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Rapid Deployment - A Rift Patch 1.2 Q&A with Hal Hanlin, Adam Gershowtiz and Chris Schmidt

Posted Thu, Apr 28, 2011 by Medawky

When Rift was in its earliest beta stages the developers talked excitedly about their design system that allowed them to quickly develop and deploy content. While this sounded great, we took it with a grain of salt knowing that we had heard this all before and our expectations of quick rarely mesh with those of the people in charge of the games we play. In just under two months however, Rift has shattered previously held notions and brought a slew of new content out in record time. Detractors may say that update 1.1 was merely full of things that should have made the initial release; they can’t say the same about 1.2 which is driven by the requests of the playerbase. Including updates and upgrades to crafting, new planar abilities, a looking for group tool and the return of 10 player raiding (yay!) among other things, patch 1.2 looks to be the group’s most ambitious project yet. We recently sat down with Hal Hanlin, Chris Schmidt and even managed to detain Adam Gershowitz briefly to discuss some of the exciting new additions.

Jason Bolton, Ten Ton Hammer: What can you tell us about the crafting updates and upgrades coming in 1.2?

Hal Hanlin, Executive Producer: We are doing some pretty amazing things and starting with a better integration with the Auction House. You will be able to search for augmentations, materials and goods in an easier and more powerful way. We are also releasing new rifts that are aimed directly toward the crafters. In addition to new recipes and materials, these rifts are specifically tailored toward crafters and will be incredibly fun – people who while away their hours staring at a forge will now be able to stare at a forge that looks incredibly evil and wicked!

Descriptive Text Descriptive Text

Crafting will get elevated to match other levels of emergent gameplay in 1.2

Ten Ton Hammer: : Will the rifts have something for all crafting professions or will there be different types for different specialties? 

Hal: They will be geared toward the profession of the player that opened them, with the lure used to open them being from a recipe that players will learn. 

Ten Ton Hammer: Will there be any benefit to players who don’t share the same profession as the one who opened it?

Hal: Sure, but the person who opened the rift, as long as they continue to participate, will get the maximum benefit. We never want to create any open world content that only certain players are allowed to play in while others are banned from participating. 

Ten Ton Hammer: It’s nice to see crafting becoming a more integral part of the game for sure.

Hal: Absolutely, when I first heard the idea it sounded..well..interesting,  but the more we developed it – it just made sense. It ties in well with the core concept of the game and now crafters are doing something more meaningful than simply creating items in a game with really pretty graphics, they are participating in Rift

Ten Ton Hammer:Tell us about the Looking For Group tool.

Hal: This feature was born from player requests first and foremost. They let us know that they weren’t happy with having to spam “Paladin/Reaver LFG for…” and this tool should help them form up groups much more quickly and efficiently. 

Ten Ton Hammer: Is it cross server?

Hal: Not currently, no. 

Ten Ton Hammer: How many roles can we queue for?

Alan Gershowitz, Producer (after being roped in by Hal):  Let me give a little more background on the tool in general first. It covers dungeons, rift content and questing, so there are portions of it that players can use for all three types of content. With that being said, we didn’t make it cross server at initial launch since 2/3rds of the tool is server specific.  This also allowed us to deploy it as quickly as possible, so if we need to expand on that in the future we definitely can.  While it was important for us to get the tool out as quickly as possible, we will be watching the queue times closely and always looking at ways to improve them. 

As for the roles, you will able to queue for as many roles as your calling can perform. They will be separated by Tank, Healer, DPS and Support – so mages for example can queue for heals, DPS or support, clerics for all four. The system will be set up to look at the calling and accept you as any role that calling is geared for.

Ten Ton Hammer: Tell us about the new appearance armor?

Hal: Sure! Appearance armor allows you to display one look while using hiding the appearance of your statistical armor. Which is great for me as I like to have a uniformed look with my trim dyed one way and my primary dyed another – and since I am always crafting new items its nice not to have to re-dye it all the time. 

Ten Ton Hammer: Awesome, how many different appearance armor sets can we have?

Hal: Currently there are 5 slots, the first one is free and then you can purchase additional slots as desired. 

Ten Ton Hammer: Rifts and invasions definitely help give the world an epic and dynamic feel. So, overall, you’re happy with the pacing of the game and the speed at which players are getting to endgame?

Hal: Yea, and one of the exciting things that we get to groove on when people are talking about the game is that you can progress through rifts and invasions, through warfronts, through quests, or through dungeons. The fact that players have so many things to turn to has really been a positive for us. People feel that there’s always so much to do, and that’s a great feeling as a developer when players are clamoring for more, and it’s right there waiting for them to consume.

Ten Ton Hammer: Tell us about the new planar abilities coming with the patch?

Hal: These abilities will be faction specific in name only and will be necessary to enter our new Sliver content. 

Ten Ton Hammer: What are Slivers exactly?

Hal: Slivers, in game world terms, are newly discovered aspects of reality. As we know Telara is being invaded by these intersections of other realities and this expands on that in the form of these new slivers of reality. In application they are our new 10 player raid content. 1.2 will launch with the first of these called The Gilded Prophecy that you can find in Shimmersand by using your new planar sight ability. 

Ten Ton Hammer:: With your ability to develop and deploy new content so quickly can we expect more Slivers in the near future?

Hal: Yes, as long as they meet the quality standards that we set. While we can turn things out pretty fast, we don’t want to just churn them out for the sake of blasting them out with some mad-libs type of process – but we do have plans for more. 

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you want to talk about with 1.2?

Hal: Were pretty excited about the three new zone events that are coming with 1.2. When you see that text on your screen and hear the gong we want to make sure it keeps you excited so we really enjoy deploying new scenarios that haven’t been seen before. These will be our flagship versions of new play types, so not just a variation on old themes – but brand new playstyles that we can begin varying on. 

Rift Patch 1.2

Expect new forms of world content with patch 1.2

Ten Ton Hammer: Sounds awesome, what can you tell us about those three specifically?

Hal: Currently we have a tower defense scenario that Scott (Hartsman) is really big on, then there is one I refer to as “Clash of the Colossi”; where the factions race to create a giant being to battle each other and then my personal favorite which is a herd escort scenario which is crazy fun. 

Chris Schmidt: We also want to mention that we are introducing Facebook functionality in 1.2, similar to the Twitter functionality. You will be able to post status updates, achievements, screenshots and your YouTube videos you make in game.

We also want to remind folks that they need to grab the River of Souls reward packs and spend that currency before 1.2, which will be when that vendor disappears. 1.2 is slated for launch sometime near the beginning of May.


We want to thank the folks at Trion for taking time out of their busy schedules to go over the upcoming patch with us and we can’t wait for the next one, which at their current pace should be in a few more weeks!. For more on the game, be sure to check out Rift at Ten Ton Hammer and the Rift official site.

 


I have been extremely impressed with Trion's content release schedule so far. My only concerns are that

1) They're still living off of content they had in their back pocket at release and releasing it to look like they have this amazing ability to continuously update the game, or

2) The legitimately can pump out this level of content at a rapid pace, which will lead to so much content being released so quickly that sooner or later they'll run out of ideas and/or start pushing mediocre content out just to keep their pace.

Either way the end result is going to be, at some point, that they will have a "dry spell" where we go a few months without any new content. My fear is that they are currently setting the bar so high that they won't be able to live up to it in the long-term and when they falter the playerbase will go ballistic.

I would much rather see 3-4 big (paced) updates each year on a regular schedule than watching the playerbase get over-saturated with these good content updates every month only to be hit with a wall of nothingness for 6 months when the Devs at Trion run out of ideas to patch into the game.

One of the main development aspects of Rift was this ability to rapidly create and deploy content. It will be part and parcel with all of their MMOGs. Hal did say that they never want it to be a mad-libs style content factory though, they want things to be cool and fun. I like the system and I love the living world feel.

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