I’m now about 50k away from 99 Attack and I’m thinking of doing something cool to get it, which may or may not involve a certain Boss in Dungeoneering. Hopefully it will be more interesting than my Defense Cape achievement where I kicked a goblin in the stones as the final blow – a poignant moment for me as Lumby goblins were the object of my early defense leveling, but nonetheless unspectacular. I’ll let you know how it goes.
All this has gotten me thinking about which are the most worthy or impressive capes and which are noobish not. Now I’ve heard the refrain that there are no bad capes, and while this may be true to some, I disagree. For example, untrimmed Cooking Capes are IMHO, kinda unimpressive. To get my Cooking cape, I basically bought a bunch of raw fish, went to the cooking guild, and started cooking while chatting with friends, watching vids and TV, eating, going to the loo, taking a shower, etc. Not exactly a tactical or intellectual challenge, or even much of a grind - I think it took three days.
The Range cape was my first and I worked hard for that one. Thousands of Moss Giants and Ogres in the King’s pen were slaughtered early on in the endeavor. Eventually, I poured every GP I earned into thousands of Red Chins and laid waste to the undead Mummies in the Chaos tunnels. This took months of alternately grenading and earning, grenading and earning until the goal was at last achieved. And when I finally pulled the cape on and did the shoot-for-the-stars emote, it was immensely satisfying because I had earned it.
My other capes feel somewhat different. Herb Cape and Prayer Cape were essentially purchased, Crafting Cape was assisted, Bonus Xped and Citadeled. The Smithing Cape was basically the same drill as Cooking, substituting Goldsmithing at Edgeville for cooking sharks at the guild (albeit for a longer time frame.) And I almost didn’t realize that I was getting the HP cape until just before the 99. The Range cape is the one I’m most proud of ATM. The Slayer Cape, Agility Cape or 120 Dungeoneering Cape will take that crown when I eventually get there, but that’s probably a few years off.
I should also add that technically, the Quest Cape was my first real cape and I adored it, wearing it to every activity until it was in dire need of tailoring. Although now, I see that I am currently 9 quests in arrears to regaining it. TBH, this doesn’t bother me one iota. I distinctly lost interest in the cape when Jagex nerfed the emote which previously evoked the Second Coming of Christ, but now looks more like something cobbled together in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.
And a no Noob Cape discussion would be complete without mentioning the Strength Cape. To my knowledge, no other cape is more common and IMHO, no untrimmed cape more embarrassing than the solid lime green cape with a fist and silly dead-weight lifting emote. If I could reach combat 138 without it, I would. For no cape declares the pre-pubescent mental development of the player more than the Strength Cape. ‘Strong good’ grunted the Paleolithic child hammering away at his keyboard with his fists and elbows. ’99 Strength FTW lolololololol!!!’ Oh Please. Give me the Slayer cape or 120 Dungeoneering cape over that common mediocrity any day.
I’m still trying to decide if I like Runespan or not, but what is certain is that my clan has been nearly obsessed with it, temporarily replacing (I hope) the long-term obsession with Dungeoneering. Dozens of Nitehawks were camped there over the double-reward weekend, raising levels, opening songs, chasing wizards and of course siphoning esshounds, esswraiths other nodes with names like Blood Pools and Undead Souls. Several members with undone Completionist capes vapor-locked on the goal of Rank 1 Esteem to regain their prestigious accessory. For these players, the Runespan update fired a starters gun to a sleepless marathon, the finish line located a staggering 211,860 points away. As of the writing of this entry, I believe that at least four Nitehawks have reached this goal as they were close as of Sunday. I'm so proud of them. Now maybe they can get some rest.
My urgency is more pedestrian, although I continue to feel the need to ‘get it while I can’ before Jagex nerfs the experience point gains. But with each passing day that they don’t, the pressure to siphon lessons and I allow myself to believe that they may not nerf it after all. Wouldn’t that be nice.
I have so far raised my Runecrafting level from 91 to almost 93 which is lovely, but the real benefit is that I now feel free to apply all of my Penguin Points, Troll Invasion and myriad of other soft-experience rewards to my least favorite of all skills – Hunter. Quite frankly, I despise hunter, mostly because Jagex has allowed the bots to utterly overrun the Red Chin hunting grounds. I find the other hunter areas to be a waste of time because of the low monetary reward (Red, Black, Orange Salamanders, Penguins, and barehanded butterfly catching). Essentially, I am an economically oriented player, preferring my activities to reward both skill and money if possible. Some have mentioned that hunting Grenwells would accommodate this, but at level 83, my traps fail too much and I get frustrated and leave. Perhaps when I achieve higher hunter levels (through Jagex’s flexi-skill gifts) I’ll give it a try again.
I had origionally posted this as a response to Fred's 'Summing-up' post, but I think it needs its own thread.
"The stated concerns from players regarding RWTing, gambling or using the Squeal of Fortune to buy their way to success are simply not true, and not possible given the design of the system. Whilst we have seen most players take advantage of the new rewards and many choosing to purchase extra spins, we have not witnessed any abuse of the system despite monitoring it extremely closely." - Mark Gerhard, Jagex CEO May 4, 2012.
Up until now I respected the guy, especially for his war against the Bots. It didn't even bother me that his efforts slowed game performance and that I got auto-muted for spamming my assist request. The guy seemed principled with leadership qualities. But claiming that the ‘design of the system’ prevents abuse is simply not true – and he knows it. Players have something like a 30% probability of getting XP lamps which can be applied to any skill. And allowing players to buy spin unquestionable cheapens the achievements of players who did it the old-fashioned way of working for it. As CEO and former CTO, he most certainly was part of the approvals process for the gambling algorithms, so I find his statement duplicitous – shame on you sir.
But this is neither here nor there right now, for when players like Fred who’ve played the game with integrity for years decide to leave, the specifics don’t really matter. Good luck Fred. It’s OK to change your mind and come back if one day the pull from your community of friends deadens the sting dealt by Jagex policy. But I get it if you don’t.
I thought that it would be fun to add journal entries to my blog so that I might recount some of my Runescape experiences in the future. I am thoroughly enjoying reading through Merch’s entries that date back to 2007, to the time when I first started playing – and she’s such a talented writer, but yall know that already :)
This weekend, I was fortunate to be part of a Dungeoneering party when one my clanmates, Dancefever87 reached level 120. (If I can figure out how to post pics, I’ll update with Dance’s 120 Cape Party. EDIT: I did it! woot!) I also reached level 105, but that accomplishment paled in comparison.
It has been such a privilege to be part of Dance’s group of regulars as she powered towards her incredible goal, pulling the rest of us long with her. It was always Dance who keyed and always Dance who organized our Dung parties through calls in the CC, over Teamspeak and through PMs. I’m sure that I’ve gotten lazy because I came to expect that she would handle all the logistics. Now the rest of us non-120ers in group have to step it up if we want to make it too.
Dance says that she will push on to 200 million xp because she loves Dungeoning. Others in my clan do this as well: Zparanoid, Arc Angeldad, Dawndragon2, Shailay, Welshbandos and Horsechaser all have 120 Dungeoneering and can be counted on for the occasional floor. Understandably though, their thirst has largely been quenched and they often have other things to do. I don’t blame them. I’m sure weekend Boss Hunting and Barrows will again be a part of my life once Dung is finished.
Going forward, I expect that I’ll step into the role of Keyer which is fine with me - I'm not too bad. Plus the update made keying much easier and I can usually get the team through a large Occult or Warped in 40 something minutes without casualties, sometimes less. I’m sure I’ll get better with practice (the secret is to be brave, lol). And in general, I don’t have a problem ordering people around ;) Still, I will miss the luxury of my generous clanmate who carried the weight all these months. Gratz Dance and thanks.
As mentioned in a previous blog entry, I was muted last Sunday for unknown reasons. A J-Mod removed my mute only a few hours after I sent an email to Account Help, which kinda made everything OK.
What I have since learned is that I was likely the victim of a recent update for Auto Muting. Auto Muting works by identifying certain key words that are typed in-game and automatically silencing the speaker in a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach. In theory, this can apply to public, private and clan chats.
For example, a bot advertising 'XYZ company Gold for sale' could be recognized by either the 'XYZ' or the 'Gold for sale' part. There are several P-Mods in my clan who told stories of people getting Auto Muted even for saying things like 'XYZ is a gold farmer, add to your ignore list'. BAM, they were Auto Muted even for mentioning 'XYZ'. Early on, there were even stories of people be being muted for just say ‘Selling Gold Ore’. Guess Jagex is still working out the kinks to the system.
Here's a RS Forum thead where a player has been Auto Muted and a J-Mod responds and un-mutes the guy. There are many of these posts in the forums ATM.
I might have been muted because when I did my assist in world 117, I quickly repeated: 'offer 97 farm' over and over, perhaps 10-15 times. This might have been considered auto-typing (which I am a little flattered by actually because I think type slow.)
Also, if you have noticed that the advertising bots at the GE are now slower than before and they have added a series of seemingly random characters to their text. RWT do this to throw off the Auto Mute algorithms.
I guess we should all just be a little more careful what we say – collateral damage due to the war on bots.
There has been much discussion about the SOF and other ‘sell-out’ decisions that Jagex has made of late, so I figured that I would try to make some sense of why these things are happening and what it means to the serious Runescape player.
In January 2001, Jagex first released Runescape (now referred to as ‘Classic Runescape.’) The program was based on a game that Andrew Gower had created in the late 1990s called ‘Devious MUD’ with MUD an acronym for ‘Multi User Dungeon’ or ‘Domain’ or ‘Dimension’ depending who you ask. Long story short, Andrew sold Runescape in December 2010 to Insight Venture Partners and Spectrum Equity Investors for 88 million pounds (143 million dollars.) I won’t belabor this point, but TBH I consider Gower to be a sell-out on the order of a man who would sell his daughter into prostitution. Here’s a link to an article from earlier in the week where Gower is honored for being rich.
Clearly, this is what was most important to him. BTW, hit the gym broheim.
Insight is a venture firm with something like a 10 year investment horizon; Spectrum is private equity firm with something like a 5-year investment horizon. So what this means is that both firms are looking for a ‘liquidity event’, either in the form of a private sale or initial public offering of stock – in other words, they are in it for the money. The basic playbook for these firms is to cut costs, pump up the revenues and get out – I am guessing by about 2014-2015.
The problem, and this pains me and my thousands of RS gaming hours to say, is that Runescape along with the entire world of MMORPGs is slowly dying. Here’s a couple of charts that illustrate the point:
In March of 2011, Runescape had 2.16 million unique visitors. A year later, the site had 1.26 million uniques – a 42% drop. Now I’m sure that the Bot-Busting played a big part of this, but ouch – that doesn’t look good to potential future investors.
This second chart looks at subscribers, so the effect of the Bot-Busting is largely normalized for as most goldfarmers are free accounts. On this chart of paying subscribers to MMORPGs, Runescape is the little flat line at the bottom with the delineated circles. In 2008, Runescape peaked with about 1.1 million paying subscriptions, but since then there has been a steady decline. Currently Runescape has only about 900,000 paying subscribers, last amongst the big games. Theories abound as to why this is happening, but I think it has a lot to do with the proliferation of console games like COD or Halo where avatars can skill up over time and players can play on-line socially together. In the early 2000s, this was what MMORPGs offered that was special, but it’s not special anymore.
So what has Insight done to make the Jagex look appealing to future buyers in the next few years? Well, shortly after they took over and Andrew left the board, they brought back Wildy. The return of the PKers and free trade also welcomed the return of the bots which soon overran gameplay in many of the traditional goldfarming venues with a vengeance – like Red Chins. But what did it matter to Insight if botters return? After all, they will be gone in a few years. I’m sure this wasn’t a hard decision for them to make.
We have also seen a massive easing of the ‘grinding’ nature of certain skills – witness this week’s Runecrafting update as a way to make previously unattainable capes attainable for the non-nolifers.
And of course the Squeal of Fortune has arrived. SOF is also Jagex’s initial foray into the realm of micro-transactions, one of the most successful ways that on-line games further monetize their player-base. The moment when private equity and VCs took over Jagex, micro-transactions were inevitable. What surprised me was the vile way they have tied the application to gambling. To me, what Jagex is doing with SOF is no different than RJ Reynolds marketing Joe Camel to children to sell more cigarettes. A special place in hell awaits both groups of executives who greenlit those decisions.
I don’t mean to sound all ‘henny penny the sky is falling,’ but I think we can expect more changes to the game that may or may not appeal to longtime players. We have been sold to Wall Street and may have to hang on for a while before a long term investor with a ‘growth’ outlook comes along and starts to care of us players again. I plan to ride it out though. I think there is enough of the old Andrew left in the game that it is still great. And perhaps Insight will remember that too, hopefully sooner rather than later.
So yesterday morning I was in a few dungeons with fellow members of the Nitehawks clan, logged out for a bit to drop the kids off at their various activities, and when I logged back in... I was muted.
At this point I should add that I infrequently speak in the public or clan chat as Nitehawks is a big user of TeamSpeak (which BTW is wonderful.) In other words, I didn't do anything.
I know what you’re thinking: 'Sure, that's what they all say'. And that's exactly what I said, via TeamSpeak, to fellow clan mate Azlaroc when he told us that he had been muted earlier in the day for doing nothing. So strong was my faith in the Thin Blue Line of the Runescape etiquette police, aka the P-Mods, that I refused to believe that someone could be muted for no reason whatsoever.
So when a few hours later, the exact same thing happened to me, I racked my memory trying to recall if I had dropped an F-bomb or two in the waiting area of Daemonheim. I do occasionally have impulse control issues - but ‘twas not the case. Yesterday morning, along with Ter Sha, Horsechaser, Super Shoz, Dancefever87, and others, I was all business, in the middle of a ravenous tear through the dungeons that would ultimately leave 45 bosses festering in a pool of their own gore – I’m talking to you Blink!
The pen is mightier than the sword, so I took to the email account and the Jagex helpline:
Dear Accounthelp: I've just been muted. I'm sure this is an error as I haven't been speaking publically. I have only been using TeamSpeak as me and my clan mates been working through Dungeons for the last several hours. One of my other clan mates named Azlaroc was also muted. It seems like there has been some kind of a mistake. Could you please un-mute me and make sure that my account is not accessed any black marks? thanks
What I got in return was equal parts whimsy and annoying:
Hi there – My name is Gary, I’m the automatic response email from Jagex Customer Service, I’m not a real person so please don’t respond to me.
My job is to do 2 things;
1. Give you comfort that we’ve received your email. We’ve definitely got it, we’re discussing it and we’re gonna help you out.
2. My second task is to let you know how busy we are at the moment. We’re skipping breaks, lunch and sleep because responding to you is our priority and we will help you as soon as we possibly can. We think we can get back to you within 10 days, but if we can get back to you sooner, we will.
Oh Gary, is that the best you can do? 10 Days? I thought about how busy Jagex must be for it to take 10 days to respond to an inquiry of this nature, seeing as how I was innocent . But what if someone hacked my account? *cringes to my core*. What if someone logged in as me, didn’t touch my bank but went on a verbal tirade through the GE. I have seen this happen and it ain’t pretty. Still, this seemed farfetched even to my paranoia-prone mind.
Then to my surprise, I received a non-form email, only a few hours after my inquiry – a far cry of the 10 days I had been expecting from Gary. It was Mod Serb and he (or she) had un-muted and cleansed the records for both me and Azlaroc. When I followed with the logical question of ‘wha happened?’ I was told that the Mute had been ‘added incorrectly’. Again the wheel in my mind began to turn – perhaps a P-Mod had gone rogue and began firing off Mutings like Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral.
It wasn’t exactly comforting that the Line could be breached, but it was nice to know that Jagex customer service took my request seriously and fixed the problem.
The world of RS is very different from the one I first encountered when I began playing in September of 2007: Wildy was there in its first incarnation, bank space was more limited, there were fewer teleports to get around with, there was no Dungeoneering, no Living Rock Caverns, no Nex and there was no GE with its organized market-making. In many ways, the game was a harder, less user friendly – and like millions of other players, I loved it. Or perhaps more accurately, I loved to hate it. The thought of grinding my way all the way up to a 99 skill level was difficult to phantom, like looking up at the moon and believing a human could go there pre-1969.
It was a time of player heroes, their legends growing with every new Youtube video of their in-game exploits. Enter Zezima. Here was a guy who'd not only gotten a few capes… he’d gotten them all. As far as I know, he was the first to max out and the first to a billion in XP. With rapt attention, I watched his videos like this in-character interview:
as well as his RS wedding ceremony with Elianestp (which I find utterly fascinating from a sociological perspective, and kinda romantic)
I was as much fascinated with the strange on-line culture that digitially mimicked the real world, as I was with accomplishment of the 99 skills itself. At the time it was all so new to me, but one thing I was sure of was that Z was the most famous player in RS and it was because of his skill accomplishment. (PS I’m aware of the accusations on his prolific botting, but this didn’t seem to effect his hero status in the game. Jagex even gave him his own personalized ‘Z’ necklace for Pete’s sake.)
So here’s what I think happened over at Jagex in a smoke-filled conference room sometime post 2007 - Some smart cookie, in some strategy meeting said: ‘How can we allow regular players to achieve what player-heroes like Zezima has, without all the grinding that players complain about.’ As mentioned, I think people loved to hate the requirements of getting a 99 in say Runecrafting. They hated doing it but loved the prestige of parading around with their capes. And its the parading that Jagex wants for us, for if we feel good about our accomplishments, we'll keep playing. So what followed after that meeting was the beginning of a deliberate effort to lower the bar for players to achieve ‘Hero’ status. 'Now you too can be great' they said, and we ate it up.
Let’s list some of the ways this was done: Daily assisting of effigies, daily Jack of Trade Aura, daily Wicked Hood, weekly Penguin Hunt, weekly circus, monthly Troll Invasion, hourly randoms. I’m sure I’m leaving a few out, but for me, this means a monthly potential of: 900,000 xp for effigies, 300,000 for JOT and WH, about 120,000 for PH, 120,000 for Circus, 50,000 for Troll and let’s say another 30,000 for randoms. That’s about 1,500,000 free, non-grinding xp for every player, every month, and *gulp* 18,000,000 xp per year. In other words, more than a free cape every year, giving to players in exchange for attentive loyalty.
I’ll write about the Squeal another time, but for me (and the gambling issue aside) that’s what SOF is – the continued lowering of the bar.
With several mileposts just around the corner, I've been reflecting with unexpected dismay on what I'll do once these long-wished-for goals have been met:
Presently I teeter on the verge of max combat with only two 98s left before the coveted threshold is reached. With one more level of any kind, I’ll have 2,400, and I only need to escort Smiddy and that old fart through the swamps for about 5 more hours before I reach Task Master and its truly marvelous emote.
Truth be told, I have purposely avoided training combat for several months and Smiddy… that young lady has been cooling her heals in Burgh de Rott for the last week and a half – fortunately she doesn’t have my email otherwise I fear she would be hounding relentlessly.
I now realize that I don’t really want to grow up, and these things, once they are achieved… that’s it! I’ll officially be Runescape Old There is no 139 combat. Once all the skills are maxed… then what. A new skill, a new quest, sure those things are bound to be added, but gone will be the wonderment that was there when I first started playing nearly 5 years ago. There is only one first lick of ice cream, one first kiss. I long for those days.
All that remains is to blog about it
Robert Frost says it best:
NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.