RuneScape – My Quest for the Quest Point Cape

What started as a browser-based MMORPG 15 years ago has grown and evolved drastically over the years, most recently releasing a new client that shifts the game from its native language of Java into C++ and lays the foundation for future expansion of the game. Runescape was my first real experience with an MMO and was a huge part of my childhood when I started a little over 12 years ago. Since first setting foot in Gielinor I’ve clocked in just over 2,500 hours of playtime and recently achieved something I’ve been chasing after since my early days: the Quest Point Cape (the reward for players who have completed every quest in the game).

Proudly wearing my Quest Point Cape.

Proudly wearing my Quest Point Cape.

Quests in RuneScape are unlike quests in any other game I’ve ever played. Not all of them are masterful works of storytelling but more often than not they’re memorable. Whether it’s an individual quest or a storyline that spans multiple quests over several years, each of them has story to tell about all the interesting people that make up the world. Whether you’re becoming an honorary member a barbarian tribe, helping an old wizard rob a bank, uncovering a magic altar to a lost god, traveling to another dimension to revive the aforementioned lost god, going undercover in an offshore monkey colony, researching a mysterious plague that’s infected half the population of a major city, investigating the crime scene of a vicious murder, or just breaking the seal on an ancient tomb that brings about the sixth age of Gielinor and heralding the return of the gods to the mortal realm, nearly every quest leads you to new and exciting locations where you meet the people who inhabit the world of RuneScape.

Back in the days of ‘RuneScape Classic’ new players were tested on basic game mechanics via quests like Cook’s Assistant (gather the materials to bake a cake) and Sheep Shearer (craft 20 balls of wool) but with the move to the latest version of the game engine (sometimes called ‘RuneScape 3’) a quest called The Blood Pact was added to the game’s starting city Lumbridge. While it’s no more than a simple combat tutorial it’s hard to believe that quests like Cook’s Assistant exist in the same game anymore (in fact, Sheep Shearer was removed from the game in 2010). The Blood Pact creates unique characters and a new area for players to explore instead of using existing NPCs and locations and it serves as a proper introductory quest for those players fresh off of the boat from Tutorial Island.

The most recently release quest, titled River of Blood, highlights all the amazing things that make a quest in RuneScape a memorable experience. It’s the conclusion to an epic story arc that started back in 2005 and spanned across seven different quests. The quest line follows the liberation group named the Myreque as they seek to free the land of Morytania from the grasp of the evil vampyre overlords. Things start off simply enough, having the player seeking out the members in hiding and allying yourself with them, fleshing out a secret base, and arming the group with special silver weaponry to help push their invading foes back into the ruined city of Meiyerditch, the home of the vampyres (and those are just the first two quests).

With time, RuneScape grew and eventually players were able to explore the vampyre city of Meiyerditch and see first hand the horrors that Lord Drakan had wrought to the once prosperous city. Drakan has enslaved the human population and keeps them in a perpetual state of weakness with a forced blood tithe while the vampyres enjoy the life of the aristocracy. You eventually join forces with Drakan’s sister Vanescula who seeks to overthrow her brother. She aids the Myreque in order to harness the ancient power of the Blisterwood tree to bring Drakan down and subsequently betrays them, leaving them worse off than ever before. With Vanescula fully in control of the vampyre hoard living within Meiyerditch,  she seeks to do what her brother could not and break through the protective barrier containing her race within Morytania, invade Misthalin, and seek out a new breed of humans to become slaves. River of Blood is the culmination of 11 years of storytelling, charging you with fending off the impending invasion and fortifying the defenses at the Temple of Saradomin where the barrier is maintained.

Not every quest in the game is part of an epic tale that shapes the lore of the game but even the random one-off quests can be fun. In Broken Home the player must navigate a haunted mansion while being perused by an unspeakable evil. It’s not a world-shattering event and the outcome of the quest won’t impact the rest of the game at all, but the atmosphere of the haunted mansion is amazing and wandering the corridors trying to crack the mystery of it all is an absolute blast. The little one-off quests help to fill the time between the bigger lore-impacting quests and are almost always a simple and fun exploration of a new facet of the world of Gielinor and the sheer number of them all add up build a world that feels full of life. The NPCs that populate the cities in RuneScape almost always have a story behind them and you just have to be on the right quest to hear it.

2015 Roundup

I wanted to take some time to write about a few games I played this year that I have lots of feelings about. I’ve never liked having to arbitrarily assign numbers to these, so the games below aren’t presented in any particular order. Everything on the list below is based entirely on how much fun I had playing the games. Here goes…

Favorite Games (in no particular order)

 

The Talos Principle

So The Talos Principle came out on December 11th of 2014, and I didn’t get around to playing it until late into 2015, and I have no idea why. At a very basic level, The Talos Principle is a first-person puzzle game that incorporates the environments in the puzzles and solutions. As you get further into the game new puzzle elements are introduced, from the relatively simple fan that can launch you into the air or hold blocks in mid-air, to the mind bending playback tool, that allows you to record your actions and play them back, interacting with your recorded self in order to progress in a puzzle. While this game isn’t perfect, and certainly not as universally accessible as something like Super Mario Maker, solving some of the more devious puzzles in this game has been some of the most satisfying gameplay I’ve had all year long.

Sidenote: While the base game came out in December of 2014, there was some DLC released in the form of Road to Gehenna, which I have not yet played.


Infinifactory

Infinifactory is a hell of a thing. Quite unlike any game that I’ve ever played before, it’s a first-person puzzle game where the object of each level is to construct a functioning assembly line. You’re given raw materials and an end goal, and you’ve got to build a factory that brings these pieces together at a designated location. On paper it sounds simple, but the game requires an element of spacial awareness that no other game in recent memory (apart from The Talos Principle) has explored. The game begins simply enough, stacking and welding pieces together, but each chapter unlocks new toys to play with and introduces a new element of madness into the works. Getting your setup just right, and finally being able to sit back and watch your factory churn out exactly what it needs after tinkering away for what feels like hours is satisfying and rewarding in a way that is inexpressible except by a scream of delight.


Her Story

And now for something completely different… I’ve always been partial to FMV as a medium for storytelling in video games and I’m delighted to see that there are still some making FMV games in 2015. On the surface the game doesn’t seem to be anything special. You have access to a police database of recorded interview with Hannah Smith, who is being questioned regarding the murder of her husband. While there isn’t any direct line of progression in the game, everyone will hit a certain point at which the real mystery behind the interviews comes into light. This point may take some people longer to get to than others, but once I realized that there’s something more going on, I was hooked and playing out the rest of the game was a wild ride. Acting in an FMV is so important, and Her Story nails it, and it goes a long way to making the story feel real.


Undertale

Undertale is something special, and something that I think caught everyone off-guard this year. To me it’s an experience more than anything else, and something that can’t be conveyed except by playing it first-hand. The characters are incredible, the humor clicked perfectly with me, the “combat” keeps the game feeling new and exciting between the zones, the variety of enemy is astounding, and the story is a wild ride through the strangest places. The entire game is about the subversion of expectations, turning tropes on their heads, bashing through the fourth wall, and continuing on to reveal the grim darkness lurking underneath the innocent cutesy surface.

For all of the amazing things that Undertale does, it’s sad to see so many people put off because of a slow start. The game certainly doesn’t put it’s best foot forward, and I can understand the difficulty some would have pushing through the tutorial and into the exciting bits, and that really sucks. If somehow you’re reading this and still haven’t played Undertale, please do give it a chance!


Hand of Fate

Of all the games on this list, Hand of Fate is one that I’ve probably spent the least amount of time with, but I wanted to mention it simply because of how excited it made me. If I had to pick a single word to describe what I love about Hand of Fate, it’d be “atmosphere”. From the very beginning of the game, you’re introduced to the mysterious dealer, a dungeon master of sorts, who guides you through the game. While the dealer goes easy on you at first, you quickly find that he has no interest in being friends. The commentary by the dealer drew me into Hand of Fate more than I would have expected from a small indie title, and I found myself hooked after my first round.

The game plays like an old choose your own adventure book, brought to life by the dealer. Nearly everything in the game is represented by a card, be it an adventure, a piece of equipment, or monster, or any number of other things good or bad that may befall you. You move across a board of face-down adventure cards, flipping them over as you pass to reveal a story. You could encounter a band of travelling minstrels, come upon a den of monsters, or bump into a goblin in a pub. The dealer doesn’t read the text of the various adventure cards for you, but will comment on the situations and and the outcomes of your decisions, mocking you at times, or suggesting that he’s going easy on you. This makes you feel like you’re not just playing against the computer, but that you’re facing off against the stranger on the other side of the table, fighting against an enemy that would dearly love to see you fail.

Combat moves you from the board of cards into a Batman-style third person brawler, which seems like an odd transition to make, but it works. There ins’t a ton of depth to the combat, although there are some rare weapons and artifacts that grant you special abilities that make it more than a straightforward dodge and counterattack affair. While it isn’t anything impressive, it doesn’t detract from the overall feel of the game. The variety of enemies you encounter is nice and they all have combat abilities that you’d expect. The four basic enemy types are: Bandits, Skeletons, Ratmen, and Lizardmen, each represented in card form by a suit (Dust, Skulls, Plague, and Scales respectively).

Part of the beauty of the game is in now it tell stories. There are several of the adventure cards that are simply one-off events, but there are other adventure cards with tokens on them that indicate a new card can be unlocked upon a successful outcome. In one adventure, you meet a man serenading a woman in a window and learn that the woman’s father is forcing them apart. If you choose to help the two lovers escape the town, you earn the card’s token. This unlocks an adventure where you run into the woman’s father, a wealthy guild master, from whom you can attempt to steal. Successfully stealing from the guild master unlocks a third adventure, where you meet the man you helped escape town. You find him lonely and reeking of ale, having been ditched by the woman he escaped with. At the end of all of this, giving the man a few pieces of gold to play you a song wins you the card’s token, giving you a powerful shield to add to your deck.

I’d love to go on explaining the game more in-depth, but this section is already about four times as long as I was expecting it to be. There are so many things going on in this game that it’s difficult to be concise, but there’s just something about it that has to be experienced first-hand. Hand of Fate is something that fascinated me from the very beginning, and always seems to have new and interesting secrets for me to find every time I play.


Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

This one is going to be hard. I loved the first Hotline Miami. Steam shows I have 28 hours played, with 100% of the achievements earned. I fucking love Hotline Miami. It’s always been hard for me to explain exactly why that is, though. It’s got an amazing soundtrack and a visual aesthetic that I really dig. I love the twitch action, the split-second decision making, and the precision required to deal with some of the trickier sections in the game. I love the ultra-violence. The controls are so solid that I feel totally in control of my character. The story in the first game wasn’t anything that I took much notice of, even as I replayed the game, collecting secrets to unlock the true ending. It never seemed like anything impactful on the game, more an excuse rather than a reason. Maybe if I took the time to understand it a bit more, I’d be able to appreciate the story, but here we are.

Going into Hotline Miami 2, I was pumped. All I wanted was to go on another bloodsoaked neon killing spree.  I knew that Hotline Miami 2 was focusing more on the story, trying to fill in some gaps and wrap things up nicely, but even from the beginning of the game I have to admit I took little notice of it. I played through story mode for the first time in two sittings, clocking in at around 10 hours, if I recall correctly. For the most part, the sequel stayed true to the original, and I wasn’t disappointed with some of the things it did differently. The levels where you played as a soldier, fighting through the jungles of Hawaii were the furthest departure from the game, and yet they still felt very rooted in the things that made the first game great.

Because this game is a sequel, it had a baseline of difficulty to work from. I’ve seen most people who review this game say that the difficulty of the sequel picks up roughly where the first one leaves off, and I tend to agree with that sentiment. Hotline Miami 2 pushes the difficulty up even further, using the new mask system to present challenges to you that weren’t possible in the first game. In the first game, you were usually able to get by in a level without thinking too critically about your actions, but playing some of the later levels in 2 force you to understand the AI and manipulate them in order to succeed. One of my favorite aspects of Hotline Miami has always been manipulation of the AI. Understanding how enemies would react to certain situations and being able to play that was integral to finishing a level with a high score.

All of the skills you pick up along the way are put to the ultimate test when you unlock Hard Mode after beating the normal story mode. This is the mode of Hotline Miami that I was craving all those years ago after I beat the original game. Maps are flipped horizontally, max ammo in each gun is reduced by half, and throwing a gun causes it to lose half of its ammo. Playing through the hard mode in Hotline Miami 2 is some of the most satisfying difficult I’ve experienced in a game, and it’s exactly what I wanted out of the sequel to one of my favorites games of all time.


Super Mario Maker

I’ve spent the majority of my time with Super Mario Maker in the level editor, and it’s where I’ve found the most enjoyment. Mario is such a universal language that the level editor just makes sense on a kind of primal level. You almost immediately understand the basics, and with a bit of tinkering you’re able to uncover the more advanced features. Even with something so simple as Mario, given pieces that you’ve played with for years and years, you’re able to interact with them in a way that you’ve never seen before. New combinations are being discovered every day and leading to gameplay never before see in a Mario game. While it might seems like the majority of user created levels are either garbage or some sort of auto-scroller, all the parts are there to make some incredible things, and as time goes on people will keep finding new ways to stretch the limits of the language of Mario. The continued support from Nintendo has been a huge help to the game as well, added much needed features like checkpoints in a recent patch. While some curation tools would be nice, the game still has a lot to offer if you’re willing to do a bit of digging to find those crazy levels.


Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is a tricky beast to tackle. As of writing this I’ve put 48 hours into the PC version of the game, with one storyline completed (The Institute), and progress made towards the Minutemen and Brotherhood of Steel endings. Without embarking upon a long and winding road assessing the state of the industry, I’ll simply say that Fallout 4, for better or worse, is more of the same. I enjoyed my time in the wasteland, exploring the ruins of post-apocalyptic Boston, and meeting the people who make up the Commonwealth but I found myself almost immediately disinterested in the story of the game, only continuing with the main storyline quests as a means of moving forward, not caring about the outcome of my actions. Fallout 4 wasn’t “great”, and I’d go as far as to say that it wasn’t even “pretty good”. It was OK. It did some cool things with the lineup of partners available to you, but for all of the new things it introduced to the series, there were glaring issues left unaddressed. I wish I could say that I was surprised by this, but at the end of the day I’m just not. The game is still a janky mess, which at this point is nothing less than what I’ve come to expect from Bethesda. Fallout 4 is more Fallout content to be consumed, but by no means does it advance the series in a meaningful way. I was able to enjoy myself because I set out to create my own fun, but I hope dearly that future iterations in the series take larger steps towards something more than just another sequel.


Kerbal Space Program

I wasn’t initially planning on saying anything about KSP, but I kinda feel like I have to. I’m not good at this game, and I don’t think that I ever will be, and that’s fine. I currently have 8 hours recorded on Steam with this game, and I doubt that in 2016 I’ll put many more in, and that’s fine too. I’m just happy that Kerbal Space Program is a game that exists, and is so good at what it does that it seems to me as impenetrable to me as Dwarf Fortress once was. Dwarf Fortress was something that immediately clicked with me, and I felt like I had to learn how to play it, but KSP never evoked that feeling from me. KSP just isn’t a game for me, but I’m still so happy that it’s out there because I know that there are people who love playing this game in the same crazy way that I love playing Dwarf Fortress, and that’s awesome.


For the games below, I’ve purchased and played them for at least a little while, but for whatever reason never continued far past the beginning. Here’s my list of games I’ll hopefully get back to in 2016

2016 To-Do List (ordered by title length)

  • Dropsy
  • Swindle
  • Downwell
  • Not a Hero
  • Sunless Sea
  • Neon Struct
  • Rocket League
  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Kerbal Space Program
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Things I haven’t gotten around to playing:

  • The Witcher 3
  • Just Cause 3
  • Assassins Creed: Whatever
  • SOMA
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Metal Gear Solid V
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

My Hearthstone Story

Defeat!

 

I recently passed the ‘100 hours played’ milestone for Hearthstone and I’ve been reflecting upon my time spent with it. After getting access to Hearthstone close to the end of the beta, I decide to pick a single class and stick with it. At the time not wishing to spend too much (if any) money in the game, it made sense to me to focus on a single class and spend gold and arcane dust making cards to make a single deck better. I loved how simple the Mage was. There are so many ‘Deal X damage’ spells, and spell damage creatures allow you to ramp up the damage and make silly plays.

As I played more, I was able to invest more into making the Mage deck of my dreams. I took to the Hearthstone Ladder around the time that they started the first Test season, and was pleased with the results. I never made it far beyond rank 18 or so, but I had fun with a Turn 1 Mana Wyrm into Coin and Mirror Image. Even after Pyroblast took a significant nerf, I continued on playing Mage, casting all other classes aside to focus on making a fun burn deck.. Continue reading

New Web Hosting

Over the weekend I decided (mainly out of frustration with the previous web host) to move the website off of the free hosting that I was using previously. I used namecheap a while back for the domain registration, and decided to use them for the web hosting as well. At $3.95 a month, it’s not breaking the bank and will (hopefully) be more reliable than xoomsite was.

I’ve gotten everything migrated over, and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. All of the posts transferred over, as well as the theme, and the only thing I really had to do was to re-install plugins. I also took the time to migrate over my Adventure Time Title Card Gallery from my other old site. The WordPress gallery feature is pretty cool, and made it a lot easier than I thought it would be, so that was nice!

I’m really happyy with the way the site is looking now. For the most part my CSS rampage is over, though there are a few smaller (and probably more difficult) things that I would like to do. The problem with these little things is that they could take me a few hours to get working and I doubt anyone would even notice, so these things aren’t really a high priority at the moment.

All in all I’m happy with how the migration went, and I’m looking forward to posting lots more stuff here real soon.

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CSS Shenanigans

I’m working on the CSS for the blog and will be doing so over the next few days. I really like ‘Mog’ theme that I’m using but I’d like to tweak it a bit. I’ve fixed a few things that were bothering me and I’m liking how it is right now. I’ve changed the background color to something less harsh, and edited the CSS to let me give the background on posts a different background color than the page.

The main thing I’m wanting to fix now is the width of the page. It’s incredibly narrow and for the time being I think I’d like to keep with a one column layout (with the meta stuff at the bottom) so there’s no need for it to be so narrow.

BUT I’m thinking the width is a slightly larger issue than fixing background colors or adding margins or anything, so I’ll tackle that when I have a chance tomorrow.

Ramen Adventure #1 – Beef

I decided I’d begin my ramen adventure with Beef. I’m not completely sure, but I think I may have tried this once or twice in the past, though I can’t recall whether or not I liked it.

The first think I noticed about this cup was that the noodles seemed unusually… (for lack of a better word) slimy. I cooked this the same way I always cook my ramen, but the texture of the noodles seems a bit different, and I’m not sure if it’s the flavor packet that made it like that or if I just left the noodles cook a bit longer than I do normally.

Noodles aside, I’m very underwhelmed by the Beef flavor. There honestly isn’t much flavor at all aside from the taste of salt. Even drinking the broth by itself, I would hardly be able to tell it was (supposed to be) beef flavored if I hadn’t made it myself. It doesn’t even really smell like beef.

Maybe my expectations were set too high, and I shouldn’t hope for all of the other flavors to be as great as the chicken is, but I was really let down, but I guess that’s the whole point in trying new things. I now know for certain that I’m not missing anything spectacular by not getting Beef ramen.

Pictures after the break!

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Ramen Adventures

This is going to be incredible off topic for a gaming blog, but it’s my blog and I feel like talking about ramen today.

So… I was at the grocery store the other day and I found myself in front of a wall of assorted ramen. I wasn’t at my normal grocery store, do I was surprised to see the wide range of different flavors of ramen that were available. I realized that I had only ever gotten the chicken flavor, and never tried any of the other types available, and so I picked up one of almost everything (passing over the shrimp) and decided I’d try them all.

Pictures after the break!

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Welcome to my Blog!

I’m not totally sure what this blog is going to be for, but at the very least I’ll be videos up here.

I may be making some other blog posts about stuffs I don’t have time to make vidyas for.