The latest news on RIFT's next big content patch!
Barbershop: When are you adding new hairstyles, and what will be the new options?
Scott: For the first run, what we really wanted to do was to make sure we could get the tech and the lighting in. There's a lot of systems work that needs to happen to just get the system up and functional. The way a lot of MMOs are built, character customization is something that exists in the front-end of the game only. So just bringing the concept of recustomization into the game itself is a deceptively large amount of work. So our first step is recustomization among existing options. From there, our art director and producers have been going back and forth on when we can get a greater palette of things to do, which we hope to be talking about in future releases. It could mean anything from new styles and assets from scratch, to some extensions of some of the current options. So we're looking at this as a staged release over time, and the initial release is as much about the underlying tech as it is anything else.
Conquest: There are a lot of things to do. Do you think players have a handle on other activities in the zone besides fighting?
Scott: Through the last series of playtests it became more about how approachable the activities are, how understandable they are, and if players were picking up on the fact that there is more to do than the land control/killing game. We came back from the last playtest with a list of about 20 things that we could be doing better or making clearer. Watching chat alone in these events has been amazingly educational for us. We had a lot of people, especially in the last playtest, recognizing individual developers by name, going, "Wait, is that really you?" And we were there right with people, watching them being confused, and being confused right along with them. So after the test we came back and went, "That was great, that was fun... Here's a list of like twenty things we still need to do better." And there's a lot of that work going on upstairs right now.
Hal: As we said earlier, it's not something that stops in just one night. One of the things that we are very, very good about is being honest with ourselves... and what that means in a lot of cases is that we're going to put it out there, make it the best we can, fix problems as they come up, and update constantly.
Scott: Another personal anecdote for you: that same character I mentioned before that I took up to 50 most recently? I have thematically decided that he is going to be a Conquest gatherer/crafter ONLY. He will take no land and make no kills; he's going to be the Conquest pacifist, because I want to see how that truly plays out and scales. Because that's the thing: if everything works, you should be able to do that! I want to be the test case. Oh, and for those who didn't hear, Chris, our esteemed PR gentleman, has just threatened to find and kill my character (laughs).
Conquest: Can you switch factions? What are the rewards? How long do bonuses last?
Scott: In general, the idea has been that yes, you can switch. We played around with a bunch of ideas about how to do rewards long before anything hits PTS. The thing that became the most clear to us the most rapidly was what we really didn't think would play well: three persistent new factions that you have to grind notoriety with over time and end up advancing all three. What we wanted to make sure was that players who wanted to go play with their friends could do so, independent of what level or Conquest faction they were a part of. That's a huge draw of the system to us. So we immediately dismissed that concept and went with more malleable teams and the concept for rewards became that you don't need hardcore, 8-hours a day grinding. If you participate a couple of times per week you can maintain your buffs. And then on top of that there are the persistent Conquest rewards which are only available from the merchants inside the zone. The Conquest currency itself has not yet been hooked up, but instead of needing to grind all three sides to get the fun stuff, there's a currency that is rewarded from the PvP actions during the game and from the PvE Colossi. You get prizes for participating, but there is a real advantage for being the winner as well. So there will be a Conquest currency... and there's a lot of excitement about "The Trinket" (Conquest Master's Fury/Insight) that showed up yesterday when people started taking a look at the early rewards.
Hal: I won't give specifics, but the types of things we are talking about are not just the trinkets but also additional essences and synergy crystals. There are a lot of things that players, both hardcore and softcore, will get excited about... (laughter breaks out at the use of hardcore and softcore). I just killed Scott with laughter! I meant hardcore and not hardcore, sorry Scott. I haven't gotten a good trinket in quite some time, myself!
Duration of Conquest: what is intended?
Hal: We didn't start off with an idea of "It has to be X minutes." There is a sense when you're playing that the match is going a little long, and we've been tuning against that... but we've been more concerned that we hit the balance numbers well because some of the really, really fast ones happened when we had really, really out-of-whack balance numbers in the early tests. So now as we get closer to a nice balance we've seen a nice wave-form when you watch these three factions shifting across the map.
Scott: One of the things we were trying to achieve was an open-world feel and real strategic elements. You can look at a map during battle and really see where the battle lines are, and that gives a really interesting dynamic where you need extra time, for example, for a group of five commandos from the underpowered team to run behind enemy lines and actually turn the tide of the battle. One of the things we explicitly set out to avoid when we began was coming down to numbers of people smacking on a door for two or three hours, which can end up being not much fun. So we intentionally wanted to avoid that because we wanted a group of two or three people to be able to sneak around and really make a difference. And in order for that to happen there does need to be some extra time given. In the more recent tests the battles have ranged anywhere between one and a half to three hours in the latest match. But we do inherently have that maximum kill cap to keep them from becoming too long.
Scott: I look forward to being a pacifist in Conquest, because I think it'll be fun and weird! No, really, I cannot tell you how much I look forward to seeing all this stuff happen at full scale. The PTS is great because you get lots of players from lots of different servers, and it kind of has that Beta vibe, and the Beta vibe is always great... but actually seeing it happen with my real server friends on our shard is definitely going to be interesting. Having more ways to play with more people as a global community is one of our key themes; and Conquest is one of the tactics that will really deliver that.
Hal: I've said in multiple interviews that I'm not much of a PvP player, but Conquest is really turning that because I don't have to run to the middle, get slaughtered, run to the middle, get slaughtered, feel bad about myself, and go kick a cat. Instead I can choose how I want to play. Scott's going to be a pacifist, and I actually have been really enjoying ninjaing around in the backfield of the enemies and flagging their controlled extractors so they start blinking. I pull away resources from the front line just with little ol' me. That's a lot of fun, and I feel like I'm contributing! People are going to love this!
Scott: One of the tactics I've seen people use a lot is that you can actually use your base as defense. There are turrets, things to upgrade, things to buff, and it is an actual piece of gameplay, not just a prop. So getting more interactive types of gameplay like that is great to see!
Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland, Staff Writer