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Rift Divided - The Great Addon Debate

Posted Thu, Jun 16, 2011 by Medawky

Rift hack

Rift has not been without its share of hot button issues over the last couple months, but for the most part a relative calm has settled over the game. That calm was recently broken with the announcement and inclusion of an addon API on the test shard. It’s hard to imagine what could have players so up in arms in this day and age where almost every modern MMOG has some sort of player generated modification or UI reskin.

The most probable answer is that only the upset are prone to get vocal about something, and nowhere is that more evident than on gaming forums. Those who are happy are too busy playing to bother wasting precious moments bitching and moaning. But let’s assume that there is a smattering of well adjusted folks who are genuinely distraught over this addition, that their concerns are more legitimate than simply wanting to be different from WoW.

Rift Hacked

Would you prefer no UI at all?

Instead of trading barbed insults, or regaling each other with tales of walking through Kithicor Forest uphill in the snow both ways, perhaps some rational discourse would be a better course of action. First, let’s address some of the more valid points against addon usage.

  •  Addons play the game for you – Knowing that Trion has learned from the mistakes of other developers and have guarded against code that allows for the automation of tasks, this argument boils down one of over-simplification. It’s true that so called boss-mods can alert you to various mechanics in a much more direct manor than the stock UI, but they can’t make you perform your role or move out of fire - they simply provide a more direct flow of information that the player must react to. It’s akin to thinking that a tachometer will somehow teach you to drive a manual transmission.
  •     Allowing addons will make Rift too much like WoW – Look, anyone who honestly believes that there is a ton of difference between these two titles is simply delusional. I am not calling Rift a clone, far from it, but both are fantasy based theme park MMOGs and both share many of the same core mechanics. There is no need to rehash in-depth the old “don’t fix what isn’t broken” argument here, allowing addons or disallowing them will make no difference in the comparisons between the two games.
  •     GearScore ruined WoW, it will do the same to Rift – Really? The community of WoW was devolved in one fail swoop by a mod? We know this simply isn’t true. The jerks in WoW were jerks long before GS came into play, and are still the same now that the mod has been improved as PlayerScore. I don’t want to start a philosophical debate on gun control, or motorcycle helmets, or anything else that pits the personal responsibility crowd vs. the greater good folks – but blaming a tool for people acting like tools is a lazy argument. I personally have more faith in the Rift community, and I know that the game is a bit more complex in terms of roles and specs to allow players to be pigeon-holed by gear.


I don’t expect to change the minds of those dead-set against certain types of mods. Someone who hates damage meters is unlikely to be swayed by my opinions, but perhaps there are angles to this debate that they have not considered. Let’s look at some of the more positive aspects of player created modifications.

  •  Innovation – Some of the most integral and powerful aspects of the current WoW UI began their lives as player created mods. Open sourcing this aspect of a game empowers players, the ones who spend countless hours playing, to create tools that meet their demands and solve their problems. Often developers may miss something that relates to the core critical tasks that players are involved with on a day to day basis. Allowing them to create their own remedy of sorts, and then incorporate into the default UI can be a huge boon to the continued development and growth of game.
  • Perspective – It should be fairly obvious that we don’t all see things from the same point of view. Instead of thinking of this as a basis for conflict however, seeing things from a different perspective in a video game can often be a way to accomplish a goal. UI mods are a perfect vehicle for sharing that information and creating cohesion. Most of this revolves around roles and the mechanics that affect them, such as the ability to gauge tank threat for DPS, timers for crowd control or understanding cooldown timers for various abilities. Streamlining the flow of information between players fosters a better understanding of inherent limitations and increases group awareness.
  •     Accessibility – The floodgates have opened and the demand for end-game content has reached a frenzied pitch. It may have once been the exclusive playground of an elite few, but raiding is an activity that has become genre defining in the MMOG. Even though a minority of players would prefer it to be an exclusive club, the secret is out – killing bosses and taking their stuff is damn fun. I find it hard to believe that folks need to be reminded that the whole point of playing video games is to have fun, but that seems to be the case. UI mods allow a greater percentage of the gaming population the ability to access and enjoy all that there is to experience – and we aren’t just talking about dumbing down challenges. For many gamers physical limitations can be overcome through the use of advanced mods. Hearing impaired gamers can use visual cues, players with the use of only one arm or limited mobility can benefit from advanced keybindings, colorblind players can use graphical enhancements to differentiate good elements from bad – and the list goes on and on.


Often times when we become impassioned about an issue we forget to look at things from outside our narrow scope of experience and addons are no different. Like it or not the API is out there and the change is coming. Just remember, like any other tool these additions are ultimately at the discretion of the end user and if we don’t like them we can simply chose not to use them.

How am I not surprised you used a half naked chick for the photo! :P Nice article :)

-Jewel

nicely done, a bit wordy. mods, addons, changes to the UI are things that people can choose to use or not. like wow or unlike wow, player developed UI changes do not give advantage to the few and screw the rest. use the mods, don't use the mods who cares what i do. it will not make you a better player ever to have or not have addons mods UI changes.

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