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PAX Prime 2012 - Chatting with Scott Hartsman

Suzie Ford Posted:
Interviews 0

During last weekend's PAX Prime, the press crew from MMORPG.com wandered into the main exhibition hall during the hour we were gifted as journalists before the rest of the world entered. We walked through the hall exclaiming over the many awesome sites that developers and publishers had created to draw attention to their games. None, however, was more impressive than the Trion Worlds booth with the massive ruin of the Golden Gate Bridge hearkening to Defiance. Make no mistake, however, Rift was there in all its glory as well and we took the opportunity to corner Executive Producer Scott Hartsman to talk about the forthcoming Storm Legion expansion and what it will bring to the game.

My first question right off the bat was about 'housing' which Scott immediately corrected by making a rainbow arc with his hands and saying, "Not housing. Dimensions!"

Looking appropriately chagrined, I asked again about dimensions that will come with Rift, the game's own unique take on the much more pedestrian housing that most games embrace. Scott explained to us that there are so many great places in Telara, so many beautiful locations that it's only appropriate that players should own a piece of it. He further told us that the team had wanted to implement the idea for a long while and was so committed to the idea that over ten individuals had a hand in creating the dimensions feature that will ship with Storm Legion.

Every player will have the opportunity to own a piece of Telara. In fact, access to ownership will be introduced around level six or so through a quest that will ultimately yield items that can be used in a player's dimension. It's a way, he said, to ensure that players know about the feature and are excited about it.

Friends and guildmates will also be able to share their dimensions by handing out keys. With a friend's key, players will be able to visit their dimensions at will. What makes that really cool is that the ultimate decision of whether or not to allow individuals to enter one's dimension rests completely with the player.

What makes dimensions really unique, at least in my opinion, is how interactive Rift devs have made them. Players will be able to earn or buy items that can dynamically change the dimension's weather, music, sky effects and more. In the long term, the team also hopes to be able to give players the ability to create social aspects to their dimensions in the form of shops or other features to make them even more alive and useful.

Scott told us that all of the dynamic features in dimensions are tied to the scripting and events systems underneath the hood so I took the opportunity to ask Scott if there was the possibility that players could create "dungeon like" experiences for their keyholders and he told me that nothing is out of the realm of possibility but that it mostly rests with what players want. It's an evolutionary possibility from what we understood.

We also asked if items to populate a player's dimension would be sold via microtransaction. While this is not currently on the books it's something the team has considered. However, Scott wanted us to be very clear on something:

"We don't use microtransactions as an exercise in profit-taking. 100% of proceeds are reinvested back into the studios which uses those funds to continue to develop Rift. It's the single most important way for players to support the studio and development." he said.

Lastly, we talked about the upcoming cross-faction grouping that will finally allow Defiants and Guardians to party together for dungeons, Chronicles, questing, rifts and more. When asked why the team wanted to do this since the entire lore is based on the faction separation of Guardians and Defiants, Scott told us that it is more critical now to bring down the barriers that separate the ability for friends to play Rift with friends.

Both factions will be able to group together but there are at least a couple of caveats to the new system:

  • When entering an open world camp belonging to a faction, party members of the opposite faction will still be attacked by NPCs. Scott explained that there are always those willing to work together and those who aren't no matter what. The NPCs fall in the latter group.
  • PvP servers will have the ability to group cross-factionally turned OFF. These servers will continue to battle one another as usual.

The final question we asked Scott was whether or not the team had any plans to slow down its aggressive schedule of updates. He answered us with a categoric NO. He did say, however, that they would update 'smarter'. A case in point that Scott mentioned was the update that brought low-level instant adventures, mentoring and the Conquest features all into the game at the same time.

"Players were simply overwhelmed." he told us.

The bottom line is that future updates will contain one larger feature and a couple of other smaller ones along with the usual bug fixes etc.

Storm Legion is set to hit Rift servers soon. From all that we heard, there is a LOT to be excited about!

What about you? Will you be checking out Storm Legion? Let us know in the comments!


Suzie Ford

Suzie is the former Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom