The Advent Calendar is back, Reindeer racing, and winter weekends. Plus should you buy premier club? And finally, a gripping post-max group therapy session!
Hi there fellow RsBandBers! We had a packed month of Informer, so without further ado, let's get started!
Alex literally had Too Much to Do, so he walked us through how to prioritize what to do in our busy holiday schedules. Mr Bistro took a look at the return of Bounty Hunter in the aptly named What's the Bounty? Colton had the pleasure of covering the release of the new Grandmaster quest, the Children of Mah! Meanwhile, Tanis gave an overview on the return of the Premier Club in 2017. Finally, Shane rounded of the month by giving us a A Call for Social Media Innovation in 2017.
In Skill of the Month news, two competitors raced toward the finish line in this past month's Agility SkotM. Pyrnassius eked out the win with 8.4M xp ahead of Smallfib who ended up with 6.9M xp. Congratulations Pyrnassius!
That's all from me, Shane will be back in a month to close out the year! Have a good month everyone!
Facebook launched February 4, 2004. Twitter launched March 21, 2006. Facebook and Twitter as entities are now over a decade old. We’ve watched them evolve from small platforms with niche user sets to global staples in social media. There were competitors early on but most have gone away or been swallowed up whole. We’ve seen companions appear such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine, though none of these have been a true threat to Facebook or Twitter.
At this point in their existence, they are unlikely to face any major threats from the marketplace or government intervention. In order to face a marketplace threat, Facebook or Twitter would need to do something outrageous, like banning users indiscriminately, censoring, or subjecting user data to a massive breach. They’re also unlikely to face a threat due to the network factor; users are less likely to leave if their friends are still on a platform in question. Then comes government: most western governments are benign and don’t care to censor the web, so that won’t drive people away. Therefore, Facebook and Twitter are here to stay.
For Facebook, 2016 seemed to focus on an emphasis on the Messenger platform, their text-message replacement ecosystem. 2016 saw a focus on developers hooking into Messenger with their own applications and AI-run bots. These applications and bots are personal assistants that we find in Siri or Cortana taken to the next level, and they can be used standalone or in conversation with others. The sales pitch was that when combining natural language, compute power, and Facebook’s data collection we would rely on these to perform tasks such as booking a restaurant reservation rather than going to a website or making a phone call. Of the “normal” people that I have discussed this with, bots really haven’t resonated. In fact, Messenger is still just used for messaging. Facebook has your data; they want you to use Messenger in 2016.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s meagre highlights for 2016 include: no longer counting URLs or usernames in Tweet length, adding a much requested mute feature (allowing you to isolate yourself from words, phrases, and people that make you uncomfortable), and the continually falling share price of TWTR. It can be argued that Twitter is as mature as it can get feature wise since its claim to fame was telling stories in under 140 characters. Twitter’s share price is falling because its investors are seeing a lull in new users and corresponding revenue. Increasing Tweet length by offering exemptions is a no-brainer. All areas of Twitter have the potential of becoming a cesspool, hence the screams for a mute feature, though it came about 6 months too late. And the constant talk of Twitter being sold off doesn’t really help its share price. Twitter is treading water.
Diversity and the ability to adapt to changing conditions are two key pillars of the evolution of species on Earth. Facebook has diversity in its huge platform ranging from ads, to the news-feed, to Messenger. Twitter lacks both diversity in what it offers and has available to itself. Both Facebook and Twitter are lacking in the area of the ability to adapt to changes in the way the world works. Facebook works in its own echo chamber of keeping individuals connected and offering valuable content. Twitter works great for communicating with fans in the form of short messages, images, or videos. But beyond these core features both products have remained the same since their inception. The unwillingness to disrupt and change the social media landscape leaves them as old fashioned looking as Microsoft was when these companies were founded.
2017 must be a year of innovation and broader understanding of the world outside of Facebook and Twitter for both companies. Facebook must realize that their future is in the business of being a content aggregator for users. This means rather than relying on editors or an algorithm to promote news, videos, and web links they must rely on a user's network for customization and choices. This also means not policing the network for items that are fake and removing them arbitrarily; the old axiom of buyer beware rings true, or reader beware in this case. Twitter also needs to realize this same issue as well when it comes to curating Tweets from followers. Twitter also should abandon the 140 character limit and focus instead on 300 or 500 characters and becoming a true concise publishing platform. Finally, both companies need to realize that censorship is a brutal fact of the world we live in. Should they want to be taken seriously on dealing with abusive users, they should design the service to be cryptographically impossible for posts to be censored or altered.
If a platform emerges that treats users as grown ups, serves straight links, news, and videos to its users, and makes it absolutely impossible to be censored then there just may be an avenue of competition that Twitter and Facebook need to deal with in 2017. Until then, expect the same slow bitter progress from these two social giants… unless they can be proven to be violating anti-trust law.
Jagex is offering a year of membership at a discounted price, but before you buy Premier Club as fast as your fingers can type let's take a look at what you get and see if its a value worth buying. Take it from me, I know deals; I once bought a case of steaks from the back of a truck. In the past Premier Club has been packed with perks and although it has lessened over time its important to examine what you actually get.
Lets begin by just listing the contents of the package and then we can take them on one by one.
Keep in mind I'll be evaluating the gold package for $79.99. It starts with a 30% discount on membership for 1 year (current rate, not grandfathered rate). You also get a Desert Pantheon Aura and an Ancient Menaphite outfit. The long time favorite of 1 extra Treasure Hunter key per day is back along with a 50% discount on rune metrics and 150,000 loyalty points. You will also get access to VIP forums and world, along with a forum and chat badge. Finally, you get Premier Club exclusive Q and A's, pre-paid card promotional items, and old school membership. Phew there you go - that's all of it, now lets dive in to see if its a deal that would make a couponing wife proud...or is it more like leaving Best Buy with an item you didn't want and a warranty you don't need as you walk to your vehicle not quite sure how it happened.
A 30% discount on membership is pretty good. That is unless of course you are subject to a grandfathered rate in which case you're paying more for a year of Premier Club than you would for a year of grandfathered membership. That means if you are on one of these lower rates Premier Club is about the perks not the the membership. A player that pays full price for membership every month will get a substantial price break.
Next up is the real meat and potatoes, the Desert Pantheon Aura. These Premier Club Auras have been major draws in the past and they are always good. This year it gets 250 charges a day granting you the ability to store up to 500. You spend the charges on various buffs. For example you can get a 20% LP boost up to 1000 LP for 50 charges or 2 sign of life effects for 1 hour for 125 charges. For skillers you can increase XP gain by 10% for an hour for 200 charges or double your divine location gathering limit for 150 charges. You can also benefit your friends with a 10% pulse core effect for 10 minutes costing 100 charges.
As it stands right now I'm less than impressed. Its a far cry from the Dwarven Insight Aura or last years Mahjarrat Aura. The extra life points could be useful but not if your aura has to take the place of a DPS Aura. In addition I still don't know if this bonus would stack on top of bonfires, if it didn't I fail to see why you would use it over a bonfire. That being said the 2x Sign of Life could literally be a life saver especially for someone who is just starting to break into high level bossing. The 10% XP gain for an hour is just a joke. I don't think that's worth almost your whole days charges nor do I think the pulse core buff is very good either. The divine location buff on the other hand is pretty good. Right now that costs Vis Wax and Vis Wax is expensive if you don't make it yourself; having a buff that can double your gathering limit for free is really good. All in all the two benefits to the aura that are helpful are the sign of life effect and the divine location buff.
Now let's take a look at the real MVP of this package the extra treasure hunter key and the 150,000 Loyalty Points. Well this is it, the whole reason to buy Premier if you are on a grandfathered rate. This is what justifies the extra $20 your paying for a year. Lets look at the treasure hunter value itself. An extra key per day is an additional 365 keys for free. Now you can buy a 450 key package for $99 but that's not really applicable here. In order to reach 365 you'd have to buy one 200 key package for $50 followed by 2x 75 key package for another $40 and top it off with a 15 key package for $5. That would give you 365 keys for a whooping $95. Obviously someone would spend the extra $4 and buy the 450 keys but the point still stands that the extra keys nearly pays for the package itself. Loyalty points are also quite useful. Not everyone uses them and I've heard stories of people that have obscene amount of them, but to someone who uses them for auras especially this is a really good perk. 150K loyalty points can buy a legendary jack of trades aura out right or give you a good start for the pricier legendary skilling auras that usually go in the 230-234k range.
The rest of the Premier Club is little add-ons that some people may like but personally I don't think they amount to much. The forum and chat badges are meh while the VIP world is nice if you have friends that hang out in it otherwise its kind of useless, lets face it - RS isn't a crowded lagfest anymore. The Q and A exclusive is cool but it depends on how often they do them and the info that will be disseminated throughout the community. It's really just a chance for you to get your own question personally addressed by a JMod. I think the gem is that you receive the items they give away with pre-paid cards throughout the year. Don't underestimate this, it could be a real sleeper when it comes to value added. It could possibly be a dud as well but I think if you look at where Treasure Hunter and other promotions have been going, its a good bet this little addition will pay off. Lastly there is an outfit the Ancient Menaphite outfit so...ya there's that.
There were a few noticeable omissions this year: no pet, no emotes, and no teleport animation. I think this was a decent call this year, it lowered the price considerably and we're already inundated with pets and emotes and animations anyway. It was much better to give people a better deal then some Mickey Mouse stuff that no one asked for and no one wanted.
I think its safe to say that Premier Club is a decent deal this year. Its not the best it's ever been but its far from the worst. If you pay full price and can afford it then what are you waiting for? If you are short on cash remember you can buy it with bonds. Right now it's 20 Bonds but the offer goes until February, and if you buy a smaller package (i.e. Bronze or Silver) you can upgrade it at a later date. There is enough value to justify buying Premier Club for the people that pay grandfathered rates. I have never before bought Premier and this year very well might be the first. With that, I will leave you to your shopping and until next time, Happy RuneScaping.
Boy, has it really been since June that we’ve done one of these?? In a parched and thirsty year with regards to quests, we celebrate and give thanks for another Grandmaster quest which came to us the week of the 21st of November! Spoilers going forward, of course, for the entirety of the Mahjarrat as well as the Sixth Age storylines as we will be diving into the Children of Mah.
The spiritual predecessor to this quest was primarily Fate of the Gods in which we aided (or hindered) the return of the god Zaros in physical form, disturbed the “sleeping” Mah, and laid the groundwork for the first confrontation between Zaros and Zamorak since the betrayal (for more on this subject, read my second article on Mahjarrat lore). Fate of the Gods 2, as it was tentatively called at Runefest 2015, is seemingly the penultimate quest in the Sliske’s Countdown storyline, and promised to give players never-before-seen glimpses into the past of Zaros and Zamorak.
The story begins in speaking to Kharshai, the only remaining Mahjarrat which has not made a decisive choice to fight alongside either Zaros or Zammy. The problem lies in the fact that, for some unknown reason, the power of the Mahjarrat is being drained from them at an infinitely greater rate than ever before. Previously, rituals were only necessary every 500 years. Now, despite having performed a Ritual of Rejuvenation less than a year ago in the time of the game, the Mahjarrat are already in need of another sacrifice in order to sustain them. The player is sought out by Kharshai because he needs help in order to convince the Mahjarrat that something must be done to solve this constant drain.
Once at the ritual site, the usual bickering ensues between the factions but is quickly stopped by the appearance of Zaros. For the first time in a very long time, Zaros addresses the Mahjarrat race directly and redoubles the promise he made once before: place your faith in me, and I will free you from the need for constant sacrifice. After delivering his offer, Zaros pops out, and the others are left to question the integrity of Zaros’ word. In order to get a better idea as to the true sequence of events that led to his fall, the Mahjarrat decide they need to go back using memory projection. The player is sent to retrieve 5 of Kharshai’s memories from the old throne room and is immediately tossed into a memory sequence following its completion.
Here the player is in control of Kharshai at the end of the Second Age, just before Zaros is infamously betrayed. In what then was a glorious throne room, we go through a series of intelligence-collection challenges. In the first two tiers of the dream, it’s easy to see that a coup is imminent. Once enough information has been collected and you’ve convinced the others that you are who you say you are, Azzanadra places Kharshai in the place of executioner of three pawns suspected in the plot to overthrow Zaros. Regardless of the players’ choices, the final of the three judgments is quickly followed up by Zamorak in his Mahjarrat form entering with his host of cronies, demanding Zaros answer his challenge. A skirmish ensues, and the memory portrays Zamorak seeing a moment of opportunity and driving the Staff of Armadyl into Zaros.
Just as the memory ends, the Mahjarrat all seem to realize that something is wrong with the memory, something is missing. Almost as if he had been watching all along, Zamorak appears and offers an untouched version of his own memory, which reveals that actually Zamorak was taken into the mind of Zaros at that last moment. In his mind, Zaros believes himself untouchable, yet is ignorant of the power of the Staff, which ends up being the tool Zamorak uses to siphon away his power within that state and ascend to godhood. Having given them further insight into the previous oversights of Zaros, Zamorak pleads one last time that the Mahjarrat do not follow Zaros’ request to meet him on Freneskae. In spite of this warning, all the others agree that something must be done in order to save their race, and thus they make the trip to their home planet of Freneskae.
Once on the ashen and lava-covered home of Mah, the player must take the traditional path to the old ritual site, through lava falls and Muspah. Once at the end, the player is met with a seemingly fatal lava-falls and is only saved by the power of Seren. Seren has known that Zaros and the World Guardian would be there soon and knew that the World Guardian would be the only one capable of helping her. She reveals that the power drain has been occurring because Mah is taking power from all of her creations in the hopes of destroying Freneskae and creating once again. Seren argues that Zaros’ plan to siphon away that power and essentially kill Mah is wrong, so the player must argue on her behalf to prevent his plan from taking place.
Making it to the ritual site, the player sees Zamorak confront Zaros for the first time since the betrayal, and quickly we see that Zaros is too powerful for Zamorak as he is immediately overpowered. However, Zamorak chooses to give up the fight and instead make himself the sacrifice to rejuvenate the others, and seeing that Zammy intends to become a martyr, Zaros stops the attack and chooses to strike a deal. Zamorak will be bound to Zaros once again to do his bidding for one “favor” at Sliske’s Endgame if Zaros fulfills his promise to save the Mahjarrat race. The pact being sealed and the plan in place to siphon Mah’s last energy into Zaros and the Mahjarrat, the player is sent up to Mah in order to prevent her from destroying Freneskae in her nightmares.
Seren sends the player into Mah’s mind, and here the World Guardian encounters a three-tiered nightmare sequence in which Mah’s “core” is being constantly attacked by darkness and the player is responsible for banishing these attacks with light orbs. After the nightmares are finished, Seren sees that Mah has been sucked dry of almost every ounce of her power and in grief, Seren delivers what seems to be a killing blow to her own mother. Furious, Seren goes with the player back to the ritual site and makes known her hatred for Zaros’ actions, but must flee the scene as the Mahjarrat put together the pieces of the puzzle that she was actually the one who tricked them in the first place to perform the rituals of rejuvenation and enervation with the purpose of calming Mah’s dreams and become rather hostile toward the goddess of the elves.
The ritual was successful, the Mahjarrat are restored from their flawed state, and Zaros is even closer to ascending to elder godhood. Not only this, but Zamorak and Zaros have entered into a reluctant alliance with Sliske as the common enemy. However, Seren has firmly set herself as opposed to the two of them. How will this impact the next and final quest in Sliske’s Countdown?
Looking back at some of the mechanical aspects of this quest, I can’t help but feel we were somewhat jipped. The lava falls portion was terrible. Unresponsive given that it was beholden to the tick system, unwieldy, and overall a clunky piece of gameplay. Then the nightmares were, well, a nightmare. What disguised itself as a puzzle was really just a mindless castle-defense clickfest. The lore of this quest was significantly fulfilling, and because of the story developments we got from the quest I am willing to at least somewhat overlook the unpolished nature of much of this quest, but it does impact my overall view of the content.
This definitely wasn’t the best quest in its series and even though I might feel it could have been done much better, it’s still worth playing. This sets up a very intriguing endgame scenario for what we assume will take place all in one quest. Will Zaros succeed, or will Sliske see his plan coming? Or will Seren thwart that plan with the possible aid of other gods? The possibilities are quite exciting, and I know that I cannot wait to see how this all wraps up!