Dynamic content is becoming a new buzz word with developers. GW2 and Rift are both touting it hardcore in just about every dev diary, press release, preview, or twitter (twit? tweet?). While I take issue with their use of the word “dynamic” when I really feel like it’s just random scriptedness (word?), I’ll pretend for a moment it is dynamic so that I can weigh in on how I would improve the dynamic experience.
In the latest Rift dev blog (#4) a story is told about how these rifts popped up and caused a ruckus and were thwarted and another opened and took over some quest hub and it all caused a commotion. Here’s a quote from the dev blog:
“Our goal on Rift has been to build a system that could guarantee these moments — these emergent experiences — for the player.” -Will Cook
That’s the problem: They’re just moments. Let me use a couple of examples from the beta. In beta 1, after the rift event frequency had been ramped up, an invasion formed and took over a fairly insignificant quest hub that had maybe two quest givers. This is not an exaggeration, within 2 minutes of it spawning and taking over it was put down and gone without a trace of its existence ever being there. Another example is on an even grander scale when it felt like all of a sudden the entire zone was thrown into chaos and invasions of all sorts were everywhere. Within 5 minutes, as I was just finishing closing the first rift I could reach, the entire map had been vacated of all rift/invasion/enemy presence.
They are neat little moments, but they are just moments. What’s the point? I feel like having them at all makes it worse because it’s like showing us that you CAN do it, but that you’re not doing it in any meaningful way. I want those rifts to take over towns and I want those towns to become enemy towns that are barricaded and take much, much longer to regain. I want those rifts and invasions to truly be scary and something people will need to join together to take over or else they face the consequences. Let that quest hub, city, town, village, entire freaking zone, whatever, be taken over and truly gone for a significant amount of time. Let the player feel like they are actually losing something or losing to something. What’s the point of having them if they’re cheapified (again I amaze myself with words today) versions of what they really should be — what they’re being touted to be in these stories and previews?
The same thing is going to happen in GW2. The events will be really awesome little moments with zero lasting impact on the world or the players. A bridge will fall, an NPC killed, and moments later it will all mean nothing to the next player who walks by. That isn’t dynamic content, at least by my definition.
Trion totally has the right idea here. I think what they have implemented so far is fantastic. Now just do with it what needs to be done and go that extra mile so that it actually matters. Will Cook says, in that dev blog, that consequences matter and that Rift is challenging the normal unwritten rules about what is an is not acceptable in MMO’s but I want to see that ideology in practice. Stop telling us about it, all of you developers throwing around ‘dynamic content’, and do it.
Note: I will be playing the Rift PvP weekend to see if things have changed. I’ll also be certain to weigh in on GW2’s dynamic content once I am able.