Scott Hartsman releases his first Producer's Letter of 2012.
This evening Scott Hartsman released his first Producer's Letter of 2012. It starts off with a recap of Rift's first year and all of the features and content that the various patches have brought to the game. He later talks about Trion's thoughts that have influenced the coming year's development plans.
What an amazing year it has been. As we approach RIFT’s first full birthday, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the things that have happened since launch and discuss the thinking that will shape the year to come.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already know that we think about MMOs a little bit differently than everyone else. To us, everything is about the quality of the service, the speed of meaningful updates, and the relationship that combination creates with you. We never forget that you are the reason we do everything we do.
In our last big Producer’s Letter, we talked about the kinds of themes we were aiming for. We talked about making more story-based adventure available to more people (which surfaced in the form of Chronicles and Slivers), unique and better ways to play with others as easily as possible (which took the form of Instant Adventures, Onslaughts that added new build-and-defend gameplay to Ember Isle, and the largest zone events we’ve ever created), and ongoing advancement that occurs even after you hit level 50 (which then arrived in the form of Planar Attunement).
In addition to those other key elements, RIFT saw more features, content and gameplay added than many games will deliver in a full-blown expansion.
- We released Ember Isle, the biggest zone in the game to date, along with the largest dungeon to date, Caduceus Rise.
- Ember Isle was particularly important to us, since it showed off our ability to level up the look of world zones, and demonstrated an important iteration toward a new way of doing zone content – A way where dynamic content, events, and story quests are blended together more closely than what came before.
- Five new raids debuted, for groups of both 10 and 20 players: River of Souls, Gilded Prophecy, Hammerknell, Drowned Halls, and Rise of the Phoenix.
- Celebration weekends that provide a way to get your friends checking out the game easily, while adding bonuses to our esteemed subscribers.
- Master Mode difficulty for one dungeon (as of the time of this writing) with more on the way soon. (This post was written prior to the release of 1.7 to have it translated in time, Caduceus Rise was release as the second Master Mode!)
- Alternate Gameplay Warfronts and Weekend Bonus Warfronts, Post-50 soft bracketing, PvP Rifts, and world PvP bonuses. And a new warfront entirely: Library of the Runemasters
- A new world event every update, each with its own new zone event and frequently its own rifts
- A new Addon system that enables creators to add some really great things to the game. From buff management, to custom layouts, to outfit management, to auctions, and countless others!
- A new Costume system, giving you the ability to look like what you want to look like
- A Veteran Rewards program that rewards loyal subscribers, and Ascend-a-Friend that gives us a way to say thanks when you get your friends on board
- That is not even counting the hundreds of quality of life and playability improvements we’ve brought to the core game.
And we’re just getting started.
As we were planning out 2012, we focused on some key themes: Things that make RIFT unique that we’d like to make even stronger, and places we’ll continue to build on that people really enjoy. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of thoughts that have gone into our 2012 development so far.
1) RIFT is about playing with other people
This is really the key theme of the game, and where it really shines.
We’re continuing on with our theme of eliminating all barriers to playing with your friends, whether you’re talking about getting new friends into the game, or playing with friends on other servers. We’re also coming up with new ways to make friends, and giving big groups and guilds even more to do together, both in PvE and PvP.
While we think this is a place that RIFT is strong, there’s more we can offer and places we can continue to leap ahead to give you the best experience possible. We’re planning some great new things to roll out over the coming year.
We’ll also be expanding Instant Adventure through improved variety and types of adventures, as well as the amount of the world they can be played in.
It will be an excellent addition to Ember Isle, and there are many other zones that can benefit from this sort of gameplay. Traditional questing is great for some, while many are looking for newer ways to advance. We will be expanding the ways you can choose to progress through the lower level zones.
Moreover, we’re also looking into the introduction of a Mentoring system, which will empower players to play through areas they have not been for quite a while and be well rewarded for it.
2) Souls: Making a great system even better
We’ve been hard at work on making Souls and Roles easier to understand, while taking a cue from the great combos that you have created, via Soul presets. These new templates will give new players (or players trying a new calling for the first time) a much easier route to understanding the fun of the system and the options it provides, while giving them a way to just pick a popular combination and advancement path if they just want to get in and play.
We’re looking to maintain the popular feel of the core system itself, while making it more fun to use and keeping the advanced play intact for those who love experimenting and playing with the numbers.
3) PvP: It’s time for a leap forward
The PvP enhancements in 1.7 might as well be called “PvP 2.0.” The Prestige ranks are being re-leveled to provide a more fun progression for everyone. These updates to Prestige Ranks are aimed squarely at making the PvP experience a lot more fun for fresh-50s and lower ranked players. We definitely heard you and agree that was a great place to spend time improving.
Expect a progression path that’s more fun and more frequently rewarding. Expect a system where you no longer have to swap out a primary soul just to be competitive in PvP. Characters getting their Break Free type abilities built-in.
The new Mercenary mechanic in Warfronts is included in 1.7 as well. As the number of people participating in PvP has been going up recently, certain wargroups and brackets have become too-Defiant or too-Guardian favored, causing the other side to suffer extended queuing. The mercenary mechanic aims squarely to fix that, by having people from the more populous side standing in as Mercenaries to ensure the queues are flowing as fast as they possibly can.
We’re also taking the next step in world PvP action through more focused PvP rifts (where only one can exist in the world at a time) and introducing global side-based rewards for the most recent victors, among other enhancements.
We have some even bigger thoughts for the future of PvP that we’re really excited about for how PvP could eventually transcend the two existing factions and we look forward to sharing those as well.
4) Interactions: You want more of them
When we say interact, we mean both interacting with the game in non-combat ways, and interacting from out of game entirely. “Emphasizing Verbs Other Than ‘Stab’,” is how we talk about it internally. It’s how we think about the kind of a lot of activities you’ve complimented us on over the months – From puzzles and cairns, to artifacts, and more.
The new RIFT Mobile app is a great example of a new external interaction. Farther down the line, we expect that our plans for Leaderboards of all kinds will provide a new type of interaction and social discovery.
Our new social gatherings, Weddings being the first example, provide a new kind of non-combat social activity. We’re really interested in seeing what people think here. Enhancements to crafting and new tradeskills are yet another key element on our agenda.
5) The End Game is just the beginning
For raids we have even more 10-person and 20-person excitement on the way. Slivers have done a great job of getting more people into this level of the end-game, and we’re thrilled to be able to keep making this kind of content. As some of you already know about from helping us, the next 20-person raid is already in testing.
Remember, we have several more dragons and their cults to slay before Telara can breathe easy. And then, of course, there’s talk of what will come after, which we’re really looking forward to sharing later this year.
There’s even more excitement in store for 2012 than what we’ve talked about here, and we’re really looking forward to talking about all of it in much greater detail over the coming months.
As always, we will continue to listen to you. You have given us some of our best ideas and we are looking forward to what lies ahead.
On behalf of all of us here at Trion: Thank you very much for being a part of RIFT. Here’s to a great 2012 and beyond!
Executive Producer, RIFT