Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

On Public Quests

When Warhammer Online introduced public quests – local objectives meant to be completed by the combined efforts of everyone in the area – many people were quite excited. After the initial excitement had died down though, people realized that public quests were very static in nature and just one huge grind for influence points which would then allow players to buy better gear. In case you didn’t know, grinding for gear during the levelling process is quite pointless. Now RIFT picked up the idea of public quests as part of its core gameplay, introducing rift events. Rift events do a few things right, but there still are huge leaps to make until the concept can actually be called good.

Rift events, like public quests in WAR, have multiple stages in which players fight to complete an event. Unlike WAR, the events in RIFT are not bound to specific locations. Instead you’ll see rifts to another plane opening in more-or-less random spots on the map which players can open to allow monsters from the other side to pass through. Slaying these monsters awards reputation with certain factions and your contribution to closing a rift is tallied up and players will receive rewards accordingly. Just like in WAR you will therefore get better rewards by contributing more to an event (such as doing a lot of damage).

WAR gave you a standing at the end of an event and then allowed random rolls based on that standing so that not always the top contributing player got the best rewards, but he or she would be the one with the best chance to do so. RIFT shows you the standings while the event is in progress, but oddly enough doesn’t show the final standings at completion. It also doesn’t really show what level of reward you got, so I can only guess at the exact workings of the system. The contribution point system and the final standings are such an integral part to the public quest system that I find it really odd that Trion would eschew that for their game.

Obviously it is really hard to get a contribution system just right. Measuring damage done is easy, but how do you weigh that against a tank’s contribution, or a healer’s. Not to mention the impossibility of correctly weighing buffs. WAR simply grouped everyone in a region together automatically (unless you opted out of it), which RIFT doesn’t. I liked the open groups in WAR, but I do wonder whether one couldn’t use groups for improving the whole competition point system. If points were awarded according to a group’s performance instead of counting individuals and then the groups would have to split the rewards themselves (just as they do in other group content), one could be encouraging group play while at the same time making support classes more viable for those events.

In RIFT I had no issues winning events as a mage so far because I could abuse other players tanking the enemies and simply nuke many enemies at once. If another player was to buff me, she would actually lower her chances of winning herself while improving mine. Now if the two of us where grouped and group contribution was counted accordingly, this problem would no longer arise. Group contributions would even allow for guilds to compete in huge war-like (note: lower case “war”) events for fun and profit. RIFT already has huge events (though the people at Trion are still trying to find a way to properly balance their server load for those), but as long as it’s every man for himself in there, I can’t see a long-term appeal.

  • Damage > everything. STO has a few “Public Quests” aka “Fleet Actions” that reward doing certain objectives more, but in general it is damage what counts. Healing and tanking do not seem to count at all. Same for Rift.

    AoE DPS tops the high score. Just like mass dotting and Seed of Corruption gave extremely high battleground damage ratings for Warlocks.

    Tagging the mob first is a bonus. The only downside is when the tanks don’t care if you get aggro from every mob and die… which some might do when they get the idea that you are playing the system.

    Bottom line: I wonder how GW2 will score these events. STO is harsh – only the first three places in fleet actions get something really good, the rest crap or nothing. Rift is generous – even doing nothing, just being there, yields at least some rewards. Scores are quite close as well. If you score 16000 and your buddy only 4000, which is already the maximum difference, mostly it’s rather a much closer 12000 vs 8000 or so, he will get less, but much more than 1/4 of your score would suggest.

    Scoring issues aside, people already wondered if people will bother fighting Rifts once lower level areas will be less populated and not simply continue questing till a world event gets announced and eventually a raid forms to fight back the attack.

    I see more potential in Rift’s open world pvp, unfortunately my level 20 toons are on Wolfsbane PvE. I would never have thought that, as it reminds me more of EQ style combat, a game not really known for PvP. Last weekend I used the teleporter stone to invade the enemy territory, and even with the limitations of consensual PvE (I baited them) I got the idea that these faction invasions could be more interesting than the Rifts.

    The PvE Rifts have a very repetitive nature, as random as they might be. I levelled two toons to 20 and found even the latest versions with probably the most balanced and most fun to fight enemy forces more distracting than interesting. Somestimes they killed my questgiver, which can be annoying, but it is really no problem. Just wait till they are gone or a group forms to destroy the Rift.

    None of my best buddies seems to play the game and the rest will be scattered over various regions and servers. Plus, after all the dust settles, it is a DIKU like so many others released before. I think I already had enough DIKU for a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is really wrong with Rift, it is just nothing I want to play anymore.

    I think the soul system is the really big thing about Rift, the Rifts seem to become a mote of sourcestone and planar item grind.