The Harbinger

by on Apr.21, 2011, under Articles

As you’re killing your last Bogling, a horn sounds in the distance. Somewhere far away, someone exclaims that a strange smell is drifting through the area.

And then… nothing. No, there isn’t even a quiet before the storm. Literally nothing happens — life continues as it was before, rifts and tears continue to await the ascended, and monsters continue to stalk around, looking for people to kill. Anyone entering the zone would have no idea that an invasion is coming up.

And then, it happens. The sky may change colors, or a ton of tears that instantly transform into rifts may appear. And Rift missed a great chance to be dramatic.

Though it probably would never be high on the to-do list. this needs to change. Imagine the following scenario.

There is no horn. As you’re killing your last Bogling, the game music starts to fade out. Ambient animal noises slowly start to die out, and then there is a momentary auditory lull: there is no music and very little animal created ambiance (there can be the panicked sounds of birds flying away) — only the groaning of trees and grass being pushed against the wind. Even rift music sees a drop in volume as the zone feels a shift in pressure against the ward.

As the noises in Telara fade out, the music of the upcoming invasion grows louder. The first level music (the drums) associated with the plane could slowly fade in, growing louder and louder until the invasion starts. After all, the planar creatures need some music to march into Telara with, don’t they?

But the signs aren’t just auditory. Non-humanoid, in-world monsters randomly lose aggro status (turning yellow-named), one by one, and start wandering around as if confused — all except for those monsters affiliated with the coming invasion, who may be standing still and smiling manically at the sky.

As if the planes are preparing for the assault, and therefore rerouting their strengths to the coming invasion, all rifts currently in the zone start to die out, having the monsters in them weakened (rewards could scale down proportionally, but there is an invasion coming up that could make up for it). If no one is at the rift, it will collapse near the beginning of the lull. This would affect all rifts. Maybe the fire invasion that is coming involved starting out with cutting off the other planes so they don’t interfere.

For the sky changing super zone invasions, the zone could adopt a ambient glow in the color that represents the plane. For all invasions, however, the map starts to become dotted with tears (one for each of the rifts that will appear at the start of the zone invasion). They don’t all open at once — they’ll happen one after another — but eventually, there will be such an impressive number that they can’t all be lured before the invasion begins. Moreover, should a rift from one of these tears somehow reach a timed stage before the invasion begins, the plane shifts efforts to opening a new tear for the invasion.

And then — it happens. A horn finally plays as the sky erupts into red and all the tears open. They don’t open at the same instant, but within seconds, there are no longer any tears in the zone.

That would be the proper way to signify a zone invasion. It would also put a lot more emphasis on sound and music, something that not many people appreciate these days. Don’t like the idea? Discuss below.

Written by Arianne

Arianne is a boring, ordinary girl who just happens to have a RIFT subscription. You learn more about her by following Arianne of Sanctum or @LadySuccubus.

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10 Comments for this entry

  • Malcolm

    Yes. This would be a part (a *part*) of the complaint that “Hur hur for a game about souls, it sure lacks one! hurhur!”

    Trion, if you be readin this, take note. She’s right. You don’t get people into an MMO with social interaction alone, nor do you with massive events. Nor do you with number crunching, stat advancing (the people who love this are few but loud). You get it with atmosphere, depth, and excitement. Having ‘STAGE 5 EVERYONE’ and ‘Oh look, that horn means that an event is officially starting’ and quests up the butt for everything isn’t exactly immersive, but the opposite of it.

    -more plotlines and better direction of them (getting there)
    -what the blog post suggests
    -more interacting with hubs, more community with hubs/towns. Invasions that don’t just move in and take over and wander in a circle, but make the land their own. NPCs that don’t just stand there, but progress across the land just as the planar factions do. More of a community feeling in the towns that do exist.

    This kind of stuff can make Rift a gem, and not an interesting diversion

    • Arianne

      I really like your last point! It appears that all planar invaders want to do at the moment is march around in a circle and turn a teensy patch of ground their color.

      I think that this should be kept in, but their marching around could be part of a ritual. Every circle they make, the ground texture expands a little until it envelopes the entire town. As the ground texture expands, buildings can start to burn (fire, start to become infested by plants (life), or start to become enveloped in a thick mist (water).

      While this is happening, they could spawn their own guards, and otherwise establishing an actual foothold in the world. They could convert a building in the camp into an armory/barrack that spawns invasions. If given enough time, they could even spawn more important / harder to kill creatures!

      But this doesn’t mean that the world is entirely dynamic — once the foothold is cleared out, everything returns back to the way it was before. Camps wouldn’t move. People wouldn’t even die. They’d just appear again, after the building they’re in or was near is repaired, and everything would be like it was before.

      As for the repairing, imagine if once you defeated the idol, the first group of NPCs that appears offers quests to restore the buildings to normal, which might be putting out fires or burning down plants, or even dehydrating water from the air.

      There are a lot of things Trion can do to increase the atmosphere. For a game named Rift, rifts and invaders are strangely unaggressive — they don’t even plan to stay, seeing how they just march around in a circle waiting for someone to kill them.

  • Starseeker

    I actually like the warning, while it may not be as “imersive” as just suddenly changing the zone…maybe I’m in a boss fight or getting ready to leave the zone…I see the message pop up…oh maybe I’ll stick around or make quick work of the boss. Or even have some of my friends come over to help out.

    The problem with the scenario that you suggest with the sounds and music changing, is probably 90% of the people i play with turn the music off. about 50% of them have most the sound off too. Maybe they aren’t immersed but most of them just enjoy having the music of telara be Ozzy Ozborne or megadeth.

    I think putting time into this kind of ambiance, when there are SO MANY other things they could be working on (like better live events, more content and balance fixes, or fixes to the sound that is already in the game (clunking and volume variations)) is a waste of time since the majority of people I talk to don’t even pay attention to the sounds.

    As for Malcoms suggestion about npcs roaming around and planar factions taking over the land…I think Scott Hartsman had addressed a “completely dynamic game” and said that the majority of their testers did not like it due to having to chase down NPCs, npcs not being there, etc.

    I think they can work on the way Rifts go (add more variety of Rift invasions), and I’d rather them work on things like content, more rifts, dungeons,and raids, and fixing the issues in the game instead of working on the ambiance.

    To me Rift has a soul already, but I might just be one of the few who think that.

    • Malcolm

      I know Scott said this. What I meant was not towards *named quest NPCs*, which can stay where they are, but rather guards, expeditionary forces, patrols, etc. Instead of the more direct and false feeling Guardian/Defiant footholds, a more natural feeling system could surely be designed for zones.

    • Arianne

      Don’t forget that there are other things that can be happening while the sounds are changing — again, all monsters can turn yellow, or the sky could start to change color.

      We could even keep the alerts — though if both are in the game, the alert should probably come after half of the warning phase has passed, and not be accompanied with the horn. That way, people who are paying attention get a slightly earlier warning!

  • Hexin

    Good idea. Well written too.

  • Fartmancer

    I really like this idea. As it is, I tend to participate in invasion events all the time and it’s one of my favorite parts of the game. This sort of thing would be seriously rad and really make the game shine. I just had another thought, too. Say there is a fire invasion coming (do any of those exist? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one). What if things just started to burn? Trees and shrubs are on fire, smoke clogs the air, creatures start fleeing for their lives. It would be a much more immersive experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we have already, but it could use some improvement. For all the little touches that are already present, it seems like some big opportunities were overlooked or perhaps just left out for release?

    • Arianne

      Yes, there are fire invasions. I’ve only seen them in Silverwood though.
      But it would be interesting to have the zone slowly transition towards the plane! Fire invasions could warn people through random fires. Impending water invasions could cause rain. Death invasions could be forewarned by things randomly dropping dead. I like your idea.

  • Karta

    The proposed intro to an invasion is all well and good but invasions need more beef to them in my opinion. In the beginning, invasions were massive and really put the community on their backsides. It was tough and I loved it. But…

    As I started to hit 40 and then 50.. I noticed that invasions were over in a matter of 10-15 minuets, including the final boss. My point? The higher level invasions do not scale up well when compared to the toughness of a level 18 invasion.

    I think that the high level invasions should last at least 45 min to an hour leading up to the final boss. The roaming armies should do all that they can to destroy the zone, good npcs and all. I don’t really like how they find a spot, summon a stone then squat on it. I think they should summon a stone that constantly creates more allies then move on to the next place until either they die or all good NPCs die. A zone wide invasion should be huge, amazing.. and force you to make one simple choice. band together with your fellow players and fight back… or die.

    As for the final boss… since you’ve got two factions worth of level 50′s hungry for something better to do… you need to make that boss last at least 3 times as long as they currently do. Its a quick fix to your high end player being constantly bored…

    • Fartmancer

      I don’t think that just making the invasion boss take longer to kill will make it more epic. As it is I get pretty bored with the bosses because they take a while and aren’t really a challenge. It is also a difficult thing to balance because it is open-world and you can essentially have an arbitrarily large number of people beating on it, and each person has a different skill level, time invested, gear level, etc. It would actually be interesting to see some sort of objective-based gameplay arise during invasions, beyond close X rifts and kill Y invasions. Sort of like an extension of some of the rifts I have seen that require you to kill mobs channeling power into another mob, perhaps. Something like, “these rifts are sustaining this main rift that is pouring out invaders, destroy them to stop the flow of intruders!” Again, though, this is something that is difficult to balance or even to create. Trion has been doing fairly creative and different things with their content so far, and I think they’ve been listening to suggestions and feedback for the most part. I am excited to see what else they can do with this game.

      I do like your ideas regarding invader behavior. Continuously spreading out and creating new footholds would be pretty awesome to see. It would certainly make it difficult for anyone to ignore (which might make some people cry, but welcome to Telara, Ascended).

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