RSBANDBUpdate! 857 - Partyhat Fever

posted by Shane on 26 November 2021 at 17:03 | Discuss on our Forums

The Golden Partyhat arrives and the Finale of Once Upon a Time in Gielinor paints a picture of one of our possible futures. In an otherwise hefty set of patch notes we discuss the exaggerated death of Magma Tempest and pontificate on Mod Iroh’s departure.

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Hosts: Shane, Thaxy, and Xurdones
Duration: 2:13:00

Alex's Analysis - Going for Gold

posted by Alex 43 on 26 November 2021 at 02:44 | Discuss on our Forums

It started with Easter Eggs. Not video game perks, but literal painted, edible Easter eggs.

They were pretty much hand-traded and dropped directly from JMods at the time; namely Andrew and Paul Gower. Just a little something to celebrate Easter and show their appreciation to the community for playing Runescape for the quarter-year it had existed. It was a nice little gesture, and at the time, the brothers imagined that folks would just use them as food (they did heal a considerable amount at the time in lieu of shark and manta ray). Heck, it went so well that come Halloween, the released the Pumpkin drop. Same ordeal; trading to players, giving them some tokens of appreciation to help out a bit with their training and monster fighting. Being all fancy and all that.

What they did not foresee, however, was how much accumulated value these limited-edition items would have with the general trade economy. Like rookie baseball cards, their trade value skyrocketed as supply diminished. It was intended that the eggs and pumpkins appear in subsequent events, but because of this sudden influx of value, the whole premise of the holiday item changed to something beyond comprehension. They became a symbol of status. Of wealth and showmanship. Folks would trade others just to show off these holiday treats as a form of pompous bragging.

Wild, isn't it? Holiday-themed items, of all things, actually becoming the most sought-after thing all year round? So, to help the folks along with this, the third and pivotal holiday item was released in the form of a server-wide drop. The Christmas Cracker. An item used directly on another player, and in turn, both players got a sweet reward from it. One would get a runite piece, (best and most expensive in-game armor at the time), while the other (randomly determined who was who) would get a partyhat of a random color. It was a simple little head accessory meant to be one of goofy celebration, and unlike pumpkins and Easter eggs, offered nothing but a simple cosmetic appearance. Not practically worthwhile; it both took up an inventory slot and offered no stat bonuses or anything when worn as a helmet.

I imagined they figured that this would sort of settle the matter of the whole holiday-items-becoming-status-symbols from their ridiculousness. They were based off the original paper partyhat, after all, which is quite popular in Britain. A cut-out piece of paper that anyone could make with a pair of scissors and some tape, used mainly to add a bit of color to a party. If they really wanted to try, they would've released the Santa hat, or reindeer antlers, or something considerably more fancy for Christmas. Instead, they opted for the cheapest and most silly party decoration universally available... and it exploded. Rising quickly to the price of runite; folks were trading the runite drops for party hats instead. Then dragon battleaxes and dragonstone amulets. And as time went on and Runescape evolved, this relic of 2001 became used almost as an item of insurmountable currency to get the very best in in-game gear and equipment!

The folks at Jagex didn't notice this incredible influx right away, as other artifacts followed suit, like the Halloween masks and the Santa hats of 2002. Upon realizing, however, just how much the economy was centering on their rare items, every subsequent holiday item was labelled untradeable. The bunny ears, the scythe, and the yo-yo were among these things; folks could still receive them and show them off to display their status as being old-school players, but ultimately it was a game-loyalty flex rather than a monetary one.

So what was the big deal here? Why not let there be these rare wicked-expensive items? Because of legality issues. They announced the halting of such practice to dissuade folks from going so far as to obtain partyhats via real-world trading, which was a real issue back in the day. Back then, the internet was still getting its bearings on online transactions, and a number of dodgy websites had sprung up offering in-game trades to players of various online experiences, like World of Warcraft. Runescape was no exception, and with the rise of both "legitimate" and bogus scam sites, it wasn't long before there were parents yelling at Jagex for ripping them off because they didn't know any better.

The legitimate sites were no better, because to keep up with supply and demand, they created bots, which hogged up resource nodes and NPC spawns. And in the days of Runescape Classic and Runescape 2, a lot of the resources were not instanced like they are today. It was first-come, first-serve, and if a bot was there, you were competing for resources with a computer. Good luck.

Jagex's response to this was impressively hardcore; the removal of the wilderness and incredibly tight trade restrictions. This took out both the real-world trading market and helped eliminate the majority of bots, and it also restricted the trade of these rare holiday items, so they didn't pass hands very much. Fortunately, the block on trading was abolished thanks to some new and impressive detection technology, plus the Grand Exchange, and holiday rares returned to the market and reclaimed their rightful place as symbols of monetary status.

Naturally, halting the practice of releasing rares and trading them altogether only served to make them even more valuable. Without changing hands, party-hats and stuff would disappear as folks stopped playing Runescape, and the economy was left in a perpetual state of unknown where nobody knew their value anymore, so out of sheer panic and desperation, the price fluctuated all over the place.

Mind, Jagex could've gone the other route, like Runescape Old School 2007 does where the same holiday items are dropped every year. This would equalize the price considerably at the risk of harming the economy, but since it was already messed up from the introduction of unobtainable rares, it was just too big a gamble. Long-time players would've been cheesed off as all their acquired assets would have been devalued in an instant. It was just too late. The party hat was here to stay.

Gradually, as time went by and we got year after year of holiday themed cosmetics and items, they rose and rose in value to the point where they hardly were traded anymore. One sacrificed an entire bank just to obtain one of these highly coveted items, almost as a form of wealth prestige mode. They became time-honoured investments, reliably rising in price with each year that went by, promising additional fortune to those who were patient enough to wait and bank on it when the time for them was right. They were literal money generators; top-tier. The best of the best, and only the best (or luckiest to have been around at the time) would ever own one.

So where does that bring us with the Golden Partyhat hunt? Is it really just Jagex's way of celebrating the 20 year anniversary with the callback to something that was otherwise an accident? The telling of a joke that grew beyond what anyone could've imagined into something just so fantastic it's absurd?

I'd like to think so, yes. There's no doubt the game-making folks in Cambridge have an awesome sense of humour, as seen in many of the quests and in-game content. This isn't a celebration of in-game wealth and the unbelievable valuable and rareness of a partyhat, orchestrated to be somewhat repeated due to how difficult it is to obtain a golden one. It's the celebration of the evolution of a mere gag that completely reshaped an entire in-game community and economy. The show of how the smallest and silliest of ideas could change things, for better or for worse. They've already celebrated the partyhat's value with a couple of equally hilarious gags, like the super-expensive New Varrock cosmetic and the April Fools giveaway of a Pea-Hat (lol).

No, to bring back the concept of a rare, unobtainable, and tradable item and quite literally add a new addition to the partyhat line is homage to the joke itself. There's no fun to be made here. The Gowers did something funny, and it became something incredible. How couldn't they celebrate such a feat for a 20th year anniversary?

So I wish you guys luck in obtaining your golden relic of 2001. It's a tough one to get, but not as impossible as you might think. You just need a little patience and persistence. Just like we did back in the Runescape Classic days of 2001.

And for gosh sakes, don't bring your golden partyhat out into the wilderness.

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!


The Making of a PvM'er

posted by Shane on 24 November 2021 at 03:02 | Discuss on our Forums

Earlier this year at one of our Patreon roundtables I wanted to surprise everyone. The roundtables are typically a open-ended discussion while we play RuneScape. One month I decided I was going to go kill Araxxor (big spider) after only reading the associated wiki page. I was successful and surprised everyone!

Prior to that most of my boss killing experience on RuneScape was limited to a few hours of the Queen Black Dragon and the occasional mass with friends at the God Wars 1 or God Wars 2 dungeon. This was an opening to daily Reaper tasks and finding my way around the combat system.

It was only a month or so later that the first Elder God Wars Front, the Nodon Front arrived. This brought a fight against Kerapac and on release week I decided that I would get a solo kill for the benefit of the podcast. In learning how to kill Kerapac I enjoyed the experience and refined tactics along the way with some great help that I will get to later.

This lead me down a PvM rabbit hole to the point where I have killed each of the three new combat based bosses for fun, numerous times. it has also lead me to upgrading gear and pushing myself further than I ever thought I would.

Now comes the part where I say that what I did would not be possible without the network of people (David & Thaxy on our production team) and resources that I have. The combat system on its own is only slightly confusing and resources at times are not the clearest.

The problem is that most PvM guides unless explicitly stated build for endgame best-in-slot performance. The reality of RuneScape 3 is that any boss in-game can be killed with tier 90+ weapons, tier 80+ power armour, and potentially a shield if you know what you’re doing. Unless you have someone guiding you about where to start, it’s going to be difficult.

I started small, with a 7 minute successful Kerapac kill. After this I focused on setting up my action bar properly and managing adrenaline by using food items that don’t lower adrenaline. Then it was time to purchase Corruption Shot (30m, Mazcab Raids). Then it was time to evaluate my ammunition, ruby bolts instead of just emerald (my budget choice). This got my times down to about 4:30 or thereabouts. After this it was time to dump the Yak and move to a Ripper Demon. I still wasn’t skipping lightning, after my Zuk failures and successes I added the Jas book and swapped to a Noxious longbow with Splintering arrows, which brought me down to 3:20 kills on average and most of the time skipping the lightning mechanic. This week I added Greater Ricochet, manual thresholds, and ultimates into the mix. This led my best solo time of 3:07.

I don’t expect anyone reading this to take all these steps in one day, not at all. I highlight the individual changes that I made in terms of methods and equipment to show that without understanding each one. And without being guided along the way, by someone or a guide, even a beginners PvM guide that suggests some of these things can seem horribly obtuse.

Alongside the Kerapac load out changes above I was also refining perk setups, becoming more comfortable with the combat tick system, and practicing at smaller bosses. The purpose of highlighting this step by step process is to show that while you can read or watch a guide that suggests tier 92 weapons, tier 90 armour, with variants of Aftershock and Biting… If you don’t start small you’re not going to have success.

Also, the so-called meta gear with meta switches and meta perks is wonderful but you can do 90% or more of what the meta does with more affordable options. I am not running aftershock (a topic for another day from someone else ;)). I have Biting 2, tops. Aside from Trimmed Masterwork, my best armour is tier 82 power armour. I set out to not break the bank while PvMing with a setup slightly more elaborate than what you can pick up off the Grand Exchange easily.

This summer and autumn created a perfect storm of RuneScape content for learning PvM. We’re on record as saying Kerapac is a boss for everyone. The Glacor is the most accessible PvM learning experience Jagex has ever produced. And, well, TzKal-Zuk was meant to be a challenge. Once comfortable with the basics of the combat system the Elder God Wars fronts provide a wonderful experience for pushing oneself further from normal mode to hard mode.

Having direct access to someone who teaches PvM helps a ton, and if I had a question about a specific thing, I could just ask without fear of judgement. It also means I didn't have to parse through hours of videos or reading many guides. However, it also matters who you ask, by in large the PvM community will be helpful but there’s the off chance you will be greeted with elitism. I am so very grateful to two people, David and Thaxy, who answered my questions personally and made this journey possible.

It’s my hope that after reading this, the path is clear on transforming someone who ignored PvM to someone becoming a mid-tier PvM’er. It’s not something the game requires, but it can be an interesting endgame project in itself. Combined with some work on death costs and this year’s new content, PvM has never been more accessible.

The next question of course, is what should you do? Try a daily Reaper task. Start with God Wars 1 or God Wars 2 creatures, or maybe the Queen Black Dragon. From there get a feel for how far you want to go. Do you want to aim for the ultra high end? Or do you want to do just like I did and aim for the mid-tier area? If you have questions, join the RSBANDB Discord and either myself or someone else will try to help you out.


Daily challenges are updated again introducing reasons to be excited and worried. We also touch on Premier Club, the Golden Party Hat, and 2022’s Old School influence. Then we’re back for death costs round 2, this time with the high-end PvM perspective.

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Hosts: Shane, Tanis, and David
Duration: 2:02:59

Engage!

posted by Cireon on 18 November 2021 at 02:07 | Discuss on our Forums

Over the past few years, we have seen several iterations of the "do the thing, get the stuff" system. There was the achievement system work, there was Yak Track, and now there is the new daily challenge system (you're reading the article now!).

Daily challenges can be a powerful tool. In a game like RuneScape, there is always too much to do. In many ways, the player is left to their own devices to decide what their goal is for the day. This can lead to choice paralysis, and not really feeling like anything at all. It's also hard to log in and set a goal for that single game session. "Get 1M Summoning experience" just isn't that fun of a reason to log in for, if your overall goal is to get about 100M experience. By giving you daily challenges, Jagex narrows down the choices for you, and cuts them down into bite size pieces. No, you didn't get 120 Summoning today, but at least you can log off feeling you have achieved something. If you do enough of these tiny steps, eventually you will make it to your larger goals!


Daily challenges can also be dangerous. Instead of giving you a goal when you want to play, completing the daily challenges every day can be the goal for logging in by itself. This is how players can quickly burn out on a game. In the old daily challenge system, if you missed a day, you worked a bit harder the next day to catch up. In the new system, that still works (unless this day happens to be Tuesday), but it's going to cost you Vis Wax. So you better log in every day if you want to get all the rewards on that weekly track!


This immediately opens up the question: how do you reward highly active players while not making casual players miss out? I think this is the wrong question to ask, because it assumes that highly active players must be rewarded. A player who logs in daily to do their reaper and daily sinkholes and what have you will already be progressing faster than somebody who can only scrape together a few hours to play on the weekend, so why exaggerate that difference? The reason a casual player doesn't feel like missing out as much, is because the game isn't waving it in that player's face. I often get other players telling me about the drops they get left and right, and how much money they're making every week, and it gets me a bit envious at times, but it all comes down to the fact that these other players get as much game time in a single day as I get in an entire week!

The new daily challenge system does exactly what I warn about in the paragraph above: show exactly what you're missing out on by not logging in every day. I don't even get an opportunity to work a bit harder on the days I can log in to catch up with the people who do have a schedule that allows for daily RuneScape sessions without spending Vis Wax. The problem isn't too hard to solve either: instead of requiring every daily challenge to be completed, require only 2 out of 3 to be completed every day. Casual players can either spend a bit less every day doing just the two tasks, or even skip entire days and do the full three on other days. Very active players can still get the extra XP from finishing more task, or have a choice of tasks, skipping the more annoying ones.

Overall, the system is a net positive for many players if you look at the rewards specifically. If you are in a similar situation like me, where you had it fine tuned so you had exactly five non-maxed skills, meaning you could force a daily in a certain skill by only doing that one every day, the new system may not work as well for you. For most other people, the system is comparable to the system before, with more rewards than offer for completing most tasks each week. The tasks are also shorter, meaning they are without a doubt very doable on RS Mobile as well (that's not a coincidence). It just runs the risk of pulling people in daily with goodies, which is a recipe for disaster. It may make the engagement statistics look great in the short term, but remember: people really enjoyed the first Yak Tracks as well, and those are becoming more and more disliked with each new track coming around.

I hope Jagex doesn't close the door on improvements to this system. Choice and flexibility isn't a bad thing. It is important to look at long term damage you are doing by altering the players' behaviours instead of mercilessly driving short term metrics up. The timing of this update, right after four months of high octane content releases, seems like it may not be entirely a coincidence, but what is gained by pushing players even deeper into the looming RuneScape burnout. We should always remember: player retention and long term business success is a marathon, not a sprint.