In the first on an ongoing series of exclusive interviews with Trion
Worlds, Ten Ton Hammer seeks out as much information as they can about style="font-style: italic;">Rift: Planes of Telara,
the upcoming, action-packed MMOG. This time, we talk to Scott Hartsman,
Creative Director and Trion Redwood City Studio Lead. If you have any
questions that you wish to be asked in future interviews, post them in
Ton Hammer: When you go into a dungeon or raid, are you able to switch
your roles? (Submitted by Khalathwyr)
You’re able to acquire up to four roles by visiting your
trainer, and once you have those roles, you can switch back and forth
between them any time you choose out of combat. You can’t do
it in the middle of a fight. That would be kind of goofy. Other than
combat, you can switch at any time. I’ve noticed that it is
extremely useful just for soloing through the world. You run into a
place where you need a little bit of stealth, and so you switch. Later
on, you run into a place where you need a little bit more tanking, so
you switch. It makes you feel that you have a ton of tools at your
disposal. It’s really cool.
Ton Hammer: That is cool. One of the things that pop immediately into
my mind about that sort of thing is that when devs are designing
encounters, dungeons, raids, etc., you always have to take into account
every possibility. A lot of designers don’t want to limit
things to where you need to have a specific class for a certain fight.
But if you’re able to change on the fly, then
you’re actually able to do that.
Hartsman: It definitely
helps. At the end of the day, players are always come up with
interesting ways to beat the hell out of things that we create in ways
that we didn’t expect. If you want to take a good example
from a different game such as, “Yes, this fight is imminently
doable if you bring nine paladins with you.” If that turns
out to be the strategy, then guess what? That’s fine because
anybody can become a paladin; technically any warrior can become a
paladin for the fight, assuming they went that way and got that soul.
It’s not that we’re trying to design fights that
require nine of a given class, but we sure could, I guess.
Ton Hammer: I guess the point is that you’re not limited.
Ton Hammer: Does the map of your world extend eastward into the
islands? (Submitted by Khalathwyr)
Hartsman: Aha! The launch
world, in fact, is as it is right now, meaning that the map that you
see is the world that we are launching with. It is that and a goodly
number of interiors, instances, and dungeons.
Ton Hammer: So when it comes to the islands, is that a hint that
there’s going to be boats for travel and perhaps even player
boats? (Submitted by Khalathwyr)
Hartsman: Right now, the
world does not extend out that way. The mainland is the launch content.
Ton Hammer: Are you still going to shoot for what you want at launch or
are you saying, “We’d like to have this in for
launch, but we can’t. We just don’t have the time
so we’re going to put it in a later content
Hartsman: Our launch content
is our launch content. We already are at the point, and we have been
for awhile, where we have the launch content planned out and have what
the post-launch content looks like for the first few updates.
We’re not doing the, “Oh, we didn’t
finish it. I guess it’s live content now.” The
launch world is scoped very specifically to fit into our development
time window. Some of the post-launch content, such as the art, is
already started. This is a very intentional roll-out plan.
Ton Hammer: How random are rifts? Will there be known spots where
players can camp and wait for them to pop up or are they really random
and can strike anywhere?
Hartsman: There will be some
known spots that are very intentionally set the way they are because of
the story. Just because something is a rift doesn’t mean that
it’s a part of the global world invasion system. There are
some that we’ve placed for story. There’s one in a
war-front for instance, which is one of the gameplay elements there. In
general, there are hundreds and hundreds of places where they can
possible pop up, and that’s just based on the mechanics of
laying them out and making sure they look good and play well. For
instance, if we had a system where it was literally any place in the
universe with developers unable to say, “Not here,”
where a rift would open up, then it could do so on top of an inn in
town. That would be extremely frustrating and make for bad gameplay.
You wouldn’t be able to fight anything that was there. There
are just some realities of game creation that make us steer them. We
can’t say, “Yes! It’s absolutely
anywhere, including places you could never get to and places that would
piss you off!” The idea is to make sure that the gameplay is
fun. It is highly random. If you waited in a specific spot for a rift
or an invasion, you would be disappointed. It is not camp-a-spot
Ton Hammer: Are there any free update contents planned for after
launch? (Submitted by Khalathwyr)
Hartsman: Absolutely. That is
one of the core tenets of the game. We have the ability because of the
underlying architecture of the game and dynamic content engine to be
able to add content in a way that is more economical than most games
can. That’s a huge part of the value that we’re
hoping to bring.
Ton Hammer: Grouping or crafting, which offers the best loot?
Hartsman: Interesting. We
have a ton of different ways for loot to get into the game, so I
don’t know to say whether it’s grouping or
crafting. The last time I went over the list with the itemization guys
(and the number and crafting guys as well), the number of vectors by
which an item can enter the game…there’s 25 of
them. There’s everything from soloing to random world drops
to war-fronts, PvP loot, questing, crafting, raiding, grouping, and so
on and so on. The way we think of the majority of our crafting loot is
that if you go through the trouble of crafting something,
you’re always going to prefer that item to something you get
from soloing. Sometimes, you’ll get items that are preferable
to grouping. Overall, there’s a ton of loot and we keep
hooking up more and more ways to make it happen because there are 11 or
12 different types of gameplay activity that you can
do…actually it’s more than that…all the
way up the line. We need to make sure that if you play a certain way,
you’ll get rewarded and it needs to be fun.
Ton Hammer: Do you have an auction house or a broker system designed
Hartsman: Yes. We actually
have it in the game right now.
Ton Hammer: Does it have any unique feature like posting want ads?
Hartsman: There are some
features that we’re calling utility features and we need to
make sure that we have enough time to spend on the stuff that we
really, really care about, such as souls, rifts, and invasions; all the
things that make style="font-style: italic;">Rift
unique. Stuff like mail and auctions are things that we will add on to
over time, but we need to make sure that we have the basics and that
they are able to do what they need to do.
Ton Hammer: Lastly, what about beta? Everybody wants in!
Hartsman: Actually, we just
started doing solicitations for folks to submit their guilds for beta
and there is the href="http://forums.riftgame.com/showthread.php?1922-The-Official-Beta-Selection-Thread">official
thread being tracked on our
forums. We are at the point where we want to start to build the pool of
guild-less people who played MMOGs. We want to know who they are and
get them registered on the site. If you don’t have an account
site, we won’t be able
to find you. We want to have you in. We’re putting the
collection of people together right now. Consistent to what I was
telling people at PAX is the current goal is to be in our beta event by
the end of the year, and we’ll see how it goes from there.
Our thanks to Scott Hartsman. If you have any questions about Rift:
Planes of Telara that you want to be asked in future interviews, please
post them in our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=53660">official
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