Yesterday was a very interesting day. October 15th, the Extra Life organization held their yearly event to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. The event entitled finding donors and you playing video games for 24 hours. Sound fun, right? The truth of the matter is that it was a very enjoyable time for myself (most of the time) and the feeling that got knowing that I contributed to children across the country was a great power high. I did something great for children. And while I only raised $50 towards the cause, I know my money wont be squandered and be put to good use to help fight a seemly unbeatable foe. The event was sponsored by G4 TV, Trion Worlds, Play Station Network and ECA. In the end, the organization raised 1.1 Million dollars to the cause. It was a success. The reason why I am talking about this rather than about Audio Engineering or Guild Wars 2 is because I will be participating in this event again next year.
For the duration that I went (14 hours so I didnt participate the whole event) during the event, I played RIFT for most of it (little hiccup in the internet department). And while I enjoy playing RIFT, most of it was honestly a bad experience, which should never be the case for a charity event. The problem was not the event, but how Trion handled the event (which was very poorly). To start off, Trion was giving out titles to everyone who signed up on the website and played their game on the 15th. Well, that isn’t just it, you also had to play on predesignated servers, join their guild and start over a brand new character and only that character could count towards the 24 hour goal (to receive the title The Insomniac).
Now, anyone who knows me from a gaming stand point knows I despise the leveling process after the first time through (there are exceptions to this). I probably developed this hatred for leveling from my first MMO Ragnarok Online in which that was the only thing you could do to progress your character. The end game was a guild versus guild PvP called War of the Emperium (no raids at the time, they fixed that recently) and you did not have to be at max level to participate (It helped, but was far from required). So in the wondrous world of Rune Midgard, leveling was all you did to get to max level, and until recently, the only way you achieved that was sheer grinding of enemies. Least to say, as much as I loved that game, about level 80 (max 99, bumped up to 120 with the new reformatting they did) I got severely bored of just grinding out experience in the same location for days, just to get a level (sometimes taking an hour to get 1%).
In World of Warcraft, I enjoyed leveling up the first couple of times (Druid and Shaman on Horde) and playing the beginning area for each race to see their respective plots and lore. I loved the Burning Crusade expansion, which is apparently the least popular expansion among my friends, but once I stepped foot in Northrend for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, I grew very bored with a single footstep off the boat (that took twenty minutes to get there). So I quit and came back about a year later after coming up with an agreement with my friends to level up a character for me (they never did).
Now, Trion wants to be world of warcraft. The problem that they are suffering from a sever lack in size. While they do tout the widest class array of any game, their game world is very very small. The game is divided into 13 zones that get you from 1 to 50 and then extra:
Mathosia (starting Guardian)
Terminus (starting Defiant)
Iron Pine Peaks
However, 3 zones are faction exclusive (as marked), making there a total of 11 zones available for leveling. My first time around leveling was a very fun experience. However, the second time around was a nightmare. However, after you experience leveling up 1 character of that faction, you have experienced each character you make for that faction for the rest of the game. So unless questing is your thing and you enjoy doing the same quest over and over again, then you are going to hate leveling up characters in RIFT for at least up to 45. My second character took a different leveling step and skipped droughtlands in favor of leveling up in Iron Pine Peaks (where my first character hit 50) and then moved on to Stillmoor (a place I had yet to quest in). Those first 45 levels were agony.
So how did Trion handle the event poorly? The first reason is because they funneled everyone who was participating on 2 servers and you had to make a brand new character to receive anything from the event. Which means you either had to leave your game on, after reaching level 2, for 24 hours or level that character up. What this meant is that there is a very high concentration of people in 1 zone, all of them trying to quest. Anyone who has played a game at launch knows that trying to get anything done is next to impossible. If your computer cannot handle that many people in one concentrated area, then you might as well kiss the event goodbye. If it can, then good luck trying to get anything done with 100+ other people all doing the same thing as you are. With the restriction that your character must be created no earlier than the designated time frame, means that any of the hardcores who are competing are going to be fighting over the same things with you.
Now, Trion was handing out awards for accomplishing various tasks such as most exp earned or achievements completed. In this case, I can understand anyone who wants to participate to start over to make sure that people are on an even playing field. This I understand, but why on earth would you release brand new content during the weekend of an event like this just to remove most of the players from participating in said content? Rather than reward players from playing Rift during the event, they chose to restrict their players into playing a very specific predetermined system. For someone like me who wanted to participate in the event but didnt want to level, was to play another game.
Despite Trion having methods of tracking people’s playtime during the event (I am positive they are able to do this and considering you have to register your email when you registered for the event, they know who signed up and who didn’t), they chose to only track your play time within the Extra Life Guild. All in all, this event on Trion’s side was not fun. Guild chat consisted entirely of people comparing how much money they have raised as if it was some type of contest. Now, I know that the gaming community is full of selfish people who only do things for themselves, and as a member of this community, I have indeed only thought of things to do only if it benefitted myself in some way. In fact, I am sure most of the people who were involved with this event in RIFT was because they were offering exclusive things. But in the case of charity, the purpose of it being charity is to sacrifice your time for someone else, not to sacrifice your time for something else to compensate. I have never known of a single act of actual charity that resulted in some type of compensation. This mentality just resulted in myself turning off guild chat.
My guild decided that they wanted to level up new characters as they felt that because they already donated money then they should at participate in Trion’s restricted competition so that they can receive their goodies. And while I do love my guild mates, I felt that this was wrong on many levels that I already explained above. After an hour of doing what I wanted to do to participate in the event, they talked me into taking place on Trion’s. I spent 7 hours in pure agony and my internet deciding to turn off was quite the relief. I continued to do the event by playing Little Big Planet. After about 2 hours of that (and finishing up where I left off in the story mode) I got back on, played RIFT for with them for another 2 hours and everyone then separated to do their own thing and I proceeded to go back on my server and continue where I left off earlier that morning by participating in the new content.
So, to run it down, rather than actually tracking the time of players based on their registered email, they force players to play on a server on brand new characters when they just released brand new content (literally 2 days prior to the event). If you were allowed to temporarily transfer your other characters over to the said server, then the event would have actually made sense, you could participate in the new content while also playing games to raise money for children. But instead of thinking this through, they mash up a restricted conglomeration that failed to do anything but raise money. If you do something grudgingly, then it cant really be charity and forcing other people to participate in the charity only made people like myself grudgingly droning through the motions for a title.
Next year I will be participating in the event again, but will be playing Guild Wars 2 (assuming it comes out by then). My faith in Trion’s development team has began to grow thin for many reasons. And while this most recent content has been very enjoyable, I do not find myself playing it after my subscription runs out. I will possibly be moving over to Guild Wars. So if any of my readers play Guild Wars, which server should I go to?