Potshot on Runes of Magic

This is a 30 second impression.  After the all the hullabaloo and kerfuffle about the $10 Runes of Magic Horse, I thought I’d better actually hoof it on over to actually try out RoM to see if somehow my opinion would change.

I downloaded RoM (about 4 gigs, relatively painless if a bit slow), installed and jumped in game.  Painless.  Unlike some AAA titles, it just worked.  Character selection– one race, familiar basic archetypes:  warrior, mage, scout, rogue, priest, knight.   Slightly more that a WoW level of character customization, but not too much.

The graphic style is somewhere between WoW and Guildwars.  If I had to put it in a nutshell, I’d say it looked like Guildwars, played like WoW but felt more like EQ2.  Everything is quite pretty, bright and glowy and with bloom, soft focused.  The animations are quite smooth and the spell effects are very EQ2 reminiscent.  In my book, all of these are good things.  I had fun.

The tutorial lasts all of about 5 minutes which is just fine.  If you’ve played any other MMO before, you wont need it, except it gives you some free stuff.  Once free of the tutorial you are transported to the noob zone with your Horse for a Day.  A nice addition.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was “god damn the pusher man”.  Just a taste, and the first one is free.  I like having a horse early on.

The noob zone quests were all fairly typical basic orientation quests– learn gathering skills, learn basic combat, etc.  Still they were not so excessive as to be offputting nor so trivial as to be completely bypassed.

I spent only a couple hours max trying out most of the classes getting to the highest level of 6 and into the second town before I called it a night.  All in all a positive experience.  Stable, pretty, smooth, familiar yet different and enough of a positive experience that I will likely return to see what the future holds.  Very familiar experience, but when I think about it being a F2P game, I feel like they delivered a very high quality product.  What was conspicuously absent was outright suck.

For a F2P game, the level of polish is pretty high.  A few things that could be improved, but overall no deal killers.  Way too early to call this game a keeper, but if more F2P games assiduously stick to the developers Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm to your player base” in the initial experience like RoM has done, then they have a legitimate shot as success.  I have no idea what playing beyond the noob zone holds, but suffice it to say they didn’t eff it up for what I saw.  I had fun, I remain curious, I’d consider giving them money.

This is a 30 second impression, so who knows what my opinion may be down the road.  I could get bored to tears or find religion and hail RoM as the second coming.  So far it seems like a solid F2P option that doesn’t put the MICROTRANSACTION based model in your face.  Kudos to them.  Throughout the noob experience, never once was I beat over the head with solicitations like “If you purchased this you’d be uber”.  The Item Mall was just another menu screen to discover.

After a very brief evening exploring this game, I can say that regardless of whether I expected to play more than a casual month in this game, I’d be willing to throw down for the FREAKING $10 HORSE.  Hell, I feel like sending those guys $10 just because they made a game that didn’t piss me off and make me feel like they stole precious time from my life never to be recovered (let alone the box price…).  Seriously, horse = Alexander Hamilton = Truth.

9 thoughts on “Potshot on Runes of Magic”

  1. You will indeed get bored to tears. RoM creates an extremely strong first impression. It is polished and accessible. Everything works, it looks good, its easy to jump right in.

    I really enjoyed it for a week. Then, very suddenly, I didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s one of those classic “there’s no “there” there” things. I know fantasy MMOs (and RPGs in general) conform to certain norms and have a great tendency towards a stereotype, but even given that, RoM is original only in the degree to which you will never come across anything that you haven’t seen before.

    There’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with RoM, and for a F2P title it is really offering a lot more than you have any right to expect. But ye gods, is it ever DULL!! Almost any less-polished, buggier game you can think of will have more personality. It looks like it was designed by a committee of businessmen who’d studied MMOs intensely but had no real interest in them. Which, in fact, is probably exactly what did happen.

  2. it’s the best free to play on the internet. 2 words: no grind. It’s the first F2P of it’s kind, and just taking a quick trip around the MMORPG internet, will show you how everyone is pleased to see the first free MMO to play like a subscriber based MMO

    On top of that it does some other revolutionary stuff.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that most(if not all) players who complain, haven’t played anything except maybe WoW.

  3. Nice wrap up. I like your point about it not pissing you off. And sure enough, for the free content, they truly deserve $10 imo as well. Think I’ve played about 30hrs at the cost of $5 in diamonds that I purchased for some reason I cant remember any more. Hell of a value.

  4. Amen! that’s how I felt. I played two days and bought a horse. I played a couple of months straight and I wasn’t bored. I will be back when the xpac releases with new classes so I can drop my DOA Battlemonk. I bought diamonds on sale and purchase the horse and never looked back.

    I haven’t played in a month now, so what. My character and mount are still there. The crafting system is a bit borked but many are at release. So I log on every now and again, and am slowly dumping my processed raws on the AH.

    It’s rather hilarious to find a seasoned gamer who thinks a F2P could survive by only selling fluff items. Fluff isn’t essential. They’d get some takers but probably not enough. They have to dip into basics/conveniences to earn a living. Seriously, is it really that hard to figure out?

    Some players have rented back space, something I’ve never needed to do but the mount – yes, my time is worth more than walking when I don’t have to.

  5. I’ve played for a couple of hours (have a 15/14 Knight/Warrior) and I even had a horse for a while. The secret? Gold! I have 40,000 gold at the moment, and renting a horse for a few hours costs 3000. If I manage to do five quests and kill a bunch of monsters in those hours, I’ve made more than that back.

    So the $10 permahorse, while nice, isn’t really necessary.

    I think it’s a bit unfair to call the game too bland. It’s a rendition of Western-style MMOs as seen through Asian eyes. The developers are all in Taiwan and China, and I think their task was “make a Western style MMO, here’s some pictures of 13th century German villages”. So while it looks bland to us, it might look totally Euro-radical to them, in an 80s day-glo way.

    You’re right that it takes many existing elements from other RPGs, but it polishes and improves on them in almost every way. Look at the NPC finder and the auto-walk feature, for example. I know these exist in other games (like Jade Dynasty), but those games came after RoM.

    It’s just such a streamlined MMO experience that WoW, EQ2 etc. feel needlessly drawn out and make me feel very desperate and longing for a better interface and fast travel.

    You should play on until you get to mark teleport locations in your teleport book, and until you can rent your first horse. Perhaps get to Varanas and do some quests around there. Varanas is dull as well (to my eyes at least), but the surrounding areas look much nicer than newbietown already.

    Now that the RoM guys have hired the woman who did most of the D&D illustrations for the last few years (Eva Widermann), I guess you’ll also see improvements in the graphical area.

    So far I don’t think anything’s wrong with RoM, and I think it’s mostly American players that get nose-wrinkly about the RMT business model. It’s not as bad as you think! :)

  6. While I would not agree with howtolose on the no grind part, it is certainly less grindy than some other games with similar payment models.

    @Ramon: Games like Jade Dynasty were released in the West after RoM, but the Chinese original (Zhu Xian Online) was released in 2007. World of Kung Fu has the same type of routing features and was released in 2007 in China also I believe. Although I am not sure when Radiant Arcana (RoM in Asia) was released.

    Not that it matters really, everyone will “steal” from everyone if it is a good feature.

    But I think we will see more of Western and Eastern influences being mixed together, both in terms of gameplay, payment models etc. In the long term I think that is good.

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