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.

Advertisements

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.

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!

RIFT Prime: I can see my dimension from here!

It’s not a return to RIFT if I’m not making my traditional pilgrimage to the top of the highest peak in Silvermoon Forest for the achievement — and the view. I’ve been doing this with each new Guardian character since 2011 that it’s unthinkable not to keep the tradition alive.

Besides, I’m not in a rush. Even with the XP bump on the servers, it’s still a slow go with slow fights, and so Prime for me has become more of a sightseeing and screenshotting tour as I make small, incremental progress toward my goals. Or, you know, the completion of the very first zone. As usual, I was probably behind most of the pack after Minute Ten of this server. Such is life.

At least I crossed one minor milestone, which was scraping together enough money to buy a basic mount. On one hand, this is easily the slowest horse I’ve ever owned in any MMO. I think it’s only a 60% speed boost, and the horse’s running animation is slowed such that it looks like it’s running through quicksand. On the other hand, that’s 60% faster than I’ve been running, and I’ll take any speed boost I can get at this point. Having a mount makes me feel less vulnerable and noobish.

Air rifts at night are gorgeous. Like funky nightlights with mini-tornadoes.

With the increase of XP for rifts and other dynamic events, there is increased incentive to seek out and run these. And frankly, with a large enough public group, I don’t mind. Rifts are dull work solo or with only one or two others, but they’re a breeze with a mob at your back. And even though the planarite rewards are meager in this zone, there are some gear drops and it’s kind of enjoyable to do for its own sake. My kids were still oohing and ahhing over the rift exit animations, so there’s still some visual magic left here.

And then, because I’m apparently allergic to making progress, I rerolled my character. Again.

So what happened is that as I was nearing level 20, I just wasn’t feeling it with my Cleric. I was running Realm of the Fae with some friends and one was going on and on about the Bard, and that just flipped a switch in me. I became mad for the idea of maining a Bard, something I don’t think — to my knowledge — I’ve ever done in RIFT. I’ve used the Bard as a secondary or support profession, but not as a leveling character.

I always love the *idea* of Bards but rarely stick one out. So why not now?

While the notion of rerolling and falling further “behind” stuck in my craw a bit, about an hour into this character and I knew I had made the right decision. It just clicked a lot more than the previous two characters had. The plan with her is to dump most of my points into Bard, with some into Ranger to keep a combat pet in the mix. I also splashed Marksman in there for the zero-point sprint, which is handy while questing.

I also really like what I came up with for her looks. I went back to a Dwarf — sue me — and contrasted a light tattoo on dark skin.

At least now I’m pretty used to these opening quests and can blitz through them quickly. I am also picking up as many rifts as I can, now that XP is better. I hope to stay with the XP curve this time around.

One wonderful part about questing in Silvermoon, other than the general beauty of the zone, is that the regional quest has to do with confronting and killing Elves. It’s a terrible sacrifice on my part, but I will do my honest best to step up and wipe out these freaks with a vengeance.

RIFT: Jumping with both feet into Prime

With the launch of RIFT’s Prime progression server last week, you better believe that I was there with bells and whistles on.

Actually, there were no bells or whistles, because I didn’t get any starting advantages whatsoever. Considering that I have literally hundreds of items, gear, cosmetics, pets, mounts, buffs, etc. that are bound to account and arrive on any new character I make on the live servers, it was a shock to the system to have a character that started out with the basic inventory bag and that’s it. Everything else would have to be earned.

It was a pretty wild experience. I can’t remember the last time I was rushing through my work day in eager anticipation that I would get to play RIFT. But I miss that core classic leveling experience, those lowbie zones, and the idea of progressing through it with a crowd of likeminded gamers held incredible appeal. Plus, I’ve never gotten to do an MMO progression server, so finally here was one for a game that I liked. And at a good time of year too, as I don’t have terribly much to do in WoW.

Even after seven years, RIFT is still pretty beautiful and wonderfully detailed in places. After fighting through a queue (when is the last time RIFT ever had one of those?), I whipped up a brand-new Mage and went to town for a night.

It was slow going. I was really tired last week due to having the flu, and so my body was ready to call it a night by about 10. It was hard to push fast through this anyway, as everyone was fighting over quest objectives and the XP rate for quests seemed to have been nerfed really low to the point where everyone was running out of quests to run at level. So… grind? That didn’t seem too appealing.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt pretty dissatisfied with my choice of Mage, too. The Mage has about one soul that I like and that’s it, and if I’m going to be sticking with this server, it’s got to be with a class that I love. So I went back to the drawing board and fashioned up a Cleric instead.

This ended up being a terrific idea for me, personally. I just love many of the Cleric classes and there’s a lot of flexibility for different playstyles. Plus, I got my healing faerie back (who is named Figmentia, I’m totally proud of that) and changed from a Dwarf to a human. How come? For a visual change, mostly, but also because the humans have a racial sprint that’s very handy on a server that doesn’t give you a mount right away.

This game is still so pretty. Dang.

I fell into a nice guild early on and we all compared gaming backgrounds and current experiences. There was a much wider mix of folks than I would have guessed, with many coming to the game as complete newbies. The recruitment spam in the channels was relentless, so I switched over to guild chat only for a while to give me some peace while I quested.

It was still slow going, even with a build that I liked more. Originally I thought that it was because I didn’t have a mount and there were people everywhere hogging quest objectives, but by the end of the second night, it became very apparent that the quest XP wasn’t up where it needed to be. I was doing every quest I could find, plus lots of extra kills, plus any nearby rift, and I still ended up two to three levels under the requirements for the next batch. Something is hinky with the XP payouts, and I’m hoping Trion is going to adjust this soon.

There was a lot of mutual amazement over all of the players running around everywhere, reminding us vets of how RIFT used to feel. This game can be terrific fun with a critical mass for zone events, and I’m looking forward to doing more of these in the future.

For me, I’m taking my time. I don’t have much of a choice in that regard, but I’m treating this whole experience as an ultimate tourist tour. I’m reading quest text, taking tons of screenshots, and poking my nose around areas.

I’m also starting to formulate a lot of long-term goals, because everything on this server is going to take some time. Getting enough money for a mount is of primary importance, and right now I’m about halfway there. Without minions, I’m going to need more money to beef up my dimension with decor, but better bags and planar items are definitely more vital right now.

I hope that we’ll see some events and holidays pop up, because my wardrobe and pet tab is incredibly bare right now. I’m going to have to look into ways to secure a little buddy or two to keep me and Figmentia company.

RIFT is making a critical mistake with its Prime server

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.

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.