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Runes of Magic

Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #10-1

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Ultima Online, LEGO Universe, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous, Firefall, Jukebox Heroes, Music

We're finally here: my top 10 MMO theme tracks. I anticipate that out of all of the weeks, this will be the most controversial, since not only am I proclaiming the 10 best, but you'll realize which of your favorite games I've left out of the top 40 entirely.

A final reminder as to my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game. I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed earlier parts of this series, check out themes #40-31, #30-21, and #20-11. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

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Jukebox Heroes: Elf music

World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Vanguard, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Jukebox Heroes, Music

LotRO
As probably many of you know, I am no fan of the Elven menace. I won't rehash the reasons n this space, but I mention that because I do try to be a fair man. When I'm not trying to eradicate any pointy-eared immortal know-it-all tree-hugger in sight, I have been known to appreciate the Elves' musical culture. That doesn't make me a hypocrite. It just gives me slight pause before ganking the next Drizzt or Legolas.

For whatever reason, Elves bring out the magic and talent in MMO composition. Elven themes are quite often among the best that a particular OST has to offer, particularly if you like airy, magical, ethereal tracks that are big on imagination and almost devoid of percussion. I've been noting the trend of excellent Elf music for years and figured I might as well devote a week to it here before going back to my Elf-bashing ways.

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MMO Mechanics: Encouraging the daily grind

World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Economy, Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Runes of Magic, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
I've written before about how developers use clever mechanics to lower the barrier to entry in order to encourage more people to play MMOs, but how do they keep players interested after they have rolled a new character? More often than not, MMOs greatly benefit from hanging onto players for as long as possible, so encouraging regular play is a massive priority for development teams. As a genre that thrives on creating a connected and dynamic community, MMOs are strengthened by keeping up the number of players that log in daily. This also encourages longevity since players make meaningful connections with the people they are linked to through daily play.

Utilising daily quests, creating an ongoing need for crafted equipment, and necessitating the farming of materials for the good of the collective are all very accessible ways to encourage players to log into their favourite MMO world on a regular basis. As useful as developers may find them, though, the appeal of repeatable daily content is hotly debated by MMO players. For some, low-octane daily content is a brilliant way to unwind that doesn't require a regimented schedule to complete, but many others find the repetition inherent in some daily content tiresome and uninspired.

In this week's MMO Mechanics, I'm going to look at the various applications of daily content in today's MMOs while weighing up the pros and cons of several of these techniques.

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The Perfect Ten: Literal kill 10 rats quests

Asheron's Call, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Humor, Runes of Magic, RIFT, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Literal kill 10 rats quests
Webster's Dictionary describes "kill 10 rats" as "something nerds do, now shut up and read a few intelligent words." I think the editors are getting a little lazy there at Webster's, but that's nothing compared to the OED crowd that routinely slips in paragraphs of cut-and-pasted Hunger Games fan fiction just to pad the volumes.

Anyway, we all know that "kill 10 rats" is a derogatory term for those quests that make you slaughter a certain number of things to make life happier for the quest giver. Why that quest giver has a very specific number in mind has always fascinated me, but never mind. It stems from a long-standing RPG tradition by which lowbie characters typically start their career by doing a little rodent culling in the basement of a tavern. That's how all great people got their start, Abraham Lincoln included.

With "kill 10 rats" already being a trope, developers have this habit of trying to be coy and meta by actually putting quests in their MMOs where you, yup, kill 10 rats. I get the feeling that they think they're doing something clever and cheeky, even though practically all of their competitors have done the same. So here we go: ten literal "kill 10 rats" quests that you can find in your games today.

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Runes of Magic celebrates its 4th Anniversary

Fantasy, Contests, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Promotions, Anniversaries

Runes of Magic celebrates its 4th Anniversary
Our favorite birthdays are the ones when the guests get gifts instead of giving them. Apparently Runes of Magic feels the same, as Gameforge is pulling out the stops to make the 4th anniversary of the game one for the history books.

Runes of Magic's 4th anniversary page has the scoop on all of the gifts, contests, events, and bonuses to be enjoyed over the next week. Players will get a lot of goodies just for logging in and leveling up, although there are additional quests if you want to reap all of the rewards. Players will also enjoy buffs to XP, talent points, and drop rates through the 25th.

Finally, Gameforge released a special video that shows the progress of Runes of Magic from beta to today, ending with several impressive statistics. If you don't watch it, you'll go mad always wondering what it might have been. We'd hate to see that.

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One Shots: Dancing with my homies

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Culture, One Shots, The Secret World, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous

One Shots Dancing with my homies
First of all, thank you guys so much for responding to our One Shots rallying cry and absolutely flooding us with screenshots! My cup overfloweth, and that's a delightful change of pace for this column. Even though we're quite literally set for months now, please keep sending in your favorite old or new screencaps!

To kick us off this week is Jerry, who's showing off how Anarchy Online can party down with the best of them: "This is Yardsale, a level 220 Trader, dancing with his trader pets in Borealis."

At first glance, I almost thought we were in the Matrix. But even with polygons so sharp that you can cut yourself on them, this title definitely has a style all its own. Hit the jump to see this and other wonders of the screenshotted world.

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The Perfect Ten: Creative MMO minigames

World of Warcraft, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Runes of Magic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Creative MMO minigames
Few people are without opinions on minigames in MMOs. Some love 'em, some hate 'em, and some just ignore 'em. Some even despise that I won't type "th." Takes all types, really. Personally, I'm all for including new types of enjoyable systems that can be repeated, particularly if it benefits my character in some way.

There's also this perception that minigames are just for kids. It's true that more kid-centric titles like Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures thrive on minigames like you thrive on deep-fried butter balls, but these little diversions exist all over the place in "grownup" titles too. Holidays are a favorite time to trot them out, although there are plenty that exist year-round.

Today we're going to look at 10 creative minigames that have tickled my fancy over the year. Yes, I used the word "fancy." Whatcha gonna do about it?

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The Perfect Ten: Holiday shopping for the MMO gamer

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, EverQuest, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Runes of Magic, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Promotions, Guides, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Holiday shopping for the MMO gamer
With Thanksgiving almost under wraps in the states (Canada got an earlier patch of Thanksgiving because the devs love that country), the starter pistol is about to go off for the busiest shopping season of the year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and oh-crap-it's-Christmas-Eve-and-only-a-gas-station-is-open are all shopping experiences ahead on the calendar, but perhaps the most challenging experience is that of buying the perfect gift for an MMO gamer.

Sure, you could just phone it in and buy a time card, some cash shop points, a subscription or two, or even a Prima strategy guide if you really hated the person, but a proper MMO gift goes beyond that. For a great gift, you need to put in some effort and actually research the field... or just be lazy and use my following guide. We both know which option you're going to choose.

So while you slowly digest that turkey and moan about having to waddle your butt down to Best Buy at 3:00 a.m., why not allow me to help you with a few shopping suggestions? For this list, I wanted to focus on game-specific merchandise that isn't t-shirts, game cards, or CafePress coffee mugs. I mean, this shirt is the bomb and all, but we can do better!

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Rise and Shiny: Runes of Magic

Fantasy, Video, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, Humor, Runes of Magic, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Runes of Magic screenshot
I first played Runes of Magic a long time ago, as in years. In fact, I played it a bit during beta and right after release. I have a fond memory of being on a voice program with our very own Shawn Schuster and a few other podcasters and bloggers as we ran around playing. I named my character something to do with Slayer, or perhaps that was Shawn, and we had a pretty good time. It was, at the time, one of the higher-quality free-to-play titles out there.

Since then the game has undergone many, many changes -- too many changes to recap here. If you really want a summary of the game over the past few years, check out our own Jeremy Stratton's former column, Lost Pages of Taborea. I had Jeremy join me for my last night of gameplay before writing this piece to help clear up some confusion I had about the game.

And for some powerelveling. Oh yes, powerleveling.

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Runes of Magic previews Chrysalias Shadows patch

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic

Runes of Magic previews Chrysalias Shadows patch
Dubbed the "Mysterious Land of the Elements," Chrysalia will be the next step for Runes of Magic adventurers. This strange region is set to open on September 25th, but Gameforge has a preview video to whet your appetite for the journey to come.

Chrysalia is dominated by strong elemental features, such as waterfalls and lava, and looks to be populated by many intelligent insect species. Some of these, like the Garon, are friendly, but others, like the Kulech, will spit acid in your face and slurp your insides for dinner. Or so we've heard.

Next Tuesday's patch will also introduce a new challenging instance to the game. Check out the flyby video after the jump and let us know what you think!

[Source: Gameforge press release]

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One Shots: Still got it

Galleries, Screenshots, Guild Wars 2, Massively Meta, One Shots, Runes of Magic, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous

One Shots
Runes of Magic was a F2P game before the cool kids joined the F2P party, but it's been a little neglected by MMO players. Massively reader Andrew wants us to know that it's got some spark left in it:
While Runes of Magic may be three years old, the graphics are still looking great. There's some awesome vistas in RoM that appear when you take the time to control+z your interface and look around. This shot is from Southern Janost Forest.
In fact, Andrew sent us two pics, and they're both behind the break along with a few more of your One Shots!

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Jukebox Heroes: Runes of Magic's soundtrack

Fantasy, Culture, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Jukebox Heroes

Jukebox Heroes Runes of Magic's soundtrack
Welcome back to Jukebox Heroes, the column that dares you to close your eyes and unplug your ears. Well, after you're done reading this opening, of course. So what's the greatest tragedy in modern musical history? Everyone has an answer to that, but mine will be, "How much Runes of Magic's score is overlooked because it's a free-to-play title."

Sure, the game shares enough DNA with World of Warcraft that the two titles can never marry or else they'll have inbred children, but RoM's soundtrack is anything but a clone of WoW's. Runes of Magic actually goes toe to toe with some of the greatest music I've ever heard in MMOs, and that's no exaggeration. I have to thank Massively's Jeremy Stratton for turning me on to this particular score.

According to a few accounts I've read, Runes of Magic's music is both cobbled together from tracks of other video games as well as original pieces composed specifically for this. I honestly don't care where the music comes from; I just care to turn my speakers all the way up and feel epic when it's playing.

So here we go with my absolute favorite tracks from Runes of Magic, minus a couple that I've shared on Massively before!

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The Soapbox: 'L2P' and the antisocial MMO

Culture, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Runes of Magic, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous

The Soapbox When words don't mean what they say
Disclaimer: The Soapbox column is entirely the opinion of this week's writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Massively as a whole. If you're afraid of opinions other than your own, you might want to skip this column.

I'm amazed how often I still hear the phrase "learn to play." It's become a nasty term that makes me suspect those saying it just don't want other gamers around at all. And I can hardly blame them when the MMO market is pushing a markedly single-player agenda.

MMOs tout our ability to play with friends and interact with others, but in the end, they are selfish games that breed and attract selfish gamers. In modern MMOs, interaction barely rises above single-player co-op. Guild Wars 2 exemplifies this by dropping you in a world with the potential for thousands of players to be all around you, but its alienating mechanics often make you feel like a lonely ghost who wants nothing more than to hug someone.

L2P and other stock insults are rooted in something ugly: the literally antisocial nature of many MMOs.

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Choose My Adventure: The indie edition

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Polls, Contests, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Humor, Mabinogi, Kids, Runes of Magic, Choose My Adventure, Allods Online, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Miscellaneous

Goonies screenshot, down here
It might be your time up there, but it's my time -- my time -- down here! For this latest edition of Choose My Adventure, I get to hand out a selection of odd little games for you to vote on, and then for the next month and change, I will stumble my way through the title. At your direction and with your help, of course. The trouble is that I have already played darn near everything. I've downloaded and tried so many games that I simply can't remember them all. So, what to do?

Well, I decided to give a mix of games a chance at several weeks coverage here on Massively. I picked out an assortment of browser games, independent titles, and lesser-known client-based MMOs. Hopefully you will steer me the right way, and if I am lucky, I won't even have a horrible time. I chose games that I know have a robust community in the hopes that plenty of voters will turn out. The key is to get the word out there, so if you have a favorite, go tell your community!

But first, click past the cut and vote on the game you would like to see me tackle for the next several weeks. Just don't expect to see triple-A games on the list!

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MMO Blender: Jeremy's unholy MMO concoction

Fantasy, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Wurm Online, Opinion, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMO Blender

MMO Blender
Have you ever wished MMO developers could put away their checkbooks, pluck out the best bits of their respective MMOs, and weld them together to construct the megalopolis of MMOs? We do too! So today, we're launching a brand-new opinion column, MMO Blender, in which the Massively writers will mix and match their favorite features from existing MMOs for your amusement. But do our choices create a perfectly honed machine or a lumbering, speechless frankenstein of an MMO that deserves to be put out of its misery?

First up: Livestreamer extraordinaire and Contributing Editor Jeremy Stratton with a potent, sandboxy blend of Fallen Earth, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and more. Wet your whistle after the break and look for more MMO Blenders from the rest of our staff in the coming weeks!

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