The past week in RIFT has felt like a bit of a transition period. The world event came to an end, and players have generally put that behind them. Meanwhile, there are some pretty big things coming up soon with the next update, so you can feel the anticipation (and in some cases, concern) from the players over these changes.

In this week's Enter at Your Own Rift, I'll discuss a few things that have caught my eye recently in game. Is coin-lock doing its job? Are we winning the battle of the spammers? Will the Dwarf NPC that I'm escorting really be dumb enough to run into that foothold up the road? Read on for the answers!

Hack attack!

First off, I've had my first up-close experience with hacking. One of my guildmates was hit last week. He hasn't been on as much recently (a new baby in the family means reduced playtime), so I was surprised to see in the guild log that he had been on the night before. When I messaged him, he replied, "Um, that wasn't me." As it turns out, someone had hacked his account and logged in.

Fortunately, coin-lock did its job. He had actually gotten the coin-lock notification email, and when I told him his character was online, he immediately changed his password and logged in to see if everything was OK. It was -- nothing was stolen, nothing was stripped, and his character was still in the same spot as he had left him. As a guild leader, when I hear that a member has been hacked, I feel as bad as he does, because I know how lousy a feeling that is and it's a hassle trying to get everything restored and sorted out properly. It also is a setback for the guild itself, because that member is basically out of commission when it comes to raiding or grouping. And if there's a guild bank in the game, you can bet that the hacker will try to drain that as well. We had a theft of thousands of plat and many rares from our guild bank in EverQuest II once, and while our funds were quickly restored, it wasn't fun to log in and see an empty bank.

I think coin-lock will be one of those features that gets overlooked, but it could easily be one of the most important features added to MMOs. It's something that should be default in every MMO going forward.

But while coin-lock has stifled character theft, the war against spam continues. It seems that over the past couple of weeks, the amount of spam for plat and powerleveling has increased to the point that open chat is almost exclusively spam. At one point over the weekend, there was a server message announcing that over 500 accounts had been banned for spam, thanks to the diligent work of the players on Byriel. And that's the thing -- the report and ignore feature is working properly, and players are definitely using it. It's almost a minigame to see if you can get your report and ignores in fast enough, because a few times when I've done it, the player is already "not found." So the only way spammers are succeeding is by flooding the servers with freshly created toons -- basically a zerg rush of spammers.

I can't say that they bother me too much, because I know that they're being removed as quickly as they hit their messages. But the volume is so much that I have almost reported guilds for their spammy recruitment messages. It's easy to glance up while in combat, see a combination of capital letters and lower case with a few fancy symbols thrown in, and conclude that it's another spam message. So be warned, all you spammy guild recruiters!

Chilling out to RIFT

Switching gears, I've noticed that RIFT has made our guild extremely mellow. In talking with a few other guild leaders, I'm finding that they echo my sentiments. This is purely anecdotal and hardly a scientific survey, but for the longtime gamers whom I've been around, RIFT seems to be the game that people can play casually without feeling like they're falling way behind. I think part of that, at least for our guild, is that rift invasions are so inclusive that we've been able to group up with a fairly wide level range and still see everyone walk away with experience and loot. Even in groups, we've had some members just start playing, and we've been able to run instances with them even though we'd normally be way beyond the traditional level range for grouping. Yes, the higher-level players really aren't getting experience, and the lower-level players might not be getting as much experience as they would if they were going in with players of the same level. But just the fact that they can get any decent amount of experience is great, because it allows us all to do things together from the get go.

Escort the Dwarf -- watch out for that foothold!

I have to admit, I haven't been participating in rift invasions as much as I did at launch. I've been so focused on questing, working through the storyline, and hitting up instances that I just didn't have the time to include them. I started to wonder if I was getting burned out on rift invasions, but this past week, I rediscovered how much I appreciate them. They've been both a blessing and a curse in my solo-quest efforts. I always get a chuckle when a patrolling group of invaders comes tearing down the road, clearing the way for me to reach quest updates. But at the same time, they've foiled my questing too.

Out in Iron Pine, I stumbled on a Dwarf that had been wounded by wolves and was stuck in the snow. Yep, you guessed it: It was an escort quest. I followed him through the valley and protected him from a few waves of wolves, but as we reached the road, I began to see the impending train wreck. Right at the final quest camp was an air foothold. The Dwarf paused a minute, blurted out something Dwarvish about charging in to victory, and ran straight into the middle of the invasion. Freakin' Cogboggle all over again! Before I could even get a heal off, he was dead, and the quest text taunted me with (fail) in my quest window. So note to self -- scout out the path before you do an escort quest, because footholds and NPCs don't go together well!

I'm looking forward to the next game update, but I'm also excited that our guild is about to dip its toes into raiding. We've leveled at a nice, relaxed pace, but it will be nice to start raiding once again now that most of us are at the level cap. One thing's for certain, though: When we do raid, that Dwarf stays home!

Whether they're keeping the vigil or defying the gods, Karen Bryan and Justin Olivetti save Telara on a weekly basis. Covering all aspects of life in RIFT, from solo play to guild raids, their column is dedicated to backhanding multidimensional tears so hard that they go crying to their mommas. Email Karen and Justin for questions, comments, and adulation.

This article was originally published on Massively.