On Breaking Norms

March 8, 2011 - 10:09 pm No Comments

Random Fire Invasion_01

Today I want to talk about Trion Worlds changing fundamental maxims about MMOs, particularly one about quests: never interrupt a player who is questing.

Will Cook, the lead dynamic content designer, spoke specifically about this in interviews with Yogscast and IncGamers. Particularly in the IncGamers interview, Cook says, “It used to be seen as a maxim that you can’t have bad guys on the road; you can’t have monsters attacking a quest hub because you should not ever interrupt the player while they are questing.” Contrary to my wife’s opinion on this matter, I think it is great that Trion is breaking the unspoken rules and taking RIFT to a whole new level of “living world.” Join me after the cut for more about this typical MMO maxim.

Let’s be honest, without making the enemy mobs ignore tank taunts and go after the healer first, much like players do to groups of mobs, allowing – and even encouraging – the enemies to attack and take over quest hubs is the next step in making the world seem alive. Plenty of MMOs have enemies hovering right outside a quest hub. One or two guard NPCs looming around seems to be enough to deter a few enemies. But in RIFT, an invasion of a group of elite mobs will come stomping through and literally target a quest hub with the intention of not just killing the NPCs, but taking the hub for themselves. How cool is this!? If they want to continue questing, the players have to fight back in defense of the NPCs. This is a living, breathing world where the mobs don’t just mope around waiting to be slain by the first newbie with a sword.

On the other hand, sometimes it can get a bit annoying. Having roaming mobs on the road in too high a quantity presents a clear time barrier to casual players. You either have to find a way around or fight through – both of which require time, something the casual player doesn’t have a lot of. Further, when a group of enemies take over a quest hub, it often requires a good number of players to counterattack. In the late evenings for the primary playtime on that server, there is often not enough people to fight back. This was most obvious right after the start of headstart. The Aelfwar invasion into Argent Grove was near impossible to fight off because there just wasn’t enough level 20 players to counter the strength of the Aelfwar. You can throw 100 level 14s at one of those Preservers, but it’s only going to be a speed bump before Argent Grove is delivered to enemy control.

Trion has a system in place to counter much of the negatives. Invasions won’t occur if there aren’t enough people around fighting rifts. Enemy footholds will generally be very weak groups of normal mobs during low population times. This allows people to still have fun with the dynamic world without having to give up on their quest until more people log in.

So what do you think? Mr. Cook says in the IncGamer’s interview, “…we’ve seen a lot of success breaking rules.” Do you agree with Mr. Cook? What other rules have they broken that scream “this is so cool” and make the game more fun in doing so? Have any of these broken rules had a negative influence on the game? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Syndicated from Tank Telara / Die By the Arrow

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