It's here! The closed Chronicle beta is finally underway. If you're one of the lucky ones and received your key to the beta then you already know what a great game it is. If you haven't received your key yet don't worry one will be arriving in your inbox soon. In the mean time let me take you on a quest to review this much anticipated game. We'll start our journey with a quick and dirty summary of Chronicle: RuneScape Legends.

Chronicle is a strategy card game where you take a RuneScape legend on a quest. The cards you place are either enemies your legend will face on the quest or allies that can help you along your way. Up to four cards can be played per chapter and there are up to five chapters. At the end of the five chapters if both legends are still alive then they will battle to the death. That's the gist of it anyway. Now lets move on to chapter two and breakdown the aesthetics, music, and overall immersion of the game.

The graphics in Chronicle are simply stunning. The animations of the legends have a subtle charm and the maps come to life in a way that leaves you yearning to see more. The artists that have worked on Chronicle are really top notch and some of the best in the industry. The aesthetics of Chronicle has been one of its most acclaimed features thus far. Along with the graphics the music in Chronicle is also very well done. Granted its not new for a RuneScape player nevertheless it adds a great deal to the overall feel of the game. The Chronicle team used the orchestral remakes of the familiar RuneScape tracks that were released with RuneScape 3. The music of RS3 was one of the most under appreciated aspects of RS3, however it has found another platform in which to shine in Chronicle and doesn't disappoint. The look and sound of Chronicle brings the world of RuneScape alive and immerses the player in a familiar landscape but in an entirely new way. Of course we can't fully appreciate how immersive Chronicle is without talking about its game-play and mechanics. Our quest continues onward to chapter three.

Chronicle's game-play is fast paced and engaging. Unlike other strategy card games, in Chronicle you don't merely focus on your opponent. The focus is instead on building a quest for your legend using your deck. Up to four cards per chapter are played so it cuts down the time you have to wait on your rival to place their cards which gives Chronicle very fluid game-play. Since the focus is more on your legend than just battling your opponent it means that you can develop your own play style instead of always trying to react to what cards your opponent has played. The question is, what will your play style be? Do you like to take pod shots at your opponent throughout the game hoping to take them out by an accumulation of damage? Maybe saving up cards, gathering gold, and hoping for one big move just before the end is your style. Another popular style is to build up your legend throughout with weapons and armour becoming more and more powerful anticipating the final battle to the death. None of these play styles would mean anything without the cards though. Follow me as our journey continues to chapter four, deck building.

The most important part of any strategy card game is of course the cards. In Chronicle there are general cards, those in which any legend can use and legend cards, those in which are specific to a certain legend. Within these two categories are two types of cards: enemy and support cards. This makes Chronicle simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, while providing the potential for a competitive player to develop more complex combos and strategies. This aspect of Chronicle is balanced really well. The support cards can provide the legend with gold, weapons, armour, spells or buffs. The enemy cards provide a creature for your legend to encounter and fight which will also give the legend one of the previously mentioned items. Deck building is very easy and one of my favorite parts of the game. The only restrictions are to have a deck with a minimum of thirty cards and a maximum of fifty. Other than that you can't cross legend specific cards. Building a custom deck is rewarding and where your play style can really take shape. The feedback on the cards has been mostly positive, however if there is one aspect of the game players are pointing to that needs some polish it is here.

In the Chronicle forums some players are saying some cards are over powered i.e. earth blast, wizards, mind bomb, etc. While I agree that some minor improvements could be made I caution the Chronicle team from borrowing the Jagex nerf bat from Mod Timbo and start whacking away. Remember the early feedback is coming from long time RuneScape players. I would be more interested in what competitive strategy card players say about it. If there's one thing I know about my RuneScape community, it is they think everything is op. Instead of nerfing the more powerful cards make them available at higher levels or cost more gold. Knowing that a big hit is a possibility adds to the suspense and strategy of the game. Furthermore these cards won't win the game for someone that doesn't know how to use it. If I see my opponent is Ariane I know I could take a hit for twenty life points and I act accordingly. That's not reacting to my opponent as much as it is making me mindful of possible outcomes as I build my own deck. Another way to balance the big cards would be to provide cards that, in Ariane's case, would take a card away from your opponent, or take gold from Ozan, etc. Overall Chronicle is pretty balanced for a closed beta. Unfortunately our story must come to an end as we advance to the final chapter.

Chronicle has done something that every game hopes to do which is live up to the hype. Its a good game and will only become better over the course of the beta. Its still at an early point in the closed beta and there are many things we don't yet know. What will its business model be? Freemium is a good possibility but it could be a subscription model or a purchase model. I hope Jagex stays away from the subscription model and whatever they do I hope they release it on Steam. Overall its amazingly polished for a closed beta and there is no doubt the Chronicle team is very talented. I look forward to watching Chronicle's progression in the coming weeks. One thing that is imperative for Chronicle is to expand beyond the RuneScape base. The RuneScape base will give Chronicle its start but to be truly successful it will have to go beyond this and catch on in the strategy card game genre. It can be done we've seen it with Hearthstone, and Chronicle has the potential to do it as well. It has been stated that Chronicle will be available on tablets and this should be another strong point for the game. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping and Chronicling.

Acheron Mammoths, a review of Slayer month, and what everyone has been waiting for, Chronicle! We also bid a solemn farewell to the HTML5 client.

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The Internet of Things and The Future

posted by Shane on 26 November 2015 at 03:23 | Discuss on our Forums

The internet as originally designed was to be used for mere sharing of data between military and educational institutions. The 1990s and the PC boom brought the internet to everyone by way of the world wide web. We still use the world wide web today, it’s just evolved into a platform for modern communication, commerce, and research among many other things. This evolution in web technology can be tracked as follows: static pages (html and images) -> dynamic pages (html and images backed up with javascript or php) -> dynamic pages with user interactivity (html, php, javascript, php with interactivity a.k.a. web 2.0). This last stage has lead us to the point where our web browsers can act as portals to dedicated applications (Gmail and Facebook) and that leads us to ask the question, where to next?

The Internet of Things is an idea that has begun to gain momentum in the previous years. Previously it was thought that the Internet of Things would extend only to your household appliances. This is true but it extends out beyond our homes and into the world surrounding ourselves. Before the Internet of Things could expand out into the world we needed a stable broadband internet connection available to us almost anywhere.

With the rise of smartphones the availability of mobile broadband has greatly increased. It wasn’t long ago that mobile broadband wasn’t suitable for voice chat (though it still lacks in remote areas) but now if you are in an urban area it is safe to assume you will have access to reliable mobile broadband. Reliable mobile broadband is a key part of enabling the Internet of Things to foster.

We already have TVs that can connect to the internet to show us content. Refrigerators exist that can go online and through the use of RFID technology to create an inventory of what’s stocked, what’s expired, and what’s missing. There’s also the ability to control lights and climate settings remotely in order to save energy. All you need are smart outlets and a smart thermostat to enable this kind of “smart home” feature. Other household applications include elaborate security systems. Previously security systems would telephone the authorities if something was awry. Now they can bypass a cut phone line by communicating over a mobile network (as a backup, WiFi is preferred). Consumer grade doorbells exist that ring on your smartphone and offer you the ability to see who’s at your door!

Moving beyond your home the first connected device likely to be encountered is a modern car. Car’s now have the option maintain an LTE connection for their own software suites. While this leads to expected features such as navigation it could also be used for reporting necessary maintenance data to your local repair shop. In the future as self-driving cars become more widespread and pass regulatory hurdles they will need the ability to determine their precise location. GPS connections are enabled over the cellular networks, therefore, a connected car makes perfect sense.

As an individual moves through their day it’s a perfectly reasonable expectation to be surrounded by connected devices. Entry pads into buildings are already connected to local networks enabling the use of RFID entry cards. Connecting entry pads to the internet enables the use of smartphone apps for entry by way of NFC transmitters available on modern smartphones. Continuing on outside the home roads and bridges are also candidates to become a part of the internet of things. Toll road fee collection can be automated with the use of NFC, a smartphone, and an internet connection letting municipalities cut costs on toll booth operators. The same methodology can also be applied to toll bridges. Smart roadways could also monitor their maintenance and weather conditions enabling maintenance crews to act quicker without the initial inspection.

Canada is a country that is vast and remote. Providing the area has at least basic mobile network coverage it’s entirely possible to automate the collection of environmental data. Environmental data includes monitoring of the weather, air quality, and water quality. In seismologically active regions remote seismometers can call home and provide information without needing to send a geologist out to retrieve the data. Accessing this data quickly via the internet allows research to happen quicker which ultimately results in faster results.

The internet was not designed with security and privacy in mind. As a result for the longest time only critical connections were encrypted (banking, shopping carts, etc.) Now we’re starting to see more connections encrypted every day. This is ultimately a good thing to protect users data from prying eyes but it only goes so far. The mindset around security needs to change.

As with the internet, applications were not and often are not designed with security in mind. Nothing is more emblematic of this than the influx of internet based worms and viruses that Windows XP was plagued by early in its existence. Apple protects users on iOS by the app store which has been mostly successful and the application sandbox on OS X. Microsoft protects users with User Account Control and Windows Defender. New internet based devices, even the most innocent need to be designed with security in mind first. This is perhaps the largest challenge facing the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things was inevitable as mobile broadband access became ubiquitous. In general the trend over the last 20 years has been for technology to shrink in size (except for the rise of phablets). This has lead to smaller devices and the tendency to connect everything. We’re in an odd situation now where we have hardware that wants to get smaller and lead us in new directions but we haven’t had a revolutionary piece of software in a long time. Once the software catches up to better enable interacting with the Internet of Things our perspective on the world will change once again. Technology can and should enhance our lives; let it, and do not be afraid.

Premier Membership is coming back to RuneScape once again. A great way to get all the RuneScape pay for the year, out of the way and to get some bonuses while doing it. But is it really worth it anymore? I bring this up because throughout the year updates come out for seasons that when buying membership, better benefits come out than what is released with the Premier club. If I already purchased my membership for the whole year, then why am I missing out on all these opportunities?

I think to bring the Premier Membership back up to par, these features should be accessible when buying the whole year of membership. Even if that means bringing up that cost a few dollars. Maybe even added a tier above gold. Platinum or Dragon. I wouldn’t think twice about paying more if it meant that I wouldn’t miss out on anything. I have signed up for the Premier club since it was first announced because of all the benefits that came with it. The extra rune coins on the first year, the extra spin every day that the premier membership covers, and the pets and emotes that come with the membership are all things that I have enjoyed and really talked my friends into doing. None of them regret getting this membership.

When it was first released it was a great plan. Times have changed and the premier membership now needs to account for its gimmicky feel for missing out on bonus exp or extra spins for certain events that happen throughout the year. It also seems that with each year that goes by the bonuses for buying the membership seem to be going down and the content is decreasing. I see this with a lot of other parts of Runescape where people are only caring about pets. I don’t know if this is mostly Jagex’s doing or if pets are really the best thing since sliced bread. I want stuff I can buy at the store to come out again and to be given the perk of rune coins to buy them with over a stinking pet. If I want the pet, I will buy the pet.

Another area that can really be improved about the membership plan would be with the newsletters released every few months. I would really like to have extra stuff with this almost like getting a small little magazine on all things Runescape. Maybe new training methods or articles from Runescape players and art from the players like they do with the community spots they put on updates for the site every once and awhile. Maybe even have exclusive contests for people that sign onto this membership, just as another small perk. All those things for the newsletter that could be updated would not only cost Jagex very little in extra expense, but would also entice the players and make them more interested in receiving those newsletter. As of right now, I have not looked at very many of them because they are really lackluster and disappointing in amount of content.

Bringing premier membership more benefits may be considered alienating the people that do not buy that kind of membership or cannot. I think that there isn’t really that big of a difference. There are benefits to getting membership in each of their own ways. Buying bonds makes Runescape essentially free to play as members. I have many friends that do this. I used to think that was difficult but being honest, if someone is playing for at half of my level they can still make that necessary money in order to get that membership every 14 days. Buying the membership from the cards benefit is really getting the bonus stuff when Jagex releases an event or to buy membership without using a card online. Though this is great, the idea that I propose here does not take away that from either of these methods of getting membership. The added bonus for handing out a year guarantee of membership should have the benefits of all other forms of receiving membership hence it being called premier.

Regardless of what happens I will be selecting the premier membership at the end of the month as usual. Though I will miss out on the benefits for all the other membership pay methods I will still be a member for a whole year without having to think about it. The benefits are really nice and though they could be updated I still feel that premier membership is the best way to pay for membership in Runescape.

A double helping of Slayer creatures, attempting to fix Broken Home, and Earth gets a puppy!!!

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