Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Count Draynor

The time had come to confront the first quest boss. I wasn't sure whether I'd make it or not, mostly due to my low level in defense, but I went ahead hoping for the best.

Much like yesterday's quest, Vampire Slayer turned out to be very straightforward. These are still beginner quests with no puzzles involved, as are most of the freeplay quests. Morgan here asked me to kill a vampire that was menacing Draynor, the village, but first he asked that I get help from a retired vampire slayer.

So, nothing difficult, he only had to sober up a little before telling me how to kill the vampire, which of course is done with some garlic and a stake as inspired from folklore.

I had done this quest a few times before, as with all freeplay quests, and I must admit this was the most intense fight I've ever had with Count Draynor. Limited to a steel sword and a mere level 19 combat or so, it was very tough to defeat him. I wasn't doing enough damage and he just kept regenerating, even respawning once. I finally got lucky and landed several hits just as I ran out of food, successfully finishing him.

I'm not sure how it's gonna be in Dragon Slayer, but I've been reconsidering my Iron Man mode. I'm playing the game legit anyway, without using guides, and this mode is just slowing me down rather than adding true difficulty. On top of that, I found out today that I'm not able to visit other player's houses, which is quite a drawback for me.

With all that said, I was thinking about writing something about this game's community. A substantial review of it for anyone interested in playing. But for now I'll just leave this video, which expresses my exact feelings on it. It's from my favorite streamer, someone I used to watch for Starcraft years ago:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Druidic Ritual

I logged out near Taverley yesterday, and as I was close to the Druidic Ritual quest I decided to go for it today. It's the quest that unlocks the Herblore skill. Taverley is the druid's peaceful town, North of Falador.

I had forgotten what it was all about, and I was a little afraid of having to confront those wizards at the stone circle Kaqemeex is mentioning there. They're not very high level, but they can do a lot of damage with their earth magic spells.

It was all very straightforward. The druid asked me to collect various types of meat from common animals such as cows and bears and dip them in a special cauldron located in Taverley Dungeon, named the Cauldron of Thunder. 

The only awkward moment was when I got there the first time without food and failed to defeat one of the iron armors that came to life. I had to run away and return with food to replenish my health as the fight went on.

Sadly Kaqemeex didn't ask me to go clear out the stone circle South of Varrock, the quest just ended there with an exp reward and Herblore being unlocked, but it was fun nonetheless. 

As of right now, I'm mining iron and coal to smelt 2,000 steel bars. I'll use those to craft arrows, nails, bolts and some other items for personal use, and use the rest to smith steel equipment which I'll sell to NPCs for a reasonable amount of gold. It's a lengthy process, but it should be doable in less than ten hours spread over a week.

I'm looking forward to finally doing Vampire Slayer tomorrow, using some potions if possible!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Leaving no stone unturned

I've played Runescape a lot in the past, but never have I come to value a mere steel longsword so much. Usually it's quite easy to skip straight to expensive gear very early on with a standard account, by stacking up on low level resources in high demand, like cowhides or flax, and selling them at the Grand Exchange. But in Ironman mode there's no economy tricks to get you past hard work. You have to be resourceful and make your way through the various tiers of equipment.

I went and created 1,000 bronze arrows using the Fletching, Smithing and Crafting skills. It might sound like a lot, but given that you craft them by sets of 10 it wasn't that much trouble getting the materials. Chopped 100 wood logs to make arrow shafts and a bow, mined copper and tin to create 100 bronze ingots for the arrow heads, killed chicken for 1,000 feathers, collected the flax to make bow strings and then I only had to assemble all that into a bow and arrows.

 On my way I did another of the beginner quests, Sheep Shearer, which merely involved shearing sheep for 20 wool and then spinning those into balls of wool.

Doing the Stronghold of Security, a minidungeon designed to teach new players how to protect their accounts, rewarded me 10,000 gold and those new boots I'm wearing. So far I've invested some of that gold into buying an Adamant pickaxe, and I've saved up the rest of it for buying an Adamant sword later on. Given that Adamant gear is much cheaper than Rune gear while having nearly the same stats, it seems like it's the best choice available at the moment.

This mode truly leaves no stone unturned. I had never experienced with these mid tier items before. I decided to do another, more difficult quest today: Knight's Sword, and it led me to look into Blurite gear.

Blurite is this rare metal that can only be found in this icy cave filled with ice warriors and skeletal wyverns. It has an amazing soundtrack and luckily those blurite ores can be safespotted. Little did I know, blurite enchanted bolts have a chance of knocking down the enemy with each attack. This is one of those little details that went right under my nose during my previous playthrough years ago.

This quest came with a really good reward: 12,750 Smithing exp. I'm not doing these quests for rewards, but it does feel good to boost such a tedious skill.
Meanwhile, I'm going to start preparing for Vampire Slayer. I need to increase my combat stats and perhaps make a few potions to make sure I survive that fight. I hope I won't die, as I'd lose my valuable steel sword!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The new journey begins

It feels great to be back in this game. Leveling my skills while doing homework, going through the good old quests, chatting with people using RS lingo, being able to log out whenever I want without worrying for world events ending or raids finishing without me, it truly is a more laid back environment than what I've gotten used to for the past seven years. Runescape is often described as grindy and tedious, but while it may require long term commitment, it certainly doesn't require all that much concentration while playing.

I will eventually cover all of these points one by one in future blog posts. There's plenty to talk about and the game has had several updates I'm yet to try out, but for now I'll go with first things first, and what comes first is character creation. I didn't get very far with my first character, because I wanted to try out Iron Man mode and had to create another account for it.

Iron Man/Woman mode is a new option available at the end of Tutorial Island that prevents you from trading with other players or using the Grand Exchange (the GE) - the game's auction house. It essentially makes of Runescape a solo game as far as skilling goes. I loved trading with others, but the GE drives player-to-player trading out of existence and makes the whole game far too convenient and easy. I would recommend this mode to new players as it encourages them to discover the game in its integrity. Iron Man mode may be disabled once you're out of the Tutorial Island, but it cannot be turned on again.

These are my levels after a few hours of playing on my new character. I was fishing while writing this blog post and made it to level 25. It might seem fast, but keep in mind the amount of exp required goes up exponentially. I have roughly 8,000 total fishing exp at level 25, but level 99 represents a whopping 13,000,000 exp.

I was lucky enough to find that hat I'm wearing on my third day. It's a reward from a random event, and it took me months to get it on my old account back in 2007. As for the rest of the gear, Iron Man mode is proving to be a challenging experience and I don't have enough gold to purchase more armor from NPCs yet.

I set a one quest per day goal, however since I was a little late on that I decided to go for two of them today. I finished Restless Ghost yesterday, but the screenshots are on another computer, so I'll upload them later. The above screenshot shows the beginning of Doric's Quest, one of the dead easy, introductory quests for new players.

The next quest was Imp Catcher. Again, one of the beginner quests, no intrigue or puzzles involved yet. It's about an evil wizard stealing four magical beads from his rival and giving them to imps. The goal is to go around killing imps until they've dropped one of each bead. It's tedious, but a good motivation to train combat early on.

 This quest grants the amulet of accuracy, which is nice to have for an Iron Man, and some Magic exp.

That will be all for today, I'm still fishing and cooking in the background, I'll get on with another quest tomorrow. Getting the beginner ones out of the way first so that I can move on to the real interesting ones.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

An Introduction to Runescape

Two days ago I announced that I would be leaving GW2 and returning to Runescape for some good old questing. To my pleasant surprise Jeromai and Bhagpuss have shown interest in reading about it, and have mentioned there a lack of Runescape blogs, so I thought it fitting to start this with a proper introduction to the game.

Silvertaler has grown a beard! I thought it was time, it's been a solid six years since I last played him.
Note that I am playing the Old School version, also known as Runescape 2007 or Runescape 2, and not Runescape 3. The original version has been subjected to so many terrible updates that it may as well not even be called Runescape anymore. This is not an exaggeration, it truly is unrecognizable.

With that aside, Runescape is an open world MMORPG. By open world, I mean that it's one of those games that will give you a brief introduction on how to play, and then drop you in a world you're free to explore as you please. This is the type of game that I enjoy the most.

The Tutorial Island

The starting area is known as the Tutorial Island. It's a miniquest that guides you through a few of the basic skills and some of the game's concepts. Taking from 5 to 10 minutes to complete, it's short and crystal clear. It also leaves you with an accurate impression of the game's theme: simple, easygoing, sometimes humorous but not unprofessional. The NPCs happily break the 4th wall to explain how things work and will give you a decent amount of starting items.

Chosing what to do

Once you're done with the Tutorial Island, you're free to do whatever you like. So, what do people do in Runescape?

• Skilling: This is probably the most common activity. There's a total 23 skills, ranging from fishing to smithing and even prayer, all of which cap at level 99. Getting a level 99 is a very tedious process that should be considered a long term goal, if even considered at all: it's completely optional. Depending on how much you play, it either takes several months or several years.

• PKing (Player Killing): This is the game's main PvP activity. Runescape is one of those games where you lose all your items when you die, and to the North-East of the map there's an area called the Wilderness where you're free to attack other players whose combat level is close to yours. PKing is very popular, and serves as the central activity for much of the playerbase.

• Questing: My personal favorite. The world map is dotted with quests which are mostly independent from one another. There's 129 of them and they vary tremendously in difficulty. The easy ones only require you to help bake a cake for the Duke or gather wool from sheep, while the toughest involve complex 3 floor light puzzles or solving intricate regicide conspiracies. Of course, it's possible to use guides and get all the answers, but that ruins the fun of it.

• Dungeon bosses: There are a few dungeons with bosses worth hunting for prized rewards, like Waterbirth Island or the God Wars Dungeon. These require very high combat levels and knowledge of the game.

• Minigames: There's various minigames, often PvP, where you may die without losing your items, my favorite being Castle Wars. They're not particularly rewarding, but are great fun and good combat exp.

As a freeplayer you're limited to the "freeplay zone", which by itself has a decent amount of content, and if you've subscribed to the monthly membership you can of course visit the entire map. Some areas will be locked until you've completed certain quests, and some others, such as caves and castles belonging to evil factions, might be too dangerous for a low level player.

The Ambiance

Runescape is an easygoing game with some humor here and there, particularly the British, Monty Python type of humor. Every now and then you'll come across an NPC making references to England, or getting dragged into one of these "random events", such as the one in the screenshot above (lucky that happened to me on the first day!). Fun fact, these random events were originally designed to catch bots and were usually quite deadly.

Personal goals

As for me, I wish to go through all the quests once more. My plan as of right now is to complete one quest per day, no more no less, starting today. My first was Cook's Assistant, and my last will likely be Legend's Quest. There are guides on how to level efficiently and what not, but I do not follow those as I don't want to make of this game a job. I'm treating this as a solo game and doing whatever I feel like. Ultimately, I would love to get 99 Slayer, as it was the goal I was working on before I quit, but it's an extremely difficult task and so I'll have to see about it.

I hope to keep you interested with this new content!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hiatus from GW2

I haven't posted anything on this blog in a while. My interest in GW2 has decreased sharply over the past month, and I came to realize it was time to go on hiatus. Having played over a thousand hours since the game's release, I feel as though there's nothing left for me to see, and I wonder how others manage to remain interested even with triple the amount of playtime.

I do ask myself, how? I've seen players claiming to have over 10,000 hours of playtime. That's roughly 2,500 hours a year since the release of GW2, which translate to 7 hours per day, every single day of the year without exception. Given that 1,000 hours alone are an immense amount of time (the average European citizen works roughly 1,600 hours per year), these statistics leave me completely baffled. And I don't mean to demean it, but rather raise the question: does GW2 really have that much relevant content?

In any case, I may or may not return to it. If I do, it will probably be in a year or two. If I don't, well, it will have been a great journey. I've thoroughly enjoyed the game, even though there are many things I disagreed with. It has its flaws, but at least it's not just another MMO in a long list of mass produced clones.

In the meantime, I've gone back to playing Runescape, the old school version of course. I've only played an hour and I don't know how far I'm going with this, but time will tell. When I finished its quests back in 2010, I was both happy of all the work I put into it, and sad of never being able to go through them again, already knowing the answers to all the puzzles and riddles. But now, after spending a full seven years without ever touching the game, I seem to have forgotten most of its content, and solving the quests might be nearly as difficult as it was before, therefore I'm giving it a shot.