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RuneScape

Perfect Ten: My favorite MMO April Fools' pranks of all time

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter

WoW
There are two types of people on April 1st: those who are annoyed and indifferent to the tomfoolery going on all around them, and those who gleefully embrace the zany antics and baldfaced lies. For the record, I am of the latter crowd. I love April Fools' Day and the humor and creativity that it inspires. While this day is by no means contained to our neck of the woods, MMOs have a long-running streak of trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

I think a good goof has to have several qualities to make it truly memorable. It needs to be original. It needs to be actually amusing, whether or not you "fell for it." And it needs to tweak our expectations and understanding of how MMOs work. Sometimes there are even important ideas that emerge from these jokes that could, indeed, make these titles better.

So let's go through my favorite MMO April Fools pranks of all time, as catalogued by yours truly!

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RuneScape's got a new 'one of a kind' grandmaster quest

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser

RuneScape dragon rider
Jagex has announced RuneScape's new 'One of a Kind' grandmaster epic quest, which it says is both the first major update of its "lore-packed March" as well as part of an initiative to take the fantasy game's questing "back to its roots."

"You'll travel the world, uncover the lost library of Robert the Strong, and the fate of a dying people will rest in your hands," according to the announcement on the RuneScape website. As you might imagine, there are plenty of spiffy rewards, but the quest does boast some significant entry requirements.

MMO Mechanics: Procedural generation is the future

City of Heroes, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, RuneScape, Love, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Trove, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
MMOs are infamous for the exorbitant amount of both time and money that is required to make a fantastic end product. Much of this effort and expenditure goes into producing very specific content such as leveling zones, quest chains, and dungeons. The classic themepark MMO in which all the rides are carefully engineered and maintained is compelling for a time, but the content therein tends to take longer to create than it does to exhaust. This invariably leads to redundant content that ends up on the scrapheap once it has been enjoyed for a time.

Procedural generation corrects much of this redundancy by providing essentially limitless variations of content, adding replayability and variety to the usual MMO repertoire. It also opens up some unique mechanics, like Elite: Dangerous' planned procedurally generated galaxy that is a full-scale replica of the Milky Way.

In this week's MMO Mechanics, I will look at how the genre is evolving because of how accessible procedural generation techniques have become to developers. I'll also explore how this might affect the future of MMOs by examining the mechanics that upcoming titles will incorporate.

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Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #40-31

Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Opinion, RuneScape, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, City of Steam, Jukebox Heroes, Music

RuneScape
MMO main themes hold the potential to be some of the most powerful and magical pieces of music, partly because we associate them with particular games more than anything else. A great theme will dredge up intense memories or euphoria by the third note, and I see composers putting in their all with many of these themes.

A long time ago I did an MMO theme countdown of 20 tracks, but since then I've heard a lot more and have wanted to do the list all over again. So this week in Jukebox Heroes, we're kicking off a countdown of the top 40 MMO themes -- in my opinion, of course. I listened to over 150 themes and spent hours ranking them to create this list.

Because these choices are bound to be a little controversial and stir up debate (which is encouraged!), I set down a few rules that I wanted to share here. 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 no points added or subtracted based on the love of the game; I'm counting down the best music, period. Let's see what numbers 40 through 31 have in store for us!

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite MMO minigame?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

RuneScape heistTuesday's announcement by Jagex that it had implemented a bank heist minigame into RuneScape struck a personal chord. I love MMO minigames, and here's one I haven't really seen before!

I'm not sure how it will stack up to EverQuest II's aether races, Vanguard's diplomacy, or Lord of the Rings Online's music system in terms of my personal favorites, but it sounds pretty slick.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you dig minigames in your MMOs? Which one is your favorite?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

RuneScape gets a bank-robbing minigame

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser

RuneScape
Jagex has added a new bank-robbing minigame called Heist to its long-running RuneScape MMO. "Players form two teams and are pitted against each other in a contest of espionage, deception, and grand larceny," the firm explains.

While the setup is pretty simple, Jagex says that the Heist minigame requires skill to master. "The best robbers will be able to mimic the island's citizens to fool the guards," the company says, "while the most successful guards will be the ones who can spot suspicious behaviour a mile off.

Start your adventures in bankrobbing by climbing the airship ladder north Falador, and hit up the RuneScape home page for further details.

RuneScape behind-the-scenes video reveals boss character development

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

When you face a massive foe in your favorite game, do you wonder what went into making it? RuneScape has overhauled one if its earliest bosses and brought fans along for a look at the creative process in a new behind-the-scenes video.

The revamp of the Giant Mole Boss shows off the steps from conceptualization to animation to audio to release. The finished product of the team's efforts is a nastier looking Giant Mole with modern boss mechanics, two difficulty modes, and an instanced lair for both solo and group runs. And what boss overhaul would be complete without new loot? Once players defeat this boss, they have the chance to acquire new rewards -- a mole that improves anti-dragon shields and numbing roots that remove DoTs -- on top of the original items. Follow along with the revamp in the clip below.

[Source: Jagex press release]

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First RuneScape poll invites players to choose big update

Fantasy, Polls, MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

First RuneScape poll letting players choose the big update
In a move to ensure that RuneScape's continued direction is shaped at a grassroots level by its players, Jagex has introduced an in-game polling system and launched the first question: Invention skill vs. Elf City –- which do you want first? If you have a preference as to which content releases first, you have until January 31st to log in and vote.

The series of polls -- part of the company's Power to the Players strategy for this next year -- will involve monthly Dragonstone questions on major topics like the one presented as well as more frequent Diamond and Ruby polls, which focus on mid- to low-tier topics like what dragon to add to the game and themes of holiday festivals.

[Source: Jagex press release]

RuneScape expands player-owned ports

Fantasy, Patches, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

RuneScape
RuneScape's player-owned ports have added a new layer of intrigue and adventure today with the game's first patch of the year.

Player-owned ports can now launch 300 additional voyages to two new regions. There are also three new adventurers available for recruitment: the Trapper, the Architect, and the Chef. A shady trader has also set up shop in these ports to offer goods at a questionable exchange rate.

This high-level minigame sees players operating their own sea ports and equipping ships to go on real-time adventures around the virtual world. Player-owned ports launched in late 2012.

MMO Mechanics: Lowering the barriers to entry

Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Subscription, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
In the increasingly competitive MMO genre, games have to do all they can to keep you as a customer. MMOs have traditionally been quite difficult games to really get into since they typically require a considerable time and money investment and we tend to play them for stretches of several months to years at a time. The gameplay in MMOs is inherently social by nature, forcing you to relate to others, and there are some even more fundamental barriers that get in the way of new players signing up. I'm sure we've all enthused and rambled to our friends in the hope that they might check out our most recent gaming crush, only to see a repulsed look on their faces when they realise it's an MMO.

The classic subscription model is a substantial paywall for the average gamer, and this is what has traditionally kept MMOs niche. The early game can be daunting to those who aren't familiar with the genre, and developers pour a lot of effort into easing newcomers into that gameplay. In this week's MMO Mechanics, I'm going to look at how some MMOs manage to break down these barriers through the use of clever mechanics in order to open up MMO gaming to more people than ever before.

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RuneScape ushers in 13th anniversary with player-led development

Fantasy, Video, Previews, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Anniversaries

RuneScape
Saying that he was proud of Jagex's efforts in 2013 but admitting that the team fell short of accomplishing all of its goals, RuneScape Lead Developer Mod Mark promised that 2014 would give more power to the players.

"This year, we want the focus on the things that make us special," he said in an annoucement video, "and to find new ways to use our best asset of all and the thing that we're most proud of: you, the community."

As such, Mod Mark said that the community will be the guiding force behind the game's 2014 development with weekly in-game content polls addressing quests, suggestions, and high-level development. The first poll in January will be on whether the invention system or the Elf city should get priority development. Unfortunately a poll option to fire an orbital cannon at said Elf city once construction is completed will not exist.

RuneScape turns 13 years old tomorrow, but you can get the advance scoop for the year's activities in the video after the break.

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Jukebox Heroes: Reader request 3

Aion, Final Fantasy XI, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

jukebox heroes
Since it's our very last Jukebox Heroes column of the year on the very last day of the year, I thought it would be most appropriate to open up the reader request lines once again and feature MMO tunes that are your favorites. If you'd like to put in your own request for the next time I run one of these columns, please list your favorite MMO music track in the comments along with an explanation as to what you love about it!

So check out what your fellow soundtrackophiles appreciate and stay tuned for a totally rockin' 2014!

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RuneScape launches companion app

Fantasy, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile

RuneScape
RuneScape's got a new way to stay in touch your with friends who are outside of the game: the Companion app.

RuneScape Companion is a versatile web app that can be accessed by just about any mobile device, tablet, or PC via the companion web page. The app currently functions as a chat interface between you and your friends, clan, or private conversation partners. Jagex is looking to expand the app's functionality in the coming year.

While the companion app works great on many devices, there are a few that have yet to be invited into the club, such as the iPad Air and all Windows phones.

Free for All: Ten of my favorite in-game items

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Ryzom, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Mabinogi, Allods Online, Free for All, Battlestar Galactica Online, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Subscription

RuneScape inventory screenshot
I love things. Truly I do. Only specific things, though. Over the last year I have doubled my efforts to catalog most of the best things in my life, from pictures and artwork to writings and songs I have played on. It's a sort of meta-hobby. As part of the effort I want to organize many of my favorite MMO in-game items, simply because I have played MMOs for so long and they are such a part of my life. I have a lot of favorite items, but some tend to stick out in my memory like a favorite smell or place.

After I finished an initial list of MMO items (it was well over 50 items in the beginning), I was surprised at how much variety there was in the items and in the games I listed. I think it reflects my character a lot, but also shows that I am a sentimental plod most of the time. I cut the list down to these 10, but I am sure I will wish to adjust the list again in the future. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section!

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RuneScape opens 2013 Premier Club, donates $90K to charity

Fantasy, Patches, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Promotions

RuneScape
If you've got the cash and interest to spare, then RuneScape would like to convince you to invest in one of its 2013 Premier Club packages.

Jagex has unveiled its new limited-time Premier Club membership tiers, which offer extra goodies in exchange for committing to a multi-month subscription. The bronze package is $23.50 for three months, the silver is $44.50 for six months, and the gold is $86.50 for a full year. Extras include exclusive pets, bonus spins on the squeal of fortune, and access to a VIP server.

Jagex congratulated the community on donating in-game wealth via the Well of Goodwill that was translated into a real-world donation by Jagex to several charities. The studio split $90,838 between seven charities. RuneScape also just added a level 92 slayer, the Airut, for players to defeat.

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