NOTE: This article talks about the Desperate Times quest. While there are spoilers, I will try to limit them. Nevertheless, I advise you do the quest first.

But what do I know? For all you know, I don't even exist, and you are reading an AI-generated string of sentences that was randomize until something remotely close to the topic appeared. ... I'm serious, these things exist. Look it up.

Anyways, it starts off it wonderfully epic fashion. Seren herself calls a meeting and invites a HUGE cast of familiar, influential figures from all the different factions and races of Gielinor. Even Zanik arrives as a representative of the dead (because forget Xenia and [insert dead Void series person here], right?).

Seren reveals the whole issue that arose from Sliske's Endgame (whose final battle was absolutely wrecked by the Marvel version). The Elder Gods are waking up, and we have to prove to them that we, something that they see as mere insects, deserve to live and thrive. Otherwise they'll eat us or something, I dunno.

It starts off actually on a very interesting note. To appease Bik (who we believe exists as the island of Entrana), an Elder God of Nature, she proposes we built a great garden and prove that we are at least somewhat capable of influencing nature. You, the player, are tasked with figuring out where to do it, who will do it, and how to do it.

Right away, I thought; oh my gosh, the desert! We can totally terraform the desert and restore it back to its former glory and the monkey colony can finally... you know, not have to live in a desert! But I couldn't find a workforce that wanted to work there. Even Moia, who offered to summon an undead army (ideal desert workers), refused to do it because of the existence of one Citherade Abbey.

Then I thought about Morytania. That place has been a putrid swamp long enough; let's make it thrive again. But again, nobody wanted to work there, and by turning it into a great garden (yes, the vampyre queen herself actually gave the thumbs up for that), we can... we can...

... after three combination submissions, what I had expected came to pass. This was never going to happen. No way we would be doing something so dynamic as changing an entire ecosystem in the game. Besides, the quest picture told us everything.

Kerapac appeared, and somehow didn't immediately get lynched by Armadyl. Yes, he himself appeared because we simply don't have any familiar aviansie friends that could represent him... save for Kree'Arra... and Zilyana was already there... wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, dragonkin.

Kerapac appears with a new lick of paint (lookin' good, buddy!) and tells us through his own experience with the Elder Gods (and we know how that turned out) that they simply cannot be appeased no matter what we do. He suggests that we instead screw with the anima flow with the Needle and lock them back into permanent sleep. Like taking germinating seeds out of the ground and putting them in ziplock bags. This would immediately resolve the entire plot that had been building up ever since the Stone of "J**" was first referenced.

Everyone agrees except for Seren. And me. We were trading an impossible solution for a ridiculously simple one. This wasn't going to work, and I personally knew it. But, they told me to go accompany Kerapac because suddenly he's a good friend of ours now that the stone's no longer causing him pain.

Also Thok came along, showing off his own new updated graphics. I seriously seriously hoped he was going to headbutt the Needle to pieces. Spoiler alert; he doesn't, but he does win a staring contest with it.

So Kerapac goes to work trying to get the Needle to do stuff, and the Needle is all "nah, dude", and so Kerapac decides he needs some equipment. And who better than to create this equipment than, to our delightful surprise, Charos! That's right, You Are It being a quest requirement wasn't just a fluke; we are really going to finally meet the guy!

Naturally, he throws some delightfully mind-bending puzzles at us to unlock his necklace, and seek him out. I'll not say where he is because that is a surprise in itself, but you meet him, and man, he's got a personality just as colorful as his outfit. He'll greet you with a hug rather than a handshake and a tooth-filled smile. Great guy, you'll love him.

At least, up until the point he sends you to get runite stone spirits. Yeah, I lucked out getting some from a Seren spirit before starting the quest.

Deliver some stuff, and you get a device made that you never see, and then return to the Needle and prepare for a fun battle.

Gail finally appears and tries to stop Kerapac, and the dragonkin tells you to rechannel the anima from Gail to himself so he can take control.

... yeah, I know what you're thinking. We just did a quest where we saved Gail's life. Now we are joining up with practically the leader of the dragonkin, a hyperviolent murderous race, to take her down and give him access to an elder artifact.

... nothing to look into there. Let's learn some fun lore!

You hear the conversation that Guthix had with Sliske before the end of the fifth age. You hear an interaction between Sliske and Kerapac regarding the rising concept of the God slaying game. Guthix has another little chat with you, and you bear witness to a discussion between Kerapac and his son.

Between this, you get to enjoy one more fun set of puzzles where you redirect anima from Gail to Kerapac.

And finally, you are successful!

Kerapac takes hold of the Needle, uses it to redirect the flow of anima, the Elder Gods get drained and returned to sleep, and everyone lives happily ever after. You become Slayer buds with Kerapac and Thok finally teaches you his headbutt special attack. Overall, a happy ending to a long, arduous series.

...

... yeah, that doesn't happen. Not even close. Kerapac becomes a time God, reveals his plan to destroy the Elder Gods outright by blowing up the entire planet, takes the Needle itself, and flies off. Charos is royally cheesed off, and Thok shakes his head, having had known all along what would have happened.

You return to Seren and say that you just spent a good chunk of time making the situation a lot more dire. You made no progress whatsoever to appease the Elder Gods, and now there's another thing threatening to end everybody.

Great job, World Guardian. Fantastic work.

Fortunately, there's a silver lining. The almighty Charos is now a solid ally of yours, and Primrose, no longer bound to the Needle, finally got to return to her mum and now has the potential to become Gypsy Aris' assistant.

So. What do I think?

Personally, while I enjoyed the twists and puzzles of this quest, I am a little worried. A lot of loose ends have been getting tied up lately as quest lines and mysteries see conclusions and finishes. However, when there are a lot to go through, it gets a bit rushed.

There is a flow to in-game stories and quests; the characters cannot speak an immensely long time, or the player will either get bored or, horrors, accidentally log out and have to begin the conversation anew. Puzzles and fights have to be inserted to keep the story interesting, and those take a lot of time to create.

Ergo, if there is too much content in a story, it is rushed. Simplified. Just pushed on the player to keep the flow going.

Same goes with this. If we have to deal with Kerapac now alongside the Elder Gods, how would it play out? Would defeating Kerapac make the Elder Gods deem us worthy? Would we appease the Elder Gods enough that they destroy Kerapac for us? Or would it become an entirely separate storyline and take another age to be released?

Personally, I would rather wait. Keep up the story telling. Just please don't rush anything. It would kill the glorious payoff.

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!

 


The first in the new Elder Gods storyline is here and we give it the RSBANDBUpdate! quest treatment. Plus two simple designs for the comp cape and bank rework that have players talking. Is it for better or worse? We have the answers.

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The completionist cape (comp cape) first came into game back on May 3, 2011. Along with it came a trimmed variety that had utterly insane achievements, such as playing 5,000 castle wars games (yes, 5,000 games, it was later changed to unlocking a full set of profound armour). The completionist cape has always been best in slot stat wise and it imparted the benefits of practically every other cape in game. Put quite simply the completionist cape is over powered, though this article isn’t going to debate that point.

After the Mining and Smithing rework launched we heard that Mod Jack and his team (Four Direction) were going to be tackling the comp cape rework. The first design was a total re-imagining, getting to the same place while making the cape feel less mandatory stat wise and moving passive benefits onto the player. The re-designs also took care of controversial requirements such as the aforementioned Castle Wars gauntlet and Reaper (killing all the bosses). The first design also added in several meta achievements for completing all of the skilling, lore, combat, areas, and activities achievements.

We started to get somewhere around the second or third design revision when these capes were finally named and the achievements that would residing in them became defined. It was also at around this point that we saw concept art for what the capes could ultimately look like. These later designs fixed the problem of stats and benefits on the actual cape bringing choice to what cape you actually want to wear, allowed a pathway for new requirements to be added, and fixed the problem of controversial requirements by adding new tiers. Finally, the new design also defined what the completionist endgame of RuneScape would look like (a game can have more than one endgame).


Comp Cape Concepts

Jagex has earned the right to be bold and brave. This is part a multi-year comeback from the confidence disaster that was the Evolution of Combat. We’ve talked about this many times before including on Informer in 5 Steps to Harmony and on Update just last week. This completionist cape rework has been an impressive, thoughtful, and important examination of the culmination of years of RuneScape play time. Folks like Cireon and myself have seen this from the design perspective and were largely onboard from the beginning (except 120 virtual levels for me). Whereas the players are rightly concerned with the here and now. The design is just too important to focus on today as with no rework the question of what to do after maxing remains unanswered.

While yes, the completionist cape and trimmed completionist cape exist for after maxing, it is a very steep hill to climb. Two of the hallmarks of good game design are choice and progression. With the rework you’d have the choice of determining whether you want to focus on lore, combat, skilling, activity, or area achievements first. You’d also have clearly defined progression because of the intermediate capes and the tiers within each of these achievement baskets as well. For that I am disappointed with the recent news that the design has been simplified.

The design has been simplified to the point where it can be boiled down to 4 bullet points. This design isn’t bold, it isn’t brave, and it cuts out key elements of choice and progression.

  1. The comp cape and trimmed comp cape remain as they are.
  2. The “Reaper Crew” achievement has been removed as well as the “How Many Games?” Castle Wars achievement.
  3. Stats will be taken off the cape and a passive boost will be awarded once completing the “Reaper Crew” achievement.
  4. Utility benefits will be moved on to the player.

Jagex also says that in the future there will be clearer definitions for achievements when being added to the cape. Future add-ons won’t cause controversy. Finally, existing content could see achievements added as well but not in a huge batch. This is the comp cape rework we are getting.

This is a simple and elegant design to a problem that exists in game. Design wise had we not seen what was possible in terms of progression this design would tick all the boxes for fixing the problem. Simpler is also often better when it comes to design. We have been told that programmatically it is going to be relatively easy to implement compared to other updates. Also in my chats with those who already have the cape, they don’t mind this design. The people who are upset are the ones who consistently look forward and hope for a better future because a glimpse of what we saw won’t become reality.

There is also the reality that this design is the better business case. It is a lot easier to keep a player who has spent hundreds of hours in game than it is to find a new player who will do that same thing with an untested and unproven design (the elaborate comp cape rework). If a chunk of the completionist player base left, Jagex would have to build that demographic up again and there’s no way of knowing if the new elaborate design would have done that. There’s also the question of accumulated good will. There’s a big Hunter update coming down the pipe that affects the balance of the game whereas comp affects gameplay progression, and Jagex may be choosing to use player good will on the Hunter project rather than a risky comp cape rework. As they say, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

While being bold and being brave is something Jagex will be able to do going forward, I am optimistic for the future. We still have an achievement system that is largely untapped. Let’s not preclude the possibility that meta achievement capes (similar to virtual 120s) could be added for completing the achievement categories. This would add progression to comp and give players a little something to show off. If these were added as cosmetic options we would almost be where we were at with the elaborate rework while accomplishing the mission and keeping players happy.


As I wrote in two previous articles in this series a few months ago, some of what separates elite PvMers DPS, which usually operates consistently at higher levels, are very small changes that aren’t significant on their own but in aggregate can make a significant difference in performance. Perhaps the most infamous example of this is 4TAA, which involves manipulating the tick system to weave in functionally lossless auto attacks inside a standard rotation through switching weapons. While this is the most significant individual boost in the game within this category of techniques, others can help too.

One interesting technique involves maintaining Aftershock stacks through weapon switches that don’t have the Aftershock perk on them. For those who don’t know, Aftershock is widely considered the best on-balance weapon perk in the game. It deals area of effect damage every 50,000 damage dealt, with an average of 40% weapon damage per rank. If you switch weapons prior to the Aftershock hit to a weapon without the perk, your counter resets to zero. For this reason, most people try to have at least Aftershock 1 on all main hand weapons, for example with Planted Feet on the same gizmo, so as to not lose stacks. Unfortunately, for some special attack weapons, most notably the Guthix Staff – often used both for the +2 affinity and for being a surprisingly high damage hit – it is not possible to add a perk to the weapon, therefore always causing the player to lose stacks. This is avoidable, however, by once again manipulating the tick system. If you use an ability (or auto) with a wand prior to using the Guthix Staff special attack and switch to your staff on the same tick you use the special attack your stacks will be maintained. You can even see in the animation that it appears you’re doing the special attack with your staff.

Here you can see me losing my aftershock stacks when performing a Guthix Staff special attack:


Losing Aftershock Ticks

Here you can see me doing the described technique to maintain the stacks:


Maintaining Aftershock

While the overall damage gained just from this is minor, it does provide a lot of possibilities for maintaining aftershock stacks through other usages. For example, some players have opted to purchase a second set of Praesuls in order to increase damage with abilities such as flanking. For example, you could do the same trick to switch to a wand with Precise 4 and Equilibrium 2 (P4E2) when you flank then back to your wand with Aftershock 3 all on tick to get a P4E2 boost stacks on top of your flanking hit. I haven’t tried this and am not sure how sustainable/viable this would be without macros. I personally don’t use any macros because I have no idea how to program them and they’re still against game rules, but a Guthix Staff macro that tick switches weapons for you is among the most commonly used. Additionally, if you try incorporating this you’ll find that having your special attack and standard staff key bound will really help. I imagine having the Guthix Staff key bound as well would help too but I don’t have any room left on my action bars.

Another tick related technique is something I talked about extensively in a previous article so I won’t go into great detail, but a (somewhat) recent update allowed players to key bind different spell books for the spell book swap ability (accessible while on ancients or lunars) allowing you to case it without losing any game ticks or on global cooldown. This, combined with a spell such as disruption shield which operates off of global cooldown can be a huge boon for surviving big bursts of damage or singular high hitting type-less damage. Examples where this is popular would be to block blue bombs at vorago (it even blocks pushback on phase 5 or 10/11 in hard mode!), Telos’s phase 4 anima bomb, combo attacks at Angel of Death when basing, and artifact bombs at the Ambassador. Additionally, heal other is once again a popular spell in the group PvM meta. There are a lot of times, particularly at Vorago, where players can heal other eachother without taking damage – when you’re being intercepted by a player with barricade, during phase transitions, and even right before you know you’re taking a huge amount of damage you’re going to resonance (most famously the Kalphite King green attack). This really helps with food consumption, and the advent of lossless off-GCD swapping has made SBS an even more standard part of any PvM setup. This plus colored rune pouches changed flexibility at the highest levels of PvM dramatically, and I hope after all the controversy surrounding it people will realize it’s overall a good thing.

 


We got a bundle of clan QoL fixes, but the main focus is on the impending Hunter modernisation. We run through the rationale, why this is fixing a bad design, and what to expect in July. Plus a recap of a prophetic RSBANDBInformer! article.

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Duration: 2:09:18