Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rift Fails Public Group Accountability?

Five evenings ago, I was riding my collector's edition turtle across Scarwood Reach when I came across two players, a lumbering non-hostile robot, and the Rift public content UI.  I'd never seen this UI appear without something to kill right next to it, so I stopped to read the text.  I had just figured out that it was an NPC escort quest when the window closed up and the loot icon flashed on top of my screen.  The robot had reached his destination, and my presence for the final seconds had flagged me as a participant.

I had just accidentally completed a quest for a four-digit chunk of exp and a blue sourceshard.  I don't think I've logged into my main character since.

Victory Through Attendence
In hindsight, reflecting on this one incident brings into focus something that I've been trying to put into words for over a week now.  The problem with Rift's cooperative public content system is not merely that you get tired of seeing the same events destroy your quest hub yet again (though that does start to happen).  The problem is that in many cases I'm left feeling like victory or defeat would have happened regardless of my participation, and I just happened to be along for the ride and the loot. 

Now that I'm running with a dedicated healing spec, I can state objectively that this impression shouldn't be true - there have been several encounters where, judging from the amount of damage the tank was taking and the amount I personally was healing them for, the group would probably have wiped without my actions.  Then again, in that case they would have respawned and eventually more people would have shown up to heal the team to victory.  Moreover, even when it is actually true that my presence decided the encounter, it does not feel that way when I'm one of two dozen players spamming away at a mass of players and mobs.  When I'm solo or in a smaller group, I can tell how well (or poorly) I did, but in a massive public raid my contribution disappears into a sea of numbers. 

Outlook
The bigger issue is that the public content is my reason to play the game (or possibly not as of next week).  Yes, there is solo content, it is reasonably polished, and the soul system lets me all-but re-roll on every trip to my class trainer without having to start over at level 1.  Yes, there is group content, though I haven't been able to do much of it because of time constraints.  Yes, there's PVP, which I should probably try at some point.  But the thing that Rift does that none of the numerous other games I could be playing instead does not is public content.  

Rift is still easily the best MMO launch in the last four years, and it will almost certainly be the fourth MMO that I cap a character in.   As of right now, though, my outlook on Rift is that I should probably give Trion a few more months to iterate. 

4 comments:

Nils said...

If you change your exspectations from
'I want to make a real difference'
to
'I want to be part of something bigger than me'
you might find such events more fun.

Of course, Rift is not really going this way. They are still very similar to WoW and want you to feel like being the single hero. Looking at it this way, your reaction is exactly want Trion induced.

Koal said...

Isn't this the case with every MMO? They all suffer from groundhog-day syndrome. Nothing you do ever matters. Weather you win or loose the encounter will reset, the mobs will respawn the NPC's will go about their business as as usual and the world will be the same overall from one day to the next regardless of any action or inaction taken by the player.

If that is what you are looking for find a different hobby. At least for now. If, however, you find that you enjoy fighting the battles more than changing the world then maybe you should focus on that aspect instead.

Like they say, ""The journey not the arrival matters." Even more so when you are walking in circles.

Syl said...

Hmmm...to me it sounds like the classic society dilemma; the individual would like to 'matter' but doesn't feel that way. I think this notion is wrong though - big things are made up of little parts and a large entity of people, a state for example, IS every single person - or everybody and nobody, really.

you might feel you matter not, but if everyone felt that way and left, nothing would get done. obviously not in virtual worlds either.

Stabs said...

It's being re-worked in the next patch to specifically give reward for participation.

Currently it's based on frequency of global cooldown use which players exploit brutally. (At once stage players were spamming Track Mines to score contribution but that got fixed).

It's buggy, with people who contribute sometimes not getting expected rewards - this is the first time I've heard of disproportionate rewards for doing virtually nothing.