What Happened to End of Nations

People who purchased the Founder’s Edition of End of Nations found an odd surprise, their purchase had been refunded.

Reason given?  Game cancelled?

Although no official reason has been given it is good to speculate at this point (and far more fun).

The community manager officially stated that the game was not cancelled but was instead delayed.  Later on that day he was laid off (that’s nice way of saying fired).

There are two main scenarios that keep End of Nations down.

The first is Trion Worlds.  This is something I have discussed quite a bit.  Basically Trion has bit off a bit more than they can chew.  Here is a studio that is developing Rift, Defiance, World of Darkness, and End of Nations.  That’s a lot on the table and honestly the studio is not big enough to fund so much stuff.

It’s possible the money just dried up.

The second, and more likely problem is Petroglyph Games.  Petroglyph Games has not made a game in quite some time.  It has actually made so few games that it went into a law suit over the development of Mytheon, another MMO RTS that just didn’t happen.

As far as this studio goes it runs out of money and then it asks the publisher for more.

As far as End of Nations was going, well not well.  After alpha and beta tests… well the game just was not being received all that well.  There was really nothing to the game particularly great.  On top of that the revenue model for the game just didn’t have any ‘oomfph’ to it.

So is End of Nations dead?  Most likely, but that’s not entirely for sure.  It’s largely possible Trion will sell the IP and all the work done on it for someone else to complete if anything.

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World of Elfcraft: A Never Expanding Genre

When World of Warcraft posted numbers exceeding 14M people everyone decided it was time to get into the online game.  The gamer market is roughly 250,000,000 people.  Out of that 250,000,000 about 80,000,000 play MMOs.  Out of that 80,000,000 you have 14,000,000 people playing World of Warcraft.

That leaves sum total 66,000,000 gamers who could potentially be courted to play your game.  Or you can choose to court the smaller player base, that is 14,000,000 people to try and get your slice of the World of Warcraft subscription monies.

World of Warcraft represents a very small and niche market, fantasy.  If you look at the top 10 books of the last year (2010) you will find that only one of those is fantasy.  And one is only slightly fantasy, it is more of a Christmas book than a fantasy elf type thing.

The problem with fantasy is that it is something that has been here for all time.  Fantasy is the single most published fiction genre.  it is a market designed to attract the attentions of young men who are rather uncertain with themselves (geeks) and young girls.  I mean that’s all Twilight was about right?  Girls wooing over two different gentlemen.

This literary tradition transitions over into the MMO market as well.  People have been making fantasy games for all time.  I can remember the first Windows 95 game I played, Baldur’s Gate.  Here is a fantasy RPG that did well and since then the market has bloomed full of fantasy RPGs.

Fantasy RPGs do terrible in the gaming market.  You need to have a massive blockbuster game to even make a dent.  Elder Scrolls is a pretty big exception but for the most part people just dodge RPGs like there is no tomorrow.

So why is that exactly?

#1: WoW Did It

When you play a fantasy RPG it has a beginning and an end.  It is a fairly short experience usually not exceeding 80 hours of play.  It is a central focused story that you must follow along with.  In this regard a standard RPG is going to have a chance in the market because it is telling a single narrative designed to interest a specific gamer type.  The game is, targetted towards people who like these games.

This was the case with Final Fantasy 4 which offered you a rich narrative involving a radical group of individuals using the powers of some sort of magical being to beat back evil.

But when Final Fantasy 4 ended, that was it.  That was the end of the game, you moved on to the next one.

With the MMORPG though you have a central focus and then you have an almost infinite number of sub-stories.  Each fantasy MMO will have a central focus.

World of Warcraft had Illidan, Naxxramas, Arthas, and Deathwing as different central focused stories for each expansion.  But with every single expansion came 20-30 sub-stories involving various factions having their own personal grief.  I forget their names but there were these furblog people and these froggy people in the Basin.  They were at war with each other and you chose a side.  They redid this a couple of times and it got repetitive.  They had stories of knights, undead knights, disease spreaders, ghouls, goblins, bears, tree people, night people, old people, ancient people, Egyptian people, spider people, and stone people.  There are so many factions with their own stories in WoW that they have almost put themselves out of a job in writing lore.

WoW has even moved on to the panda people just because they’re running out of stuff to write about.  On top of that they have had to rewrite tales and expand stories.  I have two examples of this.

In Eastern Plaguelands there was a faction of people who wanted to cleanse Naxxramas and purify the land of undead influence.  This had to be reinvisioned to create a combined faction of undead knights and knights of the light.  This new faction would push into the frozen wastelands of Northrend to try and take out Arthas.  They removed tones of quest lines involving the former faction trying to wipe out Naxxramas, moved Naxxramas to Northrend and reworked the story to make it more dynamic.

A second example is the Cenarion Circle factioned featured in the vanilla game.  These were keepers of the woods who were interested in keeping the world in tact.  They fought with you against the AQ dungeons and the various spider and gargoyle bosses that came out of it.  This faction moved to Outlands and was given the name Cenarion Expedition where they were dedicated to stopping Lady Vashj from destroying the natural habitat of the marsh she was occupying.  As you found out she was taking water from the lake and pumping it out for some reason no one really understood.

So then comes Northrend.  Blizzard decides to re-imagine this faction of tree people fighting evil who were destroying this world as extremist environmental degredation protesters.  They were given the name “P.E.T.A.” to explain this.  You were given subtle hints that these druids were the same ones since you would get Cenarion rep for completing these quests.

The big problem is, WoW did it.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker ran into the same problem when they were having problems coming up with show ideas, because Simpsons Did It.  it’s a problem when there is a king of a genre who does everything possible.  It has come to the point where Simpsons is on and off with blandness because they are repeating themselves.

WoW has invested in damn near every single story line possible to the point where no matter what you do, it will look pretty similar to what WoW did.

#2: Fantasy is Limited

There are only so many types of stories a fantasy world can cover.  For their second expansion World of Warcraft did the mixed fantasy-scifi theme that a lot of fantasy publishers are forced to do to keep alive.  I mean look at Final Fantasy’s whole series, it is a fantasy game that involves guns and lasers.

Fantasy is a very limited genre and is best played in short RPGs.  This is because the very beginning of the game is designed to limit the game so that you can make sequels involving more fantasy themes.

What does fantasy offer?

Vampires-werewolves

Elves-dwarves

Goblins-ghouls

And then… that’s pretty much it.  Fantasy authors are always struggling to tell stories because they are entering a very limited realm.

I think I’ve said before in one of my blogs that I have watched a single Harry Potter movie and never read a single one of these books.  The one movie I watched was Deathly Hollows Part 2.  This is a great example of an authorship having nothing else to write about.  From what I gather from the other books they introduce the school, the minor villains and it all leads up to this final vision.

SPOILER ALERT!

There is this dark haired school teacher who the whole time has been kind of a douche to Harry Potter.  But in a sudden plot twist it turns out he was being a douche to be his friend.  The author ran out of creative juices and decided to throw in this massive twist that absolutely made no sense and the story of the movies did not have anything to do with.  And then it is suddenly forgotten almost instantly and does not matter.

Fantasy is really hard to write because you really only have so far to go with it.  You run out of a lot of room to work with and you slowly write yourself out of content.  You have to finish up the story and then write an expansion to try and tell another separate story of this adventurer.  But that story is extremely limited too.  The expansion is going to be themed and so everything should be expected to fit into those parameters.  Rift for example is limited to these rift invasion creatures who you are preventing from destroying the world.  Well that limits the sort of mobs, the sort of stories, and the sort of encounters.  The game starts (as Defiant) at the end of the world where Regulos and Aselbeth have destroyed the world.

Once you have played one fantasy MMO it almost feels like you have played them all.  You need the same sorts of classes and the same sorts of characters.  If you show up in a fantasy MMO with something radically different it will not appeal to the limited fantasy MMO niche market you are attempting to get at.

#3: Nobody Likes Elves

Let’s get this out in the open… nobody actually ever likes elves… ever.  Every single elf in every single book, movie, or feature are always assholes who think they are better than everything.  They are always douchebags that emphasize how much better they are than everyone.  Sometimes elves are spiritual in nature… but they still have that sense of being better than everyone.

Think of Lord of the Rings.  The premise of the elves was that they thought of themselves as so high and mighty that they abandoned mankind to Sauron in favor of protecting their people in some distant land Sauron could not touch.  Why not just take all of the humans and all of the land with them?  Why fight at all?  They thought themselves so high and mighty and so special.

Yet every single fantasy MMO out there features some sort of elf or elf-like race.  They are tall.  They are skanky.  They are ‘clever.’  They think of themselves as being out of this world.  And they were for some time, insanely popular.  This popularity has dwindled over time and this is because we are over-exposed to elves now.  It is no longer cool to be an elf, in fact people hate elves.

There is an odd popularity for elf-free games.  Global Agenda advertised specifically on being elf-free:

The scifi-space genre has become more popular for story telling because it is elf free.

The main problem suffering from the fantasy genre is that of elves, the same stuff ad infinitum.  The fantasy MMO genre really has nowhere to go, it is mostly capped in the number of people doing it right now.  Yet more and more fantasy MMOs keep coming up every month to try and steal away some profits.

The World of Elfcraft is diluting me thinks it is time for developers to look elsewhere.  Hopefully Ubisoft decides to go elsewhere for their upcoming unnamed MMO.

 

Why did Rift Fail?

So yesterday I said I would release a nutcracker, and on this Boxing Day I am.  I’ve been building up this article for six months and have been following the progress of one of my favorite games, Rift.  And so today I cover, Why did Rift Fail?

Within six months before launch Rift when from being one of the most unknown games on the planet to one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year.  However after it released it suddenly transformed into one of the biggest trainwrecks of the year.  People perceived it as doing insanely well because the developers were always making new content and working on the game.  In truth it was doing terribly.  After six months they broke 300,000 active subscribers.  That is less than Lineage 2.  Rift fell off the face of the Earth and was largely ignored.  So how did this happen?

1. People didn’t Buy Into the Game Concept

The name of the game is Rift and so rifting was intended to be a major part of the game.  It seemed no matter how much they tried to encourage people to go rifting it was not something people wanted to do.  There was something fundamentally wrong with rifts, and I know what it is.

Unfortunately for rifts, rift grinding is just formalized group mob killing.  It is no different from killing 100 pigs over and over.  The only difference was you were supposed to get predictable gear upgrades and bonus to XP.  But once you hit level cap what’s the advantage to do rifts?  As people found out…. reputation.  But you could grind out those reputations in a more profitable way (dungeon grind for gear/dailies for money).

At late game with the planar atunement system rifting transformed into another grind, grinding experience, grinding planarite, grinding inscribed.  The epic of this was thrown out the window in favor of making it into a grind.  This is largely because of massive grind requirements to gain very small things.  Events attracted at least 100 people per server not because they wanted to do it, but because they had to do it.

On launch everyone was doing rifts to grind out their reputation, that is the hardcores.  But as the game started moving along, no one did rifts.  Eventually people started moving away from the game and the only people doing rifts are those that were grinding them for XP or inscribed.

Trion did release Zone Events.  These are world bosses that would require 3-4 20-man groups to kill and came after doing a number of objectives.  But all of these got boring and repetitive.  None of these world bosses required any organization, you just joined a bulk group and spammed your DPS or heal button.  I would go as a bard and sneakily leach off of peoples efforts by only buff spamming so not to risk aggroing mobs.

The main focus of the game inevitably failed and represented a side activity for when you were not raiding.  They added in holiday and lore related events that all revolved around just grinding out rifts.  Not only did these make rifts suck, they also made holidays suck.  While holidays in most games are well orchestrated quest lines with fun stuff.  Instead you’re just burning through rifts.  This was a cheap content creation model that made bland boring content.

Most people who joined this game came from World of Warcraft.  Because of this they wanted something a little bit different from the WoW grind, Rift could not offer it.

2. Designers Abandoned the Game

Within the first year they released six raid dungeons (three 10-man and three 20-man), four world events, 6 major patches, and created a brand new zone.  There is also a new one coming out after the holidays.

And yet I say the designers abandoned the game.

It’s not a statement of opinion or thought, it’s a matter of fact.  Only a month after releasing Rift, Trion Worlds purchased a share in End of Nations.  Only a couple of weeks later they announced a partnership with Syfy to develop a science fiction multi-platform (joined game play) MMO.  This new MMO is promised to be bank specifically because it is being promoted by a Syfy television show (Syfy is huge in the US).  They moved the developers from Rift to these new projects and put a new team in charge of making content for Rift.

This means that Rift is just a cash ship that they have to milk as much as possible.  Something you want to milk out means you give it as little maintenance while still performing maximum results.

To that end a completely different design team was ‘trained’ on Rift.  They were trained in a content creation model that would allow them to easily design dungeons, rift events, warfronts, minor edits and game balance.  It felt like a gamer’s dream, game content all the time.

I mean just look at these renderings of new content coming out in 1.6/1.7:

Now look at Deepstrike Mines:

And for the sake of argument, look at Darkening Deeps:

It’s all sort of the same thing.  It is all in fact very lazy programming.  The same dungeon designs over and over and over ad infinitum.

But the player base was happy doing these feeling like it was unique content.  It felt like with this model Rift could actually survive and make expansions.

And then it happened.

The beginning of the end.

And it came with players high praise and screaming for joy.

Trion invented the atunement system.

Atunement is post-level cap leveling.  You gain experience and invest into stats.  Some stats included 1 dexterity, 0.1% weapon’s dmg, dmg against a certain element and movement speed.  It seemed like a perfect idea.  Until it dawned upon people, Rift will never be able to have an expansion.  It’s actually impossible.  The second you make post level cap leveling is the second that you make an expansion impossible.  The other side is that if they do expand, you’d lose a tonne of post level cap stats.

Eventually there will come a point that the game will become grossly unfriendly to new players.  It is potentially already happening now with Rank 8 PvP being indestructible and T2 raid DPS being double that of T1 raid DPS.

The development model doesn’t work because as Blizzard realized so many years ago, at some point, gear becomes ridiculous and you need to reset things.

If this game has an expansion it will destroy the existing community.  The game went on sale for $3 for a month and then it went free during Black Friday sales.  There is no surer sign that they are just trying to milk out their subscriptions while they still can.

Keep in mind the game sold for $59.99 then $49.99, $39.99, $29.99, $3, $0.

Free to play is not a terrible payment model.  But when a game goes free to play it is a surefire sign that it is sinking in value.

3. Failure to Launch

The game was insanely hyped up because it was introducing a lot of world content.  In truth world content was in a high demand from a niche crowd.  This is because EQ, EQ2, and World of Warcraft all started with non-instanced world content.  These same people have always demanded world bosses.  The problem with world bosses has always been the problem of the mass.  Either you have so many people in your group that the fun factor moves away to a mass people factor or because there are so many people available to screw you up on killing them these bosses become almost unkillable.

Blizzard’s last world boss was in Burning Crusade, Doom Lord Kazak.  Kazak was a re-make of a vanilla boss and was actually very unpopular.  The boss had the exact same problem as previous ones, too hard in a PvP world.

Rift developers created a stupid number of out door bosses.  But at the lowest of levels people who bought the collectors edition had a massive advantage, speed.  This caused the rifting thing to only catch on with people who bought collector’s edition or people who just ignored rifts and stayed loyal to something they did not enjoy.

When people hit level cap (Level 50) they were stuck with very little to do.  The game launched without a dungeon finding tool.  This is a problem if you are trying to find a group since you have to basically stay online for hours looking at Level 50 chat for a group.  This social system is supposed to create bonds, what it does instead is create guild elitism.

Guild elitism exists when raid guilds maintain control of a rare resource.  A rare resource in the game might be… tanks.  Tanks really only want to raid and will only pug until they are geared.  There is no reason to continue afterwards.  This meant that the second wave of 50s were… screwed.

A dungeon finder was introduced again for a third wave of levelers after their first discount sale.  This dungeon finder was actually worse than the social method.  it was only server wide and it forced you to get four types in the group: Tank, DPS (2), Support and Healer.  In any MMO DPS is going to be very common.  This is why 3/5 of a party is generally supposed to be made of DPS.  By making it 2/5 and adding in a new role this makes dungeon matchmaking very hard.  Worst part is in most groups the support role just DPSes, so it’s sort of another way for people to ‘cheat’ their way ahead of the queue.

That is of course… if it ever popped.

The dungeon finder was awful.  The non-epic dungeons (Charmer’s Caldera and Abysal Precipe) would never pop.  Your only choice was to get gear by crafting/PvP and then queue up for the T1 dungeons and then after a long time of grinding T1 dungeons queue for T2 dungeons.  T1 dungeons did not have a very good queue either.  The T2 queues were really the only ones that ever had any one in their queue.  It was awkward because you had stat requirements you had to meet to queue up.  So you spent a stupid amount of game grinding.

When one grind ended another grind would begin, then another and another and another. It was a game that just grinded out stuff.  Some people like grinding.  This game attracted a lot of grinders.  There are people who capped out their achievement points and were waiting on the next patch just to cap them out again.

It’s not to say that there was nothing non-grindy in this game.  There were tones of cool puzzles that required intelligence to do them.  But they were organized in such a way that they were not all that fun.  Bejeweled is a fun puzzle game.  Plants vs. Zombies is a fun puzzle game.  I’ll even go and say that Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is a fun puzzle game.  Tetris is a fun puzzle game.  But what Rift offered us in puzzles is not fun.  They were just things you did to grind out.  So the game was obviously not going to interest people who solve puzzles to keep playing.

There was also lore.  There are people (like myself) who love lore.  They thrive on reading the books that become collections.  They love reading quest text and figuring out the story arch.  They enjoy watching events or videos telling stories.  But the developers at Rift were not really all that into story telling, nor are most MMO developers.

A good story arch is going to do the following (in this order):

  1. Introduce main and supporting characters
  2. Create a conflict
  3. Develop main and supporting characters showing their strengths and their weakness
  4. Create tragedy (tragedy involves a downfall based on one of the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, sloth, greed, wrath, envy, pride)
  5. Have main characters accept their weaknesses and recognize their sin (character flaw).
  6. Become stronger because of that.
  7. Defeat evil
  8. PLOT TWIST (Good guy becomes bad guy, bad guy is actually a good guy, bad guy has relations to someone, etc.)

These elements create a fantastic story arch that is exciting and nail bitingly interesting.  But… this game does not have it.  You really do not have any connection to any of the characters and you do not see any reason to hate your enemies.  This was something WoW was also weak at.  I mean if you follow the stories of Illidan, Lady Vashj, Prince Kael’thas, King Arthas, and Neber’ak you should simply not want to kill them.

The main problem is that both of these games are trying to build the story through the people you are trying to kill.  Villains are designed in a story to create a challenge for a hero.  A hero-villain has become popular because they are the ultimate tragic figure.  But by telling a story through the villain all you end up doing is demonizing your own side and thus making the gaming experience unfun and disinteresting.

The game just stunk of a blandness that had something missing.  When Age of Conan launched with 1M purchases in the first month it did so without any quests for 30 levels.  It did so with insanely powerful PvP.  Then why is it that after one month Rift didn’t even break 100,000 copies?

well the first part of it that they probably gave out too many free copies.  The second part is there was just nothing special about it.  It felt like a game that was not going anywhere.  And this was the feeling people got as they left the game en mass.  The server I was on when I played was one of the highest populated in the game and it only had two guilds doing content.  Do you know how sad that is?  WoW had problems with that but their content was vastly inaccessible, unfriendly to casuals, and had a rigorous skill cap.  Rift has none of that.

4. Steep Learning Curve

When IGN reviewed this game originally they said “quality compensates for lack of originality.”  What they felt was that this game was a lot like World of Warcraft with one fundamental problem, a very steep learning curve.

A game has to be noobie friendly.  Every time I do a review I like to stress this factor weighted very strongly.  The game did not have the tools available for people to figure things out so easily.

Simple question, what is more important for a support to do, deal DPS or provide buffs/debuffs.

After you finish leveling as a DPS your answer might be, do DPS.

The actual answer is provide buffs/debuffs.

It’s simply not all that clear what exactly represents a support spec when you choose it.  The description tree tells you enough that it is a support class that goes with a group of adventurers but nothing you do can tank damage, heal or DPS.  it doesn’t make a lot of sense in a group of adventurers to have some fruity minstrel following you around singing songs to you.

It’s not even the fact that support classes are awkward as crap and don’t really scale well or get that much better.

The problem might even be the infinitism of specs.  I had found out some time ago that there are 56 possible pairings of the 8 different trees available in the game.  This means you can be anything, but also tells you that what you should be is not obvious.  You might not know where to turn in points and different or what spells to use.  There is even an odd part where you are not sure what buffs/debuffs you should use.

When the developers of Rift showed us the trees for the first time he bragged about how he enjoyed playing a rogue because he made a spec that was primarily melee but had ranged abilities so he could kill opponents as they ran away.  That sounds cool but then you try out that spec and find out it actually sucks pretty bad.

I remember the first time I hit Level 50 and did not have a clue what to do.  There were no quick quest lines leading you into doing any raids, there were no quick quest lines to lead you into grinding out reputations and Port Scion was bloody complicated with no direction to it.

The game on launch just did not have enough resources available to tell people exactly what to do.  Open ended sand boxing games with no real direction are fun if the core mechanics of the game are fun… Rift did not have that.

5. Because It Didn’t Succeed Enough

On the topic of failure.  A game can succeed in many ways.  The first way is that it has such amazing gameplay that the game almost becomes legendary.  Half Life for example is actually a pretty crappy game but has become legendary for it’s amazing online play (Counter Strike).  A game can succeed with sure volume of numbers.  World of Warcraft and League of Legends both host over 12M players.  A game can be a success for having mildly good results on a company’s first launch.

Rift was successful in this final way.  It is the first launch of Trion Worlds and because of this it was not really expected to have amazing results.  As a matter of fact, no one really had heard of this game before the Open Beta was released a summer ago.  Many could say this game was amazingly successful and has done better than a lot of gaming companies on launch.  Trion was able to earn enough money to purchase a share in another MMO and begin work on another far more popular MMO.

But Rift in every single other way, failed.

It did not reach the numbers that anyone expected.  I remember posting an article claiming they had sold less than 100,00 copies in their first month.  People were scouring at me claiming hearsay and treason.  But sales records confirmed that it was not selling all that well.  One of the main reasons for poor retention was lack of casual friendliness.  This is not a game you can just pick up, it requires a tone of time.  Every MMO has slowly moved down to being casual friendly.  Rift requires too much of your time and the rifting system lead it to that if you idle for too long eventually invasions will come along and kill you.

Rift failed in amazing game play.  The game play was average.  It was designed by programmers who were struggling for funding and had to make cuts where they were.  The game jumped in ‘finish’ when pre-orders became available and every time they did a promotion of this the game’s polish came closer and closer.  But when it launched it was not really a finished product.

One of the weaker points of the lacking amazing game play was in how all specs basically played the same.  For warriors you were building up your Attack points and spending them.  Even tanking was like this.  For rogues you were building up attack points and spending them.  Even tanking was like this.  Mages rotated spells.  Clerics hit the healing button on people.  The only trees that offered any difference were support which ended up not being all that fun in practice.

When people like playing games they like to play them in different ways.  The fact that you were sort of always doing the same thing was a huge limit on the replayability of the game.  In truth people were willing to wait on Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic or Warhammer 40,000 Online before picking up this game.

Rift was released before it was polished which cost them in sales.  What it did do is keep Trion Worlds alive and allow them to acquire End of Nations and start work on their next larger project.

In the end Rift failed because Trion killed their own game.

Abuse of the Rift Engine #4: Personal Adventures

If you logged on to the Rift servers today you would have found out a new patch was deployed.  This patch included a new part of the game called “Personal Adventures.”  By hitting the period key (.) you bring up the menu, a single toggle to turn on Personal Adventures.  These personal adventures teleport you to a group of people who will have to complete a number of objectives and then finally meet up with a boss.

It’s another use of the rift engine, that is whoring out their product.

What is the Rift Engine?

The Rift engine, also known as the dynamic content engine was designed by Trion Worlds for their game Rift.  The purpose of this engine was to generate content randomly throughout the zone.  The idea was that this engine would create events within the zone that would make your experience leveling different and unique.

The Rift engine deploys a chain of content that can be halted by a player or allowed to become powerful.  The model was simple.  Content would start off in planar elements.  These are potential zones for change.  A player can activate them or a planar element can trigger on it’s own over time.

These planar elements will transform into rifts, what the game is named for.  Rifts are fissures in time that will spawn units from another realm.  These will also drastically change the layout of the zone.  Death rifts for example will spawn skulls and darkness.  Fire rifts will spawn fire and brimstone.  This dynamic content can spawn anywhere and alter a zone to an experience specific to you.

The next phase of this dynamic engine is to make the rift do something so that it is not a stationary element.  So as long as a rift is opened a set number of units called an “invasion” with a boss will move across the map along the roads.  These will cause an inconvenience and will attack in every which direction.

A fourth aspect of this dynamic content engine is the foothold.  The foothold is activated by the invasion.  The foothold will take control of key points and towns further inconveniencing you and forcing you to finally address this problem… or forever be unable to turn in your quests.

So that’s the rift engine.  It is something that is complicated to develop and revolves around constantly having unique events spawn around the map.

So what are the abuses of this Rift engine to date?

#1: The Zone Wide Event

The first one to develop was the zone wide event.  This concept focused around a group of people  working together to close down a specific grouping of rifts, invasions and footholds that would just spawn,

This concept was whored out like crazy.  Most major updates including more zone wide events.  These were casual friendly events that would activate randomly all over Telaria.  The concept here is the rift engine doing it’s job with a focus and a direction.  This is an addition to the dynamic engine in that the game will dynamically and randomly spawn mass events all over the world.

#2: The Story Event

A second abuse of the rift engine is the storyline event.  Trion puts forth a very minor story line.  And I do mean very minor.  As in nothing really happens.  Quests will involve killing rift monsters or closing rifts.  Usually it will involve a specific type of mob therefore during high populated times the game will spawn extra types of this rift in all zones.

#3: The Raid Rift/Epic Rift

This next part of the rift engine was to create a brand new type of rift that players can call upon.  These rifts unlike other rifts would give raid valued rewards.  This was designed for casuals to be able to gain gear in a raid scenario without having to try too hard.

Epic rifts would have 5 people in a group together to take out a rift and gain a single reward for it.  The raid rift would require an entire raid.  These would also require specific lures that you would have to purchase with planarite.

This solved the problem of mass amounts of stockpiled planarite and the problem of gearing up for content.

All they have to do was tweek their engine to make more powerful rifts and make them for cheap.

#4: The Personal Adventure

This is the final whoring out of the rift engine and the most recent one.  I’m sure there will be more.  Trion spent a tonne of money developing this engine and they have whored it out ALL over the game.  Most people when they develop something this expensive either deploy it to all of their games (like Cryptic Studios did) or they will sell it off to other games (like Everquest did).  Trion Worlds however has no other games (at the moment) and no one is really interested in this dwindling studio.

So this has really caused a money problem for Trion.  They need to get this engine to max use, but only have one game.

Solution?  Over use the engine in the one game.

And they are.

The new “personal adventure” is just another adventure involving rifts and rift creatures.  Sometimes you will go to a zone and have to clear out some mobs that aren’t rift creatures, but for the most part you are just killing rift beasts.  The personal adventure brings absolutely nothing new to the game.  You are teleported to a public zone that anyone can join and you kill off objectives that were in the game before the patch.

It’s 100% nothing new.  Just a new way of doing the same thing you always did.

Personal adventures have no stories to them.  Personal adventures are also not personal adventures.  They can involve up to 20 people.  How personal can things get when you have a full raid?

Overall personal adventures are another failed attempt by Trion to pimp out their content and add nothing.

How to: Black Garden Stockpile Mode

As part of a 1.6 weekend special Trion released the new Stockpile mode into their game set. Stockpile mode is only available during the special Black Garden weekends (the warfronts will rotate) meaning this will be available once every five weeks. So in this article I will deal with how the game works.

How it Works

The fang is gone.

In its place are lootable black balls.

Your job is to carry these black balls to Cleansing Orbs.

But there’s a trick. Each orb you carry reduces your movement speed. You can carry a maximum of three at once.

The orbs come in pairs and will spawn in mirrored locations. Each orb will have 8 charges on it. Every time you do a turn in you lose a charge on the orb.

Each black ball is worth 10 so it is advantageous to carry a whole bunch at once.

Orbs are placed in strategic locations that will favor one team over the other. The first set has a minor inconvenience in a large rock placement making it a slightly longer run path. After that orbs will appear very close to bases. Considering there are eight charges this leaves a mini strategy involving dumping on their orbs or dumping only 3 orbs into yours.

As another note a kill with worth 2 points. You will need 500 points to win so obviously carrying orbs will be more worthwhile. Winning teams are successful in cleansing black balls and preventing their opponents from doing so. Priority targets are the ones who have the three orbs debuff.

New Ember Isles Fire Raid Rift: Enkindled Spirits

In this video my guild (Elite) take on one of the new T2 Rift raids.  Everything in here is dangerous.  The raid rift has four phases.  Missing from this video is the phase where you kill 24 demons.

The second phase (first boss) involves three enemy NPCs appearing.  We numbered the firelord #1, the cyclone #2 and the fire imp #3.  The cyclone and fire imp must die at the same time and the game will prevent you from doing otherwise.  The firelord should be pulled away to avoid AoE on the melee.

The fire imp will put up a debuff that is casted on himself.  Your DPS and tanks must stop attacking him until it is dispelled off.  The debuff will cause a thorns effect (when you attack him he hurts you back) that will deal up to 4,000 damage per hit.  This means you get two shot.  DoTs will trigger this effect as you will see in the movie.

The cyclone has to have it’s own set of DPS on it to interrupt every single one of his casts.  He will just randomly one shot people and if a cast gets through someone dies.

Once the two of these die kill off the firelord and move on to the next phase.

The next phase is Level 52 dogs.  We rounded up all of these and AoEed them down, easy peasy.

The final phase involves a Djinn.  The Djinn will put a stacking buff on himself that will increase damage.  He will occasionally summon bats to aid him and will often blind a target.  The key is to off tank the bats and focus the Djinn.  You will want two tanks swapping off and on the Djinn for cooldowns and you will want a third tank just tanking bats.  As you can see in the vid when my group tried to kill off bats we ran out of time and the Djinn two shot our tank.

You are expected to be tier 2 ready to do this raid rift.  This means having conquered all of T1, otherwise this will be very hard.  The rewards however are worth it, unlike most raid rifts all of the loot in these rifts was immediately used.

Best of luck.

Rift PvP: How to PvP with Little Gear

I’ve made it known my re-intention to do the grind but this time instead of Rank 5 being the maximum it has been re-proportioned so that Rank 8 is the new maximum. This makes it a longer grind and less about free gearzors. I’m currently sitting at Rank 5 and it is a grind. I recently put out a nice guide on how Port Scion works and in a future article I will be dealing with Stockpile Mode in Black Garden. So in this article I thought I’d give some helpful tips on, How to PvP Little Gear!

PvP is gear oriented. Once you have enough gear you can almost go as any spec in the world and have great success. But without gear it sucks, in fact, it’s brutal. PvP is definitely not a good place to get an introduction to the game. As a newbie you will be crushed and everything will be 10x harder than it ought to be. Without tiering off PvP the game transforms into Mass Rank 5-8 vs. Mass Rank 1-4. In this regard PvP is something that you will have to suffer through until you get enough gear to compete.

Don’t Get Bogged Down

Everything you do will involve a learning process. From the first time you install that new tire to the first time you decide to make muffins for your loved one you will always have to learn how to do it the first time and get better at it over time.

It should be no surprised that without knowing the maps, the rules, the tactics, or personal strategy it will be hard to PvP without gear.

Don’t let death and losses bog you on. You get prestige from your allies killing people and losses are worth something to. The latest stockpile mode for Black Garden offers 600 prestige for a loss.

If you get bogged down on your losses and stop trying to win you are only empowering yourself to level up far slower. You need to think of yourself as a valued team member and look at what you can do to help. You have to accept that losses are not your losses its due to a total weak team, but you also have to keep in mind that you can move on to the next match.

On that note, don’t think you’re not part of the team and don’t have any responsibility in the loss. You should prohibit yourself from getting angry. If you are getting angry at a game, take a deep breath and continue on. NO need to insult your team mates. That just builds bad report and lowers a winning spirit.

You can get excited though, getting excited is very good.

Find Something to Do!

Let us face it; you are not a pyscho killer. You won’t be a psycho killer for some time. Your heaviest hit probably brings down someone’s health by speckles. This does not mean you cannot be a useful member of a team. Not everyone is meant to kill their opponent.

If you are a cleric you should be a healer. A low level healer will help more than a melee cleric.

If you are a rogue go marksman and dispel off people’s buffs, alternatively go bard to provide buffs to your group.

If you are a warrior, go void knight and drain out healer mana. But pop your cooldowns often to survive.

If you are a mage grab yourself a chloro build and keep people alive.

The fact is you need to find something to do, and it will not be mass killing people until you get decent gear. This means doing a lot of the ‘bitch’ jobs on maps. In Port Scion this might mean killing NPCs and doing turn ins.

I can honestly say I spent a lot of my first two ranks just dispelling people and sapping people to slow them down. This gave me a great opportunity to figure out what buffs are REALLY important to people. I actually still fully debuff spam rank 8s.

And on that note:

Be a Pest

You are not going to be on the front line owning face. So you need to slow down the enemy victory as much as possible. Sometimes by preventing victory at any turn you are ensuring that your side gains a victory.

This is something I just started doing in high rated player matches I’m in with the new Black Garden mode. When the new drop areas show up I will start running single orbs to my enemy’s base. My thought is if I get one in I am stealing a charge from them and gaining 10 points for my team. If I die I’m still stealing a charge off of their orb since they will undoubtedly pick it up and try and turn it in themselves (instead of a three turn in).

This means just camping on the healer and spamming your interrupt button.

You need to make it harder for these guys to accomplish their tasks, so apply all your snares as they continue to move around. Sap them as they attempt to cap a node. Spam your AoE in the middle of Black Garden. If you can make it harder for your opponents to do something your better geared allies will be able to knock off people easier.

Don’t Suicide

Sometimes you may feel like doing an AoE knockback is worth your death. So you will run in there and do your AoE knockback. Bad idea friend! When you die that means your team is less one person in the match up putting your team at a further disadvantage. Warriors are by far the hardest to get good use out of at lower ranks specifically because they are purely melee (and purely squishy if not part tank spec).

There is never a good reason to run into a crowd of people and deal stupid damage. Don’t suicide means playing smart. Generally if you are a ranged player you do not ever want to fight out in the open. Instead you will want to fight next to a rock, a tree, a ledge, or a wall so that you can sneakily move out of line of sight.

A lot of people complain about dying too easily when they have no gear. This is not because of low gear; it is because of low skill. You will still get owned pretty hard even after you get gear. You need to learn how to survive in this game or surely you will always die.

Port Scion is Your Friend

Port Scion is a game that is low responsibility. It involves 20 people making it the largest warfront available. It is also one with NPCs that will do a lot of fighting as well.

As an alternative Trion sponsors high prestige weekends for specific warfronts.

Well hope that was in some way helpful, see you in game.