Anyone following Rift: Planes of Telara?

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Update: Scott Hartsman has clarified Rift’s soul/class and Rift systems in a comment below.

I love the ambience and look of this landscape.

I spent nearly an hour during one of my lunch breaks this past week browsing the official Rift: Planes of Telara website and watching videos of gameplay, interviews from conventions, and production video pieces done by Trion Devs.

The game actually looks good.  I think the only thing I’ve ever written about the game on the blog was a piece about MMO worlds where I simply referenced a screenshot.  The world itself, from what I’ve seen in videos, screenshots, and explanations looks filled with lush forests — we need more real forests in MMO’s — and many settings which simply have a lot of detail.  My first impressions of the game were directed straight at how great the world looks in a sort of stylized realism.

I hope that I’m not reading too much into the Planes.  I’m reminded of EQ’s planes here.  Are they raids?  Just another zone?  I’m also eying the instance system where players can solo them but the more people you bring in the harder it gets + better loot and exp.

Rift’s class system was explained in a recent video.  First thing I have to point out is Adam Gershowitz is working on the game.  I feel bad for saying this but I had to chuckle when seeing him in multiple videos and talking about classes.  I remember the WAR production podcasts…. oh how embarrassing those must be for those guys.  Well, he’s back and he’s talking about the class system.

Graev and I both like that they're not going with the steriotypical Dwarf look (or Goblin).

Their “soul” terminology in ‘The Ascended Class System’ could really be simplified to the word ‘talents’ and suddenly it doesn’t sound so convoluted.  Basically it looks like you pick a basic class and then as you spend your points (perhaps how you spend them) you get access to different trees or “branches” that unlock the root abilities.  I’m still not sure if I have it right, but it sounds like perhaps how you play determines the types of souls you get… ?

Fewer starting classes that branch off into many subclasses reminds me a bit of EQ2.  I’m crossing my fingers that it works out a bit better for these guys and doesn’t turn into something that they end up simplifying in the future.  Some multi-classing going on here which looks cool and makes it hopefully work better than EQ2.

There’s a lot to talk about and it really won’t read well if I try to regurgitate all the things I’ve read.  I’ll simply wrap up by saying that I’m happy to see a game being made by a Western studio, that isn’t going to be microtransactions, and appears to be all about a big beautiful and diverse world and traditional MMO gameplay.  I’m also interested in some of the talent they’ve brought in to work on the game and hoping that it all comes together.

Rift has moved up on my list of anticipated games.  I want to see and learn more before I get excited about the title, but I have a good feeling about this one so far.

My main questions that I’d love to have answered by Trion Devs:

1. Is the world open/contiguous or chopped up into lobbies?
2. Are there non-instanced dungeons?
3. Is the combat more traditional (like WoW or EQ) or more action like Age of Conan?
4. Can we expect to level via quests or will dungeon crawling and other methods just as viable?
5. If you had to pick ONE game that Rift: Planes of Telara most closely resembled, which would it be?

  • I follow the game and it looks interessting.

    However, my main concern with all games now is : does it follow the stuff > all model. Because i just can’t stand it anymore. Really, i won’t play another one of these games, it’s to painfull.

  • Well, since Scott Hartsman is the executive producer for Rifts, I expect some influences from EQ/EQ2 to show up. Or is that some of the things he added to those games?

  • Yes I’ve been following this game for at least a year or two. I think it could be VERY cool but skeptical about the dynamic content…but this and GW2 seem to be the two in the future that are standing out to me.

  • I have been following the game for quite some time now and was not that impressed so far.But the recent infos has picked my interest again.

  • Followed it for a bit until they started moving in a direction i didn’t like with all the instancing, solo play etc.

    Also, i could be wrong but thought they also advertised being able to change your character into any class in the game at any time…could be confusing it with another game though. That’s a huge negative in my book.

  • @Tdawgs: Sometimes generic is just what I want when things have gone so crazy and out on a limb (and failed or been weird). Generic with polish = ok.

    @Jordan: I didn’t pick up on the ability to change your character any time. If you find that reference could you send it to me?

    The solo play may not be so bad if grouping is still rewarding. Have to find some way to get the solo crowd to quiet down long enough to let the groupers get their content.

  • I thought everyone interested enough in MMOs to visit MMO blogs would at least have heard of Rifts. It’s had plenty of publicity.

    It’s close to the top of my list of most-anticipated MMOs. It doesn’t just have Scott Hartsman behind it, the man who pretty much single-handedly turned EQ2 around, it also has a bunch of ex-EQ2 devs on board.

    I’m hoping, and expecting, that Rifts will be very much like EQ/EQ2. The lore is very similar and the gameplay looks close, too. There’s nothing that would please me more than another polished, professional fantasy MMO in the traditional style and this looks to be exactly that.

    I appreciate there are lots of bored, jaded mmo fans out there who yearn for “innovation” but I’m not one of them. I’ll willingly look at new ideas, but I’m just as happy to get more of what I already know I like with some different scenery.

  • Nahh you can’t change your class at anytime. That was their initial idea but now you can’t, however, you can dabble in other class skill trees.

  • I’m liking what I see about Rifts, and it’s definitely on my ‘to try’ list. Let’s hope that the interesting features- the rift system and multiclass souls in particular- work out well. The graphics look excellent, I hope they can achieve good performance running them.

    I’m witholding fanboyism because I’ve been burned too often in the last few years.

  • ‘2. Are there non-instanced dungeons?’

    By this you mean an area that is a hole in the ground with mobs inside? How is this different than a forest or a field with mobs in it? I’m not sure what this question is really asking.

    ‘4. Can we expect to level via quests or will dungeon crawling and other methods just as viable?’

    Not into story or lore, huh?

    This game has definitely hit my radar as well. If it is going to compete in the already saturated p2p mmo field, their prices better be much cheaper than the standard $15. $5-10 I think would work well for a non-established IP, non-groundbreaking game, and still keep the gated community. If its $15/month, it’ll have a very low pop just like all the others except WoW, and be forced into a F2P situation. (Its like if ‘Joe Schmoe’s Diamonds’ and Tiffany’s of New York charged the same price… why go to the lesser place for the same price?) The $15 still have micros, so don’t expect this NOT to, even if its just name change/server change type stuff. So unless the pricing is less than the standard $15, you probably won’t see me or masses of other people playing.

  • @Mike: I mean like DAOC and EQ/EQ2’s style of dungeons. They are not just holes in the ground with mobs in them. That is oversimplifying it.

    I’m definitely interested in story. Luckily there are even better ways of telling story than quests.

    From what I’ve seen so far, this is easily a $15/month game.

  • The only reason I have heard of this game is because Massively reports on it quite often. Don’t know whether it would be good or bad.

  • @ Russel- good to hear on the class-changing. Maybe i heard that for another game or it might have been in the early dev stages for Rifts.

    At any rate, too much talk of instancing for me to get real interested. I’m as anti-instancing as it gets unfortunately. This game seems to have some promise though for those who don’t mind or even prefer that mechanic.

  • Does the rift system remind anyone else of Horizons and the Blight? Or at least what Horizons intended to do? The fact that the rifts will gradually take over everything if players don’t stop them is cool.

    Of course rifts are also similar to portable public quests from WAR. The PQ idea was great, but it didn’t work out for whatever reason. That’s the one thing that worries me a bit- innovation can still fail.

    But, overall, Rift is right up there with GW2 on my list!

  • Think its gonna be basically run of the mill MMO with its instances explainable by game lore. I think the instances will be a lot like Oblivion Chaos Gate thingies, some Mobs outside running around hacking villagers apart guarding a Rift which you have to enter so you can close it.

    The gameplay i think will focus around these rifts, and slightly effect the persistent world with a burning village here or there, but the core of the gameplay will take place in these rifts.

  • A couple of you are making references to the abundant use of instancing. Is there a video or literature out there to support that?

    I was under the impression after reading and watching videos that the world was mostly open and that the use of instancing would be minor. Hopefully I’m not mistaken. Over-instancing blows.

  • Yeah where are you guys getting all this information on instancing? From what I gather it’s pretty much on par with WoW or EQ2. Also anyone know if there is a comic book coming out for this game? Maybe it was another game but I could of sworn it had it’s own comic coming out.

  • Aren’t all the rifts a form of instancing? That’s the impression i got a while back. Maybe this has also changed similar to the class issue…but not sure how’d they’d pull it off otherwise.

    And since the whole game revolves around the rifts…

  • “By studying the rifts, Telaran scholars have so far identified six planes that interact with Telara through cracks in the Ward, each representing a primal element of the universe: Life, Death, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. There are many theories about the true nature of these discoveries, and there is much yet to be learned. But one thing is generally agreed: The elemental planes are in danger of destroying the world of Telara and must be stopped at all costs.”

    That’s all I’ve seen so far on it. Sounds more like big raids to me similar to EQ’s planes. maybe large dungeons? Perhaps even open zones? Maybe instances.

  • I think the whole idea behind the Rifts are that they spawn in the world and, if players don’t defeat them, they slowly grow and infect the world. I read an interview where a dev mentioned that a zone could theoretically be in jeopardy if players ignored them.

    So, unless someone comes up with a source talking about lots of instancing- I’ve read a decent amount on this game and haven’t seen anything like that so far- I’m not sure that this idea is accurate.

  • In-depth about Rift: Planes of Telara with Trion

    “ZAM: You mention invasions and the potential for Rifts to dynamically grow stronger if players don’t react accordingly. While this sounds really ambitious, apathy in the player base can often debilitate ideas like this. That is, what happens if players just can’t be bothered to defend their planet or their territories? Will the game suffer as result?

    Scott Hartsman: Well, when you create a game where players are, essentially, janitors, you can certainly end up with a lot of apathy. We really don’t want to make players run around saving the world and, if they don’t, it all just goes to hell. That’s what I mean by making players become janitors. Instead, we want players to go around and take part in defending parts of the world for tons of incentives and rewards, rather than the potential for suffering. Making a game like Rift work is really more about the reward structure; make it worth their time and they’ll want to come because they want to, not because they have to.”

  • Rift and TERA are the only upcoming MMOs I’m really looking forward to. I got the impression that the Rifts acted kind of like Warhammer public quests but in a different minizone? I imagined it would be kinda like the dreamy spirit level in Dragon Age at the end of the Mage opening but with other people.

  • Tera is oddly instanced also, open world but instanced. The world will be seamless but if there are more then i think 100 people in a area you will be a new copy/ instance of that area.

  • @Wufiavelli: That’s instantly a reason for me to skip Tera. However, we still haven’t been given any information on whether or not Rift will be instanced. Can you link to it?

  • If it’s not instanced (or minimally instanced), and with the news you can’t change the class of your character, I think I’d start following this game again.

    Going to have to look into that class-changing mechanic at least. I remember them making a pretty big deal out of this…would be surprised if they totally dropped it.

  • @Jordan: I think it’s more about being able to be one class yet branch into other types of classes aka Multiclassing. The example in a video was that you’re an assassin type character with no abilities to slow the enemy, so you branch out into another class to pick up a slowing ability.

  • Hmm, I had skimmed over this news articles about this at Massively because I assumed it was another Asian F2P port.

    Colour me interested now!

  • Hey. 🙂 Happy to drop some authoritative answers:

    Rift, Invasion, Defense and other overland events are not instanced. It may look like it from the videos, but, no — It’s a seamless world that dynamically changes and responds to what’s going on in it. The events can also alter the existing world population in interesting ways.

    The events themselves are public, in that people’s contribution determines their reward via an implicit grouping system that keeps track of everyone who participates in any given event.

    On the classes/souls: You choose your Calling (think: archetype) when you start, and the first soul (think: class) inside of that calling. That’s your soul. You can obtain the rest of the souls appropriate for your calling over time.

    e.g. A warrior who started out as an Reaver, could collect a Champion soul later on, and then a Beastmaster soul, and then a Paladin soul, and so on.

    As you level up, you’re able to control more souls at a at once – You start out being able to only have one Soul active, and eventually you can control and spend points in three at a time.

    At the most, that high level warrior could then have three souls “loaded” into a role (think: spec) and spend points the way they chose across all three.

    So, I could have a tanking role that spent exclusively in Paladin…and then also have a role where I spent exclusively in Reaver… and then also have a combination Champion/Reaver/Paladin… and then also have a Champion/Beastmaster/Reaver (which is a really good dps combo), and change between those four Roles/specs at will.

    We call those Roles, and you can swap between them in the field. currently, the game supports characters having up to 4.)

    And then – Yep, that takes place in a world that also has instances (dungeons, raids, etc), quests, and so on.

    Hope that makes sense!

    – Scott

  • Thanks for stopping by and clarifying the class system Scott. That makes a lot more sense when you break it down with the use of archetype and class.

  • Was not interested in this game when it was called Heroes of Telara. The whole Rift thing is opens up a whole new element of gameplay and ways for Dev’s to change the world. Scott says it is only 1 element of their Dynamic Content, but the most exciting.

    The recent preview at Tentonhammer is very glowing of the game, saying in Alpha it appeared to be where many near-release Beta games are at.

    The class system is pretty exciting. If say you go for a Rogue archetype, you can say go Ranger for your PVE spec and then switch to some sort of Assassin type class if you want for PVP. You could have a few different builds within your archetype. They are saying there will be 8 classes per archetype to chose from and mix and match 2 or 3 of them together. With 4 archetypes, thats a lot of classes.

  • if you watch the E3 2k10 gameplay demo the dev explaining the game says there will be no loading screens and that the world is completely seamless.

  • I kept seeing the articles about this game, but kept skipping over them for no real reason. After reading this and surfing over to their website, I am interested. I like the idea of being able to change your spec on the fly. That should make putting together a workable group much easier. It’s also a gorgeous game, though that means less to me than good gameplay.

    I like the new races and the different take on Dwarves. Also, I immediately disliked the High Elves, which is always important to me 😉

    The dynamic content sounds like Left 4 Dead, where the game responds to how the players are doing. It’s probably more involved than that, but even that would be nice.

    It’s always nice to see the people behind the game reaching out like Scott did here.

  • The problem I see with being about to switch “souls” or “roles” is that it does not promote ALT rolling. MMOs are only as successful as their ability to draw people in over time. Look at Tabula Rasa (TR); people had the ability to “clone”, so this allowed people the ability to not have to re-roll a new character, what this did was it created a dead newbie starting area. Yes, TR had its issues, but I had friends buy TR and the new areas were dead.

    My advice? And I know no one cares….do not kill the need/desire to start new characters from scratch. Look at WoW; new people were coming in, albeit less then before, and the big complaint was that the new/old areas were dead, no one was exploring Goldshire, etc. Blizzard blows up the world and now the new/old areas will be teeming with people again. Surround players with players that may or may not need each other, subconsciously it makes the world feel alive.

  • People still roll alts in WoW with the multi-spec option. Heck, my druid can be DPS, Heals, and Tank spec. Why would I need to ever make another char? Simple: other classes play differently, regardless of spec.

    As long as Trion does not make the classes all feel similar with little diversification in abilities and gameplay, we’ll be fine.

  • You know I have to play devil’s advocate? I poke, question and prod – its in my nature.

  • You have a point about limited need for alts, but speaking for me, I see my characters as more than just a class or collection of multiclasses- I’d be interested in trying out different races and different basic archetypes, which may give a new twist on the combinations one can come up with.

  • Yeah, plus there’s always ways to make archetypes and classes feel different. For example, a warrior type offensive character can play very different from an rogue type offensive character.

  • Yeah it’s shaping up to be a hit! Too bad it’s not gearing up for an earlier release date since there seems to be a good bit of mmorpg’s releasing in 2011.

  • Well, they need to avoid Cataclysm, the devs should circle that date and add either +/- 6 mos.

  • Sooo 8 Subtypes for each Archtype (as someone said above) and 1, 2, or 3 Subtypes in each Build. I come up with 91 builds per Archtype. Does that sound right? If so, that equals 364 Builds across the four Archtypes. Crazy.

    Even if they launch with only half that many Subtypes, that still comes out to 52 Builds (13 per Archtype). Actually, that sounds more manageable.

    Also, keep in mind that those are just the generic Builds. Inside each Build you distribute your skill points, making an enormous amount of variation. That appeals to me greatly. I wonder when the beta will start?

  • I just got an email saying the beta will be starting soon (newsletter email or something). I’m really hoping to get in and give the game some solid testing time.

  • No offense but ive psted several RIFT responses to your blogs. This game is going to amazing, you ask how can I tell? DYNAMIC content and multi-faceted Character development.

    Not to mention the character animations and fluid movement against the enviornment, something no other MMO has except for WoW, all other character animations in recent MMO’s look fake or like they dont belong.