I had the opportunity to take a private tour of the upcoming Rift: Storm Legion expansion with Community Manager James “Elrar” Nichols. As many of you know, I played Rift when it first launched back in March of 2011. I played for a few months, got a couple characters almost to the max level, but didn’t continue playing because I felt like something was missing — I wasn’t hooked by anything in particular. After this awesome tour, I’m able to see many of those ‘hooks’ making their way into Rift when Storm Legion launches November 13, 2012.
During the tour I was introduced to the story and shown the dungeon that would lead up to the new content. I was shown the Dimension system (player housing), and also the major end-game raid zones. Elrar also took me to several of the new zones, explained to me how the content would progress during the expansion, and provided me insights into Trion’s thoughts of Rift’s end-game and its future. I was also granted a max level character for the duration of the beta test currently underway. So as you can tell, there’s a lot for me to share. I’m going to give you guys my honest opinion of what I saw and fill you in with as many details as I can. Be sure to check back for the full look at my tour through Rift: Storm Legion.
Read more after the break for Part 1: Dimensions!
Dimensions are Rift’s version of player housing. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that players were given more than just the interior of a structure, more than just a yard, but in many cases a very, very large zone that they can literally decorate their imagination’s limits. That sounds like hyperbole, but if you’ve ever experienced housing in EQ or SWG you know what players are capable of doing with items and a ton of freedom — Rift takes things to the next level.
Rift’s housing is implemented quite well. The UI is brought up by pressing “[" and you're given the option of going to your house, a friend's house, a guild member's house, your guild's house, or a public house. Visiting public houses is really cool because you're allowed to +1 and help promote a house if you visit it and really like what the person has done. Despite me pressing for details, the team wasn't ready to give me any specifics about the guild housing itself other than there will be customization options to allow certain people to be decorators (via some sort of rank/permission system) and some will likely come with pre-made structures.
Elrar took me through the whole Dimension system by showing me a bunch of examples. Check out the screenshot to the left. Every step and rail of that spiral staircase, every book on the shelf above the window, every floor board of that loft, every last detail was hand placed. That room started off as a blank slate and was transformed and given a soul by the person who decorated it. That same level of customization is available to you outside your house and throughout the dimension you are given.
The decorating UI is very intuitive (pictured in the album embedded below), and should only take most players a few minutes to understand and unlock its potential. By grabbing on to colored arrows, an item can be moved in every direction. There isn’t a grid system at work, so items can be placed exactly where you want them. Grabbing another one of the arrows allows you to expand or shrink an item. Literally everything scales. Duplicating items is as simple as pressing Ctrl+D, and they even have up to a one action undo. Maybe one of the coolest parts about Dimensions is the modding capability. There are already mods out that bring in ‘snap’ functionality. Hopefully the community embraces the modding and comes up with some really cool tools.
For more examples of creativity, this screenshot on the right isn’t just a boat in someone’s dimension. This was made piece, by piece, by hand. The sails are bedrolls. The shields on the side are tables turned sideways. All that existed before the creativity was unleashed was some water and rocks. Speaking of rocks, Elrar took me to an amazing house that someone turned into a rock fort by taking rocks, scaling them, rotating them, and creating some unique.
Not only do Dimension unleash a player’s creativity, they also bolster the gameplay itself. Crafters create a lot of the items you can use. This means you’ll be seeking out other players to help you find that perfect decor, or taking up a craft on your own. Elrar explained to me that certain items would also come from raids or have to be obtained through PvE, giving some players a certain level of prestige.
Sense of Place and Community
It’s important to realize what a housing system like this does for a community. Rift has a very close-knit community that embraces a lot of social gameplay features. In-game weddings, parties, and roleplaying happen on a regular basis. A housing system like this provides the opportunity to create that party scene, or allow someone to go all out and have those guild meetings in style. Dimensions brings a sense of sandbox to an otherwise themepark game. Giving people something to show off and become known for in a tight community is off-the-charts-important. Trion is making a really great move.
Part of me feels tempted to resubscribe just to decorate a house; It’s that good. I’m confident that Dimensions are the best housing implementation in a themepark MMO ever, and the best decorating ability of any housing I’ve seen.
Check out all of the screenshots I took from my tour of Rift’s Housing below. If you have any questions about Dimensions, feel free to ask me and I’ll answer them or get an answer from the Rift CM team.
Huge thanks to James and the Trion team for allowing me the opportunity to take so much of your valuable time.