By Shannon Doyle (Leliah), OnRPG Journalist
Have you ever played a game where the dev team was held up on a pedestal, unreachable to all the little players and communication was something they knew nothing about? Well that isn’t RIFT. When something goes wrong they make sure everyone knows about it right away. When events are organized by the community team they’re actually there with us. Even when that means staying awake for 24 hours for charity. We are a community and that extends beyond what it normally means in the MMO world.
Sometimes things go wrong. Just yesterday we were told that two things the community had been looking forward to were going to have to be postponed. The raiding community had been looking forward to Laethys being unlocked. She was scheduled to be unlocked today. And while yes, some people had babysitters set up and others took the day off from work for it, things happen. Trion let us know it wasn’t going to happen. They even went so far as to say it wouldn’t be this weekend instead of saying it would be coming “Soon” and leaving people hanging. Another disappointing postponement announced yesterday was that the week long community campout event would have to be put off until another time. I was quite looking forward to the event personally and had intended to write about it for this week’s article. I’m still looking forward to it even if it has to be put off and I know the event will still be just as awesome when we do get it. When Trion wanted extra time with 1.8 to make sure it was perfect they extended one of the stages of the 1.7 event to give themselves more time. But most importantly they admitted that was what they were doing.
When the shards are being brought down there is always warning and plenty of it. Typically the day before there is an announcement made on the forums. Then a reminder the next day well in advance ending with a countdown. But the communication doesn’t stop there. An estimated time for the servers to come back up is always posted. And if they haven’t been brought up by then an announcement is made on the forums. Even if things have gone well they keep us updated. They let us know when the servers are coming back on and when they’re unlocked. To me this entire process is the best example of how well Trion communicates with the players. It is where we get most of our communication from since it is a fairly regular occurrence.
Things don’t need to be going wrong for us to hear from someone at Trion. The name of my column comes from a community event where several devs were in attendance. Walsingham, the assistant community manager made his love of mead quite well known throughout the 24+ hour long gaming marathon. The devs are also quite active on the forums. Not just answering questions but interacting, talking to people. That’s not even mentioning the fun little community events like the community trivia contests.
But you know, communication isn’t just about the devs, the support structure has a lot to do with it too. A couple of weeks ago I was riding around Iron Pine Peak and picked up some much lower level potions that were of no use to me. Now I was out in the middle of nowhere collecting artifacts and these things were taking up precious bag space. I could have kept them and sold them for the little bit they’re worth but that would have taken away from my artifact collecting. So I tossed them. Click, drag to emptiness, confirm destroying it, goodbye health potion.
Repeat, only this time instead of getting rid of that annoying mana potion I accidently got rid of my staff I got for defeating the creature in the level 50 Meridian ceremony where you become planar attuned! I was crushed! Quickly I started researching, could I earn it again? Websites didn’t say. I asked the 50 channel, I couldn’t get the quest again! Depression was setting in. Such an awesome staff and I lost it. I stood around for a solid hour feeling sorry for myself. Then I decided to contact a GM. I knew it was a longshot and I figured they would likely laugh in my face and tell me I was a moron. I waited around a few minutes to see if I would get a reply right away. When I didn’t I just logged off and had a good mope. Just when I had started to think it was final I got an email from Trion account services! My staff was restored! I wanted to reach through the computer and kiss GM Wedge. Of course I got a warning to be more careful, and a reminder that they can’t always restore items for me. But this was my first experience with needing a GM. And I’ve never heard anything but praise anytime anyone has had to have something taken care of.
Trion has done a lot of things right in the year that RIFT has been live. Communication and community being number two. (Awesome new content on an insane timescale is number one.) They’re easy to talk to, passionate and understanding when people do stupid things. They’re swift to take care of problems and make sure the players are always in the loop. Other studios could learn a lot from them. Thank you for being awesome Trion!