[Rift] A Spam Contribution

Trion Worlds has a fantastic game going into early access launch this Thursday (1 EST), but they still have a lot of work cut out for them. Likely the biggest issue is going to be massaging souls (classes) to get them where they work. I am not worried about balance for each soul, but I expect that Trion will work out a strong niche for each calling. I’ve been reading balance issues all over the board, but then again even the longer-toothed World of Warcraft is still fiddling with classes.

The one challenge I hope Rift can make work is the contribution system for the dynamic content. Right now, quite frankly, it sucks.

The contribution UI works like an activity barometer. With minimal activity a player will see the barometer at a low level with a bronze color. Decent activity and the player goes to the middle and gets a silver color. Finally at significant activity, a player will get a gold color with a full activity barometer, which results in theoretically the best loot. Okay, fine so far…

The problem is that to get a “gold” rating, players have to spam skills. As a mage, if I am riding at gold level activity and I stop to pull off a 2-second spell, my activity level plummets. It doesn’t matter that my 2-second spell’s damage-per-second far outweighs my instant-cast spells. Yet, I’ve found that simply spamming Cloudburst will net me a gold rating almost every time. Cloudburst is one of my weaker spells.

I remember that Warhammer Online also had pretty big issues balancing contribution… serious issues. But then, Warhammer Online also decided that ranking each player was necessary. Oh wait, so does Rift.

This is where I find, sitting in my armchair, that the system falls apart. The whole goal of this type of content design is to get people playing together regardless of class, build, gear, or even sometimes level. Yet, the designers then feel the need to regress by creating some unworkable formula to quantify the contribution of damage roles, tanking roles, and healing roles, and then they want to measure each player regardless of role too all other players in the event. Why? It seems bass ackwards to work so hard to create a system that gets players together working in harmony, and then to make it a competition (and an unfair one at that).

Why not just base the loot reward on individual contribution? If a player seemed to be pretty active in the event (and not to the degree of spamming skills as fast as possible), give the player a gold. If a player took significant downtime (like through death) but was active otherwise, give the player a silver. If the player barely contributed, give the player a bronze. Then, if there is a pressing need to only give certain tokens to a fraction of the gold players, distribute it randomly, and give the unlucky gold players a cumulative bonus until they do finally receive some sweet loot.

Basing it on heuristics to rank people according to skills / minute or equating the contribution of damage output to a fraction of damage healed or, the most frightening, trying to quantify aggro… It’s a Sisyphean task. I just cannot believe that the amount of time it would take to even make a workable system would be worth any result, especially since the goal is not to have a competition.

I really hope that Trion Worlds gives this system a hard look before launch. They have one chance to reinforce player behavior the way they want it. If they want to reinforce players spamming weak spells through the event in order to get the best rating. Well they are succeeding, but I can tell you, it’s not fun. It’s not fun to ignore so many cool skills because I know that using them will result in crappier loot. If they want to reinforce player behavior to get people working together cooperatively (which is to say not selfishly or competitively), then I hope they reconsider this contribution/loot system.

–Ravious

18 thoughts on “[Rift] A Spam Contribution”

  1. I have a hell of a time with this on my warrior, but my rogue can get the gold without really breaking a sweat (TAB,2,3,2,3,2,5,TAB…repeat as necessary XD)

    Though I can say I look at the rankings for the “yippee!” factor, and not the “#^@%#$” factor. I’m sure a lot (if not many, most, or everyone else) is looking at it as a gate to getting the better loot, so I agree that it’s a difficult task that needs extra attention from Trion to get it right.

    1. Yeah, if your class/souls have no issue getting gold, then it probably is fun. As a mage it’s just painful to watch the barometer plummet… and I’m not kidding, it falls… whenever I want to cast anything longer than 1 s.

      1. What’s surprising is that within seconds of release, if not already, players are going to introduce DPS / HPS meters that, while they have their problems, more accurately measure contribution in other contexts than the present system.

        Do that. Keep some small percentage of the contribution system click-based (so debuffers have some incentive), throw in a “damage absorbed” metric (because rifts do have to be tanked) for warriors, and you’ve got a decent system.

  2. I’ve never even seen this contributions list in the game, thus I’ve never cared where I fell on the list. I just played and got some rewards and moved on, never knowing if I was a failure or a superstar.

    1. This was me…of course, I played healer all the time and got a ton of goodies (heal, heal, heal).

      But, when I did my rogue…grabbed my goodies and ran to the next one.

      Fun stuff.

  3. Ehh wot? You’re saying they shouldn’t use heuristics to decide how much each person contributed, they just should decide how much each person contributed?

    Uh, how? :???:

    1. He seemed to mean giving a broad category of absolute contribution, loosely based on how much they participated, rather than the trickier relative contribution.

  4. I see people saying their contribution falls when they use abilities with long cast-times, and I’ve seen the same thing…except that when the ability goes off my contribution shoots right back up.

    I tested this a few times on major rifts and in invasions, and if I queued up Bolt of Depravity (3 second cast time) I’d see my contribution meter falling for the 3 seconds of the cast time, then shoot up to higher than it started once the spell landed. Where I think you’d be out of luck – although I didn’t test this explicitly – would be if your target died before you got your long cast off.

    1. I noticed that too, but I was also noticing that yeah, if the thing died then I would have lost all that contribution, and I could not hit gold without spamming.

      1. Yeah, I noticed the same thing on my Rogue. If I did my shots that took 1.5 seconds, stuff was usually dead by the time it went off. So, I was better off hitting my instant shots and my instant finishinng moves to stay at (or really near) gold status.

  5. I learned very early on that the best thing for my choloromancer to do was spam one of my other soul’s weak instant cast spells.

    And as you point out in this last comment, Ravious, it’s probably because whenever I tried to cast a 1.5 or 2 second spell, the mob was dead before it went off. This is just another issue that cropped up due to rifts not really scaling properly to match large groups of players, and should be easy enough to fix in theory…

    I think it’s obvious that GW2 has the best solution put forward so far, in removing competition entirely from the equation. Really more than that, just saying “we don’t care if you show up and casually hit the mob a couple times, why shouldn’t you get full participation?” :) Hopefully Trion will learn from that sooner rather than later

  6. I tried tanking a few rifts, not just solo but with a small group. After taking virtually all of the abuse and dying because of it several times (the only time others took any abuse) I got crap and a largish repair bill. Yes group with healers you know, I understand, but that is not always available in a dynamic world. Compound that with tanks have very little in terms of survivability outside of armor (I’m pretty low level, but I don’t have a defensive CD available aside from things in my regular rotation) and whatever consumables I have. So in effect I spend more to sometimes get less because I actually die.

    I realize that there is not a huge solution for this, but unless dungeons or raiding (which I did not try) offer something very significant, I don’t really see the reason to tank at all. This makes me not want to join a group for rifts unless the group is sufficiently large enough that I think I have a reasonable chance of getting a single heal. Anyone else have any issues like this at all?

    1. From both sides, getting stomped as a tank because nobody was healing and getting stomped as a healer because nobody was tanking and I got healing aggro. I found things were a *lot* more worse in the (open) beta 7 than in previous ones, at least going back to beta 4, which was the first I played in. I suspect it’ll be fairly bad at launch, but should hopefully improve after, as people get used to how things work.

  7. Oh THAT’S what that barometer thingy is for! I knew it was something to do with how the Rift was going but I had no idea it related to my personal participation.

    I don’t give two hoots what loot I get. I do the Rifts because the Rifts must be opposed. I’d do them exactly the same if they gave no loot at all. I am very definitely not going to change what my characters cast or do in order to game the loot mechanism. They will do the Right Thing.

  8. Never knew what that thing was for either. In groups I heal, have some fun and move on. I wonder however if that’s why I’m not seeing the enchanted shards drop for me like they used to. It is annoying that by the time I have the planar items to buy rewards I’m already wearing better gear

    I shouldnt have hundreds of planarite with nothing to spend them on.. They have got to balance that out better or people will be less willing to go out of their way to cler zones. Sure you do it for fun but at some point if you’re not getting anything out of it people will start shrugging their shoulders and keep questing.

  9. Two levels of comments – First, to Saylah’s comment, I’ve seen a lot of people say there’s nothing to spend the Planarite on. There is much more out there than just the Planar goods gear (btw, in each zone, there is a new planar good vendor too) to spend it on. All faction people, except the PvP ones of course, use Planarite as their currency (with some items costing thousands), as well as vendors selling Ascended powers, potions, and other stuff. It’s basically another plat/gold/silver coin set.

    As far as the ranking, I found many ways to climb up to the top, but spamming is the easiest. Another way is always killing the side mobs that are not listed. For example, in the fire rifts, when the boss pops, he also pops little, low-hp snakes. Killing these seems to net me lots of points as I shoot right up. Same with invasions and killing the mobs not listed in the “Slay the XXXX” topic. I’ve always gotten more planarite as well as other loot by doing so. I just wish the scorecard stayed up after the event ended, along with the loot sack so I could see my end score.

  10. I find ranged characters also get the advantage. Running towards a monster after some mage has already had at it for a couple of seconds is disappointing. I find monsters dying quickly as soon as I slash my blade. Well I guess these problems are unavoidable :(

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