Rift in the community
January 5, 2011 11 Comments
I know, terrible pun. You’ll get over it. Or you won’t, and my bad title will cause you to do something drastic, and probably come back to bite me in the legal sense as being responsible for your extreme behavior. I’m willing to take that chance. Especially for a topic as interesting as this one.
With every new release of a fairly prominent title into the MMO community, people invariably start to talk about it. Big or small, bloggers at the last will make some comment about it. Rift is no exception. What’s particularly interesting about this release, are the reactions from those who have played it, and those who are reading the things written by those who have played it. Some players find it has too much PvP, as in, the game is not solely, 100% PvE centric. Apparently, not paying attention to whether allies are flagged for PvP and then healing them isn’t a good reason to be dragged into PvP conflict, nor is inattentively throwing out AoE when a potential enemy is around. I kid you not, someone used the excuse “They walked into my damage”, when I was in elementary school and told the teacher the other kid ran into my fist, the excuse didn’t work then either. Conversely, we have players who find it to be incredibly thin on the PvP side, and highlight that by pointing out the entire experience in the Betas so far have been PvP optional, EVEN ON THE PVP SERVERS. Capital letters drive the point home I think.
The best thing of this whole, upcoming MMO cluster-fuck of human interaction, is the recent slew of responses from the article over at Massively that gave the impressions of its various writers and contributors. The main ruckus? One person played it for an hour, said as much, and that it was clear the game wasn’t for him. OH NOES! Whatever shall we do? One person out of five that talked about it was clearly not enamored with the game. The other four reviewers vacillated between enjoyment and indifference, but were mostly positive. Tobold and Syncaine both put up responses to all the hub-bub, and I fall somewhere in between them, even though the two of them are fairly close to begin with.
I completely get where Jef is coming from on his “review” (all 121 words of it), it’s eminently clear from the start of this game, that Rift is an on-rails, themepark focused MMO, and most likely that it is heavily invested into the PvE aspect of its gameplay. Anyone who is half-way honest will admit that is apparent from the start. And that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with that, just as there is nothing wrong with EQ2, LotRO, or WoW for being those things. So, Jef from Massively said essentially that, and I agree, I’ve played it before as well. The new shiny may be neat, but unless the PvP of the game is highly compelling, I can’t see myself making a stay there, as it’s just not the type of game that I go for.
Which leads me to Tobold’s ending comments about the situation. He ponders why Jef is even bothering to be involved in this, and the simple answer should be obvious to someone who’s been writing and a part of the MMO blog community as long as Tobold has. Jef had played, and had a significantly different outlook that would help give the article a more rounded out series of impressions. If everyone only ever reviewed games that fell in line with the particular tastes of their prefered sub-genre, impressions and write-ups would become very dull and boring. As would innovation and the advancement of the main genre as a whole. Artists observe work in different mediums and musicians (also artists, but more specified) usually listen to multiple genres. It’s no different in writing, or in any type of design or creation process, the more variety and diversity you are exposed to helps to refine your palette and train your understanding to pick up on the things you do like, and what the reasons for them are. When all you do is play one specific style, or even one specific genre, your perspective becomes tunneled and your understanding of other systems begin to atrophy.
All of that neglected, Massively isn’t really an MMO news organization. Like many modern day media outlets, it blends news and opinion together. When an article is titled and called out as an impression piece, it should be clear to every cognizant mind, that the things they are going to be reading are opinions, and as such, will vary wildly from person to person, with no requirements of justification or explanation needed for something that is inherently subjective.
As a final aside, Tobold never ceases to amuse me with his protestations of not wanting trolls, or of being thin-skinned, or being unaccustomed to the typical internet ass-hatery that comes with the turf, but he continues to throw out ridiculous troll bait like this:
There are some interesting questions to answer about sandbox MMORPGs, like why they are so extremely unpopular, and why in the few games with a “sandbox MMORPG” label that have more than a handful of players, over 80% of those players are actually doing quest-based MMORPG-like content instead of sandbox content.
Is it naiveté or just hypocrisy I wonder.