Posted Fri, Oct 12, 2012 by Shayalyn
Do you think that the subscription model is getting to be a tougher sell?
Totally. And I think we’re partly to blame for that, because a subscription comes with the expectation of service. And service is expensive. Service is hard. You have to have engineered your entire system to support the service level that we provide. You can’t just say, “Ah, we’ll keep cranking out content.” If your game isn’t designed to have new things added to it constantly, you’re going to have colliding things that don’t make sense, and it’s going to become a mish-mash that just won’t work.
I have so many friends in the industry, and I hate to say it, but they can’t do this. They didn’t start at this point like we did, so they can’t get to this point for free.
You’ve mentioned Dimensions, and how they were a direct response to player demand.
What were some of the other things in Storm Legion that were big ticket items players have clamored for?
I think Carnage quests. Let me explain:
People have a love-hate relationship with quests. They like directed content; they like being rewarded for things that are generally fun. Combat is fun. Getting experience is fun. Getting paid to do it is funner. Right? So, people like questing, even if they don’t like how questing has come to be, the current expectation of: exclamation point, accept, run, follow dot on map and mash on pretty bags of xp, then come back and get new things to do.
We still have that in Storm Legion, but what we wanted to make sure of is that when you’re talking to an NPC, he has something to say besides, “Go kill these spiders that are eatin’ mah crops!” That part diluted the actual information. So, now we’re making sure we’re telling you an actual story. We’re telling you what Crucia’s up to, and we’re telling you why she’s doing it, and why you have to stop her from doing it. And oh, here’s how we’re going to stop her from doing it.
So, Carnage is a direct result of that. You want the directed content? Cool. Run around in the world. You’ll see a mob with a little thing over its head. Go kill it. You’ll now get a quest that will reward you for killing a bunch more. You can functionally move your character forward--you got the big burst of xp and money, and you feel good about it because you didn’t have to play rubber band and bounce back to the NPC just to get that next nugget of xp.
So, now we’ve merged that with Instant Adventures. See, you jump on an Instant Adventure and it’s just taking you to these locations so that you’re progressively seeing more and more things. There’s more of an organic feel to it, rather than running into a little Christmas tree full of exclamation points, not reading anything (just accepting as fast as you can click the button), and running out to complete them as fast as you can close them. You come back, and you’ve maybe accomplished a little something, but you’ve learned nothing. Well, we want that to mean something more. We want you to go, “And now I know why Crucia’s doing this! And now I know why this six-armed monkey is evil!” as opposed to just, “Ugh! Now I know that Farmer Jones and I are never talking again.”
"We understand that the industry migrates. And you’d better keep up; get the paddle in the water and move the boat."
So, all this is a result of player feedback. And we count ourselves as players, like I said. It gets old for us, too. We understand that the industry migrates. There’s no perfect state that’s going to be eternal. The industry loved the notion of quests, because previously that thing hadn’t existed, and now we’ve moved over to this other thing, and you’d better keep up; get the paddle in the water and move the boat.
So, now you offer the player both options--the old school quests and a newer representation of that.
We really...you can’t be everything to everybody, or you’re nothing to anybody. But, what we do want to do is make sure that everybody feels like there can be something for them if they just look for it. Like, maybe you can’t get the gear you want because you don’t like raiding, but, by gosh, you like crafting. Or maybe you’ve found a way to make a lot of money and get your gear that way. So, there are a lot of ways you can improve your character, which is what we’re after.
What does the future look like for Rift?
We made a couple of choices that Scott and I definitely learned from, and the rest of the team learned from. For example, in one of our update packs we had three major features come live all at one time. We had mentoring, which allowed players to come together in this great community experience where they’re progressing together--the high level character and the low level character. We had Instant Adventure at the progression level. Those two worked pretty well together, but they weren’t one-to-one--it wasn’t like you had to do one thing to do this other thing. But then we also had Conquest. And when we put those three things out, we siphoned our players into three different groups, and Conquest was far and away the most popular, and it was just dominating everything, but that meant that there were fewer people exploring the other new features.
"We’re about getting players to play with other people, we’re about dynamic content, and we’re a service. And we can do that like no one else can."
So, in the future we’ll continue to roll out new content. We’ll learn from our mistakes, or...maybe they weren’t mistakes, but we’ll learn optimal methods for doing what we were doing before. Maybe we’ll say, “Hey, let’s focus on this for the player base. Everybody can participate in this.” And we’ll just roll things out in a way that doesn’t burn players out. Because even I go in sometimes and think, “That’s a lot of stuff. We put in a lot of stuff.” I mean, 56 pages of class change notes! And that isn’t even mind blowing; we’ve put in novels worth of release notes.
So yes, that is Rift. We’re about getting players to play with other people, we’re about dynamic content, and we’re a service. That isn’t changing. The rate of flow, or the specifics of what we’re doing, that’s always going to change. We’re always going to say, “Hey, what is correct for where we are now?” And we can do that like no one else can.
We'd like to thank Hal Hanlin for taking the time to chat with us about Rift and Storm Legion. For more details, check out our Storm Legion preview.