Why I Won’t Be Playing Rift Prime

Below is my personal opinion, they are not the views of MMOGames as a whole nor do they reflect the thoughts of anyone except me and others who share my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

When I first heard about Rift Prime, I was intrigued. I was a massive fan of the game before the first expansion released. Even after I stopped playing, I continued my subscription for another year in the hopes that something would pull me back in. So, of course, going back to a vanilla server appealed. It is the state I loved Rift in and I only left after the release of Storm Legion, which by the way I pre-ordered and bought the collector’s edition of, but when I started reading the announcement for Rift Prime there were a few problems.

First, it appeared that when the server ends, your characters would just be gone. Of course, that didn’t sit well with a lot of people. Who wants to go through all that play time for them to just up and disappear? Especially since you won’t be ready for it. How often is anyone really ever ready to say goodbye to their characters? Thankfully, we know now that this won’t be the case anymore. When the server ends characters will be transferred to a F2P server. Which…eh…if I’m honest, I’m not hugely thrilled with. Yes, it’s an improvement, but right now we don’t know how long the server will last.

Rift Prime

That brings me to the primary (pun intended) reason I won’t be playing Rift Prime. We don’t know how long this new server will last. Will it go on for three months or three years? If it’s three months…why bother? I can just as easily roll up a character on the F2P servers and play the old content for three months. The thing is though…I’m already not doing that. If I’m going to go back to Rift, there has to be something pulling me back, and a couple of months of me paying for a nostalgia trip isn’t enough.

When I read the FAQ and the launch date announcement, I actually whimpered a little bit. Dimensions, by far my favorite thing that came from Storm Legion, will be available on this server. I never really got to play with my dimension since I left the game shortly after Storm Legion released. Their addition to the server makes it so much more attractive. I WANT to play on this server, but I also want to know it will last.

Vanilla Rift originally ran from March 2011 to November 2012, less than two full years. I remember quite clearly at the time saying to myself that they were burning through dragons too quickly, and I was concerned about what would come once they had gone through them all. It seems like this is just going to be a repeat of history. After they’ve gone through the content of vanilla Rift they’ll move on to Storm Legion, which will once again be where they lose me. So, yes, I want that part of the server’s run to last, even if I know ultimately I will leave again.

Rift Prime

Why can’t Trion give us an idea of how long this server will run? Is it, as has been speculated, that the runtime will be quite short and they’re hoping it will convert to new players on the main servers? Are they worried that if they give a timeline and it isn’t met that there will be backlash? Or is it simply that they don’t know how quickly they’ll get through the content with their monthly release schedule?

So, of course, I’m not going to express an opinion like this without offering up a solution. My solution to the problem is quite simple: give us a guaranteed 8 months to 1 year on the server. At which time Trion evaluates the population and sees if it’s worth continuing. Maybe I’m the only person out there who wants a permanent vanilla Rift server, in which case yes, shut the server down and move characters to other servers but, based on things I’ve been reading in blogs and on social media, this doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems like there are others like me out there who want something longer lasting as well.

In an interview with Massively, it was said that Trion is considering alternate rulesets and many other options for the future, but it also seems like their future depends on the success of Rift Prime. With such a big question mark over the server right now, I question how well received the server will be. Will they see the popularity and success they’re hoping for? Personally, until I know for sure, I’m not interested in spending the money. But if Trion can give us an estimate, I will quite happily pay for Rift Prime in the hopes that it will soon lead to a vanilla Rift server.

Or maybe I’m just letting nostalgia for a game I fell in love with in beta get the best of me. I had my heart broken by the game when Storm Legion launched, and this seems like a great way to return to a game that I really loved, so maybe I am jumping the gun a little bit. Maybe I need to sit back and wait. Maybe I need to get my thoughts out there now while they’re still on my mind and give people the opportunity to respond to them. Giving Trion feedback from potential returning players, people who want to give them money for their ideal version of a Rift server. They’ve got a great foundation for this idea, but it may all fall apart because we don’t have this one little detail.

I certainly hope that isn’t the case though. For now, I’ll continue watching from a distance and hope that more information will be released. I also hope that Rift Prime is successful enough that more servers are created and we do get that vanilla Rift server so many of us hope will be released.

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If You Could Do It All Again – Progression Servers

We live in an age of the geek ascendant. Superhero movies continue to draw in billions of dollars and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The movies and shows we loved in the past are being remixed, reworked and rebooted, for better or worse.

Gaming is making more money than ever and continues to work its way into every aspect of peoples’ lives. You can play a game pretty much anywhere now.

So given that gaming is so popular and also given that costs are so high in development, why do we never see reboots? Where is the Amazing Spider-man of Azeroth and where is the superior Spider-Man Homecoming of the Alliance and Horde? Clearly World of Warcraft itself in this example is the Sam Raimi Spider-Man, for better or for worse.

This whole idea came from the news of RIFT Prime. RIFT Prime, if you hadn’t heard is an upcoming vanilla and progression server from Trion Worlds. They are bringing back the subscription model for it and they are dumping lock boxes and the vast majority of items currently available in the store. They also promise to progressively unlock the content of the game through in-game milestones and monthly achievements for players.

All in all, that sounds like an awful lot of fun. Be sure to watch here for more when we get our hands on it.

What I would like to discuss is not a vanilla server like Blizzard is working on for World of Warcraft. It’s not a progression server like Trion is doing for RIFT or like Daybreak has done previously for EverQuest and EverQuest II. It’s not even a retooling like Funcom pulled off with Secret World Legends, ripping out the combat in The Secret World and repackaging the game with new combat mechanics and some graphics love.

I would like to discuss what you would do if you could do it all over again. Creating a brand new MMO from scratch is a labor of love, as well as a vast undertaking in terms of hundreds of hours of work to say nothing of the financial cost. Yes, there are ways to bring down some of these. There are ever improving tools available to developers and hobbyists to create games and scale them up for larger and larger audiences. Between free engines available to people and new technologies like we are seeing used in Crowfall or by SpatialOS, the future looks very interesting for people to experiment in. What if you didn’t have to though…?

What if we not only got a vanilla World of Warcraft or a vanilla Everquest II but then took them in a different direction entirely? When some of these MMOs have been out for years upon years and built constantly on the content they began with, there are always some bits that people did not like nearly as much as research might have suggested. There is always that one release no one likes. In terms of Guild Wars 2, I can point to specific moments in the Living World that I just hated (We are all looking at you Braham) and wish we could get rid of.

I am not suggesting a head-canon type situation where you just ignore what you do not like and pretend it isn’t there. I am suggesting continuing the development of the games we enjoy but if the vanilla servers get enough promise and population, bringing them in entirely new directions. Every expansion ever has contained the “true ending” from the previous iteration. Either factions must work together to beat a bigger bad giving you a generic ending that favors no one, or the nominal good guys win like the Global Defence Initiative always does. The only real difference that springs to mind in the typical “you won!” ending method would be XCom 2 taking the view that you lost in the first game but hey, that’s XCom baby. If there’s ever a Dwarf Fortress 2, it will likely up the ante and physically punch players to remind them of losses.

I personally would love the opportunity to see the ‘What If’ games, the separate small servers who go off in experimental directions. What if Wrath of the Lich King ended differently, leaving one version of Azeroth with an entirely different playing field? What if Mordremoth had won at the end of Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns and the server brought in PvP as Sylvari run wild over the other races of Tyria? Or what if Heart of Thorns had broken off differently, with the first season of the Living Story focusing not on Scarlet Briar but following through Malyck’s journey of self-discovery and the sleeping Dragon that was such an intimate danger to all Sylvari.

What if RIFT Prime keeps the Blood Storm around longer? What if the Dragons that originally sold so many people on the game were all still around and the content went another way?

What we will have in Secret World Legends isn’t really a new story told with an old game, they’re going to build on what the old game had and move on from there. There are all sorts of possibilities present in a reboot and new directions they could take. What we have in Final Fantasy XIV was a wiping clean of a damaged slate and starting anew.

How many expansions have there been for the games we love where you have been left wondering, what if we had taken another path? What if you could do it all again…but the expansion you know should come after is riding entirely on the outcome of what we are playing.

What if that tangent server, that restart, ended up in an entirely new place? How exciting would our worlds be then? Clearly there would be issues in execution. Issues with divided teams and divided directions. At least in games with multiple servers, if the new MCU Spider-Azeroth ends up outperforming the original, you can migrate people over. Why not experiment with it at least once? Why not take the worlds that players know better than the one they inhabit and then change course in an all-new way, instead of playing the greatest hits all over again?

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