Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Rift discovers the secret of MMO success

I received an invitation to the third Rift beta event, currently running, and I like the game. And instead of compiling a list like everybody else what Rift copied from what other game (UI from WoW, public quests from WAR, etc.), I'd like to say that it seems that Trion copied the secret sauce recipe from Blizzard: Don't worry too much about originality and features, but rather spend your time making sure that everything that is in the game works perfectly. Rift in beta is more polished than most MMORPGs that came out in the last 3 years on release.

And I do believe that this is the way to go for a MMORPG to have any kind of success in today's market. The buggy crap people put up with a decade ago simply doesn't cut it any more. A new game easily survives snide remarks in reviews that its user interface looks exactly like WoW's, but it doesn't survive its user interface being cumbersome, laggy, and non-intuitive, however innovative and original it might be. Just look what happened to Final Fantasy XIV!

Being polished these days is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for any MMORPG wanting to enter the market. Trion's Rift fulfills that condition, and thus I do think the game will do just fine. Not a "WoW Killer", but a game that will sell well and keep up a good number of subscribers.
Exactly my opinion. Rift is the ONLY game I played for longer than a day as its polished and fun and seems to make a lot right (although the talent tree stuff is confusing and too much)
It is definitely not something they learned from Blizzard. Cataclysm is a terrible bugfest, 2 pages hotfixes every second day, addressing game-breaking bugs.

Cataclysm isn't full of game-breaking bugs. There are a few minor ones that will get fixed with time and there are some game-balance issues that will get tweaked as
the min-maxers get to work properly.

I think it's a measure of how far Blizzard have raised the bar on quality that people describe Cataclysm as "bug ridden". By the standards of any other MMO, Cata is superb. If Rift can match this, they may be on to something.
I agree with Sven, Cataclysm isn't full of game-breaking bugs. There are a select few odd (but not game-breaking) ones. The others are minor or require balancing.
but a game that will sell well and keep up a good number of subscribers.

If that is the main goal of MMORPG, then yes, being polished is (one of) the most important thing.

However, I think big-name MMORPGs would actually try to go beyond just selling well. They'd want to sell big time. Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword because this can easily backfire if they're all talk.

This is also an interesting point because if most MMORPG players only play 1 MMORPG, then what would they do if they also play WoW? Would they actually switch to Rift over WoW? Is Rift's market simply the 'leftovers' out of the MMORPG-pie?
polish is futile

why play rift???

ps. also, bad framerate is killing my experience and i don't see excuses for that
Good to hear it.

I'm interested in Rift and I'm glad they've realised most of us want to experience launchday excitement without feeling like we're paying to beta.
For myself, I have had zero issues with this game. I have no bug reports, and eventually gave up looking for problems and just played.
It runs as smooth as silk, and I like playing with the class combinations, looking for hidden goodies (shinies, EQ2 style) and working on achievements.

Basically it takes EQ2, WAR, WoW and some Vanguard and polished it to a nice sheen.

I will buy it.
I just started playing Rift last night a little and I agree that it does seem very polished. I didn't get too far, but I find the whole "soul" idea very interesting.
Unfortunately, I'll never give Rift a try. Unlike Bizzard, Trion apparently doesn't write for both Windows and the Mac OS. Oh well.
@Kaj: If you actually wanted to play it, you'd have looked for another solution other than just going "oh well, not supported on Mac, bye."
I think there's actually a fairly large market of people who'd like to play something quite like WoW, but that isn't WoW. Rift has a very good chance to attract those people and hold them for a while.
Kaj, ever heard of bootcamp? I play most games on my iMac using bootcamp. So I can format C: without loosing my OSX ;)
Gevlon, if there are so many game-breaking bugs in Cataclysm, how come (a) you've never posted any mention of any of them, and (b) I can't find any on the list of hotfixes, all of which seem to be for minor bugs, stupid but not game-breaking bugs, and balance issues?

Seriously, the only issue with Cataclysm that I would describe as genuinely unacceptable is the Tol Barad balance - which I know you agree is unacceptable - but is even that "game-breaking"? I have participated in Tol Barad. I have won. I have lost. It's not good enough, but it not unplayable - just bad.
@Drilski: Most Mac users don't want to bother getting windows just to play a game.

Frankly I think if a game wants an audience, they release for it. If I wanted Xbox owners to play my game, I wouldn't just release it on PS3, for example.
By the standards of any other MMO, Cata is superb. If Rift can match this, they may be on to something.

Strongly disagree. I have never encountered as many quest and/or game breaking bugs in WoW as now.

When the old world was reshaped I started levelling a new troll priest and so far I found at least 4 annoying to "it's really broken" bugs.

1) If I log out in northern Felwood or anywhere in Winterspring, I can't log back in and have to log onto another character, ask a GM to move my character and then I can get back in.

2) The trial of shadow quest doesn't work for me. The object I need to interact with to get the shadows to appear just isn't there. I saw a Tauren walking in and activating it fine for him, but for me it just doesn't work. This effectively closes off the rest of that whole chain.

3) In the fight between Illidan and Arthas, I can't see Arthas. Luckily this has a workaround, by using 'Assist' on Illidan. Still, not good.

4) At the entry of Azshara, the first groups of mobs I needed to kill for some quest there randomly spawn and despawn, often as I am fighting them.

And that's just the ones I remember because they were really annoying.

I agree with Gevlon, Cataclysm is definitely not polished as far as Kalimdor goes.
Finally, we have a wow clone worthy of subscribing to by bored ex-wow types. Too bad it isn't native on Mac though, then I could kill windows altogether.
FFXIV was not polished? I think exactly the opposite was the problem. It was nothing but polish and shiny. They forgot to include a game.

FFXIV was not released too early, the design was fundamentally flawed. They delivered exactly what they intended to deliver, the problem was that the original design team thought it was good.

FFXIV would not have been better if they simple let it stay in the oven for 6 more months. It needed a "reboot", to use a word that the new producer used and emphasized in the latest newsletter.

It wasn't lack of resources or an unwillingness to budget more that brought down FFXIV. It also wasn't a lack of ability or know how, they aren't a small company, it was the other end of the scale entirely.

It was hubris.
I think you're confusing what polish means. The game was not polished; the UI was terrible AND laggy, and there was practically no content whatsoever besides straight up level grind and a few quests on a 36 hour timer. That is not what people consider a polished game. The skill points system on release was dreadful as well.
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