What's New at Amazon.com

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Runescape 3 - Is Divination all it was hyped up to be?

Enriched Spring near the Golden Apple Tree
Recently I posted a review of the new Divination skill.  Overall it was positive, though the skill is definitively a grind skill.  I don't mind the grinding, it's an honored tradition of Runescape.  Heck, pretty much any fantasy RPG game.  Since the early 1980's playing Bard's Tale on the Commodore 64, grinding has been the way to level skills.  (Okay, actually even before that, but that's my first and best memory of frp.)

In the forums, I've seen some complaints about the grind.  No sympathy for most of the complainers, but one person brought up a valid point... if Jagex has been building this skill for so long, why is it so repetitive?  Not speaking to grinding, but that the method of training is the exact same at every level.

It's a good point.  This skill has been promised since last October to my memory, and I'm seeing some claim it's been in the works for 3 years.  I like Divination, but there's not enough variety of training methods to justify a long design time.

All I can conclude is that the 2nd promised skill (soon to be released?) integrates thoroughly with Divination.  So much so that getting them to work together is what's taken up all the time.  We'll only know  when it comes out.
Starting up at the Karamja Divination site
 But I can speculate to a bit more.  The graphics are quite well done.  Beautiful, elegant, very much bringing to mind the will-o-the-wisps that obviously inspired the glowing spheres we chase.  Designing and testing the graphics probably took a fair chunk of time.  Also, this is a non-competitive skill.  Jagex promised the springs last the same no matter how many players are pulling from them.  (Yes, the Chronicle Fragments are competitive, but they're for bonus exp.) 
Another thought, and I don't have any facts or experience to back this up, but I wonder if the skill wasn't designed with the intent to baffle bots?  The randomness, the similarity in color and looks between all the moving images onscreen... sure, bot designers can figure it out.  But maybe actual players have a training advantage.  At the very least, bots won't steal resources from actual players.

Something else that was cool - Divination has been integrated into Dungeoneering.  You can collect energy and memories in the dungeon, and there's a rift in the Trader's room.  I haven't explored the options in depth, but from what I can tell, it's used to open doors that need high skill levels.  If you get stuck at a door too high-leveled, you can use Divination to pass it (assuming you've got the appropriate Div level).  Sounds a lot better than making a potion in the Dungeons.

All things considered, I still like it.  Maybe it's not a home run... but it's a solid base hit at least.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Runescape 3: Divination Released- Hope you enjoy Grinding

Divination was released yesterday (Aug 20, 2013). Finally! It was hard enough to wait when Jagex announced last year that 2 new skills would come out early this year. It's no longer early, and this is only one of the two skills. Since they're supposed to go hand in hand, it's kind of like driving a car with only 2 wheels. When I left for work yesterday, there was no announcement yet. Got home for lunch, sat down to log in, and saw the notice. All I said was "Hmmm!", and Monique answered "Oh, I forgot to tell you, Divination is out!"

 We had to wait until later in the evening to try it out, I could hardly wait. First impressions? I like what's there. Much the same as fishing, tree-cutting, and mining, it's a grind skill. You repeat the same thing over and over. That's going to annoy some, but not me. After playing since 2004, the idea of grinding to max a skill is perfectly acceptable. Traditional. We're only seeing half the equation right now. It's not fair to judge Divination without seeing how it integrates with the still-awaited 2nd skill this year.

Training at least is simple, and non-competitive. No need to fight over resources. Plenty for all. Getting started, you can talk to Orla Fairweather and the other nearby NPC's (just east of Draynor Village). Or not. They don't really have much to tell you. Click on the wisps, or the springs, and fill your backpack up. Then click on the rift with whirling energy, and give it all back. You can choose three options at the rift. One converts everything to energy, which is used to make stuff with the skill. The middle option converts wisp 'memories' to experience, and leaves energy alone. The last option converts both memories and energy to experience, which is a fast way to level up. At each 10 levels, (10, 20, 30...) you can go to the next location for collecting. And you can also make a 'Boon' that gives a permanent boost to experience earned. That's it.

There's optionally a bit more to it, like catching the gold spheres (Chronicle fragments). Get 10 of them, and you can turn them in for bonus exp. At level 25, I turned in 10 and got 240 exp. I'm not particularly impressed, but they probably scale up with your levels. With the collected energy, you make Portents, one-shot items that automatically help you when their conditions are met. For instance, the best looking one to me, Portent of Life, is available at level 99. It brings you back to life after you get killed, with 25% of your life points. It has a 1-hour cooldown, and can't be used in pvp zones. I could see that being very useful in fighting a tough boss.

You can also make Signs, which are like creating a skilling hotspot. You can make your own place to mine runite, and share it with others. Transmutation converts lower level stuff into higher level, like changing an uncut ruby into an uncut diamond. While some of these things sound pretty neat, I see them as throw-aways. Since we're not getting the complementary skill yet, and don't know how the two skills will work together, these abilities are thrown in just so we can 'do' something with the skill while we're leveling up. Doesn't matter. I want my Max cape back, and to be ready for the next skill when it comes out. If some of Divination is useful in the meantime, that's okay. But I just want to train.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Runescape 3: Divination coming right after Death of Chivalry quest

At the moment, we're pretty much going day by day and playing the same stuff.  Not complaining about it...  after all, I'm still working to max out Dungeoneering, and trying to get Sacred Metal Fragments from the Battle of Lumbridge.  Haven't been playing a lot, so getting fragments is taking a long time. Got my first weapon override last night- chose the Icyenic Bow.

For that matter, Dugeoneering is taking forever too.  When levelling, I always look to see how far it is to the next.  Last time, it told me 6 and a half million exp to level again.  That's just one level, and it goes up with each new level.  Thank goodness for Sinkholes and Daily Challenges!  For 30 minutes of play-time, I can average 300 - 400 exp.  Just takes patience, and a little time each day.

One of the two promised skills is (promised) to come out this month.  Not to be a pessimist, but last year Jagex promised (or at least heavily implied) we'd get both skills early in the year.  I'm all for making sure it's a good product, but maybe they shouldn't make promises they can't keep.  After seeing the bugs in EOC and RS3, the delay is understandable.  Just wish Jagex would be a bit more cautious in their predictions.

Bearing that in mind, I'm hoping for the best and very excited about the release.  Divination will be the first new skill in something like 3 years.  The only drawback is I'll lose the Max Cape until getting Divination to 99.  Yeah, boo hoo, right?   :^D

Before we get Divination, we've been promised a quest:  The Death of Chivalry.  It's supposed to be a replacement for the "Black Knight's Fortress" quest, and tie into the Runescape novels.  I read the first novel.  Not bad.  About the same entertainment level as a Forgotten Realms novel.  If you enjoy Forgotten Realms, you should enjoy the Runescape novels.

Anyway, the Black Knight's Fortress was released in 2001, so I guess an update is due (assuming all the older quests will eventually get re-worked).  It was a novice-level quest.  Presumably, the replacement quest will be too.  With any luck, the story will be improved and blended with modern Geilinor continuity.

But for now, I'm headed back to Lumbridge.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Runescape 3: Battle of Lumbridge- More than meets the eye

With the New Interface System, I haven't written much about the Battle of Lumbridge.  Modifying and playing with the screen set-up has just been too much fun.  Also, my first impressions of the BoL (Battle of Lumbridge, thank you very much!) weren't very high.

After finally slowing down with the custom screens, it's high time Lumbridge got my attention.  On closer inspection, it's quite enjoyable.  I might actually be sad when the event ends.

Not so much for the rewards, though there are a pretty fair number.  The team token has infinite teleports into whichever god's campground you chose.  It has emotes.  It has combat incentives that can be upgraded based on the Divine Tears you collect.

There's also armour rewards.  You can earn armour based on the god you choose.  It's pretty cool-looking armour.  Hybrid.  Scales up with your combat level (up to level 75).

There's the Sacred Metal Fragments used in creating weapon overrides.  And yes, the weapon overrides are pretty cool looking too.  You can swap sides, and collect stuff from the other side too.  If you're dedicated enough, I guess it's possible to get all the armour and all the weapon overrides for both sides.

Let's not forget Duke Horacio and his efforts to rebuild Lumbridge.  Each week, you give the Duke some advice, he gives you some bonus experience points.

But no... it's not the rewards that appeal to me.  It's the combat.  The entire combat area is amazing.  The NPC's fight and run just like players.  They even trash-talk.  They fight according to all three points of the combat triangle, and use adrenaline/special abilities.  It's a fast-pace, fluid style I haven't seen anywhere else yet.

Maybe it's just me, but I get the impression they scale up according to your combat level.  Some of them seem easy, while others really take a bit out of my life points.  Maybe it's just the combat triangle.  I tend to fight in ranged gear, so maybe I'm just seeing them hit my weaknesses.

It can sometimes be difficult finding enough npc's to fight.  Generally, there's plenty to go around.  The Sacred Metal Fragments seem to drop as 'uncommons'.  Not very often, but enough to let me make progress.

It can be chaotic, and most of the players on your side have a good sense of camaraderie.  There's a sense of standing shoulder to shoulder and protecting your camp.

I really hate pvp.  Nothing against it, if you enjoy it I'm happy for you.  But it's not for me.  This is much more my speed.  I like the teamwork aspect, even while fighting completely for my own purposes.  The other camp is the same.  They attack our NPC's, but we don't fight player-to-player.  Very nice.
Even the NPC's on my side will run up and help me.  Or sometimes I run up and help them.  Sometimes not.  It's totally random chaos, us against them.

Okay, I've praised BoL enough.  People will start thinking this is a paid announcement.  :^)

The only other thing I'll say is, the Battle of Lumbridge is a lot more complex, and enjoyable, than I gave it credit for.