Twitter Brawl: Grouping and Rift

I got into a bit of a tussle on Twitter today with @arkenor and @scopique over the question of Rift and grouping. Ark said “I don’t think you’ll get terribly far in Rift without grouping.” and I took exception to that. I mostly solo and do fine.

But there’s all kinds of nuance here. What does “fine” mean? Did Ark mean Grouping (as in joining into one of those artificial constructs that MMOs offer) or did he mean grouping as in, working with others? If he meant “You won’t get far in rift if you insist on doing everything by yourself” then in fact I’d agree with him and the whole discussion was a big Twitter misunderstanding. Scopique pointed out that as a Tank he didn’t do well soloing when it came to fighting rifts and again I do understand some builds aren’t built for solo play.

I just wanted to elaborate here where I’m not limited to 140 characters. I’ve played 3 characters so far: a Warrior build to 17, a Mage build to 20 and a Cleric build to 16. I’ve spent most of my time outside of dungeons solo, by which I mean not Grouped. I feel like I did fine, by which I mean “I was having fun, making steady progress and never feeling overly frustrated for any length of time.” I haven’t played a Scout so maybe you can’t solo as a Scout; I don’t know one way or the other. And maybe things change past level 20, so I can’t speak to that either, but I’m pretty sure Ark isn’t past 20 and can’t speak to it either.

Now that said:

1) Dungeons absolutely require Grouping, I agree. You won’t be able to solo a dungeon until you’re horribly over level, and you won’t be running into random other people in there.

2) I also agree that you can’t get very far fighting rifts without playing cooperatively with other characters. I spent a LOT of time fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with other players, but very little of it Grouped. I consider this Solo play: your definition might be different.

3) Warfronts don’t give you a choice: when you enter one you get put in a Raid (though I never tried /leaving it)

4) Some builds are going to be more forgiving than others. If you play a pure tank then you’re going to look at a lot of dying or a lot of downtime. I suggest being an Apothecary if you’re going to go pure tank and want to solo. Mathosians have a great racial shield that turns damage into heals too. That helps.

But:
4a) You have more points than you can spend on 1 soul. So (making numbers up) at level 15 you might have 20 points to spend, but you can only put 15 into a single soul so unless you’re just going to throw away those extra points, you have to take at least 1 other soul. If you plan on soloing I urge you to pick a soul with either a pet or self heals. Both will keep you upright longer.

(And remember that you can have several Roles, which essentially are character builds, so if you enjoy Solo some times and Grouping others, you can easily do both on 1 character by having a Role for each playstyle. Each Role can use a different set of souls and point expenditures. You can switch Roles any time except in the middle of combat. So if you’re Soloing at a rift and someone throws you a Group invite and you accept it, a tap of a key will put you into your Group build.)

Solo players will probably die more often than people who’re always grouped. That’s true of most games. The death penalty in Rift is very light though. I do die a lot when I’m not being careful. But see above: re frustration (or rather, lack thereof).

Quest content is intended, for the most part, to be solo content. That’s true up to level 20 (except for Dungeon quests) and I could swear I’ve read an official source saying that’s an intentional design decision but I can’t find a citation now. So maybe we’ll have to wait and see.

The rift reward system is built to accommodate solo players. The one flaw with this is that you have to ‘tap’ a rift mob to get kill credit for it (for daily quests). I’m hoping they can change that. But you’ll get plenty of experience and rewards remaining solo while fighting rifts, and you’ll get quest rewards for Invasion Quests even if you spend the entire invasion solo (assuming the good guys win, of course).

It’s no secret I’ve been having a huge amount of fun playing Rift and I really want other players to give it a chance and hopefully wind up having as much fun as I am. Will Rift be fun at 30? 40? 50? I have no idea, but when it comes to games I’m an optimist. I know I’ll get my $60 (Digital Collector’s Edition for me) worth of fun out of it in the first month — in console gaming that can mean 10-12 hours of gameplay. After that, it’s anyone’s call.

But when I see something that I perceive as misinformation (based on my experience playing) that might turn potential players away, I’m always going to challenge it. Sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimes I’m right, but the discussion that results is often enlightening.

15 thoughts on “Twitter Brawl: Grouping and Rift

  1. Have to take your side on this one too, I have spent very little (ie: none) time grouping. In an actual group. I was in one group with Scopique to fight off some invasions, and I’ve done two Warfronts. The rest has been all solo play (20 cleric, and some smaller alts) – but it really hangs on what the definition of solo play is. I participated in a lot of rifts and invasions with other players, helping out and healing and it was great. You can’t really avoid doing that since it’s randomly generated content and chances are unless you log out or run in the opposite direction it’s bound to get you.

    I’m pretty steadfast in my views that there’s no one way to play a game, just like there’s no right or wrong way to play a game. I think any spec CAN work for solo play if you’re willing to accept the consequences like dying because you’re smushy or bit off more than you can chew.

    I’ve been trying to ‘convince’ others to try rift based on the fact that they will at least get their moneys worth from it but some seem pretty adamant not to give it a shot. I agree, that even if I don’t play past the first month that: 1 month + beta + in a week early will cover the entertainment cost of purchasing the game. Personally, I’m looking to stick with it but I’ll give it a month and see how much I enjoy it. If I don’t, that’s alright – It will have been more time in game than I ever gave to say.. Animal Crossing, which I barely touched and paid the same price for.

  2. This is totally a different topic but I really think that “pure” MMO players look at costs of games a lot differently from those of us who do some console/single player PC gaming, too. When I read someone say “Yeah it looks ok but I’m not going to buy it since I’m worried fighting rifts will get old after a few months” I kind of boggle. Unless they’re talking about time investment rather than $$ value, I guess.

  3. I have mixed feelings about dedicated solo builds. On the one hand, WoW has shown how bad it can be to try and force solo capabilities into every single spec. On the other, I don’t want to feel like I’m just making life difficult on myself if I ever attempt to solo as anything other than one build that makes solo content extremely easy. If all Rogues solo as Bard+Ranger+whatever, all mages solo as Chloromancer + Necro/elementalist + whatever etc, that kind of cuts the variety that the soul system is supposed to create.

  4. Yeah, one of the joys of Rift to me is this crazy soul system where you can take bits and pieces of different souls and make a customized build that makes you grin with delight every time you play. If the community enforces set builds…well I’ll just flip ’em the bird, but that’ll mean I have to give up on instances and raid rifts and stuff, and that’d be a shame.

  5. I have so many thoughts about my time in rift. Alas I just have been too busy to craft a cohesive blog post of my own. So instead I will toss in my thoughts in here on this particular subject.

    I played a lot of hours in Rift beta 3 and 4 (ask my family). I leveled up 2 alts into their 20s, and a few others up to near 10, and I spent most of that time not grouped up. The time I was not grouped, I had no trouble questing, crafting and fighting off rifts/invasions.

    Yes, I did work with other people. I always tried to help others out I passed by; toss buff, heal, or even a shooting few arrows into their target. I even fought side by side with dozens to fight off huge bosses, but most of the time I was not actually in a group.

    Then after I did group during a rift fight, I thought I should group more often. In fact I made a point of actively inviting people to my group or joining groups that formed during rift encounters.

    Why? Because as a healer the group/raid frames make healing so much easier. Seeing a bunch of health bars in one place beats tab target cycling any day of the week. Heck even when I was playing my Bard/Range having the game communicating that I need a heal to those that could help was much better than me trying to type while I run for my life.

    I think players will be able to level up just fine never joining a group, doing over-world quests and helping fight off invaders. Which means to me that ďI donít think youíll get terribly far in Rift without grouping.Ē is probably a bit too extreme of a statement.

    But I also believe that you will be much MORE effective joining groups, even temporarily, when you try to tackle some content. Oh, and it looks like groups will be a requirement if you want to run dungeons or Warfronts.

  6. I’m not going to get involved in discussing Rift further, but seeing as you’ve written this article about something I said, I’d prefer your readers have a slightly wider picture of the discussion, so they are not left with the impression that I really do go around spreading “misinformation”. I’ve redacted the names of people not already name-checked, so as to not drag them in to this. This record is, of course, incomplete, but gives, perhaps, a slightly better gist of what we were talking about.

    Scopique: @XXXXXX I LIKE grouping, but there’s just too many reasons NOT to…all of which have to do with the players themselves…not mechanics

    Scopique: @XXXXXX Exactly. That’s why ppl saying “MMOs are for grouping” ticks me off.

    Arkenor: @Scopique I don’t think you’ll get terribly far in Rift without grouping

    Pasmith: @Arkenor @Scopique Aside from instances, no need for Grouping (cap G) in Rift. Loose crowds of players fighting rifts, yes.

    Arkenor: @XXXXXX What about dungeons? Rifts and Invasions are kind of the big feature in the game though, especially end-game.

    Pasmith: @Scopique @Arkenor If you want to solo, don’t play a tank. Solo chars by nature have to be self-sufficient. Kick in a healing soul!

    Arkenor: @Scopique @pasmith I’m not sure it’s entirely reasonable to say that only healers should get to solo

    Pasmith: @Scopique @Arkenor So yeah, if you’re playing a build that depends on input from other characters, you’ll need 2 Group. Or yell for heals ūüôā

    Pasmith: @Arkenor @Scopique If anyone had said that, I’d agree.

    Arkenor: @pasmith I clearly misunderstood then

    Pasmith: @Arkenor Yes you did. You can have 3 souls per build. Adding one that can heal can help. Or add a pet soul. That doesn’t make you a Healer.

    Pasmith: @Arkenor But then I listened to you on Petter’s podcast and it’s pretty clear you’ve already made up your mind about all this stuff.

  7. @Arkenor — Thanks for taking the time to transcribe parts of the twitter conversation. The point of this post was to elaborate a bit on my point of view; in the past you and I have butted heads on topics that wound up being based more on Twitter’s 140 character limit and the needed brevity when voicing opinions than on us really disagreeing all that much.

    So I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t elaborate more on “Arkenor: @Scopique I donít think youíll get terribly far in Rift without grouping” which was the germ of (my part in) the discussion. Depending on how you define “terribly far” and “grouping” my experience suggests you’re wrong in that particular statement, and I’d hate for your Folllowers to think that Rift is a game that requires organizing a Group before you can do anything fun. I was just trying to clarify things.

  8. If I’d known quite how epicly important the tweet was going to be I’d have put a lot more thought into phrasing it. Or you could have asked me what it meant before writing a article speculating on my mysterious meaning. I’m not a long-dead civilisation that had left 140 characters carved on a stone block in the desert.

    I just reckoned that if Scopique refused to group, he’d probably be cutting himself off from most of what was supposed to make Rift unique, in particular the end-game content where you spend most of your life. As I said in the transcript, I was referring to rifts, invasions, and dungeons. I had no idea at all that it would cause such mass offence. It seemed a fairly obvious statement, and still does.

  9. OK except you’re mistaken. Dungeons, absolutely, you’re correct, they require Groups. But rifts and invasions, by design, do not. That was my point. If you listen to Massively’s interview with Scott Hartsman (http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/01/12/massively-speaking-episode-130-talking-rift-with-scott-hartsman/) he says, at about 42 minutes in:

    “People don’t quite realize that they’re getting exp… let’s say all 5 of us run up to a rift, and all 5 of us start participating and all 5 of us are doing our own thing and we’re not grouped, we’re still getting the experience for the rift stages, all of us are, and we’re still all getting rewarded in terms of loot based on our performance in the event, whether or not we’re grouped, which isn’t really incredibly obvious to people, so lots of people assume, ‘Oh if I run up solo I’m screwed, I’m not getting anything, I have to get into a raid, this is frustrating’ and you really don’t.”

    Invasions are just uber-rifts so they follow the same rules. I solo’d through an invasion the other day and got the purple Orb of Heroes reward just like everyone else.

    Sure, there are advantages being in a group (clarity of healing, clarity of tanking) but Rift is designed to support many play styles, including solo.

    The fact that it does seem a fairly obvious statement is why I felt the need to debate it. It might seem obvious but it isn’t accurate, except in the case of dungeons (and I agreed with you on that in the original post).

    Sorry if you’re bothered by me writing a post about this. Twitter, with its base settings, is an open forum though, and it was a debate that I thought was worth exposing and expounding on since it’s an important detail, at least to me. It’s a big part of what I enjoy about the game.

    Just in case you weren’t aware: You can set your tweets to be Protected so that no one but your Followers can see them, and you can set up twitter so that you have to approve Followers. That should also keep them out of google and gives you more control over who sees, and comments on, your tweets.

    I certainly didn’t set out to offend, though. If this ever comes up again, I won’t use your name.

  10. I agree, it really depends on the build you have as to whether you can successfully solo Rift. But what I found is that if I wanted to do invasions or Rifts when population in the area was low, I was pretty much stuck with avoiding them, because people just didn’t seem interested in closing them down. But if I was in a group with friends, it made dealing with the lack of participation easier and made enjoying the game more fun. I’m not saying that you have to group, but from my experience, the most fun I had in Rift was playing with others and not soloing. I felt good about playing my tank and it helped me learn how to successfully play him rather than waiting till 18 to jump into an dungeon and wing it.

    You can’t depend on the average stranger to jump along side and help stop an invasion or rift, especially when they kill steal your “must have” mob or item that your battling your way to. The WoW mentality of me first will hurt this game unless you have a decent group of people to play along side. I just don’t see this game as being solo friendly. I just don’t feel right about the statement that you need to pick a healing soul if you want to solo? That pretty much limits the choices of play from the start. I don’t think Trion intended you to HAVE to pick a certain spec to solo through their game, if so, that’s just bad design.

  11. “I just donít feel right about the statement that you need to pick a healing soul if you want to solo? That pretty much limits the choices of play from the start. I donít think Trion intended you to HAVE to pick a certain spec to solo through their game, if so, thatís just bad design.”

    Everything is a series of decisions. You have 8 souls in every archetype. You get them all (at least right now you can, through a trivial series of 1 step quests). You can slot in 3 at any one time, and you can switch between different builds anytime except in the middle of combat. The idea that there’s a set of souls that’s great for grouping, another set that’s great for PvP, and yet another that’s great for solo doesn’t seem like bad design to me. You have the tools to switch on the fly.

    My point is, in any “Diku” style game if you want to be a pure tank that is set up 100% to absorb damage & taunt, you’re going to want to group. You’ve got no heals, little damage, so clearly pure tank is a group build. Conversely, if you want to solo, you’re going to want to take something that has some hybrid qualities. One that gives some kind of self-heal, or perhaps a pet that will soak up some of the damage so you can focus skills that DO damage (in the Warrior archetype that means Paladin or Beastmaster). Or you could just go full-on DPS and hope you can burn him down before he burns you down, but I’d worry a little about downtime between fights. It’s the same in any game.. in WoW do you use the same Warrior build to solo while leveling up as you do when you’re ready to start serious dungeon runs and tank?

    In fact, if every build was ideal for every situation, which is what you’re suggesting from the sounds of things, I think *that* would be bad design. The beauty of rift is that you can tweak your skill set to support your play style(s).

    And I’m sorry that your server sucked and no one helped you. My experience was radically different and I found I *could* depend on average strangers to jump alongside and help. Now, I have no idea if it’ll be that way in launch, but I’m just relating what I experienced. When I played there were always people gathering together to fight rifts (but this IS a factor in my wanting to play at launch when populations are high, tho rifts are supposed to scale down as player pop diminishes). And I never had a “must have” mob that was a rift denizen, or an item come out of a rift. Where’d you get those quests? I did have some “Kill 10 Rift Creatures” quests but they didn’t specify which creatures; any 10 would do.

    And that you have more fun Grouping than soloing just describes your preferred play style. It doesn’t change the fact that you can do most of rift as a solo player, at least for as much as I’ve seen, and based on what Trion has said. So saying a person won’t get far playing solo is inaccurate. Yup, you won’t be able to do dungeons, and Warfronts force you into a group. But you can do all the overworld stuff, get gear and rift currency from fighting besides other, and of course do the solo questing stuff.

    Hell, what modern MMO can afford to turn away all the solo players out there?

    I’ve played solo through 4 betas and had a tremendous amount of fun. Maybe the Defiant side is different? I dunno. I can only relate my experience and back it up with what Trion is saying.

  12. Accusing Arkenor of misinformation seems a bit over the top, and as you say sometimes you are wrong and sometimes you are right, this time I am leaning towards you are wrong. From what

    he said about Rift on Claims of the Normal he was pretty positive about it and even said that he was going to buy the game, and the posts on his blog are some of the more detailed and

    open minded that I have seen. If he spots a flaw he points it out but is just as happy to give praise for good features. A lot of MMO commentary is so overflowing with praise from

    fanboys it’s hard for an outsider to work out if a game is any good.

    As far as the conversation on twitter goes you seem to have come across a conversation and just dived into the middle of it and launched into an attack. I understand that you can build a

    healing element into any build to help with soloing, but if you want to focus on one of the souls without healing e.g. Marksman then you will do a lot better in a group be that with a

    small or capital G. Particularly when you go onto say that there are things that you need to group for, plus there are cases you don’t mention e.g. most AoE heals they only seem to work for people that you are grouping with…

  13. It’s nice that you’re a big fan of his. It doesn’t change the fact that what he said about this particular aspect of this particular game was incorrect. How is stating something that isn’t correct not misinformation? How is labeling it as such “over the top”? I didn’t accuse him of lying or of malice. He just had it wrong, and since in *many* MMOs what he said would be correct, I felt it was a topic worth elaborating on.

    I also never commented on whether he was positive or negative about the game on Claims of the Normal. I said it was clear he had already made up his mind about it, and that *was* a 140 character comment on twitter with no elaboration. Go listen to that episode of Claims again; I will as well. But this blog post was about his telling his twitter followers that you can’t get very far in rift soloing, and that simply isn’t the case, not just in my experience and opinion but according to Trion.

    The transcription from Twitter, btw is of necessity incomplete due to the nature of twitter. I didn’t just “come across” this conversation and dive into it, and if you read my tweets as an attack then you must not use Twitter. I talk about things with these people every day. I’ve been following Ark for months at least, and I consider him, if not a friend, at least a familiar online acquaintance who I enjoy talking to. I *loved* his series of Minecraft videos and his appreciation of Brussels sprouts.

    If the post comes off as some kind of hatchet job against him, I apologize; that wasn’t its intent. I mentioned him and Scopique because they were part of the conversation and I’d hoped they’d follow it over here.

    But Ark has influence over people such as yourself, so if he says something that might cause a particular type of player (a confirmed Solo player) to skip Rift, and what he says isn’t correct, I’m going to do what I can to set the record straight because I want Rift to do well since I’m planning on playing it.

  14. I think I might have started this with a post (http://levelcapped.com/2011/01/panic-attack/) about how I felt that my tank build wasn’t as “tanky” as it might be in other games, making me wonder if A) I was building it correctly with my soul pairings, or B) if I was just playing stupid. Pete was the first comment on that post, and spoke of it on Twitter as well, so he didn’t just “come across” the convo; he was integral to starting it.

    @Arkenor, I am not group adverse; I don’t think I ever even said that I refused to group. Because of the design of Rift, “grouping” as a necessity has been depreciated; you can play WITH others without having to group with them. However, grouping is beneficial, mainly because in a group, healers can dedicate themselves to YOUR group, including YOU. I am well aware that my survivability could have increased dramatically had I spammed “invite pls”, but generally I hit the rift if I was passing by; I might stick it out, I might not. I believe that if you group, you’re committed to see it though, and have pledged yourself to the survival and success of the group. It was just JUST rifting, then yeah, I’d group up in a heartbeat (or start my own). As it were, I was passing through and being opportunisitic. If I died, it was due to my own decision to NOT group at that time. Hence, I wondered if there was a more survivable soul combo, or if I was just playing badly.

    Basically, because each and every archetype can have 4 sets of 3 souls, because practically every archetype has a pet soul (I believe), because rifting means that you DO NOT have to group to participate, and because dungeons aren’t imperitive, Rift is one of the most solo friendly games out there. If people ARE having issues soloing (and I didn’t ALWAYS have these issues…not even most of the time), then it may because their soul combo choices do not compliment one another to the extent that other combo might. There’s a lot of responsibility in the hands of the players here, unlike in other games where balance is entirely the providence of the developers.

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