Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Rift's Recipe of Longevity and Success - Part 4

PvP, as contentious an issue as it usually is, is at the core of the RPG experience for some players and it is definitely one of the main components of any successful MMO. That is certainly the case with Rift as well, and the way the developers approached it in the beginnings of the game had obviously a great deal to do with its currently successful state. The bottom line in this regard was that they simply had no idea in what direction PvP would go in Rift, so they opened up several avenues: shared world PvP and instanced PvP in the form of Warfronts provided the bulwark, but dynamic content PvP was explored as well. Over time, the preferences of the Rift public became clear.

Shared-world and dynamic content PvP fell by the side later, as they turned out to be not particularly popular with the majority. The two PvP systems gave rise to two basic player categories: stalkers and victims, and for the latter, the experience was obviously not a particularly stellar one. What the team came up to solve the conundrum was a system they called Conquest, which simulated shared-world PvP, while expanding Warfronts quite significantly. While in the beginning, there were but three such Warfronts, that number has gone up to ten and it is being expanded all the time. The bottom line: taking the gradual approach to PvP turned out the be the winning formula for Rift, and it's quite obvious why that's indeed the case.

The streaming community - while not particularly significant in Rift's case - has also chipped in over the years and it continues to contribute to the success of the title to this day. While Rift was indeed the first game to feature built-in, one-click YouTube integration, streaming never really reached the level of what Rift devs call "highly streamable games", simply because the game itself was not designed for that. To make a long story short: while easy to record and publish, Rift game-play videos aren't really highly watchable.

Over the years, the game has churned out an elaborate canon, complete with memorable characters and NPCs, and indeed, looking back, some of these NPCs were quite instrumental in the success and popularity of Rift. The most outstanding character in this respect is without a doubt Volan, a massive event colossus. While Volan's story only takes up a few lines in the event script, his scale isn't just massive. It is one never replicated in any other game since. He's become a true landmark character for Rift, one that can be seen by an unparalleled number of players, when his event is on.

Currently tasked with the maintenance of the Overwatch ranking section, Philip Thalberg has been with GGnet since 2004. 


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