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New subheading! Lore.

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Superheroes and the Lone Ranger

I like superheroes in fiction. That might not seem controversial, but for some reason plenty of superhero films are derided, apparently for containing them. Problem with those films is that quite often they don't call the leads superheroes, even when they are. The audience is expected to infer it.     That means half the time the audience doesn't. Then they start complaining about how the story doesn't make sense, or how it's too cheesy, or how important things aren't explained, or how a particular character is absurd, etc etc. Some of these criticisms turn out to be legitimate, but some don't.   Let's name four superheroes. Sherlock Holmes. Spiderman. The Lone Ranger. Tonto.   Only one of these are announced: Spiderman, who decides the best way to use his powers is to make a special suit and gadgets, and fight crime as a masked man with a fancy name. But they've all got superpowers in their latest iterations: Sherlock can make inhuman deductions and clues visibly manifest themselves as text to his eyes, Spiderman has outrageous reflexes, superb strength, and the knowledge to make previously unheard of spider-related kit, the Lone Ranger is immortal (in battle) and can't miss, and Tonto is a skinwalker who can communicate with animals and otherwise find protection.   Now they're all fun to watch, as long as you recognise that they're in a trope. They're not meant to be taken seriously. But many people somehow think they are, and expect something of them that they can't deliver. Stories like that of The Lone Ranger, in the latest film of that name, should be taken as enjoyable stories, but not held to the standards of something intended to be analysed as a rational tale.   Which is why I was shocked (shocked!) to see The Lone Ranger lambasted so. It's a fun superhero film. If we can enjoy Spiderman or Sherlock, why can't we enjoy this?

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Post Quest Implementation

So I've been doing all the quests, and got the quest cape for the first time yesterday. And it's made me think about one thing in particular: post quest implementation, and why it's so variable for different series.   By post quest implementation I mean what happens to fulfil the ending of a story. In a traditional book, this would be the epilogue, where you find out what happened to a few of the key characters now that the main issues of the story have been resolved. It tends to be a way for the author to tie up loose ends without having to worry about shoehorning them into earlier parts of the story, and it can also provide a helpful sense of closure to readers.   In games, post quest implementation is quite different. Something like RuneScape, or any game with an open world, requires the effects of story resolution to be played out in the world after the story is over. So for example in a game like TES: Oblivion, 'Oblivion Gates' must stop appearing in the main world once the quest to stop them appearing is complete. However, some stories can be a lot more difficult to fulfil than others: frequently, stories are resolved not simply by removing a threat, but by changing what was done before.   However, RuneScape and other games are not always very good at this. At the moment, I'm thinking of one particularly clear example (there are others, but this is unusually simple to explain). First, the 'Brink of Extinction' quest with the TzHaar gives a variety of good reasons not to use Tokkul, and the leader/representative of the TzHaar people says they will no longer use it as a currency, but pass it into the sacred lava. All well and good, and for a book you would be able to end it there, because since he's said it, he will surely do it. Not so in-game. Currently, TzHaar-Mej-Jeh has said they'll stop using Tokkul, but when asked to recharge a ring he gave you, says "Certainly! That'll be 50,000 Tokkul."   This is problematic, particularly because updates by Jagex over the years make it very difficult to make sense of this dissonance. The only ways to acquire Tokkul, since it is bizarrely untradeable, are to kill TzHaar or acquire it from them by succeeding in battles they set up. This means that you cannot morally acquire the substance.   Equally, it isn't as though Jagex couldn't solve it. A small amount of work could have seen Tokkul made newly tradeable for those who had done the quest, or had the TzHaar learn to exchange money with gems instead, or uniquely carved obsidian tokens, or whatever. But that didn't happen.   RuneScape, oddly, isn't the only game that does this sort of thing. Skyrim had an issue with its main quest, which was all about stopping a dragon invasion of the world. Once you defeated the head dragon, and resolved the plot, the dragons continued to invade the world. That such a widely sold game never had such a simple change made by its developers seems bizarre.   Why is it that this happens? Is it because game developers think too much like novel writers and forget that they need to tie up loose ends? Is it because those doing the quest don't think further than the quest, and see it as an isolated instance in what is in reality an open world? Maybe they just forget about the area, because they aren't developing content for it? Or perhaps it's because they feel too stretched for time and resources to make that change, when it would appear to be one of the easiest ways to make the impact of the story known. I don't know. But it's a shame post quest implementation is so often weak.   Jagex can do post quest implementation well: The World Wakes has been managed admirably. But it's a shame that this is the exception, not the rule. Why is it sometimes done so poorly, when it can be done so well?

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

"Elf city will be available to everyone"-regardless of requirements-says Jagex

Edit: panic over! The new Q&A, set up in the 'power to the players' section of the RSOF, has mandated that 'Within the Light' will be a requirement to access some of the city, with access to more of the city coming after another Grandmaster Quest. Which will be released soonish. Like Priffidinas was. MEP2 was released in 2005. Just think about that. It will probably take 9 years to reach MEP3, the new quest's 'working title'.   http://services.rune...       -Mod Balance   Screw. That. This is a repost from reddit because I think it's essential in understanding the poll. Elf City, apparently, doesn't require quests. So, uhh, all the stuff you did to get to the forest? Meaningless. Not cool, Jagex. I don't even play any more and somehow the thing that annoys me the most turns out to be this.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

The Truth is stranger than fiction

At this point in time, I'm studying history at university. Yay! History is great, and often it's really great because, well, it's like a fantasy novel, but (a) real and (b) much more fleshed out. I was just reading a journal article on porcelain, and this popped out:     Robert Finlay, 'The Pilgrim Art: the Culture of Porcelain in World History   Also, sorry I didn't pop into the Canting festival thing. I didn't realise when it was when I should have done, and it would have been nice to see you all, so yeah. I've quit runescape generally, but sorry about that. Oh, and I quit that because it was (a) too expensive for what I got, especially compared to the value from one-time game purchases such as FTL or Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, or even free games like Space Station 13 and Dwarf Fortress, (b) very grindy, but you guys know that, and © had very little new content I was actually interested in: notably, a massive lack of quests -I had 1 quest to go when I quit-, and all the fancy stuff was for higher levels than me.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Space Station 13: first impressions of a free game you should ALL check out

I've recently been playing Space Station 13, and I thought I'd post my first impressions. Space Station 13 is a (free) multiplayer online role playing game in which you work with lots of other people to run a Space Station, protecting it from disasters (not very successfully) and making interesting things happen.   It's a bit different from a lot of games. Graphics isn't the focus (as with many good games) and it's presented in a simplistic RPG-maker style. The platform, BYOND, is fairly unheard of, and not that great, but the only possible way to play it. Role playing, as I mentioned earlier, is not optional: it's enforced. Multiplayer means just that: people have to, and are expected, to work together. And the amount of different jobs in the station is fairly staggering: here, have a look at a list. The first 3 of those blocks of jobs are absolutely essential: you'll need at least one of each, and with a few (like security) several. Many of them work best in pairs, and some are distinctly harder than others. You are encouraged to start in the 4th block of non essential civilians before trying other jobs, so that you can be competent when you take up a proper job: because in most jobs, you are expected to be just that. All in all, this gives a very different feel to the game than most: you genuinely take up the role you're given and grasp it with both horns, because to do anything else is to not only let yourself down but to let your fellow space explorers down too.     I should mention that lots of different things can happen: electrical storms, xenomorphs, traitors, revolutionaries, changelings, etc etc, often together.   I've tried 3 seperate careers so far on different shifts (which can last from 30 minutes to 3 hours and end with somebody sending for the emergency shuttle and not recalling it in time). Here are my impressions of each:   Cargo Technician is as lowly a job as you can realistically get. You're part of a big team that takes in orders from a console (or from people at the desk), hauls crates from the warehouse to a shuttle that docks periodically, and takes items from the shuttle to the warehouse, before loading them onto robots that take them to different departments (robotics might be sent a shipment of metal and glass, for example). You also need to check that shipments are accurate: if they aren't, you can send them back for a refund and points (which are also gained by shipping plasma away) These points are used to order more stuff. You report to the quartermaster, and you tend to work closely with the mining department. It's a fun job initially, and easy to pick up, but it gets a bit slow after a while as fewer people have the time to make orders and the ship becomes increasingly self sufficient. A great way to start work, but a bit stale after a while.   Chemist is similairly easy, but nonetheless fun. You're given a chemical dispenser and chemicals packager and work in a small office, making things people might need. Periodically, different staff come by the desk and ask for various solutions which are important in their work. Medicine are frequently requesting complicated stuff, but you'll also get lots of technicians requiring acid, and stuff in between. It's good fun, and initially extremely busy, but if you can't keep up it's easy for people to stop bothering you and for things to become very quiet indeed (or for them to demand entrance to the office and just start making the chems themselves). Overall, it's a step up and it's slightly more fun than cargo tech: you get a deal of entertainment from being at the entrance to the med bay, and people will occasionally ask for medical help and so on.   Roboticist is, I've found, a great deal more fun! You do lots of things in this role: maintain cyborgs, create cyborgs, build mechs, and build bots. Several people always queue up to have their brain removed and put in a man-machine interface, so that they can then be placed into a robot body (which you also queue up to be made). This job revolves between surgery for cyborgs, surgery on humans, building big mechs, and complaining to research and development that they haven't got you your circuit boards yet. I found myself striving to create a ripley (a big mining mech) but always hampered by this problem, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually. The constant brain removal was a little grimdark, but very fun.   Overall, the game is excellent and able to be played by players of almost any skill. It increases in fun as things get more challenging, and there's a lot going for a game in which role playing is enforced and jobs are genuinely specialised. For my taste, most rounds end too early to have as much fun as I'd like and to get as far as possible with the station, so I think banning the escape shuttle (if such a thing were possible) might make it much more entertaining. However, with what it is Space Station 13 makes for a fantastic game: one you should all check out!

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Dwarf Fortress: pt 3, Guisemined, even more characters! Sobend makes a fantastic artefact! Vote for somebody to become Count!

So what’s been happening in the fortress? Well, the military is properly up and running now, and has seen off several threats with some casualties. If a dwarven fortress is a mountain range, then a well-run military has to be one of the peaks: it requires a great deal of different mechanics to be carefully thought through and meshed together: civilian cross training with unattached pumps to get some rudimentary strength training, mining for useful minerals, smelting of ores and creation of fine weapons and armour, and of course training the squads themselves to be as useful as they can be.     With that in mind, some of your dwarves are taking part in the process. Egghebrecht, for example, is the house weaponsmith, and one of his masterwork steel swords (masterwork, behind artefact, is the highest level of normally producible quality) was used to slay an exceptionally dangerous beast recently, and was thereby given the name Dolil Thukkan, the Lock of Amber.     Army of One and Big Tree are both military dwarves, and some of our best fighters. Big Tree and a couple of other dwarves (including the wielder of Amberlock, Nish) slew a forgotten beast called Damid. Unfortunately, while the sword was named during the process, all three of them shortly melted afterwards. Damid had a ‘deadly gas’ attack which got under their armour and activated a few minutes after his death. While this is obviously a great pity (losing three of the force’s best fighters was an annoying blow) the subsequent success (in attacking a different forgotten beast) of the recruit team, known as The Crazed Trainees, means that they are replaceable. Though they will remain forever in our hearts, and in a pool of forgotten beast extract at the bottom of the underdar, a series of caverns that stretches below the world and is currently thickly forested. Lots of dwarves die in Dwarf Fortress, as has already been seen. It’s a pity Big Tree had it, but that’s life. Or death, if you prefer.   While Big Tree melted a few seconds after killing Damid, Army of One wasn’t covered in deadly forgotten beast extract, so he went and slew a Jabberer single-handed in the caves with three strokes of his axe: one to a foot, one to a leg, and one to behead it. He might also have bit it in the chest: I can’t quite remember, but he was pretty quick with his attacks and it didn’t last long. He is my military ‘Champion’, appointed by the leading aristocrat to train all squads, not just the one he’s in. A very useful noble and fighting dwarf. For an explanation of what a Jabberer is, read on!   Architect Reepicheep II as captain of the guard (best described as justice secretary) has been having a rather boring time of it. There was a murder, but for some reason he decided not to prosecute: perhaps he thought there were mitigating circumstances, or that no foul play was involved? All I know is that a dwarf was found dead, but not drained of blood, and without any recorded fights. Either he died of old age or of self-inflicted injury, but whatever the case we know it’s not a vampire, which is quite a positive.   Chief Sitting Bull started his tenure as an animal trainer. Caged creatures (which are obtained through a series of traps) can be fed to gain their loyalty, and he has slowly been improving his skills in that area. Our fortress has a training programme for Keas, a type of parrot that occasionally flies by to thieve, and Rhesus Macaques, an adorable sort of monkey that produces a reasonable amount of meat and leather. We also have the more standard war dogs, which are useful for guarding the entrance from kobold thieves and goblin snatchers. However, Chief Sitting Bull had his time enlivened by a sudden mood, with which he produced an artefact rock coffer, Ancientjudged the Cross Ripper, which has a fantastic picture of a single moment in a siege (a moment I watched! Amazing!) recently, where a macedwarf (now sadly departed) decided, even though he’d just had his hip fractured, to take down a full-grown troll on his own. It was an awesome moment, and it’s such a cool thing to see captured in stone. There’s also a couple of other pictures: one of the foundation of the fortress in 257 (we’re at 265 at the moment), and another of a different troll-slaying, this time with a human shooting a troll with a crossbow. Perhaps he’s making the point that while humans mess around with crossbows, real dwarves do it up close and personal? The point is slightly spoiled by the fact that in the next siege my marksdwarves shot all the trolls instead of charging into them (there were more and I’d improved my defences), but either way the choice of imagery and the usefulness of this, despite its relatively low 40,000 value, makes this one of the best artefacts I have ever seen. Well done! Chief Sitting Bull became a legendary miner through this (making an artefact gives a big experience boost in the relevant skill).   Seer, another miner, has been keeping the books. Nothing exceptional has happened, but the miners did collectively help create some tunnels to cavern edges to gain a more complete idea of the size and shape of them, as the engravers carved peep-holes into the sides once the tunnels reached the area. They also expanded the hospital from 6 beds to 16: each bedroom has a door which can be locked to prioritise the treatment of particular dwarves if necessary, or to keep one patient locked away until death in the event of serious risk (they might be a werebeast, vampire, berserk, etc).   Fabis II, with the masons (and mason-mechanics, a general class of unskilled dwarves who do grunt labour like reloading cage traps, shifting stone into fortifications, and so on…Fabis is one of the most competent masons, which excuses him from mechanics duties), has been helping to massively expand the surface defences of the fortress. Along with walls that stretch almost to the edges of the map, two layers of battlements have been made, so that marksdwarves can intercept enemies both from a curtain layer of fortifications on the ground and an upper layer. This gives them maximum chance to shoot at the enemy without the enemy shooting back: a worthy improvement for the fortress as it faces larger and larger sieges of goblins.   Dr Amber Pyre, high master wound dresser and diagnostician (thinking of making her Chief Medical Dwarf) has, in a stupendous twist, been working at the hospital and hauling stuff around generally. She’s the most skilled in the medical team and has helped fix up the odd dwarf injury, generally from combat. Dwarf medical treatment, while free, is not simple: dwarves with injuries constantly require evaluation and must then go through a complex series of stages for any given wound. For example, a recruit was recently lashed in the hand by a goblin with a silver scourge, causing him to temporarily lose the ability to grasp. He got to the hospital and had to be evaluated (diagnosis skill), cleaned (no skill, but soap making is a task in itself and must be done to help avoid infection), sutured three times (suturing skill, with diagnosis inbetween), have the wound dressed (dressing wounds skill), and then evaluated again before he could go. Depending on the wound, he could have also needed surgery, bone setting, being fed or watered, being given a splint, a crutch, or a cast, being secured in a traction bench, being hauled over to a table to be operated on, etc etc. It is complicated, but when it works it is beautiful, and Amber Pyre is a part of that.   With Chief Sitting Bull making an awesome artefact and taking up mining, I’ve hired another trainer. Guitarguy, otherwise a legendary gem cutter and maker of Foldedache, a bracelet made from a single amethyst (it is beautiful, and pretty valuable too), isn’t employed with that work all the time so he helps with the animal training. Description of what that involves is above: I think it also includes chaining up prisoners, which is important for helping the military dwarves get trained up: live training is best training. Like I said, a mountain peak. Domesticating dragons would be another one, but you need dragons for that. Perhaps if I’m lucky I will be able to create a herd of tame jabberers, giant war birds that live in caves (think Spirit Terrorbirds, but twice the height of a human and even more beaky). Frankly, most cave creatures are tough enough to provide either really good training or pretty impressive pets, or useful siege accoutrements (blind cave ogres vs trolls, who will win?!).   You know how Egghebrecht’s been making the weapons? Well, Sobend is in charge of the armoursmithing. There are 5 specifically forge related jobs: furnace operating, weaponsmithing, armouring, blacksmithing, and metalcrafting. My count (yeah, my Baron’s been promoted now) keeps mandating battleaxes, and my mayor keeps asking for mail shirts, so I’ve been making those out of steel. Conveniently, this also lets me expand the military at a fairly organic pace, so there’s that too. None of my smiths are legendary yet, but they’re training fine.   Bwauder, my bone carver, hasn’t had much to do. In the past, we culled a lot of badgers that came in, so he made scepters and crowns out of them. They were all masterful or exceptional, and we sent them off to the mountainhome for the king to look at (presumably part of the reason the count was promoted from Baron).   Micael Fatia has carried on with engraving masterfully, trading wonderfully, and being cool. Not much more to say there: the latest project of the engravers was of course carving the peep-holes into the caverns and engraving the tombs (there’s a big series of catacombs for this, as we have quite a few dead dwarves).   KAMIL has been part of our local team of 3 brewers. He’s in the middle of the group in terms of skill, but it’s a decent job he’s doing, as an expert brewer. Dwarves don’t drink water unless they absolutely have to, ie are hospitalised, so running out of booze can mean a tantrum spiral that results in the destruction of the fortress. As such, the job is important. Most of the fortresses’ booze is wine, made from pressed plump helmets (baby’s first plant, a purple growth that produces a fresh crop underground every season and makes tons of produce as a result). We also buy in booze from the caravans that’s rum, ale and beer…and it’s possible we make some of it ourselves too, but I haven’t paid a lot of attention there. We certainly grow some of the ingredients. Human plants allow other drinks, like river spirits, sewer brew, and so on, which are surprisingly popular, while elves (hated by the dwarves, and which I so far haven’t seen on this world) grow the ‘sun berry’, which can be brewed into Sunshine, the best alcohol in the game.   If you’ve read this far, please nominate a salmon to become the Count, currently Founder Cerol, the only surviving founder, a legendary miner (by hard work, not an artefact) and meeter of diplomats. You can’t nominate yourself, and you can’t nominate someone already in this fortress.   The humans recently paid us a non-caravan visit, sending us their deity, a giraffe twisted into human form, to come as a diplomat. He had his guards, and although I kept my guards in the same room as the count in case of an altercation, nothing happened. He constantly made threats of torture and death, while at the same time noting that “it’s such a pleasant place you’ve carved out for yourselves”. The conversation was short, but worthwhile: seeing a giraffe demon deity first hand was something not to be missed. All deities in Dwarf Fortress are demons, I think that’s just the mechanic of it, and they lead human civilizations sometimes (it depends on the randomly generated history of the world, which I really must look into in Legends Mode, I want to know more about the Barbs of Sand all the engravers keep referencing). Although I wanted to kill the human diplomat, since they never bring anything interesting to trade and another war would be quite fun, I’ll wait until they come round again before I do that. Demons might be tougher to take down than I expect.   EDIT: Dammit, I missed Dr Mitchell. Sorry about that. Would have been a perfect fit for the medical team.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Dwarf Fortress: not a story, but a detailed update. Histories of avarice and mettle.

Those of you who wanted another Dwarf Fortress story may have wondered why I didn't post another. My excuse is that they take a while to write, you have to constantly think about pasting screenshots into a word document while you're playing, and I am perhaps a bit too lazy to do it. I can, however, give you a running idea of what those of you who signed up for a dwarf nicknamed after you did in Guisemined (Rurustavuz).   Reepicheep died (but you knew that), because a bunch of undead goblins, humans, and dwarves mobbed him. Later, a vampire migrant came out with a spear and killed them, one by one, because zombies ignore vampires (they're both night creatures, so they assume they're friendly).   Fabis was killed indirectly. A little context is needed before an explanation makes sense: a while ago, a weretapir came across my fortress and attacked a few people. One of them survived, and was locked away in a room to be my bookkeeper (noble in charge of keeping a record of stocks). He spent his days transforming, drinking booze, and updating the records at his desk. One day, he escaped through two sets of locked doors (probably because he somehow came up with the idea, while in Tapir form, of breaking them down). He then went on a rampage and killed several people before being shot down by one of my fortress guard, a chap with a crossbow who gave him a few good bolts to the body and then, when he transformed back into a dwarf, shot him again a few times until he died. The other dwarves weren't happy about this murder (this is known as a 'loyalty cascade', when your military unintentionally kills someone in their own faction and is thereby declared a 'hostile'), and the offender was shot down by other marksdwarves. I believe Fabis was one of those injured by the crazed bookkeeper, but rather than hulking out himself, he simply died of his wounds in the hospital: not because of blood loss or poor surgery, but because he got infected. After that, I stocked some soap there (soap is surprisingly complicated to make, which is why it wasn't there before).   Micael Fatia has gone from strength to strength. She (the dwarf is female) has become a legendary engraver, and constantly makes masterful engravings of different stuff. Having a well engraved room makes dwarves happy, so she is an important part of the fort. She's also the broker (noble in charge of assessing the value of everything in the fortress and trading). Caravans of human and dwarf traders come along, and she gives them old clothes, well-prepared food (which is ridiculously valuable) and bits of metalcrafting in return for large wicker bins full of leather, massive piles of meat, the odd interesting drink, and all the merchants' gems, metal bars, and so on. However, until recently she wasn't a good trader because she had a 'very trusting' personality. This meant she wasn't even a 'novice' at the 'judge of intent' skill, which tells you how keen the traders are (it's possible to offend them by offering bad deals to the point where they won't trade, but if you can make them happy they'll accept generally worse deals...but they still need to make a decent profit). In the last trade, she at last become a novice in the skill, which has all the benefits as regards trading. This makes her replacement as broker entirely unnecessary, which is nice because I didn't really want to replace a nicknamed dwarf. She is one of the most useful citizens in Guisemined and has a personal war dog assigned.   Tigerwing was organizing the militia, and acted as commander for a good while. He worked out a system of chaining up caged prisoners for target practice (a little inhumane, but for context these were thieves, spies, and child snatchers, along with good old-fashioned invaders/ambushers). This trained up his marksdwarf squad, "The Stoked Vestibules", and has made them all very good at shooting enemies: a relatively recent undead siege saw them calmly line up on the battlements and take out almost every single undead (once there were about 5/40-60 left, I sent out the hammer and axe dwarves). Tigerwing also commissioned 4 more squads with 3 dwarves each, who wear some of the fortresses' newly produced steel goods (generally speaking, steel mail and weapon, the rest is iron with leather leggings). They've trained up nicely (having everyone operate pumps in a 'dwarven gym' to become exceptionally strong beforehand was a very good idea) and fight very well indeed, dealing with several goblin ambushes and even a recent goblin incursion into the heart of the fort itself very respectably. So far they've taken a couple of losses, but do well regardless. It's a pity there isn't a better stocks screen for assessing what armour we do and don't have. Sadly, Tigerwing suffocated after being shot in the lungs in a recent ambush, so it seems he's dead too. A pity, but he's set up a military (well, I did, but I'll credit the militia commander) that will endure mightily.   Other objects of note: Guisemined recently became a barony, and the only member of the seven founding dwarves to still be alive, Cerol, has become the Baron. He's a legendary miner, but I've retired him from all labours. The baron doesn't do a lot: back in the day, he used to start the 'dwarven economy', where dwarves were divided into social classes, shops were built, and everyone had to pay for what they wanted (apart from nobles), but because that was horribly broken it's been temporarily removed. Dwarves now permanently live in a socialist commune, which is...fine. The baron's only function, therefore, is to enjoy himself, participate in labours assigned (which he didn't do back when he did the economy), and appoint a 'champion', a secondary noble who trains the military (so you want to appoint a dwarf who has high skills and is good at teaching). Cerol has been given a set of beautiful rooms, as befits his position, and should be very happy (I want a count and duke to come in the course of time). At the time he was recommended to the liaison (a diplomat from the mountainhomes who manages things) he was outside and got ambushed by goblins: I feared for his life, but like the badass he is he fought them off with his pickaxe (this is a dwarf with no normal military skill at all) and gave himself time to allow the military to show up and bash all the gobbos in. They were delayed by various situations, but Cerol got away with mild bruising, which will heal in time (unlike the goblins...you can imagine the damage a pickaxe can do to a goblin body if used by a legendary miner).   From now on, I am going to nickname people from Sal's anyway, regardless of whether they comment or not. If it causes offence (I probably won't put Merch Gwyar into the squad that regularly violates the Geneva Convention), I can withdraw nicknames...but it should be fun! Having said that, if you want in say so! It's boring to have so few people nicknamed after epic dwarves.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Dwarf Fortress: pt one, Reepicheep (including fancy screenshots!)

Since Reepicheep died almost immediately, I though I'd post the account as a sort of short story. If you're interested in stories involving a dwarf nicknamed after you (if I can get enough Sals people it will read a lot better), post a comment saying so. See the previous blog post. Practically everything in the story is present in Dwarf Fortress, as it is strong in what trendy people call 'emergent narrative'. What's not there is a conversation engine or (for example) drinking from gold goblets. I've made gold goblets in the fortress, and all the dwarves (including children and babies) drink booze, but they haven't put two and two together. Combat details are fairly accurate, but I didn't take a blow-by-blow screenshot, annoyingly. Injuries can run from individual teeth, fingers, and toes to larger areas like guts, right thigh, left shoulder, major organs etc.   The older dwarf carefully took two finely crafted gold goblets and set them before the child, before reaching for the barrel of wine. Pouring two generous cupfuls, both dwarves drank long and deep. The child began to recline in his seat, and the older dwarf, glancing around the superb dining room, began to speak.   “Since you have requested it, I will tell you the tale of Reepicheep, one of our champions in Guisemined, a hammerer and a hammer lord, slayer of werebeasts and undead.   Reepicheep arose from the humble position of fish dissector. Our overseer and expedition leader was keen to have him enter a contraption of his that he called the ‘danger room’. Reepicheep was not a bold man, but he felt it reasonable to obey the overseer’s request.   This dangerous room was a somewhat fearful contraption, with ten wooden spears fixed up to a single lever. Reepicheep would be locked in for hours at a time and forced to dodge, block, and take the brunt of the blows from these spears at an astonishing rate, all while supposedly performing individual combat drills. Hard as this was, Reepicheep had no choice. As we dwarfs say, with stout work comes sustenance, and he was soon-much sooner than many had expected-superb at wielding his fresh-forged hammer and blocking many a blow with his gem-encrusted armour, delivered as a gift from the mountainhomes.”   “A gift? I did not know the mountainhome gave those.” commented the child.   “No, and perhaps it was in truth stolen, but that does not greatly matter. The mountainhome continues to send traders, and the armour was extremely useful. I believe the overseer has plans to give some goods back one day, but I do not know when.   In any case, Reepicheep became phenomenally useful. Promoted to the position of hammerer (who, as you well know, is in charge of distributing punishment) and militia captain of his own, personal squad of one, he became known as a hammer lord.   Reepicheep was used many times to deal with threats to the fortress: goblin snatchers, kobold thieves, and even werebeasts who invaded, all to great success. Such things threaten the fort and threaten us all.”   “So what happened? I have seen his memorial slab in the catacombs. Lover of rings, it says. Inkyair the Ace Brim of Fortifying. Slayer of two well known undead goblins…though how a goblin zombie can be that well known, I don’t know. How could a zombie kill him? How did he depart?”           “Sometimes, child, dwarfs receive messages from Armok, our god. They are short, and to the point: occasionally they celebrate victory, but more often they are portents of danger or foreboding. Armok is fickle and desires amusement, so perhaps that explains his message.”   “What message?”   “ ‘The dead walk. Hide while you still can!’. And then a horrible laugh.         Well, Reepicheep took no offence from that, and nor did anyone; Armok is as Armok does: we are his slaves, and he is a god of blood. The bold dwarf marched forth as all elsewhere burrowed down into the fortress proper, raised the bridges behind him, and prepared lest any of the zombies somehow get through.   Reepicheep quickly entered into a martial trance. He appeared as a whirlwind of iron, crashing through the battlefield that had been created, swinging the hammer –which he had created himself- to and fro, breaking hips, legs, arms, ribs, skulls, hands, feet, knocking a tooth out there, smashing his shield into a gut here. A hammer lord is said to be deadly in combat, and those who peeped over the battlements of our fortress report seeing that he was incredibly thorough in his kills. It is not unknown for a hammerer to break every bone in the body before he kills his victim.”   The child shuddered.   “Come! You are eleven, and when you come of age at twelve you should know that the price for murder is grim. Be thankful we have had such protectors. As I was saying, he was a titan of destruction. But they were too much for him.   Horde upon horde of zombie presents a unique challenge to the challenger. Each component of the army is weak, but together they are astonishingly numerous. Zombies jumped onto Reepicheep faster than he could destroy them. Eventually, one shattered his thigh with a superb kick, and he lost the agility that was a part of his strength.   With this chink in his defences made, they pinned him down and killed him.”      

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Dwarf Fortress: Anyone interested in some posts about this?

Here's what would happen: You guys would comment, saying "I want my name to be the nickname of a dwarf that does X".
I would go through the dorfs, nickname them after anyone who commented (significant dorfs, first, others later).
I would then play the game, and post updates on anything significant, obviously including anything significant done by a nicknamed dorf.
  For the most awesome example of how this can turn out, see the SomethingAwful lets's plays, like Boatmurdered, Gemclod, Bronzestabbed, Headshoots, etc etc. I'm currently playing a fortress called Guisemined. If you don't know what Dwarf Fortress is, think "Rollercoaster Tycoon, but in ASCII, with dwarves in a randomly generated fantasy world, and much more complicated". As an example of how the fortress is going, we've endured multiple recent ambushes and small flooding problem, but the legendary hammerdwarf has made short work of the underground shale fortress and the location in general is expanding smoothly. It's fun!   If you're interested (or just want to see what a sample post would look like) post, giving a nickname (I'd expect your Sals name), and a profession range (there are lots of jobs, but they fall into the categories of Noble, Soldier, Miner, Woodworker, Stoneworker, Ranger, Doctor, Farmer, Fisher, Metalsmith, Jeweller, Crafter, Mechanic, and Peasant Hauler). Or, you can give a migration wave number. And you can give a gender you'd like to be too if you want! I can't promise to honour any of these choices, but I'll try not to ignore them.   Please be interested.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

RuneScape: the Divination post-release AMA categorised

I'm doing this for my own purposes and for a sort of 'archive' ideal. I don't know if it's useful or necessary. Some of the answers are unclear enough to need the corresponding questions, but a lot of them aren't. If they have a question before them, they will start with a -dash before the answering mod's name. I hope this is useful. Please comment if you think which comment a question is answering is unclear, or if you believe an answer/question to be in the wrong category. Because Reddit's sorting algorithm doesn't necessarily give you a neat list of questions and answers, I think something like this can be handy. Also, it's hard to search for a reddit thread sometimes-this solves that problem too.     About release day and other fixes:   Ana: The most [hotfixes] we've done over the last two days are the changes to enriched wisps - these were spawning rather more often than we had intended, and it was possible to exploit their random spawns by hopping worlds. We also hotfixed out being able to spam click wisps for faster memories (sorry).   Hew: [on reclicking (?) and why it was hotfixed] Although we like to reward effort, we want to do so in ways that make things more interesting rather than those that simply add click intensity. Divination is intended to be the kind of skill that lets you chat with other players (or even watch some TV if you like), and that breaks down as soon as we allow unintended better XP because everyone will feel compelled to do it.   Ana: they weren't intended ways of training. I can more than understand your reasoning that more effort = more XP but we incorporated other features for this (enriched wisps without world hopping and chronicle fragments). I can only apologise that these things were discovered and hotfixed after release, as they shouldn't have been part of the skill.   Q: Also, can I suggest making something like a Portent of Ignore, that makes banners and avatars silent, invisible, and inherently non-clickable.   -Hew: Ana has changed things so that you can't put clan banners down too close to the crater, but followers and avatars are technically much harder to change so we'll have to look carefully about what we want to do there.   Ana: I think on release we are happy with the amount of content in the skill - it's supposed to be a gathering skill so we didn't aim for it to have the complexity of Dungeoneering, for example. It's also worth considering that other skills have had years of content added to them - something we hope to do with Divination in the future, so I'd really hope you can expect to see more ways of training down the line :).   Q: Is it a current bug that you gain so many enriched orbs at the start of a new area? It seems to drastically drop down to almost zero per inventory the next level and then picks itself back up.   -Ana: The enriched memories from wisps are given at random. Your chance to get them goes up as you increase your level within the tier (a tier being level 20-29, for example) - then when you move on to the next tier it drops down again. We've seen some similar feedback on the forums so we have been double checking that this is the case!     About the skill generally:   Ana: When you get a chronicle fragment it does actually only appear to you for a while, before everyone else can see it. This isn't very obvious - I think we may be adding a message for it in the near future, much like you get with birds' nests when Woodcutting.   Hew: Chronicles are person-specific: you can only see somebody else's fragment after they have had a good chance to get it themselves. The social focus of the skill is that enriched springs stay longer with more players, and that generally the core springs aren't competitive. The situation where you could 'share' chronicle fragments wasn't intended, it throws the balancing off and doesn't make much sense considering what the fragments are.   Ana: the locations of the wisps. I'd have to say it was mostly a case of finding empty spaces on the world map. We also put consideration into where lower level players may be, where higher level players may be, etc - as well as finding places that weren't quest locked or had other high skill requirements. We did actually consider a Wilderness wisp colony, but we didn't want to close anything off to non-PVPers. There's only one colony per tier and putting one in the Wilderness would be a serious barrier for a lot of players.   Hew: we were really hoping that the colonies/craters would be a nice chance for a chat, like some of the older skills.   Hew: I think it's a shame people see Divination [as RuneSpan 2.0]. RuneSpan is great content but it's not something we're going to be building into future updates, like we do the skills. Divination is the start of whole new things, and I'm looking forward to seeing all the stuff we can add to it, in ways that a minigame just doesn't support.   Hew: We're happy with the Divination that appears in Dungeoneering at the moment; perhaps it's something we'll take another look at later. I wouldn't bind signs: although they're not immediately consumable they're still the sort of thing you'd use up sooner or later.   Ana: The XP rates are actually pretty close to what we had planned, so from our side we are happy. We needed to leave a 'gap' for future content such as minigames, distractions and diversions, quest rewards, XP boosting items etc so the rates are deliberately a bit slow. If we started with them being higher, then the skill would become very easy quite quickly.   About the developement:   Hew: There were loads of aims. Among my top ones: Simple, old-school gathering skill, more like Fishing or Woodcutting than Summoning or Dungeoneering
Non-competitive: positively social where possible
A 'free' training option, with no waste products you didn't want to make
Tie-in with the new age and the evolving story of RS
Note that these aren't all goals we set ourselves: many of them came down from Mod Mark. There are always things I wish we'd had more time for, but I'm happy with the results. It's changed a lot as we went along, but it's difficult to point at any version and call it the 'original design'. At one point it was something completely different, and you can now look forward to that as part of the next skill. Main challenges were big design questions about exactly how we manage the stuff above and fit it all in with the way the game works. We had to ditch a lot of ideas for reward/product objects because they'd ruin something or other. We also had to think carefully about this skill was different to previous ones, because while it's always tempting to fall back on 'well Mining does it like this' but some of the things Mining does were ones we didn't want to replicate.   Ana: That's a really interesting question. We went through a really, really long design stage for Divination. I remember we thought transmutation would be a much larger part of the skill than it is now. We had all sorts of ideas for it, and they just didn't work out. We also had some ideas that when training you'd have to put more effort into finding wisps - so you'd have to track them across the world, but it was decided that this would be pretty tedious for a full skill from 1-99. There was also mention of wisps in crowns, which I think Mod Avatar is still determined to get in game!   Ana:
I've been working on the skill since the release of The World Wakes at the beginning of March. The design of Divination actually started before that (February or perhaps even January) but other mods were working on it at that point.

The XP rates weren't changed or adjusted in the run up to release. I'm afraid I don't really know any more about them being different on the wiki - just that nothing changed from our side.
  Ana: I think I've said elsewhere that the skill was in development from February/March this year. It was talked about a lot before that but didn't actually start production until then. I'd agree that the training areas are all very similar so I can understand why it would look like it wasn't a lot of effort! I think we spent the most time on design - this project had a massive design phase when compared to others. We knew it would be a high profile, important and much-anticipated release so we spent a long time just to get everything how we wanted it to be. There's also a lot of behind the scenes stuff which you wouldn't automatically think of - for example adding Divination to loads of interfaces and systems which show and use all the skill information.   Ana: The skill hasn't been in development for 3 years. It's been in development since about February this year :). Divination was intended to be a simple skill - it's a gathering skill, like Woodcutting or Fishing. Dungeoneering is a very different skill to compare it to - and we were never aiming for that level of complexity. Also, I think it's worth bearing in mind that all the other skills have had years of additional content added on to them - which Divination hasn't had yet. The most effective way of training is converting memories into XP (of course there are boons and enriched wisps and enhanced XP that allow for more effective ways within that - but basically you want to gather memories and convert them into XP if you want to train the skill). The items are there as 'rewards' - you don't get much XP for making them but they should be useful elsewhere. If you're only interested in XP then there's no reason to make the items other than the boons. It is planned that the energy from Divination will be used in the next skill.   Ana: The biggest challenge was probably the design - there were a lot of people involved because it's such a large project, and we spent a lot of time making sure everyone was happy. It was also very difficult designing a new skill that would fit into a 12 year old game with so much content in it already.     About orb colours and other graphics:   Ana: There aren't any plans [to change orb colours] at the moment. It was something we discussed during development and internal feedback - but as there are 12 tiers it's difficult to get 12 obviously different colours and it was anticipated that it might look a bit odd. In the end it was determined it would be better to differentiate them with size and shinyness, rather than colour.   Ana: There are no plans to change the springs currently. If we get a lot of feedback on it then we'd obviously look into changing it :).   Q: Why do all tiers have the exact same graphics/colors/animations as the previous camp?   -Hew: It would be nice if I had a graphics person here, but the principles are that: The animations are consistent, because they represent roughly the same thing each time. There's also a steady progression of models that look similar but gradually get more complicated, because they represent more complicated versions of a similar thing.
The colours do vary, but they're similar because it was hard to get a range that would make wisps clearly relate to one another while also fitting in with the game world.
There's a lot of things to consider when choosing colours and making the graphics for things like this, and we had lots of thought and lots of discussion. The cheap/rushed version could have clashed with things, been ugly, been hard to see or loads of other problems.   Hew: We thought long and hard about the colours and had lots of discussion about it with the artists. They're different because they have quite different requirements: the wisps are shades of blue because it goes well in lots of different terrains, without colour-blindness problems, while the energy varies more because you have more chance to need to see the difference of multiple kinds together.     About related quests/lore:   Q: Will there be any major quests to go along with div in the near future? because I feel like it needs it own story.   -Ana: I hope so! Perhaps Mod Hew would be able to say more on this one, but there is certainly some underlying story to Divination which I really hope will be explored in the future.   Q: When i train divination what exactly am i doing lore wise am i gathering guhtix memories or energry from his barrier? 2 if the answer to the above is guthix memories then why dont really learn anymore about the history of guthix like with the spring event.   -Ana: May in the skill hub has some dialogue about this if you want to get more information, but I'll try and summarise :). When Guthix died, his energy spread across the world. The edict 'shield' around Gielinor collapsed, and the power from this fused with Guthix's residual energy to become the wisps. When you gather from the wisps you are getting memories (Guthix's) and energy (edict shield power). Separately, the battle of Lumbridge has disrupted the life force of Gielinor - and the energy rifts around the world are a result of this. The memories you are gathering are made of the same 'force' (as Guthix drew his force from the earth) so by returning the memories to the rifts you are essentially 'healing' the world. For the second part of 1 - This is something we considered during development. It was kind of decided that lore should be kept somewhat separate from the training of a skill. If you want to just train and get XP then getting story bits pop up all the time would be really very annoying - especially considering the time it takes to level up to 99. That's why we tried to incorporate it with the chronicles, and hopefully it can be explored with future content too!   Q: Why can we only have ten chronicle fragments what is up with the messages we get while hand them in and why not just give us more guthix story?   -Ana: The reason for having a maximum of 10 chronicle fragments is to encourage you to hand them in rather than hoarding them. The messages are deliberately vague because once you've handed them in a few times, we anticipated many people would stop reading them and we didn't want those people to miss out on important story progression.   Q: where do the memories go when you put them in the energy rift   -Hew: Back to the world spirit (Anima Mundi, whatever you want to call it), which/who is very grateful.   Ana: I mentioned this somewhere else on the thread - but the reason [chronicle fragments] are short little proverbs is because we anticipated that players who just want to train to 99 are going to see a lot of them. If they were longer people would probably get bored or annoyed feeling they were forced to read them every time and we wanted to avoid that.   Q: Did Naragi diviners train divination?   -Ana: I wouldn't have thought so - as the Divination we know is only possible due to Guthix's death, and the events of the Sixth Age :). That is an interesting connection though - perhaps something we could use later on! About the economy:   Q: However, with the Sign of the Porter and a Pak Yak, players are able to hold up to 88 items before banking. How do you see this affecting the economy?   -Hew: Bank runs are pretty quick these days, so the economic impact of the extra inventory space should be relatively small. Porter also isn't free to make, so players will make their own decisions about which commodities are worth teleporting and which aren't. Another thing we discussed was whether we wanted to change the flow of gathering so dramatically: I wanted to make the change but was a little afraid of it, but Mod Mark was happy to give players that option and so we did.   Hew: At the moment we're happy that the value of transmutations will change over time with the market. It's more of a convenience feature than a direct money-maker, although there'll be times when it'll turn a profit in the right market (and if you're watching it so closely it sounds like you'll be ready).       About the companion skill and the future generally:   Hew: The new skill will use energy, but also plenty of other things. There might be some features where a Divination level is an advantage. So mechanically, there'll be that kind of link. But from a lore/narrative perspective but they won't line up like Mining and Smithing: it'll be a slightly more complicated relationship and I hope we can tell some interesting stories there.   Hew: 'Two weeks' [until the use of xp lamps] has been mentioned a couple of times, but I don't think that's a final decision. I'd expect more like a month.   Hew: We're not planning to change XP rates. To provide a decent high-score race of the kind that lots of players like and to give you a good feeling of continual improvement we made it the kind of thing you can't just burn through in short time.   Q: Will the rewards improve?   -Ana:It's still very early days, and I'm getting the feeling from the forums that the rewards haven't really been explored that much yet so hopefully people will find their intended uses :). Other than that, we're always watching feedback so if rewards are clearly under-used then that's something we'll look into - but I think it's worth waiting a while for the skill to 'settle in' first, rather than making knee-jerk changes. [Explaining 'intended uses'] Well, what I was mostly thinking of was divine locations. I've seen some feedback on the forums where people are making them, and thinking that's their daily use of divine locations up - when you can harvest from other people's in addition to that, to get a lot more resources. I also think that the Signs of the Porter may be prove to be more useful than feedback would currently indicate - especially at the higher levels when they teleport more items. In general, I think a lot of people are wrapped up in training at the moment so I'm hoping when that has died down we'll see more feedback about the rewards too :).   Q: Clan citadel divination?   -Hew: Not yet. We'll wait until there's some more work on Clan Citadels: we'd like to get more people using them but there's lots we'd like to do this year and next, so I don't know when that will be.   Hew: The idea of transmuting 'backwards' is really interesting; I like that. We might be able to do some cool stuff with that. When Mod Avatar originally came up with the idea (or a slightly different idea, which I stole and changed) he was thinking of transmuting across, and I'm looking forward to doing something with that too. At the moment there's a deliberate choice between portents of restoration and food. While it's possible that we could make new versions with other thresholds (or change the thresholds in certain level bands) we'd only do so if it didn't make the items too complicated and confusing.   Some recipes would be dangerous: I agree with your example. Maybe they're all dangerous, and I'd check before we decided to do any of them. But there are things here and there that might benefit from players being able to even them up a little...   Q: Will there be any more skills with similar combinations?   -Ana: I'm not really sure, to be honest (perhaps Mod Hew would be better to answer this one?). With Divination we had the challenge of releasing a 'supporting' skill to a skill that doesn't exist yet, so we needed to make it a supporting skill to existing skills, too. This challenge won't come with the next skill as Divination will already be out, but I don't think that would mean it would ignore other skills, either. Sorry, slightly vague answer :).   Q: Is there any chance that the wisps will last longer in the future?   -Ana: There aren't any plans to do this currently.   Q: Is there a chance for multiple enriched springs to spawn in the future or last longer?   -Ana: Again, there aren't any plans for this currently. The enriched springs will last longer based on how many people are on them. When you interact with an enriched spring, if you have any memories in your inventory it will consume one and give you an enriched memory automatically. This causes the enriched spring to last longer. Each player can only do this once, and the enriched spring does have a maximum duration (after 4 players have donated to it). If it's only you on the enriched spring it really won't last very long, but if 4 players have donated to it then it will last much longer :).   Q: add a couple of lines of code to allow Max to say random things? I've seen no end of players slandering him in front of his face- would be funny if he called everyone noobs ;)   -Ana:As for Max - Mod Chris L, who created him and updated him for Divination, was actually looking into this. He wanted to give Max a response if Max overheard anyone calling him a bot ;).   Hew: Remember that the extra training methods for other skills typically launch over time after the skill itself. As much as we'd love to launch something as broad and varied as Woodcutting with all the things that have been added post-launch, the game is bigger and more complicated than ever and the effort it takes to build a skill and safely plug it in everywhere has grown too.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

RuneScape: what are the consequences of teleports?

Disclaimer: this isn't as good as the grind post, and I'm not sure it's even worth putting up. Anyway...     Runescape, despite having a relatively small world (20 minutes to run from end to end), has a vast variety of teleports. Seriously. It's loads. These teleports make any area exceptionally accessible to the average player, and form a convoluted network with no clear boundaries. Since new teleports are added constantly to different areas as they become relevant, one may assume that the abyss (the fictional explanation for teleportation) is truly, as Mod Osborne said, riddled with holes "like Swiss cheese".   This may not entirely be detrimental: unlocking faster travel is a rewarding and enjoyable experience, and the other gains of teleportation like increased safety, the ability to funnel players away from boring areas, and the chance to encourage players to use specific places more, cannot entirely be a bad thing. However, it has had several negative consequences, and some of the effects of teleportation are both good and bad in this regard.   This isn't rocket surgery: teleport effects are obvious. Here's a big one: travel isn't intuitive. If people want to know the best way to get somewhere, suddenly the answer is not "just run or use this specific list of spells/gems/mushrooms", it's "look it up". Teleports are too convoluted for most people to know them all, so they don't. This takes the players out of the game (reducing immersion), but could encourage social gameplay and communities who help each other in things like this.   Second obvious thing: it reduces the effect of distance on the economy. This, combined with the Grand Exchange, makes supply and demand on a small scale pointless. It would not be cheaper to buy, for example, elf mcguffins from players at their source in Tirannwn and bring them to the grand exchange to sell for a profit, because anyone can just teleport back and forth. This removes a potentially fun aspect of gameplay.   A third thing: it makes the map seem bigger. This isn't perhaps so obvious, but when you don't run through everything, you don't notice that the areas between different facilities are incredibly small. Since increased draw distance from html5 further reduces this, it isn't as much of a big deal.   Teleports reduce credibility of the world. If I can get anywhere in seconds, why does anyone sit still? They don't even try to explain lodestones. And who is giving out capes and rings with custom teleports? How do they make this stuff? If it's cheap enough to give away this stuff, can't I make my own?   Teleports are boring, and discourage exploration and running around seeing the world, because it's less interesting and less efficient.   So what can be done? I believe nothing. This is a classic example of power creep gone too far: what was once a fairly simple and reliable system now makes little sense and is a monster of epic proportions, but one that helps the player. Without annoying players hugely by getting rid of most teleports, one cannot affect the teleports system helpfully.   If I could make RuneScape, I'd do a lot of things very differently. Firemaking and slayer, for example, wouldn't be skills. Grind would be vastly reduced (I'd have started by making the level and experience cap 60, and working up from there). Summoning would have been implemented in a very changed manner. But the point of this article is to discuss teleports, so here's what I would have done.   Separate teleports from the combat skill, magic. It is strange and somewhat unfair to allow one combat class much better travel. Second, make teleports out of combat impossible. Teleports should require time, concentration, and a lack of pressure. Third, I'd make only one 'teleport from anywhere', and it'd go to a single, inconvenient place. Some sort of central town, without a lodestone of its own. Finally, I'd make only one teleport network: the lodestones. You have to touch them to activate them, you can only travel from one to the other, and I'd set up a clear story basis for them. They'd be at the centre of every major city, but none of the minor ones.   So, what would this create? A game where travel in the wilds was inevitable and necessary, but where cities were a refuge from danger, and well worth travelling towards at least once. A game where teleports were a privilege, and an extremely limited factor (which is only logical). A game where teleports made sense, but weren't being used all the time. I think it'd be a better game. Although it might not be recognisably runescape.     Besides, ideas are nothing. Execution is the King.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

RuneScape: the grind is bad, and a change would be good.

What does Runescape need? That's a good question, probably *the* good question that Jagex should and are asking themselves. At the moment, the answer is 'filling out all the skills, adding high level content, expanding graphical capabilities and the evolution of combat along with doing a good marketing job'. And it's a sensible, well rounded answer, the sort you'd expect from a company that's done a lot but never been able to succeed outside their flagship product for very long. I'd agree with pretty much all these points (they're also redeveloping quests, which is good but not frequent enough to suggest they think it's a priority-this might be mistaken).   However, they are missing a real problem with this game. A few years ago, you could have asked any gaming forum why more people didn't play runescape and the answer would have been 'graphics, combat, and grind'. It looked terrible, click and wait was boring (even if the best of the best bosses and PvP offered something rather more interesting) and it takes hundreds of hours to get to what most would think of as a 'decent level'. Today, graphics aren't the major issue and combat is vastly improved (oh, and the free trade/wilderness thing reversed a lot of bad PR and then provided further marketing opportunities on how Jagex were resolving their bot problem-now that's clever press work). But the grind is still there.   Runescape has a lot of skills, and all of those skills are to a certain extent critical to getting to the most interesting parts of the game. Most skills feed into combat (increasingly so, with things like Player Owned Ports) and they are also a requirement for doing some of the most interesting quests-the only area Runescape is actually seen as an industry leader in, and something which it is rapidly slipping from being so significant in. Skills take 10s of hours, most of which ends up being a mindless grind, either in accumulating the money for that skill or moving through the xp itself. This is a lot higher than most MMOs and while it has some benefits (specifically, longer subscription times and less people getting bored at the level cap) it's not at all fun.   But Cheimon, you say, "the grind is the game! It's not the same without the grind!". No. The grind is what you do to play the game. The gameplay is the game, the grind is what you do to get to the game, and while it makes you impressive, it's not entertaining and it's rubbish gameplay in and of itself. Take cooking, one of the most popular skills: you go back and forth to a bank, turning more valuable commodities into less valuable ones and spend most of the time browsing other things or chatting to friends. Take agility, where many people would take any route in the game rather than train it with its mindless clicking patterns and inevitably eventually boring animations. Take smithing, where you spend vast amounts of cash in order to get masses of worthless pieces of equipment which you then sell quickly and cash in on a single, actually decent set of armour. Nobody finds this fun, at least not for any length of time, and certainly not for the lengths of time that people, you know, *complete* other games in. A playthrough of *Mass Effect*, a campaign in *Medieval 2: Total War*, or a finished playthrough of the storyline of *Age of Empires III* (all older games, but eh) can all be shorter than grinding to a 'decent level' in this game and are all certainly infinitely more entertaining.   So what's the solution? The current one is that Jagex has reached out to the 'efficiency' community and ideal, with the opportunities of bonus xp, enhanced xp, distraction xp, holiday events and so on attempting to break up the monotony of core skill training and also aiming to make the eventual process shorter. However, this ultimately misses the point: the main way of training this skill is not fun, and it isn't intuitive.   The answer to the problem lies in the essential training of skills. What runescape needs is a fundamental shakeup in how people gain their levels in such a way that they no longer see it as a grind but as a fun and interesting part of gameplay. This means less of a focus on alleviating grind (through xp bonuses and add-ons by training the skill in a way that wasn't originally intended) and more of a focus on making the grind interesting. Perhaps by encouraging players to vary their skill training (but still keep focused on what that skill does) or simply making the gameplay...well, more fun. Dungeoneering is a good example of how it's done well, and so (to an extent) is slayer, because it offers a genuine variety of training, even if that skill still takes way too long.   Runescape needs to change the way it grinds. Do that, and it'll be a better game, not just for mid levels but for everyone.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

What I Did On My Holiday

I've just been away for 2 weeks in France (1 week in Brittany, 1 in the Loire region), and during it I read several books and went to various places. I thought I'd post a review of the time, or at least the books.   Books I read:   A Tale of Two Cities. Fantastic book, made I suppose all the better by reading it in France. Like most Dickens books, it starts a bit slow, introducing characters carefully and so on, but it picks up the pace dramatically and has some astonishingly intense scenes in it. I would recommend this to anyone, but it's probably best read if you've got the time to do it over a few days rather than a chapter a night, so that you remain familiar with all the characters etc. Unlike most Dickens novels, this is a historical novel, set before and during the French revolution (the two cities are London and Paris), and this lends it an additional air of drama and suspense that's highly enjoyable.   The Old Reliable. This is, I suppose, a typical PG Wodehouse book. It's a comic novel set in a single house with several characters who have different motives acting out their plans. Lighthearted and fun, but in my opinion slightly disappointingly short. I still think Evelyn Waugh is better at this sort of thing, as both Decline and Fall and Scoop were funnier and more interesting. Still worth a read if you bump into it, as Wodehouse ties the different threads together very cleverly.   Back from the brink. These are the memoirs of Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (head of the UK treasury and an elected MP) of the previous government. I actually thought these were really well done. Far from being full of difficult technical terms and boring descriptions of Parliamentary business Darling focuses on the most interesting part of his career-being chancellor-and offers a really easy to read explanation of the financial crisis, its causes, and how the Labour government reacted to it. He offers some intriguing insights into how the government works, what it's like being Chancellor, and strategies for tackling the financial crisis generally (including a critique of the current Conservative government's attempts). Above all, it's not too long, which makes it eminently readable. If you're looking for a biography to pick up and think this could be interesting, do give it a go.   Books I finished/got partway through/started:   Waverley (finished). This is arguably the first ever historical novel and is by Walter Scott. It's 200 years old and is set in the Jacobite uprising of 1745, where Bonnie Prince Charlie, of the exiled royal house of Stewart, sailed to Scotland, raised the highland clans of Scotland, had some success but was then brutally defeated at the Battle of Culloden. This is a very significant point in UK history, but the novel isn't just interesting for that reason: it also uses a very romantic style and a truly likeable hero. There are also occasionally very interesting asides to the reader about novel-writing, the progress of time, and so on. Scott writes in a very different way to modern historical novel authors, but it's a very enjoyable way to read.   The Grass is Greener: Our love affair with the Lawn (got partway through). This purports to be a hilarious history of the lawn, but I felt it didn't really fit that description. It's not terribly funny, it's more a history of gardening, the lawnmower, and the lawn than the history of the lawn itself, and it occasionally has weird but pointless diatribes in the middle where he removes himself from his history to talk about his nostalgia for his first ever lawnmower and things like that. It's an impressive look at the history of the modern garden to begin with but it was a little too dry and off-point for me to finish it.   David Copperfield (started, now 2/3rds of the way through). This is another Dickens novel (my dad had the complete set on his kindle, I was borrowing it). This has a slower start than A Tale of Two Cities, particularly since for the first 10-20 chapters the character is a child, who is both slightly annoying and very weak. However, the book eventually picks up, and the hero has the excellent trait of not letting himself down (which I felt was what makes Great Expectations so frustrating) but is simply forced to use hard work and conviction to get himself through the difficulties of life. While it is mostly about the hero, because of the limited cast of characters almost everyone who enters the story in a significant way will pop up later down the line, so the novel includes their stories as well. At times the book is genuinely funny (though it doesn't try to be, which is part of the charm), though I have yet to experience the same depth of emotion as there is in Two Cities. Worth a read, but the other Dickens I read was (far, far,) better.   Now, what about the places I visited? I'll just do a brief summary.   In Brittany: Morlaix has a cool viaduct which you can walk on and which trains cross over the town with, Huelgoat has massive rocks (they're rather large, worth seeing if you're dropping by), it's not worth going to viewpoints in the coast on a cloudy day (we couldn't see a thing, it was bad), Roscoff has a superb jardin exotique that is great for birdwatching (I picked that up on the holiday, my aunt is a keen birdwatcher and we both had sets of binoculars). Brittany has lots of good places to go walking, though the forest of Huelgoat once you get away from the big rocks is really just a forest like any other (at least to me).   In the Loire region: Chambord is big but worth seeing because of its ridiculous proportions and grandeur, Blois is worth seeing because it has really cool furnishings (seriously, really really cool) and lots of different styles, Chateaudun is worth visiting because the town was entirely rebuilt after 1732 and the chateau has different styles and a fantastic group of tapestries on the life of Moses (no really, fantastic if you like tapestries, it's a big set). Buy some insect repellent, we didn't and I'm covered in bites. The countryside is bad for walking, lots of flat barley fields, but going on a river in a boat is fine so long as you don't get stuck in waterlilies. Chartres Cathedral is big, lots of windows (bring binoculars or you won't be able to see some of the detail), very gloomy in the non-restored parts, very light and refreshing in the restored parts, it's quite Catholic (but then, what Catholic church isn't?) but it's well worth seeing if you're nearby. The town itself is nothing special.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Total War mod concept: Star Wars (episode none): A New Pope

I'm sure you people aren't interested, I just wanted to post this somewhere. It's an idea for a Star Wars mod for Medieval II: Total War, a supremely moddable game. However, rather than go for the total conversion (which everyone seems to want to do with IPs like this), I reckon it would work much better as a crossover between Medieval Europe and the Star Wars IP. This allows easy removal of anything that doesn't really work in Total War but does in Star Wars (e.g. AT-AT walkers), requires less effort, and doesn't force you to add in weird stuff like inter-planetary warfare and space battles. In other words, I think my idea is better than what other people want for Star Wars Total War. But I can't post that in TWcenter, so I'll post my idea here instead, both for you guys to have a wall of text to read and for me to save it somewhere off my computer.   Background   It is 1200 AD. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a cataclysmic event in the force has teleported a single battle across time and space into the height of Medieval Europe. For the first time, the citizens of Earth have discovered the presence of the force, a universal phenomenon that binds all life together. The transported invaders, known as ‘Jedi’ to the common people, bring with them weapons of exceptional power and abilities that make them incredibly influential. They have taken control of four kingdoms: those of Edinburgh, Marrakesh, Novgorod, and Constantinople, and spread a new, powerful religion based on understanding of the force. The catholic church denounces this as pagan heresy, but it is not clear that it will be able to withstand it.   New and devastating armies now gather to march into continental Europe. The Jedi, recalling days of a glorious past, bring to battle squadrons of lightsaber users and devastating force powers, along with battalions of ‘blaster’ rifles. They send forth agents who are harbingers of conquest: supernaturally influential diplomats, unbelievably stealthy assassins, and superbly invisible spies. Each Jedi faction is keen to conquer all the major cities of the world, in the hope that this may allow them to control the flow of force users entering the world. Such a thing could be a blessing, or it could be terrible indeed.   However, there is still hope. The Jedi are strong in battle, but unused to the diseases of this world and still susceptible to a death from old age. Not all of the new technology is entirely in their favour: blasters do not require knowledge of the force to use, as many have realised, and the Jedi insistence on use of the lightsaber means they prefer to fight on foot, an ideal at odds with the heavy cavalry employed by catholic nations. Finally, though armour from their lands may laugh in the face of massed crossbow and archer fire, it is limited and near-impossible to reproduce in large quantities. Jedi will have to find a way to counter these issues if they are to achieve victory on Earth.   It is also possible that the Jedi did not only arrive near Europe…   What it needs:   · 4 new kingdoms, led by force users (‘jedi’, but these can be light or dark). Scotland, Moors, Russia, and Byzantine Empire are these kingdoms. · The map is set 120 years after the start of the game, and an imagined history has taken place. Scotland controls all of the British isles. The Moors have taken over most of the Iberian Peninsula. The Byzantines have control of half of Asia Minor. The Russians have conquered Poland and the lands East. In addition, the non-jedi factions have also been at war: France occupies its modern area and Northern Iberia, HRE has Germany and Scandinavia, there is 1 Italian city state, the Papal States, which has taken the best troops from all 4 of them (Venetian heavies, Norman Knights, Genoese Crossbows, Broken lances, etc). Poland/Venice/Milan/Sicily/Denmark/Portugal/Spain no longer exist. · Jedi factions have a new religion (the Force), and their ‘churches’ allow them to recruit not only priests but at a higher level force users. Only suitably ‘pious’ cities can recruit battlefield Jedi, who come in 3 variants: eagle, ninja, and berserker. · Jedi have smaller limits on agents, who are extra effective. Bounty Hunters are assassins, Diplomats can force persuade (they are exceptional bribers), and Spies are also naturally very powerful. No current use for merchants/inquisitors. · Jedi do not use castles or the basic weak militia units (the two barrack types are merged). They recruit blaster units from highly upgraded ranges and can also recruit grenadiers. Blaster cavalry is a late-game option. · Exceptionally well-developed characters get battlefield force powers: e.g. potential to inspire own troops, to cause fear, to paralyze enemy, etc.   How it should play out:   · Europe gradually increases in power through the game, but a skilled Jedi faction can overcome this with strong leaders and good tactics. · Eventually, Jedi will reach each other. They will end up fighting each other for dominance of the major cities. · As the game develops, more and more Star Wars stuff comes into play, with increased blaster usage, more lightsabers, and more special agents. · Eventually, we’re getting epic battles of blaster battalions, run ‘n’ gun cavalry, and jedi legionaries. Meanwhile bounty hunters often assassinate and spies are a consistent issue while leaderless armies are quickly bribed. Politics and conquest merge to create an environment of Total War.   What I need to learn how to mod: · Modelling new weapons and armour (lightsaber, blaster, Jedi robes, battle plastic armour) · Modelling new campaign map agents (Jedi priest/diplomat/spy/general, Bounty Hunter) · Editing and creating new buildings. · Editing the core campaign map. · Edit in new weapon types (largely blaster, or just learn how to change bullet to red bolts) · Adding special abilities, a la Kingdoms: Crusades · Adding new units.     In short, learn pretty much everything about Medieval II: Total War modding except advanced scripting (which I might want to do later on). It seems unlikely I’ll be able to get any help unless I’m already pretty good at some of this stuff and have learned how to do a lot of it. I should expect an uphill struggle if I ever want to make this, and should not expect to get outside help and keep my ‘artistic vision’ intact.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

The duel arena: 11 ranting rules

So nobody's interested in playing a succession fortress. That's fine.   I've been using the duel arena and maging away in the friendly world (40) for a while, and what will follow is a poorly disguised rant. Here is a list of what my rules would be if I could somehow enforce them.   First, if you've come to the friendly world, don't expect people to stake. If you are staking, it should be the sort of stake people might make once in a while, like something below 1m. Don't offer lots of staked duels, as that's not what I'm here for.   Second, don't randomly yell 'funning'. This is the 'funning' world and we're all at the duel arena, it should be blindingly obvious that we are all 'funning'.   Third, don't put up pointless rules: 'no drinks, no food, no prayer'. I agree, people using food is silly, boring, and pointless. The same is largely true for protection prayers, unless someone's obviously outmatched and could do with the advantage. But putting these strictures in place slows everybody down for the sake of one or two food eaters. Just ignore them, don't challenge them again, and move on. It would save us all a lot of time if people didn't put up these unecessary rules.   Fourth, don't shout 'owning all' if you immediately put up some sort of weird ruleset (no hats and boots! melee only!). Of course you're winning if you disable every way you could possibly lose, but that's not skilful, and it doesn't give you the right to act as if you're some sort of superb duellist: you're just an annoying rule-setter.   Fifth, don't stand there and shout for people to challenge you. If you want some duels, people might challenge you, but unless you fit into a rather specific class or level set, you're much better off challenging lots of different people in the crowd. Challenge people and look for a more likely to accept opponent, and keep challenging more and more likely people until one accepts.   Sixth, and this is more of a tip than a rule, offer rematches if you might win. People will often accept, and it gives everyone a chance to prove themselves.   Seventh, be polite. Accept a fight as a true contest of skill and stats. We all have lag sometimes, but this doesn't mean you should tell people to 'gtfo' if they say 'good fighting'. Equally, there's no need to exclaim 'well **** my uncle!' after you've finally won. It's crude and therefore irritating.   Eighth, give and take. We can't always win, and we can't always pick winning duels. If you're not getting any challenges accepted and someone who will probably win does challenge you, there's no need to turn it down. If we all let each other win, we'd all get fancy hats faster, and that's a good thing. It won't devalue your acheivement that much, and it will make things more pleasant.   Ninth, give each other advice. If they're missing something out, if they can't understand something, whatever: help them out. It won't hurt you that much, and it will make the whole thing a lot more fun.   Tenth, don't be deceitful. Perhaps you're clearly wearing a hybrid outfit, like void, and that's fine. But don't deliberately have a special outfit you wear to get challenges, and then change into something much more powerful when you're in the arena. Wear what you actually fight in, so we know what we're up against. Obviously if you're hybridding this doesn't apply so much.   Eleventh, unsheathe your weapon. It tells people your combat level, which is an important way of knowing whether they should challenge you.   If people followed these rules, the arena would be more fun. We also might get duellist's cap upgrades slightly faster, which would also be good. I hope you find them useful. There are 11 rules because Saradomin, Guthix, Zamorak, Bandos, Armadyl, Zaros, Seren, Brassica Prime, Marimbo, and the 2 Pantheons makes 11 broad collective groups of religious followers. Actually, I just rambled until I hit 10, then remembered sheathing.   Bandos is to Zamorak as Zaros is to Saradomin: a heightening of the concept. Armadyl's an old fool. Just a (poor) theory.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Anyone else play Dwarf Fortress?

If so, would you people be interested in playing a Sals Realm succession game? Anyone interested in the thread could have dwarves named after them, and each person who wanted could play as overseer for a year (assuming the fort survived until it was their turn). There wouldn't be many rules, apart from perhaps not unlocking the HFS or deliberately screwing things up, and that you have to post an update explaining what you did in your year, from the perspective of your dwarf.   If you're interested, post below.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Dammit Mod Mark, Brink of Extinction is hard :(

I asked a question vicariously in w00ters, and Mod Mark responded.     "I find brink far easier than before tbh, use better abilities and different gear".   So, erm, looks like I need level 80 weapons then. Fine. 80 ranged shouldn't be too hard, and then I just need to work out killing QBD. Still, he should know that polypore/godsword/hand cannon won't do it, and they're the level 75 ones. I definitely can't afford level 80 armour, so I'll be sticking with what I have on that front. Brink of Extinction is nonetheless a rather hard quest, especially when you face more than one combat triangle side at once and can't realistically use melee.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Cool artwork by someone else: also, the gnome guide is done

In case you don't go through the player's gallery, this was a cool bit of artwork. A lot of the stuff is not that great, but this was at the bottom of the latest batch presumably because it wasn't strictly speaking about Guthix. However, it's a fantastic picture, even if I'm not certain it's accurate to the lore.     http://services.runescape.com/m=rswikiimages/en/2013/4/The_March_out_of_Forinthry_by_Guaynabo-03050616.jpg

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Coming soon: guide to gnomes

There are a lot of things to be said about various races in Runescape. I've been browsing, and I don't think it is an issue particularly well covered by many (or any) fansites. While most will have a guide covering the different gods, which is an important and sensible thing to do (by the way, is there a consensus on whether they are gods or Gods, or are only the Elder Gods called Gods?), but a lot of races have a great depth of apparent lore that we miss out on. I've currently run out of member credit, so I need to buy some more at some point, but...   ...I think I'll write a guide about gnomes while I dither. COMING SOON:   From Gandius Undri to Ta Quir Priw: A Gnowledgeable Guide to Gnomes   While you're salivating in anticipation (not) enjoy this excellent zybez guide to old gnomish, the preferred language of this race: http://www.zybez.net/tomes/35/gnome_translation/.   P.S. I'm sort of posting this to see what happens to the featured blog. It's been up for a while, and I'm glad it was popular.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Review: The Void Stares Back

In preparation to getting the full available rewards for The World Wakes , I've gone and done a different grandmaster quest, The Void Stares Back. My only barrier now is getting the skill requirements to take part in the Ritual of the Majharrat. This entry contains my thoughts on the final void knights quest. It should be obvious that this will contain some spoilers, but I'm not certain this matters: unlike The World Wakes, spoilers will not (in my opinion) 'spoil' the quest.   'Balance is breaking', by Halfinger on the official Runescape Deviantart page.   First off, let's look at the story concept. It's a very strong idea: the void knights finally track down the source of the mainland void invasion, confront the perpetrator, destroy his weapon, and go home. On the way, they recruit the player to help them reach their final destination and also team up with the various knightly orders of runescape, including the mysterious and foreboding Kinshra. The final battle should be a tough boss fight involving all these orders teaming up to slay the Big Bad Monster. It's also got great potential for future quests, which may or may not be used: the idea of an elite council of the four knight orders for when particularly bad things happen (see: fallout of The World Wakes) is a really interesting one.   However, this isn't perhaps implemented very well. The void storyline is one I never felt a strong emotional connection with: Korasi is a distant and often forgettable character, while Jessika is a naive and irritating scientist. The villain, who turns out to be wizard Grayzag, is also revealed to be deeply mentally unstable, and almost accidentally trips over the potential to summon the Pest Queen. He himself is not threatening in the slightest, and appears in newbie's wizard garb halfway through the quest to make strange statements hinting he had a master plan while proving that he doesn't. So the emotional connection, somethng that can make or break a quest (see WGS for a brilliant example of an emotional 'hit'), was somewhat missed. The protagonists are not lovable, the villains are not scary, and the knights behave somewhat oddly. Lord Daquarius makes some humorous and even sensible remarks ("yeah yeah, I get it, we're all the balance...how lovely"), but seems to have little objection to working with his arch enemies.   The quest also suffers slightly from legacy issues, and I'll explain what I mean. One particularly jarring point is that in the first half of the quest, you are given rigged black knight armour to disguise yourself. You go to the fortress, only to discover they all wear the old armour, so you stick out like a sore thumb. However, despite looking completely different, everything is fine. All the traditional knights wear old armour, while void knights have a mixture of old and new. Finally, the boss fight suffers from some real confusion, as you have to kick or bash the queen while wielding a sword to activate the special attack, but this is not made particularly clear, especially since one 'stun' ability (barge) is disabled in the area. Pest's old, old graphics are once again highlighted.   Having said that, where this quest is fully up to date it looks great. The under-Taverley Black Knight's Fortress looks superb, while the Pest Queen herself looks fantastic and thoroughly dangerous (though rather more like a slug queen than I had perhaps realised from pictures). The security systems and puzzles also seemed graphically competent.   However, the graphics don't really make much of a difference to the overall feel of the quest. Runescape's graphics are constantly evolving and this won't be an issue long term. What was an issue, I felt, was the pacing. My big problem was that going through the Kinshra's security system felt like it wouldn't take long, but then seemed to be the meat of the quest retrospectively. The quest takes quite a structured order, so let me explain: Talk at Falador, walk to Black Knight's Fortress
 
Solve a weights puzzle to go through security check 1
 
Fight pests, and solve a crafting puzzle to go through security check 2
 
Solve a 'tetris' like puzzle to go through security check 3
 
Chat to some knights, grab a sword, go through the portal
 
Fight a game of 'conquest', which is rather strange
 
Choose for Jessika or Korasi to die
 
Fight and kill Pest Queen
My chief problem is that while the puzzles seemed like they were just security checks (something I expected to be over quickly) they were very tough indeed (contrary to expectations of the average black knight goon) and rather formed most of the quest. If the knights had teamed up before the puzzle section and we'd all been working through them together, it would have made more sense and built up the capabilities of Grayzag. The game of conquest, while interesting, also felt very strangely placed: its inclusion feels incredibly forced and it doesn't make much sense for you to use a chess-like system...or for the pests to abide by the rules. A second and tougher pest fight with Sir Tiffy, Lord Daquarius, and Korasi all fighting together would have made more sense.   The choice of who dies was interesting, and a strong inclusion throughout the series. It felt like a choice that had some weight, though I had no difficulty whatsoever in choosing to save Korasi, a strong and productive void knight, and kill Jessika, a naive and foolish scientist who got us into the whole mess and had barely been useful once in the series.   The boss fight itself was strange. Initially I was slightly confused, but the Valluta did explain things very well. I felt it was slightly buggy, but I think that was just my poor technique. It was something of a challenge, though largely because of its length rather than because of any actual fear of death. As such, it was a little more of a grind than I anticipated: I stood there and hacked away at the queen, stunning when appropriate, until she died. A lot more could have been made of the 'reinforcements' idea: given that we had already summoned a conquest squad (those are extremely powerful) and we were a few rooms away from a literal army of black knights, it was bizarre that they came piecemeal in equal numbers and barely contributed at all. If I'd had 20 black knights to take care of the pests the queen summoned and 2 conquest squads to remove the void drones and help me shoot the queen from a distance, we would have eliminated the threat in no time. It was almost a bit strange that the portal the queen used didn't stay open longer: you could have had a pitched battle with the queen and I locked in a deadly duel while the void, black, temple and white knights all struggled on around me to repel invading monsters, much in the way that The World Wakes involved a pitched battle with one particular army (goons) against another (elites) while I defended an objective. This struck me as a missed opportunity.   The aftermath left me with mixed opinions. While I was pleased to meet the Valluta, see Grayzag brought to justice, meet all the leaders of the knightly orders, and so on, it felt frustrating that they were forced to say that while Grayzag had caused the pest invasion everywhere, the void knights could not stop fighting pests (because the minigame had to continue to exist). This could probably have been handled better: you could give the void knights new employments, you could turn Pest Control into a training activity, you could say the scale of the pest invasion is vastly reduced, whatever. If I was commander Tyr and the pest invasion had been ceased, I would have a number of new duties for knights to fulfil guarding ancient guthixian sites, for example, lending assistance to the Burthorpe guard that fights the trolls invading Taverley, building a proper fortress, and setting up multiple ways for the void knights to be summoned from alarms. But that's just my personal fanfiction.     Finally, the rewards weren't bad. Korasi's sword, while I'm not certain of its use yet (stats of a level 68 weapon but requirements of level 78), looks badass. They've updated it for EOC, and it looks great. The elite void armour, while slightly less exciting, was nonetheless welcome as an alternative to the strain of purple that taints the original one, although in stats it's very disappointing: they have +2 prayer for each piece...and that's it. So it's essentially paper armour with the changes EOC has brought, and useless unless you're against a very weak slayer task. Having said that, the deflector is rendered more valuable than ever by it. The xp was welcome and felt suitably balanced (har har). I suppose it didn't have quite the 'oomph' I've come to expect from Grandmaster, something that could have been rectified by making the elite armour and sword much more powerful: certainly the sword used to be exceedingly dangerous, something that could be rectified by giving it a passive effect like the godswords, of healing, prayer renewal, or even magical damage.   So, my verdict? The Void Stares Back is a quest with decent rewards, challenging puzzles, an interesting fight, and a great plot idea. However, it suffers from poor pacing, an inability to make you emotionally connect with heroes and villains, a few legacy issues, and a lot of missed potential. As such, I'd rank it the least interesting of the grandmaster quests; however it is still a very worthwhile addition to runescape's quests as a whole.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Demon Mobs, Demon Slayer, and Retired Randoms: a review

Want to know whether Demon Mobs, Demon Slayer, and the relocated Random eventers are worth bothering with? Then look no further.   Demon mobs are a sort of combat 'evil tree': remote, but this time announced within the game window. You need to have the right combat level, but they're good fun: however, if you are planning a session of hunting, it makes much more sense to join a friends chat like SaintProdigy (I might have got the name slightly wrong, if I have google it): while you don't lose any of the rewards for doing so, you can still find mobs a lot faster.   If you want to do this effectively, you've got two options: risk a lot more by running around the wilderness (but the potential gains are higher) or go around the standard world. Most of the locations can easily be reached by lodestone, while fairy rings will take you to the Feldip and Uzer areas, and a charter ship can take you to the Poison Waste. The trick to doing well is to constantly hunt and to be communicative with your fellow hunters.   A standard 5 minute hunt works like this: you get a call out, such as 'w6 uzer spawn'. Replying 'omw w6' (on my way), you hop worlds and then lodestone to Edgeville, before taking a fairy ring to Uzer's ruins. You then run north, hoping you brought some water, and find the demon mob and lots of other players. A full battle involves 4 stages: first, you kill the imp heralds, then the lesser demons, then the lieutenant demons, then the general. The general will be different (in attacks) each time, but it doesn't really matter, and each tier is frozen in place until the previous one dies. It's a bit strange, because they're not aggressive or anything, but it's hard to see how Jagex could make them more threatening to the world without simply inconveniencing players who would world-hop out the way. As long as you get a hit above 500 on the general (you'll be notified when you do), then he'll drop some loot for you: this is why nobody misses out if they arrive with a group instead of alone. The loot is generally worth roughly 25-100k per kill, but if you get a piece of demon hunter equipment, that's worth significantly more, not on the grand exchange but worth a few million in street price. Depending on how quickly you can make the kills, you should make a perfectly reasonable amount of money, even if it's not a perfect money maker-those tend to be a lot less fun.   All in all, an excellent DnD and a fine way to make a little cash without any real preparation if you want to do so with combat.   Demon Slayer is a quest that's been around for a while: it preceded the slayer skill but nicely fits the tone of it, as you have to find a special sword. I'm reviewing it because it was recently revamped and is now a rather different quest. In summary, you meet a demon hunter in the Varrock Church, you go below the church and perform 3 quick/easy puzzle/challenges, you get the sword, and then you go under the Zamorakian Temple, kill some cultists (all enemies except Delrith are level 2), and then fight Delrith, a level 15 demon who periodically uses an AOE attack that you have to stop fighting and stand next to the demon hunter to avoid.   While I'm all in favour of revamping ancient quests, I don't think this was particularly well done. It was never quite explained why the demon hunter couldn't go and fetch silverlight himself: indeed, it was explained that this was his ancient right. The quest removed Wally, an established piece of lore that could easily have been kept, and also removed Gypsy Aris, a great character that wouldn't have been hard to fit in. The crypts under the churches are massive, purpose built areas that don't really fit into a wider context of what's below Varrock and why the sword is there, while the previous version (unlocking it from Sir Prysin) certainly made more sense to me. Sir Prysin is a nobleman, you are a warrior, it seems a fairly simple transaction. Finally, Delrith is strange: you fight him way below Varrock in a seemingly purpose-built arena, utterly disregarding the stone circle for no clear reason. He also fails to be powerful yet again. Given that silverlight is made to kill demons, functioning as a rune longsword against them, and is specifically made to kill this demon, why not have a mechanic whereby it counts as an even more powerful weapon, or explain that Delrith is only weak because he is freshly summoned, as happened previously.   If I was to revamp the quest, I would have kept the key mechanic and the idea that Silverlight has been treasured as a holy artefact. I would also have made the crypts, a nice idea, a bit more sensible, with smaller size but no less significance. Finally, I would have either removed the stone circle (perhaps putting it below the temple?) or had Delrith summoned there.   The quests did some things right, but it went for an over the top epic feel that disregarded plot and established lore in favour of pretty dungeons. As such, it was ultimately jarring, and I don't think it was as good as it could have been.   On a more positive note, the Relocated Random Events have been superbly done and are really worth checking out. If you've got time for nothing else, I recommend visiting Mr Mordaut and the Mysterious Old Man, to characters who became increasingly important as the game aged because of their role in the 'postbag from jagex', something that seems to have stopped now. Probably because players don't write letters.   Anyway, Mr Mordaut has an excellent office in the basement of the Varrock museum: go down the stairs, and enter the door on the stairway that bears one of the symbols there used to be in his schoolroom. He's all up for an interesting conversation, and particularly serves to give some new plot exposition on the dragonkin: I won't spoil anything, but he's well worth a visit if you've completed any relevant quests.   The Mysterious Old Man now owns the house in Draynor opposite Morgan's. He's fairly chatty, if just a little bit creepy, and also provides some interesting dialogue. Of real note here is that if you can get him to go away, you can go into his basement, which contains a variety of different random events items in a sort of workshop.   Various other previous events also exist. Leo the gravedigger, for example, has a spot in East Ardougne's church, and others can be found by talking to the mysterious old man.   Overall, this was spectacularly well done. Old characters have new and memorable dialogue, but it's done in a careful way that makes them fit into the world they are part of and seem like they could have always been there. If you're looking for a chat with some of them, the mysterious old man has all the info you need.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter: great film, here are the !spoiler! flaws

Just saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It's a thoroughly entertaining film, and I really liked the premise: Lincoln isn't just fighting slavery, he's taking on vampires, who in the climax of the film have to be fought on a train, in various homes, and on the battlefields of the american civil war. 7/10, I'd reccommend it although it can be a bit violent. The combat is outrageous: vampires are clearly immortal, and can therefore learn to fight really well, but Lincoln just picks it up in about a year. He's somehow blessed with vampire killing ability, which is weird.   Anyway, the vampires (and Lincoln sometimes) make a few strategy/tactics errors, but to understand that you need to know the film's 'strain' of vampire. So, they look like normal humans, though unusually cold, and they can transform into monsters that have entirely sharp teeth, a bit more strength and speed, and glowing eyes. They are allergic to silver (can't regenerate from wounds caused by it/it burns them), they can regenerate from pretty much all other wounds (except those to eyes), they can turn invisible, and only their shadow can be seen in mirrors. Oh, and they can't hurt other vampires, but if they bit someone without killing them, they can make them a vampire. Or perhaps they can resurrect those they kill, that bit wasn't entirely clear.   What did they do wrong? Massively underused invisibility. Vampires would make perfect assassins, but they pretty much only do this when they are attacked. Many times in the film, they approach people openly and are shot down or otherwise injured. This is by far their biggest failure.
Used their kind as grunts. I have no idea why vampires were sent into the front line, but if they're supersoldiers, why not just attack the Union army's generals etc?
Wear leather. It looks badass, but it makes a big creaking sound if you're trying to sneak.
Not use guns. This happens far too many times, where a gun would be tactically sound but is forgotten about.
Not wear armour. A lot of the time, they're in a melee. Armour would be tactically viable, but they don't use it, and get stabbed in the torso far too many times. Just a coat of mail would be effective, but something for the throat would also be useful.
Missed out on securing power and influence. The vampires are all bankers or merchants...the richest owns a single plantation. Why they haven't become kings and other dictators in their many years is somewhat surprising: they have almost every opportunity available to them.
They don't assassinate Abe, which is odd because he's often vulnerable, most vampires are expendable, and they can turn invisible. Instead, they hurt his boy. Why doesn't Abe have mirrors around the house?
What does Lincoln do wrong? His axe needs to have silver on the handle as well. Way too many times, he blocks vampires with it and they strain against the wood. If it had silver on it, they would be burned, and he'd have a great advantage. Also, vampires wouldn't be able to grab his axe that way.
His axe head isn't entirely silver. If it was, he could use it as a mirror, which would be pretty powerful.
A lot of his fights could be more easily resolved with guns. He sneaks up on vampires many a time, and if a silver bullet is all he needs, he could finish them without a difficult melee.
Lincoln never wears armour, which is also odd, especially when he goes to a plantation at the Vampire's request to go and fight them.
Good movie, though. But I would have gone about things differently as a vampire. Also, I have a dwarf vampire in my Dwarf Fortress game, and have found her: she's the captain of the guard, and blasted good at swordfighting.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

 

Dr Strangeburn, or how I stopped mining and learned to fear the magma churn

Kogsak Likotsanreb was a member of the Merged Arches, the founder of the Rope of Sockets, a legendary miner, and the mayor of fortress Violencefenced. It was he who led the civilian population of our fortress to kill the hill titan Stror Nutsgullies after all the militia had been struck down, and the civilians punched, kicked, and bit their way to victory, shattering the titan's chitin and snapping its tendons despite the power of its silky webs.   Kogsak was advancing slowly towards a magma lake in the hope of creating a forge with his fellow miners, slowly because he felt each rock he came to for traces of the magma's heat, carefully, and yet faster than almost any other dwarf could perform such a task. It was not his fault when suddenly, magma poured out of a diagonal crevice he could not have seen, instantly melting his feet and causing him to crawl with horrid agility away from the gaping hole, now swiftly filling with magma. Kogsak was burning, and as he crawled his wounds bled. He made it 30 metres before his stumps ran out of blood and the smoke overtook him.   Hearing the swirl and crackling of the magma nearby, and seeing the puffs of smoke from his burned feet, the other miners rushed upstairs, forbidding all access to that level of the mines. Suddenly, another gust of smoke billowed up, and they realised his body was gone. Whatever hope they had kept for Kogsak was then lost, although they did not realise he was doomed from the moment the magma came as his feet were melted off.   There was no body to recover, and there can be no shining cobaltite coffin for the most beloved of all the dwarves of Violencefenced in the cemetery. A memorial must be carved by the greatest stoneworkers in the population, and surrounded by engravings. Rest eternal, sweet prince.

Helm Lardar

Helm Lardar

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