Thursday, December 30, 2021

3x Experience Week and Chapter V in Runes of Magic

Team . . . team . . . look. I've been playing a TON of Runes of Magic. My company gives me this week off as a benefit and it lined up nicely with this Runes of Magic benefit, and so I've been benefiting . . . a lot. 

I started at level 67/67 and now I'm level 82/82.  So basically 15 levels on my rogue and 15 levels on my mage, and it's been a whirlwind of just GO GO GO when I log on. I've tried to snap a few screenshots of major story plot here and there, but at this point it's a bit of a blur. So, please forgive me if I get some of this wrong . . . let's talk Runes of Magic Chapter V -- Fires of Shadowforge!

The Shadowforge dwarves are now awake after a dark age where they lived in a "deep slumber" thanks to some dark magic gone wrong.  (At least that was the lore they made up so they could introduce dwarves as a playable race five expansions into the game.) Their story all unfolds on the continent of Balanzasar, which initially requires a trip involving a dragon. (after that point, you can just use Snoop)

Yeah . . . let's trust the demon that wants to help us and all that . . .

Dragons are pretty crazy in Runes of Magic. From what I understand, they do this kind of astral projection called Sleepwalking that involves traveling an elemental network that isn't visible or palpable. If anyone was to lose their way during sleepwalking, they'd either lose their mind or just outright die. You'll frequently talk to dragons in their human'esque form. It's all very complicated, and creates a kind of interesting triangle of conflict between the dragons, the elementals, and the demons.

Let sleeping dragons lie

On the continent of Balanzasar you'll be working first through the Ancient Kingdom of Rorazan then on to Chrysalia. From Chrysalia, you'll move on to the Merdhin Tundra. Beyond that is the Syrbal Pass.  That pathway is where I've been questing.  Enemies in Syrbal Pass have been hitting me for anything from 4k to 7k a hit, and it's getting nastier by the level as the enemies catch up to my gear.

Beyond Syrbal Pass is the final zone of Balanzasar: Sarlo.  At the rate I'm going through these quests and leveling, I'll most likely end up there sometime today or tomorrow.

Apparently me getting all this juicy experience all quick like this is both good and bad . . . good because I level and improve my character's stats and equipment possibilities . . . bad because I'm developing a talent point debt by leveling so quickly.  That 3x experience makes me move on to areas three times as fast and so now I'm getting three times less the talent points I'd usually get from grinding . . . or something like that.

It's a future me problem that will probably make it harder on myself at end game content because I won't have my skills at max level, which means I'll be a level 100 character whose powers and abilities (the main source of damage) hit like a level 80 character.  I suppose more to come on that development!

As for the story behind Balanzasar, it all seems to center around getting the true dragons on your side while dealing with a couple questionable demons named Sismond and Maderoth. Sismond makes several appearances throughout the main quest line as he gives you questionable but somehow helpful advice in your quest to take care of Maderoth . . . because Maderoth is going to take down the elemental lord, which would be bad for dragons who travel the elemental network.

It's a council of dragons, who all look like humans, agreeing to help humans . . .

Spoiler alert, you guessed it, they both turn out to be bad: Maderoth is a boss in the dungeon known as Belathis Fortress and Sismond is a World Boss later on in the level 90'ish zones. It's pretty clear to see that Sismond just wants to get rid of his competition and saw a fortuitous advantage with a temporary alliance with the stupid mortals. Demons . . . can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

So there you have it. I've been blindly clicking on yellow exclamation points that turn into grey checkmarks, and then turn into yellow checkmarks. Wash, rinse, repeat.  Bring it on!

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Runes of Magic -- Interesting Resource Gathering Mini-game?

I've taken a short break from leveling in Runes of Magic in anticipation of the triple exp week coming up tomorrow at the crack of midnight. Instead I've decided to take some time gathering herbs, which I've never really seen done well in any MMO I've played so far to be honest. 

Gathering in most MMOs goes a bit like this . . . 1- find a node spawn on the ground, 2- click it, 3- get item from node . . . and there you go.  um, yay? The most fun you can have with this activity is probably when you race people to get nodes and win, but it really sucks if you lose. (Also a bit of a jerk move to race like that.) Most MMOs offer you a leveling path for resource gathering and this both gates progression in higher levels and brings players back to old zones.

I've seen it done a variety of ways including the use of special harvesting tools ala Guild Wars 2 or with no special requirements at all ala Wizard101.

Seeing as how Runes of Magic attempts to build off of what you find in World of Warcraft, there definitely is an herbalism proficiency leveling track, but I think where they improved on the WoW model was in the meta-mini game of herb collecting.

After doing this for a few hours, it's seems to usually go a bit like this:

1- Find a node and click on it to harvest 2-7 items from the node.

2- The act of harvesting then begins a buff counter at the top of your screen indicating how many resources you've collected.

Shoot for 100!

3- Every 10 resources collected within the 10 minute "Collected Amount" buff counter, a couple of things happen. First, you gain a secondary "Easy Harvest" buff that helps you collect items faster.

Getting faster the more you collect!

The highest I've ever seen this secondary buff rise to is 9th power based on the counter. Second, you gain benefits every 10 points your counter progresses. For example, here's an example of one run to 100 that I received:

  • At 10 points -- Gain the Easy Harvest buff that helps you gather faster.

  • At 20 points -- Gain leveling experience for my Mage. Secondary buff levels to 2 (that's an extra 5% harvesting speed).
First level of combat experience from harvesting at level 67.
  • At 30 points -- Easy harvest levels to 3 (again an extra 5% speed).

  • At 40 points - Easy harvest levels to 4. Proc'd Nimble Harvest buff, which meant 30% more experience from harvesting nodes for the next 30 seconds.

  • At 50 points -- Easy harvest levels to 5.

  • At 60 points -- Easy harvest levels to 6. Gain more experience! this time, it was twice as much as it was when it proc'd at 20 points.

  • At 70 points -- Easy harvest levels to 7.

  • At 80 points -- Gained an amazing amount of that yummy leveling experience! Easy harvest levels to 8.
70k experience! Nice!
  • At 90 points -- Easy harvest levels to 9. Proc'd a better Nimble Harvest buff for another 30 seconds (this time it was 50% experience gain).

  • At 100 points -- I hit the cap!  My resource collecting buff goes away and is superseded by 3 minutes of super buff where every node I harvest for the next 3 minutes gives me double the experience toward leveling your harvesting proficiency and the fastest resource gathering speed in the game! My Easy Harvest buff expires . . . .

Something like that . . .

So, this kind of creates a minigame in a way where you try to land yourself in an area with lots of resources right as you hit 100 points; otherwise, it's a wasted buff.

Now, you can totally just ignore this little buff game and collect herbs, but I really like the effort they made toward trying to gamify the typically boring experience of collecting resource nodes.

My only wish here is that they double downed on the fun slot-machine mechanic to resource gathering. This predictable mini-game is fun enough by itself, but there can be fun found in randomness and everyone likes extra surprise rewards when doing something as rote as gathering herbs in an MMO.  For example, unearthing a treasure chest or finding gardening seeds! Spawning a rare enemy! Stuff like that!

I will say that as far as resource gathering goes, I kind of like the approach they've taken in Runes of Magic. It at least keeps the interest going while you're out collecting stuff from the ground. 

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Following the Conductor

When I was 19, I went to college for 2 quarters and then dropped out for a few years before changing my major. One thing I'll never forget from those times were my music classes. I took Music Appreciation, Introduction to Jazz, a Music concert experience class, Music theory, Marching Band, and Orchestra. I didn't have a music scholarship because they weren't going to give me much money. No, I was there on an academic scholarship because I worked hard on my grades as a high school kid, BUT I wanted to be a music major at the time (that didn't last . . .).

It was equally painful when it was my academic performance in Music Theory that cost me my full ride. I got a C-, which was my worst grade ever, and a painful realization that I wasn't going to make it as a music major. But what I was thinking about today were the high moments of those 2 quarters! Being in a Marching Band with a full percussion line was epic. I met a lifelong friend there. Introduction to Jazz gave me a love for Coltrane and Miles Davis . . . but today I want to focus on a cool moment that happened during Orchestra. 

The other drummers, and really the whole band, were way better than me, and pretty much everyone had a major attitude about our conductor. The comments generally were that he was hard to follow, the orchestral music he wrote was strange, and in general they all just seemed to dismiss him as not being good. I don't know if any of them really paid him much attention up there while he was slinging his baton. For some reason, he just hadn't earned the respect of the band.

I didn't get to stretch my chops much, and the older and more veteran players stuck me on the giant bass drum, which had a relatively simple part where I didn't play much. That said, it felt like the stakes were high, and I was intimidated with imposter syndrome to the gills thanks to realizing my skills weren't quite what I thought they were. (College was an eye opener)

So there I was one day, and I was reading the music, playing, and watching our conductor. All of a sudden, he was looking at me and really threw his directing fist in my direction, so I responded by playing louder. He did it again, and a third time, and each time I responded as well. He stopped the whole band, and said that I had impressed him right there, and as far as he was concerned I had what it took to go far in orchestral music.

The rest of the drummers that were playing along looked over at me, and said, "What did you do?" Again, intimidated and not knowing I did anything special, I just said, "I'm not sure." They all silently chuckled and continued to dismiss him as crazy. I hadn't put it together yet. 

The truth as I've come to believe it is that I watched him, I responded to him, and we communicated together as the music was playing despite what the music on the sheet said to do. I like to believe that I showed a non-musical, musical talent, which is the "ability to follow the lead."

Two thoughts:

  1. So many times in life ego gets in the way of collaborative cooperation, and I've seen it happen several times when someone goes too strong in the project because they think they know the end product better than those that direct them. That technical excellence sometimes taints the project, and it creates what I would term "well-intentioned dissonance."

  2. Reacting with your lead when direction is applied can be incredibly satisfying, and especially when you see excellent results together because of that labor. I think that shift away from personal ego and toward shared ego is the essence of building an excellent camaraderie and great work experiences. 

. . . and that's how I see it as a C- music student dropout who was also told I could go far in orchestral music by a conductor who had no respect from his band.

What does this have to do with a video game blog? 

I have a few MMORPG parallels that are coming to mind (saw someone rage and delete his account just the other day), but I'll let you put your own fine print with that in the comments. I just wanted to get that experience out there since it was rolling around in my brain today.

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Magical Reconstructions in Runes of Magic

Let me start with some hard truths to swallow: I think levels 50-65 in Runes of Magic felt more like a trial I needed to survive to progress. Sure, maybe the high level people that multibox accounts have an easy way to powerlevel through those levels, but I didn't.  I personally felt like I ran out of quests in that level range, had to grind the butterflies daily quests hundreds of times, and really only got to enjoy fast leveling at the beginning of the levels until about half of the way through each level when the quests ran out . . . then the last half of each level would be grinding and humbly asking for help in instances to eek out every last drop of experience I could find.

. . . And then the x1.5 experience weekend happened last week, and I once again made what felt like really meaningful progress in the game! I worked through a quest filled zone called Redhill Mountains, ending my weekend at level 67 on my Mage-half and level 66 on my Rogue-half. Perfect! Great! I loved it!

I have to be honest, at the end of the weekend, I thought I had experienced a shift in quest design philosophy for Redhill Mountains, but I don't think that was it. After counting up the quests you can play through in Redhill Mountains versus the quests you can play in the zone before it (the Land of Malevolence) it was clear that wasn't the case.

One thing is for sure, if you play Runes of Magic, you will fight a dragonfly in about every zone

I got to be honest, it really feels like the game was MEANT to be played with x1.5 experience and then because of the free-to-play model they backed off and made it more grindy to make the business model more profitable at the cost of a quality game experience.  That said, it's not impossible to play this game in its current state because you always have daily quests. They are the bread and butter of this game as far as I'm concerned.

This situation has put me in a weird post-traumatic shock mode for questing currently. I find myself not wanting to quest unless the game is running some kind of experience bonus because that feeling of being stuck is so . . . BAD. Now, that said, when I've complained in the past to my guildmates, the response was that, not to worry, it won't always be like what I'm experiencing in the 50-65 doldrums. I really really really really really really hope . . . REALLY HOPE that this is true. 

So . . . as for the game itself . . . both the Returning the Glory quest line and the Envoy of Dragons quest lines wrapped up nicely in Limo Desert. I was knighted for my service to Delanis and now I'm on a quest line that has blended the two quests into a new chain of quests called "Magical Reconstruction." 

Great to see these two standing together as their quest lines merge

Magical Reconstruction picks up in the Land of Malevolence and you begin to unravel a plot to subjugate the masses with something called Divine Fruit. The government controls the drip of Divine Fruit and uses it to inspire and motivate a migration of people from the northern part of the map down to the southern part of the map, closer to Grafu Castle. Eventually you get to a town where the NPCs are pretty much all mindless and endlessly drunk on Divine Fruit. They'll do ANYTHING for divine fruit, including participating in a kind of crazy circus.

I'm in certified carny gear . . . totally undercover . . .

That's right, in the middle of the zone, there's this kooky, totally not dark and creepy, circus, which, as you probe deeper down into the depths in full circus worker garb disguise, you find out that the drunken divine fruit people are being made into an army of monstrous, crazed freaks.

Hi everyone, this is Alice. Alice, this is everyone.

Grafu Castle itself is a wild instance that has a couple really challenging fights that seem to only be able to be accomplished by people well above its level range. I'd love to hear the stories from when this was end game content. I got dragged through the instance and died several times just standing there doing nothing. Thank you for your skills level 100 friends!

Of course it's an oversized creepy teddy bear, what else do you expect to find inside a castle?

The storyline of Magical Reconstruction then carries you onward into Redhill Mountains where now you're part of a royal envoy gathering up allies to help fight against the atrocities happening in the Land of Malevolence and what everyone suspects is a deeper problem involving the folks in Sardo Castle a zone over.

The belly has herbivore teeth and the head has carnivore teeth . . . that's fun . . .

Redhill Mountains is a war torn zone that pits the Rhino folk of the Kingdom of Kalon against the Dwarves of Fireboot Fortress. It takes a lot of helping out to get on the good side of both parties and bring them together to realize who the real enemy is and ultimately save the day and win the support of both parties toward your cause, which brings me to where I am now in the story: Tergothen Bay.

Glad they figured it out otherwise we would have had to launch the nukes . . .

I've enjoyed playing through this content and I'm really thankful to my guildies who have been helping out along the way. There are a few pinch points where I just couldn't proceed without the help of others, and they were there to assist and keep me going.  Good times!

The next big exp event happens just 3 days from now, so you know I'll be there. Before you know it I'll be out of Chapter 4 content and moved on to Chapter 5 content: Fires of the Shadowforge. As it turns out all the work that Frogster did with dwarves in Chapter 4 helped them launch their third playable race in Chapter 5. 

Thanks for reading and . . .

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Back to School to Multiclass in Wizard101?

Over on Syp's blog today he talks about making multiclass just a natural part of your character's journey in MMOs. It's a great read and I totally understand where he's coming from. I too have a twisting life path that I don't think is entirely finished myself! If I was to look at my personal journey it would twist and turn as I transitioned from Drummer to Songwriter to Dishwasher to Delivery Driver to Poet to Technical Editor to Columnist to Blogger to Community Manager to Game Designer to who knows what comes next . . . all the while, each step along my journey has added a new skill set to who I am.

Syp mentions three great games (DDO, FFXIV, and Realm of the Mad God) as examples. For myself, I've often envisioned Wizard101 as having a sort of going back to school quest line where you can play the game again as a different class of wizard, and indeed, the game already allows you to dip into other school's cards from their trainers, but nothing as drastic as taking my Death Wizard and going back through the quest line again as a Fire Wizard.

It could work. Wizard101 even has a time traveler in it ala the Five BOXES quest, so . . . it might not be entirely out of the question if you work some lore into it so that you could "correct" a few unknown-to-you-but-accidentally-critical errors you made along your journey the first time. And those moments could then award you with special cross-class spells that aren't available anywhere else.

Imagine if you will that because I time traveled and went back to school as a Fire Wizard that now I have access to certain Death/Fire crossover spells, like a hybrid meteor storm spell where the impact also causes skeletal hands to sprout underneath your opponents and now they're also taking damage over time for the next 3 rounds, or a Skeletal Dragon that breathes fire. It sounds super cool on paper! It might even make that crafted multi-class armor you can make just that much better!

Wizard101 has the concept of cross-over spells but they are cross-over spells from the same class, not multiclass.

Some example cross-over spells currently in Wizard101

It's also part of what I'm loving about Runes of Magic right now. I'm a 63 Mage / 61 Rogue / 30 Knight. I can only play as two of those at one time, but the different combinations give me different abilities.  The Mage/Rogue crossover gives me Vampire abilities.  The Rogue/Mage crossover gives me Telekinetic abilities.  The Knight/Mage crossover gives me Wizard Knight abilities.  The Rogue/Knight crossover gives me Bodyguard abilities. The Knight/Rogue crossover gives me Lion Guard abilities. It's just such a cool way of envisioning a multiclass system.

Again, great post from Syp. If you've got some fun Wizard101 multiclass ideas or examples of other games where this is done well, would love to hear from you.

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Double Freaking EXP in Runes of Magic

Last weekend in Runes of Magic was pretty crazy. Everyone in the game was pretty down about Gameforge removing the free gift that players were getting on a weekly basis. Inside that gift were a couple of really essential items: a free 7-Day return to guild stone and a free 7-Day return to home stone. They had been giving this gift away ever since I joined the game and probably had this reward running for a long time before that. The word on the street was that the free gift was permanent! Alas . . .

Thus . . . Guild Chat was whining. World Chat was whining. Discord was whining. Then Gameforge did the ol' bait and switch on us. (I'm familiar with the Bait and Switch . . . Lessah and I have been running it lately in FarCry 6.)

Magically and with no announcement there was a weekend of what felt like 250% experience gains for all quests and enemies! Let me tell you, it was heaven on earth in Runes of Magic for me last weekend, and I couldn't even devote that much time to the game! I was busy last weekend for the most part, but I still managed to gain 6 levels or so between my Rogue side and my Mage side. It was exactly what I needed to break through the experience doldrums of level 58/59.

Me during extra experience weekend . . .

So, I'm budgeting myself in Runes of Magic and playing the shop as if I was playing a subscription game. I'm going to try my hardest to not go over my $20 allowance each month while I'm playing, but I blew a ton of that allowance on this experience weekend.

My allowance money was mostly spent grinding daily quests by buying extra daily quest tickets.  You see, in Runes of Magic you can only do 10 daily quests a day.  There's a super easy daily quest that gives a glut of experience points in comparison to the other daily quests in the game, and when you couple that with ROM running 250% experience, it was amazing. I ran it 100 times over the weekend, and I'm not embarrassed to say that, but it feels like I should be.  It was WORTH it to me because I really like this game when the exp is flowing in happily. NO SHAME IN MY GAME!

Now for the rest of the story . . . Gameforge brought back the daily gift during the unannounced experience weekend, but this time we aren't getting the two essential items anymore . . . now you're getting a few transport runes and some minor things. As far as I can tell, the experience weekend plus the "return" of the nerfed daily gift seemed to quiet the whining.

Relatable content

To make matters more interesting, yesterday the Autumn gifts and ostriches-a-plenty were put away, and today the Christmas decorations filled the towns of Runes of Magic. Santa has arrived and new gifts are being stuffed into players rented backpacks!

But the best gift of all will be happening on the following days:

  • Between December 10th (12:00 AM) time and December 12th (11:59 PM server local time) you will gain +100% boost in drop rates.
  • Between December 17th (12:00 AM) time and December 19th (11:59 PM server local time) you will gain +150% Experience from quests and mobs and +150% talent points from mobs.
  • Between December 24th (12:00 AM) and January 2nd, 2022 (11:59 PM server local time) you will gain + 300% Experience from quests and mobs, +300% talent points from mobs, and a +200% boost in drop rates.
  • Between January 6th (12:00 AM) and January 9th, 2022 (11:59 PM server local time) you will gain + 150% Experience from quests and mobs, +150% talent points from mobs, and a +100% boost in drop rates.

It's a beautiful list of bonuses that are sure to make any Runes of Magic player happy. Oh sure, there's other Christmas events going on for the Snowflake Festival, but that list . . . that's where it's really at.

Me from December 24th to January 2nd

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Going Ostrich CRAZY in the Runes of Magic Autumn Banquet

A few weeks ago, the fine folks at Gamigo kicked off the yearly Autumn Festival in Runes of Magic. This was my first time attending, and at a high level, the Autumn Festival is all about . . . the Ostrich! Cooked Ostrich, Golden Ostrich, Ostrich Toys, Ostrich Eggs, Ostrich EVERYTHING. Think "Thanksgiving turkey" and then replace it with "Autumn ostrich."  You got it.

There is a pretty perfect guide written up for all of the daily autumn events already over at the Runes of Magic wiki . . . so there's no need for me to poorly reinvent the wheel with my own guide, but I would like to share my experiences with the event so far. 

As per most Runes of Magic events, it all starts with a world drop. While this event is running, that world drop is Cinnamon Leaves! Cinnamon Leaves are, after all, the best spice to pair with cooked ostrich. Long story short, once you've obtained 10 Cinnamon leaves you can exchange them Fez Williams in the Veranas Central Plaza for an Autumn Banquet Voucher and three Fresh Ostrich Feast meals, once per day.

Nothing like your whole party eating a roasted Ostrich off of the ground

These feasts are fun . . . it's not often I get to put down a clickable platter of food for everyone in my group. I dig it. The Ostrich Feast itself is buff food that provides 60 minutes of a small combat boost. Not much . . . it's more for fun.

Festival events seem to be split into two main areas: Veranas and Delanis. According to the wiki there might be one other location, but I haven't seen that yet.

At the Veranas Gates, you'll find three NPCs who will give you daily Autumn Banquet quests.

A Supervisor, a nurse, and a farmer walk into a Bar . . . find me a punchline please.

  • George Makov quest -- George is a farmer who sends you on a quest to fetch 5 ostrich eggs that have been stolen by the bandits of Silverspring.  It's a simple kill and collect quest from low level bandits nearby. Completing this quest results in an "Ostrich Salvation Package" reward. Inside the package is typically 2 Autumn Banquet Festival Vouchers.
  • Provisions Supervisor quest -- This quest has you running a five minute footrace back and forth between the farms of Silverspring to obtain "provisions" for the Veranas Autumn Banquet. The better you do on this foot race, the more Autumn Banquet Festival Vouchers you'll earn. In the three minutes time, I've typically earned 20-30 points and that has always resulted in 2 Vouchers. 
Feet so fast they leave a trail of fire!
  • Ostrich Nurse quest -- Possibly the most confounding Autumn Banquet quest involves trying to speak Ostrich Language. Ostriches speak in a code that you'll need to quickly decipher and tap buttons corresponding to the Ostrich's desires. 
    • -# -- The ostrich wants to be fed. Press the 1 skill
    • #- . . . The ostrich wants you to sing. Press the 2 skill
    • *! . . . The ostrich wants  you to break dance. Press the 3 skill.
    • ** . . . The ostrich wants to see your flying kick. Press the 4 skill.
    • '* . . . The ostrich wants to see you feign death. Press the 5 skill.

The ostrich will give you three strings of code, and you tap the skill buttons accordingly. These happen pretty quick, and I was lucky to get a couple of them partially correct. No matter how you perform, you'll at least earn 1 Autumn Banquet Voucher from this quest . . . so it seems worth it to try and fail.

Then outside the level 50+ zone of Delanis, you'll find three more quest givers that have daily quests for you!

A couple scholars and a ostrich feather hunter walk into a bar . . . find me a punchline please

  • Beatrice Maykern has THREE . . . count 'em THREE . . . daily quests for you:
    • First Quest -- Beatrice has another take on speaking the ostrich language that involves you turning into an ostrich and using a special potion so you can speak the ostrich language. To make the potion you'll need ostrich feathers, Pango head leaves, and fresh well water.  The ostrich feathers and well water are ground spawn items. You'll have to defeat a few Pango to obtain their head leaves though. You'll earn an Autumn Banquet Voucher for doing so.
    • Beatrice Maykern Second Quest -- Beatrice now has you drink the potion and transform into an ostrich! The ostriches behind Beatrice Maykern then talk to you all about their fears of being turned back into eggs by evil mages. Lil' Red is an ostrich friend of theirs that's gone missing because of this. Talk again to Beatrice, and she'll give you another Autumn Banquet Voucher for your troubles.
    • Beatrice Maykern Third Quest -- Finally Beatrice directs you to go undercover as a golden ostrich and find out what happened to Lil' Red. You'll be using three skills to identify tracks, follow tracks, and finally to cry out to Lil' Red at the end of the tracks.  When you do, an egg will appear near the banks with another quest for you.
      • Lil' Red's Egg Quest -- Lil' Red's quest is called "The Rebirth" -- when you try to hatch the egg, Lil' Red stops you and offers you an Autumn Banquet Voucher and explains that he's not an ostrich at all, but an undercover mage trying to investigate ostriches. Man . . . what is the FASCINATION WITH OSTRICHS, MY DUDE!
Lil' Red and Lil' Red's Egg
  • Humbo Schurtz has a couple quests as well:
    • First Quest -- Humbo is investigating ostriches and would like you to go undercover as a golden ostrich so you can get near enough to them to make drawings of them. In order to get close to a golden ostrich, you'll be using 4 skills. The game interface will give you instructions to follow, and you'll be tapping along until you gain enough trust with the ostrich that you can finally use the "4" skill and make a drawing. Once you gain an ostrich's trust, use the 4 skill as many times as you can in a row.  You'll need a total of 8 drawings to complete the quest and earn your Autumn Banquest Voucher.
    • Second Quest -- After completing Humbo's first quest, he'll now give you a disguise to see how residents from the surrounding villages of Delanis react to Ostriches. Talk to five residents in each of Medanor, Engwor, Sternhorn, and Tomara. Return to Humbo, and he'll have another Autumn Banquet Voucher for you.
  • And finally . . . Lavanda Vitt  -- Local custom has it that golden ostrich feathers can bring you good luck! Bring Lavanda back five of them, and she'll rewards you with an Autumn Banquet Voucher. The only problem is that it can be difficult getting close to a golden ostrich to snag one of its feathers. To those ends, Lavanda will give you 10 bags of Ostrich seed that you can place down near a golden ostrich. When the ostrich eats the feed, run up and pluck a feather from it by using your feather collection box in your inventory. To lure an ostrich to a bag of feed, use the same method you do for collecting cavy's in pet traps. Don't forget to delete the extra feed and collection box out of your inventory when you're done!

After you're all done collecting vouchers for the day, if you have 15 of them, Fez Williams will gladly trade your vouchers for 10 Hydro Draconaris, an Elemental Crystal, and a surprise package of goodies called the "Lucky Fool Package."  Inside the package you'll find a random item. These can be helpful premium coin shop items like transport runes or fun items like a temporary ostrich mount.

100 percent of all ostrich mounts should come with a flock of ostrich younglings

I had a blast running around fully transformed as an ostrich with a flock of young ostriches following me.  I wish THAT was a permanent mount instead of the ones they sell in the shop. MAKE *clap* IT *clap* HAPPEN!

FINALLY, there's a really confusing event where you track down a guy named Lorence Hollow. He's kind of sitting off to the side of the crossroads between Veranas and the Forsaken Abbey. It's super un-intuitive where he is, and I had to hunt him down. I totally missed his location for a few days because I just couldn't find him . . . he didn't even show up in the NPC search, so . . . that's a problem!

Lorence . . . You need to stand more toward the road . . . just saying . . .

Anyway, once every two or three hours, he'll show up and you're asked to pick an ostrich and use a Shepard's hook ability to herd an ostrich back to Veranas. Good luck!

All in all, I've had a fun time with this holiday event, and I have to say that as far as Autumn festivals POST Halloween go . . . Runes of Magic has an extremely good one. There's tons to do each day and the rewards are cute and fun -- especially if you like all things Ostrich. Enjoying them here is still much cheaper than buying this pillow on Etsy.


Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Getting Dragged through Group Content in Runes of Magic

Last week I started complaining in Guild Chat that I was completely starved for content and I had run out of quests. This, of course, wasn't the full truth, and in talking with my guildmate named Linguini (everybody's favorite pasta), I had dropped a bunch of old quests back in the day and I also skipped all group content. My bad!

To be fair, it's not like Runes of Magic has a group finder for dungeon content like World of Warcraft or even has people talking in world chat about Looking For Group (LFG).  In fact, talking in World chat costs an expendable microphone (I have about 90 of them sitting in my bags -- I'm not much of a world chatter), and I've only ever seen one person use a microphone to say the acronym LFG.

No, to be honest, Runes of Magic so far has felt very much like a solo romp through MMO content, which is fine. I've done that in pretty much every MMO I've played, so it's not unfamiliar territory. What is unfamiliar is running out of quests and having to back track to get your levels or do a slow grind on mobs ala Everquest with a guaranteed 10 daily quests a day.

Anyway, good ol' Linguini took me under his wing, decided it was time for me to finish some of those old group quests, strapped me to his figuratively-speaking back, and carried me through an instance called The Origin.

The "Level 100 Linguini" was a murder machine, jumping and flipping from enemy to enemy like a well-trained ninja assassin, just one-shotting the enemies like they were nothing . . . all while I stood back a good 50 feet and watched in amazement.

Linguini is about to kill a giant bug for me . . .
The dungeon culminated with a giant treant boss fight that Linguini made look like a warm up, and I finished 5 or 6 quests in the process, gaining that oh so needed experience. We ended up running that dungeon a couple more times and called it a night, my bags full of loot and with that experience bar feeling a bit less overwhelming.

Linguini, apparently this noodle is good for chopping wood too!

The next day a group of 50 somethings in the guild called out that they'd like to run an instance named the Hall of Survivors. We ended up with a full group with Tallhorse, Enidras, Charish, Missrichierich, and myself. (Gotta love those MMO names.) This was a little tough to be honest. Tallhorse had a tank pet that he'd send in to the fray and agro a big bunch of enemies, we'd then use tab targetting to find the one that had the least amount of health left, and then we'd all fire upon them one-by-one until they were all dead.

Speaking of dead . . . poor Enidras had the worst of it as he kept drawing agro off of the pet tank and spent most of the dungeon waiting for a rez, and let's be honest . . . yup, I died a few times myself, but man! This was an actual guild group! It felt amazing!

Crazy enough, my wings still flap when I'm dead

And finally . . . my guildleader, Ms. Ladyrose, has also been helping me out with the group content in Northern Janost.  She killed the nasty Sibwok Wyrm one night, and a giant angry Nax the Holy Tree boss the next. Then, I asked Ladyrose to come take a shot at killing a giant burrowing dune-esque worm named Deep Throat . . . I mean "Great Throat" *blush*.  This was no problem. Again, Ms. Ladyrose took care of it in a couple blasts of magic.

Now, Ladyrose is a healer . . . aka more of a lover than a fighter, but she still has a pretty good punch. In Linguini-esque style, she strapped me to her figuratively-speaking back, and carried me through another instance named the Treasure Trove, which was full of treasure chests. Imagine that. Also pirates. I was swimming in loot, including a fashionable hook hand and pirate bandana.

You can't call a place Treasure Trove without there being a lot of treasure chests to loot!

Then last night I pushed my luck to the very limit with Ms. Ladyrose and asked her to try killing a Sand Dragon named Zanka in the Limo Desert. She came, she tried, she died . . . and that made Ladyrose rage enough to call in help from a couple of big guns. Next thing I knew, my level 58 self was sitting in a group with 3 level 100 players and getting strapped to their figurately-speaking backs and once again being carried . . . through not only Zanka, but through a Sand Vortex boss in Limo Desert as well.

3 level 100's and I *still* managed to find a way to die . . .

So there you go. It's been an interesting ride the past week, mostly from the vantage point of the saddle on my guild mate's backs, but here I now sit a 59 Mage / 59 Rogue in Runes of Magic.  Let's go!

Happy Dueling

Thursday, November 25, 2021

A Tragedy in Two Parts -- Aotulia Volcano

I first entered Aotulia Volcano about a week and a half ago back when I first hit 50th level. For all intents and purposes, I figured it would be my next exp zone after poking around Ravenfell for a bit. Little did I know my adventures would swing me back and forth across a variety of zones before returning just a few days ago. Things have been a lot more complicated the last 9 levels than they ever were during the first 50 levels.

A stunning view of hot death

The real problem with this zone comes in 2 parts: 1- Death and 2- Confusion.

So, let's talk Death . . .

As it turns out, there are ways to deal with Death in Runes of Magic, but those typically involve premium currency purchases, a ton of daily quests, or time spent in front of the guild library working off a death debt. That's right, when you die in Runes of Magic, you'll have to work off an experience debt. 

You can avoid that by purchasing an Angel Tears potion in advance or a God's Ticket after the fact.  Angel Tears protect you from Death Debt for 24 hours. A God's Ticket simply clears any existing death debt.  You buy those with Phirius Coins earned from completing daily quests or from the shop. And if you don't like either of those methods, there's always standing in front of the guild's library while you're afk "studying" to get rid of it.

I used all three of those methods in Aotulia Volcano . . . because, yes . . . Aotulia Volcano killed me several times. (Special thanks to my guild leader for purchasing me a God's Ticket the other day, you saved me a few hours of repentance.) A couple boss encounters sent me to my grave multiple times. An attempt to run across the bridge of cremation did me in as well.  etc. etc.

Hiding in a barrel next to the bridge of cremation listening in to naga war plans

Btw . . . that bridge of cremation is NOT designed to be run across, but I actually found a YouTube video of a guy that managed to make it across by using multiple healing potions. It's a fun watch.

Up in the north eastern part of the zone there is a giant army of Naga that are part of an event where you can lead an army of fire elementals against them and earn a ton of loot in the process (but no quest exp sadly). It looks like it'd be fun to do with a group . . . by yourself?  Ohhh, it's possible to get badges from it, but I didn't have the gusto to get past the second event phases. It's extremely easy to get overrun by an army of Naga here, and that's exactly what happened to me.

Coming out of stealth here would be a bad idea . . .

Now as for the Confusion . . . 

Aotulia Volcano is a twisting mess of pathways with blockades and murderous elites at every turn. I swear I spent more time looking for ways to get to the Northern Half of the map than I actually spent questing in the Northern Half of the Map. The other weird thing . . . Google was NOT helpful in telling me ways of accomplishing this, so . . . lemme help you all out.

There are three ways to get to the Northern Part of the Map:

1- Scootch out from Titan's Hill Camp and move into the Devil's Mouth. When you see a bunch of manticores, you're headed in the right direction. Cut through the middle of the Tower of Rage and you'll soon be running into a big open field. (If you're like me, you can then complete that Manticore Whistle quest you've been holding on to . . . gratz)

2- Keep questing until you get to Titan's Hill Camp in Dimarka and run into an NPC named Aynara. Aynara is actually a dragon that will teleport you to the northern section of the map, but only one time and really you'll just be using her to get you into Delanis.

Big, yet friendly, dragon!

3- Keep questing until you get to the Infernal Gate. There's a big pool of lava here and after you talk with an NPC and do her quest, she'll port you to a flame elemental who becomes your new best buddy.  Falraisen will teleport you north ONCE transformed as a Fire Elemental and you can wreck havoc with your new transformation (but don't get crazy . . . if you die in transformation, you still die and get a death debt.)

Living my best fire elemental life . . .

In general the whole Titan's Hill, Titan's Hill Camp, Dimarka area is a confusing mess of caves, ramps, and tunnels, but option 1 will get you where you need to go.  Have fun with that . . .

Truth be told, I tried my best to not quest in Aotulia Volcano because of the death and confusion, but when I hit levels 57 and 58 and felt like I was running out of high exp quests, I really felt like I needed to head back to squeeze out that delicious exp in hopes of dinging 59, which meant I could once again continue down the Morrok line of quests.

 . .  and that happened this morning! WOOT! Limo Desert here I come!

Happy Dueling

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ten Easy Tips for Pikmin Bloom

Now that my family has been playing Pikmin Bloom for a few weeks, we've discovered a few tips and tricks along the way. Here's what we'd call our top ten tips for anyone just starting out in the game:

1- Easy Nectar Feeding

When we first started playing Pikmin Bloom, we would flick individual balls of nectar at our group of Pikmin. At first this was fun, but it soon became the most tedious part of the game. My son then discovered that if you simply hold a ball of nectar on to the screen in one place, then the Pikmin come running to your finger and jump up and grab their own ball of nectar.

All bunched up and well fed!

Not only is this more efficient, it's much faster too.

2- Easy Nectar Collecting

After feeding all my Pikmin nectar, we use to tap the screen rapidly to collect Nectar like the game was Cookie Clicker. Sometimes this caused the screen to zoom in, and we'd have to refocus and zoom the game out to collect more nectar. Collecting nectar is actually super easy, just swipe your finger over all of your Pikmin and you'll collect all your flower blooms in one swipe.

It may not sound like much, but anything to make feeding nectar and collecting flowers easier and faster is totally the way to go.

3- Fast Pikmin Swapping

After you've fed your squad of Pikmin and collected all their flower petals, you can easily change them out for the next batch.  All you have to do is tap the whistle three times rapidly and all your Pikmin swap out just like that.

These days I'm running a little low on Nectar, so I tend to individually select my Pikmin based on their need for hearts, but when Nectar isn't a problem and you just need petals, this speedy method is the best!

4- Using Mushroom Colors Correctly

When my family first started attacking mushrooms together, we'd just choose any color of Pikmin to attack as long as they had maxxed out their hearts. That's a fine strategy, but if you use Pikmin that match the color of the mushroom you're attacking, your damage will go through the roof.

Try using yellow Pikmin only on the next yellow mushroom you attack and you'll see the difference right away. 

But what about Brown Mushrooms?! Yup, you guessed it, there is no brown pikmin. Ever noticed how when you start mixing colors together they end up just kind of turning brown?  This is the same philosophy . . . just use your best Pikmin for these mushrooms or the ones that do the most damage like rock or purple Pikmin. You got this!

Nothing better than an easy brown mushroom!

5- Planter Efficiency

Ever get a huge seedling and have it stuck in your main 2 planters for a long time?  Well, don't do that!  Keep your main two planter slots running the 1,000 and 3,000 step Pikmin and only use the one-time use slot planters to plant your giant 10,000 step Pikmin.

If you use this method, you won't have clogged up planters causing problems.

Don't let those big seeds take up your valuable growing space!


6- Know Before you Grow

By the time you get in the higher levels of Pikmin, you'll start noticing you have an abundance of "roadside" red, blue, and yellow Pikmin. You probably also know that when you inspect a Pikmin planter that your Pikmin have to make an expedition for, it only shows a red location symbol? The game wants to hide your type of Pikmin! Simply back out of the expedition view and then view that same expedition once again, and its type will now be shown instead of the red location symbol!

This helps you not waste valuable timers on Pikmin that you have an abundance of already.

7- Use Detectors Wisely

You only get one free Detector a day, so using it wisely to find a new decor style Pikmin is what it's all about.  Sometimes it takes a bit to find the perfect spot to use your Detector, but if you keep it open on the Detector screen, you can see the "Places Nearby" changing as you encounter new stores. Sometimes those "sweet shops" at the local strip mall can be really hard to get, but don't use that detector until you see the sweet shop symbol in the Places Nearby area. 

8- Get Your Flowers to 500

You may notice yourself gaining coins occasionally and not knowing why. Every 500 flowers you plant while you're walking, the game gives you 1 coin. This is important to know because if you're done with your walk and have only planted 480 flowers, you're going to want to keep planting flowers while you walk around the house for just a bit so you can hit the magical 500 mark.

Every coin counts and this is really the only way Pikmin Bloom players have to earn that premium currency for free.

9- Walking Out of Town

It's an absolute blast walking around with Pikmin Bloom in an area that's hundreds of miles away, but just know that any pikmin you get from those areas will have to march all the way back when they're at max hearts. Don't be surprised if your Pikmin has to set out on a multiple day journey. If you know you'll be headed back to that town soon, it'll be best to hold on to those far away expeditions until next time you're in town.

Then again, if your expeditions are in a spot only 30 minutes away by car, that'll probably be about an 8-hour trek for your Pikmin on foot. It's best to do those longer expeditions overnight and wake up in the morning to some fun surprises.

10- Use Stars to Prioritize

After a while of playing Pikmin Bloom, you'll be overflowing with Pikmin and Seeds! Luckily you can use the helpful star feature to favorite the ones you want to grow and play with first. Favoriting these will automatically sort them to the top of your inventory.

Stars upon thars!


Thanks for reading along and good luck, bloomers!

Happy Dueling! 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Getting Savage in Runes of Magic

At the beginning of the week I reached a point in Runes of Magic where I just simply felt stuck to be honest. It's probably that I'm new and unfamiliar with all the multitude of leveling options, but being Level 57 and questless is not a place that seems fun. I spent some time grinding exp on elite mobs and racked up a pretty severe death debt that required spending a good chunk of Phirius tokens to clear. Whoops!

Asking around in guild, I found out that my best option was to head back to a place I had pretty much skipped through named the Savage Lands, so back I went!  There was a sea of quests available here, but the problem is that doing a level 50 quest when you're level 57 feels . . . fruitless? grindy? painful? All of the above? Yes. All of the above.

Drowning in Quests!

So, I switched back over to my Rogue half and decided it was time to check out the Returning the Glory quest line instead!! Only to be stopped again at the beginning of the quest when the level requirement for continuing the quest line was level 54. sigh. Back to Savage Lands I went as a level 50 Rogue. 

I gotta say, the rumor I had heard where you could just ride the exp train all the way up on the Returning the Glory and Envoy of Dragons quest chains was greatly exaggerated. I suppose if I was running both quests simultaneously as I leveled only one of my two classes, then, sure . . . I guess that would work?

As for the Savage Lands itself as a zone, it's been pretty interesting. It all starts in Sanburs Camp where Leo Hubbert and company tell you all about the Hall of Survivors and the ancient passage way that connected them to the Savage Lands. Archeologists flocked here, and died here, as members of the Eye of Wisdom organization started payrolling a search for the legendary ruins of the Guardians of the Ancient Kingdoms.

Sanburs Camp in Savage Lands

A little deeper in you'll start to climb Ape Mountain, which, as you guessed, is infested with Apes. Also found on Ape Mountain is a gal by name of Aylin Kerair, who's pretty much Sigourney Weaver from Gorillas in the Mist. She sends you off to get milk from deer and protect a bunch of weak young apes she's helping out because the apes on Ape Mountain tend to cast out the ones with birth defects. 

He's so . . . pushy! 

Also, holy crap the apes here are annoying to fight!  They do this un-resistable, triple knockback punch that is really really obnoxious . . . and that's all I gotta' say about that. Beyond Ape Mountain, you'll encounter a giant elven city built around a huge tree known as the Green Tower, which has some territory conflicts with a naga camp to the north. Lots of quests will lead you that direction in the Savage Lands.

Number one rule of tree cities in MMOs: You must have a floating elevator disk inside the tree

The middle of the zone is basically a pit full of demons and ugly water monsters surrounded by high cliffs that host 4 tribes of smaller monkey/donkey/lizard peoples? Look . . . I don't know their genealogy, but they're called "Bodos." They have a face that only a mother could love and tend to attack you as a colony of ants would, in swarms . . . except for the friendly Bodos from the tribe of Haz. Those little dudes are pretty chill.

Bring it on, Bodos!

On the far Western edge of the Savage Lands is a giant mushroom forest known as the Kilanche Fungus Forest. My only complaint here is that I wish this area was a bit darker and had some contrast from the rest of the zone. It might just be I've played too many Dungeons and Dragons games where you delve into an underground bioluminescent mushroom zone, but it just didn't feel quite right being so bright.

Big Mushrooms, Little Mushrooms, Blue Mushrooms, Living Mushrooms . . .

In a way it reminded me of the curtains in my parent's old kitchen back in the 70's.

Yeah . . . that print was a thing at one time.

Actually, if the zone had looked more like my parent's old curtains, it probably would have been cooler than what it is. Anyway, I'm always down to help an intelligent tribe of mushroom folks and the Kilanche Fungus crew needed a lot of help. They have a problem with psychedelics and mind control. Half of these fungi are in a happy peaceful state and the other half are super grumpy.  

Grumpy mushroom is grumpy

So there you have it . . . Bodos, Apes, and Intelligent Fungus -- these are the things the Savage Lands are made of. I still have a ton of quests here with the Bodos, and I'm sure I'll come back to them, but first I need to get back to the business of the Returning the Glory quests because my Rogue is level 54, baby! YEAH! So I'll be back to report more on the murder mysteries and police brutality found in that quest line later, until then thanks for reading and . . .

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Participating in Pikmin Bloom's First Community Day Event

 A couple weeks ago, the family all got a notification that Pikmin bloom was having their first community day and we, along with the rest of the world, were invited to walk 10,000 steps on November 13th. We were all in for the event!

We've all been playing Pikmin Bloom pretty religiously around here. The Uber Wife is kind of killing the rest of us in the family as she's now level 19 . . . or maybe even 20 after yesterday! I've been the slowest of the bunch, but still I was sitting at a respectable level 14 at the start of the day yesterday.

Flowers! Flowers Everywhere!

But is it that respectable? No way. The real fun doesn't start until level 15 when you can attack mushrooms with your pikmin for cool postcard rewards, and believe me, the rest of the family all let me know that I needed to start walking my weight and get up to level 15.

We decided to start our day out with a Donut Adventure in downtown Austin TX to try some seriously amazing donuts at a place called The Salty Donut. It was soul crushing to watch the kids enjoying a horchata donut. Um, donuts are 100 percent off the menu for me these days as a diabetic, but man they looked good.


After this we drove down to the south shore of Lady Bird Lake in Downtown Austin and walked around the shore's excellent trail system. For us it had TONS of flowers waiting to be bloomed, and we all launched our detectors here hoping for a riverside pikmin.

Time to get walking! Those giant flowers aren't going to bloom by themselves!

In case you're unaware of how it works, Pikmin come from different locations. Most pikmin are "roadside" pikmin, but others come from restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, movie theaters, zoos, forests, post offices, art galleries, airports . . . the list goes on and on. You can see it for yourself here. When a pikmin gains four hearts of love and attention, it sets out to retrieve a gift box and then its silly decor is manifested on its body.

He's everyone's favorite fun guy!

By the end of the day I had walked my 10,000 steps (and then some), dinged level 15, and earned my new badge . . . kinda. Apparently it'll take a while for that badge to show up in everyone's inventories. That's ok though . . . the badge doesn't really do anything but it's kind of cool to earn it yesterday since there's really no other way to get that badge.

Anyway, after I hit 15th level, I was super happy to participate in my first mushroom attack with the entire family! We crushed it.

3-stars earned at the Iron Works BBQ in Downtown Austin

To be honest, the best part of the day was simply being out with the family walking around and having fun together, and that's really what Pikmin Bloom is all about.

Tired feet, happy pikmin!

Happy Dueling!