Rift: Planes of Telara Postmortem Interview


posted 5/5/2011 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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We're  interested in the elemental convergence concept, and while the game sets up the death god as the main baddie, are there similar adversaries associated with the other planes? Is there a plot between these powers or is the rift phenomena just a result of the breaking of the veil?
Each plane has a primary enemy, the group of which are known as the Blood Storm. These gods/dragons have pillaged their way through the planes and arrived at Telara. Because it is the nexus of so many planes, it is valuable both for its intrinsic richness and as a route to other planes for additional conquest. The most powerful of these is Regulos, but each is a dangerous adversary. They began to fight each other for possession of Telara and the Vigil was able to imprison all but one: Regulos. Regulos was banished beyond the Ward. The cults of each dragon are still fighting while trying to free their own gods. With the weakening of the Ward, each day brings us closer to the moment when one or more are successful and only the Ascended stand in the way.

That core story is examined within the raid where players face Greenscale and is continued with River of Souls. It will keep unfolding over time.

How has the soul system been received by your players? Is there any thought toward allowing players to mix souls between the classes - for example a beastmaster/necromancer/justicar mix? or do you feel the existing combinations allow players to truly span play styles well enough?
Some players immediately grasped the power of the Soul system and began clamoring for additional Roles because they want to try more and more strategies. They wanted to refine their roles to be very situation-specific. Because of their requests, we added another Role slot with patch 1.2. Some prefer to play one role almost exclusively and that is fine, too. They completely master the tricks of that soul combination and can be powerful allies (or enemies) when you meet them. The point that has really resonated is there is no one true way to play RIFT. That has been received incredibly well. Players can argue for days about which combination of the same souls. That’s awesome. It’s exactly what happens in the office every day.

Hobbies are popular in MMOs and while Rift is about an epic struggle to save a world, is there a chance players could see a fishing system or other hobby introduced at a later time?
We are open minded about what the future holds. He have an over-arching plan of content that we will be rolling out. We have a long list of additional features that we (remember, we play this game for fun, too) want to add. The rate at which those features come out and which ones get priority depend on what they add to the game over all. In a world full of dynamic changes, each element has to be considered against every single other element. Stapling in a system that is completely incongruous with the soul of RIFT will ultimately result in a lot of rework. Instead, we listen, we hear things we get excited about, we plan and we act.

Rift features an ever shifting dynamic world. How do you handle footholds that establish in zones where players are light? are there incentives for players to join together to free areas they might already have cleared or progressed beyond? Is anywhere in Telara safe from a rift?
One of the main tasks for the people creating events and invasions is setting up thresholds for various locations. The system is built to look at the capability of players in the area to defend it. Of course it is a fuzzy number because players race from all directions to repel invasions. We do monitor this closely and modify future events based on the results of and tweaks needed to previous events.

As to incentives, what we did was remove the barriers from between players. We took away the zero sum game; the sense of If he does well, I will get robbed. This made players glad to see one another. If you’re fighting a rift and that timed-stage timer is ticking down and suddenly three more people show up to finish in the nick of time… that’s a rush. There is not a sense of “Hey, you stole my kills!” We see more chats that celebrate victories and compliment good healing/tanking/DPS. It is truly social gaming. Groups that merge together at the click of a button may stick together for four or five more rifts. They may spin off again and go different ways. No one is upset. No one feels slighted… it’s just very open and… well… social. That’s the single best word for it.

I also see people clearing quest hubs that they are above level for all the time. They obviously don’t need the quests there, but either they are offended that some Planar vermin would take their hub, or they just want that extra bit of Planarite to buy something neat. Personally, I buff up the Wardstones every time I can. Why? I am a Defiant! If I have the charge available (always keeping one for myself to use in the next rift), I make the area that much safer for my faction. It’s surprisingly hard to find Wardstones that are not fully leveled up, so I must not be the only one.

Finally, the only place I ever feel “safe” in Telara is in Meridian or Sanctum, though even that may be chancy. Everywhere else, when I log back in, I have one hand on the keyboard and the other one on the mouse because I may be appearing in the middle of a slaughter.
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