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Lost Pages of Taborea

Lost Pages of Taborea: Comparing RIFT's looting and multi-class systems to Runes of Magic's

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing the best MMO that no one's ever heard of. Lately, all I see are new games on the horizon that promise new flexible class systems, better functionality in old standard mechanics, improved pet systems, and so on. Every time I read these press releases, announcements, or blogs, I lean back, tilt my head a bit and say, "Interesting. But Runes of Magic already does that." It's why I have a lot of faith -- even if I disagree from time to time -- in Runewaker. The company has made all these great systems that are exactly what newer games are promising, and players are stoked about it. It really has me wanting to embark on a series comparing systems between RoM and other MMOs.

RIFT has bulk-looting and class combining that I want to compare with similar features in RoM for this week's Lost Pages of Taborea. I'm tired of feeling like I'm playing an MMO no one's heard of, even if it isn't true -- RoM is very popular and it keeps growing at a fast pace. But dagnabbit, sometimes I want to tell everyone RoM did it before the other guy gets all the credit. Let's look at RoM's dual-class and pet systems to compare looting and multi-classes between these two games.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Is the guild lock-out good or bad?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

I want to talk about Runes of Magic's lock-out that prevents anyone from forming a guild or inviting players to a guild between set hours each night. The lock-out takes place between the hours of 7 and 11 p.m. EDT every night. That's a four-hour window each evening that is within the only hours some people can play. It prevents players from forming or getting into guilds, which are standard features expected of MMOs these days. Forming communities and playing with others is one of the biggest reasons to play an MMO. This week on Lost Pages of Taborea, I want to discuss the allure of this feature, why I think it's bad that players have to work around it, the pros and cons of why it's in RoM, and why it's not being discussed.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: How will Chapter 4's content affect PUGs, gear, and the economy?

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

In nine agonizing days, the lands will despair as Chapter 4 hits Runes of Magic with all the force of a horde of zombies unleashed upon the TED conference. There'll be zombies, there'll be Dwarves, and oh yeah, there'll be world battlefields. I'm not sure what that last one will entail, but it sounds cool, doesn't it?

There's going to be some changes a comin' in RoM when the level cap is raised and new loot is dispersed among high-level players. MMOs can develop ecosystems that only the most in-tune players will be intimately familiar with. While you might be new to the game and happy enough to just quest or dabble in the many features RoM has to offer, there's a posh, red, velvety lounge filled with high-rollers keeping tabs on how new items and stats will trickle down to affect the game.

A new level cap means new armor, which means current top gear will be obsolete for said high rollers. Welfare epics will be unleashed on the market, prices will change, and the race for better gear will commence. This week on Lost Pages of Taborea, I want to look at how new content and items will affect the game. How will all the new items affect the economy? How will new dungeons affect pick-up-groups? And will we ever see a Screaming Gargoyle as a pet?

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Tinkering with standard classes and my Priest/Rogue

Fantasy, Classes, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

Aside from some ancillary problems, one of the things I love so much about Runes of Magic is that it gives me ability to augment weapons and equipment via the arcane transmutor. When that is coupled with a dual-class system, players are given a lot of room to bend traditional classes to their wills.

I've been running a Priest/Rogue for a while now and loving it. The selection of offensive spells, the Rogue's skills, and the weapons I can wield have me wanting to push the boundaries of typical class specifications. I'm building a hammer-wielding Priest that's specced much like I'd spec a Mage, but the class can also pump out adequate melee damage. In this week's Lost Pages of Taborea, I want to give you a run-down of the gear, weapons, and stats I'm choosing. It should serve as a good guide to some unique possibilities for classes in RoM.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: The poor, lonely looking-for-group tool

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

Karen's recent article about RIFT's new looking-for-group tool got me thinking about Runes of Magic's own LFG tool. It seems like such a nifty function, but it hardly ever gets used in RoM. It's such an interesting tool that I'm happy to see in the game, but it also seems to be better on paper than in practice. Part of the reason might be that it's slightly clumsy to use for the first time, which I'll get to a little later. LFG tools are one of those things that a lot of players ask for nowadays, but they only ever seem to be used minimally unless the devs attach incentives.

Let's turn caps-lock off, stop shouting in world chat, and take a closer look at RoM's LFG tool.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Chapter 4 roundup and speculation

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

I feel a little bit about RoM like Eliot does about Final Fantasy XI right now. News seems a tad sparse for Runes of Magic this week. We've had a few updates about Chapter 4, which is still on its way; I've recently gotten the RoM event-guild going (in spite of a rocky start); and Frogster gave us a sneak-peek of a major class rebalance. But most everything it still on the horizon.

It allows for lots of fun speculation, as new updates always do. Will Dwarves be a playable race? Are Scouts getting nerfed or made even stronger? This week I put together a roundup of Chapter 4 news with a healthy dose of speculation thrown in. As you'll see after the break, we've actually been shown a lot, but no doubt there's even more we haven't seen at all. And that leaves us all with questions.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Where's the fun with world events?

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

Borrowing a lesson from one of Justin's Road to Mordor articles, I decided to tackle Runes of Magic's world events. I'm talking about those repeatable events sprinkled around the world, events we'll be getting a lot more of when Chapter 4 hits, events anyone can jump into for fun and profit. It's the fun-vs.-profit scenario I want to look at.

Recently, the memento rewards on world events were nerfed. This comes after a lot of drama over players who were going AFK in droves to collect large numbers of the shiny coins to buy purple statted gear from the Black Codex vendors. My only concern with the events is that players can go AFK. Large groups of players, whose soul intention is to go AFK, block people who actually want to play and (dare I say) enjoy the events. However, there are still discussions surrounding the loot aspect of events.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Biting the bullet

Fantasy, Business Models, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

I want to make a proposal that Runewaker, Frogster and all the powers that be strip away any semblance of forcing players to dig out their wallets while playing Runes of Magic. I haven't played as many free-to-play MMOs as Massively's Beau Hindman, but I have played a good many of them. I'm sure, by now, many players have experienced at least one. If you haven't, then you really should read Beau's columns... or Rubi's or Justin's. Heck, I think everyone here at Massively has experience with F2P MMOs and provides valuable input. Go read up on terms like hybrid, pay-to-play, pay-to-win and the many discussions that have come and gone covering the different F2P business models. I'll wait. Back? Good. Let's get crackin'.

RoM uses a traditional cash shop. It's not a hybrid like Lord of the Rings Online or Dungeons and Dragons Online. It's entirely run on a cash shop, like Perfect World International, Allods Online, or Zentia. But one difference I see with RoM's traditional cash shop is that it encourages players to exchange real cash for in-game gold. Other MMOs have allowed this, but usually it's not integrated. Exchanges are often terribly lopsided and see players charging other players ridiculous amounts of in-game currency for a cash-shop item that cost a few bucks. Cold, hard cash has become a seamless part of RoM's in-game economy. Real cash has taken on a balanced pricing-scale for items because money can be injected into the MMO. It can then be changed into gold to buy anything. A player's real money has not only been integrated into the game but become balanced in the same way any game-item is.

This is only one unique aspect of RoM that could allow for the removal of any perceived pressure to spend in the cash shop to fully enjoy the entire game. RoM already has a great system in which you can experience everything by sacrificing more time, but I think Runewaker and Frogster could do more. I say blow the doors wide open. Give players every little bit that RoM has to offer. It would be like dropping the monthly fee on a subscription-based MMO. I'll tell you how and why after the break.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Pros and cons of Chapter 4's new starting zone

Fantasy, Expansions, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

The Chapter 4 closed beta is well underway, and I finally got in to hack-n-slash my way through it. Actually, I sauntered through it carelessly on a high-level character. The new zone is terrific and very well-made, but I do have some misgivings about it.

I started thinking about the implications of the new zone on the rest of Runes of Magic. How is this new area going to be treated by old and new players alike? How will it shape the game? There's a very different vibe I got that I think will affect players differently than previous zones have done. Whether intended or not, some designs have different psychological effects on different players. Some players love Vanguard: Saga of Heroes for its vast, seamless world, one that provides a realistic sense of adventure and life. World of Warcraft offers a large landmass with well-designed endgame raiding. Both of these styles, as well as others, are viewed and treated differently depending on what we as gamers enjoy. Are you wanting to live in the world? Are you wanting to climb the ladder quickly to enjoy raiding or are you wanting to score big as a leader in PvP?

You can see my impressions and slightly uneasy feelings about questing and mob placement after the break. I threw in a snazzy high-definition video of the new zone for you to take a look at and share your thoughts on. How might it or might it not impact RoM? If you're so inclined to watch it until the end, I basically babble, stumble over my words, and elaborate on my main points in this article.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Safer diamond gifting

Fantasy, Culture, Economy, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea, Guides

The crazy, fast-paced leveling done over the second anniversary raised safety concerns over player-to-player diamond trading. There were droves of players reaching either level-cap or close to it when Frogster multiplied experience gain by five for Runes of Magic's second birthday. I'm sure it made a lot of players happy (including me). I gained over 20 levels on my secondary. As a residual effect, it has allowed many new players and diamond swindlers to get multiple new characters to very high levels.

Until Runewaker hashes out a way to allow diamond trading back on the auction house or creates an alternative system, players have to enter agreements involving trust. This work-around is the gifting feature that lets players buy and automatically send cash-shop goods to another player. Two players agree on a gold-to-diamonds price, one gifts the item directly to the other player, and the buyer has to mail the gold to the player. There's no security blanket on this approach. The buyer could send his gold and never receive the item, or the sender could gift an item and never receive payment.

There are some natural deterrents to being ripped off, and players have taken it upon themselves to reduce the risk factor. A player can very quickly get a bad reputation for dishonesty, and that makes it nigh impossible to get into a guild, siege war, pick-up-group or any content with others. Players liberally share info and keep track of reputations to help ensure they don't lose any diamonds or gold. New players will still come and go and not always fully grasp these unwritten safeguards. Today, I want to take a look at ways to better protect yourself, ways that can reduce frustration and allow you to concentrate on enjoying your time in Taborea.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Elaborating on XP gain and leveling alts

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

This week I want to elaborate on experience gain, the honor party, and other ways of leveling alts. I received some great feedback from last week's article that suggests to me an interest in a much wider discussion of power-leveling. But before I get to that, let's clear up XP gain in Runes of Magic.

Most MMOs that I know of -- including RoM -- dish out XP based on the character's level and the level of the mob being slain. If your character is the same level as the mob, the game will give you an adequate amount of XP as a reward. If the mob is higher, you'll get even more experience, but you'll get less XP as you out-level a mob. If you've played any MMO, you're probably aware of this. In RoM, you'll stop collecting XP from mobs 10 levels lower than you. Naturally, fighting mobs slightly higher than you can be more efficient. You can continue to fight increasingly higher-level mobs, but at some point, there's just no way you'll be able to survive, which is why you may want to get a higher-level player to take you just about anywhere in RoM to power-level you. When a high-level player starts towing you around, though, the XP you gain will be based directly on the amount of XP that player would get from any mob he kills. Read on to see more about this and alternative ways of power-leveling.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Power-leveling alts in an honor party

Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea, Guides

Over the course of two years, Runes of Magic has had many patches. It has also had many changes and additions that never made it into the patch notes. They're usually nothing major -- maybe a minor graphical tweak or some other incidental improvements. Then there are items, quests, and features that seem to change, but I can never be sure based on my imperfect memory alone. Something seems to be new or different, but because it never made a lasting impression, I can't be sure whether I'm remembering it correctly. That's how I felt about the honor party.

The newbie tutor system seemed to quietly crawl under a rug, but over time it has proven to be operational. Even though the NPC in Varanas does a fair job of informing you what the honor party is and does, I'll give you a quick run-down of how it operates. One of the advantages of knowing about and using the honor party is having a very quick way of leveling alts through the first 20 levels. I wouldn't recommend it for first-time players, but let's take a look at using the honor party to give your alt a huge jump in levels on day one.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Guild activities

Fantasy, Guilds, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

What does a guild mean to you? Guilds are the unified packs of like-minded players we gather around to create a little home for ourselves in our favorite MMOs. Guilds are a way to offer camaraderie, a band of tightly knit players who can help each other for mutual gain. Whether it's a family playing together online, close real-life friends who want to create a personal space to hang out, or single players who could use a helping hand to get through harder content, guilds can provide all of them

On one hand, having a function to create a guild isn't much more than a label, but that can go a long way. Players run with those kind of tools and create mini-societies and alliances, and they parcel out the playerbase into feudal territories. Even if a guild can be boiled down to just a special name tag, guilds can provide a powerful mechanism for players. Nowadays MMOs are giving guilds more to do, and Runes of Magic has more than its share of guild activities. Let's take a look at what guilds have access to.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: What just happened?

Fantasy, Culture, Free-to-Play, Humor, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea

There are always plenty of memories to make and share with others, as MMOs tend to be never-ending playgrounds for us to romp around in. And after recalling major events for Runes of Magic's second birthday, I've been stuck in fond-memory mode. Two years of playing RoM is a lot of time to build up memories, too. I've gone through many a server, guild and character since I started, and I've both made memories with friends and remembered events the game itself created.

Sometimes a developer forgets to turn off a light switch, a new bug appears, or a new patch brings unintended changes. I remember a handful of times some pretty interesting things have happened. Mysterious statues popping up, bosses appearing in houses, and other anomalies await after the break.

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Lost Pages of Taborea: Introduction to Ystra Labyrinth

Fantasy, Previews, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Lost Pages of Taborea, Guides

For anyone who doesn't know yet, I've been livestreaming Runes of Magic as part of the MassivelyTV lineup. You can watch me die a lot and repeatedly forget where I'm going on Friday nights at 8:00 p.m. EDT. I just got done streaming some Battlefield playtime in RoM, but this coming Friday, the plan is to explore Ystra Labyrinth in Ystra Highlands.

Ystra Highlands is that frigid, snowy zone that covers levels 30 to 40 and come after you make your way through Aslan. The labyrinth is a section of ancient ruins recently discovered deep below Sea of Snow and is being explored by Ailic's Fellowship, a faction of researchers. It's an interesting area that resembles Mystic Altar graphically, but it's not an instance in the truest sense of the term. It's a world instance where you can freely bump shoulders with other parties, complete daily quests, and still run into some bosses. In this article, I dig deep below the snow to see what there is to do in Ystra Labyrinth.

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