Paths In Telara: Take me to the River.
By Jonathan Doyle (Ardua), OnRPG Journalist.
Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. Did you spend it in RIFT like I did? Again, I hope you did.
Why do I hope you spent the weekend in RIFT? Well… for the event. Yes the event that everyone and their dog are currently bemoaning. You know what? That’s perfectly fine. I still have the faith.
What is it I have faith in? Well Trion Worlds of course. Let’s break it down.
Trion set out with a clever game plan. People were coming up on the end of the 30 days box subscription assuming they were there for launch. What else is there to do at that critical time but try to pull something impressive off? With that in mind they had been working on the River of Souls world event. Alsbeth is being a naughty girl and well if you’re a fan of your own immortal soul, what the Endless Court were planning could best be described as “bad”. Trion crafted the event, promoted it and set it on its way.
This wasn’t just a bid to keep the subscribers interested, even if anything any company does tends to be just that. It was a bid to bring more into the fold. The launch weekend of The River of Souls was also the first Allies of the Ascended weekend where anyone could download RIFT and play for a weekend. It is a very clever stroke. They were giving players what they wanted and showing off their goods and their community to non players.
Trion also stepped up to the plate and showed us that no matter how good a job they themselves think they did, if they see a problem they will step in to fix it. The start of the event was tweaked a number of times to make it enjoyable for everyone and to get rid of the unintended side effect of everyone piling into the first zone of the game on each side, disrupting life for anyone just starting out or trying an alt.
In that, assuming they had not already, Trion Worlds won me over. They were not going to settle for a sub par event, despite what some of you know is coming in this narrative.
Fast forward a week to the weekend before last. Phase II was to start up in the game. People had been gathering the goods, dealing with the new rifts and cashing in the event currency. Phase II again was paired up with an Allies of the Ascended weekend. They had already given non subscribers a chance to see what people were like at the start of the event and they weren’t being excluded from participating in its end. That is… until it was discovered by European players that it just plum didn’t work. Phase II was laggy and Phase III was crashing. This could not do, so they didn’t launch it. Sure this sounds like a defeat but personally, I view it as a win for the players. Why struggle through something that would have been broken? To say that you did? To complain that it was? Trion was communicating through the forums, Twitter, Facebook and through the game’s server announcement system. We, the players, were not left in the dark. Zann and the community team are to be commended.
Finally comes last weekend. The event had been extended. There was now a third Allies of the Ascended weekend, so that even non subscribers could join in. Everyone had been thought of. They even accounted, or so they thought, for some issues again discovered by the European servers. The event wouldn’t start at the exact same time on all servers to give people a chance to get in. They also would repeat Phase II and III to give those absent in previous weeks a chance to witness them.
Here is the bit you may have heard. It was all rather an anticlimax.
I won’t defend Phase III at all. Neither will Trion.
Phase II was fun but over far too quickly. Was that a fault of Trion? No… it was a factor of Faeblight filling to server capacity in minutes. People were ready to take this on and they did. Speaking as a Defiant (mostly) player I must take this moment to point and snigger at the Guardians who were the last to finish. You guys and girls left Silverwood till last, for shame.
So yes, Phase II bulleted along, but what harm is that? Everyone was poised to take it on, I can hardly complain about being surrounded by competent and ready players can I?
Phase III however was… just a script. An enjoyable script I must say. Alsbeth popped out and had a good scene with Asha Catari of the Defiants and Cyril Kalmar of the Guardians. I was suddenly confused by a mass of emote spam as everyone (and I could not render everyone there on my screen) started /kneeling to Alsbeth. Turns out it was a title unlock. Still, it was weird to see and I joined in figuring that there had to be some reason for it. Phase III did what it intended to do, it was to introduce us to the River of Souls end game raid and it did just that. What Phase III did not do was what Trion had originally hoped. After two weeks of building up and twenty furious minutes (or thereabout, I was distracted) of beating a world invasion into the dirt, we got a quick two minute puppet show and a raid that well… I myself couldn’t do only being level 34. I know I wasn’t the only one.
Finally you say, maybe he’ll complain now! Rip them a new one! Well… no I won’t. Why won’t I? It’s easy. Like at every other stage of the event, like at every other problem I have witnessed myself, Trion stepped up to the plate.
From the boards comes this:
‘When we set out to get this unveil event in front of you, it was all about some serious ambitions.
Great new types of content to unveil a brand new raid zone. Events that really push the edge of what’s possible not just in Rift, but in any MMO of its kind. All within an incredibly rapid amount of time following launch.
In this case, while we did get to “what’s possible” we didn’t get to “solid gameplay for the entire game universe.” The later phases of the event were too concentrated and time-compressed, which caused issues on a number of worlds.
Ambition is important — It’s what keeps us improving day to day, week to week, month to month. But, it’s equally important to know when you walked too close to the edge and got cut.’
Trion knows that what they hoped to deliver and what people saw did not match. We had high expectations and so did they. As a thank you/apology to the player base, all the subscribers are getting goodies in the mail. Yes it may, as my wife pointed out half heartedly, mean that anyone who actually was there for Phase III no longer has bragging rights for being there, after all everyone gets the achievements for the later phases now; but I don’t mind.
I would sooner embrace the same idea as Trion and learn from the experience and look forward to what they bring to us next, having improved themselves and what they will deliver. I could dwell on the anticlimax, I could even rage against the company. But why? They have admitted fault, they are planning to learn and they have gifted me for my continued presence. I could hold the anti climax close to my heart and complain about it, but what is the point when I know that the next time will be better?
Plus, in case anyone is forgetting, they did in fact take us down to the river. The River of Souls is staying as another end game raid. All in all, while something of a let down, this still comes out as a win for everyone.