Rift Beta 5 Summary – Group and Destroy!

Rift Beta Summary Five – Group and destroy

Beta Five – 1/25/2011-1/29/2011

Trion has stepped up the Beta testing to prepare for the upcoming release of Rift. Including more zones, more dungeons, more levels, and most importantly a LOT more people. Also up to be tested was the open group system, and how that would impact rift fighting on the world of Telara. I was happy to spend some time in Beta 5 and thought I would share a few observations and quotes from what happened.

First, Trion extended the current Beta play area to include the zone of Scarlet Desert, which, unlike previous zones, includes a very strong presence from both Guardian and Defiant forces. Both are fighting their war against the minions of Regulos, but unable to ally due to past betrayals. Players could also explore the Foul Cascade dungeon, which is the highest dungeon yet to be revealed.

Add to that the increase of level to 30, which allows almost all of the branches of the soul tree system to be acquired (last one requires 31 points). Players can for the first time see how their entire soul tree could mesh and work with builds to take full advantage of that flexibility.

But lastly, and very impressively, are the sheer numbers of participants and how smoothly Trion is trying to integrate and obviously eager crowd of testers. It was announced very early on Tuesday that the total number of servers (including American and European) had hit 42. There appears to be some indication that the number was again raised later in the week. Considering this is a Beta test stage, that is a staggering number of server capabilities to match an even more staggering number of players. According to a Facebook post from Trion, the total number of test hours coming out of Beta 5 hit 2.4 million hours of play.

One of the largest problems I have seen in modern MMOs is how to deal with grouping, whether to make it mandatory, encouraged, or ignored. Trion has taken an interesting approach to Rift in that a lot of the basic game is soloable, however there is a very significant bonus to grouping for anything from dungeons to rifts. To help facilitate the grouping, they even have a simple method for joining an group that is not yet full, simply click a button that appears on the UI in the event that a group is in the area you are. One button, labeled “Join Public Group” appears when conditions are appropriate, and allows you to easily join your allies (Guardians and Defiants will not group mind you) against enemies in the area. This is not restricted to the typical group of 5 either, it quickly transforms into a raid force. I was fighting rifts using the public group mechanic and quickly found myself one of 20 allies beating down the forces of Fire in defense of Silverwood.

Imagine, being able to quickly assemble a group of allies to fight against the dynamic game that is Rift. Fighting off invasions, footholds, and closing rifts, with up to 19 other people who have nothing in common but wanting to bring down their enemy.

The more I play this, and watch the changes, the more excited I am getting for future Beta events, and the pre-launch on 2/24.

If you have not pre-ordered, I recommend it. Get into the last few Beta events, and get started several days in advance of other players at the pre-launch party!

Beta 6 is coming on 2/4/2011-2/7/2011, be there!

In summary, Rift Beta Five showed how determined Trion is to have a great launch, even if they are still putting the finishing touches on the product through the final stages of beta.

Rift Beta Four Summary – A whole new battlefield!

Rift Beta Four Summary, Combat on a new Battlefield!

Rift Beta Four: 1/7/2011-1/10/2011

Rift Beta Four introduced several new key elements of the upcoming game Rift, set to be released on 3/1/2011. Among these new introductions were Warfronts, Soul Quests, increased levels, and two new zones including a dungeon a piece!

Warfronts are an optional PVP element where Guardians and Defiants fight over specific objectives, in an instanced area specific to that Warfront. Apparently, this option is available on both PVE and PVP servers, and therefore offers a usually PVE player some arena to try their build against other players or smash some skulls when the need arises.

Soul Quests allow players to plan out more diverse capabilities. Each player has three different souls by the time they complete the starting area, but until these quests were added, additional souls were very difficult to acquire. With this addition, players can add more souls, and abilities, as options that their character can pursue. A Mage, for example, can start out as an Elementalist/Stormcaller/Archon build and change it to any other soul combination, such as Warlock/Necromancer/Pyromancer, assuming he completes the quests to do so.

Beta Four also increased the player experience by increasing the Beta level from 20 to 27. Adding new levels, and therefore new abilities to the player mix. This was coupled with the introduction of the zones of Stonefield and Gloamwood, with their respective dungeons of Deepstrike Mines and Darkening Deeps.

Rift Beta Five goes live on 1/25/2011! If you do not already have a VIP Beta Key, you can get into Rift Betas by pre-purchasing the game from most sources, including Amazon and GameStop. These keys will allow you access to all Rift Betas and the prelaunch on 2/24/2011!

Rift Beta Five Summary will be available after Rift Beta Five has ended. Until then, we hope you have enjoyed Rift Beta Four Summary, and previous summaries. See you in Telara!

Rift Beta Three Summary – All Out WAR!

Rift Beta Three Summary- The gloves come off!

Beta 3: 12/28/2010-12/31/2010

Rift Beta Three was the first major push for a few different things from Trion in regards to the upcoming title Rift. This was the first beta I personally participated in, and it will not be the last. Remember, Pre-ordering Rift at this point guarantees access to Beta events until the pre-launch party on February 24th.

The first thing my wife and I noticed were the sheer number of servers that Trion was utilizing as part of the Beta process. There were servers geared toward PVP and servers geared toward PVE play. There were also role-playing servers of both varieties.

This was the first time in the Beta process that both Defiant and Guardians existed, and in limited areas. Specifically, Silverwood and Freemarch were available, and Defiants could come invade Silverwood and vice versa. On a PVP server, this would have led to a lot of combat between the two factions, perfect if you like PVP.

On the PVE server where my wife and I played, you could still engage the enemy force, with a quick switch to PVP if you decided to, however if you left your PVP flag off, you were all but immune to the enemy forces.

This meant that each player had the option of whether to participate in PVP combat and to what extent and how frequently. It provides a lot of flexibility to each player choosing their own game. I like and respect that.

Along with the PVP combat options, Trion also had a lot of invasion capabilities to adjust and show off. Early in the Beta, there were swarms of invaders from the other planes attacking Telara en masse. When an invasion is sent forth from one of the planes, such as Fire or Life, they are usually composed of a leader and four followers per invasion force. This “squad” heads directly to a specific objective, which is a foothold either held by the Guardians (in Silverwood) or even a foothold by another plane (if Life had conquered the area, and Fire wanted it). To defeat the invasion, players need to eliminate the leader of the invasion.

Now, imagine, three invasion forces coming, from different planes, toward the same objective. Enemies from differing planes are enemies of each other. For example, my wife and I were at a location called Marsh House, when three invasions attacked. Fortunately, we were not alone in our efforts to defend our beloved Guardian outpost. Standing beside us were about ten other Guardian players, of all callings, ready to defend the outpost as well. Fifteen enemy invaders were defeated by twelve valiant Guardians.

The rifts and invasions, along with the footholds they establish, form a very unique and challenging aspect to the standard MMOs we have all become familiar with. Beta Four summary is coming soon, and Beta Five starts 1/25/2011.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed our Rift Beta Three Summary, and we will see ya in Telara!

Rift Beta Two Summary, Guardians and some invaders…

Rift Beta Summary, Beta Two
December 17-20, 2010

Beta Two focused heavily on the Guardian side of the conflict, in the area of Silverwood. However, Trion had a special trick up their sleeves that they wanted to test, and the summary of what happened is included in the quote from Scott:

Quoted from Scott Hartsman:

“ONCE UPON A TIME in a land called Telara, 573 Guardian players were minding their own business in a region called Silverwood. They were frolicking and levelling, and levelling and questing, and looting and laughing, collecting and crafting…. Ah! What a peaceful time it was.

And then, the world exploded.

Dozens of rifts, invasions, bosses, real gameplay objectives (and rewards coming soon!), dramatic skies, music shifts — the whole package. Our first event on a truly massive scale.

Beyond the gameplay, what you’re seeing is part of the story of Prince Hylas Aelfwar, and the Battle for Silverwood.

If you were there, we hope you enjoyed it. If you missed one of the times it ran: What you’re seeing is the first of many, and we hope you get to see them soon.

We’ve been playing this pretty close to the vest. We didn’t want to go promising things until we were able to prove this all worked and was fun, in front of a full-size Beta audience.

There are a lot of ways to tell epic stories in MMOs. Cutscenes are cool (we have a few of those). Voiced vignettes can be neat (we have some of those too). Giving you your own private experience can work well too.

In RIFT, we’d like you to be able to play through these events yourself. (The first M in MMO does stand for “Massive.”) That’s where we’re going.

In the event above, there were 573 player participants. All in one part of the world, and the world held up like a champ. Different raids, groups, and soloists taking on different parts of the event.

As a long time MMO player, I’d call it “exactly what I’ve been waiting for.”

We’re thrilled to see the comments from people who were pleasantly shocked that this is what we had in mind when we’ve been talking about epic scale events.

This event was for levels 8-20, complete with group encounters and raid bosses, and the reactions were amazingly positive.

It was a lot of fun to give you this preview of the first of many more types of events — both large and small.

We’ve had a ton of feedback on other subjects as well — Time is short and we have a lot to do between now and the next beta. Here are a few other key things we’ve taken away from all of the testing so far.

Classes and Souls: People like the system. They want more of it. They want to be able to play with more options, sooner — Both in terms of the numbers of points they can invest, as well as the numbers of souls and how they roll out. We hear you, and we agree.

The system really does play at its best once you have a pool of points to play with. That said, those high-end 51 point abilities look like fun too. What isn’t fun is asking people to make that kind of choice at the high end: Do I forsake the fun of the system to get the power I feel that I need in that 51 point ability?

In our system, it’s possible to give people even more choices by getting more points and more souls, faster. We can let people get all the way to a top-end soul ability if they choose, and still be able to have points to spend elsewhere into two other souls.

In time for Beta 3, expect to see all of the souls available to choose from the outset, more souls available earlier in the experience, and more total points to spend. The system is there, and it’s fun, and there’s no reason to hide it from people.

We’re confident that it’s the right thing to do to get more fun into the system. It’s more work, but it’s the kind of work we’re betting you’d want your developers focused on.

Soul Preview: This one was always on the list of things we’d like to do. After Beta 1, it got promoted to the top of it. It made the “We absolutely need this” list after Beta 2. The goal is to get it out there in time for Beta 3.

Pet Naming: I didn’t call this one out after Beta 1, but it was already on the list then. Since people keep asking about it specifically, we’d like to add that it should be out in time for Beta 3.

The Silverwood Music Bug: Yes, we’re fixing this.

There will be more improvements beyond these in time for Beta 3, but there’s a really short cycle between now and then, and we’re trying to make sure we can do everything above and more.

We look forward to seeing you next round, playing with more souls, and more massive events and more zone boss invaders!

If you haven’t seen them, you just haven’t seen RIFT.

See you in Beta 3!”

Summary for Beta 3 will be up shortly, but make sure you follow Rift and get involved in Beta 5. They are currently pushing a Facebook promotion, that if they get enough “likes” they will give away several hundred invitations to Beta 5!

Beta 5 is scheduled from January 25-28, 2010.

Rift Beta Summary: Beta Three coming soon!

Rift Beta Summary, Beta One

Rift Beta Summary, Beta One

With almost exactly six weeks until launch, the crew at Trion are approaching the final details seriously. They are using their weekends wisely as they plan and execute specific things to focus on during each Beta. They take this process very seriously and yet make the Beta process great fun for the players as well. So, to address the players, here is a look at what Trion has done, and has currently announced as doing, starting with Beta One.

Beta 1 – Rise of the Defiant, December 3-6, 2010

Beta 1 focused on the Defiant area of Freemarch, and the city of Meridian. Along with the dungeon Iron Tomb. Interviews after the event explained what Trion was trying to accomplish with this particular Beta, and some of that is quoted here:

“Scott Hartsman the Executive Producer of Rift has posted a Beta 1 Wrap Up!

Quote

Hi, everyone! On behalf of all of us on the RIFT team, and at Trion as a whole, I wanted to say thank you very much for participating in our first beta test.

We’ve been incredibly busy both through the event and in the hours since it ended, poring over all of the feedback and data and making plans for the next one. Between forum posts and in-game reports, you submitted over 20,000 individual pieces of feedback.

We’ve had developers, community, and QA folks looking over it constantly since the event began. Please do realize that your feedback here absolutely does matter.

We learned a lot this weekend. Most notably, we got answers to some critical questions.

What happens when you put the full population of a server on a single side, and effectively keep them in one or two zones for a whole weekend?

Could we patch all of those people? How well would the game hold up technically? How well would it play? How would the rifts and invasions play out?

Patching

The pre-patch that started a few days before the event was immediately extremely loaded. Many people were getting the files just fine, but a good number of you had to restart the patcher a few times to get them all.

You helped us figure out the biggest issues with this, and we updated the patcher a few times during the event. By the time the event began, the vast majority of people were seeing successful updates on the first try.

We still have a couple more improvements to make that should make the update experience even better in time for the next beta.

The Servers

Before the event officially began started, it became obvious that a lot more people took us up on our invitation than we had originally anticipated. Within the first hour of the event, we had to double the available number of servers. Those servers all remained highly active throughout the weekend.

The population of Freemarch never dipped below “more than we’ll need to support in the long term,” and the servers stayed responsive and stable throughout the overload.

Gameplay

The starting area of Terminus held up really well. People started slamming in to the point where we got a solid test of the server queues. (Thanks for putting up with that.)

During the first day, it was obvious that the quest targets in Freemarch weren’t nearly plentiful enough, and we made sure to get an update out for that as soon as we could – Based on people’s comments, it looked to have reduced quest blockages by about 95%.

By Saturday, it became obvious that our “wildly crazy active” tuning numbers for rifts, invasions, footholds and the like weren’t getting the result they were supposed to. For the first half of beta, very little of the dynamic game layer was seen or heard from.

Where we had hoped and expected to see invasions rampaging across the countryside, instead the population density had become far too high, such that invasions weren’t even getting off the ground.

We updated the game with even more insanely active tuning on Saturday night to give the invaders a chance to come out and play too, and the response in chat and submitted feedbacks was overwhelmingly positive once that started.

By the time it worked, it was a hell of a sight — Huge invasions finally freed up, setting up footholds, wiping out the local populace, and eventually being repelled by defenders.

Expect a whole lot more iterations and improvements here in the future, both to rifts and invasions. More types, more activities, and a much better tuned frequency.

We’ve spent a large part of the day today working on our plans to make sure people see obvious improvements to the dynamic layer, both in terms of frequency and diversity in time for the next beta.

From here, we’re going to continue going over everyone’s feedback, and seeing what kinds of adjustments and improvements people really want to see in the game.”

Trion obviously takes the Beta process very seriously and they have shown every intention of keeping to their goal of a clean MMO at launch. Stay Tuned! Beta Two Summary is coming soon!

Beta 5 is coming January 25-28th. Get online and try to get Beta Keys, check out Facebook, Twitter, and riftgame.com to get those keys coming!

More Beta Rift Summary news is in the works, see you soon, and see you in Beta!