If you take a look at the big name MMOs released in the last three years or so, you will find a very common denominator with each of them. That is, they all released with bugs and/or a lack of content. Funcom promised the moon before they released Age of Conan. They talked about the tavern brawls, the siege system and full support for Directx 10. All were listed as features for release and all were dropped. In addition, there were huge gaps in content in the game. Indeed, levels 20 to the level cap was devoid of content. Players were faced with grinding mobs to hit the level cap. On top of all of that, there were huge performance problems and the game ran terribly for just about everyone.
Warhammer Online was in a similar boat. They, too, promised many features that they had to drop. Four capital cities were gone by release and only two survived. They had major performance problems as well and their in-game mail system was not even working (really, how do you mess up a mail system?). This was all compounded by the fact that the Tier system was broken to begin with and just not fun.
Finally, Aion released. It, arguably, released in the best condition of the three. The game engine ran pretty well. There were few huge bugs and it ran pretty darn smoothly. Their problem was in content. There was very little after the first 20 levels or so. Like AoC, players were forced to grind mobs to level and the lack of content showed, as players left quickly after the initial free 30 days.
Contrast those MMOs to Rift. Unlike AoC and WAR, Trion has not promised the moon. They have instead promised only what they are sure they can deliver. There will not be a massive cutting of features before release. In addition, what is in the game works. Very few bugs exist in the beta client. The performance is solid for most players and the game just works. Finally, there is content. Content from level one all the way up to the level cap (don’t ask me how I know this, I just know!). And, even at the level cap, there is content. Trion has announced two end game raids and ten heroic dungeons at level cap. In fact, there is as much end game content in Rift as WoW had on its release and that is not even counting the PvP content, the group raids and the Rift raids.
So, what does that mean for Trion and Rift? Very simply it puts them in a very enviable position. A position that few MMOs, if any, have enjoyed in the last four years. Unlike WAR and AoC, Trion does not have to spend the majority of their post-release time fixing major bugs. They don’t have to worry about rushing content that was promised for release out the door. Unlike AoC, WAR and Aion, they do not have to worry about rushing content out to fill in content gaps during the leveling experience. They have all those bases covered.
What it means is that Trion is going to be able to concentrate on adding content in a much more focused environment. They don’t have to rush it. They can concentrate on adding content that they wanted in the game but did not have time for. Stuff that they haven’t even talked about. I have heard people lament the lack of fluff in the game so far. Stuff like Guild Banks, Barber Shops, a more full-featured Pet system. Trion did not promise that stuff because they knew they could not get it in the game in time. Unlike other developers, they promised only what they could deliver.
But, once release hits, they will be able to start adding in that content. Adding some fluff to the world. Maybe adding in some additional leveling areas or racial starting zones. All that stuff that is not 100% needed in the game but that everyone enjoys. They will be in a position to add it because what is already in the game works.
I believe you will see a lot of content patches post-release. In my opinion, Port Scion and its PvP zone will be one of the first major content releases but I also think we may be seeing a lot of smaller content updates. Things that add fluff and additional features. Trion has put themselves in a pretty enviable position and the players are going to benefit from it.
Really, I just think its nice for a developer to promise only what they can deliver. Don’t you?
Filed under: General Rift Commentary Tagged: | Aion - Tower of Eternity, EverQuest, Funcom, Massively multiplayer online game, pvp, rift planes of telara, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, world of warcraft