Epic Talkpoints: Scott Hartsman on Patch 1.1 lessons, Patch 1.3 plans

These days, developers are trained heavily in evasive talk. They can chat for hours without actually revealing anything new about their game.

Epic Talkpoints cuts through the blabber and pulls out the clincher quotes that reveal what developers are thinking about right now – which can be just as juicy as a release spoiler.

While we learn nothing majorly new from this GameFront interview with RIFT executive producer Scott Hartsman, we do see how recent events reshaped the team’s design philosophy, and his two RIFT Platinum on why Patch 1.3 will be more enjoyable.

On why the last part of the Patch 1.1 world event really failed

SH: Towards the end, WOW did it get bumpy on a few servers. It turns out that putting an entire server population into the same zone is no problem, but when you put them all on the same 10 foot by 10 foot area of ground, hey, problem.

On who they’re keeping in mind when balancing content roll-outs

SH: I think the big thing we are very consciously balancing for is the largest mass of people and where they are in the progression, as opposed to trying to balance for stuff that is going to keep the hardest of the hardest of the hardcore grinding for weeks.

That methodology was great when I was working on Everquest 1, not so much these days.

I would rather risk boring, say, the top 1/10th of 1% of players and having them then come back later, as opposed to having a game that had 100 things to do that were all either mediocre or broken.

On future improvements to the LFG tool introduced in Patch 1.2

SH: It’s basically smaller tweaks targeted at usability at this point.

The other thing we’re keeping an eye on right now is this: Experts and higher level dungeons are zipping along great on most worlds, but the experience for those leveling up isn’t as good.

Because of our free trial and Ascend-a-Friend, there are a ton of people leveling up. But even though there are a ton of people out there using the LFG tool to register for dungeons as they level up, the timing isn’t lining up for those folks to have a good experience. So, we’re trying to find the best solution to get those people together to use the system.

On expanding he Guild quests system

SH: For later steps, there are some things we are discussing for the future for guild-style gameplay, where taking part in certain activities as a guild would also earn you guild XP.

On how far along Guild banks are in development

SH: Now I will say that they are actively in development, and I have seen them function.

On why Patch 1.3 is going to be different

SH: We learned very clearly that compressing everything into too short an amount of time is just not a winner.

What we have been very much looking to do is make sure that there is a progression that you can come back and check on every few days if you choose, or you can be part of it every day. Also, making sure that there is a progression through stages that occurs over a long period of time – meaning, stages that last for days instead of a half-hour.