Vacations (or, more generally, time away from your games) can do the strangest things with you. Before I went, I was totally engrossed in TSW and its story. Little did any other game pull me away from it. While I was on vacation, though, my mind wandered and arrived, of all games, at Rift. I’ve said many things about Rift before, but the bottom line is that I found it an enjoyable game, but a shoddy world. With factions gone away for all intents and purposes (cross-faction guilds, mail, etc.), the game piqued my interest again. I have no love for artificial (read: not decided by standings that can be influenced by the player after rolling a character), set-in-stone factions. Just the fact that a game would tear down its strict faction barriers is so laudable in my opinion, that the game in its entirety felt interesting to me again.
To Take or Leave the Deal
That left me with a hard decision. I could, of course, play a low-level alt, and indeed, on Friday night, I dabbled around a bit with a rogue. On the other hand, what I really wanted to play was my 43 mage. Especially with the expansion around the corner and no level 50 in my roster.
Trion, like always, took a page out of a competitor’s book and improved on it. (They’re a bit like the Japanese used to be, aren’t they? Rarely invent, but often copy and improve.) If you buy a year of subscription, you get the expansion for free. And as opposed to Blizzard, the expansion is less than two months away now. Also, as opposed to Blizzard, they point out to you that this is a one-year prepaid offer that does not automatically renew, since, in fact, it is not a subscription, technically. It’s like buying a year of prepaid game time. On the other hand, I did the math, and with the expansion at a mere 30 Euros, I can subscribe for 8 months out of 12 on a month-by-month basis and still come out ahead.
So I decided to take the safe path and subscribe for one month only. I figured, if I still enjoy the game two or three weeks from now and feel like I’ll stay, I can always pick up the offer then. If it’s still available then; I couldn’t find any information about how long the offer will run. Maybe until the expansion releases?
Events, Events, Events!
One thing I noticed was that the server numbers have decreased since I last played. Like, a lot. Honestly, I can’t remember what the numbers were back when I was last playing, but I’m sure it was more than 12 (4 English, 4 German, 4 French). To boot, my server seemed quite empty. Now, I fancy emptiness in MMOs to a certain degree. I feel that most MMO worlds are woefully overpopulated, and it is much more in tune with the scenery if you only run into another player every once in a while. On the other hand, for leveling, especially in a game like Rift, there is a case to be made for many bodies around. Thankfully, server transfers are free, instant, and easy in Rift, so I went over to the most populated server, Icewatch.
Holy Event Batman. Now, it seems, I can’t play without running into “dynamic events”. I started playing on Sunday morning. My plan was to do some dungeons, run the daily allowance of instant adventures, then do some rifts. Instead, I did a rift event. Then another. Then I had a look at the current seasonal event. Then I did my instant adventures. By then, more rift events had shown up again. And before I knew what was happening to me, I had been in front of the screen for 9 hours, and hadn’t eaten more than a piece of chocolate in the meantime.
By 6, I was finally able to pry myself from the constant frenzy, not the least because I was feeling completely exhausted, sucked dry, and hungry. It was strange. The regular, global announcements of “something is happening in zone X! Come now to help out and collect rewards!” never stopped. “You can’t go now! There’s stuff happening!“, it insisted. No time to smell the flowers on the way, or you’ll be too late to the killing party. That’s the exhausting part: I can play for 9 hours, but I can’t play for 9 hours in a constant mob-hitting frenzy.
That is definitely more than I bargained for. I hope I will be able to resist the urge to finish every single event that shows up from now on, because it isn’t healthy. Not for me (at least a small break to rest your eyes and get some tea is always a good idea), and not for the game, either. The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long, and I’d rather be burning my Rift oil steadily, instead of burning out in no time.Though if that should happen, at least I can say that I chose the right subscription option.
I haven’t played GW2, but I wonder whether its dynamic events would end up doing the same to me and my play time as Rift’s. From what I heard about them, that might be possible. Has anybody had the feeling that they feel dynamic events keep them playing for longer, keeping them from “cooling down” in between?
Looking at the other extreme, this feels to me as the antithesis to EVE: While there’s no time to rest and breathe in Rift because you are always urged to do something now and do it fast, in EVE, I lately had the feeling that there’s nothing to do at all: I log in, queue a new skill, sit in chat channels for half an hour (while I read blogs on the side), and then log off because nothing seems to be going on. Of course, there probably is stuff going on, but either in different time zones, or in smaller groups of people I’m not part of. And even in other groups (for example, when you read Wilhelm’s EVE posts), it seems that not doing anything is a big part of EVE.
Striking the right balance between boredom and overload in a game is hard. It’s also very dependent on the player. At the moment, I feel like Rift is doing too much and EVE is doing too little. But that might change. Today, it’s a holiday here, so I’ll check out both again. Let’s see how it’ll go today.