Why Runescape?

Let’s go back to the summer of 2007. My friend had been getting on at me about trying out this game called Runescape, which I assumed was like any other flash game on the web, and subsequently didn’t bother with. I vaguely remember being confused by the world select screen. In fact, I also remember having to get my friend to log on to my account and complete tutorial island for me because I couldn’t figure out how to play the game. I was apparently not the brightest tool in the shed.

Okay, okay, I’ve discussed Runescape before, but I’ve been playing it again recently and I don’t feel like that blog post did it justice. I want to give an idea as to what my journey through Runescape was like. I have many fond memories, old and new.

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Taken in Oldschool Runescape. This is the kind of Lumbridge I’d have seen! It’s usually slightly busier but screenshot was taken in early morning.

I clearly remember my first impressions of the game when I started back in August, 2007. I thought Lumbridge was huge, and at the time, it was bustling with people wearing different coloured armour. As a fresh, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed level 3 adventurer, my friend suggested I follow him, and so we went to Al Kahird. I’m not entirely sure why we went there, but I remember being attacked by level 2 Man NPC’s, and confusing them for players, and trying to convince my friend that I’d been attacked by players in a non PvP area. That was some confusion.

From there, I started to carve my own path through the game, and as I slowly got to grips with things I realised with awe how perfect this game was. Perhaps it’s something lost to either childhood or game quality (I’d wager the former), but the feeling of discovery and awe from finding a game you love doesn’t seem to happen anymore. I can still remember with vivid clarity how excited I was when I started playing Runescape and how huge the game felt to me. I remember the 2007 Halloween and Christmas events with ease, and even recorded so game footage through Unregistered Hypercam 2 which I’ve got archived away somewhere for instant nostalgia.

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The area of my assault in 07. Also, the progress on my main OSRS account. More on that later.

I convinced my dad to buy me membership sometime in 2008, and I had to migrate to a new account because for some reason it wasn’t letting me use membership on my first one. (I recently tried to log in to that account – it was hacked and subsequently banned for macroing. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t change your password for nine years.) This spawned what would be my main account for years to come, until we couldn’t justify the membership fees anymore sometime around 2009 or 2010 and I became demotivated by the severely handicapped free-to-play portion of the game (for instance, I had exceeded the possible bank limit for f2p players by hundreds and couldn’t store anything anymore). I’d log in every now and then over the course of the next few years, but I’d never really do much.

So let’s forward-wind to late 2013.

In late 2013 I began my university course, and alongside it, got a student loan. So of course, young and naive and reckless as I was all those 3 years ago, I was spending money on whatever the hell I wanted – notably a laptop that could handle Minecraft (as was my biggest wish at the time), Minecraft, a whole bunch of Steam games (Worms was so cheap!) and eventually a subscription to WoW. And wouldn’t you know it, my attention just happened to fall on Runescape. I could afford it now, couldn’t I?

(Disclaimer: I learned a lot from burning through my first student loan payment and am nowhere near that reckless with money anymore. Not that you care, but, you know… thought I’d clear that up.)

Foolishly, I made a completely new account. Why foolishly? Well, I made a new account with the intention of being called Kritigri instead of the somewhat outgrown username I’d had previously. I somehow overlooked the fact that members can change their in-game names once a month, and so the old account’s mementos from old holiday events and its ability to buy a veteran’s cape have fallen by the wayside as I immediately levelled Kritigri far past the old account’s progress of 3 years. This was partially because the game was easier, but also because I didn’t spend as much time ‘wasting xp’. I did log in to that old account recently to see if I could reset him as an Ironman account (no trading with players / using the auction house system, status symbol + fun modifier to the game), but you can only do that to newly created characters.

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My original (well, 2nd) account and my original skill progression. Also, veteran cape emote.

 

Fun fact – I paid for membership entirely so that I could play Old School Runescape, which had been out for around 6 months at that time and didn’t have a free-to-play section yet. My first impressions of Runescape 3 were that I couldn’t get my head around the new UI, and that it had changed too wildly for me to bother playing. Needless to say I’m glad I gave it another go, as the nostalgia of Old School soon ran out and the quality-of-life updates to RS3 became sorely missed after a while. It’s nice to be able to run for more than 30 seconds without having to walk everywhere for an hour waiting for your run to recharge. I inevitably transitioned from OSRS to RS3 and didn’t look back.

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My account today, and my progress. How times change.

Well anyway, with the release of NXT – Runescape’s new client and engine, ported over from Java and making the game far more smooth and optimised – I decided to buy a month’s RS3 membership and start levelling my character again, this time alongside a friend who has also been playing recently. I’ve almost gotten all of my skills to at least level 50, as well as pushing my highest skill to level 80. I’m just generally having a good time. I mentioned in my previous blog post on the game that it was a bad game due to most skills needing a click and waiting for resources to be gained, but there’s really more to it than that. The feeling of achievement and accomplishment is unmatched in any other game I’ve tried, and I’m sure I’ll continue to play and return to Runescape for as long as it exists.

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Minecraft: Survival Mode (1.9 Pre-Release 3)

There are two things I’m mostly excited for in the gaming world that will be releasing within the next week. The first is Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow releasing onto the 3DS eShop. (Bulbasaur REPRESENT.) The second is Minecraft 1.9, the first major update to the game since September 2, 2014. The Pokemon games hit on the 27th and Minecraft 1.9 is set to be released on the 29th, and since I’m an impatient bastard I went ahead and downloaded the pre-release version of the latter.

I’ve mentioned Minecraft briefly on this blog before, in my list of personal favourite videogames of all time. It sat at the bottom as an honorable mention, the reason being that “I don’t really consider Minecraft as a game so much as a creative platform for games. Sure, there’s the base survival gameplay, but I wouldn’t put that on my top ten due to lack of content.” And has that changed with 1.9? Well, no. Mostly because the enjoyability of vanilla Minecraft depends on two things: whether you’re playing with friends, and whether you have a good imagination and the attention span to carry out your ideas.

1.9, however, is quite the large update, most notably to combat. So without further ado, I launched the pre-release, created a new world and jumped in. And what did I find?

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Well, diamonds, actually, and within the first few minutes. This ended up being a vein of eight, which I had to return to mine after I’d found some iron.

But other than that, you may notice that I’m holding torches in my left hand. That’s the new offhand feature, used primarily for quick torch placement or the use of a shield, and switching out what you’re holding is actually less hassle than it seems when you get used to it. (If you press F, you switch what you’re holding with your offhand. I find that sandwiching a shield / torch between a sword and pickaxe allows for speedy switching between pickaxe-and-torch or sword-and-shield.) Combat now has more to it than simply spam-clicking with your sword; you must wait for it to recharge to achieve optimal damage output, and if you go up against a skeleton without generous employment of your shield, you can kiss your blocky ass goodbye.

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I never used to die much in this game. Full iron armour couldn’t save me from being trapped between two skeletons and a creeper, however.

Whilst some may mourn the ability to go up against hordes of enemies with ease, I welcome it. Not since my first delving into the game have I felt such unease at dusk, or felt the need to check behind me so often whilst spelunking. Open cave systems are now daunting as much as they are enticing. I’m enjoying single-player survival more than I have in months. It also helps that I spawned into a rather wonderful starting area, with plentiful coal, trees and greenery, and I must say I’ve been rather lucky with diamonds, too. If anyone’s interested, the seed is simply ‘1.9’, though I can’t say as to whether this will change what’s generated by release.

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They pushed me into a hole! I take it back! Bring back spam clicking!

I’d like to emphasise, though, that finding a good, medium-sized, vanilla server will work wonders for your Minecraft experience. Even if you’re not directly playing with others, simply sharing a world with them and talking as you play can eradicate the feeling of hollowness from the world. I play on a server which has a nice little economy system going on and allows you two personal teleport locations, one of which I share with my friend when we play together. When 1.9 releases on the 29th, I’ll probably go back to playing there, especially as we’ll be resetting the world (alongside most other servers, I expect).

 

Pocket Monsters! (Pokemon)

People say (or used to say) that Pokemon is for kids. You like Pikachu? Estimates indicate you’re probably five. Know all the Pokemon off by heart? Well, that’s simply unfathomable, and in no way similar at all to the banks of information others have in their minds regarding footballers or whatever.

Pokemon games are, of course, far less childish than the stigma would have you assume. It’s about strategy, and when you get into the metagame, it’s about natures, effort values, and individual values. When you pick your Bulbasaur, for example, in Pokemon Fire Red or Leaf Green (for the first generation lacked many of these in-depth features), you’re not just choosing Bulbsaur. Your Bulbasaur may be naughty, and proud of its power; it may be jolly and somewhat of a clown; perhaps it is simply docile, and takes plenty of siestas. These three different Bulbasaurs excel in attack, speed, and nothing much other than HP, respectively.

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Littleroot Town; Pokemon Ruby

But enough about the metagame. When I first played Pokemon, I was most excited about Pokemon Ruby’s sparkly cartridge. It looked different to most other cartridges! That was cool. I was also highly confused as to why I wasn’t playing as Ash, and after playing a little with Torchic I immediately went on to focus on Zigzagoon, or as I called him, “Spikydog”. Spikydog the, uh, raccoon Pokemon was a loyal companion and a loving friend, though I’ve no recollection of how far through the game he carried me. I recall being stuck on one of the gym battles, and never playing the game again.

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Pallet Town; Pokemon Leaf Green

I didn’t come across Pokemon again until a few years later in life when I acquired Pokemon Leaf Green. I must have been about 13, and had watched a Let’s Play on the game before trying it for myself, so I was a little less directionless this time around. It’s also worth noting that Leaf Green is just a tad more linear in its geography. To this day, I’ve still not been able to get into Ruby and Sapphire (or their remakes) as I have been most other Pokemon games. But still, after beating the Elite Four in Leaf Green, I did little more with my Pokemon life. No scouting for legendaries, no catching ’em all. I’d beaten the game already. So what?

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Twinleaf Town; Pokemon Platinum (Diamond & Pearl)

A year or two later I played Pokemon Diamond, and I think that this was the Pokemon game that really got me into the series. I was engrossed in the story, I’d named my Dialga Rassilon like every other Doctor Who fan, and what’s more, I’d resolved to complete my Pokedex, though this only entailed seeing them all now. Nevertheless, it still took me a while, and after all that work, the disappointing endgame and excruciatingly slow battle animations eventually drew me away from the game. It still holds a special place in my heart, though.

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New Bark Town; Pokemon Soul Silver

Pokemon Soul Silver was my favourite. It still might be, though it’s been ages since I’ve played it. The reason I’ve not played it in so long is due to the amount of legendaries I caught and the impressive collection I built up during my playtime. I chose Totodile for my starter, and he crunched his way through several gym leaders in quick succession. I caught every legendary available in that game except for Rayquaza (due to my lack of a Hoenn-born Kyogre) and one of the roaming dogs. I still have plans to transfer them all forwards to my current save, except…

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Nuvema Town; Pokemon Black

The fifth generation Pokemon games are by far my least favourite in the franchise. I know people like them, but Pokemon Black is just not the game for me. The general aesthetic of Unova and the UI felt too much like it was trying to be futuristic, and Team Plasma just… bored me. I’ve tried time and time again to beat the game so that I can move my 4th generation Pokemon forwards, but the closest I’ve got is the fifth gym and I just can’t bring myself to continue. I maintain hope that one day I’ll begin enjoying it so I can move my Pokemon forwards (for Soul Silver also holds my Leaf Green Pokemon), but that day is yet to come.

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Vaniville Town; Pokemon X

By the time I’d gotten round to Pokemon X and Y, my interest in Pokemon had waned. Black had demotivated me and I didn’t own a 3DS for a long time. But as I grew, I’d met more and more people who had a larger interest for Pokemon than I ever did. Eventually, towards the end of either 2013 or 2014 (I don’t remember which), I caved and bought a 3DSXL with Pokemon X. And honestly, it’s tied for my favourite non-remake alongside Pokemon Diamond. It feels like the most Pokemon game since the 4th generation, with the general aesthetic and all that jazz. It may seem like an odd compliment but I love the UI. It’s so colourful and bubbly and just, Pokemon. Another thing to thank Pokemon X for is creating official 3D renders of all Pokemon and allowing you to go full on Nintendogs with them, tickling them and feeding them treats and watching your fierce legendaries gurgle with happiness.

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Littleroot Town; Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

I must confess, though… my Pokemon X character is still shivering outside of the entrance of the eighth gym. I have an atrocious attention span, and if I’m not surrounded by other people playing Pokemon, I’m unlikely to play it myself, despite my enjoyment for the game. Similar, my character in Alpha Sapphire is yet to challenge his 7th gym leader, though I’m no great lover of the Hoenn region. I have many event Pokemon in these 2 games and have dabbled with breeding, growing my collection through Wonder Trade. But I am still yet to finish them.

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Pallet Town; Pokemon Blue

I can’t wait for Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow to be released on virtual console. For the first time, I am going to attempt to catch all 151 Pokemon, with the help of some friends with alternate versions. Nintendo certainly didn’t miss a trick by implementing WiFi trading. I just can’t help but wonder if the Mew glitch will still be available…

The Sky is the… Rimit? (Skyrim)

This blog post contains some spoilers for the main story and civil war questline in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

So after defeating Alduin and saving the world-

Haaaang on just a moment. Let’s dial this back a bit.

So after playing around 12 hours of Oblivion I realised that I wanted more; namely, that I wanted to graduate to the frozen lands of Skyrim before saving the world in Cyrodiil. I mean, sure, the story in Oblivion was interesting, but I was able to catch up on the events by reading a handy little in game book named The Oblivion Crisis. (Though I’d recommend actually playing the game, in all seriousness.) I decided to play Skyrim as it was meant to be played: with no carry limit removal mod, and on the standard difficulty.

I started out as a lowly prisoner, as this is an Elder Scrolls game and that’s essentially the tradition. After morphing into a few races before the eyes of the nonplussed Imperial before me, I settled on the decision of being a High Elf, as I’ve shown on this blog before:

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You may see Lydia there in the background. We’ll get to her in a moment.

Now, I’ve played Skyrim a few times before; firstly on PS3, secondly on PC, and both times my attention wavered. Before this playthrough I’d piddled through 11 hours of the game, messing about with commands and mods. I was very wary of starting yet another new character due to this. However, 35 hours later, I’m not regretting this decision. I’d previously never made it past High Hrothgar in the story, but once I decided to focus purely on one thing at a time (namely, one questline at a time) then things became much more fun.

I’m a destruction / conjuration user; I summon my Flame Atronach, back away a few paces, summon my Bound Sword, and start blasting people with fireballs. I also learned to use shouts to my advantage, as the game wants you to do but many people seem to forget exist. In passive roleplay fashion, my character has no solid backstory but happens to be a law abiding citizen with high moral values, who sees both sides of the civil war as flawed and remains the neutral party… whilst the dragons remain an immediate threat.

So, after defeating Alduin and saving the world (there we go), I decided to browse Skyrim a little more and learn a little of its history. I bought a house in Whiterun; I adopted a child; I saved a town from its collective nightmares; I adopted another child; I married Carlotta Camilla, who continues to stress to me every day how much it means to her and her brother that I brought back the golden claw. I proposed to her after I completed the silly love triangle quest and also, directly in front of her brother. Awkward.

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A little direct, perhaps, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t work!

I am yet to do many things, but there are some side quests I’ve completed, such as slaughtering the inhabitants of Northwatch Keep to save so-and-so Grey-Mane, joining the Companions and becoming a bit of a werewolf, and obtaining a daedric artifact in the form of a soul gem which will never break upon use. And on my way to the Shrine of Azura, this occured:

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Tesco appear to have adopted a less… conventional means of freezing their meat.

But I’m afraid Lydia’s days of photobombing my screenshots were numbered. I have a rule in my playthroughs: when a companion dies, you may not revert time to save them. It sounds silly, but feeling the genuine guilt and regret when you accidentally kill your follower (for they can only die by your hand) legitimately enhances my gameplay experience. It makes the world feel more real, and it creates a sense of the world having consequences.

Lydia met her end in a cramped hallway in some shoddy cave when I was clearing the place out of bandits for the Companions.

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I don’t think it’s possible to die in a dignified manner in Skyrim. R.I.P Lydia… you were one heck of a pak-yak.

Perhaps I should have given her some better armour. Perhaps I should have advised her to stay behind me when I was casting spells. Or perhaps I should have let her stay in Whiterun, tending to my garden, free of the burdens of my many dragon scales and dragon bones, happy to live a peaceful life with my wife and kids and a never-ending awkward tension of feeling out of place.

Well, anyway! Times change, people die, things move on. Desperate to bury my guilt in the youth of a new follower to aid my cause, I returned to Riverwood and sought out a new apprentice. I came across Sven, the Bard, whom I helped with his affections for Cam-

Wait-

Camilla’s my wife now. Well, that would be an awkward conversation.

Anyway, I approached Sven with the offer of a lifetime – to carry the Dragonborn’s shit – and reluctantly, he accepted, saying that some guy I’m presuming was his bard master had always told him to get out and see more of the world. (Not very good advice for a bard, if you ask me. Counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t he be getting acquainted in taverns? Leave adventuring to the adventurers.) Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I spent 2,000 gold to kit him out with a set of armour to keep him breathing.

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Aw c’mon Sven don’t be so self-conscious, you look tough! No no I’m laughing because of how strong you look! It’s intimidating!

Sven was… an interesting companion. Sometimes, upon fast travelling, he’d get out his lute and start playing a tune to the open forest around us. Whilst in full battle-mode gear. He once did it even as a dragon was swooping down on us. Poetry in the face of adversity; it would be commendable if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

Well, anyway, I was messing around with my werewolf abilities and, uh, those swinging arms are hard to control, and…

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I ate his corpse. Out of a sign of respect, you understand.

Nobody tell Camilla.

Torn apart by grief, guilt and feral instincts, my Dragonborn High-Elf Werewolf of a Destruction-Conjurer took a look at the world around him, and decided that civil war was tearing Skyrim apart. By this point my hybrid hide had read many books dotted throughout Skyrim, and spoken to many people; I’d discovered the recent war and the threat of the Aldmeri Dominion (more specifically the Thalmor) in basically taking over Tamriel. And the Stormcloaks are a bunch of racists who’d throw me out anyway, so…

I joined the Imperial Legion to bring unity to Skyrim.

So, alright, my moral values loosened up a bit. I completed the civil war questline on day two of my Skyrim playthrough (those 35 hours were not played far from each other). It was morbidly satisfying to blast through forts, killing at will with an army at my back, winning back Skyrim piece by piece. Tullius wasn’t exactly fond of me, given that I signed half his holds away in the peace treaty, and I never did mention the slaughter of Northwatch Keep to him… but hey, I helped him take down Ulfric. And he only gave me the swiftest of glances whilst I undressed the Stormcloak leader and took his clothes.

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He was a prick anyway.

His bloodlust satiated, my character finally settled down and considered his actions, and settled upon the idea of living the quiet life for a while. He ventured to Falkreath where, after being tasked to kill some lowly bandits, he was given permission to buy a plot of land.

He built a lovely little house.

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I’ve yet to build the extensions due to lack of resources, but they’ll be coming soon.

There’s still much to do. Every time I pass a guard nowadays they shout “HEARD THEY’RE REFORMING THE DAWNGUARD!” in my ear like it’s going out of fashion. Alright, I get it, I’m the almighty and famous Dragonborn, you want me to kill vampires, just freakin’ ask instead of screaming hints. There’s also apparently some work to be done in Solstheim. But man, this High Elf needs some rest. For now, his adventures are on hiatus; he’s going to settle down in his quiant little log cabin and read the adventure of another type of elf, one who lived around 1,000 years ago…

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