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Encounter Times: Teetering on the Brink of Insanity

By on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:46 am, in RIFT, SideBarArticleList  |  Comments: 1 comment

Many people have been in Hammerknell for a while now, many more are stepping in every single day for the first time. With the exception of Murdantix, there is one common denominator for all of the fights: they all last more than 10 minutes. If you’ve been progressing through Hammerknell since it’s release you might be teetering on the brink of insanity right now.

One of the major problems we see with Hammerknell is that the encounter take so damn long and quite often one single mistake wipes the raid. While most of the fights, mechanically, are fantastic and fun; they wear on most people. Just from personal anecdotal evidence, players are quitting due to stress and fatigue.

Let’s take a look at Sicaron for example. If you don’t have a raid full of Prestige Rank 8 Warriors all doing 3k dps, the average fight time is around 11-12 minutes. The whole fight requires precise placement of the bubbled bombs and later on in the fight, a quick and precise rotation of purging, and a rigorous eye for cleansing the raid.

At any time during this fight, if someone missing a purge, cleanse or overlaps a bubbled bomb, the raid wipes. There is no room for mistakes or error. If you are not on your game, you lose.

While expecting players to play amazing is not a crazy expectation, the problem is that when everything is going well and in the 10th minute a purger lags for a second, or his mouse twitches, or he simply missing a cure, everyone dies and you have to start all over again. You have to sit through the first 10 minutes which you have down, all over again.

Now for everyone else not purging or tanking or whatever else, you’re just standing in one place rotating through your dps and occasionally placing a bomb. It’s extremely boring doing this for 10 minutes straight over and over as you learn the fight.

The stress and drag of doing this over and over as you’re learning the fight can really wear on people, and the enjoyment of the game drops.

Imagine if each encounter in Expert Darkening Deeps was 10-15 minutes long? Just the encounter time of the first four bosses in Hammerknell is equivalent to the time it takes for a full clear in Drowned Halls. Just the boss encounter time!

I don’t mind intense fights, but give me bursts of intensity. The Sicaron fight doesn’t really start until the purge rotation starts kicking in which is about halfway through. Why not increase the purge rotation time but decrease the overall time of the fight? Why can’t the fight be 4-5 minutes long instead of 10-11?

Another perfect example is Zilas, though at least this fight is fun and less stressful since you can easily recover from mistakes. However it takes way too long. Nothing happens in the first 40% of Zilas’ health. Outside of debuffing and trapping Imps or whatever else your strategy is, you’re just pounding on the boss. There is zero strategy.

Why is that first 40% of the fight there? Why not just cut the hitpoints in half and get to the fight quicker? If the raid wipes 5% due to unlucky mage rotation, or an unlucky “It’s Laser Time! Shit an Umbral spawn! Fuck! Two Mages!”, which can happen quite often, you’re just tacking on an extra 4-5 minutes to the fight that can be spent having fun and not falling asleep.

What is the point of all these long fights? Why can’t fights be 3-5 minute affairs of intense and skillful play? The majority of the fights ramp up extremely slow. The only check in a really long and slowly developing encounters is to see how much caffeine you have. If developers want to create really long and intense fights, then save them for final bosses and not the first three entry level encounters.

It’s poor design. It’s killing people. Stop it.

No one wants to spend a whole night wiping in a raid, but it’s part of the game and most people can put up with it. Most players, when they wipe, want to get back to the challenge and try again, but when you tack on recovery time of ress’ing and buffing then tack on an extra 8-10 minutes of the encounter just to get back to the part you died, then people start throwing in the towel and not bothering anymore after a few weeks.

River of Souls and Greenscale’s Blight had some fun encounters, and the only lengthy ones were Alsbeth and Greenscale which happen to be the last boss encounters. Plutonus had an average fight time of 3-4 minutes and that fight was really fun! The encounter started right away and if you wiped, you could jump right back in and get to the part your screwed up on and try again.

Hammerknell should be the same way… fun.

  • Yuko

    Agreeing with every single word.