Posts Tagged ‘Customization’

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Rift: My Storm Legion Tour – Player Housing And Dimensions

October 25, 2012

In this final post of my tour of the Rift: Storm Legion expansion, I will talk about what Community Manager James “Elrar” Nichols showed me of the highly anticipated Dimensions feature, perhaps more widely known as Rift’s housing system. Remember how I said in my last post that I was saving the best for last? Well, while I can’t speak for others, I have to say this was personally my favorite part of my almost two-hour tour. (You can find the first part about new zones here, and the second part about dungeons and raids here.)

I confess I was looking forward to my tour of the Dimensions feature the most, and believe me when I say it didn’t disappoint. First of all, I almost feel like it could have constituted an expansion all by itself. The fact that we get this intricate housing system plus two huge continents of PvE content and the dungeons and raids in Storm Legion is just starting to sink in.

Second of all, I am beginning to get a deeper understanding of why the Rift team prefers to use the name “Dimensions” rather than the term “housing” when referring to this feature. Sure, it may also sound better for marketing, but to me the plain and simple truth is, the word “housing” just doesn’t cut it; I don’t think it’s really enough to describe the sheer scope of we’re being offered with this expansion.

For this part of the tour, Elrar took me several dimensions in order to explain how the whole system works. The first one we went to, “Elrar’s Bar”, was a relatively simple endeavor in the Stone Flask Tavern location where I was allowed to muck about and get hands-on with everything. The first thing Elrar told me to do was to look up. The surroundings clearly showed that I was in the Stonefields area, but what I saw above me was most definitely not a Stonefield sky. Yep, it was one of those things Elrar had put in to customize his own little corner of Telara. Pretty!

Here, I was shown the basics and given an explanation of the system. I was told you can own multiple dimensions, but can only have one active. As to why, Elrar clarified that this is because the feature is still so new. Indeed, testers have suggested letting players have more active dimensions, but before the team can expand the system further they have to make sure current conditions won’t crash out the system. But in the future, who knows what’s possible? This feature will continue to be expanded. I didn’t press for more information, but it seems that in the meantime if you wanted to switch active dimensions, doing so is as simple as having all your items packed up into a box before moving.

As to how to gain ownership of new dimensions, I got the impression that they work a lot like many other items in the game — some will be easily accessible, while others will have varying degrees of rarity, with the rarest dimension “keys” being highly coveted and requiring the appropriate level of investment to obtain them.

I asked Elrar when is the earliest a player can have access to his or her own personal dimension. His answer: through a quest you can get at level 5, or in other words, pretty much as soon as you complete the tutorial area. That’s pretty great news; Rift developers are aware that not everyone who will be interested in housing will also be interested in questing, leveling, endgame, etc. and their goal is to make the Dimensions feature as accessible as possible. This will also allow newcomers to the game access to a huge part of the Storm Legion right off the bat, since I was told the bulk of the new areas in the expansion, i.e. much of everything else I saw on the tour, will only be available to level 50 characters.

Next, a closer look at the controls and decorating tools. As a “friend” of Elrar, my character had access to his dimension, though each player will have the ability to further customize these options to designate who can visit, place items, or make changes, etc. In the dimensions UI, you can also set whether or not you want your dimension private or public, but more on that later.

If you look at the screenshots, you can see that the UI is very intuitive. Clicking on the wrench icon will give you access to a bunch of options, allowing you to take an item and move it along multiple axes, or rotate it, or scale it, etc. You can do this with virtually every item. In this next shot, I took a formerly normal-sized stool and shrank it into a size fit for a dollhouse. In the screenshot after that, I was playing with the height of some of the furniture. Want a bed that floats in mid air? Sure, you got it! Can’t jump high enough to get to it? Create yourself a flight of floating steps using books! Pretty much everything seems possible.

Items aren’t just limited to furnishings. I already mentioned the way you can customize the sky with a projector, and there are also music boxes to add to your dimension, letting you set the perfect mood. With a click of a button you can bring up a list of all the items in your dimension, and actually doing so was how I came across a peculiar entry called “Dimensional Bartender.” Yes, Elrar has his own personal barkeep. I stood by as he served up a line drinks and then watched with amusement as Elrar’s character promptly chugged them all down.

From what I saw and heard, I got the impression that there will be various methods to procure dimensional items, with the most common items being easily accessible and obtainable, and those rarer and more unique items likely requiring more time and effort invested in the game.

Later, I was shown several other examples of dimensions and what their owners have done to them. The impressive display of creativity and user-created content simply boggled my mind, and left me with no doubt that this feature will have a profound impact on the Rift community.

Elrar had described dimensions as being virtual neighborhoods, a social system that is easy to access, share and explore. Indeed, there were many open to the public which you can enter from anywhere in the world. I could also see that a bunch of them were highly recommended by other players using the feature’s rating system. It occurred to me that certain dimensions can even have the potential to become in-game tourist destinations (“Hey, have you seen the ____ dimension?” “OMG, you have GOT to visit the _____ dimension!”) In fact, we ran into many other players while visiting the public dimensions.

In this dimension, the decorating has started in this corner of the house. Everything seen here has been placed there by hand.

In this one, the owner built the entire second floor from scratch, just adding to the basic structure of the house provided.

This next dimension features a boat in a lovely little grotto. I was told that the boat, also constructed from scratch, is made up of about a few dozen or so separate pieces — again, all placed by hand. This is sort of what I meant when I said that the term housing just doesn’t seem sufficient to encompass this feature. This is about way more than maintaining a home in a game, it’s also about the complete freedom to build and share anything you can imagine.

To further illustrate that point, here’s another dimension Elrar showed me. The owner has made a jumping puzzle out of it! Literally, the sky’s the limit. My own personal limit here, however, would be my crappy platformer skills. By the way, did I mention that I’m notoriously bad at jumping puzzles in MMOs? Not surprisingly, I didn’t get very far on this. There will be no prizes for me.

One thing I do know for certain now: there will be absolutely no jumping whatsoever required in my own dimension when I get Storm Legion.

Here’s a couple more screenshots to show two versions of the same building structure template, but their owners have done very different things to its exterior. The second house has been cover with rocks, creating a cave-like stronghold complete with hidden entrance, and which even has an added second floor.

Here are some more examples of fun things other players have built in their dimensions. Some of it almost puts me in mind of Minecraft on steroids.

I think housing is something a lot of people enjoy and would like to see implemented in more MMOs, so I wasn’t surprised when so much of the buzz I’ve heard surrounding the Storm Legion expansion involved the dimension system. But now I know it’s also because of the lengths that Rift has gone with it. They seem to have embraced it completely, intending full well to deliver their promise of giving players the ability to unleash their creativity and transform their dimensions into anything they want.

I actually thought of the Sims at one point, and considering what a big fan I am of the building and decorating capabilities in those games, I definitely mean it as a compliment. Can you imagine the potential for roleplayers? For everyone? My mind is swimming with the possibilities.

And so ends the write-up of my Storm Legion tour, I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience and thoughts. I was initially unsure of how I was going to present all this, but ultimately decided just to write about what I saw and heard from my guide and lay out everything as they were shown to me. I couldn’t help it, though; I just had to gush a little when it came to Dimensions. If you haven’t gathered already, I was very impressed by this feature.

Again, I want to say thank you to the Rift team and Elrar for this wonderful opportunity. But of course, I must also curse them now because I’m tempted to resubscribe right away and not to wait at all to buy the expansion.

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Horse And Home

May 6, 2010

I was ecstatic the first time I bought a house in Lord of the Rings Online. In fact, Player Housing was THE feature I was looking forward to most when I started the game. I couldn’t wait to get a place to call my own, a personal space I could customize and where my character can escape to for some private time. Not to mention I just love me some interior decorating, even in games! Damn, how I wish I still had screenshots of some of the Sims 3 living rooms I’ve done in the past…

Anyway, back when I was still on my Elf Champion, as soon as I reached the appropriate level I scraped together all the coin I had and bought myself a little Hobbit house. I was poor as a church mouse for several days afterward, but it was worth it. I’m displaying more self-restraint his time around on my Hobbit Minstrel, however, and waited until I was sitting on a comfortable amount of money before I took Kiskadee house-hunting.

Hobbits are probably happiest in Hobbit holes, but I decided I wanted something new this time around. And since Dwarven walls make me claustrophobic and Elf houses are a little too ostentatious for my tastes, I settled on a modest homestead in the human lands.

Yay, finally a house of my own -- a LOTRO milestone!

It’s only a small standard house, but it’ll do just fine for now. How much room does a Hobbit need anyway? And while Kiskadee has been a bit smarter with her finances, she’s still not rich enough to go on a furniture buying binge just yet. As a result, the inside is also looking kind of scant, but a blazing fireplace in the corner makes for a cozy picture. So far, the only thing I’ve placed is my bed and I was very impressed by the fact I could adjust its orientation even after I’ve slotted it in its “decorating hook”. Oh man, getting more furniture is going to rock.

An empty house except for a bed. Hmm, reminds me of my first apartment.

But that’s not all. A few days ago, I also got myself a starter mount. Nothing says “I’m-all-grown-up-now” like owning your own home and having a horse in the stable.

Another milestone of sorts. Sure, it's a little slow, but it's a start!

Staring at my pony’s fat bouncy rump while it runs, however, is a little infuriating. All I can think of is my little pony, my little pony, isn’t the world a lovely place? My little pony, my little pony, everywhere you go, a smiling face! Is the song stuck in your head yet? Good, welcome to my world of pain.

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Star Trek Online: Tour Of A Klingon’s Bridge

April 9, 2010

Last week, our fearless leader T’Androma was captured and held hostage by the fearsome Klingon Longash. At least, that’s the only theory I could come up with to explain why I wasn’t immediately disintegrated by his crew the moment I stepped foot onto his ship. Stalling for time, T’Andy convinced her nefarious captor to give her the grand tour of his bridge, while her mind frantically worked at trying to come up with an escape plan.

Until, of course, she saw the targ pens. The sight of those baby targs snuggled in their little targ beds could warm even the most stoic of Vulcan hearts.

T'Andy: "Omigosh! Targ puppies! May I have one?" Longash: "NO. Now be a good little prisoner and shut up."

Well, the bridge is certainly spacious. And by that I mean it’s so jaw-droppingly huge that the crew could probably hold multiple floor hockey games in here simultaneously, no problem. The command chair is conveniently located in the forward section, where the captain will have an unobstructed view of the viewscreen as well as access to all important monitors.

T'Andy: "Not fair, these Klingon captain chairs offer so much more lumbar support. We Feds got royally screwed."

It’s all very impressive, and in my opinion a lot more interesting to look at than a Federation starship bridge. This particular Klingon bridge, for example, showcases a few charming props.

T'Andy: "I know I wouldn't mind a holographic ship collection on MY bridge."

All I can say is, it’s awesome. And the color scheme is just so red and deliciously diabolical. Guess if you’re going to be the badasses of the galaxy, you’ll need the ship interiors to fit that image too. One thing’s for certain — there’s a lot of potential here when it comes to starship interior designs, that is, when Cryptic gets around to adding more parts of the ship.

T'Andy: "So what are these things? Warheads? Antimatter containers? Random stuff that makes other stuff go boom?" Longash: "I have no idea."

Options to customize them wouldn’t hurt either; I would love it if they made the entire ship more akin to player housing. Here’s also hoping that the Federation will get more interesting looking bridges in the future, because right now, I think I may have bridge envy! Anyway, my thanks to @Longasc for this really awesome opportunity. At least now I know how those pesky Targ Handlers can keep up their endless supplies!

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