Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Impressions of Runes of Magic

Runes of Magic has been vaguely on my watch list for a while now, partially because the game sounds interesting and partially because you need an account to even see what the game's prices are, which I'd like to be able to do for commentary purposes.  A Massively item code giveaway this weekend convinced me to go ahead and sign up.  What have I learned so far?

Apparently, they're not out to take all of my money... or any of it
Strangely, even after making an account, downloading, installing, and updating the client, and rolling up a character, I still can't prove what the item shop Diamond currency actually costs in real money.  When I attempt to access the payment page, I get an error that is supposed to go away when you actually create a character.  According to the support forums, there are multiple people having the same issue with new accounts, though the first form email support ticket response I got claims that there is a completely undocumented level 10 minimum for actually spending money on the game.

(It's worth nothing that Diamonds are on sale this weekend - albeit not an especially uncommon occurrence.   I doubt that they'll honor the sale prices later if they don't get around to fixing my account before the sale ends, not that I can be sure I'd want to buy any since I don't know what the sale prices are.)  

Content Fees No, Power Fees Yes
ROM is notable amongst "free to play" games I've looked at (like Free Realms, W101, DDO) in that there are no fees in the shop to unlock content or higher level caps.  Instead, those who are actually able to pay for the game pay for convenience and outright power.

Yes, ROM unabashedly allows players to spend exponential and unlimited amounts of cash on gear upgrades for higher stats.  If you want to play the game competitively, whether in PVP or group PVE, this may very well be a deal-breaker.  Personally, I'm interested in the game to explore the solo content and the dual class system, so I'm not too concerned about being forced to pay the theoretially insane prices to continue advancing.

Travel For Sale Or Grind
Most notoriously, ROM sells travel perks including the famous $10 horse and a variety of teleportation options.  Players can "mark" locations using a cash store "marking ink" (relatively cheap) and can then use cash store runes (a bit more expensive) to teleport to those locations (up to 49 of them if you are willing to mark that many locations) at will.  There's an additional item used to teleport to player housing (where you can swap out your primary/secondary class and access your bank and house storage chests).

My impression is that playing this game without any kind of mount will not be a lot of fun due to the sizes of zones.  Beyond turning in quests, many smaller hubs do not have any vendors for selling your stuff, you get a lot of junk (especially crafting ingredients), and you will want to switch between your two classes every so often in order to keep their levels similar. 

However, there are in-game options for obtaining mounts.   Short term rentals (15 mins and 2 hours) are available in towns for in-game gold.  A 30-day rental is available for a special currency from completing daily quests.  You can do up to 10 dailies per day (more if you purchase a cash shop item to reset the turnin cap) earning a total of 100 tokens, and it takes 1400 tokens to purchase the 30 day rental. 

That said, these tokens can also be used to purchase other cash store items, including teleport runes (30 tokens per marking ink, 80 per teleport rune, 40 per rune to port to your house), gear upgrade items, respec tokens, and exp/TP boosts.  I might be more inclined to spend the money on the big ticket item up front and save the smaller change for these more convenience-oriented items that I would be less willing to purchase a larger diamond bundle for.

Actual gameplay
There is actual gameplay, though I'm hesitant to get too far into the game until support can verify that my account is not FUBAR.  I've got a character to level 12 Warden/11 Scout.  Generally, the game seems polished, with reasonable graphics and combat.  So far, I'm reasonably happy with the game's dual class system, in which you pick two classes, swapping between them at your house, and gain some of the secondary class abilities.  For example, the Warden is a melee pet class who can use Scout skills to shoot arrows, while the Scout is a pure archer who gains melee attacks from the Warden.  It's certainly a fun change.

I do think that there are limitations that are designed to make players bump up against things that cost real money.  For example, you start with 60 inventory slots, which sounds like a lot until you see how many different types of crafting items drop from mobs and how many quest items take up inventory spaces.  (Many games, including LOTRO, Warhammer, and EQ2, now send your 10 rat tails directly to the quest log.)  Added to the lack of vendors, and the long distance between you and the nearest vendor if you do not have cash store boosts, and you've got a minor irritant that might not have been as severe if the developers weren't charging to make it less annoying.  (There is a separate backpack for your item shop purchases, so these do not eat inventory space.) 

That said, so far I haven't hit any real deal breakers.  Probably my biggest complaint so far is that it appears that most purchases, including mounts and even currency balances, are bind to character, so I'll want to make up my mind what classes to play before I start spending.  However, with this in mind, the game appears to offer a ton of character slots (where other games that don't work this way charge for them), so I guess that all balances out in the end too. 

As long as the base game remains fun to play, I'm prepared to tolerate - and maybe even pay a bit for - the actual business model.

7 comments:

Ysharros said...

First! IBTL! Oh wait...

Interesting read. I tried to check out RoM over a year ago and couldn't even get the client to download, for whatever reason was the problem way back then.

One would hope that in a year and then some they're improved on that. May have to give it a go -- EVE is all very well but I miss stabbiting stuff with pointy things. :(

Stabs said...

I enjoyed it and got to level 25. At that stage the travel was really rather noticeable and when you group and people have to wait for you ... to.... slowly... walk.... to the instance you feel a certain social pressure to stop freeloading.

I felt I either had to buy a horse or I had to stop playing.

To be fair it's only the horse that's really mandatory, I'm sure if you pick a non-crucial role you can go all the way to raiding with no more expenditure than a horse. And the game is certainly $10 of fun. I just had too many other games I also wanted to play at the time I hit that paywall.

Hunter said...

I've got a lot of opinions on RoM from having played it for 10 months and being in an end game raiding guild...

Some positive, but a lot of negatives too.

Uhm, first of all there are a lot of sales on diamonds, so its a bad idea to buy them when they're not on sale, but, their prices when not on sale are

5$ for 100 diamonds
10$ for 200
22$ for 500
40$ for 1000
75$ for 2000
130$ for 4000

There used to be ways to buy diamonds on the AH with gold, or sell gold for diamonds, but they cut that out.

I played to level 52/52 without spending a dime but once I started end game I had to pay at least 20$ a month to appropriately run dungeons. and that was with selling my gold for diamonds.

i used to get an error from trying to buy diamonds from their main page... I believe i fixed it by going directly to the frogster america homepage and buying my diamonds from there.

i could go on but the last thing I'll comment on is the class combinations. sometimes they're great, sometimes not. priest/knight is a powerful class, but rogue/mage kind of sucks. it depends and you should do your research up front.

Thats the thing about rom, some classes really do suck in the midgame unless you spend tons of money.

Indy said...

RoM is bad about releasing buggy or just broken content. Customer service is not good, either. Recently they managed to delete guilds from the servers, and not even have the decency to acknowledge something is wrong (bear in mind, they push cash shop items for people to buy for guild housing). A previous time when they reset peoples talent points (a separate sort of xp used to buy abilities), they severely shortchanged the amount of TP they gave back to the characters. (And here, this is another thing they try to sell items for getting extra TP.)

Count yourself lucky in that you were only unable to get to the payment page; when I tried to buy some diamonds, the transaction failed for some reason... and they permanently banned my account. The ticket I filed was closed without any word, as well.

Just say no to RoM... at the very least, don't give them any money. It's not safe to do so. Burn it instead, at least you'll have ashes.

Yeebo said...

I found in the times I've tried RoM that it never quite seems to grab me. I like the character development system, it's pretty unique and RoM gets less credit than it deserves for that. It also moves along a brisk pace at low levels.

However, I don't think I've ever made it past the low teens without losing interest. The fantasy setting is a little too generic to me, and I don't like the art style of the character models. Though, to be fair, I haven't tried it since they added elf areas. I might find those more engaging.

Anonymous said...

I have been playing for a couple of days now. The mount does seem mandatory, but you can buy diamonds from another player for in game gold or whatever. Of course that takes getting to know the community to know who you can trust.

we bought some of the gift cards from Walgreens to buy diamonds with and got a free 30 day mount with each of them. So got the diamonds + the mount which was nice.

Considering most games cost $50 to buy + 10-15$ a month, spending $10 here and there on this game doesnt seem like a big deal to me really. After all, its how they stay in business.

alicebob said...

I played to level, oh, 30 or 35. Then grind got too much. There where not enough quests to level both classes, so you could level one class, and had to level the other on dailies only. That's no fun.

Cash items also got very tempting. For example when you die you loose some XP, but you can buy potions to get rid of that debt. When you're levelling on dailies only you're more than happy to get every help you can get for XP. Same with traveling. You can buy tokens to instant-travel to places. When you're doing the same daily 10 times you're more than happy to zap back to the quest giver to repeat your quest and save a few minutes horse riding.