a group, MMO gamers lean towards being jaded malcontents with a flair
for the dramatic and a keen mistrust of those that make the worlds we
inhabit. And really, who can blame us? For years developers have kept
us at an arm’s length from the truth with vague statements and canned
responses. Rift
developer Trion Worlds however was one of the most
transparent companies to hit the MMOG scene from their pre-launch
player summit to the extremely open line of communication via media
outlets and the official Rift
forums.  This is why the recent
to convert multiple shards to Trial only realms with very little
explanation has left so many subscribers feeling slighted.

those who haven’t been following the story so far, let me bring you up
to speed. When Rift
launched in early 2011 the initial number
players entering the game was much higher than anticipated, causing
massive queues across all realms. Trion quickly raised the player caps
to try and compensate, but even that proved futile. Eventually they
were left with no choice but to launch multiple new shards to handle
the population demand.


href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 480px; height: 270px;"
alt="server transfer"

style="font-style: italic;">You don't have to go home, but
you can't stay here. 

continued to defy expectations as
the new shards that many predicted would be ghost towns after the first
30 days continued to thrive for months. Trion continued to help players
manage server populations by introducing free character transfers, a
feature that other games charge a hefty fee for. Eventually however
many realms started to notice the effects of attrition as new games,
both massive and single player, began to erode the population.

the decrease in playerbase began to affect the quality of life on
Telara, many players called for shard mergers, but those cries were met
mostly with silence. Then, almost completely unannounced, many players
logged in one morning to find a bright yellow system message heralding
that their shard was set to become a Trial shard and that they should
transfer themselves to a new server.  In a classic case of
careful what you wish for because you might just get it, Trion gave the
vocal their wish – just not in the manner they had requested.



href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 480px; height: 345px;"
alt="Rift Shard Transfer"

style="font-style: italic;">Trion lets players decide their
future home

what is a Trial shard? Trial Shards are special servers designed for
players who do not have a regular subscription and are trying the game
out for free. Players with an active subscription are not allowed to
create characters on these shards, but trial players aren’t necessarily
restricted to making characters on these shards only.  Trial
shards were originally instituted to be utilized for large scale
promotional pushes so that the influx of free players wouldn’t
adversely affect the main servers. Trial shards also allow players of
any level to transfer off, unlike normal servers which have a minimum
level requirement.

This isn’t the first incidence of this
happening either. It occurred this summer on a few realms but received
much less attention at time, partially due to fewer shards being
affected and partially due to the overall perceived health of the game.

why are player so incensed over this development when they are allowed
to freely transfer their characters (and guilds) to a new shard? It’s
more than just the principle of the matter, although that does rub
quite a few players the wrong way. It comes down, for a lot of folks,
to a matter of their characters name. Moving a character from one shard
to a significantly more populated one often results in duplicate names
and the burden of finding a new one will always fall on the incoming


href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 480px; height: 263px;"
alt="Rift Shard Transfer"

style="font-style: italic;">Post-transfer shards went from
full to bursting at the  seams

The other issue, and perhaps one that was unforeseen, is
that many of the evacuees have found refuge on the same shard(s). This
has created a whole new group of angry people as those shards are
overcrowded, with some even experiencing the occasional queue at peak

Ultimately it seems that something that should have
been a homerun, and something the community had been begging for,
became a logistical nightmare. While I can understand Trion’s thought
process behind allowing players to control their own destiny in terms
of choosing their destination shard, the lack of communication isn’t in
keeping with their usually stellar track record. As time moves forward
and some distance and perspective are gained, I’m sure this will become
a minor blip in the history of a great game.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our RIFT Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016