A reptilian eye surveys the dig-site; thousands of tons excavated to reveal the settlement from the age of man. From this high vantage point foundation lines can be seen of the once mighty walls of the fabled Varanas. There is no mistake this time, this is the place.
For a Scalok, Froomas was not extraordinary, his eyes although sufficiently slimy seemed to lack that gleam that drove the women Scalok wild. His ears were far too symetrical and his claws just weren’t long enough, not for lack of trying. But today he had proved his critics wrong, he had finally located a human settlement, a place where real live men had actually walked and breathed. Froomas was dizzy with the excitement just thinking of what treasures he would unearth. He was so giddy infact he failed to notice his apprentice running up the hill towards him, he appeared to be holding something rectangular and heavy.
The ancient tome didn’t open as much as fall apart infront of them. With held breath the two Scaloks were absorbed with the archaic text and colourful drawings of men clad in bronze and iron. Most of the pages were lost to the ravages of time, but a small section at the back of the tome remained. Froomas, with his advanced understanding of man-tongue read aloud to the gathering crowd. It appeared to be a diary of a confused man called Rusty. It went something like this…
I still can’t believe the “episode” that happened last week, I’d heard stories before of people getting marsh-madness but I never thought it would happen to me. The worst part is I can’t remember most of it, and when I ask the goat people they chase me away. It’s a shame really, maybe they could explain the warts I’m getting on my tongue. Anyhow, all that is behind me, I need to think positively and get back to business. If I’m ever going to get out of this place, its going to be through co-operation with the locals by delivering their grain or whatever they ask of me. I’m just glad mother can’t see me now, she always thought I was weak.
I met a most curious man today, Bob, a merchant no less. Well he says he’s a merchant but at no point did he offer his wares. Instead he asked me to sort out some nearby wolves that’d been damaging his wagon. I wonder why he has a wagon anyway, I haven’t seen him move. Still, after a flourish of my blade ten wolves lay stricken on the ground, unable to harm another wagon. Why do wolves want to harm wagons anyway? Does the wheel offend them? This is a very strange place. Anyway old Bob was pleased with me so gave me a pair of trousers made of said wolves. They’re far too small and smell funky, the gesture was nice though.
Saw Bob again today, his wolf woes are still not over. Instead of being tasked with the lowly wolf-cubs, I am to fell the mighty Wild Mane. Apparently he has the strength of ten men and can kill a rabbit with his stare. But had they not heard the tales of me? I’m Rusty Ringstinger! I strode to the middle of the wolf den to face this mighty adversary, I’d been promised a mighty reward from Bob. Well dear diary, you may feel the spackling of blood on your page. Things didn’t exactly go to plan, quite a long way from Plan, truth be told. It turned out the tales of Wild Mane were true, his rabbit-troubling gaze rooting me to the spot. I’d like to say the battle was epic, two forces of nature pushing against one another. Instead he killed me in little under ten seconds. Yes, I died today. To be honest it wasn’t as bad as I thought. People say your life flashes before your eyes, for some reason all I could think about was squirrels, big ones! And that was that, my life force extinguished. Except it clearly wasn’t when I awoke by some floaty crystals not far away, no ill effects present. I don’t know what all the fuss about dying is if you pop back to life 50 yards away. How did Uncle Clive manage to die from typhoid then? He didn’t come back, although I can’t say I blame him living with Aunty Nora.
Bob seemed really sorry about me dying and all. You see what he should’ve mentioned is that I needed to assemble a group of warriors to take on Wild Mane. Oh well, no harm done I suppose. Before Bob left for Varanas, he had one more task for me, to capture twenty evil balloon monsters to add to his expanding catalogue. So, after collecting twenty boxes I set off westward with dread in my heart. Just the words “Evil” and “Monster” conjures up ghastly images. However seeing the aforementioned evil balloon monsters I really had to wonder about the hyperbole of the person who named them. I mean we can all agree on the balloon part, that is a given. Monster is a bit harder to justify, but I don’t know, there may be some beautiful balloon creatures somewhere. The word that really stuck in my craw was evil, I mean do we really know if they are evil? Even if they were, I’m not sure where on the axis of evil these creatures would feature. Whether it’s world domination they have planned, or maybe just the inflated price of helium (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that joke). Well, maybe the next adventurer will find out, I just piled the little crap-heads into the box.
Bob was pleased, he finally had all wares he needed to hawk at Varanas, he bid me farewell and then proceeded to go nowhere. Maybe I’m seeing things again, the vision of Bob won’t talk to me anymore. Pfft, I’m going on to the Whitefur Village tomorrow.
There seem to be a lot of people around today, especially in the Whitefur Village. Not long after entering the village a man by the name of LegionCS walked up to me and spoke in a strange tongue.
“Donde alkilo caballos aki?”
“Sorry friend I don’t speak Spanish”
“Aa ok Horse?”
And that was that, there was no response coming from the mighty LegionCS, his Hispanic tongue stuck firmly in his head. Not wanting to leave the conversation on a sour note, I decided to resolve the situation in the international language of dance. Satisfied I’d done my part in advancing the goodwill between our nations, I decided to run around the village picking up every quest available and hopefully get them hammered through sometime soon. And then, without warning, the greatest thing in my life happened.
It started out ordinarily, I was just getting through all the tasks in an area when a particular quest of killing 15 evil goat-men proved to be too tricky. You see I could kill a goat-man without too much trouble, the problem was they were hanging around in groups of three or four. As I was perusing the scene, looking for a gap in their defences, I noticed someone on the opposite side of the clearing doing the same thing. As I ran closer their pixellated frame transformed into the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Long flowing locks of golden brown perfectly complementing the amber armour of a goddess. Her name was Prangano. You know sometimes when there is a perfect rapport between two people that words aren’t needed? Well, only one word was required: Team. And that was it, she couldn’t possibly know what that one word really meant between us. Those stinking goat-men didn’t deserve to bear witness to her deadly grace. They were like mannequins in the ballet of battle. She twirled and dived and ran through every one of them. It was all I could do to try to keep up and keep my jaw from dragging on the floor, occasionally swinging my axe in a vain effort not to appear to be transfixed by such elegance, but it was no use. With the goat-men piled high it was all over. Naturally I gave her all the spoils of battle, willing to do anything to keep this perfect team together. But fate is a cruel monster, because it seemed Prangano had to be somewhere else. With an adios she ran out of my life, leaving behind an aching chasm in it’s place. I will see Her again, I am sure.
How does one carry on normally when you’ve seen the light of your life? I wasn’t sure if the butterflies in my stomach were real or if it was a demented goat-man trying to claw at my innards. Questing doesn’t seem the same without Her. Still, I carried on aiding the denizens of Whitefur while still staying close enough to the village if I heard her on the zone chat. Apart from the teamwork needed yesterday I can’t say I’ve needed any help at all in my time here. There is also a lack of variety in what I’m asked to do. Not many set-pieces as it were to shake up the format. Everything has seemed like a real drag today, like all colour has faded, leaving memories of burning red eyes surrounded by auburn locks.
Still no word from Pranny, I’m sure she’s just really busy, otherwise she would return my mails.
Didn’t leave the Whitefur Village at all today, need to be close incase She is around. Did I say something wrong? Could “thanks” be construed as something insulting in Spanish? I hope not. Maybe this was all just a big mistake, maybe mother was right. She said I’d never amount to anything. But I don’t think I miss the simple days of Pioneer’s Colony, it was all stuffy and pompous. Could I have got further if I’d spent real money to aid my progress? I don’t really care, life’s never a race. And think of all the creatures I’ve maimed, that must count for something. No, I’ve decided, if it takes me waiting forever to see her again, it won’t be long enough. I’m just going to sit here with my new caprine companions always looking for Her.
And that was it. The Scaloks looked solemnly at each other, maybe holding back the tears. With infinite care the tome was put into a protective box to be taken to the Museum of Man. There it would sit on display with other man relics, reminding them of a time long ago.
Incidentally Froomas had a brief spell of success and appeared on the talk-show circuit, he even spent time as a guest judge on Scalok Idol. But to this day, Froomas still hasn’t got any action, his claws are just too short.
And that really is that, I’m fully out of character now. I’ve spent over a month with Runes of Magic in the hopes of further quantifying it in traditional review terms. I’m still nowhere near savvy enough to encompass every element that the game has to offer. If you are looking for a qualitative review, this isn’t the place. I would like to give my general overview of the game though, it won’t be pretty and certainly not tidy, but here goes.
If a committee designed an MMO on paper, it would be very similar to Runes of Magic. It would have all the basic fare of a fantasy MMO but go the extra mile on each one of those features to give a “better game”. Rather than sticking to one class for 80 levels you can play two different classes up to 50 levels each, further tailoring your play style. Long-term play would be encouraged via an engrossing social element and a multitude of crafting systems. And most importantly it would be free to play, with the option to increase your progress or more importantly increase your social standing with micro-transactions.
Here’s the rub; Runes of Magic is exactly that game. Fantastic you think! Hmm, not exactly. I’m sure you’re all aware of the term “ghost in the shell”, that an inanimate object or program can have a soul of it’s own. A game’s worth can add up to more than the sum of it’s component parts. Runes of Magic seems soul-less. I might be wrong, maybe I haven’t played it the right way. But there’s always the feeling that this game is mechanically sufficient but lacks the charm. It seems that Frogster have an exaggerated expectation of the addiction-factor of their MMO. They can get all the parts right on paper and expect each player to find their own fun in the multitude of systems the game offers. They also expect such a connection that players are willing to spend their real-world money on a blue unicorn mount, just to look cool.
I don’t know, I’m still confused about this game. It could be that I’ve shaken off my addictive personality and didn’t get sucked into RoM the way I should’ve. Maybe it was because I was on a Spanish server, but I doubt it. Possibly my aversion to micro-transactions flared up my gag-reflex every time real-world money was bought into the equation.
But this game is FREE TO PLAY, I must remember this. However there is only so long you can justify a game with that prefix. Personally I think Runes of Magic just takes it a step too far over that line. Overall I didn’t mind the game, but I had much more fun creating the Rusty story arc, I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. Here’s the last thing I shall say about Runes of Magic:
A camel is a horse designed by committee.