Shifting Sands – Rift: Planes Of Telara

By Jim Rossignol on October 19th, 2010 at 8:25 am.


I’ve been deliberately ignoring Rift: Planes Of Telara, which is the other game by Trion Worlds (they of End Of Nations), because the name is so terrible. But even my cruel, irrational prejudice has some limits, and I realised that a game as pretty as this probably should get at least catch our eye across a crowded internet, even if we had no real intention of going up and asking it out. It’s a splendid-looking MMO, that contains all the usual ingredients that are genuinely listed on the side of the MMO packaging: a huge world, various supporting character classes, PvP, PvE, epic quests, and so and so forth and you can see why we might be a sceptical about this one.

However, take a look at the trailer below. It explains one of Rift’s big features that doesn’t appear in other MMOs, which is the areas of the world being radically transformed in aspect and content by the titular rifts. These alternate dimensions flood in and change the world completely and, well, it’s rather impressive to behold. And it’s a neat solution to instancing, now that I think about it. Yes, Trion’s big thing for Rift is dynamism: the world should constantly change, so they claim. If true, it could be one of the more interesting MMO worlds out there.

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43 Comments »

  1. Longrat says:

    While it’s a very impressive effect indeed, the visual of “NPCs standing with arms slightly spread in perfect stillness” just brings back bad memories of past MMOs and just makes me feel like this one small feature won’t change the fact that this MMO will be more of the same.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      The other part of the problem is that having to find them first in any of the number of locations they could be, then run after them and getting them to stand still so they’ll talk to you is also not always very practical.

  2. Aerozol says:

    Is putting different textures on everything really ‘changing the world’?
    I’m not really seeing it.

  3. Moo says:

    While the world changing sounds nice, I’d prefer if the world changed based on the players’ actions.

  4. Rich says:

    Flying Spaghetti Monster, is that you?

  5. Artist says:

    Is it really dynamism only cos theres two versions of the same? Maybe thats a bit too overrated…
    Even with that it looks like any other fantasy MMO. And another epic “safe the whole world”- setting! Epic != everybody can be a hero! Gaaah, come up with something fresh, devs.

    • MadMatty says:

      yeah looks like a one trick Pony- and the trick isnĀ“t that great. Wurm Online is the MMO where the world actually changes.

  6. derfalconer says:

    While it sounds interesting and something I’d like to see happen more often in an mmo, this simply cannot really be that compelling if it works on a system like ‘oh random rift here today boys, whole mild mannered town turned into angry red people with swords fight them and destroy the rift!’ after fighting said rift, could it all go back to normal? would that make any sense? I just cant imagine a repeated town takeover mechanic where you are basically fighting to preserve the status quo is interesting. If something changes, let it change, don’t let it go back to the way it was before.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      Yeah, I kind of imagined an interesting variety of planes intersecting, but the trailer is more like “generic medieval landscape OR generic hellscape!” The environment looks to be “constantly shifting!!” between an RPG town and an RPG dungeon (from Oblivion, specifically). It’s still an interesting concept, but I’m skeptical until I see it implemented in a different way than this trailer suggests it will be implemented.

    • pupsikaso says:

      “I just cant imagine a repeated town takeover mechanic where you are basically fighting to preserve the status quo is interesting.”

      Tabula Rasa much? It pissed me the heck off to have to re-capture an outpost every single fecking time I came back to hand in a mission.

  7. jsdn says:

    Are there multiple texture swaps, or is it just the one?

  8. Lobotomist says:

    Since i must be the most MMO oriented reader of this site :P

    I have to say that Rifts came as a big surprise for me. I was skeptic as first and dismissed it as just another MMO , not having much to offer in competition with upcoming greats (GW2,SWTOR,Telara)

    What first attracted me was a lore and storytelling. Which if you read it a bit is on par with Obsidian or Bioware. Amazing graphics.Than came the dynamic events , randomized dungeons. Completely open skill system where you can create hundreds of class combinations.

    Finally i learned that Rifts has over 100 million $ budget. Being in fact very stealth top MMO project.

    Only fault i can find so far is that game still uses static “click skill, stand on place” system of EQ(WOW,LOTRO) style MMOs , opposed to dynamic combat of GW2,Telara. (although this is just my impression)

    All in all , rifts is a secret tip. And I am looking forward for beta invite :D

    • the affront says:

      You’re talking about TERA, not “Telara”.
      Which is made by Korean devs. Have yet to see a really good MMO from over there, so not hoping for much and really can’t understand the hype.

      Also twitch-based gameplay _requires_ a whole lot of content or a straight up entirely PVP focused game, as anyone who has ever played even a little bit of Darkfall or even Tabula Rasa knows that aiming/swinging your sword yourself combined with PVE grind gets really fucking tedious very quickly.

      I’m pretty sure churning out new content that isn’t grind-based to keep players even just a tiny step above casual busy over time isn’t possible. Hell, even WoW can’t do it.
      So I’m fine with either this – or an entirely PVP focused game, which this isn’t, so yeah… not much else they could do, I think.
      Though I do hope that some studio proves me wrong in the future – I just can’t see it yet, based on past releases.

    • Lobotomist says:

      I stand corrected Telara = Tera

      As for previous releases by Trion ? Its a completely new company founded by some big shots from EA,NC and Sony (This does not sounds good i know :( )

      On the topic of twitch based combat and grinding.

      I must disagree with you. How many times i fallen asleep (literally) while grinding in EQ style point click MMO. But in twitch based like DDO or Tabula Rasa. The combat was fun and it required active thinking even when fighting most mundane opponent. Complexity goes straight up. And I agree it can be pain for the lazy grinding bots. But people that actually want GAME in their game , will enjoy.

    • the affront says:

      Yeah, I’m not saying that it isn’t fun as long as the content is still new (it IS a lot of fun) – I’m just saying that you cannot create enough content that isn’t grind to keep players busy after they’ve finished that which was there at release – once you’ve beaten, say, a dungeon, seen its loot and every mob in it for the fifth time it cannot be even nearly as fresh and exciting as it once was.

      What I mean is that grind is grind, no matter if twitch based or not. It will always be boring doing the same thing for the 50th time. The only thing that changes is that you have to be more concentrated while doing it, thus probably have less time to socialize (be it typing or VOIP) – which for me does nothing but increase the tedium given that I know all the content already.

      Incidentally I also think that making it challenging enough to not be just a gimmick would alienate a lot of the casual player MMO audience (who are already pretty bad at even today’s practically braindead stand still and autoattack systems), which every but a handful of niche MMOs need.

      PVP is obviously different, but then this isn’t about that.

    • Lobotomist says:

      While , I do agree. I must point that this is a fault within MMO gameplay as a whole. Not something a particular game like Rift can be accused off.

      On the other hand. Both Rift and GW2 try to address the problem by introducing dynamic events.
      Which in my opinion could finally be end of death lock limited content holds over MMO genre.

    • Hallgrim says:

      @The Affront:

      I think that has more to do with the nature of MMO’s than the nature of building content. MMO’s are required to be zero-sum games to avoid letting a handful of players experience all the content, while thousands log in to find everything has changed without knowing why.

      I’m still hoping someone will realize that a MORPG (that’s ‘mor-pi-guh’, instead of ‘muh-mor-pi-guh’) where there were only 2-20 people on a server could offer an experience that was much more compelling than a standard MMO, without requiring the depth of content that something like a traditional RPG does.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      @Lobotomist
      “Since i must be the most MMO oriented reader of this site :P”

      Sir, you do not get to make such a statement without a quick rundown of recommendations
      Low spec recommendations if you would.

    • the affront says:

      Hallgrim:
      True, but for the point I was trying to make (that is twitch gameplay in “traditional” MMOs not necessarily being desirable without changing a major portion of game mechanics) it doesn’t really matter which single part doesn’t work – content creation or the “generic MMO formula”. The result is the same.

      About that 2-20 people thing.. I imagine that would require a lot of organization to have enough players online to actually do anything at a given time with a pool that small, and maybe even a good DM (GM?). So it would probably have a small, hardcore audience only.

      Aren’t there persistent NWN(2?) mod-shards that do something like it already, anyway?

    • Culprititus says:

      The only MMORPGs I’ve ever really played myself were NwN1/2 custom persistent world servers. These weren’t quite as Massive. Maybe about 100 players at peak times. I really enjoyed it. One thing about it was having players interested in actually role-playing to create some character-driven story quests. With a little help from a DM doing some background work, these quests really made the world seem really interesting and the characters memorable.

      As for the twitch/click-n-wait gameplay, I guess in NwN it really depended on the foes and your class. Because these server also often had custom changes to spells (effects, durations, saves, friendly fire, etc) and resting and other abilities to balance things in the world builders’ opinion, there was certainly some variety in how strategic and engaged the player needed to be to do different ‘grinds’.

      I guess I’m just disappointed there hasn’t been a newer Multiplayer world building platform since NwN2. Giving modders and server operators the chance to create new MMO-like spaces on a small scale was supremely appealing to me. Finding a good server to invest some time into was a bit of a taxing process (often with a character application). There was just something really entertaining about exploring an unknown world with a small respectful community of RPing players.

    • Hallgrim says:

      @The Affront:

      I’m thinking more of a sand-box game. Part of the point is to negate the need for someone to spend a lot of time doing the GM’ing work, but still allow for a game experience that has a real history, where your actions in the past are still meaningful. Dwarf Fortress is a good example of a game that creates a compelling narrative, using procedurally generated content via an AI instead of hand crafted content. Did someone mention a “small, hardcore audience”? Seriously though, if Dwarf Fortress looked like vanilla WoW (or maybe even vanilla EQ) I think it would be very popular.

      @Culprititus:

      I didn’t spend a lot of time in NWN1 PW’s, but I still see them as something unique and special. I’m really surprised that nobody has bothered to monetize that kind of community. The NWN Online game sounds like ‘just’ a City of Heroes -style mission creator in the DND universe. Which could be fun, but is certainly not the world-building that was available in a NWN1 PW.

  9. Pema says:

    What is a Corruptor doing there?!

    Yeah, yeah, too many Starcraft 2, I know…

  10. alex dante says:

    Weirdly, this is kind of what I was hoping for from Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: a sand-boxed environment that played with the similarities & differences across each variant universe.

  11. MadeOfWaaagggghhh says:

    I swear, if I see (Yet Another) YAMMORPG I am going to puke.

    Oh.

    Too late.

    Hm. Turns out “ate” is part of “late”. Intriguing. Certainly more so than the gazillionth MMORPG release while all people are really p(l)aying (see wot I did thar) is WOW.

    Can we go back to making intriguing plot-and-game-mechanics-meshing single player games now please?

  12. Buckermann says:

    Damn. At first I thought that this would be about
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rifts
    But now I’m disappointed :(

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      A Rifts RPG would be the best thing ever. Also, require the most content.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Palladium did sue over name use and similar world elements. Don’t think it went anywhere.

    • Lobotomist says:

      They changed the name from Rifts to Rift

      Problem solved

    • Hallgrim says:

      @Jim: Why worry about how much content you would need, when you could focus on how terrible the balancing act would be instead?

      True story: I once played a Coalition Dogboy in a campaign. He was part retriever and a kleptomaniac. This meant that he was constantly stealing from the other characters, but he would then return what he stole, pretending that he found it.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Bought my first Rifts books on ebay a couple of days ago.
      I expect to be amused.

    • bob_d says:

      Funny enough a friend of mine in the industry was talking to Palladium about working on a Rifts MMO, as the company had been thinking about it. Don’t think we’ll ever see it happen, though.

  13. Doggy says:

    BEHOLD HIS NOODLY APPENDAGES

  14. Urthman says:

    The reality-shifting stuff I imagined from that screenshot was sooooo vastly better than the stuff in that video.

    Oblivion gates are changing the weather from sunny to helly!

  15. Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

    Somehow I was expecting this to be related to Chasm: The Rift. Silly me.

  16. Alexander Norris says:

    Vastly disappointed this isn’t a Rifts MMO. I want to play a glitterboy, damn it.

  17. Jimmy says:

    man, what a terrible name. They could have at least called it Cataclysm: Return of Deathwing or something.

  18. Wulf says:

    One thing that depresses me about things like this is that if they want to create a brilliant world, then why not create brilliant races, too? Istaria had quadrupedal dragons (!) as a player race, for example. You could have giant golems, plant creatures, beastmen, wisps, insect hives, beings of pure bloody thought and so on… so why is it that some games only opt for: human, short human, tall human, nobbly-headed Star Trek human, human with differently coloured skill, also-human-but-not-human-honest-guv, fat human, thin human, afro-human, funny-walk human, and so on, and so on. :p

    It’s just so boring! This is one of the reasons I sing the praises of Guild Wars 2 though, at the very least it hast he Charr. What are the Charr? Highly advanced secular doombeast scientists, who make things like dieselpunk robots and helicopters (yes, the Charr have helicopters)!! If GW2 can be creative enough to have highly advanced secular doombeast scientists, then why not other MMOs?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Don’t forget the mangy cat-like, hilariously condescending Asura. Or are you conflating the Charr/Asura?

  19. Ultima Online Player says:

    So in essence they’ve reinvented Felucca and Trammel from Ultima Online?

  20. John Peat says:

    At best this will be something to do until GW2.

    Tho to be honest, all games will be that…

  21. jackflash says:

    Meh. Looks like Oblivion with rifts.

  22. vine says:

    This looks doomed to fail. How generic can you be? And I assume it will launch around the same time as TERA and GW2. I almost feel sorry for the devs, but then I remember how much IP they ripped off from other games and I smirk a little smirk.