Today’s Rift patch notes had an interesting line:
Tracking abilities no longer trigger global cooldown, which also reduces their effect on Rift contribution.
Rift’s Contribution system is something I’ve been meaning to address. During an invasion or rift closure, your contribution is measured against that of the other participants, with you competing for the best rating, and thus the best rewards. Warhammer had something similar, and if you’re a longterm reader you’ll know that I had more than a few issues with their contribution system too, and I discussed the issues with contribution systems in general.
You might imagine that our contribution is measured by damage dealt, healing done, or other useful things that people might do in a fight. It has long been known though that Rift contribution is pretty much just a factor of how many buttons you can activate. Today’s patch-note suggests that it is, in fact, determined by how much time you spend in global cooldown (and probably casting time). I’m not sure how channels work in to that equation, but what is certainly true is that actual effectiveness or usefulness has no part in determining your contribution.
So contribution has been raisable by doing things that are entirely useless to the task at hand, such as spamming your track button over and over. Track was a good choice as it has no mana cost, but you just as often see someone standing there spamming their instant buffs.
You’re at a disadvantage if you’re only doing things that are useful to the fight, particularly if you are melee, as you are likely to spend a fair bit of time running to targets. Now, you *could* use that time spamming something useless, if you’re lucky to have such a power within your skillset, but that makes no sense whatsoever within the context of the game.
Here is the thing for me. When I’m fighting a Rift or Invasion I want to spend my thought cycles considering how best to defeat the enemy. I do not want to spend them on organising within my head how best to arrange my actions to have the minimum amount of time when I’m not under a global cooldown, just so I can get a decent reward at the end. I do not want to know that if I stop hammering buttons, even for a moment, my contribution level will plummet compared with that of my fellows.
At any rate, I’m not a huge fan of competing within your own team, as it can lead to some rather self-defeating dynamics. For instance, I’m actually an idiot for healing other players, unless I believe that we can’t complete the task without it. The more time my colleagues spend dead or running back from respawn, the more buttons I can click in their absence.
Now, I’m not doing these things. I like to play for the team, and to be effective, but it has been extremely apparent that some people are not, and the folks who are playing fair are getting stiffed. Knowing this makes Rift much less fun for me.
Any contribution system is going to have its issues, but it is vital that they do not encourage anti-social or bizarre behaviours, and actually reward people for working as part of the team.
Update: Rift Developer Hartsman just sent me a tweet about this.
Agree with the overall feeling on encouraging weird behaviour. Addressing that as well. The current tweak just makes it “less weird”
So it sounds like we’ll be seeing some positive changes to how contribution works. Huzzah! Hopefully that will include changes to address the imbalance between ranged and melee in gaining contribution too.