or content patch.

    EQ1 looks awful by today’s standards, and to some degree WoW is in the same boat. That doesn’t seem to matter though because people still log in and play. It will take a game that can break the mold to dethrone the king. Perhaps it will take some form of game mechanic or some radically new technology (I’m holding out for a holodeck), but if games just change the bells and whistles…most people will stick with what they know.

  5. Melmoth Post author

    @Gankalicious: Hopefully we’ll hear reports on PvP after this weekend; I imagine it will not be impact PvP, but more akin to World of Warcraft’s battlegrounds, or Warhammer Online’s scenarios. Also, I have no idea how they will balance the multi-class system they have, if they intend to at all, so I’ll be interested to hear reports on how it all works out. Certainly they don’t seem to have been selling PvP as the focus of the game up until now.

    @Pid: Interesting points, indeed. Alas, I fear that the top ‘entertainment’ in a holodeck would not be gaming by ever such a large margin; Star Trek only avoided the true use of holodecks because they didn’t want a XXX 18+ certificate on all of their episodes…

  6. SvvenofDale&JennyBay


    Even if you think his car manufacture analogy isn’t without flaws, you have to admit the style of your underpants one is spot on!!

    I know this will probably come off as ultra-casual and possibly superficial, but I’m thinking of giving RIFT a go if only for its far superior graphics.

  7. Gankalicious

    I may not be the best person to comment objectively on the RIFT weekend….. it seems I may be one of only a few who really, really, really (did I mention really?) didn’t have a lot of fun. Couldn’t run the game in ultra (7 fps) so I had to use low-render and it looked awful.

    Warfronts was………….well it was warfronts……..hmmm….. It was okay. I love the soul-combo possibilities but to be honest I only enjoy pvp’ing and its clear this game will be pve-focused with pvp thrown in for good measure.

    I’ve got the 6-month sub (sob) so I’ll stick it out for a while and see… wish I could be more positive about it all, but there plenty of people who liked it :)

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