The Cake is Not a Lie: A Rift Half-Birthday Roundtable Discussion
Convention season is in full effect in the gaming world, and while it
can be taxing and jet-lag
inducing for those of us that cover it, it
seems the party-like atmosphere is rubbing off on the folks over at
Trion. As Rift
nears its 6th month mark of live release the folks at the Redwood City
based developer invited us, and several other members of the gaming
community, to a roundtable discussion and reveal of the official
ÂHalf-BirthdayÂ celebration. Executive Producer Scott Hartsman dished
out the details at our little soiree where the cake was definitely not
Official Press Release;
RIFTÂ Half-Birthday Celebration Kicks off August 25thA week of bonuses, free game time, and awesome prizes Â whatÂs not to love?
Whether youÂre Guardian or Defiant, High Elf or Kelari, PvE-er or PvP-er, youÂre going to find reason to celebrate starting August 25th as RIFTÂ reaches the ripe age of Â½ year old. More than a million gamers have activated RIFT in the six months since launch, making it one of the most successful MMORPG releases in history, and from August 25th to September 1st, Trion is rewarding those loyal subscribers with a week of in-game bonuses. Additionally, new and returning players can play the full game free that week.
ÂRIFT players are among the most enthusiastic fans IÂve ever had the pleasure of working with,Â said Scott Hartsman, RIFT Executive Producer. ÂWeÂve been able to attract hundreds of thousands of subscribers since launch, and because of their continued dedication weÂve enjoyed immense success. This half-birthday celebration gives us the chance to show them our appreciation while giving new players the opportunity to experience the best MMORPG currently available at no cost.Â
Subscriber half-birthday week bonuses include:
- Special Surprise Birthday Gift Â On September 1st all active subscribers will receive a special in-game birthday surprise!
- Extra Kill XP Â Your blood lust is finally rewarded! Bonus XP will be doled out for all PvE and PvP kills
- Guild Bonus XP Â Swiftly level up your guild with bonus XP granted for completing guild quests
- Big PvP Payouts Â All warfronts and open-world PvP events will grant extra Favor and Prestige
- A Plethora of Planarite Â Sealing TelaraÂs eponymous rifts will reward players with extra planarite
- Bonus Plaques & Marks Â Increased drop rate for plaques and marks
The party doesnÂt have to stop on the 1st! New Ascended who choose to continue their adventures in Telara can purchase the game client for just $4.99 USD through September 1st if they sign up for any RIFT subscription plan.
RIFT revelers can also participate in several contests scheduled throughout the week for the chance to win one of four gaming laptops. For contest descriptions, rules, and prize information, please visit: www.RIFTgame.com/halfbirthday.
The Inspiration for the Celebration
Scott started off with revealing where the idea for a half-birthday party came from;
ÂThe idea of throwing a half-birthday came to us in the middle of convention season when we have everything from gamescom going on right now to PAX soon after, and for those that are familiar with the long-standing guild The Syndicate Â we even made a showing at their SynCon convention last week. So this is really a month about what can we give back to people and as people who play the game ourselves we asked what kind of party would we want to playÂ
The first topic of discussion was getting Scott to open up about what the special surprise gifts would be;
ÂThere are two, the less exciting part and the more exciting part. The less exciting part is that we are going to let you take some of the celebration with you in the form of bonus potions that allow you to re-live the in-game bonuses when you want, such as XP and Favor. The cooler one is the persistent half-birthday cake that you will be able to spawn on the ground and buff yourself and your friends.Â
We were assure that this cake wasn't fattening and wouldn't induce any ill character effects such as enlarged stomachs or type 2 diabetes. The planned buff at this time is increased stamina, but it sounded as if there may be some additional buffs as well eventually.
Scott informed us that moving forward these sort of events aren't on a set timetable but will be played by ear based on community feedback and what they feel makes sense for the game. The team knows that these events are excellent ways to foster community and have no real downside, so I would expect to see lots more of them in the future.
We were then treated to a bit more information regarding the out of game prizes that were kicked in by some of their sponsors and partners for contests such as baking Rift a half-birthday cake or gaining the most in-game achievements for the event:
ÂThere is a series of four contests and every one of them has prizes that range from 6 month game-time cards to video cards, and they each have an even bigger prize that we will be announcing as the contests get closerÂ
Doesn't Afraid of Anything
The next question fielded by Scott was in reference to the numerous and various sales on the game client that have abounded since launch, which was topical due to the fact that a large part of the event is a reduced client price of $4.99 and hints of reduced subscription costs as well.
ÂI've always been very proud of both the sales and the marketing teams here at Trion if for no other reason than that they are unafraid to try crazy stuff. We still think of ourselves as a start-up, we don't have this old company type of thinking so we can do crazy things like try different sales and promotions. They have all been successes to some degree or another and we tend to think of it as being aggressive in getting out this game that we know people enjoy and are sticking with Â to them it's more about how do we get more people in the doors.Â
The Bonus Round
Getting down to the heart of the matter, Scott was pressed about the exact nature of the in-game bonuses;
ÂWe are bonusing seven different things in the game, so we have been working on how high can we set things without everything falling apart. We have not been doing the opposite, which is how little can we give away and look generous. Were trying to say how high can we set them for an entire week and have things work out well. On all seven things the bonuses will range from 150% of normal to 200% of normal, depending on the aspect.Â
I decided to end the conference call by asking about the real reason that the 6 month celebration was actually possible; the fact that Rift is still going strong so far after release in this post-WoW world where most of the new MMOGs have tapered off severely after about 3 months.
ÂWe are still growing for sure, and it's in no small thanks to both our development and publishing teams. I think what you are seeing with our game is what happens when you get people who are unafraid to try new stuff and take gambles. Everything from specials with the client, special events in game, very rapid updates and incredibly quick feature development all result in huge benefits. The fact that our dev team continues to grow also, adding new people and new jobs to help grow the game also speaks to that.Â
I also took the opportunity to ask Scott about his feelings about the incredible game community and the relationship between the people who build the game systems and those that organize their own events in game;
ÂWe think of player created events as two things, the massive events like The Telara Saga and then also how easy is it for players to organize other players to go do quick stuff - like daily raid rifts or invasions for example. We foster and encourage that from the people who build new game systems that support the smaller events inherently all the way up to guilds that we have that are running their own player events. In fact the leaders of those events aren't shy about dropping us a line and providing feedback that helps us further refine those systems. I think anything that you can do to empower the community to keep itself engaged is one of the more powerful things you can do in a gameÂ
I couldn't agree more, and events like the half-birthday celebration certainly go a long way to helping realize that goal.
Scott also took this opportunity to let us know how events such as this help their team to develop and implement new tech into the game to help it become more stable and to serve the playerbase better. We will be seeing new improvements to handling server load, removing idle players and better management of trial player versus subscriber in terms of game access. Scott made it very clear that the overriding plan was to always Âerr on the side of the subscriberÂ but that didn't mean turning its back on the trial players, as evidenced by addition of separate trial player only servers.
In closing Scott gave us a further update to last months State of the Game conference call, letting us know how things discussed at that time were coming along. Planar Attunement, the post-50 advancement system, Instant Adventure and Chronicles Instances are all well along in their development cycle and will be ready to ship soon. If you didn't get a chance to read about these systems, check them out now Â they promise to push Rift to an even higher level and should make it a no-brainer that another birthday bash will soon be headed our way.