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Friday, December 14, 2012

Runescape Player Owned Ports Review

Player Owned Ports came out this week (Mid-December, 2012).  Billed as a mini-game for high-level players, it has a requirement of at least 90 in one of the following skills:  Fishing, Slayer, Runecrafting, Herblore, Prayer, or Thieving.  To get the most from the game, you should be at least 90 in ALL of those skills.  To be honest, I'm thrilled.  Something targeted specifically for high-level players has been greatly needed.  Not to be 'elitist', but because it gives all players something to look toward as they raise their levels.  Plus players that already qualify have content that's fun to do, and rewards commensurate with our levels.

It's taking me a while to get the hang of it, but so far I'm enjoying the mini-game a lot.  It reminds me of Kingdom managing at Miscellania, with a bit of Sim City mixed in.  The first day seemed a bit overwhelming.  I made the mistake of clicking the green arrows for mission selection, not realizing it was "re-rolling" for replacement missions with every click.  I thought it was just scrolling through the list, and wound up burning through most of my first day's missions without getting to do them.

By the second day, things made a lot more sense.  At the beginning, the game is mostly about building up everything.  I'm sure that as it progresses, more emphasis will shift to clever resource management, rather than just upgrading everything in sight.

There's a very extended introductory walkthrough that mixes theatrical cutscenes with an interactive guide.  In terms of introducing the story, and the concepts involved, it's well told.  I enjoyed the cinematic aspect.  As a tutorial, it was kind of weak.  Glossed way too quickly over everything, and didn't explain enough detail.  As an intro it was great, but for a tutorial, we need a more involved and in-depth approach.  Maybe a 'point-and-click query to explain things as they're needed, available at any time.  More like a 'help' command.  The Runescape site itself has a good description of much of the game, though it's not a strategy guide.
POP is a lot of fun in its own right, but let's be honest... I'm here for the armor!  There's high-level armor for all three combat classes, all of which require at least level 85 combat to wear.  They all require at least 90 in their associated skill (Smithing, Crafting, and Runecrafting for each respective armor set.)  The armor sets don't look bad, but could look better.  Oh well.  I still want them.

The armor comes in two levels, a slightly weaker tradeable version, and a stronger untradeable version.  Both degrade, but the tradeable one degrades to destruction.  The untradeable sets can be repaired, either with resources or gold.  There's been some grumbling on the forums because they degrade.  I don't mind, in either case.  Primarily, I want this armor for myself, and don't see any problem with fixing it periodically.  The tradeable version is a clever design on Jagex's part to provide a consumable resource.  The armor will always need to be replaced, so it will constantly have a demand.  It'll be a lot cheaper than the (up till now) current highest level armors.  That should keep the value reasonable, and give port-owners ongoing rewards.

Other nice rewards include Rocktail Soup, which is now the best food in the game.  Made with Rocktail, and Spices from  the player owned port, again Runescape has given a great reward and a reason to continue playing the mini-game.  At first people were paying ridiculous money for it, though at this moment it's going for about 5,000 gold.

The final reward is Scrimshaws, the new item worn in our 'pocket'.  It will boost specific skills or abilities, requires 85 fletching or higher, depending on which one you want to make.  As with the armor, scrimshaws come in tradeable and untradeable versions with higher stat boosts to the untradeable ones.

The graphics are beautiful.  Very pleasing to look at.  There's a lot of voice-acting with the characters.  It's well-done, but maybe not quite as good as some of the recent quests.  When I was talking with the Siren, Monique wanted to know who the sexy woman was that I was flirting with...

The controls and menu interfaces are initially confusing.  The first day, I didn't know if I'd ever get it, but just played around, made mistakes, and learned.  Bynow it's making a lot more sense.  The wiki has a pretty good description and strategy suggestions.  I don't think this kind of game really lends itself to a step-by-step guide.  There are too many ways to play, and too many options to choose from.  The best way to play is read through the Wiki strategy tips, then just play.  You'll pick it up as you go.

There's a huge amount of depth, lots of different storylines, randoms, multiple rewards, mini-mini-games, and re-playability.  Most updates flood the Runescape forums with haters and whiners.  I don't mean rational, objective reviews or suggestions.  But I'm sure you've seen the posts like "Fix it now, give me back my lost xxxx, or I quit!"  Every update just seems to bring out the worst in the forums.

Not Player Owned Ports.  This time, the forums are full of happy players, tips and advice on how to play, and objective comments on suggested improvements.  The overall tone has been very positive.  That alone indicates what an overwhelming success POP is.  Runescape really did well.  They needed something strongly positive after all the complaints about EOC.  (There are still complaints, but there's always going to be some no matter what.)  I'm sure right now there are lots of happy employees among the Jagex staff.

Personally, I love this update.  It's added a lot of fun to my gameplay, and it's a very cool reward for all the time spent leveling my character.  I can't wait to advance and start earning some armor!

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