Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rift - Cry me a River (of Souls)

So, the River of Souls event in Rift.  The much ballyhooed on various blog and news sites "live event" currently raging across the Rift servers.  If by "raging" you mean "trickling" and event you mean "an occasional new rift".

I think I've had the misfortunte to run across the biggest flaw in Trion's dynamic content system for Rift - population.  Events don't spawn unless there are enough players in the zone to trigger them, so if you're in a low population area, just forget about it.  If you are in an area with just enough people to trigger an event, chances are good you also have too few people to actually win the event.  While losing an event is better than no event at all, it does get pretty frustrating when the only event to trigger all evening is lost, and you know you won't see another until tomorrow -- if then.  I didn't see one at all yesterday, for instance, despite playing for about 2 hours.

So not only do I feel like I'm missing out on the event in general, I'm also not managing to collect many of the new tokens (Otherwordly Sourcestone) that are used to purchase the various event goodies.  Players in high population areas are raking in the sourcestone while I, after over a week of play, have a whopping 97.  This is demonstrating the basic inequity in the system -- I am essentially a casual player but more importantly I typically play late at night.  If I play for 1 1/2 hours late at night I'm going to have far fewer opportunities to progress in the event than someone who plays 1 1/2 hours during prime time.  This isn't a question of Player A is hardcore and plays more and so should get rewards faster while Player B is casual and barely plays at all.  We're both putting in the same effort, but because of the ambient server population I'm getting less for the same input of time.

Now, for normal content this really wouldn't matter.  We'd both get there eventually, so who cares, whatever.  This is a live event though.  A "once-it's-gone-it's-gone-and-the-rewards-become-unique" event.  This means there's no time to slowly gather tokens because there's a time limit after which no more tokens can be earned.  So even though I was present for the live event, participated as much as I could, and put in the same amount of time as someone playing during primetime, I'm unlikely to get any of the unique "I was there" rewards -- the costumes, mounts, etc.

Granted, this sounds like a whine, and "get a life, it's a game, who cares" is certainly a valid response.  My real issue though is that it reflects BAD DESIGN.  They've essentially shoehorned the live event onto the normal zone event system and added a limited currency for purchases instead of planarite.  There are a host of ways they could have made this more accessible to players of all kinds, and I'm going to discuss them below (lucky you!).  Note that each of these ideas is intended to stand alone.  Doing all of them would be silly.
  1. Have the event invasions be timed instead of dynamic.  Have each zone get an invasion on a certain schedule, regardless of the number of players in the zone.  Why should Alsbeth wait until there are enough opponents to defeat her?  Each zone should have a different invasion time.  This would have the benefit of driving players to each eligible zone ahead of the invasion so they can participate if they want to.  A server might have 100 players in a level band all willing and able to participate in an event, but if they're scattered all over they won't trigger the event.  If they know there's going to be an invasion in Scarlet Gorge at 10:20 p.m., they'll flock to the zone at 10:15 and participate.  Yes, many events will spawn with no real opposition and questers will get steamrolled.  But this is a limited time event, eventually it will go away.
  2. Put the bulk of sourcestone collection on the daily quests rather than rift closures.  If the dailies offered 20 or 30 sourcestone per quest instead of 10, you could conceivably get decent amounts even if all you managed to do was complete the dailies.  All but one of the quests require participation in the invasion events, but you'd only need to particpate once per day rather than over and over.
  3. Have the event items requrie a small amount of otherworldly sourcestone and a pile of planarite.  That way you have to participate in the events to get access to the rewards at all, but if you are only able to participate in the event a few times you can still get the rewards by earning enough planarite through the usual methods.
  4. Instead of daily quests that give tokens, have one time quests that give a choice of rewards.  You can't get all the rewards (which maintains some uniqueness between characters) but you can get the ones you really want without grinding for them.
  5. Make the gameplay effecting items more expensive (like the purple rings) and the cosmetic items fairly cheap.  People can only get these items for a couple of weeks out of the lifetime of the entire game.  That will limit their abundance better than forcing players to grind like crazy just to get a purely cosmetic item.
In the end, it doesn't really matter.  I have seen some of the new invasion rifts, and they are a little more interesting than the standard ones.  Nevertheless, the event as a whole has been a bit of a let down, and coupling it with a massive token grind that's extremely difficult for me to progress on has been depressing.  Some days I almost feel like I don't want to log in until the event is over.



  1. "get a life, it's a game, who cares". NOTHING could be further from the truth.

    You're a paying customer for this product, this entertainment service. As a customer you should care. It's your money feeding their babies so they should care as well. They should care a great deal lest their babies fall over dead.

    Imagine they'd said the same thing to the loonies who came up with moving pictures. It's a fad, go pick up a hoe and make yourself useful. Where would Johnny Depp be?

    Never underestimate your choice of passtimes. Seeing as you only live once, people that get your money because you decide to spend valuable time using their product should worship you like a God.

    Or maybe I'm just spoiled.

    Anyways, now I kind of feel glad about not having logged in for the event. I hate feeling left out of the rain.

  2. I've been playing from 9-11 or so the past few nights and have had varying luck with event rift spawns.
    There are times when something (be it population, or a timer I don't know) trips the zone-wide event trigger and quite a few event rifts open up.
    Other times I have to pop between the several level-appropriate (you have to close a rift that yields experience to count for the daily quest) zones to find a single event rift.
    I understand your frustration. Maybe looking at it as something to do during the normal course of leveling as opposed to making it the focus of your time during the event would make it more palatable?

  3. @Sara, oh, I agree, otherwise I wouldn't have written a long winded post. But there are plenty of people who would think it silly to get frustrated over exclusion from reward pixels in a game :)

    @Robert, that is essentially how I've ended up playing. I'm not going to ruin my limited playtime desperately scampering after event rifts that may or may not show up. However, I still find it annoying that I'm not able to participate as much as I'd like to, and that I won't get some of the rewards I would have liked.

    Mostly I just think it's a shame, that while for the most part Trion has managed to avoid many of the pitfalls of modern MMOs they walked right into this one.