Runewaker's fantasy world is nearing its second birthday, and the first year and change hasn't been without controversy. The game is published by Frogster in both America and Europe, and the German-based giant is often called onto the carpet by fans upset with its zealous forum moderation and alleged poor customer service.
How bad is it really? Well the community portion of the equation was quite good. On the other hand, the support experience wasn't good by any stretch of the imagination. As with all Community Detective pieces though, that comes with the disclaimer that this report stems from a very specific set of circumstances (i.e., your mileage may vary).
As with past columns, I asked a couple of general questions in the game's equivalent of global chat. I also ran around the Howling Mountains zone talking to random newbs, but the majority of this week's community polling took place via the world channel. I asked my questions at different times of the day and on different days of the week to get a feel for the community on Artemis, and I also filed a deleted item ticket to test the in-game customer service functionality.
Anyway, I had to ask a few people around the Howling Mountains zone chat before I finally found someone who could tell me what to look for in the item shop. After I'd obtained this information, I launched some global questions.
For the second question, I went with the tried-and-true discussion-friendly soloing question:
Interestingly, Runes of Magic seems somewhat immune to the growing troll epidemic that I've noticed in my regular titles. Age of Conan and Global Agenda have gotten particularly bad of late, as you can't go five minutes without some jackhole firing off the "WoW was the first MMO" or "why do they call it the Xbox 360" memes in global chat.
I didn't see a single occurrence of either of these infantile amusements (or any others) during my 10-plus days in Taborea. I'd like to say that's because the community is more mature than other MMO destinations. The reality probably has more to do with the fact that you have to pay real-world money to spam global chat, though, which is the only positive thing I can say about such a mechanic. Getting back to RoM's Artemis community, I'm hard-pressed to report anything bad about it. On the whole, it was very friendly, polite, and helpful.
I filed a deleted item ticket this past Friday at 10:00 a.m. EST, and as of press time,
**[UPDATE]: Frogster GM Tenmei responded to my help ticket approximately an hour prior to this article's publication. There was no resolution forthcoming, and the following message was accompanied by a link to a customer satisfaction survey:
"Thank you for your feedback on this issue. The information has been sent to the developers and they are working on a solution."
Compared to my World of Warcraft customer service experience (WoW being an MMO that Runes of Magic is clearly inspired by on multiple fronts), this is quite a change for the worse. Blizzard's community team responded to my ticket in-game and in very short order, whereas the Frogster folks have gone four days now with nothing but an automated acknowledgment and no resolution in sight.
Another facet of Runes of Magic that bears mentioning is the item shop. While this isn't directly related to customer service, I'm throwing it in here because it does relate to the overall user experience and could stand to be improved. In a nutshell, the item shop and the purchasing process is bizarrely unintuitive. I spent a lot of time googling and looking over the RoM forums because it wasn't readily apparent where I should go about purchasing diamonds (or why I had to use my cell phone to do so). Once I finally completed a transaction, the procedure for getting the diamonds to show up in my in-game item shop window was equally mysterious.
I'll admit that part of my frustration may have had to do with the fact that I have little patience for obscure interfaces, and I was also a bit put off by the fact that I had to spend money to talk in the game's global chat. So had I been in a better mood, the item shop transactions might have gone more smoothly. The other side of that coin, though, is that if you've got an e-commerce interface that results in even a little bit of confusion for a potential customer, you're doing it wrong.
Ultimately, a couple of relogs made my diamonds show up, and I was able to make use of my megaphones. The whole experience was something of a hassle, though, and I've never before used an online transaction system that forced me to enter my cell phone number and reply to a text message rather than simply inputting a credit card number.
And that's about all I've got for you with regard to Runes of Magic. The community was great, and it might challenge a few of the pre-conceptions some people have as to the "quality" of a F2P playerbase. The same cannot be said of Frogster's customer service apparatus, though, and due to the lack of a response over a lengthy period of time, I can't recommend it.
Join Jef Reahard every other week as he goes behind the scenes to file first-hand community and customer service reports from the front lines of your favorite genre titles. From Aion to Zentia, the Community Detective case files are an essential part of any game-hopper's research library. Suggestions welcome, care of firstname.lastname@example.org.