More F2P Goodness: Runes Of Magic

In between trying to make my own game this weekend (so far all I’ve accomplished is a lot of design work) I’ve given Runes Of Magic a spin and found it to be pretty darn good.

On first blush, you’d assume that Runes of Magic is just a bargain World of Warcraft: only one race, 6 classes (soon to be 8), better-but-not-as-stylized graphics, smaller world, and a free to play with micropayments payment model.

However, as I read up a bit about the game (the above video and a wiki) I discovered that Runes of Magic actually does quite a few things better than the Blizzard-made marvel.

Impressive Features

Foremost among these features is the ability to dual class.  You can specify one class as a primary skill and another class as a secondary skill.  In addition to “class-specific” skills (which make up the bulk of each classes abilities) each class has a set of “general” skills which are usable while they are set to be the secondary class.  Further, there are a “elite” skills which only are available to each specific primary/secondary combination.

Overall, the dual class system is robust enough that the 6-class system functions well enough as a 30 class system.  However, unlike Final Fantasy XI’s job system (which allows you to level up as many jobs per character as you want) you can only pick two total classes per character and switch between which is acting as primary or secondary.   To an extent, Runes of Magic makes up for this by providing better compatibility to any combination of classes (there are many job combinations in FFXI that just don’t work).

Other cool features Runes of Magic has includes:

  • Crafting and housing are in and well supported.  Many kinds of crafting, about on par with World of Warcraft in sophistication.  Housing includes the ability to purchase furniture.
  • The titular runes of magic, which can be applied to slots on gear to grant various skill boosts.
  • When you put your cursor over a mob, you can see which (if any) active quests you need it for.  (They also show up as an icon on the mini-map.)
  • You can get a mount immediately rather than waiting for several levels to earn one.  (First mount’s free for a day… after that, it’s a P2P item.)

Overall, a pretty solid offering for a free to play game that doesn’t just seek to beat World of Warcraft at its own game, but also inherits seamlessly some excellent features found in other games.

How the game stays afloat

You never really have to purchase anything to play this game but, if you decide to do so, the “diamonds” go along the range of 100 diamonds for $5 to 3000 diamonds for $100.

A permanent mount runs about 395 diamonds while a 7-day-rental can be accommodated for 30 diamonds.  Other things available in the item shop are color customization (body, clothing, mount) consumables (potions, transport runes, equipment enhancement) furniture (for houses) and so on.

Fairly standard micropayment stuff, but surprisingly you can actually purchase some of these things by questing (albeit it takes a lot of questing to earn the good stuff).

Good… but perhaps not good enough for a burnout

To an extent, I’ve put MMORPGs behind me.  I just can’t seem to enjoy them anymore – my rampant alt-a-holicism crops up because I no longer see the point to virtual accumlation.  However, if I still did like these sort of games, and I was in the mood for a game like World of Warcraft, I think it’s a fair bet that Runes of Magic would be my choice.  Outside of that (very specific) definition, I think I would prefer a more challenging game like Cabal Online or Dragonica.

One thing that would make me happy would be discovering that Champions Online or Fallen Earth were F2P.  Part of the reason for this is purely selfish: I’m flat broke.  Work has never been easy to find for the student fresh out of college, but this recession is making things even worse than usual.  However, I really suspect that with such fine F2P games on the market, the whole “$50 box + 15/mo subscription” model may be sorely outmoded.  With games like Free Realms and Dungeons and Dragons Online making the switch, perhaps it’s only a matter of time until we see all MMORPGs go this route.

Okay, Mechwarrior 5, You Got My Attention

Cutscene?  Not according to the writing in the lower right corner: in-game footage.  (It’s easier to make out in a higher resolution version.)

Looks like it’s going to be an extremely atmospheric-feeling Mechwarrior.  The ejection sequence in particular is outstanding.  My only real complaint is that it looks like damage is going to be represented by percentage, which suggests that one of Battletech’s main draws (the sectional damage mechanism) may have been deprecated.

Battletech veteran note: if you ever find yourself piloting a Warhammer against an Atlas, try to operate at range 9 or greater, so the only weapon the Atlas can use against you is its LRM-20.   2 PPCs versus an LRM-20 is a pretty good bet, as the LRM-20 will typically connect with only 10 missiles, and they should be spread out.   In an urban environment it might be hard to get that distance, but even operating at range 4-5 should gain you a nice base-to-hit advantage.

Dungeons And Dragons Online, Again, For The First Time

I bought and played Dungeons and Dragons Online towards release, and discovered that it was a pretty decent game. The AD&D 3.5 mechanics were translated into a surprisingly-faithful system that also pulled a real-time quasi-arcade mechanism. What was actually delivered in terms of core gameplay was actually both fast paced and conveyed a certain spirit of Dungeons and Dragons.

(Dungeons and Dragons Online Gamespot footage.)

Unfortunately, it didn’t really feel like a MMORPG. While Dungeons and Dragons Online had an excellent mechanism for finding players to team up with, the actual game was heavily instanced. There was no real compelling feeling of a unified world, instead you would go and perform instanced dungeons.  Time and time again you would do these, because chances are the people you meet would need to do them to complete missions even if you already have done them before.

That the dungeons were of excellent quality with randomizing elements is beside the point: while Dungeons and Dragons Online was a pretty decent game, it was never a $15/mo game.  It never had that MMORPG-like appeal, even if it was a pretty decent fast-paced RPG and Dungeons and Dragons conversion in and of itself.

(A fellow sharing my excitement over this transition.)

So I’m actually quite excited to hear that the game is in the process of going Free To Play. You can get into the beta right now if you have a Fileplanet Subscription (or likely even if you have a DDO subscription) and see what they’re offering.

I’ve played a little bit of it, and I feel a great deal like I am indeed meeting Dungeons and Dragons Online again for the first time. This is how the game really should have been at release: no strings attached play, just log in and go for it, and if you decide you want to get some additional goodies then dig out your wallet and buy em’.

The payment model is detailed here, showing that you can choose to pay $15/mo if you really don’t like the idea of micro transactions. Some of the things you can purchase include additional character slots, classes (Monks and Favored Souls are currently considered additional), modules (sets of extra dungeons), shared bank slots, ect.

An interesting thing I’m noticing about The DDO Store is that the vast majority of the micro transactions are permanent – you really can escape having a subscription in all cases except for special consumables (e.g. special healing potions).

Dungeons and Dragons Unlimited is leaving beta August 4th. The beta, of which I’m currently a part (and the NDA is dropped) will wipe its characters at that point.  In this move to going free to play, I would like to see a lot more mainstream MMOs follow suit, but Dungeons and Dragons Online in particular should really benefit from this transition as the game was practically designed for it from the start.

To Simulate A Meaning In Life

Well, I think I figured it out: the reason why I keep halting my BYOND game-production half-way through is because I’m a fairly goal-oriented individual and I knew, at least subconsciously, that the goal of what I’m making sucks.

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