Signup for the new Skill of The Month has started! The skill this month is: Slayer. Please signup at http://www.rsbandb.com/skotm, you will need a valid forum account to signup. Signups close on the first day of the month. The competitions begin as soon as signups close.
The May competition continues until June 1st.
It's time to have a look back at the month that was April. We are well on our way to fully understanding and experiencing Jagex's wishes for 2017. At the start of the month we saw the release of the Gemstone Dragons. Mr. Bistro delivered an excellent rundown on these Gemstone dragons including details on both their mechanics and why players were wrong about the drops.
April also saw the release of the revamped achievements system in game. Achievements and the path one takes is critical to accomplishing goals such as completionist status or attaining the master quest point cape. Tanis explains why this rework has unfortunately left many players scratching their heads.
Finally, Alex talked about Jagex's new community seasonal event, the Spring Fayre. The Spring Fayre was released to much community discussion and Alex touches on some of this. He also touches on why the Spring Fayre isn't exactly fair, and it's not why you are thinking.
For our non-RuneScape piece of content I decided to have a look at the current state of TV. It's no secret that it's easy to get by without cable and there are a number of factors causing this. Though there are still downsides to not having a cable connection or access to local stations. I run through the problem and provide some thoughts on how the problems could be solved.
Our April Hunter Skill of The Month saw the least number of competitors ever. With only 4 competing Jamandy52 took victory with 20,148,293 million experience gained. Andthatsbad took second place with 5.8 million experience and Flash finished in third with 121 thousand experience. We'll be watching our Cooking Skill of The Month much more intently to see who comes out on top.
With that being said, we'll see you next month!
Last month I talked about the problem with TV and how cable companies (at least in North America) are holding back technical innovation. Back in April on RSBANDBUpdate! we discussed YouTube TV and the surrounding issues of cable in North America versus the rest of the world. The consensus reached on that podcast was that if you live outside of North America, chances are that you can use almost any third party device for streaming content while accessing most broadcast channels for free or if not very cheap.
The content covered from this point on will range from devices and services that utilize anything from over the air TV to pure streaming services.
If you play video games and are content with channels that you can get over the air, the Xbox One might be the best hardware platform to solve the TV problem. Hauppauge makes a TV tuner that is specifically designed for the Xbox One called Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One. This device allows you to connect your over the air antenna and send that signal into your Xbox One. The Xbox One will then act as your TV guide allowing you to watch channels as you normally would.
The Xbox One is also a decent choice, because if you want access to a TV show, streaming service, and a selection of live TV channels, you can subscribe to and install an app for Hulu with Live TV. Hulu with Live TV offers channels such as CNN, Fox News, ESPN, FX, National Geographic and more that may not be available over the air. Hulu with Live TV will set you back $40 per month. For more than 50 channels this isn’t a bad rate compared to some cable packages.
NB: If you do not wish to use over the air signals or you would prefer to not have an Xbox One and are just interested in Hulu with Live TV, the Apple TV (4th generation, $169) has a supported Hulu app.
YouTube has also released its own TV streaming service recently called YouTube TV. YouTube TV costs $35 per month and offers slightly fewer channels than Hulu with Live TV but shows the most potential for growth going forward. As an example of channels available on YouTube TV there are offerings such as CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, ESPN, Fox News, CNBC, AMC, and the USA network among others. YouTube TV has a great DVR service allowing you to pick up your shows on any device. This is what sets YouTube TV apart from the rest. There are two major downsides with YouTube TV: there’s no Apple TV, Xbox One, or Roku app meaning you need to use either a Chromecast or a Chromecast enabled TV; secondly, YouTube TV is only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area to start with.
There are other services that could be worth looking into such as PlayStation Vue; however, Vue does not have the robust DVR capabilities that Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV does. The idea of content streaming from live TV still is not something that most streaming providers support. Over time as the market expands it would not be surprising to see more live streaming operators come online.
In summary choosing a streaming provider and streaming hardware can be difficult. Most times it will come down to finding the service that has the channels/content that is desired and then finding an appropriate piece of hardware. In general unless you want the newest offerings from YouTube TV any streaming device will be sufficient. If you already have an Apple TV or Xbox One and are fine with Hulu Live TV, the choice is simple. If you want to use YouTube TV and don’t have a reliance on other streaming services, it’s as simple as picking up a Chromecast. If you don’t want a DVR it’s a simple matter of picking a streaming service and maybe even picking up a device as simple as a Roku.
The options are available to “fix TV” to a level where it’s more usable in 2017 than it was before. However, as defined last month the ideal solution does not exist. There’s not one single streaming service that offers live and on demand content from the multitude of networks available on a cable package. For that to change we need the influence of a large player such as Apple, Google, or Microsoft.
The isolated tale told by One Piercing Note was an easy one to overlook by some. 2011 was rife with big, booming, epic quests. Just before One Piercing Note’s release in November, August and September had seen the release of Branches of Darkmeyer and Ritual of the Mahjarrat, respectively. Then following in January of 2012 was the master quest, The Firemaker’s Curse. Nestled in between these adventures of great import was a fairly self-contained novice quest that would become free-to-play content only 5 years later. However, I would make the case that this quest was possibly the best of the year, and could have been the future of all Runescape quests in another world.
One Piercing Note was heralded by the release of a Lores and Histories entry in October involving a Saradominist holy woman named Elspeth who was buried where the modern day Citharede Abbey was founded. Famous for her singing and music, the abbey founded upon her grave-site was to carry on her legacy. In so doing, this quest would become the very first to feature primarily vocal tracks as an audio medium for environmental music as well as full voice-acted dialogue. From my perspective at the time, this was Jagex finally taking up what had been done by major video game developers in the previous 5-10 years. Voice-acting had become commonplace in video game experiences and Runescape was finally joining that cutting edge by hiring professional voice actors to voice their NPC’s in quest content. Needless to say, I was thrilled at the idea.
Not only was this quest going to be audibly stimulating, it would also take place in a brand new, beautiful Saradominist abbey just east of Al Kharid and the desert strykewyrms. The building itself was impressive and beautiful, complete with a courtyard, sanctuary, and bell tower. With NXT, this feature especially lends itself to some expansive views.
The story of the quest was also intriguing as it centered around a murder that had taken place at the abbey with an unknown killer lurking about. Throughout the quest, the adventurer is tasked with gathering information from just about everyone inside and outside of the abbey to determine who might have done the deed. The player then resolves to set a trap to catch the killer. Although the bait works, the killer slips free and a chase through the abbey and up the bell tower ensues. Here it is revealed that the killer was one of the sisters that at first had seemed to have been killed. Regardless of the actions of your negotiation, the sister will fall to her death from the top of the bell tower. With the killer gone, the quest is complete.
Although the actual plot of One Piercing Note might not be overwhelmingly new or exciting, the way the quest goes about telling its story is what makes it unique. The voice-acting for this quest is absolutely incredible. They even went so far as to fade the audio in and out of the sisters singing as you approached and left the sanctuary. This area is extremely immersive and it does an astounding job at actually making the adventurer feel as though they are in an abbey trying to solve a murder mystery. Additionally, there are plenty of characters who offer unique dialogue and a different perspective on the story. Throughout the quest there’s even a “Sound of Music”-esque subplot. The visuals as also stunning. Most everything in the area is able to examined or somehow interacted with, and that comes to be an important part of actually solving the quest’s mystery. One Piercing Note stands not only as a decent one-off quest, but as one of my favorite quests for all the reasons listed above.
However, things have changed over the last 5-6 years. Voice-acted quests nearly filled all the quest slots in 2012 with each new signature hero quest being fully voiced in addition to several TzHaar and other newer quest lines receiving the voice over treatment. This continued through 2013 and early 2014, resulting in possibly the best examples of successfully voiced quests in Missing, Presumed Death and Fate of the Gods. After this point, unfortunately, only The Mighty Fall would be partially voiced in June of 2014. From then on, voice acting in quests fell away and became a thing of the past. The reasons Jagex gave for this change were a lack of interest from the majority of players and, primarily, the cost of both time and money to fully voice a quest.
Since One Piercing Note’s release in 2011, Jagex has had several failed projects costing more money than they made and has also had to split their Runescape team slightly to accommodate a “new” version of the game. It’s also no secret that micro-transactions have also become a greater focus for the company since this quest was released. Now I’m not trying to draw any direct correlations here as I am not privy to the inner-workings of Jagex as a company, I am merely saying that I can understand from that perspective as well as from a game-perspective why these types of quests are no longer released. Voicing quests takes a lot of time, money, and ultimately is not even worth it if the player doesn’t know English.
Although it makes sense to me why voice over is no longer in use for quests, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still lament its passing and what it could have meant for the bigger quests. I love immersion. I want the game to suck me in. That’s part of the reason I love questing in Runescape. Not only do I love puzzles and adventuring in general, I also am a sucker for being pulled into a story and feeling as though I’m there. Voice acting in quests like One Piercing Note and Missing, Presumed Death does that for me. Voice over was what it took to really pull me through the screen and into the game. Why this isn’t the same for other players, I can’t say. Maybe one day Jagex will have the money and time to begin voicing quests again. Probably not, but a guy can hope.
This month I wanted to cover something that was a smaller update but probably up towards the top of concepts that Jagex has released all year. The update I am talking about is the skybox/screen shade update. It has been a while since there has been an update that has made me stop what I am doing to go online and check it out. This update finally made me.
Mod Shauny’s Custom Skies truly reflects anyone's desired playstyle. The ability to customize was really easy to find. Just by simply clicking the visualize option on the orb of oculus (or right clicking the world map icon) changes the environment and the sky boxes to the desired theme. On thing that I was worried about was if this would only be active while on the screen using the orb. But it persists for the rest of the gameplay. Even when logging off and logging back on the setting stays. They really thought through the idea of what most people will actually use this update for. One issue that I noticed however was that a teleport did wipe this feature away.
Another cool feature about this update, albeit not very helpful to actually play, is the screen filters used for some of the quests like the finale to the vampire questline. I thought it was cool that these options were included but not on the main screen of choices to pick from. I can see YouTubers using these filters to create some pretty cool content.
But really the main reason I like this update is that I can really theme the way I play the game to my liking. The more years I have played RuneScape or games in general, the more I look for theme. I am a DM for several groups of friends and co workers for dungeons and dragons and have been playing for a little over 7 years. I really look for the theme in the campaign that there is to offer. Otherwise the game falls flat. I feel that RuneScape has been beginning to suffer from this as well. Fortunately to my surprise. The large release schedule is about to finally kick off and give that theme of play that I have been wanting.
If this update is a taste for what thematic settings Jagex wants to put the game in then I will fully buy into that and give them all the support and praise I can. But I think we don’t need to keep dragging on about theme in the game. What are my favorite filters?
Dusk is a very wonderful filter, the purple hue and low lighting gives the feeling of mischief and danger. The idea that something is about to happen. I don’t think I could use this filter for long periods of time as the screen becomes quite dark but it really adds a layer to the game and gives me a sense of made up mystery that I love!
Dawn is also really neat, I don’t really feel it adds much to theme but I could see myself turning it on in the early morning just to match the real world The effect really leans on bloom so make sure that is enabled if you can use it.
Throne is rather creepy. It has a swirling purple pink sky and a warm set of colors over the land. I don’t really know when I would use this one but it’s the first filters that don’t recreate the day feel.
Bonfire. This one right now has to be my favorite. The rich orange colors on the land and the moon in the sky really amazing. I could probably play on this version all day. The stars in the sky really contrasts to the land as they are complementary colors and it really works here.
Eclipse is badass. I turned it on and I thought I broke the sky boxes only to find out that there was an actual eclipse happening with clouds in another direction. Super cool.
And now it’s time to get to some other themes that really fell flat more me. I don’t really want to add images to these ones as this article will just become a gallery and there needs to be an option for self discovery here. Goshima takes on a washed out grey appearance like being on the Pacific coast up by Seattle. It can be kinda creepy but is overall really hard to see and requires more adjustments to actually use.
The River of Blood hallucination screen filter is available. I really don’t understand the practicality of this one but looks interesting just like it did in the quest.
The blue shadows effect is cool. It’s not as washed out as Goshima which makes it usable and gives off the overall glume and foggy vibe.
Magic toad is as sherbert and trippy sounding as you would expect. There is no use except for Machinima cutscenes.
Probably towards the top of my list of favorites is the Aminishi Spirit Realm filter. This one really gives the feeling of gloom and danger that I would say can be related to a Tim Burton movie. Just going to the Port Sarim and seeing the ships brought the themes of that movie into my head. I need to include an image for this one, can’t resist. Also, divination wisps look cool as hell with this filter.
Zemouregal’s Scrying pool turns everything super purple. Enough said.
There are also many old fashioned feeling filters like warm, cool, sepia, and grayscale. There is a color invert and cel shade which are interesting but these will all mostly likely not see use from me.
Overall this was a really cool update that didn’t need to happen but I am very glad it did because it’s really fun and really allows for further customization of the game. Now if only there was an option to change the interface colors from blue to red like DarkScape...
Until next time, happy gaming.