When a company cranks out content at a blistering pace never before
seen in the MMOG world, it can be hard to pin them down for an
interview. Luckily for you, we here at the Hammer are a fairly
relentless bunch and we were able to catch up with Rift design producer
Hal Hanlin for a quick chat about the upcoming 1.3 content patch.
Promising a host of tweaks, fixes and improvements to already stellar gameplay is only a small part of what this update brings to the table. We cut to the chase and got the details on the four biggest components; a major world event, a new raid zone, free character transfers and guild banks. We were even able to sneak in a question about the hotly anticipated custom user addon API that is in the works.
As with past updates featuring a kickoff world event, the first thing players notice when they log in is a shiny new UI quest tracker dedicated to the world event and its various happening Â so we began our interrogation there.
Jason Bolton, Ten Ton Hammer: How many phases make up the new world event and will they be time locked or player achievement based?
Hal Hanlin: It's a 5 phase event that is spread out over time, but not a metronome set of time, but will vary based on the importance of what players will be doing and the story elements that go along with them.
Ten Ton Hammer: The final phase seems to generate the highest amount of interest, and in a prior patch it created a bit of an uproar when players who to participate found they either missed it or couldn't log in due to server load. What has been done this time to improve it?
Hal: Often we push the edges of what MMOGs and our technology can do. So we have things like the Alsibeth incident and we learn from it, and we grow. We have made major improvements in our hardware and servers as a starting point. The main lesson was that if you put in content that only a small number of people get to see, it doesn't matter how cool that content is.
People don't want to go to YouTube to see these awesome events, they want to be part of it. So what we have done is that now this final event will fire as normal the first time through the course of events and thereafter players will be able to launch it themselves and witness it again throughout the remainder of the event. So if they weren't able to be there, or they wanted to have a buddy come and check it out with them then they can do that.
This is a very deep period of the story where Hammerknell, the prison of Akilyos, the water dragon under siege. The water cultist and the death cultists are at war and the reasons for all of these things really needs to be explained. We didn't want to keep these story elements to ourselves and we have made it so that you can find all of this out on your own.
Ten Ton Hammer: How long is the total time on these events?
Hal: We're not actually announcing the time on that, we aren't being deliberately coy we just want players to enjoy the story as it plays out and not invest in a calender.
Ten Ton Hammer: We have heard rumors that Hammerknell is a pretty big place, what can you tell us about that?
Hal: It's enormous! And it is simply amazing. Hammerknell is an ancient dwarven keep that has become the prison of Akylios, a powerful water dragon. Both water cultists and death cultists have major interests in Hammerknell - all of which will be revealed as the story plays out.
Ten Ton Hammer: How many wings are there?
Hal: There are three seperate wings and one final encounter area.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do we have to do the wings in a certain order?
Hal: You will initially face the first boss, the one you meet in the final world event phase, and once he is dead you can clear the wings in any order you chose. All of the wings must be cleared though before you can face the final challenge.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will all of the bosses be available initially or will they be unlocked over time?
Hal: They will all be available, the only gating will be based on your raids performance. We do have lockouts per try, but the only lockouts will be on how quickly you can master the encounters.
Ten Ton Hammer: This one is pretty self explanatory and something we have been anticipating, but can you give us some of the specifics of this system?
Hal: Sure, there are 5 tabs available of 125 slots each that are available for purchase. You don't have to have a guild of any specific size, specific level, or any particular achievement to unlock them Â you just have to have the coin.
Ten Ton Hammer: Speaking of which, can we store currency in the Guild Bank?
Hal: Yes, and you can regulate based on your rank within the guild the access to it. You can regulate whether it's for soul mending or whatever. There are also a couple other things in process that may or may not make it in by 1.3 that allow you to micromanage other aspects of your guild via the guild bank. I won't go into the specifics just yet, ill tease with that Â but if they do make it for 1.3 you will be pleasantly surprised I think by how cool the features are.
Addon API and Parting Shots
I wasn't supposed to ask about this, but hey I'm both a rebel and a fan of the game so I took the shot.
Ten Ton Hammer: Can you tell us anything about the Addon API and when we might see that added in? Is it slated for 1.4?
Hal: It isn't really a question of being ready for 1.4, it's about being up to the level of quality that fits our game. The folks that are working on it are working with people who know how to make some really cool stuff, and we came in with an entry level design and its being improved from there.
Ten Ton Hammer: What else is coming with patch 1.3 that you would like to talk about?
Hal: One thing I'm pretty excited about is that we are hitting our 1 millionth activation, I love singing about that because it's a really pretty tune. Also I think folks are really going to enjoy the 1.3 update. There will be more quests, and they will be for everyone. This isn't just for max level folks, this isn't just for raiders, the event is for the entire world. If you are in our world you are going to get to do substantive things to participate in this event. There will be water invasions off of all the coast lines Â and if you know Telara, you know there is coast line in every zone. There will be bosses from the new raid zone out in the world moshing it up with them, there will be a ton for players of all levels to do.
We want to thank Hal for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us and discuss this exciting new content. While I was a bit disappointed that there were no new slivers being introduced in 1.3, Hal advised me that there are some new collection items coming to those that have sliver sight and they sound pretty amazing. Among the highlights are a new badger non-combat pet, a weapon shaped like a shovel, and trinkets that let you disguise yourself as a crate or a shrubbery. Let the roleplaying madness begin!