Ever since the announcement of RIFT’s Prime server started to sink in, I found my excitement and enthusiasm rising over the idea of experiencing a progression server in one of my favorite MMOs — and one that I haven’t played for several months now, which may be ripe for a reunion. I’d even eat the subscription cost, at that.
And then Trion had to dump a cold bucket of water all over my hype by sharing some not-so-great details about this new server ruleset. Actually, most of the details I can get behind — the duration of about a year feels right, I guess, as does the steady rollout of content, the limited storefront, and the fresh start. But then we got confirmation on what will happen to our characters once the server ends, and it isn’t the good kind of confirmation:
There is no crossover of character or account-wide data between Prime and Live. Prime progression will not carry over to Live servers. What we’re discussing for Prime players who also play on Live is to provide a cosmetic trophy/participation reward for their accomplishments on Prime – such as a title, a cape, something like that.
The bongo-like sound you are hearing right now is that of me striking my head against the desk in a hypnotically rhythmic pattern. This is, in the parlance of a gradeschool kid, dumb. It’s just dumb. It’s raising hopes among the community in one breath and then dashing them to the ground in the next.
Why? Seriously, Trion, WHY. Why on God’s green earth wouldn’t you carry over characters? If your world isn’t going to be persistent, you can at least extend that courtesy to your characters! But no, they’re all gonna die, any accomplishments gone, and in exchange you might get a title.
Sorry, time for more bongo noises. Just tap your feet and go with it.
I swear, no other MMORPG progression server would do this. No other progression server DOES do this. Either they just keep the server running indefinitely (transitioning it to its own regular server) or they allow you to bring your characters over to another server at the conclusion.
This is what EverQuest does. And EverQuest II. And Diablo III. And Path of Exile. And even the brand-new Age of Conan “saga” server, for pete’s sake. But RIFT? Nah, there’s no hope for your characters.
Explain to me how this works to the advantage of such a server, because I can only see drawbacks. Persistence — at least in some form — is the hallmark of MMOs and is being destroyed here. Why would you be enthusiastic about playing a temporary character on a temporary server with the grand goal of a piddly title or cape? You get the experience of the play, sure, but, to be blunt, we kind of need more than that with MMORPGs.
It’s why I’m playing live games and not beta. There’s so little interest on my part to spend time in online games that doesn’t even have the appearance of persistence. If RIFT Prime goes ahead with this format, then I predict it really won’t have the crowd it could. Some won’t like the idea at all, while others may come for curiosity’s sake but not stick around because there will be little motivation and point of doing so.
There may be hope here. I was griping about this on Twitter last Thursday and received the following response from the studio: “Stay tuned, because the RIFT team is actively discussing this & other features as we develop the RIFT Prime service. We’re looking for more feedback from all quarters, so thank you for this!”
Course correction? Sooner better than later, I say.