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Friday, September 28, 2012

Runescape: Ozan- Diamond in the Rough Quest

Diamond in the Rough is the 2nd Runescape Quest released this week.  Actually, in a unique move from Jagex, they were both released on the same exact day.  While the first, Stolen Hearts, is available for free players, this quest is members only.  Both are used to highlight the new graphics rework of Al Kharid.  I love the new graphics,  by the way.  If you haven't stopped to explore yet, take a moment and see all the improvements.

Diamond in the Rough begins at the exact end-point of Stolen Hearts.  It's listed as a Novice quest, with short to medium duration.  I thought it was longer than that, but I also listened to all the voice acting.  The voices are superb, and add a huge amount of emotional depth to the quests, but they certainly make the quest take a lot longer.  If you want to speed it up, just read the text and skip the talking.

If you're very low-level, you'll want food and armor, for fighting some level 2 and level 5 bad guys.  If you have it, wear the Enchanted Desert Tiara.  It's easier than bothering with waterskins.  Though I kept the ones Shantay gave us just in case there might be a quest requirement to use the waterskins.

We start out with the Emir having just passed away, the prince is still kidnapped, and Osman can't allow you to take the Kharid-ib Diamond out of respect for the Emir's last command.  Osman being Osman, he makes it very clear what he cannot allow you to do, while making it very possible for you to do it anyway.  Spymasters just can't take a straight line when a twisty one is handy.

With some surprising revelations, you head off into the desert, following the "Path of the Sun".    The Kharid-ib shows you the way, but it seems to be alive and resisting the path you take it on.  If you get stuck, just talk to Ozan, he will provide hints for using the sundials.

When you get to the one that dumps you in quicksand, don't panic.  There's no escape.  Just try every option, then you'll sink underground and land in a cavern.  Immediately, a Dung Kalphite will steal the diamond and trundle off with it.  From there, just kill time trying to explore and talk with Ozan.  Eventually he'll realize he's sitting on something important.  Now you can repair the underground sundial, and follow the  path of the sunbeam.

You'll follow a long tunnel, and eventually be in pitch blackness.  Warning, there's a bit of 'adult' humor here.  While Runescape is loaded with children playing, I've noticed Jagex is trying to include more adult appeal in the game.  It seems like they're trying to raise the age of their target audience.

Once you get to the baby Kalphite hatchery, you'll see the beetles rolling their balls of dung all over the room.  Your job is to find out which one contains the diamond.  The correct Kalphite is supposed to sparkle and shine, though in my experience it seems like I had to kill a few wrong ones before getting to see the sparkle.  Wrong Kalphites will drop tuna (Not sure I'd want to eat tuna that a Dung Kalphite dropped...) or bronze junk.  You'll find a Sapphire, then an Emerald, then a Ruby, before getting the right one with the Kharid-ib diamond.

After getting  the diamond, Leela will rejoin the quest and help you escape the cavern.  Get the sundial repaired (that piece that's always broken is called a 'Gnomon').  Follow the sun a final time, and talk to Lady Kali.

She gets all scary here.  In the course of getting the diamond from you, she reveals her true identity, Amascut, one of the desert gods.  She leaves with the gem, while you and her guards face off for the big fight.

I'm continually amazed by Runescape's graphical improvements.  In this scene, even the background scenery, like the palm trees, are blowing and swaying in the storm winds generated by Amascut.  You and your friends will be trapped inside a whirling wall of wind and sand during the whole fight.  Her minions, Apep and Heru are more than simple thugs, and have special attacks.  Even so, it's a very basic (and easy) fight.  Just keep hitting them.  They have lots of hit points, and your best hit will never be higher than 50.  So a fast-hitting weapon will speed it up a bit.

Once the fight is over and things return to normal, talk to Prince Ali.  You, Leela, and the Prince all return to the palace in Al Kharid.  Ozan stays behind to continue the hunt for the diamond.

At this point the quest is basically over.  Though there's a cool after-quest custscene that shows more of the future plot.

The quest rewards, at first glance seem pretty low.  All beginner-level experience, 250 xp points in a few different skills.  Access to the Kalphite Nursery.  A couple more spins on the Squeal of Fortune.

The hidden rewards are helpful.  There are some associated cosmetic items:  Aten (a shield), Uraeus (an axe), found by fighting the Dung Kalphites.  You only get one shot, so if you go after those items, be sure to pick them up when you can.

Also, a Scabaras Mask and Was (sceptre), if you have 80 Mining.  Finally, an Apmeken Mask and Ankh if you have 80 Agility.
Nice Agility Boost
The items are all cosmetic.   But the two  skill related ones will give you some very worthwhile experience getting to them.   20,000 Mining exp by mining a fissure in the room under the quicksand... and 20,000 Agility by climbing into a cavern on the cliff behind the desert monkey colony.  (You have to have finished "Do No Evil".

Something very important to note:  If you have the gold Mining Suit on, you'll get it's standard bonus.  And if you're wearing a Pendant of Skill for Mining, you'll get extra experience from it.  I had a Prized Pendant of Mining, and it gave up astonishing amounts of bonus experience!
An even Nicer Mining Boost- wearing the gold mining suit and a Prized Pendant of Mining
It's probably safe to assume the Agility experience could likewise be increased with an Agility Pendant, but I didn't have one to test it with.

The two quests, Stolen Hearts and Diamond in the rough, replace the old Prince Ali Rescue quest, which is no longer in the game.  I'm guessing this means those of us who did the old Prince Ali quest will have more total max quest points than newer players will be able to get.

Overall, I can't get over how much fun these quests were.  Great story, it really pulled me in.  The characters had depth.  The graphics were brought to a whole new level for Runescape.  Ozan... well, Ozan's a nut-case.  But a very likeable nut-case.  He's an outstanding character.  I can't wait to see him again.  Hope it won't be long before the next quest in that series comes out.
Lady Keli/Amascut makes a great villain
Yes, the quests are low-level.  But they're worth doing just for the pleasure of it.  And the high-level rewards at the end for skilled players is a great addition.  Jagex has been doing that recently.  It's great, because that means even higher-level players can get a useful reward from a quest.   Though as I mentioned, this quest is worth doing just for the pleasure of experiencing it.

Runescape: Ozan Double Bill- Hearts & Diamonds Quests

Lady Keli and her minions kidnap Prince Ali

This week we got the Ozan Double Bill: Hearts and Diamonds.  For the first time I can ever recall, Runescape released two quests simultaneously.  They might be beginner quests, but both are still great stories with in-depth characterizations, and an amazing graphical update to Al Kharid.

The two quests are a single story, and the 2nd quest directly follows from the first.  Stolen Hearts is medium length, and Diamond in the Rough is medium to long, depending on circumstances.  Both are also voice acted.  I really like the voice acting, but it's good they've got the text as well.  If you listen to every thing in full voice, the quest can take much longer.  The first quest is for Free to Play as well as Members.  The second one is members only.

The first, Stolen Hearts, begins with finding Ozan skulking beside a building.  His friend Khnum is hanging out with a gang called the "Skulls".  Khnum wants nothing to do with Ozan, and Ozan is trying to find out what kind of trouble his friend has gotten into.
Ozan remembers you from helping him in Burthorpe, and requests your assistance.  Your job is to infiltrate the gang.  The puns and humor begin early in this quest.  When  Khnum calls their hangout "The Skullery", it cracked me up.  (In case you're not familiar with the term, a scullery is an old-style cleaning and washing room, and the 'scullery maid' was the lowest servant in a household.)

After an interview, Khnum decided I'm an "Artful Dodger" type, and tells me he can throw some work to me now and then.  His response differs depending on your own answers.  At the end of the quest, you're given a new title.  This conversation is what decides the title you get.  Any answers will get the job done, it's just a way of determining the title you get offered.

Afterward, report back to Ozan,  You and he will sneak after Khnum to find the HQ.  This scene is worth zooming in for a close-up view.  You literally skulk as you and Ozan sneak around.  Great graphics, hilarious scene.  I loved it!
Once there you both confront Khnum, along with Leela, an old friend of Ozan's.  (She's Osman's daughter.)  The plot thickens (I always wanted to say that!) as you realize Khnum is not a friend, and is neck-deep in a plan to kidnap the Emir's son.  You make a run for the southern shoreline to rescue the prince, but the kidnapper, Lady Keli, gets away with him.  There's a very easy fight here, then it's time to grab the ransom note and go to Al Kharid.

If you haven't seen the graphical update of Al Kharid yet, here's your chance to take it in.  What a difference!  The castle is majestic, the surroundings are perfectly themed.  The bank has been rotated 90 degrees on the inside, so that the tellers are to the right of the entry door now.  This is one of my all-time favorite graphical re-works.

The door guard will tell you everything is on lockdown, and nobody gets in.  Being agile and thiefterish, you and Ozan head for the rooftops.  What follows is one of the most entertaining mazes Runescape has ever had.  It's not really a 'maze' as such... very easy to follow the path.  But you get to perform all kind of tricky acrobatics with Ozan, and the animations here are just top notch.

It's scenes like this that make the quest so much fun.  Even though it's purely a beginner's quest, the story held my attention and the graphics were perfect.  Especially at the end of the maze, where you get a cutscene giving you vital information.  You get a closeup of Ozan and yourself hiding outside the window from a ledge, listening in.  The conversation in the room is very enlightening.  The scene is highly dramatic.

The short version is you and Ozan must now steal a treasure from the vault to trade for the Prince's safety.   With a bit more climbing, you get into the vault and must solve a puzzle.  Don't panic, it's an easy puzzle.  But you still get caught.  Osman the Spymaster realizes your hearts are in the right place, and takes you to the Emir.  He hopes to change the Emir's mind about giving up the diamond for the Prince.

The Emir still refuses to allow the diamond (The Kharid-ib) out of Al Kharid.  He implies it's more important than any one person, even the prince.  Then he dies.

And what a death scene...  I won't go into detail, but be prepared for some high drama and powerful cinematics.  You can really tell in this quest how much better Runescape's graphics engine has become.

Anyway, that's the ending point of this first quest.  I was originally going to write up both quests in one post, but they really deserve separate attention, so look for the next post to describe "Diamond in the Rough".  The sequel is even cooler than Stolen Hearts was!

As far as the rewards, nothing to see here, citizen, just keep moving.  Really, you get 250 xp constitution, 2500 gold coins, and a 250 xp combat skill lamp.  If you're a member, you also get 250 xp Agility and Thieving, plus a thief title if you go back to Draynor and check in with Khnum.  (You can be ... the Enforcer, the Swindler, Don, or Artful Dodger.
Plus 2 extra spins on the Squeal of Fortune.  That could be cool, depending on your luck.

This quest is a requirement for doing the sequel, of course.  Though the sequel is also beginner level, it's well worth doing for higher levels for the after-quest rewards.  Be sure to look for them.
Lady Keli makes a great villain. I hope she shows up again!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Runescape: Achieving 99 Thieving

This was a good weekend.  Friday evening, I got 98 Thieving.  Mainly from the Knights of Ardougne.  At level 97, with Gloves of Silence and Ardougne Cape(4), you never fail thieving from the Ardougne Knights.  They might not be as fast as Monkey Knife Fighters, but they're very consistent experience.

Even so, I got impatient there, and spent a large amount of Sunday with the Monkey Knife Fighters.  With practice, and by developing a 1-2-3 rhythm, they went quickly.  Still got stunned now and then.  Late Sunday evening, the 99 fireworks exploded for me.

This 99 was a long time in coming.  Years ago I thought it would be the be-all and end-all of making money.  Free money, right?  No, it didn't work like that.  I spent a long time thieving cakes in Ardougne.  As a matter of fact, I still have a big stack of cakes in the bank from those days.  Then it hit me... Knights of Ardougne!  Great profit, fast experience...  so I knocked around until my Thieving was 55.  Started trying to steal from the Knights... and got stunned every time I turned around.  No go.

Discouraged, I let it be for a long time.  Then I met Salarin the Twisted.  He's a great way for low-to-mid level players to collect herbs and practice magic.  Additionally, he drops the Sinister Key, which opens a chest of nice herbs.  Or it can be sold at a decent price.  Not fast money, but easy money.  I'd run to that little building just north of Yenille, climb down, run through the halls, through the agility areas, and fight him until the inventory filled up.  When I discovered the shortcut right near the bank, Thieving popped back up on the radar.  Level 82?  Darn, that was a lot of effort.  But great when that locked door finally opened.  Level 82 was also handy for getting the Taskmaster emote.  Among many skills, 82 Thieving was required to achieve all the requirements.

Aside from the occasional thieving for quests and from boredom, that's where it stayed until recently.  Since the release of Combat Beta, I've pretty much quit fighting.  Combat skills are maxed anyway, and it just wasn't fun when I knew everything would be different once Beta was perfected.  Didn't want to spend a lot of time in Beta, because nothing you do there counts toward improving your character.

Wanted something profitable to do while waiting for Beta to be finished.  Wound up with Thieving.  Did Master Farmers for a while.  Stacked seeds, tried both the Ardougne Farm, and the South Varrock Farm.  It was okay, but very slow.  And the seeds weren't anywhere nearly as good as I'd hoped.

Spent a LOT of time trapping Ardougne Knights and stealing from them in bulk.  Did some Pyramid Plunder.  Didn't bother with the Sorceress' Garden this time.  Meant to, just never got around to it.  Tried the Monkey Knife Fighters.  Couldn't get the hang of them for a long time.

Because I just wasn't doing well with the monkeys, the majority of my training was on Ardougne Knights.  By level 97, they quit stunning me.  At level 98, it was time to visit the monkeys again.  This time they cooperated.  Two things really helped.  First, keeping a 1, 2, 3 count.  1 was always 'Punch', 2 and 3 were pickpocketing.
The other thing was timing.  You can't go too fast.  It works best if you wait until you actually hear the action happen before clicking the next action.  Click 'punch', wait until you hear it hit.  Pause a micro-second, then click 'pickpocket'.  Pause a moment, then click 'pickpocket again'.

After a while, the rhythm becomes second nature.  But worked until it became habit.  For all of level 98 to 99, it was the Monkey Knife Fighters.  I didn't keep track of the hours, but it was somewhere between 4 and 5 hours to get from 98 to 99.

Thieving was actually a decently fast skill to raise.  Next up will probably be Agility or Mining.  Neither one's fast, but Agility's 95, and Mining's 92.  And Agility costs nothing to train.  Mining is profitable.  (Or not, if I decide to drop the ore along the way.)  Not really sure what to choose.

For now, it's just a nice feeling to have Thieving out of the way.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Runescape: Daily Challenges and Noticeboard

Runescape seems to have new updates faster than I can play them recently.  A couple of days ago, Jagex released the Daily Challenges and Noticeboard.  They've been talking it up well before releasing it.  I've been looking forward to it.  The idea of giving players suggestions with bonuses sounds great.
There'll be assignments in the menu, that we're guaranteed to have the skill levels for.  That's pretty cool right there.  I always hate when something comes out and my levels have to be trained before I can play it.
Out of my initial list of challenges, I chose to chop 30 magic logs.  Not that I needed to raise that skill, but it seemed like a quick and easy way to try out the Daily Challenges.  Apparently, so did many other people.  I'm currently in the middle of growing Yew trees to train my farming, so I didn't have any private magic trees to chop.  Went to the one in the Gnome Stronghold (by the bank).  It was being shared, and took too much time to regrow.  Same with the one just under the gnome agility course.
My next thought was the bank of Magic trees north of the Ardougne farming allotments.  It was already being chopped by a whole swarm of woodcutters.  Didn't even try the church south of the Seers Village.    It's too easy to access.  Then I remembered the resource dungeon in the Varrock Sewers.  The one right next to Vannaka in the east side of the Edgeville dungeon.  Go through the shortcut, run south a bit, and enter the resource dungeon.

There's a bank of Magic trees (the old graphic style, not the new blueish trees) along the west edge. There were only 2 others players there, so that's where I stayed to complete the task.
The Burthorpe Quartermaster requires you to hand over whatever the task was.  If you didn't bring it along, he can retrieve the items from your bank.  So I couldn't just chop and drop.  Had to actually bank the logs.  When he accepted them from me, he gave me 643 gold... 41 raw Rocktail... and 28k woodcutting experience.

 For a second task, I chose the option to plant a Lantadyme seed.  One seed.  Used the Lumbridge ring to Cabbage Port.  Ran north to the Falador farm, planted the seed.  Quick and easy, and I got nearly 4k experience for it.  No swag bag though.  And contrary to expectation, I bought the seed for 21k gold, and was NOT reimbursed.  21k gold... not a big deal.  But I'm going to keep my eye on it when accepting bigger tasks.  I assume it's because I didn't actually have a 'result' item for the quartermaster to take.  He probably only pays when he takes something from you.
To be honest, I didn't expect the experience rewards to be so large. 

The Burthorpe Quartermaster was quite generous in that regard.  I know there'll be plenty of people upset because of the easy experience granted.  The old-school 99'ers, who think if they had to walk to school and home uphill both ways, in the dark, during a snowstorm, and fighting off ravenous wolves, then nobody else should ride the school bus either.
Personally, I don't mind.  It's a game, and I play it to have fun.  I take pride in my personal achievements, and enjoy most of the changes in Runescape.  The only problem I see here relates to  maxed skills.  I have some skills that are maxed at 99.  And many skills that aren't.  I would prefer to be offered challenges in skills that are NOT yet maxed.  That just obviously seems more useful.

Instead, most of the challenges offered initially were useless for me.  Interesting, fun maybe, but not as useful as earning bonus exp in a skill I'm still training.  Someone else mentioned this in the forums, and a Jagex Mod (Mod Jack) said he was looking into "the possibility of not giving challenges in a skill you're already 99 in."  I hope he's successful with that.  Right now, none of the tasks offered to me are in skills I need. 
One of the easiest tasks was to visit the Godwars dungeon.  Didn't have to do anything, but just the same, geared up for Aviansies.  Hadn't been down there since the graphic update, so it was on my agenda to fight a few Avies and see how it went.  Graphically, the update is very nice.  Much more atmospheric.  I don't generally enjoy boss monsters, so didn't explore them.  Not this trip, anyway.  Functionally, it was the same with one exception.  I don't wear all the different god gear; normally on my way to the Avies, nothing attacks me.  But this time, something attacked me when I entered.  Didn't stop to figure it out, and it wasn't any big threat.  But obviously, something has been shuffled around.  Guess I'll have to re-arrange my gear to defend against all the gods now.

There have also been a few glitches reported.  One that does worry me is related to the 'take from bank' option. When the Quartermaster told me he could take the items from my bank, there was an option to approve permanently, and not ask the question again.  I clicked yes.  I wish I hadn't, because there's no way to change this at the moment.  If you make, as someone in the forums mentioned, 80 adamant daggers for the challenge... but have other adamant items in your bank, apparently the Quartermaster will take your more expensive items, leaving the daggers behind.  Even though you're given something of roughly equal value, I'd rather not have the wrong items removed from my bank.
Don't know if they'll fix that or not.  If you haven't yet made the permanent choice to allow, I'd wait and see.  If you've already made that choice, you'll just have to bear it in mind when doing challenges.

I like the basic concept of the challenge tasks.  Sometimes when I finish one goal, I float around aimlessly for a few days, before deciding what to do next.  Having some suggestions seems like a good idea.  Honestly, I'll probably wind up ignoring it most of the time.  Unless they adjust it to avoid offering maxed skills.  It would be really cool if there was an option, like a box to check or uncheck.  Then it would be OUR choice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Runescape: The Jagex Account Guardian (JAG)

Today (9/11/12) Runescape brought out the big protection.  JAG- The Jagex Account Guardian.  This strikes me as a very good thing.  Another layer of security to protect us all.  Jagex has been coming out with so many new things, and my schedule has been pretty hectic recently, that it's been hard to keep up.  But this one seems important enough to stop and share with everyone. 
Monique and I have played Runescape since 2004, right about 8 years at this point in time.  When we first started, my initial account was hacked.  Mainly it was my own gullibility.  Someone convinced me they were a Jagex employee and needed to access my account to verify a complaint against me.  At the time, I suspected it was a hacker... but my account had a combat level of maybe 10, and nothing of any value.  So I let him access my account.
Afterward, it seemed prudent to simply start over.  There was no time invested in the original account, no real effort, and it was a free account... and I had no way of knowing if the hacker would be able to get back in after that or not.  (I know better now, but everybody's a newbie at some point.)  So when it comes to being stupid, and letting someone hack your account, I can't cast any stones.  Been there, done that.  Just lucky that the account didn't have anything worth losing. 

Now we have JAG.  The plain and simple of it is hardware access.  With the Jagex Account Guardian, you control which physical hardware can access your account.  If someone tries to get into your account from a non-authorized computer, they must go through a verification process that makes it much harder to hack. 

I really like this idea.  There's only one computer I generally play from.  And only two beyond that that ever have access.  All three computers are in my own home.  Since my blog occasionally mentions my player name, this makes me feel much more secure. 

If you want to read the Runescape News article about JAG, click HERE.  It'll give you the basics.  There's also a FAQ (just click the link) that answers most questions about the JAG.  If you're ready to activate the Account Guardian, just go to your account settings and log in.  You'll see the appropriate icons and categories to follow.

It was pretty easy to enable.  Answered 5 pre-set questions.  You're supposed to choose answers you'll always be able to remember.  Since my memory isn't that reliable, I wrote the answers down in my 'secret decoder book'.  Any time you want to add more computers to your authorized list (or remove any from it) you'll have to answer three of the five questions.  You'll also have to validate it through your email address of record.  That adds a nice multi-layered level of protection to your account. 

Once your computers are authorized (either permanently or temporarily, your choice) to access your account, it's invisible.  Just log in and play as normal.  It's up to you whether to enable JAG or not.  Personally, it seems like a GREAT idea to me!

Sorry, none of the usual pictures.  Kind of defeats the purpose if I publish pictures of the process.  :^D