Lost Pages of Taborea: Customization in Guild Wars 2 and Runes of Magic

Guild Wars 2 and Runes of Magic screenshots
It took me a little while, but you should know by now that I was going to do a Guild Wars 2 comparison. It's a little later than I previously said I'd write it, but there's no time like the present, right?

Runes of Magic has been chugging along for over two years now, while GW2 is -- sort of -- just around the corner, and Guild Wars is the veteran of the bunch at six years of age.

What do these MMOs have in common that would provoke me to attempt a comparison? I'll give you a hint: It has nothing to do with jumping. What they do share is character customization, which, really, many MMOs have. It's a pretty standard feature.

In this week's Lost Pages of Taborea, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how RoM could have taken some customization cues from GW, while GW2 might be taking some from RoM -- sort of like a movie based off a show based off a movie.

Guild Wars screenshotThe day the colors dyed

There's no perfect contextual fit for the title of this section, but -- come on! -- I had to use it. Now, I'm far from being a veteran GW player (that's Rubi's honor), but I do know that the game shares RoM's feature that lets players pick and choose colors to go on equipment. I can't make any claims as to which system I like best, as I haven't explored much of GW. It uses a dye system that requires finding, buying or trading colored dyes to mix and apply to equipment. The way it utilizes the feature to provide added gameplay appeals to me. It reminds me of how RoM's aggregators work. You get to explore the world and hunt down your favorite pieces of armor to re-skin your giant, +16, green-glowing demon sword. GW also has a wide palette of color choices when you start combining dyes on your armor.

RoM uses a much simpler, but still satisfyingly creative, method for coloring a character's adornments. Runewaker gave every player immediate access to the styling salon via a button on the minimap. It's the same interface used to change a character's features and color mounts. RoM's method allows you to click on one of two locations for each piece of armor you're wearing; that will make a color-wheel pop up. The number of colors to choose from is large, and the slider that adjusts brightness adds a little more variety. Coloring is price-bound, but I can't see why RoM couldn't adopt a dye system so players could potentially dye their gear for free (using found dyes). Between RoM's cash shop and stat-upgrading, roleplayers are the ones really left out in the cold. Armor and mount coloring are strictly limited to diamonds that a player can't trade for or get in-game in any way.

Runes of Magic screenshotThe future of location-based coloring

I mentioned that each piece of armor in RoM has two locations to color, but GW2 is going to be one-upping -- and in some cases two-upping -- RoM by allowing three and four locations to be dyed. The more, the merrier, I say! Heck, I'd go for a whiteboard interface that you could call up, load a silhouette of any armor piece on, and then alter with a robust selection of Paintshop tools. I have loads of fun coloring two locations on each piece of armor in RoM. Whether or not ArenaNet took the multi-location idea from Runewaker, and even if GW2 is going above and beyond RoM, I'm happy to see another MMO rolling with this.

Transmutation stones

When I first read about GW2's transmutation stones, they smelled exactly like RoM's aggregators. Both are items that let you combine the appearance of one item -- be that armor or weapons -- with the stats of another. ArenaNet is even providing them through a cash shop like Frogster does, but there will be an in-game method via earning a currency called karma, which is awarded for participating in dynamic events and player storylines. Again, I have to tip my hat to ArenaNet for providing transmutation stones through a store and an in-game method. Moreover, this is the second feature I've listed that I'm excited to see in another MMO. I've always thought that RoM's aggregators were so ingenious that it should immediately become an MMO staple.

Guild Wars 2 screenshotCrests and runes

I thought about trying to tie GW2's upgrading components to RoM's runes and named stats, but I'm not sure crests, marks and talismans are that much different from any MMO's slot enhancements. GW2 keeps armor customization reined in via limitations to which components can go on which level of armor. It seems more flexible than slotting jewels in World of Warcraft, but it pales next to RoM's system. To be fair, every MMO's gear pales next to RoM's. If I felt inclined, I could attach six of the most powerful stats in RoM to a level 5 piece of armor, and I could do that for every piece of armor and any weapons.

I definitely see the advantage and possible need to keep things structured. It looks like GW2 will have a decent upgrading system that could allow for all the flexibility a player could possibly want. Time will tell.

If you follow my articles, you know I love to repeat things until I'm blue in the face, but I think Runewaker should get a little daring with RoM's unique upgrading system (which allows a breaking of linear progression) and be the vanguard for another as yet unknown feature that other MMO companies would be jealous of.

Conclusion

Hopefully you found this look at similarities between GW1, GW2, and RoM as interesting as I did. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than seeing all of these new features feeding the heart of roleplaying games as well as improving combat.

Runewaker has pulled off some innovative stuff in RoM's early life. Here's hoping the company doesn't get too comfy sitting in the chair of market analysis, and that it continue to push innovative ideas.

Each Monday, Jeremy Stratton delivers Lost Pages of Taborea, a column filled with guides, news, and opinions for Runes of Magic. Whether it's a community roundup for new players or how to improve versatility in RoM's content, you'll find it all here. Send your questions to jeremy@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.