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Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift: Song of a superhero

Fantasy, Super-hero, Lore, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Song of a superhero
When it comes to fantasy MMOs, we've been there so long and done that so often that we hardly think about the framework that supports these worlds and our assumptions about them. This is doubly the case when it comes to who we are: We are always talented warriors or wizards who are out to do noble good deeds and get all, like, awesome and stuff. But we are mortal. We are people, just the best of people. We have adventuring spirits.

Except that this doesn't quite apply to RIFT. When you really look at it, our characters in RIFT aren't generic adventurers. Who we are is not only clearly stated time and again but made an integral part of the game and its story. It's an important distinction that's worth examining. We are Ascended.

Another word for that is "superhero."

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Goodbye Scott, hello 2.2

Fantasy, MMO Industry, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Goodbye Scott, hello 22
If I was to make a list of the top, oh, five or 10 MMO developers whom I admire, Scott Hartsman would be on there. It's not just that I appreciate that he's one of the few human beings who is shorter than I am, but that he's had a remarkable career full of accomplishments that I respect. EverQuest II and RIFT both owe a great debt to the leadership of Hartsman, which is why it was a sad shock to hear that he was leaving Trion Worlds for unknown pastures.

And thus we begin a new year of RIFT, teetering between uncertainty and promise. For as severe as Hartsman's departure will be felt in the development of the game and in its community, we're also looking ahead to the title's third year of operation and a new update that looks to add even more delectable treats on top of this fantasy buffet.

So today we're going to say goodbye to Scott and hello to Update 2.2 as we look at the recent state of the game post.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Dungeon review, part 1

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Dungeons

Enter at Your Own Rift Dungeon review, part 1
I don't hide the fact that as an MMO gamer, I probably fall into the "casual" category by many of your definitions. Even so, I probably go dungeon diving in RIFT more than in other MMOs because of the game's silky-smooth LFG interface and the generally quick pace of the instance runs themselves. Hitting a dungeon while you've got one or more counters on the reward page is added incentive because you're at least guaranteed a solid loot drop of your very own (or plaques).

I'm still getting a feel for Storm Legion dungeons, but when it comes to the core game, I've run those instances more times than I can count. I figured I might as well share my thoughts on the first four dungeons you're likely to run in the early and mid-game to see if they pass muster. While I'm at it, I might tell a related story or two from my runs. Gather 'round, children, as Papa Olivetti smokes a stogie and tells you a tale you're unlikely to forget.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: The burden of leveling

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift The burden of leveling
I've seen a lot of positive comments about RIFT: Storm Legion so far, many of which are praising the expansion's zone designs, the new classes, and especially the Dimensions housing system. However, it seems that there's another comment that pops up frequently that's not as kind: It takes way too long to level from 50 to 60.

For some of you, this may be moot. You might already be level 60, have multiple 60s, or have been 60 since the day after Storm Legion came out. For others who aren't even level 50 yet, the expansion might sound a bit intimidating because of the hefty XP requirements to move that level marker up one number. In any case, I think that a good number of us can agree that it's definitely a slow process that detracted from rather than added to the experience of Storm Legion.

I've got several thoughts about how leveling in RIFT has become a burden instead of a blessing, how Trion is reshaping the XP game, and what this might portend for the future of the title.

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Free for All: The second annual Frindie Awards

Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Asheron's Call, Contests, Culture, PvP, Ryzom, The Matrix Online, Wurm Online, PvE, Opinion, Second Life, Vanguard, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Mabinogi, Kids, Alganon, Free for All, Family, Miscellaneous, Enter at Your Own Rift, Sandbox

Frindie Awards logo
It's time once again for the Frindie Awards, my attempt to shine some light on the best indie, browser-based, free-to-play, and unusual MMOs that are all-too-often ignored by press -- and players. This one is for the little guys! Well, mostly. It's also for those games that seem to have passed under the collective radar of Massively readers or that seem to be very misunderstood.

Picking the winners this year is just as hard as it was last year, maybe even harder. 2012 was an incredible year for MMOs, so I would rather have just put together an article that highlights every single favorite. In the end, it's more helpful to make myself pick out a winner. It's a rare thing for some of these games to even receive a nod on a major website, something I still can't figure out. Either way, it's best to think of all of the MMOs on this list as my favorites from 2012.

Anyway, let's get to the awards!

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Enter at Your Own Rift: My 2013 wish list

Fantasy, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift My 2013 wish list
The end of the year and the beginning of a new one is the traditional time to take stock of the past and make plans for the future, no? I thought RIFT had a banner year, especially in pushing out a great expansion less than two years after launch. Trion Worlds has continued to get those meaty content updates out, fleshing out the now-annual celebrations and growing the game in new and often-surprising ways.

Really, we have such a wealth of options and content on which to feast, so you'll really have to excuse me as I ignore everything the studio's done to date and talk about what I'd like to see done, changed, or added in the new year. Yup, it's time for a RIFT wish list in this Fae Yule season, straight from my fingers to Santa Crucia's home at the Death Pole!

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Enter at Your Own Rift: What the Trion layoffs mean for RIFT

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter At Your Own Rift  What do the Trion Layoffs mean for RIFT
It's been almost a week since we first heard about the layoffs at Trion, yet there are still more questions than answers about the depth and scope of them. How many people were let go? Were they all from the RIFT team? And why was it timed just a few months after the expansion launched? It's hard to read about the layoffs and not see it as a bad sign for the game, but there may be other factors to consider.

So what does this mean for RIFT? Let's consider that question in this week's Enter at your own Rift.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Build to win

Fantasy, Classes, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Building off the backs of others
We've arrived at the point in RIFT's post-expansion launch cycle when I'm genuinely embarrassed to admit how slowly I've progressed. While many of you are probably 60 and living the high life in the endgame, I'm still (mumbles) 51. I have many excuses for this: a newborn at home, flip-flopping interest between my Rogue and Cleric, a lot of experimentation in Dimensions, and Storm Legion's generally slow leveling pace. But perhaps my greatest excuse stems from one of the core features of the game. I keep making new builds and experimenting with them.

Is that my fault? After all, with just one the addition of one new soul per calling a legion of new builds arose. Pun intended. Players on the forums are crunching numbers, fiddling with old builds, and magicking new ones out of thin air.

I've become fascinated if not addicted to testing out these player-created builds as of late. Some promise the world and are sadly lacking, while others have shown me synergies that I didn't realize were possible.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Three terrific player dimensions that have to be seen to be believed

Fantasy, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Housing

Enter at Your Own Rift Three terrific player dimensions that have to be seen to be believed
"Oh man, guys, I am going to go flat broke from Dimensions," I whined into guild chat.

While it seemed like everyone else in my guild was sprinting through Storm Legion, hitting level 60, and gearing up for the new endgame, I was puttering around at level 51 in my brand-new home, trying to figure out the best place for a kitchen nook. Earlier that day I had blown over 100 plat to purchase a new Dimension and outfit it with one of every item that was on sale in the Tempest Bay canals.

If you love player housing, then RIFT has got your next fix. It's flexible, it's insanely easy to use, and the possibilities are just about endless. I'm still fiddling around with ideas -- I think I'd like to make a haunted maze for visitors to enjoy -- so to get inspired, I started hopping around to other players' Dimensions and see what they whipped up. I'm pulling three examples out of the many that are already out there just to show off what this system is capable of doing.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Finally facing the Storm Legion

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Housing

Enter at your own Rift  Finally facing the Storm Legion
RIFT's Storm Legion finally arrived last week, and with it came a series of new questions to be answered. Will Crucia succeed in taking over Dusken and Brevane? Will the Guardians and Defiants cooperate to drive back the Storm Legion? And why does it seem as if Queen Miela is in 20 different places at the same time?

Armed with a two-handed staff and a foliage disguise, I set off to check things out now that the expansion has gone live. How well did I weather the storm?

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Storm Legion is a go!

Fantasy, Expansions, Launches, Patches, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift, Dungeons, Housing

Enter at Your Own Rift Storm Legion is a go!
Earlier this year I celebrated my 36th birthday. While some of you were negligent in getting me that pony I've always wanted, Trion Worlds stepped up and delivered one of the best presents ever: the announcement of Storm Legion, its first expansion for RIFT. That happily coincided with my return to the game a week earlier and set me on a course of adventure and excitement all summer long.

And now it's here. By the time you read this, Storm Legion will have gone live on the servers and Telara as we know will be forever changed. New continents, souls, dungeons, raids, rifts, stories, player housing, dual-faction cities, and more will wash over us and leave us floundering in its wake. What to do first? What to see and experience?

I have huge hopes for Storm Legion. Trion's smartly releasing it after the crazy rush of most of the big fall expansions, and if the expansion lives up to even part of the hype, it could cement RIFT's reputation as a premium MMO worth the subscription. Heck, I'll just be happy to see an influx of returning players and new souls (so to speak) because this is a title worth supporting and enjoying.

My head is a jumble of thoughts and plans, so excuse me while I gibber about anything and everything in today's column.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Storm Legion zone guide

Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Opinion, RIFT, Guides, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at your own RIFT  A brief guide to the zones of Storm Legion
This weekend's RIFT Storm Legion open beta arrived with the news that all zones were open for players to explore. So what better way to spend my gaming time than hopping on my mount and heading off to see as much of the world as possible? I knew the world was large, but it wasn't until I was halfway through Brevane that it really sunk in.

RIFT's expansion has a lot of exciting content, but I think what will surprise people is the sheer scope of the world. I journeyed through every zone (except for The Dendrome, which was still closed) and put together a brief guide of what I saw, which hopefully will make it easier to get started in the new areas.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Weathering the tempest

Events (In-Game), Expansions, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Weathering the tempest
The countdown is on like Donkey Kong, yo, although not as gorilla-y and barrel-y. With two weeks to go until Storm Legion thunders down on our heads like the big awesome expansion that we wanted, RIFT is positively buzzing with anticipation. Over the past week or so, Trion Worlds triggered the world event that will lead us into the expansion's content, and I've been on the ground doing all manner of responsible journalistic research with aplomb.

That is to say, I've been running around in circles yelling, "GUYZ! WHERE IS QUEST-GIVEY PERSON?" to my guildies, taking loads of screenshots to test the storage capacity of my hard drive, and occasionally trolling general chat by inviting people to my "personal dimension." It's what I do best.

While it's not quite over -- as of the time of this writing, it's just moved into phase three of four -- Tempest Rising is unique in RIFT's canon of world events. It's the first and only one that's served as a direct prologue to the single biggest content addition to the game, and it has to be spot-on with introducing the lore and conflict coming to the world. How's it going so far? Let's take a look.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Enjoying the finer points of Storm Legion

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at your own Rift  Enjoying the finer points of Storm Legion
For the past two weeks, I've been sitting through panel after panel, keynote after keynote, and the constant message was about what the future of MMOs will look like. The big buzzwords from GDC Online and SOE Live were things like mobile gaming, user-generated content, emergent gameplay, and e-sports, but sometimes, it's the little things that make for a great MMO.

I'm still cutting my teeth on RIFT's Storm Legion, but there are several things that already get me excited about the expansion. We've heard a lot about the big things coming to the game, but in this week's Enter at Your Own Rift, I'd like to talk about a few of the little things that will make this a well-received expansion.

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Enter at Your Own Rift: Analysing Storm Legion's new souls

Fantasy, Classes, Expansions, Opinion, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

Enter at Your Own Rift Analysing Storm Legion's new souls
I still can't wrap my head around just how many metric tons of content are coming with RIFT: Storm Legion. It's an expansion that looks to put other expansions to shame by sheer size alone. Epeen competitions notwithstanding, any one of these major features would usually be good enough for a full expansion elsewhere.

Take the new souls, for example. Storm Legion is adding four of them, one for each archetype. That's not just four additional classes but a hefty amount of additional combinations, since RIFT builds allow for three souls at a time. So each archetype is going from 56 unique soul combinations to a whopping 84.

I can only imagine how much of a headache 336 different soul combinations are to balance, but fortunately I don't have to worry about it from my end. Instead, I want to take a look at the revealed new souls and speculate as to how they'll fit in with the game come next month.

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