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RuneScape expands player-owned ports

Fantasy, Patches, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

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

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'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

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.

The Soapbox: Seriously, we have enough fantasy MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lineage, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, RIFT, World of Tanks, TERA, EverQuest Next, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, MOBA, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Let's play a game. I'm thinking of an MMO that features magic, monsters, humans, and a vast fantasy world full of steamy swamps, grassy plains, and deep, dark dungeons -- can you tell me which MMO it is? If you answered RIFT, you're right. You're also right if you answered TERA. Or World of Warcraft. Or Guild Wars 2. Or Neverwinter. Or... you get the idea.

We're people who play MMOs. Our hard drives are practically bulging with games featuring wizards and warriors. We've plunged our swords into millions of orcs and gnolls. We've looted more imaginary copper pieces than anyone could possible imagine. We've even slain so many dragons that you have to wonder why dragons even bother showing up anymore.

It's not the gameplay but the setting that can make the whole exercise so soul-crushingly boring.

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Free for All: Five MMOs that deserve more of my time

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Polls, Culture, Wurm Online, Opinion, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Casual, MMOFPS, MMORTS, RIFT, Free for All, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play

Five MMOs screenshot
There's only so much time in the world for playing video games. Yes, yes, I know it pains us to admit it, but it's true: We really can't sit around and explore MMOs all day long. Well, we could, but it probably wouldn't be very good for our relationships or health or finances. For me, this means that I have to balance playing MMOs for work and playing them for the sake of the hobby. I typically take one of my weekend days to jump into any number of MMOs. I might even spend a good hour just updating them all.

Let me tell you, it's plain painful to log into an MMO and realize just how much good content, events, and player interaction I have been missing. I'm sure this is a common issue though, right? In today's Free for All, I want to take a look at five MMOs that deserve more of my time.

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The Game Archaeologist: Classic servers and you

World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic servers and you
Sometimes players don't want progress into the future; they want to regress into nostalgia. I've always seen this undercurrent of desire for classic servers run through the MMO community, manifesting in lengthy discussions about how cool it'd be to play a game the way it was "way back when." I also imagine developers reading those discussions with a combination of shared nostalgia and anxiety over the work required for such a project.

I can understand this desire. We form attachments to MMOs based on several factors, not the least of which are when we started playing the game and what we remember most from it. While we generally applaud the change brought about by content updates, bug fixes, expansions, and the like, there's always a part of us that won't let go of the past.

That's where classic servers come into play. Here and there, studios have recognized and responded to this desire for gaming the way it used to be by creating servers that deliberately call back to the past. It might seem to fly in the face of common sense, but I don't think it's that strange when you look at the larger video game community and how strong nostalgia gaming has taken root there as well. So what do classic servers have to offer you and where can you find them?

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Jagex upgrades RuneScape infrastructure after DDoS attacks

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

Jagex upgrades RuneScape infrastructure after DDoS attacksIf you've been experiencing disconnections or prolonged lag while trying to play RuneScape lately, it's probably not just you. Service disruptions have been ongoing for "over a year now," according to a post on the game's official website.

Jagex and its browser-based fantasy title have been "the target of numerous DDoS attacks," CEO Mark Gerhard writes. The motives "tie closely with removal of bots and gold farming," Gerhard says, before explaining that Jagex has just "made a multi-million pound investment" in IT infrastructure upgrades and is also working with global law enforcement "to bring the people responsible for these attacks to justice."

Jukebox Heroes: RuneScape's soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes RuneScape's soundtrack
How much music does the average MMO contain? It depends, of course, but I doubt that many games are able to reach the number that RuneScape does. Are you ready for it? It's 982 tracks. I'm dead serious. It's not just that RuneScape has been out since the beginning of the internet but that the team continues to add new music regularly. It's really insane -- just check out this list of updates.

What's even neater is that RuneScape treats its music as unlockable content, just like other types of rewards. So while you start out with 70 or so tracks in your in-game music player, you'll have to go to certain places or perform certain feats to get the rest. Why have I never heard of this before? That's brilliant!

So obviously, even if I had all 982 tracks on my computer (which I do not), I'm not going to take a week off of work to review them all for you. I love you, but that love has limits. Instead, I've listened to perhaps a tenth of that (including the new stuff by Composer James Hannigan) and chosen a few tracks to share that I feel exemplify this MMO's score.

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RuneFest previews RuneScape's 2014 additions

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser

RuneFest previews RuneScape's 2014 additions
Jagex hosted its third annual RuneFest gathering in London over the weekend, and among the festivities was a sneak peek at what's in store for RuneScape in 2014.

There's an invention skill on the way, as well as a mobile app that will allow extra-game communication. Upgraded matchmaking skills are planned, as is the second World Event, a master quest featuring the return of Zaros, and something called The Church of You.

This last bit looks to involve achievements in some form as fashion, as Jagex's press release says that players "can start to amass their own followers" who will apparently "worship their in-game achievements."

[Source: Jagex press release]

Try Old School RuneScape for free this weekend

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Promotions, Subscription

Plenty of RuneScape fans -- one million to be exact -- have been enjoying the nostalgia of the Old School servers that opened up last February. And now those who aren't paid members can get in on all the fun; Jagex is offering free access to everyone from now through Monday, November 4th.

This event grants players the full member feature set for the duration of the weekend, just in time to participate in the holiday events (like going for the black Halloween mask, the first new one since 2002). All progress made during the weekend will be saved and stored so players can continue their adventures if they purchase a membership anytime in the future.

Also on tap this weekend are the RuneFest 3 festivities (which players can catch via livestream) and the launch of the new PvP worlds.

[Source: Jagex press release]

Jagex livestreaming RuneFest 3 on November 2

Fantasy, Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser

Jagex livestreaming RuneFest 3 on November 2
If you can't make to London's Tobacco Dock for next week's RuneFest 3, Jagex wants you to know that you can still follow all the RuneScape festivities thanks to RuneFest LIVE. Heck, even if you can make it, the event is sold out, so unless you've already got tickets you'll want to tune in.

RuneFest LIVE is a livestream that starts at 11:00 a.m. GMT on November 2nd. In addition to all the usual convention coverage, Jagex says you can expect some new gameplay announcements and other reveals during the stream. Head past the cut to have a look at the teaser video.

In other RuneScape news, the title now features the Well of Goodwill, which enables community members to give to charity using in-game wealth. Full details are availabe on the RuneScape website.

[Source]: Jagex press release

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