Posted in RIFT

Is there a tiny shred of hope for RIFT after all?

The last time I wrote about RIFT, it was to say a mental goodbye to a game that I figured was on its very last legs, being run by a company that was no longer promoting it or developing for it. But since then, two things of note have happened:

First, the game didn’t shut down as a lot of us were expecting. I mean, it still may. But after the layoffs this past spring and Gamigo shuttering Defiance, we all figured that was it. Yet it didn’t happen — it’s still running.

Second, in a recent investor report by Gamigo parent company MGI, an announcement was made about RIFT having “a first great update” in the first quarter of 2022. This raised ALL the eyebrows, not just because no further details were given, but because RIFT was mentioned at all and in a positive way. So now we have a ton of questions, such as

  • Is Gamigo smarting from its loss of ArcheAge and investing more into its other MMOs?
  • What does this update contain?
  • Who’s actually developing it, as they laid off pretty much all of the devs (to my knowledge)?

One YouTuber speculated that this may even be a fresh start server or scenario for the game, although I can’t quite make this work in my head. If RIFT was to get an actual fresh start, it’d need to be with a new company and an established dev team.

But hey, new content is new content… and a very tiny sliver of hope where none was to be found previously. I’m not going to make much of it, other than keeping an eye on it and wishing RIFT the best. I’d love to one day come back to the game, but that’s only going to happen if I sense that there’s an actual future in it.

Posted in RIFT

It might be time to say goodbye to RIFT

Even when you’re not playing your past favorite MMOs, you still have a fondness and a heart for them — and you certainly don’t want to see them come on bad times. Every time I think about Secret World, for instance, I let out a long sigh and count myself fortunate that I got so many good years when it was still being developed.

And I definitely feel an ache whenever my thoughts turn to RIFT. It wasn’t like it was getting a ton of development prior to the Trion sale, but after Gamigo picked it up, the most significant new additions to the game were the seasonal battle passes. It’d just slowed down to a grinding halt, with the new owners not very interested in talking with the community or laying out any future plans.

For Gamigo, it’s been all ArcheAge and Trove from the Trion acquisition. It shut down Atlas Reactor, brought it back as a horrid flop of a spin-off, and then shut down both Defiance titles. When the Defiance thing happened, Gamigo was offering incentives for players to jump into other specific titles — but RIFT was not one of those mentioned.

Now we have the news that this past week, Gamigo laid off some (all?) of whatever developers that were still on RIFT. First of all, like most of you, I was taken aback to learn that there WERE devs at all. But certainly this news is not good, nor does it bode well for the future no matter how much Gamigo says otherwise. It’s very telling that in a response to the player anguish over this news, Gamigo… highlighted what it was doing with Trove and ArcheAge. That’s not a vote of confidence.

So it might be time — it might be well past time — for us to be saying farewell to RIFT. I’ve seen several people this past week talk about how their RIFT guilds have packed up and moved on to different MMOs now that Gamigo has effectively killed any hope in a future. In fact, I think that the only hope this game does have is that either Gamigo sells it to a studio that miraculously wants to develop for it or it hands the source code to the community. And I don’t really see either of those happening.

This saddens me more than you know. I really loved RIFT and always enjoyed my journeys in that game. It has so much of what I want and love in an MMORPG, and I feel it’s a crying shame that nobody can do something with this full-featured package. It certainly would be easier than starting a new game from scratch, after all.

Maybe the lights aren’t off yet and the servers are still humming… but RIFT’s 10th birthday is probably its last.

Posted in RIFT

What makes RIFT’s housing an underappreciated joy

I’m still not going full-bore into RIFT, mostly due to time and other priorities, but I have enjoyed dinking around in this former MMO love of mine. The other day, I set apart some time just to set up a new home and start placing all of the dimension items that I’ve been getting through the minions system.

By the way, can we just point out how much RIFT loves to give a conveyor belt’s worth of free housing stuff to players? I’ve never been in an MMO that keeps feeding me so much housing stuff on a regular basis as I do with RIFT’s minions. There are plenty of other ways to get housing decor in the game, of course, but this is the method that I primarily use.

So I opened up one of my free dimensions, Faen’s Retreat, and went to work. I like Faen’s Retreat because it’s got a little of everything that I want in a housing space: a pre-built abode, enough space for other houses, a small snowy area, a beach, and a nice-sized pond for water decorations. But as I’m doing this, I was drafting up a list of why I feel that RIFT’s housing is such an underappreciated system in the MMORPG genre — one of the absolute best, I’d even say.

For starters, there’s the freedom to be as normal or creative or crazy as you like. RIFT doesn’t hem players in with strict pre-set housing that can only be decorated, but neither does it only present a blank slate, Sims-style, and make everyone work from the ground-up. There’s options for both. There are blank dimensions that offer the tabula rasa experience, and dimensions where the structure or land is re-built and ready for a personal touch.

Likewise, there are housing items that are actually structures — taverns, huts, and the like — that players can plop down if they like pre-built stuff. And there are building blocks that can be fashioned into just about anything you imagine. Some of the dimension efforts of the community are flat-out astounding and far outside of my ability. It’s why the game’s always had this dedicated housing sub-community running.

I also appreciate that there is the ability to alter the time of day and environment with placement tools. Personally, I like a nighttime vista to make lighting effects pop, so plopping down a 9:00 pm item to make it always night in my dimension is welcome.

RIFT’s placement tools are also a delight to work with. They aren’t perfect, and I would have appreciated pieces that could lock or click together, but they’re about as good as I’ve seen in an MMO. They’re better tools than WildStar had, and I adored WildStar’s housing. In RIFT, you can resize items, rotate them, and move them effortlessly to get the right look. Decking out a home is very stress-free, and the item allowance is usually pretty generous.

So yeah, it’s a fun system to return to in 2020, and I’m going to make a note to do some dimension-hopping and go on a tour in the future.

Posted in RIFT

Is it futile to play RIFT in the Gamigo era?

First of all, a shout-out to my Twitter friend Kristen, who’s been talking about her return to RIFT so much lately that it planted a seed in my head that wouldn’t go away until I did the same. I really haven’t played since spring 2018, back when Trion Worlds was still calling the shots and the RIFT Prime server excited us for a good month or so there with the promise of progression and tougher content.

Then Gamigo took over and I lost the heart to go back. Last year, I despaired about the future of RIFT, not necessarily because I hated the new owners on reputation alone, but because Gamigo’s shown so little desire to invest development and promotion into this game. It’s essentially put RIFT into maintenance mode, tossing it the occasional small patch or battle pass season, but that’s it. The game’s been frozen in development to pretty much how Trion left it two years ago.

So here’s the uncomfortable question of the hour: Is it really futile to go back to this game? Barring a miracle or maybe another change of hands, the best future we can hope for RIFT is that it simply stays online. Without seeing active development or promotion, RIFT’s not going to do much to get people back, so it’s going to have to exist on loyal players who can settle for the current state of affairs and maybe the odd duck like me who comes back.

While I admit that there’s a pretty big red flag fluttering over RIFT, at least it’s continued for two years now under Gamigo, so there’s some hope that it’ll do so for the foreseeable future. And when I logged in to scratch that curious itch, I was delighted to slip back into all of the goodness this MMO has to offer. It was like coming back to an old and familiar friend and catching up over the course of an afternoon. I even had minion missions waiting to complete — waiting for two years now. Those are some patient minions.

I was also heartened by how much chatter I saw on the chat channels. There were several of us lowbies returning to the game and excitedly making contact with others out there, and I started feeling my way to a guild while going through the old Guardian tutorial once more. Yes, I started over, and yes, with a Dwarf Rogue. I’m going Tactician, at least for now, and just seeing where this all leads.

Maybe it’s not the most risk-adverse move for long-term contentment, but you never know if any MMO is going to be here tomorrow. Sometimes you have to enjoy the experience you have today and get out of the groupthink mindset that only the most popular and active MMORPGs are the ones worth playing.

Posted in EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, RIFT, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online, WildStar, World of Warcraft

MMO fonts: The good, the bad, and the ugly

In my effort to start clearing out my drafts folder here at Bio Break, I’m digging out this topic that I started (checks) back in 2017. Anyway, fonts are most likely a part of online games that you never think about. Once you’ve been in a game for a while, you get used to its user interface and don’t really notice or acknowledge it.

Yet fonts are important, because a game usually just licenses (or creates) one and uses it everywhere — and if chosen poorly, that font can slowly and surely drag down on the user experience. So let’s take a look at eight MMO fonts today — chosen semi-randomly — and see if they’re easy on the eyes or not.

We’ll start with Warhammer Online (above), which prompted the writing of this piece. The font itself gives off a Ye Olde English fantasy vibe, which is good, but it’s not that easy to read in large chunks, especially when italicized. There isn’t enough spacing between the lines, either, so it comes off as crammed. Sometimes getting a little fancy with your font works against you.

We’ll move on to RIFT, which I always thought had a very clean and modern-looking font. Maybe a little too modern. It’s easy to read, which is a plus, but doesn’t do a lot to convey personality of the game, which is one of the jobs that fonts have to handle. Generally, though, I like it.

You know I had to include the itty bitty, smooshed-together font of EVE Online on this list. It gets points for a futuristic, minimalistic look, but dang is it always hard to read. It’s gotten better over the years, but my eyes have never leaked tears of joy to behold it.

And we’ll go with a classic — World of Warcraft — with this one. Blizzard did a great job all around with this font. It’s oozing personality (especially on the header fonts), has good kerning, and is easy to consume quickly without eye strain.

WildStar… sigh. WildStar had SUCH great art and interface style, but its font was terrible. From the color choices (blue-greens on blue-greens) to the thin, small style, it was too difficult to read without really focusing on it.

I’ll be fair and include Lord of the Rings Online here. It gets middling reviews for me. I think it does lend an appropriate personality to the game and is readable (especially if you increase the font size), but it’s not the quickest read. And considering just HOW MUCH text you go through, it could be better. I do adore the header font, though. That’s spot on.

Fallen Earth always struck me as a game that purchased its font at lowest bidder. It’s like a default Windows font that did nothing for the personality angle and wasn’t as eye-catching as it could’ve been.

I could keep going on, but I’ll end with a look at Star Wars: The Old Republic’s font. It definitely has that thick, bolded Star Wars look about it, and the spacing makes it easy to read. I think it does a pretty good job, all things considered, even if I feel like the text is yelling at me much of the time.

Posted in RIFT

Very worried about RIFT

Ever since last year’s sale of all of Trion Worlds’ games to Gamigo, I’ve grown increasingly concerned for RIFT. I didn’t care as much for Trion’s other games, for the most part, but RIFT was always really special to me. I’ve considered it one of the best so-called WoW clones to hit the scene and have enjoyed hundreds of hours in that MMO.

But since Gamigo took over, the new company hasn’t seemed that invested in doing anything with the game. It went ahead and canceled the (half-baked) progression server, which marks the last time I was playing, and has pushed out a seasonal pass and kept the events running. But for new content and hope of the future, there hasn’t been much of a sign.

At the very least, it doesn’t seem that Gamigo is rushing to cancel these games. It did close the doors on Atlas Reactor — to nobody’s surprise — but it has kept two versions of Defiance running, supported Trove, and thrown a lot of weight behind ArcheAge. RIFT kind of sits in the middle there, probably not as populated and profitable as AA and Trove, but not as forgotten as Defiance. Gamigo seems like the kind of company that’ll keep the lights on as long as there’s a trickle of income, which I guess is better than being cancel-happy like NCsoft.

Apart from deeply investing in developers and more content, I don’t see much that can be done for RIFT. There are some loyalists sticking with the game, but there’s probably a greater crowd that shied away the second it sold to Gamigo and haven’t returned because there hasn’t been a lot of reassurance that this title has a future. Players will give a lot of the benefit of the doubt when they are predisposed toward a game, but that goodwill only stretches so far. They need hope, and that’s not something that Gamigo is rushing out to give.

Personally, it’s disheartening. RIFT is one of those MMOs that I love returning to here and there, mostly because I love so many of its systems and its ease of use. The Chronicles, the minion system, the housing, the mix-and-match classes, the dynamic events, the cosmetics, the zone puzzles, the pets… it kind of checks a whole lot of boxes on my MMO wish list. Heck, even typing out this paragraph made me want to log back in — and maybe I will some day soon. But I’ll be nervous about it, at least until Gamigo makes up its mind one way or the other about what it is going to do with this game.

Posted in RIFT

RIFT: Hey look! Greener grass!

It must be frustrating to be one of my characters. Egads, the uncertainty that they have to live with, not knowing day to day if I’ll grow bored or dissatisfied with them and just kick them to the curb like yesterday’s jam. There’s never any assurance, never any guarantee — the Sword of Damocles always hangs over their neck.

So one has to imagine that for a person with limited gaming time, multiple other titles for distraction, and playing on a time-unlocking progression server, I’d perhaps be persuaded not to reroll and OH HEY I DID IT AGAIN. Because, look, there’s greener grass.

I don’t even want to explain why. Long story short, I missed my Cleric, I wanted a DoT build, and… yeah.

Why not reset one’s progress when the clock is always ticking? Trion doesn’t care. Trion sends out a company-wide memo when I reroll, because that’s another month’s subscription in the can. Buy Scott Hartsman another corgi.

Anyway.

Fully aware of my foolish impulse, I determined to go all-in, at least for a while. The first three nights after rebooting my character — now named Glittersneeze — I rushed as fast as I could through the opening zone. My build was actually pretty good at juggling multiple characters, so I pulled as fast and frequent as I could. I put my brain on auto-pilot and watched some Netflix while slaughtering everything in my sight. And while I didn’t get back up to level 30, where I had left off with my Rogue, I did manage a respectable 18 levels during that time. A good start, at least.

I continued my little hobby of trying to take close-up shots of mobs’ faces and torsos, because there is so much detail that I don’t notice while fighting them with the camera typically pulled back about 15 feet. These skellys were entertaining, especially with the one glowing eye.

I also was appeased to see Trion finally lay out what it’s doing with the progression server, at least in the near future. For now, I think I have breathing room. It looks like it’s focusing on level 50 endgame stuff like raids, whereas I was more concerned about the unlocking of new zones and the expansions. I’m also glad we’re getting the summer festival, because it was a major bummer not to have the anniversary content on Vigil when that was going on.

This undead mob has the strangest face and I never really noticed it before. It’s like the head was stretched out but the face compacted in like a baby’s. No eyes? I don’t think it has eyes. And the teeth are kind of off-kilter, which is a neat detail.

It’s also surprisingly hard to get a head-on shot of your pets, because they automatically turn when your character does. I fiddled a lot and finally got this profile picture of Tweezers, my faerie. I don’t think I’ll be seeing her past level 30 for the sake of DPS, but at least she’s hanging out with me now. Put a shirt on, girl. It’s cold outside.

I… HAVE… THE GLITTER!

Not the best battle-cry, but it’s starting to irk my enemies a little bit.

Posted in RIFT

RIFT: Sing me a tale of victory!

While I didn’t write about RIFT last week, rest assured that I was in and playing every day. I’m getting into a good groove here with my Bard, because there’s nothing like singing a bearded skeleton to (second) death to make you question how all of this works.

As much as I appreciate and venerate Bards as a class, the truth is that I haven’t played them as main characters very often. Only about half (maybe less?) of fantasy MMOs that I play have them, and since I usually gravitate to pet classes, they get neglected. But now I can use this progression server as a good excuse to rectify this oversight.

It’s been a great experience so far. While the rotation is still pretty simple at level 25, I feel like it’s putting out enough damage, healing, and buffs to keep me going without much frustration. Plus, I get the joy of seeing and hearing my character play music instead of swinging swords or blasting spells, and while that may just be an aesthetic distinction, it feels like a completely different playstyle.

Another thing I’m trying to do with this RIFT playthrough is to take some close-ups of enemy mobs. They can be pretty detailed and expressive, although their constant movement and battle effects makes it tricky to pull off a good screenshot. I like Mr. Triple Chins here.

Oh and how about this picture: A double rift! Hey, I was impressed.

So I blasted through Gloamwood with a nice balance of public events and questing. No big surprises, but no big hiccups, either. I’m two for two on zone puzzles as well.

I liked the combination of black and white and a soft colored glow with the ghost mobs.

Anyway, with Gloamwood finished, the game gave me a choice between follow-up zones: Scarlet Gorge or Iron Peaks. This is a change from the old days, when Iron Peaks used to be (I recall) a much higher level zone. I prefer snow over mesas, so I went with Iron Peaks for now.

Loved this shot of my Bard fighting an electrical mage on top of an ice-covered lake. I wouldn’t mind some additional tunes; hearing the same notes over and over again miiiiiiight get old in another 40 levels.

This zone isn’t the most gorgeous winter zone I’ve ever seen in an MMO, but generally I like it very much. It’s easy to navigate, even with all of the mountains, and the softly falling snow lends it a Christmasy feel.

I don’t want to TOOT my own HORN here, but I’m crushing it.

One nice moment came when I finally reached my Day 21 login reward, which paid out in a random mount. I got a two-headed turtle, the iconic mount of classic Rift (albeit with green eyes this time). Not the most exotic of mounts, but considering that I’ve had one since launch, it’s nice to have one for Prime.

Posted in RIFT

RIFT: From sunny to gloomy

With two character rerolls, a lot of early nights, and plenty of other projects to keep me busy, it’s pretty amazing to me that I managed to finish up Silverwood by the end of Prime’s second week. But here we sit.

At times it was a little slow going, especially when facing those early XP gaps, but I started to make up for it and eventually found my groove. A few more skills and talents on my Bard tree helped as well, and while I’m no killing machine, I’m doing respectable enough that it’s not a slog.

I saw someone mention on Twitter last week that Silverwood was “officially dead” because the Prime crowd had moved on. I would like to submit the above picture as Exhibit A that this is patently untrue, as well as my personal observations from a pokey puppy who is lagging behind the 20s and 30s that are surging ahead. There are PLENTY of players in the 1-20 bracket, and we were never hurting for invasions, rifts, and zone events. Those zone bosses were like magnets, drawing hundreds of players in, and I got a thrill out of each battle I was a part of.

I think the criticism shouldn’t lie there but instead with the abysmal performance of the server. Some days are good, while others have seen the Lag Monster devour all and leave us pressing keys and hoping our characters will take action in the next five seconds or so. For a game of this age, to have lag issues like this is embarrassing.

The last day in Silverwood saw everything picking up steam. I was shooting down quests left and right and racking up achievements like nobody’s business. It was definitely satisfying to cross off so many quests all at once and tidy up the zone as I wrapped up my business.

At the end of Silverwood, I sat at level 19.5 with 210 void stones, 6 plat, a 60% mount, two roles, and a decent start for my planarite wallet. I’m stocking up for planarite gear, so I’ll resist blowing it on lesser essentials. I even have a good handful of blue gear and a pair of shiny new blue daggers from a reputation unlock.

And so I move on to one of my favorite zones in the game, Gloamwood. I love this classic horror-themed region, with its murky fog and funky vampire questlines. Pretty much as soon as I was able to empty out my quest log from Silverwood, I was filling it all back up with quests and carnage tasks here.

All in all, I’m still rocking RIFT Prime pretty hard. It’s been a really fun, enjoyable leveling experience with the added oomph of the increased attention this game has been given and the excitement in the community. I also just have missed leveling characters in World of Warcraft, so this is a good substitute, especially as we head into spring.

My biggest concern right now — my biggest question, really — is how the progression server is going to develop. Trion is still biding its time before giving us any sort of concrete details, most likely watching the speed of the crowds and where everyone is. But still, it’s a bit nerve-wracking to not know if I should be pushing harder and faster in my progression or if I have plenty of time to catch up with those above me before the next batch of content unlocks. Do we have a week? A month? Three months? We just don’t know, and it makes it difficult to smell the roses and enjoy the journey if there’s that fear that I’m going too slow.

So my two wishes are to see the lag addressed and an outline of the progression server unlock going forward. Here’s hoping!