It’s In The Details

I've got Argonath on the brain...

Random thought as I wrap up a nice session in RIFT – not only is the above screenshot characteristically gorgeous (as is so much about the game) but it also represents something I’m quickly coming to expect from Trion – attention to detail.

Here’s why: running around the Defiant “starter zone” I’ve quickly gotten in the habit of letting the Explorer in me determine where I go and what I do. There is so much “off the beaten path” in RIFT that it is well worth the time and effort to strike out in any direction and see what one finds. Not only are there Artifact collections (I love shinies, too!) but there are the rifts themselves, Footholds, Invasions, and I’ve actually found small “quest hubs” in areas where I wasn’t explicitly pointed. A serious departure from what I’ve come to expect in a themepark game; its getting to the point that I’m not sure I can call RIFT a themepark game anymore.

Nonetheless, I was out gathering for a quest (yes, of the ‘Kill X of Y’ variety) when I spotted the above statue, which is actually quite massive, off in the distance. I get to the shoreline and see that it’s sitting on its own little island, but it definitely looks reachable. Off I go.

When I got out to it…nothing. Not a thing. No mobs aside from trash, no encounters, no Point of Interest, not even a “You’ve Discovered: Big Statue” which RIFT flashes when you find a new area. And you know what?

It made me happy. It was a great little moment; I wasn’t disappointed in the least! Because it shows an attention to detail from Trion that is sadly uncommon, even rare, these days. They didn’t put something that big out there for any other reason than that someone felt it should be there. Who knows, maybe a quest will send me back out there, or a piece of lore will be revealed that gives it some context or explanation. But not today. Today, Drannos discovered a beautiful statue, facing out to see, on a tiny island, which did nothing for me besides give me something to find. And that’s refreshing. It’s not about Achievements or Deeds or Badges for Trion (though they have those too), it’s about building a rich, immersive world for their players.

No offense to Turbine and the others, but I’ve been spoon-fed content for so long that I forgot what it was to really explore. To wander. To find things for myself. So much of what I do in other games has an ulterior motive – you don’t go anywhere or do anything that doesn’t pay off in some way; landmarks as Deeds and killing for Traits. Sure, sometimes I get to further a story; there are some truly amazing sights and experiences in all of these games. But sometimes we just need to play the hero. I’m not slaying Orcs because they threaten anyone, but only because 250 of them are an item on a checklist and when I cross them off, I get a stat boost. A small one. And on we go to the next item…

What about discovery for the sake of discovery? And the sheer fun of playing in a virtual world?

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6 responses to “It’s In The Details

  1. I find this an interesting observation because I felt the exact opposite about RIFT. I felt that the artifact/exploration system turned what should be fun for the sake of fun into a grind. When I opened the achievements tab and saw all the places I had to click things I was filled with a sense of dread, like someone putting a huge stack of papers on my desk, rather than seeing a world to explore. But hey if you think it’s fun I’m glad for you! 🙂

  2. I don’t get it. Why are you killing 250 orcs for a small stat boost? Why not do something you enjoy instead? Its a game after all.

  3. @32ndlaw:
    I think it’s because RIFT has both that it struck me as such a nice little detail. For the Completionist in me, they have the Artifact Collections and other accomplishments. For the Explorer, they have built an amazing world with a ton of detail. And, at least for the Artifacts, the system is so unobtrusive, and somewhat random in what you find and where you find it, that it doesn’t bother me so much – I’m not grinding 60 Artifacts in the same zone, I just find them in the process of exploring and questing.

    Maybe it’s just a matter of having seen all the sights in LotRO and others – the wonder has worn away somewhat, maybe?

    @BobTurkey:
    Partly because it’s a mechanic of the game, Traits, and a somewhat necessary one at that. But also partly because I am a Completionist, and ticking those list items off is fun (of a sort…). But after awhile it gets old, as everyone knows. I was hoping that Turbine would cut back on the grind a little with F2P, because there’s little incentive to force grind to maintain long subscriptions. But that was naive, obviously, because there’s money to be made in selling “grind mitigation” cash shop items…

    Ah well. And, I do go and do something fun instead of grind. Sadly, lately that’s been playing RIFT, not LotRO.

  4. Ironically, when I first saw that screenshot, the first thing I thought was LOTRO 😛 Like when I first rode into that area with the huge lake and you see the statues looming up in the distance…can’t recall the name of the place at the moment.

    I think that’s great too, and something I’d do myself too if I saw something like that in game. I like to wander out there just to check it out. And the fact that you actually can do that says a lot. It’s not there in the unreachable background just to look pretty, it’s meant to be discovered and explored by the players whose eyes it catches.

    • I think you mean Evendim. And it is similar, just with less swimming!

      I think LotRO has some stunning areas, the best I’ve seen so far, but like I wrote, the shininess has gone. Which, for an Explorer is just tough to handle. I need to get into Enedwaith, and quick!

  5. Pingback: It’s The Little Things That Thrill « MMO Gamer Chick

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