The news of a Prime server in Rift is doing the rounds at the moment: a server that will have progression through the vanilla content, and the expansions at an accelerated release pace. A detail that caught my attention is the temporary nature of this server, it’ll be merged into another server at some point (presumably when the population naturally declines to an unsustainable level).
Rift isn’t the first game to do this, I read via Reddit that Archeage had already done this, progression servers are also a thing in the Everquests. Likewise the idea of rerolling a new character regularly is pretty common in the wider online gaming genre – action RPGs like Diablo 3 and Path of Exile do this with ‘seasons‘.
That got me thinking about character permanence: it’s a core feature of MMORPGs in general, something that I take for granted in my online gaming. The characters that I create and play will be there (barring a game shutdown) whenever I come back to them, there is permanence and progression ready to return to. The concept of creating a temporary character for a season, leveling them over a fixed time period and then abandoning them, is anathema to me.
I’ve not found playing on Everquest 2’s progression servers to be that appealing either – I haven’t played enough of the content for nostalgic references to work on me and I wasn’t around at the game’s launch to have that comparison with how the game is today. In Rift, I’ve not done any of the last two expansions so there’s no lack of content for me to be playing on the live servers – I suppose the nostalgia factor might actually be more of a pull to Rift as I played at the original launch and remember how much fun zone events were before the big nerf.
Is character permanence important?