What's New at Amazon.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Runescape: Runetek 7 used in Bestiary Beta Release

Jad isn't the toughest monster - but he's still my favorite boss!
Ever since the EOC, things have been in a state of flux.  The rules change daily, if not more often.  Just when you think you've figured out the best armor and weapons to take down a specific monster, it gets changed again.  Suddenly, you're getting slaughtered because you came to the party wearing the wrong clothes.  It sucks the fun right out of playing.

It also makes writing effective guides impossible.  Who can write a quality guide when tomorrow the advice might not work any more?  Which means, when I want to know the best way to go after a particular monster, there aren't any accurate guides available.  And trust me, I might be maxed combat, but it doesn't mean I'm GOOD at it... just persistent.  I need all the help that can be found!

So, all that being said...  Now we've got the Runescape Bestiary!!!  Now we can make sure we're properly prepared before heading off to fight.

Have you checked it out yet?  You pick a monster/NPC (from a list of nearly 3,000), and it shows up on a large circular podium surrounded by mountains.  You can rotate, zoom in, zoom out, change the angle, and all the while the monster's standing, posing, looking dramatic.  It even tells you where in-game you can find that monster.

To the right, you can choose to see the monster selection menu, or the monster stats page.  You can see attack strengths, weaknesses, life points, defense levels, all the stuff you want to know before heading off to slay.
It's not exactly a guide, but it's pretty darned useful. And graphically, very pleasing.  As long as you meet the technical requirements.  This is the first public viewing of the new Runetek 7 engine, using HTML5.

Given that this is the first time Runetek 7 is being shown to the world, Jagex is considering the Bestiary to be in Beta for now.  They're asking for any feedback you might have, bug reports, and observations.

To use the Bestiary, currently you'll have to be using Google Chrome as your browser.  Apparently it's the only browser that fully supports the Bestiary's requirements.  I'm fine with that.  I've been using Chrome as my Runescape client for a long time now.  The Jagex client has a tendency to randomly crash on my computer, but Chrome is stable.  Firefox is my favorite browser, but I wanted something completely separate for Runescape.  So I work and browse in Firefox, but Runescape in Chrome.

Looks like I'm not alone, either.  Jagex says Chrome is the single most popular browser for Runescapers.

Additional requirements:  Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, Mac OSX, Linux, or Android 4.0 (or higher).  To use Android, you'll have to be running Chrome beta for Android.

Oh, unless you're using iOS.  At this time, the Bestiary cannot be viewed from an iPad or iPhone.  Possibly in the near future.

If you haven't taken a look, click HERE and go see it.  Now if they can create a weapon and armor guide using the same format, that would be cool.
Addendum... What I Would Like To See
This is just my wishful thinking, but wouldn't it be cool?
I'd like to see a Weapon/Armor guide:  Like the Bestiary, but your character would be standing on the stage.  You could select what kind of combat you intend (melee, magic, ranged, or the different hybrids), and based on your characters' current stats you would be shown the highest equipment you could currently use.  Arrows up or down would let you see any equipment below or above that, so you can plan for the future, or try to find an option to fit a budget.  Kind of like a point and click combat planner.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Runescape: Bringing back the Old School

Class is back in session!
I've seen a lot of the conversations about old school Runescape.  In some ways, I agree.  There was a lot of fun in those old days, and the game wasn't so complex.

But I never... seriously, never... thought I'd see the day Runescape offered it to a player poll!  I assumed the wishful thinking was either just that, or maybe a handful of malcontents pushing their views to the forefront.  Guess I was wrong.  If it's big enough to get Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard involved, then the nostalgia must involve a pretty huge group of players.

In brief, all the fast and furious updates have inspired a wave of people who miss the old days.  Mod Mark apparently got on board last week, and it sparked a serious "What if" session within Jagex.
After much hunting, searching, and checking old files and backups, a fully functional snapshot of the entire game from August 2007 was discovered.  At least, functional enough that with some TLC, it could be restored to fully working order.

Depending on the level of player interest for the project, Mark has 4 levels of potential support planned.  The poll will be open for voting on Friday February 15th, for a duration of 2 weeks.  The proposed support will be based on a Members-Only vote as follows:

Level 1: 50,000 + votes
There will be an additional membership fee of $15 to access 2007 servers.  The servers will not be updated, and will only receive critical maintenance.

Level 2:  250,000 + votes
At this level, we'll have dedicated 2007 servers, a small dev team, and the membership fee would be around $5.00

Level 3: 500,000 + votes
The 2007 servers will have a dedicated dev team, and there will be no extra fees to members.  The servers will have regular maintenance, and occasional new content.

Level 4:  750,000 + votes
The 2007 servers will have a larger dedicated development team with no extra membership charges.  Plus they'll throw in the free part of the map available to everybody.  They'll get continuous maintenance, and members will have polls to choose preferred content updates.

That's the main essence of the plan. If Mark Gerhard is willing to do this, there must be enough interest to justify spending the resources on it.  Even if he's hedging his bet with multiple levels of support for the project, and even if that first (and smallest) level of support would have a pretty high price tag.

Some clarification would be nice.  When Mark says $15 additional membership fee, does he mean once?  Once a year?  Once a month?  If once a month, that would make it double the cost of the normal membership.

Also, is that an opt-in additional membership, or across the board?  I mean, if he's saying the monthly fee for EVERYBODY would be $15, well, that's a lot more than I'd want to pay.  Especially since I don't plan on going back in time.  Monique and I each have a paid membership.  I'm hoping the only people who'd have to pay the additional fees would be those who want to play on the old-school servers.

Jagex is specifying the servers as 'separate entities', so I think it's safe to assume our player character won't be able to cross back and forth.  I have neither the time nor the interest in training two characters simultaneously.  Which is why I won't be playing on the 2007 servers.  Besides, I really like Player Owned Ports... just recently made 'Commodore', and would hate to  give that up!!

Since the poll will have a vote-by-quantity result, the only way to vote against would be to NOT vote.  According to Mark, if you vote, you're voting FOR by default.  He also said it was fine to vote to help out friends, even if you don't want the 2007 game for yourself.

I'd like some more information before the poll.  While I'm all for helping out a friend, it's another story if helping that friend winds up pulling more money out of my own pocket.  There's going to be a Q&A session (Around the Campfire with Mark Ogilvie) next week in order to discuss the details of going Old School.

I don't usually watch the live feeds, but when they transcribe the Q&A onto the forums, I'll read through it.  (That way it's at my pace, and doesn't take as long to see what's up.)

I'm glad to note Mark Gerhard promised this project will have very minimal impact on the modern game during the initial phase, and none whatsoever after that.  That's good, because they have a ton of new content planned for this year, and I'm excited to see what's around the corner.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Runescape: Hacking...Are you smarter than an 11 year old?

These aren't tradeable, but do represent irreplaceable possessions
Jagex has taken a stance against hacking and real world trading for years.  Legitimate players have been deadly set against cheating of any sort.  It devalues the effort we put into our game time. Bots are so bad it's nearly impossible to play some aspects of Runescape for the crowding.

We've all heard the reasons we shouldn't cheat.  Recently, one of the biggest reasons hit the news, and is expected to have a major impact on players this coming year.  AVG, a major antivirus provider, discovered a new Trojan being used against Runescapers.  Because it was done in an amateurish manner, they were able to track it back exactly to the hacker that wrote it.  And he's an 11 year old boy.

The program he wrote offered a hack allowing players to create Runescape gold on demand.  It asked for their username and password to make the changes on the account.  But instead of giving free gold, it sent this private data to the hacker.

According to AVG, young programmers tend to write hacks to prove they can, and to show they're smarter than the losers they steal from.  Not necessarily motivated by money, but as a sort of power play.

Whatever the motive, once they have your account data, they could very well access other things.  Aside from credit cards stored on the account, people often use one password, or a variation on a password, for all their accounts.  Breaking into one account can often be a springboard for breaking into other accounts.

That perspective is in the news a lot.  Speaking as a Runescaper, I'm talking about the other side of the problem.  This kid, having stolen your account data, can then take over your account, change your password, and before you can get it changed back, plunder your bank.  Take all your money, your best armor, best weapons, any cool and valuable items you've amassed.  Non-players don't understand how much this stuff means to a player.  You've spent hours, days, months and years of your life building the character.  Having that invaded and taken from you hurts.

I allowed myself to be hacked once years ago.  I should have known better.  Told me he was a Jagex employee, and needed to examine my account to verify a claim against me.  But I'd only been playing for 3 days, and had nothing of value.  So I let him access my account.  When I got back in, of course I was standing at the bank.

The good part was nothing had been stolen.  There was nothing in there worth taking.  Even knowing it was probably a scam, even knowing I had nothing worth taking, it still left a bad taste.  How can people treat each other like that?

I nearly quit playing at that point.  3 days in, I wasn't emotionally invested.  But that sense of my personal space invaded bugged me.  I wound up starting a new character, and have enjoyed Runescape  ever since.

I was pretty lucky.  Played much safer after that.

What I'm saying, is don't cheat.  You can't trust the software, or the programmer, and you might wind up really regretting it.  And to be honest, if you're trying to cheat, and you get cheated... well, that's kind of poetic.  :^)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Runescape Sinkholes: The New Dungeoneering Distraction and Diversion

Runescape continues to enjoy an unprecedented amount of updates.  On 2/5/13, Sinkholes became the newest of new content to be released.  It's a Dungeoneering-based Distraction and Diversion, with a competitive edge.

Every half an hour a new Sinkhole will be generated.  The duration is brief, and time counts down even if you haven't started a game yet.  Find Talsar (he's a bit to the west on the Daemonheim plaza) and he will teleport you to the current sinkhole location.  He gives up to 3 teleports per day, though you can only play the D&D twice a day.
It takes 5 players to start a game.  If there aren't enough, then there's no game.  The first time I tried, I didn't get to start a game, but spent the time talking to the Gorajo who manages the sinkhole.  The second time I tried, it was in a different world, and by the time we had enough players to start, there were only 4 minutes left to the game.
Once it started, it was very much like regular dungeoneering, only the players are assigned specific goals as a team.  We had to collect plants.  They only count if they got banked before the game ends, but I was lucky enough to find a central bank deposit within the dungeon floor.

The floor itself seems equivalent to a small floor, but the map pattern seemed denser, and more convoluted.  You can't take anything at all in with you.  As you enter the first room, there are three kinds of gear to choose, so you can play to your favorite style - melee, magic, or ranged.  But it's pretty basic gear, and the monsters are fairly low-level.  There's also a table with plenty of food.  I grabbed several fish, but it turned out not to really be needed.

So I ran pell-mell through rooms, killing what I could, plucking any plants that were there.  I picked up a few cards that affect your final reward selection.  Found some Combat Totems after fights, and some Exploration Totems, apparently just laying on the floor for whoever picks them up first.

Didn't pay much attention to the score panel in the upper left corner, except as my rank shuffled around.  I finished as player number 3.  Average...

When the timer runs out, you're transported to a treasure room, and placed in front of a treasure chest that corresponds to your score, 1-5.  When it was my turn to play a card, I chose "Consistent Yak", because I already had a medium exp lamp in my chest, and it guaranteed a medium exp lamp as my final reward.  If I'd had a better reward to start with, that would be a bad choice.  But since my initial reward was the same as what the card guaranteed, I figured at least I wouldn't wind up with a worse prize.

There are a lot of details, and the Wiki has a good breakdown.  But if you just jump in and play, you'll figure it out as you go.  If you're familiar with Dungeoneering,then it's not actually super-complex.  But it is a lot of fun, and for the few minutes it takes, a welcome addition to the Dungeoneering skill.  For a 4-minute game I scored a 17k medium exp lamp.

This is good content, and I hope the 5-player requirement (no more, no less) doesn't push it into the 'dead content zone'.  Right now I'm working on other skills, but this looks like a great way to bump up your DG training.  I'm looking forward to diving into some Sinkholes!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Runescape Demon Flash Mobs

(EDIT at bottom of article- the situation is much improved now.)
Runescape released Demon Flash Mobs on 28 Jan 2013.  I have to admit, for whatever reason, I was really excited about this update.  It sounded like a fun fight, something quick to get into when you just wanted a brief combat.  Maybe some decent drops would be included.  And it's always nice seeing new graphics.
The first time the announcement scrolled by on my text window, it was exciting.  Got all geared up... after all, they're supposed to be extremely dangerous and too hard to solo.  It was supposed to be in the Feldip Hills.  Took the Fairy Ring over (AKS).  Tried to find it based on the little map segment in the Runescape site.  No luck.  I ran all over.  Down to Ooglog.  North to Gu'Tanoth.  East and West.  Crisscrossed all over the map.

Never did find that first one, and finally gave up.  The next one was south of Seers Village, kind of north-east of the Range Guild.  A bunch of us stood around for a while, then they popped in.  I was lucky enough to kill an Imp.  I think maybe I hit one of the lesser demons.  Managed to get a few good licks in with the main boss.  Enough to qualify for a drop.
The fight was over rapidly.  I looked all over for my drop, but the crowds were so big, it was hard to spot.  Finally picked up a stack of 8 noted Avantoe, which sold for about 30k gold.  Guess that was my drop.  It was mildly disappointing, but hey... next time, right?

After that, there was one near the southern shore between Lumbridge and Draynor.  Found it easy enough.  Just look for the solid mass of white dots on mini-map.  Again, we all waited for a long time.  At one point, the evil symbol completely disappeared for a long time.  Many gave up and left after waiting a while.  But it eventually returned.  At about 5 minutes after the hour, the flash mob showed up.

This one was even briefer.  I never got to hit the little guys.  Wasn't even sure if I hit the boss demon, except I got the notice that I had earned a drop.  After the fight, I never found my drop.  Even once the crowd thinned down, it just wasn't there.
This reminds me a lot of the monkey mob debacle.  And the Snowman snafu.  The sheer number of people showing up are just too much.  For now, I've lost interest.  Maybe once some time has passed it might be fun.  But it's no fun when you can't even tell if you got to hit them, and can't find your drop afterward.

On top of that, I'm not even going near the Wilderness ones.  Too many people have complained that it's not even possible to fight the demons.  All the PK'ers just waiting to kill you sucks the fun right out.  Nothing against PK'ers, but I don't participate in that part of the game, and have no interest in being killed by pk'ers.  The only exceptions I make are for the Penguin hunt, and any required part of new quests.

I've also seen complaints that if you're killed in range of the big boss, and come back to reclaim your stuff, it's possible he can kill you again before you get your equipment back.  Resulting in a permanent loss of whatever was in your gravestone.  I'm not sure how legitimate a complaint that is.  In my experience, the boss would be long dead before you could get back to the scene.  Maybe if someone found a less populated world it would be an issue.

Anyway, I'd like to report good things, and pass along useful tips.  But honestly, they died too fast, and the crowds were too thick.  Maybe once the 'new' is worn off it'll be worth going back.  For now, Demon Flash Mobs just wasn't what I'd hoped for.

I've gone back twice more since writing this, and it's been much better.  Both times were in the desert, and we only had maybe 5 or 6 players all told.  That was perfect.  Everybody had a chance to fight all levels of demon.  And the boss demon took a lot of damage to kill.  It was a lot of fun.  Of the two times, the first time he seriously tried to kill me.  Decided I had to die, and just wouldn't quit hitting.  Good thing there was plenty of Rocktail in my backpack. :^)
Of the second time, he never even looked at me.  Did massive damage to him, but he'd decided someone else had to die, and wasn't going to change his mind.  That's okay.  The risk was there, but manageable. 
Both times I saw my drop.  Once was 8 noted Grimy Avantoe, which sold for 30k in the GE.  Second time I got Rune Plate.  Not spectacular, but it sold for 38K.  Good enough.  I'm glad to say, if the balance stays like those last two fights, then my review is far more positive.  Hoping for the best, anyway!