Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rift To Remove Player Factions

Today, Trion announced plans to functionally all but remove factions from Rift.  As far as I can tell, all guilds, group content, instanced PVP (the random groupfinder already puts "mercenaries" into cross faction groups, so this is only a change to queueing), chat, and most other functional portions of the game will now be shared between factions.  Quest content, lore, and the two capitol cities will remain in place, presumably because re-writing all of the above would be a prohibitive amount of work. 

Trion is spinning this as the two factions recognizing the need to come together against common foes after having beaten four of the six elemental dragons.  This isn't actually new - we saw it in the game's first world event, back in March 2011, and frankly the faction system added so little to the game that I was questioning what purpose it served before launch even happened.

One area that may be kind of screwed up is non-instanced PVP.  Residents of PVP servers will be locked out of most of these features - good I suppose if you rolled on that ruleset because you really like it, but bad if you are being left behind for PVE purposes.  At least Trion offers free server transfers?  There could be some odd quirks in terms of faction spying, trash talking, etc, but some of these are already possible.  Trion also recently added a three-way PVP system where players choose to join one of the sides independent of their racial faction alignment, so I suppose they may intend for this system to replace the game's original lore. 

As always, tip of the hat to Trion for doing what they think is necessary, rather than allowing a situation they clearly felt needed to be corrected to continue - most developers would not consider doing something this dramatic to a launched game.  As long as the two factions are always fighting the same enemies anyway, there is very little value to the two faction system.  Since developers don't really have the time to develop completely separate content for their factions, this is a logical alternative. 

(Meanwhile, Blizzard is supposedly ramping the Alliance/Horde rivalry back up, other than the detail that the Horde's hated warchief is the final boss of the expansion.  The whole Galactic War thing kind of rules out merging the SWTOR factions.  I don't know that anyone is going to come scrambling to follow suit in retrofitting their games, but it will be interesting to see whether future developers stop doing two factions simply because that's how WoW did it.) 

5 comments:

Bhagpuss said...

I bought into the whole Defiant vs Guardians thing when I played. I was on a roleplaying server and it seemed to me that most people took their faction seriously. I read this today and for me it's getting very close to being a Jump the Shark moment. It significantly decreases my desire to play Rift again.

(EQ2 did this very early in development. At launch, Freeporters and Qeynosians had massive restrictions placed on how they could communicate. I strongly disliked the removal of those, which I felt watered down the whole atmosphere).

My second thought was that the reason for this happening now is that there's either been, or they fear there is about to be, a significant drop in population making it hard to gain a critical mass in the Dungeon Finder and Instant Adventure systems when the pools are split in two. With GW2 and Pandas on the horizon, you could see how they might be trying to head that problem off before anyone has time to notice it's happening.

Rohan said...

It might not be entirely from fear of a population drop. The more activities there are, the smaller the pools for each activity. Rift has Instant Adventure as well as PvE dungeons, PvP battlegrounds.

Not to mention that Instant Adventure cannot really be cross-server.

Magson said...

@Bhagpuss: "(EQ2 did this very early in development. At launch, Freeporters and Qeynosians had massive restrictions placed on how they could communicate. I strongly disliked the removal of those, which I felt watered down the whole atmosphere)."

Uh... no they didn't. They never had any restrictions. Restrictions were added to pvp servers once they were introduced, but you could *always* group up Q/FP. My High Elf Crusader betrayed to Freeport, then I ran back to Antonica, joined a scarecrow grind group made up of 5 Qeynosians (who assumed I was also, since I was a High Elf in Antonica and Nek Forest was a pain to get through back then, so only a moron would run back through it before level 25 or so -- and yes, I'm that moron), and leveled to 20 and... yeah, the group chat full of "Gratz! Hey wait, SK? WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?!" was very fun. And the whole reason I did it, actually.

But yeah, you could always group up in the beginning, send tells. The broker was separated, and your shared bank for your toons didn't go cross-faction, but you could still mail items to your cross-faction alts, so it wasn't that big a deal.

EQ2 ruined me for other games with faction choices, as I loved playing with everyone on the PVE server. I griped about it in March of 2011: Rift Pet Peeves

Player Faction on the PvE servers — EQ2 got this one right too, Scott. It lets EVERYONE on the server play together. We chose a PvE server becuz we don’t want to fight the other side. If I want to play with my friends and I like my Eth while they like Dwarves, why can’t we play together? Oh right, becuz you have your stupid PvP in my PvE server too. . . . And if you must keep it this way, at least let me add cross-faction friends so if someone logs on I can see that to know to switch to an alt in that faction so I can go play with them. This whole “never the twain shall meet except across the point of a sword” is utterly ridiculous on a PvE server.

If you can't tell, I'm giddy about this change Trion's making and am very very much considering re-subbing under their new "$120 for a year, expansion included" deal.

flosch said...

I was surprised at first and not sure what to make of these news. Then I realized that I love it, because arbitrary, artificial splits in your player base is something I never liked about games.

Maybe I'll even try the game again. My gripe was always that Rift was a great game, but I didn't buy into the world. Maybe this will change the world enough for me to finally come to terms with it.

Bhagpuss said...

@Magson

The two Broker systems were separate (although you could use the Fence at a premium rate).

The mail system (introduced in Live Update 5) only permitted mail between members of the same faction. This restriction remained until LU19.

There were some fiddly restrictions on Guild Writs updating that I can't now recall in detail. I know it caused a lot of frustration in our guild back in 2004/5 and endless forum drama until it was changed.

There were, as you say, no restrictions on grouping.