[Rift] Gloam-covered

I have moved on from the first zone in Rift, and I am about half-way through Gloamwood. The game is still fun, but things changed so rapidly. I am not sure how to perceive the future. Just over the mountains is a bustling, event-filled forest filled with animal tears and sunlight. In my neck of the woods, there is gloom and the occasional mid-20′s refugee, like myself.

The zone population has plummeted. After the first zone the drive to get back with the herd must be insatiable. After spending a few hours in Gloamwood, my biggest public group has been three people. I have not seen an invasion, and I am constantly trying to take down footholds on my own. We all pretend not to see that major death rift looming over the central town with its elite mobs.

It’s sad in a way because I am enjoying the atmosphere, quests, and mobs far more than I did in the previous zone. Yet, it seems that once a zone hits a low population, the dynamic event system gets a little skittish. All of the rifts seems to have very weak mobs, except for the major rifts which are left to their own devices. I am not sure how well invasions scale, but I would guess even the weakest invasion would crush the zone during prime time. Achievement hunters are going to have to bribe players to fill their events in order to even experience a Gloamwood invasion.

Still, I am on the fence whether this should be acceptably “working-as-intended” or whether Trion Worlds should take a hard look at their mid-level empties. In a way it reminds me of when I started to lose pace in Warhammer Online, and I started to find that I could not do a single Public Quest. I am also curious to see what effect this mid-level loneliness will have on Guild Wars 2. Will the mid-level Shatterer boss get its own playground absent heroes? When the content of a game is so bound to player population, it gets all the more noticeable when I am alone.

The next zone is the first contested zone between Guardians and Defiant. I am hoping this gives a boost in player activity, but until I hit the high-level zones, I really don’t know what to expect.

–Ravious

28 thoughts on “[Rift] Gloam-covered

  1. Dan Gray

    I had a similar experience. I basically ended up blowing through Gloamwood as fast as I could to get on to Scarlet Gorge. It’s a shame, because Gloamwood was fun, but I didn’t regret it.

    Scarlet Gorge is awesome, vast, and nicely varied.

  2. Distilled

    So, are you ahead or behind the curve? Sounds like a pain in the ass to me!

    It sounds like a pretty difficult problem to avoid for persistent worlds, there will always be zones which see a little less traffic and require a bit of developer love to perk back into action.

    I’m hoping that the ever changing nature of the dynamic events in GW2 will keep players returning to zones to see new things (at least in the first year or so of release!).

  3. mbp

    I have no real knowledge of Rift but this is surely a critical flaw of the whole public quest system. Do you need to get into that town to access quest givers?

    Perhaps they could balance the difficulty of Rifts depending on zone population or else maybe they could give incentives for higher level players to come back and seal rifts in lower level zones.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Yes, but actually that is a fun part, IMHO, when you have to take down a foothold. The system has been pretty good about making them soloable in the low-pop Gloamwood.

  4. Buzzregog

    I also had the same experience, then after playing for about an hour and soloing a couple of minor rifts things blew up :) Had two big invasions in 3 hours.

    One bright spot in the stretch where no one was in zone… Lots of collectibles to be had !

  5. Arkenor

    It’s a problem for games that split the world up into neatly level-appropriate pockets. Which is most of them. Just another issue with the legacy of level based MMOs which we seem largely stuck with at the moment.

    1. Khoram

      This is one of the things I love about old EQ, and wish other MMOs would learn from. They had multi-tiers of content in the same zones. This meant players of many different levels were always rubbing elbows, as well as lending an air of danger to the “low level zones”. I do not like the way WoW “fixed” the danger issue by making zones of a specific level range, where there is a fixed progression by a character on a tour through them all. I am hoping GW2 has more of a “living world” to it.

  6. Pewter

    I’m wondering if Defiant side Argent is just full of altoholics. Certainly I have a character at level 32, sitting in Scarwood Reach, while I’m now jumping into Scarlet Gorge for the second time. The first time was in the first week, the second time was this week – both times I got a couple of invasions in Stonefield, but nothing near the level of annoyance that is freemarch (which seems to have a new invasion every 15 minutes).

    One of my main annoyances is that it’s hard to figure out what the hell the elite mobs are doing. WHY does my at level rogue get insta-killed every now and then – is there an aura? An AoE? What’s the graphic for it – I can’t tell because my computer is not good enough OR there are so many players that it’s hard to distinguish anything. *switches to bard and stands at range to be safe*.

    However I’m one of those folk who seems to enjoy progressing through kill 10 quests, as long as there is story and new scenery and pretty gear and new abilities to play with, so ‘rifts’ and invasions are likely to represent a much smaller portion of my time at lower level.

  7. Pewter

    I also take more time to communicate over chat. The server community is growing slowly, but the ‘level’ chats have been awesome for grouping on my server, defiant side at least.

  8. Ravven

    That’s a shame – for the beta I’d gone Guardian (Defiant now) and Gloamwood was a blast. I loved it. There were some massive werewolf incursions into the main town, with tons of players trying to fight them off, and with all of the spell effects my fps would be down to under 10fps. Such a small area to have a lot of people fight in! It really did feel heroic and exciting.

  9. Syncaine

    Gloamwood is pretty short, so people move in/out rather rapidly. On my server (Sunrest) there is still a huge population in the first zone, as it’s rather lengthy, and I’m thinking in a week or so many will be in Gloam. My main, at 37, has so far not had any pop issues either, as I believe he is mostly with the pack.

    Are you on an lower-pop server?

        1. Bhagpuss

          I’m on Faeblight too and there were plenty of people in Gloamwood when I went through it on my first character.

          I think you’re just a long way off the bubble, Ravious. I am scarcely a hardcore leveller, but my mage is 41 now. I was in Gloamwood about two days into Headstart!

          The good news is that just about everything gets better the higher up the level ladder you climb. Gloamwood is, in my opinion, a lot better than Silverwood, but Scarlet Gorge and Moonshade Highlands are a lot better again. Ice Pine Peaks, where I am now, is just wonderful.

          In my opinion, the quests get better and better. The Moonshade Highlands ones were very good, I thought, but they are all well above MMO average. The Rifts become visually more exciting (the Air rifts in IPP are just amazing) and the zone events become more complex and involving.

          If people aren’t hanging around in the lower zones, it’s because they know theere’s better to come. There will, though, be waves of alts coming through in a sub-bubble soon, I’m sure, as people top out at 50 and want to try the next Calling. I cracked two days ago and made a Cleric, who will be in Gloamwood this weekend I expect.

  10. Delurm

    So what is left to us that can’t stand the ‘rush’ and are waiting a month or so to check it out?

    Warhammer (I loved) quickly became unplayable… this is my biggest fear for rift.

    With all the things WoW has done wrong – making sure you could lvl quickly as a new player once everyone was at cap was a smart choice.

  11. Chordian

    I’ve had the same problem on the Quicksilver shard (EU). In Silverwood there was a ton of attendance for rifts and it was great fun. In Gloamwood, Scarlet Gorge and Scarwood Reach the rifts have been almost empty.

    It’s pretty sad to be standing on the brink of a major rift and not even see the button for joining a public group show up. Or see it pop up indeed, then clicking it and see *one* player and his pet.

  12. Jim

    Looks like Rift will join every other mmorpg: if you come late to the party you need to bust your arse lvl’ing and gearing a toon to join the fun at max lvl.

    The first game that figures out how to fix that issue will do very well indeed.

    1. Ravious Post author

      I don’t know how long I still stick around in Rift (I am still having fun), but I’d really like to see what happens when the population starts spreading with alts and achievement hunters. Will it make a difference? I don’t know.

  13. Brise Bon Bons

    This was one of my major fears and reasons for not buying Rift – I’m a slow, slow leveler, and constantly find myself behind the curve and alone in zones that are just not OK to play solo. In addition, I’m fundamentally a group-oriented player, so for me this situation would just cause my playtime to trickle into nothing from boredom and frustration.

    That said, I think the real root of this problem was identified by Arkenor: Level segregation, and the attitude that if you’re not max level, you’re not really doing anything worthwhile.

    I’m hoping GW2 will combat this by making max level relatively unimportant, and making alts fun and desirable for everyone. Most of the other good solutions involve basically scrapping what we think of as the standard leveling system, either in favor of an EvE-like skill based system, or some sort of action-game like system where leveling impacts your options but not really your raw statistical power.

    I would personally welcome developers tossing the conventional level-driven model. In my opinion, it’s the root cause of many problems that require hundreds of hours of development time to solve: Sidekicking, cross-server grouping, having to develop dozens of zones because most of them will sit empty and unused after the first few weeks, the huge timesink called “endgame content developement”, massive balance headaches that result from classes changing fundamentally as they level, etc.

    It seems to me if developers started experimenting with levels using more of a CoD rank model, they’d suddenly be facing a much less overwhelming development job. Though I suppose they’d need to find a new model to present their narrative, hand-holding experience, since that relies on the zone-to-zone questing being very linear…

    I think it says a lot that GW2 probably does this sort of system just about as good as you could hope for, and it still looks like it’ll potentially have a bunch of major issues. :/

  14. ArcherAvatar

    “I am also curious to see what effect this mid-level loneliness will have on Guild Wars 2. Will the mid-level Shatterer boss get its own playground absent heroes? When the content of a game is so bound to player population, it gets all the more noticeable when I am alone.” – Ravious

    Obviously, we won’t know for certain until the game is released, however it looks like the flexibility of the side-kicking system for GW2, (which was discussed by DEVs at PAX East) combined with the scaling of mobs and events to the number of players present, should eliminate most, if not all, of what you’re justifiably concerned about.

    First, no matter where you are, or what you’re doing in GW2, it appears the game does an incredible job of keeping things interesting and challenging without making it either a “walk-thru” or too overwhelming. The scaling system seems to be very responsive, and so far, fairly well tuned… (obviously, this will most likely be one of the main facets of the game receiving attention from the DEVs following the game’s release… tweaking and tuning.)

    Second, I suspect the population issues with any particular location in game can and will be aleviated by the side-kicking system. Having it not only possible for higher level friends to “come back” to an area you’re going through, but also allowing them to bring you “forward” to whatever area they are experiencing. Quite honestly, that sounds like pure PFM to me, but if they can actually pull it off, it will make for one of the most social MMOs I’ve seen, and one with some serious longevity too.

    (PFM = Pure F#@!$%& Magic… term frequently used in the military to describe how mechanical repairs were accomplished, or how advanced machinery actually operates.)

  15. Roq

    Having downscaling and upscaling of health/Energy makes me wonder why it’s necessary to level these things in the first place. But even with side kicking, won’t better weapons, more unlocked traits, better unlocked skills etc. make high level players unreasonably stronger than low level ones for any content that they can share?

    There’s a sort of tension in levelling games in that the low level players have both less skill and less gear etc. than the high level ones, so I’m skeptical that sidekicking on it’s own can really resolve the problem of empty content. In GW1 ANet made gear/ability progression have very little real affect – i.e. you might find a weapon mod with +1% better damage when health > 50% or something, but in GW2 they seem to want a steeper progression and I can’t see how they can have their cake (gear progression) and eat it (have players at roughly the same level for content).

    1. Pardoz

      “Having downscaling and upscaling of health/Energy makes me wonder why it’s necessary to level these things in the first place.”

      It’s not, unless you’re chasing the “more bigger numbers = more gooder game” crowd.

      “I can’t see how they can have their cake (gear progression) and eat it (have players at roughly the same level for content).”

      They can’t, but see above.

      1. Roq

        @pardoz

        So what do ANet really have in mind for high level players in low level areas? – or will they just be content with a large disparity between levelled and unlevelled players? Presumably, they’d also have to take the level average into account when scaling content.

        1. Pardoz

          Well, that’s really the question, no? Not being either telepathic or an A-net employee I don’t have a firm answer, but my guess is they’ll be content to (make the players) live with the disparities.

          My impression is that the plan is to have levels scaled on the zone level, not the event level, which means they can pretend it isn’t an issue when scaling events.

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