[Rift] Travelin’ On

I am about to hit up the boss in Silverwood, the first Guardian zone in Rift. Since I am level 21, I am well enough ready for the next zone, Gloamwood, but I do want to finish the quest lines in Silverwood first. The Life tree-demon Kongeegon, who may or may not be filled with rice porridge, alone stands in my way before I head off. It’s a little sad because there is still so much I want to experience and achieve in the zone. I have only received a check mark for one of the four invasion bosses, even though I have fought three, and there are hundreds of platinum-worth of artifacts to still collect. Still, there is much to look forward to.

And I need that, because I am also getting a little frustrated with the mechanics of Silverwood, which all coalesce in to traveling times. I am hoping that as the population thins, the landscape changes, and the events rebalance for the long-term populations, most of this will go away. I won’t really know though until I move on from Silverwood.

The rift/invasion events in Silverwood rely heavily on two factors to be entertaining. Population is the catalyst for action because I am pretty sure the system watches the amount of players at a certain level and reacts accordingly. If there is a glut of level 15’s in a quest area, then by Blood Storm a level 15 rift is going to drop. The other factor is distance. How far apart are the rifts going to be? This is especially important for invasion events when a dozen rifts open at once. These variables are used to basically create an amount of activity time.

How long will I have to travel before hitting a rift? How soon will the rift be completed based on local activity? These are the questions that enter my mind every time I see an event open up, and I am one of those players that will drop nearly everything to go join one. Obviously, I don’t want to head out of my quest zone, travel for 3 minutes, and then find that the rift is closing up as I arrive. It’s even worse when I am diligently fighting invasion rifts on one half of the zone only to realize that the boss warped in on the opposite half. It creates a bad dilemma where I have to decide between helping my zone defeat the invasion or heading the boss landing zone to get a grape-colored token and an achievement check box. (Plus, I absolutely hate the mob density in quest areas. I miss weaving my way through aggro-bubbles in other MMOs to take a shortcut.)

Kind of watching Guild Wars 2, I have contemplated whether Rift would actually be improved by allowing intra-zone porticulums so I can easily warp from major quest hub to major quest hub. At each major quest hub Guardians have what appears to be unused mini-portal frames anyway. I am not actually sure it would be an improvement given the fragile balance the event system has to maintain. The system likely breathes a sigh of relief when it sees a couple dozen players stuck at one end of the zone fighting rifts as the invasion boss drops on the other end. If everybody just warped to the nearby activity hotspots, I think the system would crumble.

So, is traveling time a necessary evil to maintain the fun of the event system? That’s the question I am dealing with, but I am going to refrain from definitively answering until I experience the later zones. Mid-level zones are notorious in MMOs for lower populations. Was Trion Worlds smart enough to design the mid-level zones a little differently so as to accommodate the lower amount of planar defenders, or is the event system going to just happily take this all into consideration?

I am on the fence on whether Trion Worlds should have also evolved past the traveling times in Rift. I have been so used to Guild Wars, where I can warp about with abandon, and Lord of the Rings Online, where swift travel is usually mere minutes away, that Rift actually caught me by surprise. My wife calls MMOs running games, and she has definitely remarked that Rift brings back a lot of that.

The bottom line is that I just want to play, but I don’t find that traveling to an event is very fun gameplay. Right now, Rift is fun, but the travel times are noticeable (especially in an invasion event). Not only are they noticeable, but I have to gamble travel time versus actual play if an unknown amount of players are going to close the rift or drop the invasion boss before I can make a contribution. We’ll see if this problem persists as I travel on past Silverwood.

well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze

15 thoughts on “[Rift] Travelin’ On”

  1. This could be a slippery slope, though. I can get on board the “running isn’t fun” concept, but the alternative is to add fast-travel, which is to “make things easier” to get to the action. It’s a shortcut. Before Rift goes down that road, it might be a good idea to decide what is acceptable that would “make things easier”, and what is crossing the line, so it doesn’t end up like You Know Who.

    1. Totally, and that’s why I think I have to move on to the next zone before I really decide. It would help though if invasion bosses had a handful of random spots though. I don’t think they do, could be wrong though.

      1. They seem to, at least in the Defiant zones. It’s further complicated by the fact that different invasions have different bosses with different spawn points, though.

        I’ve found a winning tactic to cut back on running half-way across the map only to get there in time to see the “Rift closed” message is to head for the nearest (friendly) quest hub that’s under attack and join (or organize) the defense there, move onto the rift-clearing section of the program once the initial wave of invaders has been cleared, then head for the boss en masse.

        And, as I discovered the other night, if you find yourself being the only person defending a hub you can have an absolute blast playing Horatius on the bridge (a selection of self-heals, AoE attacks, and the Upgrade Wardstone power highly recommended for this) as you single-handedly beat off 20 waves of incoming planar invaders.

  2. I just realized, you don’t have a mount yet do you? That cuts travel time down while not totally killing the ‘worldly’ concept and random “oh look at that” moments (artifact collecting, rare spawns, PvP if you are on the right server, stuff like that).

    Silverwood is a big zone though, much bigger than the next two. Gloamwood is also large, but flows better IMO. The next zone after that is a bit more up/down in terms of layout.

    Again though, mounts and move-fast skills ease up most of the issue.

    1. I have a mount, which does help some, but I am still seeing this issue enough that I have to consider the two questions I wrote above.

  3. Actually, Guild Wars 2 comes up with yet another approach to this issue: It hides Dynamic Events from everyone but those players who are actually near enough to definitely have a chance to join the fun in time.

    Funnily enough, I just revisited the GDC 2010 Dynamic Events presentation with Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson [1] where they discuss exactly this problem (from about 20:15 on). They say that in an early stage of development they actually had Events be communicated over the whole map, but they found it indeed frustrating to be sort of called to the Event and arrive just in time to see some other players finish it off. Currently, they therefore only inform players in a comparatively small area around the Event about the fact that something is happening near them.

    I do not know, however, if this approach fits to Rift’s system as I do not and will probably not play that game.

    [1] http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1013691/Designing-Guild-Wars-2-Dynamic

    1. Thank-you for including that link Naum. That was a fascinating and informative talk they gave, and my understanding of the game in general is greater now.

      In my personal opinion, it seems like the DEVs at ArenaNet foresaw a few of the difficulties that RIFT is experiencing with the dynamic nature of their content… of course, that remains to be confirmed once the game is released… hopefully, the RIFT DEVs will be able to implement some solutions before their player base becomes too frustrated.

  4. The way you’re playing is so different to the way I play it’s hard to say what you might think of the rest of the world.

    I don’t think of there being zones. It’s just all one world. I go where I like and do what I want without even thinking of completing anything. I absolutely love the long travel distances because my gameplay consists mainly of just roaming and exploring.

    I have no problems with getting to Rifts in time to participate because I simply jump on the ones I pass. I don’t pay much, if any, attention to the level of the rift, whether too high for me or too low. I just wade in and do what I can. Enormously entertaining.

    All I can really offer is that I did one of the zone events in Scarlet Gorge and it involved running pretty much the entire length and breadth of the zone. The event had a time of 45 minutes to complete and we just barely made it. There was a LOT of riding around and it was exhilarating and thrilling. I’ve done several Zone events in Scarwood Reach, though, which were much more compact.

    One thing that I’d recommend to avoid running about after Rifts is to choose to defend the Wardstones instead. Most events seem to incorporate that element and the invasions come to you. I find defeating Invasions MUCH more exciting and satisfying than closing Rifts, too. I love the way you can see wave after wave of invaders charging along the roads towards your group and the fights when half a dozen or more invasion forces throw themselves against a full raid force of players are truly spectacular.

  5. From what I’ve seen during all-night play, the rift system pretty smoothly accounts for current population. When the zone is close to empty there’ll only be a couple rifts at a time, they tend to be minor (pretty easily duo’d, soloable with the right spec), and they launch invasions much less frequently. They also tend to spawn in the general vicinity of the active players.

  6. I was thinking along the same line about EVE: the travelling times, though a PITA on a minute-to-minute basis, are actually the cornerstone of the whole “metagame” – player driven economics, trading, shipping, politics, corpo sovereignity…
    Question is, as a player, is it worth paying the price of boring travels for the fun of the metagame (EVE case) or that of the rifts and invasions?

  7. Bosses usually take a couple minutes to down. I have accumlated appx 8 purp currency drops and 12 blues in the course of getting to level 20 in Freemarch (Defiant), and yes that is with a mount from as soon as I could get to the mailbox. There are 4 bosses and serveral mini bosses so never had the issue you did. I think as you play more you get a feel for where you need to be (i.e. around rifts that are around your level) in order to get consisten rewards.

  8. Bit of a tangent, but I wonder if anyone in Trion have been to Denmark and seen the King Oak (Kongeegen), a 900+ year old oak tree, when designing Silverwood?

  9. Those “mini portals” are actually GY spawn frames. If you recall very early Alpha they had some kind of porting in, but the overall idea was tossed, I guess.

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