Who Still Has A Blog? This Guy Does

Yeah that’s right. You can double check your url at the top of the page (if you actually wander all the way to the site), it’s a new post!

Let me say, part of the lack of posting has something to do with the lack of criticism I can throw at my current game of choice, but I’m working on it. Hopefully by the time I manage to put a whole post together Trion won’t have the problem fixed or mechanic rejiggered. They’ve done this to me three times now, I barely finished a big post on crafting right before they made a ton of changes to crafting, basically expanding it to levels that make it desirable at end-game. They also caught me halfway through a Deep Look post at the Cabalist where I was going to tear into how annoying the class is to play (this was fixed with changes to Decay). Then the most recent one I think was when I very nearly lost my mind over the imbalanced PvP gear, before they changed the Valor stat to be attainable for a character as low as Prestige rank 2, something that requires a very small level of gameplay to achieve. Having the game constantly fixed and polished makes blogging hard for me, which is why the last post lasted as long as it did. I really fucking love this game.

Yeah, it’s been hard over here for a gamer that’s used to conquering content, dissecting it, and exposing it’s flaws and weaknesses with sharp and constructive criticism. That’s probably my charm and wit talking there, but I really do enjoy building upon or re-engineering broken content and mechanics. It’s just not enough for me to lay it all out there for people, unless of course it’s particularly complicated. Rift has been giving me these problems. As a guild we’re just now finishing up the first tier of raid content. We’ve cleared Greenscale a few weeks ago (the bastards did it while I was on vacation), and we dropped the Herald in River of Souls this past week after two solid attempts. We have one more boss, Alsbeth, and we’ll be packing up the party for a run on the water temple that is Hammerknell. Also, I’m still balls deep in different specs as a Cleric I haven’t been able to really sink my teeth into the level 11 Rogue or level 13 Mage that I created months and months ago. One of the biggest things I can complain about right now is the lack of DPS that Cleric souls put out, but when I really try to DPS it’s not like I’m sitting on the bottom of the charts either. Having such a flexible class to play has really put a damper on my ability and willingness to learn the intricacies of the other classes (which is traditionally a great source of blog posts).

Things are relatively balanced across the board, any complaints I would file as nit-picking though it might be legit. Content is constantly being added to the game at a pace that I almost can’t keep up with on a single toon playing upwards of 40 hours per week. I briefly considered trying to wrap my head around the story of the game thus far and presenting it in a few part mini-series/summary/cliff notes bundle of posts, but that sounds like a lot of work. Ah, work. There’s that too. Work has kept me pretty busy for the past couple of months which really killed the time I would normally blog about things. I suppose a fair amount of the reason I’ve been absent is something of a lack of passion for this game like I had for others in the past. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted it at first.

You see, as much as I love Rift, it doesn’t grab me by my higher literary functions and inspire me to vomit forth volumes of fictional work like WAR did. As a game it’s great, everything I could hope for and more, most of the time. Also, this isn’t to say that Rift is lacking any kind of storyline because it really has that in spades too, there’s just… things about it that don’t feel right in my version of high fantasy RPG’s. WAR suited my style, gritty, angry, kick your teeth in and use your skull to defecate in, kind of deal. Warhammer Dwarves are far and away the best representation of the race out of any fantasy setting I’ve known. They’re violent drunken greedy bastards that are content with a hammer in their hands on the forge, a pick over their shoulder in the mines, or a flagon of ale in a bar (with a fight brewing). The Dwarves in Rift are really quite soft and remind me more of gnomes or hobbits than anything else. Moonshade Highlands, for as beautiful as the zone is, has it’s main encampment filled with foppy hat wearing dwarves living in grass shacks overlooking the ocean. That struck me as terribly wrong when coming from where I feel most comfortable. The Empire in WAR really hit dead on the sort of late dark ages reawakening of the european world. The equivalent humans in Rift is actually a split society of ultra-religious zealots and god-hating techno-wizards. There’s no real good and evil struggle in Rift that pushes the conflict between players, but a moral/spiritual set of  choices that annoy me to no end in the real world anyway.

Now we’re onto something!

So I actually took a short break there to converse with my RL brother about the real life parallels of the factions in Rift. He wanted to compare the Guardians and Defiants to Christians and Muslims, which really isn’t even close ideologically but for the sense that both factions knew one set of gods existed, it almost works. Basically he summed that Muslims and Christians have the same god they worship but they have different books that describe different holy men in very similar ways. Throughout the millenia these two sects of peoples have been killing each other in the name of their respective gods, even though that fundamentally they were the same people. Different morals and lifestyles, but fundamentally they worshipped the same god. My issue is where the conflict between Defiants and Guardians exists. They’re essentially the same exact people but with scientists and zealots ripped apart and factions based around them. I find it hard to believe that these are two warring cultures in the face of the very planes of existence threatening to rip them apart. The Defiants openly acknowledge the power of the Guardian gods, it’s not like they’re making claims that they don’t exist, just that they figured out how to hack together means to replicate their powers. The Defiants early on were blamed for tearing open the planes with their technology, even though it was all just a matter of time before the Dragons returned. As far as I can tell in the lore, the Defiants may have mucked something up, but it was an inevitability.

I wonder then, and this is where the disconnect with the story comes in, if the planes hadn’t been ripped open and the Guardians still hated the Defiants to the point of war, when do you toss aside your differences and deal with the threat of these dragons? It would seem to me that in the real world Christians and Muslims would come together using their strengths to overcome an enemy that threatened to destroy everything in the known world, at least BEFORE they resumed killing each other. With Telara being raided by the planes, and both factions having the means and know how to deal with them accordingly, they REALLY still have time to fight with each other? I seriously doubt that, and it takes away from the game for me in a fairly significant way. Even on a full PvP server, there’s some invasions that you really need the full cooperation of both sides to deal with. Not to mention figuring out how to get back there and keep things things from opening up over and over again, it just really seems like there’s better things to be doing.

So hopefully that’s enough poorly written religious garbage for you to understand one of the things that irritates me about the game. It’s not to say that I think all 6 of the races need to hold hands and kumbiya their way through the invasions, just that I don’t find their current source of conflict convincing enough and I’d like to see it expanded. I am actually a proponent of massive world PvP, but when the majo
rity of the open world content is already filled with the psuedo-dynamic planar PvE, it doesn’t leave a lot of room to fight. On another related note, I don’t like two faction world PvP to begin with, and I’d LOVE to see the races/factions dissolve into a free-for-all (flag as aggressive), or guild based PvP system where race means little besides where you start out in the world and which factional cities you can enter. You know, old school stuff. Shadowbane style city building is probably WAY too much to hope for, but given the vast combinations of classes and on-the-fly hybrid-ability, at least it has the variety down. Lastly, I, as a person, don’t give much credence to religious/scientific headbutting. Why can’t I be part of the third faction that could really give a shit what those two sects of morons are doing? Being cornered into one side or the other of gods vs technology while the world burns due to their lack of attention span is frustrating to say the least.

I think it boils down to Rift not having enough reason to fight other players. Both on the lore-based reasons they have for conflict between each other, and on the basis of gameplay where there’s so much PvE to be had that additional world PvP just isn’t necessary to be satisfied.They would need to take a full patch cycle, or hell, a significant portion of the upcoming expansion, to create space where the planes take a backseat to the war between the natives of Telara in order to pull it off in a magnitude that feels right compared to the great PvP MMO’s of the past. Having it as a bullet-point or battleground when there’s obviously so much more going on feels cheap, and that’s something that just doesn’t seem right coming from Trion. Make the PvP relevant in the same manner you’ve made the world PvE, dungeons, raids, crafting, rifts, and everything else relevant in the world. It just feels out of place and doesn’t really grab the margins of open world PvP’ers like it should be doing. If Ember Isle takes a step in the right direction with the Sourcewells as fortification points we might seem some action, but I need full on fortresses to really be satisfied. The greatest world PvP games that I’ve played in the past had lots of tools to kill each other with and lots of locales to do it in.

I have faith that eventually the game can accommodate the more bloodthirsty Warhammery side of me that really wants to crush in my opponents skulls in PvP, but right now the lame excuse for conflict and lack of meaningful world objectives are holding it back.

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