PAX West 2017: How RIFT is making player exploration worth the effort

Although much of the RIFT demo at PAX West focused on showing off the Celestial Storm update, it was another aspect that captured my attention. While I was speaking with Senior Design Director Simon Ffinch as we toured around the Celestial lands (in god mode once Ffinch discovered he took a level 11 into the level 100 area!) and watching players participate in a zone event, I learned the stories behind a number of Easter eggs peppered throughout the game. Games will always do new content and updates, but how many honor their fans by adding them into the game?

The particular story that touched me involved the little dragon collection in the new zone. Ffinch shared the story that one of the artists in the company that does outsourced art for the game was a huge, huge fan of RIFT. Named Dragos, he was celebrating his 40th birthday, and the company wondered if RIFT could do something. And do something it did! Instead of just swag or in-game loot, Dragos got an entire baby dragon collection created honoring him.

Called Dragos’ Dragons, these teeny tiny fellows are scattered throughout the new zone, hidden in places off the beaten track. Ffinch emphasized to me that folks really have to explore to discover them.

“I was devious,” he said. “If I’d actually made him targetable, people would go around and /tar, /tar in order to try and find them. You can’t target it; you can’t highlight it: You’ve got to find it.”

Collecting them all gives the player a title: Dragon Babysitter. Ffinch also shared that a number of other items he’s made over the years that are named after real people, especially kids. Can you imagine being immortalized in your favorite game? Ffinch even shared the story of someone donating $5,000 to Extra Life if an artifact set were made in game named after him. Finch’s response? “Done!”

The baby dragons aren’t the only thing hidden away. Ffinch explained that he was always one to explore and try to get to crazy places in MMOs, but he was already irked that there was never anything there — no reward at all for getting to some insanely hard-to-reach place other than a screenshot. That’s why he puts artifacts or puzzles in these places as reward those who go through the effort to exploring every nook and cranny. This just inspired me to dive deeper into RIFT: So forget playing it as a game; I just want to go explore and find all the things!

Massively Overpowered was on the ground in Seattle for PAX West 2017, bringing you expert MMO coverage on Ashes of Creation, Ship of Heroes, Dual Universe, and everything else on display at the latest Penny Arcade Expo!
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taradyne
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taradyne

At launch, Rift definitely was a WoW clone but over the years it has become it’s own thing. There are fluff features in Rift that you can’t find elsewhere; you might see something similar but it’s not as sleek or as simple or as free. Bring together a bunch of those kinds of features and Rift becomes a great place to hang your hat when you want the things other mmos have, plus the extras – in an art style that isn’t a cartoon.

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Malcolm Swoboda

At this point I just want the jumbled mess that is much of the game, cleaned up.

styopa
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styopa

RIFT is really quite an enjoyable game, not sure why it’s always the bridesmaid in MMO discussions.
Sure, it’s a WoW knockoff, but they have a fairly different approach to both mechanics and lore.
It’s a hugely long game, for someone that really wants to get committed to something. I have a 65 now (occasional player since launch) and have leveled a couple of others thanks to IAs. I’m faintly tantalized/horrified by the idea of starting a toon at 1 and just plain-old-questing my way to cap.

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Sorenthaz

I almost want to poke back on just to see what everything’s like on a computer that isn’t a Toshiba laptop which could run it at like… 20 FPS on medium at best (giant zone invasions like on Ember Isle and the one bigass boss guy in Storm Legion would turn my computer into a slideshow presentation), buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut it’s hard to really get any friends to check it out with me even if it’s F2P… hell the F2P stigma and the way the mechanics work (last I played at least, you basically could macro ability rotations to like 5-8 action bar slots) don’t do it any favors either.

That said, maybe if my XIV sub has to be dropped I’ll give it another looksie since I’ve still got my level 60 Mage or whatever with a buttload of special old titles and other stuff on it.

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Sorenthaz

Good to hear Simon is still working on Rift, even if it’s a shadow of its old self. Some of the most fun livestreams Trion did were when Daglar and Simon would be on stream answering questions and whatnot with Elrar, and Simon seemed to be one of those genuine devs that just wanted to make an enjoyable experience. Pretty sure he’s also the one who was vocal about wanting to give out RIFT for private servers and whatnot if Trion ever pulls the plug on the official servers.

taradyne
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taradyne

Simon was just on last week’s Rift livestream. :)

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Veldan

Do you know if Daglar is still with RIFT / Trion?

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Jennifer Bridges

Daglar is currently sipping whiskey and working on other products at Trion. :)

taradyne
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taradyne

I trust that you would know this thing. :)

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Jennifer Bridges

I sure hope so. ;)

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Greaterdivinity

I think he left some last year before SFP launched. I say think, because I don’t think I’ve ever tracked down confirmation anywhere. No official “goodbye” post from him, no word of him moving to a role that isn’t public facing, he just kinda poofed.

Then again, I’ve never looked terribly hard so it’s totally possible I missed the posts and my few google searches never turned them up for whatever reason.

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Sorenthaz

All I remember is that Archonex I believe was the one who replaced him as the lead of stuff similar to how Daglar replaced Scott Hartsman.

It LOOKS like he’s still the Executive Producer on Rift. But it’s really hard to find much on his current status. Daglar hasn’t been active on the RIFT forums since 2015, so at the very least he is no longer in a position where he has to deal with the community (he was pretty abrasive so did end up being controversial with people even if the brutal honesty was refreshing to some).

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Neurotic

I do love my RIFT very much. As a dedicated Explorer, it tickles me in so many ways. :)

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