Exclusive Runes of Magic Beta Interview

The free-to-play marketplace has really emerged out of its cocoon in the last year. For those of you that have been reading Ten Ton Hammer’s F2P Top Ten List, this becomes readily apparent as...
The free-to-play marketplace has really emerged out of its cocoon in the last year. For those of you that have been reading Ten Ton Hammer’s F2P Top Ten List, this becomes readily apparent as the majority of the games on that list were released in late 2007, 2008, or are slated for the early part of 2009. One of the most prominent of these games (and holding the #1 spot on our Top Ten list) is Runes of Magic. We recently had an opportunity to submit a number of questions to the RoM developers, and we graciously jumped at the chance.

The goal of this interview was to get Frogster’s reaction to some of the open beta feedback for Runes of Magic. Ten Ton Hammer’s Danny “Ralsu” Gourley bounced around the game’s official forums and snatched up any topics or questions that he thought would be interesting to present to the developers. We’ve taken the time to link every thread that Danny pulled questions from, and Frogster’s director of product management, Daniel Ullrich, has graciously taken time to answer each of the community’s questions.

Runes of Magic has a large number of different items to collect.

Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Daniel. It’s always great to talk with a set of developers that want to interact with the community. Would you like to say anything before we get started?

Daniel Ullrich: First, please let me tell you that we are always working on improvements, new content and of course the next add-on. We have a very large list of topics that we would like to change or improve, but everything takes time. I would like to ask the community to report more things like the topics below in this interview and believe me, we will take care of each issue, but of course, we have to take care of technical improvements and new game elements as well.

In the past, we said that we would like to create a very community based game and that’s exactly what we are trying to do at the moment. The community gave us excellent feedback and a lot of very good suggestions, and I would like to thank everyone who was involved in a thread or an email with suggestions. Please don’t stop sending us improvement ideas and things you would like to see in the game.

Petition: Quest Item Bag (thread)

Ten Ton Hammer: letsgo1818 notes that a lot of players are having a hard time managing inventory with the large number of different items they collect. Players get gear drops, runes for craft, runes for enhancing gear, quest items, daily quest items, and harvesting items. We know it will be possible to rent extra inventory from the item mall at a very fair rate, but some players have asked for a specific bag for quest items. How likely is that to happen, and why or why not?

Daniel Ullrich: That is a pretty nice idea. We’ve already thought about more possible ways to arrange the inventory. We really believe that there should be enough space in your bag, bank and chest to store a lot of equipment. So we will definitely bring in more options to arrange equipment but please remember that you have access to a bag with 30 slots, a bank box with 40 slots and you receive a chest with 20 slots. You can access your bank box in every big town and you can enter your house at the appropriate NPC. From my personal experience, it’s not easy to have everything arranged in one bag, but it’s possible to organize your items with some planning.

Elite Mob Damage (thread)

Ten Ton Hammer: Runes of Magic aims to challenge gamers with elite mobs that are considered group or raid content only. Currently, crowned elite mobs (they have a crown symbol when you consider them) hit extremely hard, making it so that somebody is sure to die any time a tank loses aggro. mrfoxx and several other players feel this is a deterrent to running low level instances. How do you respond? Are things working as intended?

Daniel Ullrich: This issue is a bit old. We already changed a lot since the start of Open Beta and the balance here was one of the first issues we addressed. There should be only a hand-full of one- or two-hit mobs in each zone. But, we still like the idea of placing some cool and maybe a little more dangerous, monsters in an area. So players have to be a bit more careful and of course, it’s like you described in your question. It’s group content. Runewaker created a lot of stuff for solo-players in Runes of Magic. Those monsters are group content. But like I said, we already changed a lot of those monsters and are improving the game balance everyday.

To give your readers a view into our hidden laboratory, I can describe the process. Each day we  export very large maps, which show us a red mark where each player has died. We use this to see if there is a spot where people die more often than in other regions. Combined with a lot of very, very large databases, we locate areas that are too difficult and of course too easy, and talk with Runewaker about improving these  areas. The more players that are trying to kill monsters and playing in a zone, the more information we receive and the better the results will be in our adjustments and balancing. So keep playing or login again in a month and you may find something seemingly familiar but entirely different.

No One Wants to Do Instances (thread)

According to the community, a lot of the elite mobs are overpowered.

Ten Ton Hammer: Building off of the idea of elite mobs being overpowered, Miang1 started a thread to address the problems with trying to find people willing to run a mid-level instance. In addition to being scared off by debt (more on that later), most players don’t find the quest rewards and drops worth the effort. Miang1 asserts that by the time a group can live through an instance the players have out leveled the gear. What do you think about these claims? Will you be tweaking drops and quest reward for instances or the difficulty?

Daniel Ullrich: That’s something we already did in the past and we are trying out on our test servers at the moment. We would like to bring in different kinds of rewards for doing instances. One topic in this discussion is that we would like to integrate different and better sets for different classes. Concerning the boss and elite monsters in instances, I can only repeat what I already said before. Unfortunately, balancing needs a lot of time so keep an eye on this topic and you‘ll see results in the coming months.

Death Debt (thread)

Ten Ton Hammer: Galphon has identified what he believes are problems with the current debt system. I was hoping you could address each one:

Daniel Ullrich: Debt is indeed one of our main topics at the moment. You might know that we integrated the debt system during the closed beta. The concept behind it is larger than players can see at the moment. The different sub-topics of our debt concept will be implemented in waves to prove that the earlier part is working correctly.

Ten Ton Hammer: Right now XP and TP (TP is used to level up skills) have separate debt counters. The XP debt is easier to clear out, but the TP debt is slower to remove.  Galphon’s concern is that players may end up with an imbalanced ratio of TP/level under this system. How would you allay those fears?

Daniel Ullrich: This morning I received a new sheet on debt and user data. Most of the players don’t have a lot of debt. There are only a few people (compared with all users) who have extraordinary high debt. But my character’s personal debt also isn’t decreasing, and we will have a solution for this topic maybe in the next week, but in the long run I suggest players wait and see what happens with the whole concept. It’s pretty cool with more interaction with the tombstone system and a lot of nice ideas to reduce debt even if you have logged out of the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: In open beta, players need to click on their tombstones to recover some of their debt. Galphon proposes that system be replaced with being within a certain distance of it. Other games allow players to /claim or /drag tombstones to get them out of areas with tough aggro mobs. Will this system stay as it is, or might we see some other method to get those tombstones?

Daniel Ullrich: I can’t give away all of the changes we’re making here, but there will definitely be more in the future, that’s unfortunately all that I can tell you now.

Ten Ton Hammer: Another issue with tombstones is that they spawn outside of an instance. This is likely to make it so players don’t have to move through a whole instance to get to the tombstone. The negative effect is that gamers who get revived inside the instance are unable to get to the tombstone if they are deep inside the instance. Is there a solution in the works for this problem?

Daniel Ullrich: Indeed. We absolutely have plans for changing this system.

Excaliber’s List of Much Needed Fixes (thread)

Tombstones are items that may see changes in coming months.

Ten Ton Hammer: Excaliber has started a thread to address some of the most common complaints submitted on the forums and found in chat in the game. We’d like to know your position on several of his notes:

Many players find the search tools in the auction house to be lacking or confusing. Do you plan any changes for the auction house interface?

Daniel Ullrich: This issue has been fixed already.

Ten Ton Hammer: Buff icons are somewhat small and hard to discern, especially at higher resolutions. Any chance these will get an increase in size or an option to increase their size without scaling the entire user interface?

Daniel Ullrich: Hey that’s something new to me but I’ll try to answer this question.

The interface is fully editable via interface add-ons. Runes of Magic supports LUA API for changing and modifying nearly everything on your screen. Some of the  community coders have already started working on add-ons to see the monsters’ HP, change the bars, or simply move broadcast messages away. We will provide more information about this in the coming weeks and I really hope that players will explore the add-ons and contribute their creations to the community as well. If the problem continues for awhile, we’ll work out a solution on the client side.

Ten Ton Hammer: Finally, most Knights contend that their ability to generate hate is unreliable. Since Knights are the primary tanks, players expect them to have the best skills for keeping aggro. Can Runes of Magic fans expect to see any tweaks here?

Daniel Ullrich: Class balancing is another big topic on our list. We collected a lot of feedback about all classes from our testers, already improved class combinations via elite skills and will work more and more with external and internal testers. Please keep in mind that we are still in open beta and trying to fix the main issues as soon as possible. But with the help of our community I don’t see any issue, which we can’t solve.

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