Every June the tech world looks on to Apple to see what changes Apple will make to its software and online platforms. These announcements happen at WWDC (The World Wide Developers Conference) in California. This year as expected we saw the release of macOS High Sierra, iOS 11, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11. Of all of these iOS 11 contains the most interesting new features. macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11 all contain quality of life fixes and small amounts of polish.

iOS 11 in many ways is a long overdue response to changes in the tablet and smartphone operating system platform war. iOS 11 gains a file manager, drag and drop support (for files, text, and anything else a developer wishes to support), a dock (task bar), and easier to use keyboard for iPad. Apple has long stated that it believes touch belongs with iOS and the mouse and keyboard belong on the Mac. Microsoft has bridged this strategy and uses a hybrid approach for Windows 10. iOS 11 is the response to Windows 10 and Microsoft’s latest product lineup including the Surface Pro, Surface Book, and Surface Laptop.

This brings up the fact that for the last number of years Apple has been playing catch up, in their own way, with the platforms of Microsoft and Google. There was a time when Apple was the leader of innovation and new technology. This brought Apple a great reputation and a massive user base of both mobile and desktop users. Once Apple garnered this user base they looked inward to build a platform focused on the Apple ecosystem. While building this ecosystem both Microsoft and Google sought to replicate Apple’s success and built outward looking ecosystems. Today we’re in a position where Apple applies polish to its ecosystem, bringing out new cosmetic features, and taking a slow step forward in the way of innovation. After this, what happens?

Apple’s period of greatness is often haled as the time a holy trifecta consisting of the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. The iPod was the first easy to use mass storage MP3 player that gained traction. The iPhone changed smartphones and effectively put a computer in everyone’s pocket. The iPad provided and still continues to provide the opportunity for a paradigm shift in computing. The key to the huge success of these products is that they were both first of their kind in the marketplace and were highly innovative. At the time, MP3 players were small on capacity and didn’t have a user experience around them. Smartphones required stylus’s to use and had cumbersome touch interactions that didn’t work well. The iPad’s appeal was simple, there was no thin tablet outside of Microsoft’s basic attempts at a hybrid laptop/tablet PC of the time. Apple provided a next generation of technology hardware that had not yet existed.

The success of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad brought a new attention to Apple that had not existed before. If someone had an iPod or iPhone they were more likely to look at their next laptop being a MacBook. The ease of use of these three devices set a new vision of what Apple was as a company and brought many into the Apple ecosystem. For the first few years of iPod, iPhone, and iPad there was very little of what we know as a modern computing ecosystem (cloud sync, shared apps, and shared data). Apple built their ecosystem in such a way that if you had an iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch you were going to be much more likely to buy another Apple ecosystem product. Apple’s focus on their ecosystem was inherently inward looking meaning that interaction with Windows PCs and Android devices was and still is an after thought.

The downside of Apple’s splendid ecosystem is that during the time it was being built by Apple, Microsoft and Google were building outward ecosystems that could interact on Apple devices. Along side this came a good look at hardware from both Microsoft and Google. Microsoft built the Surface, which is a hybrid laptop and tablet design and later built the Surface Laptop which puts laptop first but still employs a major touch based focus. Google started by hiring firms such as LG and HTC to build their flagship smartphones. Later, Google built their own smartphone termed the Pixel which meets or exceeds Apple’s build quality.

To recap, Apple has built an ecosystem that is second to none if you use Apple devices. Apple is fine with this, Apple’s users are fine with it, and it works quite well. The downside? We have seen a lack of innovation in Apple hardware and software. Microsoft and Google have caught up to Apple interns of innovation.

Today’s culture at Apple focuses on incremental steps forward to improve Apple’s platform. This incremental nature can be seen in the updates this year to macOS and watchOS. macOS sees new incremental behind the scenes features that improve system stability. watchOS has received some quality of life changes and a few new Toy Story watch faces, Apple also loves producing new watch bands for the watch. We saw the iPod released in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. Given the pure span of time, it’s safe to say that innovation at Apple has slowed. What does this mean for the future of Apple?

Apple is slowly losing two key segments of its market: those who want an innovative easy to use platform and potential switchers looking at what Microsoft and Google have to offer. During the tumultuous years of Windows Vista and 7 the Mac OS X platform was the place to be if you wanted a modern sleek easy to use operating system. Windows 8 and Windows 10 both advanced the ease of use of Windows considerably. Windows 10 even has bash (a UNIX shell) support now, which could entice some who use macOS as a development platform to investigate or switch. Similarly the lack of new and interesting features (innovative features) on iOS could very well serve as a deterrent for someone to switch to an iPhone or iPad.

There is hope for the future. The massive changes brought to iOS this year including a file manager and drag and drop support show that Apple is aware of its competition. It also shows that Apple knows the exact place that the iPad needs to be competing. These changes also make their way down to iOS on the iPhone. With advancements on iOS in place for iOS 11, it’s not without hope that we will see a similar sort of advancement on macOS next year. I’d like to stress that this is all hypothetical and this years iOS changes could either be a fluke or the start of something very interesting for Apple. At this point Apple can either expand its influence once more as they did during the holy trifecta years or contract as they continue to rely more on their existing ecosystem and user base.


The desert gods are an interesting and varied bunch, yet seem to be the least paid attention to group of deities in Gielinor since the turning of the Sixth Age. They may not be the powerhouses that Zaros, Seren, Saradomin, and Zamorak might be, but they are important and intriguing. Much of their character has been extrapolated from Egyptian lore and expanded from that base. In order to get a look at the pantheon as a whole, we’ll take a look at each of the eight individually! As it would be


Tumeken

One of the original two of what would become eight, Tumeken entered Gielinor from an unknown plane during the Second Age like many of the gods during Guthix’s slumber. It seems as though he was one of the very first deities to enter through the World Gate as he claimed the Kharidian territory relatively unchallenged. At the time, the region was still lush and green spreading north from Menaphos up through Al Kharid. He and Elidinis came together to father Icthlarin and Amascut, and he is also credited with the deifying of the four lesser desert gods and goddesses: Crondis, Apmeken, Scabaras, and Het. These lesser deities have an origin that is somewhat fuzzy as the legend known as Tumeken’s Dream is widely thought to be just a story created to help pass along the Menaphite beliefs more than to be interpreted literally. They are considered to be avatars of his very own being from throughout his lands.

During the Second Age, Tumeken fought along with Icthlarin and Amascut with the Mahjarrat in tow battling against Zarosian forces in the Kharidian-Zarosian War. Once the majority of the Mahjarrat betrayed the Kharidian/Menaphite forces, the Zarosian army made its advance deep into what would soon become the Kharidian desert, further and further south. That is, until Tumeken used himself, seemingly, as the cause of a massive magical explosion that killed hundreds on both sides and left the once green land arid and barren. From this point on, Tumeken is thought by many to be either dead or asleep, his fate is relatively unknown. The Kharid-ib is thought to possibly be linked to Tumeken’s fate, and it has been said that his fate is made slightly clearer in a recent desert quest released with Menaphos, but I will refrain from spoilers here on this article.



Elidinis

Little is known about Tumeken’s wife other than that she arrived much near the same time as he in the Second Age, the two met on the banks of the River Elid, were wed, and produced Icthlarin and Amascut shortly after. Elidinis is deeply tied to the River Elid (parallel with the Nile) and finds her center of worship in Nardah. Unlike Tumeken, Elidinis remained on Gielinor through the God Wars surviving the Zarosian invasions until Guthix reawoke and established the Edicts, causing Elidinis to depart.


Icthlarin

Icthlarin is introduced in Tumeken’s Dream by his creation when “from life came death.” His dog-like appearance comes from the fact that although Tumeken and Elidinis wanted biological children, they were not able to and thus infused part of themselves with their pet dog and cat (not kidding) from which came Icthlarin and Amascut. From his very creation, Iccy was tasked with the job of providing safe passage for souls across the River Noumenon to the afterlife. However, Icthlarin was much more involved in the God Wars than his parents seemed to be.


When the Zarosians began their campaign on the Kharidian lands, it quickly became clear that the Kharidian/Menaphite forces were sorely outmatched by the sheer size of the Zarosian army. In order to find aid, Amascut and Icthlarin both left Gielinor in search. Eventually, they happened upon Freneskae where they eventually were able to convince the Mahjarrat to join in their fight against Zaros and his growing empire. With the help of these “Stern Judges,” the Kharidians repelled the Zarosian offensive and had a brief taste of victory. This was short-lived, however, as dissension within the Mahjarrat ranks began to divide the group, many of them eventually leaving for the Zarosian side as they had become impatient with the recent lack of battle to be done. This schism reignited the war and pushed the Kharidian forces back nearly to Menaphos before the advance was stopped in its tracks by Tumeken’s last stand. From this point, Icthlarin was able to remain on Gielinor due to him only being a demi-god and also due to his crucial responsibilities in the Grim Underworld.


Amascut

Amascut was created at the same time as Iccy, but she was the result of Tumeken and Elidinis’ divine essence being placed into the pet cat instead. Similar to her brother, she was to deal with the dead but on the other side of the same coin. Those who crossed the River Noumenon had the choice to either enter the afterlife or to be reincarnated, and Amascut was tasked with the safe passage to the latter. However, due to a deeply scarring event when Iccy and she visited Freneskae involving the Elder God Mah, Amascut returned to Gielinor for the remainder of the God Wars a changed being. Soon after, she began to develop darker tendencies, plotting to rule the Kharidian Plains on her own, and eventually gaining her name as “The Devourer.” Turning against her original role in the underworld, Amascut started devouring souls instead of guiding them, preventing them from ever reaching the afterlife or reincarnation. She continues to harry Icthlarin in his effort to guide souls into the afterlife in addition to plans to capture the Kharid-ib and other generally evil plots.



This ends part one of the Desert Pantheon series. For information on the four minor deities, please flip over the tape to side B, or simply wait for the second part of the article to come out. Whichever works.

We have a review of two quests! Crocodile Tears and Our Man in the North, spoilers ahead. Also, we look at Invention once more and discuss what the future of the skill should look like.

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Menaphos. A city that, if I recall, is only a year younger then Prifddinas when it was nothing for a set of walls surrounding an empty field. Took 12 years to make. That's how you know it was done right.

I really don't want to talk too much about this place because it is an absolutely incredible masterpiece of visual and audio art, and I really can't do it any justice with words alone. There are jokes with nearly every examine and NPC chat, the terrain is dynamic and colorful, and there is a considerable amount to actually do within in terms of questing and skilling. I highly recommend you guys come check it out. If you're F2P, save up for a Bond.

In fact, I'll help get you started.


First, head over to Al Kharid and talk to the boss man Ali. Y'know, after you rescue his sorry hide.


Then you get to fly around the desert with this guy, who styles the fudge out of you by flying around you in circles. Just so you can enjoy the desert as much as possible. Because it's a cool place. Gets you in that mood. I really appreciate the extra effort here; unnecessary to the plot, but still totally necessary for the experience.

Then you get to the gates, and you get inside, and then you get a little orientation and start your first quest for reals, and then... well, enjoy your new playground:


On the surface, it's beautiful. An entire city ripe for exploration and lore gathering just by looking for all those little details. There was a lot of thought put into this one. So much so that it puts other, older existing content almost to shame. Try going here, then teleporting to Ape Atoll. Like playing two different games.

I should remind everyone that Menaphos is, by no means, a replacement for Prifddinas when it comes to skilling. It still offers the best rates around. It's just... they figured out an interesting way to keep us hooked in Menaphos. While I don't agree with this method entirely, I respect it for its impressive effectiveness.

The Prestige System.

Yeah. Big surprise. Do something a lot, you get unique "levels" for doing something in a specific way that unlock rewards of some kind. Usually used to make players do something for a good long time in order to either unlock an improved exp rate doing that same thing, or something more convenient, or something

Now, this isn't just for cosmetics, as many prestige instances are throughout Runescape; you actually need to nearly max the prestige if you want to do the quests. It's a whole new style of quest requirement. In a nutshell, it means that I must train in Menaphos for a good long while before I can actually do any of the new quests.

Oh wow! Why am I not raging? Surely me being unable to do a quest directly after its release would make me tear my hair out in frustration, right?

Not so much. If I just went right ahead and did all four new quests one right after the other... well, that would be an afternoon of fun. All that hype and intensity for an afternoon of fun, and then maybe I won't ever go to Menaphos again because it's mainly mid-level content. Now wouldn't that just suck after spending so long making something that only lasts an afternoon?

No, this is how they draw the content out. This is how we're made to actually stay in Menaphos and consider training there despite there being much faster methods. With the promise of leveling up prestige for viable rewards. It's not that they make us have to do all there is to do in Menaphos, it's that they make us want to do it. I wanna do those quests, so I'm getting my prestige as fast as I can. Thankfully, they have good daily methods for that already in place. Same goes with the potential rewards, like cosmetics, pets, and banking boxes. Maybe somebody really wants the Ports outfit to complete a look they're going for, so they have to prestige as much as possible.

So yeah, that's the sad truth of games. To make content last as long as possible, you have to delay stuff as much as possible. And then you end up with this;


Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!


Menaphos arrives with many surprises along the way. We’ll have a breakdown on the city itself, the reputation system, 120 Slayer, and the Sunken Pyramid! It’s time to be your own Slayer master!

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Hosts: Shane, Tanis, Mr. Bistro, and Magicking
Duration: 2:06:19