Playing RuneScape with the music off. It is quite a trope that is still present in the RuneScape community. It is not without reason: technical limitations with running a game in the browser back in the day meant that only a MIDI synthesizer could be used to play music. Despite that, it is at this time that some of the major building blocks of the RuneScape soundtrack are built: Newbie Melody, Harmony, and The Village all stem from this initial era.
We have seen many evolutions to the RuneScape soundtrack. The RuneScape soundtrack now sounds much more professional, and has even started to include vocals in several places. Let's look back at the past year to see what the current state of music is.
The first update adding significant music in 2018 was Pieces of Hate. You can find a music medley on the official RuneScape Soundcloud. While the music is sufficiently pirate-y, just listening to the medley also reveals one of RuneScape's soundtrack biggest weaknesses: lack of identity. Sure the music sounds pirate-y, but what is it that makes this tied to the pirates story-line in RuneScape? Can you think of the theme of the elves, the gnomes, or the dwarves? One of the few quest lines where I think Jagex got it right, is the cave goblin series. I think most questers among us would instantly recognise Zanik's theme from a plethora of soundtracks, of which But We Can Fight is by far my favourite rendition.
Compare RuneScape to say the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. You will instantly recognise the theme for hobbits, Gondor, or Rohan by its central theme. The Fellowship of the Ring has its own theme, and the variations on it throughout the movies reflect how the fellowship falls apart, and comes back together again (a great video on this can be found here).
Within RuneScape, only the cave goblin series does that. There is the series of tracks "Arise Hero", "Arise Legend", and "Hero's Return" that are definitely among the best tracks in the RuneScape soundtrack, though sadly not used in any meaningful way in the game (thought they did use it to make this awesome trance remix).
The next big music update was Solak, the Guardian of the Grove. Apart from Solak, we saw other big combat encounters being added with Elite Dungeons 1 and 2 getting their own soundtrack as well. What I have found is that RuneScape's boss music is almost consistently among the best of the game. Both the music from the Temple of Aminishi and the Dragonkin Laboratory have their own style and character, and create an amazing atmosphere for tackling some of the toughest bosses in the game. In the boss tracks specifically you can see a move towards a more electronic style, especially for boss fights like this, moving away from the more classical instrument based tracks. This change has been ongoing for several years now, and has given us masterpieces such as Angel of Death - another boss track - along the way. A good track to use as a contrast is Rage of the Red Axe, now five years old, which shows the beginnings of experimentation with new concepts.
Skipping past the player-owned farms update, which had music that would not sound out of place in a Mario Kart game, we skip right ahead to the update that embraced music and sound the most: The Needle Skips. While the music in itself may not be too special, it rounds off the atmosphere incredibly well. The tracks become progressively darker as you solve the mystery using the Needle. This is where the music team really shines: lifting up a RuneScape story to a true immersive experience.
Of course, there was more. 2018 saw the release of the official RuneScape Orchestral Soundtrack album, composed by James Hannigan, also known for the famous Soviet March from Red Alert 3. Responsible for earlier orchestrated versions of RuneScape track, this must have felt like coming right home. Recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, he delivered a re-imagined soundtrack. I am absolutely in love with A Hero's Return and Born To Do This II, but listening to the entire album still leaves me a bit disappointed. While both A Hero's Return and Born To Do This II have a hint of the RuneScape main theme, in general the album feels like a lot of disconnected tracks. Especially the Prifddinas tracks sound incredibly generic to me, and I feel that is a missed opportunity.
Finally, as a highlight of the year, I got to see the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform some RuneScape soundtrack pieces live at RuneFest. The lack of a choir and the bad acoustics made the performance a bit underwhelming, but there is just something special about seeing a piece performed by a live orchestra. It's an experience that just cannot be emulated by a digital track.
In the end, RuneScape is still evolving. While the soundtrack is still lacking identity, it is beyond denying that some tracks have started to mean something on their own by the merit of nostalgia. The ever increasing quality of boss tracks in RuneScape, the ability to completely engage players using a quest soundtrack, and renditions of our favourite tracks performed by a real orchestra have made 2018 into a great year for the RuneScape soundtrack. The music team truly deserves recognition for the atmosphere they bring to the world of Gielinor. I'm right there with you if you say you can't here another rendition of Elven Sunlight, but RuneScape has proven that it's worth turning on the music, at least sometimes. As we approach the 18th birthday of RuneScape, it is clear to me that its soundtrack has matured in production quality. I can't wait to see what the next year brings.
This past week, I helped Tycoelf, a friend and contributor to the RSBANDB community get his completionist cape back by killing Solak. Tyco has done a fair bit of PvM, but for many players with even a relatively good amount of PvM experience, being able to kill a boss like Solak is an incredibly daunting challenge. Players are essentially left with two options: forgo the quest for the completionist cape, or purchase a leech, which can cost a substantial amount of money. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying leeches in my opinion, and I help run a friends chat that has sold hundreds of reaper titles, for some it doesn’t come with the same feeling of accomplishment. Furthermore, if you’re one of the many people out there like Tyco, learning the new boss for yourself is part of the fun of RuneScape. This experience of teaching someone arguably the most challenging boss in the entire game, at least in terms of the skill floor required when first learning the fight, made me interested in writing this article which attempts to theorize the best ways to teach your friends bossing.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Most people have heard a cliché similar to “a teacher can learn as much from their student as the student learns from the teacher.” While this sometimes pans out in the obvious sense – students will sometimes point out seemingly obvious things that you’ve been overlooking, or a particularly precocious student might discover a more efficient method – in my experience teaching PvM and teaching High School students in real life, this is almost always true in a different sense: the process of teaching will reveal ways you can become a better teacher. When somebody messes up a rotation or deals with a mechanic correctly, the response shouldn’t be to get annoyed, but instead you should ask yourself how you can either explain said mechanic better, or make up for it. At Solak with Tyco, for instance, he initially had some trouble with the DPS on the arms/legs during phase 1. This had nothing to do with a failure to DPS quickly enough, but instead was due to the click radius for switching targets from Solak’s body to his arms being small, and so I accounted for this by reminding him to switch and slightly adjusting my rotation so I would always have time to assist him in killing it in case it wasn’t done quickly enough. After failing this DPS check once, we never failed it again because of the adjustments I made and the fact that it’s the sort of thing you get naturally used to.
“A mind when stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.”
The last main piece of advice is to work within your friends comfort zones. Obviously the meta at Solak is to bring magic and 4TAA with a melee switch for killing Erethdor and the core. Making someone who is used to range, hasn’t done 4TAA, or hasn’t ever hybrid do so for the first time at a new boss is asking the absurd. It makes them feel like learning all of these brand new techniques is a requirement for doing the boss even when they’re not. Tyco said the style he was most comfortable with was ranged, which isn’t *as good* as 4TAA, but is totally sufficient to get kills. The first few attempts I didn’t say much about his gear/rotation etc. while he was familiarizing himself with mechanics. Slowly as we started to come very close to getting kills, I started adding a few ideas to improve DPS: Cinderbanes over Nightmare Gauntlets since accuracy is 100% and movement isn’t needed during the DPS check portions of the fight, Hydrix over Ruby bolts for phase 4 due to the synergy of the special while inside deaths swiftness and trying to build adrenaline to onslaught, disruption shield to make things slightly easier. Adding very small changes and working within the learners comfort zone is crucial to getting experience with mechanics. Maybe at some point you can try to switch them to magic or whatever style is best, but adding too many things at once can be a disaster.
Finally, I asked Tyco to write something about his experience at Solak, I asked him to be honest about it but the words were so kind it feels embellished – I know I always have a lot to learn: “The best thing from my learning experience of Solak was the teacher's patience. Never stepping over the line of "this is what you are doing wrong", but instead asking "how are you doing it" and make the apprentice reflect over their own actions is something not all teachers can do. Providing tips and even asking other player's for advice really made my learning feel meaningful… What impressed me the most was the tips and tricks I was given, but barely told "this is the best" or "this is the only way". Being open to improve but also improve my own style of combat instead of replacing it was something I hadn't expected, as there is always a meta.”
Whether you’re teaching duo Vorago or Vindicta, I hope some of these tips help you involve more people in the PvM community and strengthen friendships, because to me those bonds are what this game has always been about.
We recap 2018’s PvM updates, assess the state of PvM today, and lay out the direction of PvM for 2019. Hard questions will be asked and answered. Is magic too strong and if so how can it be fixed? Also the latest crypto currency scheme from Razer.
We review Mod Timbo’s new Alchemical Onyx jewellery. Grace of the Elves, Ingenuity of Humans, and Passage of the Abyss, our favourites and the star winner. Plus removal of Mobilising Armies and the talk of what should be removed or reworked next.
It looks like we’ve been good girls and boys this year because Santa has brought us presents early in RuneScape. This week more alchemical onyx jewelry was released and there seems to be something for everyone. Skilling, combat, and adventuring are all covered in this update. This was a Game Jam project by Mod Timbo and after much anticipation, it is finally here and living up to expectations. It’s great to see December starting on such a positive note especially given the feeling of a dry fourth quarter. This month we’ll take a look at the new alchemical onyx jewelry and find out what it is, what it does, and why it’s actually a bigger deal than you might think.
First off, we have The Ingenuity of the Humans. This is a sigil item that guarantees your next spell or ability will hit. You craft it using an alchemical onyx, 10 stunning components, 750 smooth parts, and 50 direct components. It lasts for 6 seconds when activated or until an ability or spell is cast and has a 90-second cool down. It comes with 1,000 charges and can be recharged using fortunate components. One fortunate component is worth 25 charges so it will require 40 fortunate components to recharge fully at a cost of roughly 11K per charge. As many of you already know, I am not a big PvM guy. The places that this sigil will be most useful are definitely out of my skill level. That being said the high-level PvM community seems to be very happy with it and there is a lot of talk about using it in conjunction with a Statius warhammer to lower the boss’ defense. That is just one of many situations I am sure the PvM community will find this useful. It is great that it is using fortunate components to recharge. These components come from breaking down clue scroll rewards and thus will keep their price high enough to make clue scrolls worth it. It is also important to note this item is tradeable at 100% charged. All and all it is a nice addition to the game. Next, let’s look at The Passage of the Abyss.
The Passage of the Abyss is a pocket slot item in which you can add teleportation jewelry to it. To make one you need an alchemical onyx, 50 magic parts, and a teleportation compacter. It also requires an invention level of 118 to make. It can hold up to 6 pieces of compactable jewelry and has a maximum of 5,000 charges. Like The Ingenuity of Humans, The Passage of the Abyss can be recharged with fortunate components. In this case, one component is 500 charges. They are tradeable until their first use, after that they are permanently untradeable. This item seems to be perfect for people doing clue scrolls or farming runs. It makes getting around super easy and in a way can save your bank space. Unfortunately, I can't find much use for it outside of those circumstances but I'm sure the community will find more useful places you can teleport to using it. This puts The Passage of the Abyss in the last place of the new items in my book. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great item; it's just that getting around the map has never been as easy as it is now, so it may be overlooked. It is also important to note you can change its color allowing you to have multiples with different teleports on them.
Last but certainly not least is The Grace of the Elves. This is a skilling necklace and is the best item of the entire update. To make it you need an alchemical onyx and the level 6 enchant spell. It is tradeable until it is first equipped and after that is permanently untradeable. It also is non-degradable. The Grace of the Elves has many uses. One of the most beneficial uses is that you can use porters on it and have it act as a sign of the porter when equipped. That frees up your pocket slot so that is nice. Of course, that's not all, it also can teleport you to the places you have your max garden portals attuned to. If you don't have this unlocked yet, you get a one-time pick to attune the necklace. Both of these uses are beneficial and cool, however, that is not what is groundbreaking with The Grace of the Elves. Oh but wait, there is still more before we get to that. It also halves the prayer drainage rate when using Seren prayers like light form, superheat form, and chronicle absorption. Finally, we get to the really cool part. If you are wearing this necklace while training a gathering skill, you will have a chance to get a Seren sprite. When you click on one of these sprites, it will drop an item from the rare drop table in your bank or inventory if the bank is full. This means you have a chance to receive a Hazelmere signet ring while skilling. This is the coolest thing to happen for skillers since well, forever. All of these mechanics make this the best new alchemical item of the update.
This update has been a great way to finish out 2018. All and all the new alchemical jewelry is a hit. It has something for all players no matter what you like to do in the game. I am more of a skiller so The Grace of the Elves is hands down the one I couldn't live without, however, if I were a player that focuses on clues or PvM then maybe one of the other two would be my favorites. I am curious to see what will happen in the future now that skillers have access to the rare drop table. Honestly, I am a bit surprised that there hasn't been some push back by some players who don't think skillers should have access to the rare drop table. Thankfully, I haven't come across that at all and that is great. The fourth quarter has felt a little sparse with updates and I must give Jagex credit on this one. It wasn't broken, overpowered or just plain trash and the balancing is spot on. This will definitely give us something to play with until the next year when the full mining and Smithing rework is released in January. Until then I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and a wonderful New Year; Happy RuneScaping.