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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Runescape 3: NIS Still Changing

Can't stop playing with the interface!
Recently I said I'm an incorrigible tinkerer.  It's turning out to be true, as shown by the constant changes to my interface.  The first 'good' design was horizontal.  It worked well until the first Sinkhole.  Practical use pointed out some flaws.  The 3-d game screen was nicely wide, but too short on the vertical.  And the control windows were too stretched out across the screen, making it difficult to quickly access everything.

A more vertical control layout made it much more practical.  Except I never liked the Action Bar location.  It was aesthetically unpleasing, sticking out at the bottom of my nice clean layout.  Even worse, at the extreme bottom right of the screen, it's hard to keep an eye on the ability recharge while fighting.

Tried a number of rearrangements, but wasn't happy with most of them.  Finally got a good one last night.  It MIGHT replace the previous favorite.

I gave up a smidgen of width on the 3-d game screen.  Made the Ability Bar vertical, shortened the minimap a little.  The inventory/equip/prayer/misc window is taller, but narrower.  It actually has more room.  The Tools menu is now vertical, and on the bottom right of the screen.  Hopefully it's out of the  way of accidental clicks.  Lengthened the Chat window to give a nice even vertical line all the way down.  With the added advantage of having a better width on the chat window.

It seems a good compromise.  I've lost a tiny amount of 3-d screen space, but kept everything easy-to-access.  Can keep an eye on combat abilities as they recharge.  And it has a nice clean vertical area for all the control windows to fit into.

It would be nice if I had just a bit more screen real estate.  On the other hand, my current screen resolution works well on the computer.  Maybe this layout will last for a while.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Runescape 3: Keyboard Bind Defaults and My Customizations

    Finally customized my keybinds!
    Have you changed your keybinds since Runescape 3 came out? When the options were minimal under EOC (Evolution of Combat) it was pretty easy.  I shifted all my action bar keys to the root letters under the left hand.  One on the mouse, the other dealing with combat abilities, skills, and whatnot.  It's more convenient when you don't have to move your hands, or look away from the screen in the middle of combat.

    When RS3 released, we had a plethora (love that word!) of choices.  So many things can be customized now.  With the keyboard commands, it's almost overwhelming.  I wanted to use my standard familiar action bar arrangement, but that uses keys pre-assigned for other functions.  Then you have to figure out what keys to assign THOSE functions.  It gets a bit complex trying to make them all functional.

    I checked online to see what others recommend.  Hmmm... nobody's even mentioned custom keybinds.  Not regarding the full spectrum of keybinds for RS3.

    So what the heck.  Since nobody else has, if you want to see the new RS3 default keybind layout, here it is.  You'll see the action name in the left column, the default action next, and last column is my personal keybind customizations.  I might change them after some experimentation, for now, this is what I use.

    Note - Since writing this, I've found some windows (mainly the abilities) are too easy to open by accident.  I kept opening the melee ability window every time when entering Sinkholes, for instance.  In those cases, I've just removed the key command option.  I don't call them up by keyboard anyway.


    Action Bar
    Action Bar Slot 1
    Action Bar Slot 2
    Action Bar Slot 3
    Action Bar Slot 4
    Action Bar Slot 5
    Action Bar Slot 6
    Action Bar Slot 7
    Action Bar Slot 8
    Action Bar Slot 9
    Action Bar Slot 10
    Action Bar Slot 11
    Action Bar Slot 12

    Previous Action Bar        
    Shift + Q

    Next Action Bar        
    Shift + E
    Action Bar 1        
    Shift + 1        
    Action Bar 2        
    Shift + 2        
    Action Bar 3        
    Shift + 3        
    Action Bar 4        
    Shift + 4        
    Action Bar 5        
    Shift + 5        

    Sheathe/Unsheathe Weapon

    Quick Inventory Slot 1

    Quick Inventory Slot 2

    Quick Heal        

    Quick Prayer        

    Familiar Action


    Windows and Navigation (Can't be customized)
    Settings Menu        

    Lock Interface Customization        

    Toggle Run        

    Open World Map        

    Open Home Teleport        
    Shift + t
    Shift + h
    Active Task        

    Shift  + b
    Worn Equipment        
    Shift + e
    Prayer Abilities        
    Magic Abilities        

    Melee Abilities        

    Ranged Abilities

    Defence Abilities        


    Music Player



    Friends Chat Info


    All Chat

    Private Chat

    Friends Chat


    All Chat

    Private Chat

    Friends Chat

    Clan Chat

    Guest Clan Chat

Friday, July 26, 2013

Runescape 3 Screen Layouts - Pretty or Practical?

This layout looked cool but wasn't practical
In spite of it's many bugs, I'm still enjoying Runescape 3.  The whole New Interface System is a blast.  Monique mainly keeps to a traditional layout, with some tweaks.  For myself, I'm an incorrigible tinkerer.  Playing with the screen layout is nearly as much fun as playing the game.  In some cases, maybe more so.

My favorite layout, until now, has been a horizontal control console at the base of the screen.  Visually, it's very appealing.  After a few days though, I realized it's not very practical.  Having the gamescreen very short in height and very long in width leads to some interesting situations.  I can click very far away left or right, but up/down (or North/South, if you prefer) is extremely limited.  That didn't bother me the first couple of days, because I wasn't doing much combat.  On day 3, Jagex finally fixed Sinkholes, which had not been re-setting.  Now we're doing Sinkholes again, the problems with my design become obvious.

My minimap is pretty large, which works great in skilling and running around Runescape.  In the Sinkhole, it's confusing.  You see the entire dungeon, and it's difficult to find your location at a glance.  I lost a lot of time trying to figure out where I was and where I needed to go.  Another big problem was the way all the controls were spread across the entire width of the monitor.  Moving the mouse from one control to another took too much time and attention.  Between both issues, it was the worst Sinkhole I've ever run.  Very annoying, and by the time it was done, I was pretty grumpy.

One other problem... I still hadn't customized my keybinds.  The action bar just feels more comfortable using the 'asdfgh' and 'qwerty' keys, which is where they WERE until RS3 wiped my settings.  That was actually okay, since there were so many other keys that can be customized.  So after the Sinkhole was over, the first step was to change the keybinds.  (I'll post more about keybinds next time.)

Next, redesign time.  All the control windows got stacked on the right edge of the screen.  At the top was the settings bar.  It's out of the way, and I'm not likely to hit it by accident.  Next is the chat window.  It went high out of the way, because I don't play socially.  Mostly it gets ignored.
Much better layout- my new favorite!
The Mini-map is a whole 'nother story... It gets a pretty big chunk of real estate, because I very much enjoy one-clicking destinations.  Lodestone to Al Kharid, and it's one-click to get to the Cactus patch, the bank, or the Gnome Glider.  Standing at the GE, it's one-click to the fairy ring.  On Karamja, it's one click from my Spirit Tree to the Palm Tree.  Then one-click to Del Monti.  Then one-click back to the tree.  I could go on.  The point is, my daily run includes harvesting coconuts, morchelli mushrooms, and running around in general.  A large minimap is just amazing. Big thumbs up for the minimap.

Putting the minimap centrally on my 'control wall' makes it easy to go back and forth, from 3-d gamescreen to minimap and back.  It's also very easy to click on the Home Teleport.  Getting around in the world is the most important part of my play-style.

Next, and very close to the bottom, is the backpack, equipped items, prayers, and some random tabs.  It's large enough not to have to scroll, near the bottom for easy access.  This is an important window, and I can reach it easily just under the mini-map.

Lastly is the action bar.  Bottom right corner.  I placed it here strictly to be in line with the vertical design of the screen.  I like the long form of the bar, even though it sticks out from my nice even setup.  It's bearable there.  To be honest, I'd rather have put it above the backpack and below the mini-map, but that would have looked seriously odd poking out in the middle of the screen.  Wish we could resize the action bar as freely as we can the rest of the screen.

Once all that was done, and I'd decided how wide to make the windows, all that was left was to edit the 3-d window placement.  Now I have the perfect Runescape game interface, and will never need to change it again...  Until next time.   :^D

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Runescape: RS3 Finally Released

Ready or not, Runescape 3 is officially out.  Monday July 22 2013, was the release date.  I had some worries about it since the beta seemed a little unstable, even as recently as the weekend before.

Some of those fears were justified.  There were some hiccups... and a few louder, ruder, noises... at the time of release.  Monique and I still have audio problems, so that's not been fixed yet.  She got a black screen on login, though it didn't happen to me this time.  Both of us have had our action bar go 'missing in action'.  People complained about slow frame rates and disconnects.  I noticed the Fairy Ring dialer was no longer see-through.  Not a big deal, but annoying.  Later it was fixed.  Other minor issues, but nothing worth griping about.

Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad.  I'm really enjoying all the customizations.  Still tinkering with screen design, but that's pure fun.  I like having a horizontal control window at the bottom of the screen, but still playing around with proportions and sizes.  It might also be fun to have a vertical control wall.  Or even an 'L' shape.  You may have noticed, I don't care for asymmetrical design.  My game window needs to be a clean rectangle.
One of the best new features is the minimap.  Having the Home teleport button on it is cool.  Making it resizable was like getting Christmas early.  I'm not a social player, so the chat window doesn't help me.  Except for actual game messages.  The re-design makes chat settings easier, so credit where it's due.

I would have liked the action bar to be much more versatile, in terms of size.  It's just a tad too long.  And the action bar selector (1-5) I'd have made a bit larger.  On the good side, you can keybind nearly everything.  And there are two new buttons on the action bar, both reflecting items in backpack.

That's the interface system.  Not an in-depth review, just a few things that caught my attention.

As far as the Battle of Lumbridge... what battle?  In and of itself, the event is pretty interesting.  But calling it a battle seems like overkill.  I saw two gods in a stalemate.  There was a lot of peripheral damage to buildings.  Huge damage, by player character standards.  But still, on the god scale, just collateral.

Additionally, it's hard to call it a battle when we as players don't get to fight that much.  If you go into the dead zone between the two gods, you can collect divine tears to help the god of your choice, and you can fight opposing npc's.  That sounds kind of warlike.  But it's hard to get a fight, there are more players than npc's.  Tough to get there in time to share a kill, much less actually have your own fight.

So... Battle of Lumbridge?  No.  Stalemate of Lumbridge is more like it.  Other than that, it's a decent premise.  I spoke with Duke Horatio to help in the rebuilding, and earned 32k toward Dungeoneering.  From what I can tell, this seems to be a once-a-week event where you can help the Duke decide how to rebuild.

If you're curious, there were two families who had lost homes, one family Saradomists, the other Zamorakians.  With limited resources, you have to pick whether to help one family or the other, or both of them.  I chose both.

The one thing that does annoy me is the tears randomly appearing in my backpack.  They can't be banked.  They take up inventory space.  So, unless you want to dedicate a backpack space to them, you have to periodically visit Lumbridge and deposit them.  I like the idea, but wish they were less obtrusive.

Hopefully, the glitches will be ironed out soon.  I truly like the interface system.  It's going to take some getting used to, but that's just a matter of retraining  old habits.  Like reaching to the upper right corner for the minimap.  I may be an old dog, but I can still learn new tricks.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Runescape: Bringing Home the Bacon just didn't Sizzle for me

Finally did the "Bringing Home the Bacon" quest.  Monique and I treat quests like a date, and enjoy them together.  But this time around, we've both been under the weather and way behind.  So it took a while to get around to this quest.

'Bacon' wasn't a serious quest on any level.  It was short, very easy (novice level) and emphasized humor.  In a world where pigs are mostly useless, only Eli Bacon and Martin the Master Farmer still raise them.  With the discovery of bacon (the food) Eli fears the remaining hog population will be decimated.  It's our job to discover a use for pigs that will make them popular.  Eli hopes that, once Pigs are safe from extinction, he can introduce bacon to the world (and get rich).

There's a lot of comedy.  Some of it deliberately creepy.  Puts me in mind of "Motel Hell".  The old scary movie with the tagline "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's Fritters!"
Anyway, it's pretty mellow.  You have to distract a few villagers, do a favor for Martin the Farmer... somebody's been pickpocketing him...  Now I'll never feel right about picking his pockets again!  Raise a piglet, train it, and show it off around Runescape.

Out of it all, you get a piggy pet, and some new summoning creatures, and access to bacon.  You can eat the bacon, or cook it into higher-level better-healing food.

The rewards are scalable, but to be honest, even the best of the rewards just aren't that 'rewarding' if you're a high-level player.  It was an easy quest for beginners, with rewards going up to somewhere about mid-level for cooking and summoning.

If you like pets, the pig is a pretty fair reward.  Bringing Home the Bacon had some light-hearted moments, but overall just didn't catch my fancy or hold my interest.  What the heck... you can't win them all.  At least it was a short quest.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Runescape: Last-minute Maintenance before RS3 Release

Recently, logging in and playing Runescape has been more adventurous than usual.  Lots of different problems, and many complaints on the forums.  Random disconnects make players afraid to do anything risky.  Who wants to risk all their gear in a boss fight if you might be disconnected during it?

Game-loading problems.  Loss or distortion of audio.  Black screens instead of the usual game screen.  Dramatic frame rate drops.  Quite the list, and coming at a very bad time considering Jagex is busily promoting the release of Runescape 3 next week.

Have you experienced any of these?  I've suffered the black screen. Had to close my browser and run CCleaner before it cleared up.  Some people were luckier, only needing to wait a bit, teleport somewhere, or log out and back in to fix it.  It's happened about 3 times for me.

Also had the loading problems.  Click to load the game into the browser window (using Google Chrome), the logo comes up, and then it just... sits there.  Apparently doing nothing.  Sometimes, if I go away and come back it's okay.  Other times, it's better to just click re-load and try again.  This happens fairly often currently.

The audio problems have happened more to Monique than to myself, though both of us experienced it while doing the new 'Bringing Home the Bacon' quest.  I often play without audio, so may not have noticed every time.

I haven't personally seen the fps problem, but several people on the forum report that it's tied to the 'bloom' lighting effect, and certain graphic-intensive actions like casting Barrage.  Some say if you turn 'bloom' off, the frame rate goes back up to a reasonable level.  As far as the random disconnects, we've been fortunate with those.  It's been a problem in the past, off and on.  But at the moment, not bothering us.

During all of this, not much has been heard from Jagex.  One forum thread.  As far as I can tell, it's not been kept updated, so all you see are pagefulls of people wondering what's going on.

Until today.  Today, there's an announcement on the News page about weekend-long maintenance.  It's for the 19th through the 22nd of July, with a specific list of times- looks like about two hours (at separate times) on Friday, and one hour per day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

There's a clear warning that, while the game will still be playable during these times, there's a risk of disconnection.  So play accordingly.  Don't risk things you can't afford to lose.

I'm glad on a couple of levels.  One, it's nice that they're letting us as players know what's going on.  Sometimes being left in the dark can magnify a problem.  Two, I'm glad to see they're making a serious effort to fix things.  Knowing they're working on it helps me stay patient.

Lastly, the timing is important.  The official RS3 release (but not the HTML5 version) is on July 22nd (2013).  That's less than 4 days away as I write this.  It would be immensely damaging to player satisfaction to have a grand release while plagued by problems.  Certainly there will be hiccups integrating the new systems.  Going through that without fixing existing issues would be very bad business practice.

In spite of all this, I'm excited about the upcoming launch.  Haven't spent much time on the HTML5 Beta, but the New Interface System (NIS) is a lot of fun.  Spent several evenings just playing around with differing layouts and seeing how they worked.

Here's hoping for a smooth transition!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Runescape New Interface System Coming Soon

If you play Runescape, then by now you've probably heard about Runescape 3 and the New Interface System, if not actively tried it out.  Jagex finally announced the official release date, which is July 22, 2013.  If you go to the main Runescape website, there's a countdown timer that shows exactly how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left.

It's been a while since I've tried the RS3 Beta.  Had too many issues getting logged in the first time.  What was there, seemed nice but very slow.  I guess that's been fixed by now, or they wouldn't be announcing a release date... would they?

RS3 aside, I did spend a couple of evenings playing with the NIS this week.  It looks like a lot of fun.  I probably spent 5 hours straight just opening random menus and moving things around.  I can't speak much to the technical side of things.  What I experienced was stable, responsive, and looked good.  The bank was unavailable the first couple of times, and some of the features were still locked.  Last night the bank was working again, which was nice.  Looks like the 'equip from bank' screen is gone, though.

What is available, is pretty cool.  There's been plenty of times I wished for something very similar.  Especially the mini-map.  That's always been too small.  So the first thing to do was drag it out larger.  Now I can stand at the Grand Exchange and one-click on the Fairy Ring west of the wall.  I know, we could very nearly one-click it already.  But not quite, and it's one of my little pet peeves.

There are plenty of other places where that extra mini-map space makes a difference, but that was my 'measuring stick'.  I also like things to be squared off and neat.  So I shrunk the primary control bar and put it next to the mini-map.  (Kept it vertical.)

I've never liked the chat window at the bottom left, so it was the next subject.  Anywhere on the bottom just wasn't in my 'attention zone'.  After trying different places, it wound up on the right hand wall, about midway up.  Just under the mini-map, and above the Inventory management window... which gives away the next phase.

The bottom window contains the inventory, equipped items, prayers, and all the action bar abilities.  I may swap the chat and mini-map, we'll have to see.  All of these are squared off to take up a solid section on the right-hand side of the screen.
Lastly, the action bar.  It just didn't want to blend in smoothly.  One of the two bars with only limited resizability, it just wouldn't fit in cleanly.  The best fit was rotated vertically and sized tall.  Didn't like that... it just didn't look right.  So it's stretched out horizontally at the bottom of the screen.  Right next to the inventory window.  Doesn't exactly fit with all the rest, but it's easy to get to, and not in the way.
It took some thought to blend the prayer tabs and action bar tabs into the inventory window.  Would have been nice to break them out into their own space, but that just took up too much room on the screen.  Since it's very easy to drag them apart and put them back together, I may just tweak the screen on an as-needed basis.  Nothing says it has to be locked in, though locking the items in place is certainly optional.  :^)

I made the windows about halfway transparent.  It gives a feel of more screen area.  The Dungeoneering skill counters on the right, near the top of the chat window, can be turned off.  But every time I logged back in, they returned.  So I quit paying attention to them.  Hopefully that will be fixed in the official release.  The window titles (Minimap, Backpack, All Chat, etc...) can be removed.  But like the skill counters, they keep reappearing every time I log in.  Small details that I expect will be taken care of before the 22nd.

And that's my NIS setup.  So far.  It'll probably change a lot over time.  Or maybe not.  Maybe this is my perfect screen... Nah.   :^)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Runescape: Sinkhole Rage Management

I know I've written about this already recently.  But it still amazes me how rude and childish people can act on the internet in general.  And in Runescape in particular.  To be even more specific, in the Dungeoneering mini-game, Sinkholes.  As time passes, I see fewer and fewer people in world 77, my favorite world for Sinkholes.  Less random crowds, and more a regular core of players that are always there for the first sinkhole after the daily update.  For me, that's 8:30 pm.  Not to paint all players with the same brush, but more and more of them just don't play nicely.

The first time I noticed, it was a female player.  She was the top player (and she almost always is... she's very good at it).  I was the lowest player, had no better cards to use, and played a Beguiling Smoke Devil.  No reward is bad.  But there are lesser and better rewards.  My least favorite is the tokens.  I get plenty of those just by playing.  But if I wind up with tokens, it's STILL a good reward.  Same with the lamps.  I'd rather get a huge experience lamp, than a small one.  But small ones are good too.  Normally, a small lamp will make about 41,000 exp for me, for just a few minutes of play.  That's better than hunting all the Penguins on Tuesday, which can take 30 minutes or more.

The bigger lamps are even better.  It's all good.  Same for the competitive play aspect in the first part of the game.  I'm not a very good player.  I usually come in last, or next to last.  That's okay.  Typically, I run through all the rooms I can, collecting the exploratory tokens.  Then work backwards and get as many combat tokens as possible.  When when the monsters are gone, start collecting resources.  Check any unopened treasure boxes along the way.

Pretty simple procedure.  Not even a very good one, considering my usual final position.  We're all competing for a finite resource.  Nobody stands at the door, bows, and says "After you".  We all jam shoulder to shoulder at the door, trying our best to get the prize.

So it totally stunned me last night when someone declared in-game that they were "Not going to turn in their combat tokens because Techreader (me) is being selfish."  What?  What does that even mean?  We ALL play selfishly... nobody says "Hey... I want the smallest lamp!"  So he spent the rest of the time standing on his head by the drop bank.  (Literally- he's using that for his 'resting' animation.)  Spitefully crippling the final scores so nobody can get maxed rewards.

I finally realized it's not childish immaturity.  It's a specific strategy, designed to anger other players and put them off their game.  There was no sudden leap of logic for me.  Guess I'm not that smart.  Instead, I found it on a forum.  (Tip-it, I think.)  People were complaining about the occasional 'missing combat totem'.  I've always assumed someone was holding them.  Either out of spite, or for more time to hunt cards, or some other reason.  People often talk about a glitch, but that seemed like a convenient excuse.

Turns out, there IS a consistent glitch in the Sinkholes.  One of the signs of it happening is to have an empty room in the northernmost row of rooms.  No monsters, no Exploratory Totem, no resources.  Just a number of columns.  If this room shows up, chances are high that the Sinkhole will be short on Combat Totems.  That answered an ongoing question.  The rest of the conversation explained the comment about me being selfish.  At least two people in this conversation claimed they use that exact (or nearly exact) quote and randomly choose a player to blame.  Just to generate tons of mindless rage.  It works.  I was really bothered by it.  Spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I could have done to annoy him.

Oddly enough, I feel much better now.  :^)

It's a much harsher tactic than I would use.  But it's just an in-game tactic to break someone's concentration.  Now that I know it wasn't personal, it's not such a big deal.  Moving forward, it won't bother me any more.

Also, I've quite using world 77.  There's not always enough people there to get 2 separate Sinkholes in a row.  Switched to World 134, the official Sinkhole world.  It's overcrowded, and getting in can take a while.  But there's always enough people to play.