Runes of Magic's latest patch brought Knight skill balancing, saw the return of the Juice Festival, and tried to remove some macro functions. All in all, it wasn't a huge patch, but it was enough to light up the RoM forum with a lot of chatter.
As it turns out, many vocal players were saddened to see the removal of macro functions that gave them an incredible amount of flexibility. The abilities given to players to make scripts, macros and addons with amazing freedom have been among RoM's strong points, but they also allowed so much freedom that they skirted the boundary between "helpful addon" and "botting."
The proposed macro change may be one of the fastest retractions Frogster has ever had to make, but there's also the balancing that Knights received and the Juice Festival to talk about in this week's Lost Pages of Taborea. Grab your favorite juice and meet me after the break.
The Juice Festival
This isn't the first iteration of the Juice Festival, but like many other, older events, it's gotten some additions. When it comes to holiday events in MMOs, I take the old-school, stodgy gamer approach. I often times feel the events are way too easy and become a not-so-fun excuse to hand players rewards. I think handing a player a reward is fine, but don't let the potentially fun quest or event suffer to ensure everyone will get one. Either just give it to us or concentrate on making the event a fun gaming experience.
The funny thing is that I think Runewaker actually does strike a balance between hard and good. It's just that the balance is too extreme. The timed barrel event in Dalanis was a neat idea until I realized I could find two, three or even four barrels close together and they respawned rather quickly. The addition of competition with the other players seems like a good idea, but the three times I ran the event, no one else seemed to want to bother with it. I won a nice six-day buff that increases my drop rate by 40%, but it was so easy that I felt it was pointless to go through the motions.
I guess I shouldn't complain. I doubt I could make any events more enjoyable and appeal to the widest playerbase. The serving quest is a bit tricky for me, but I usually end up with a festival ticket anyway. Sampling drinks is very easy but fun because you get to share the drinks with other players; I just wish the devs would've added a costume or stat-buff to it.
If we consider all the many holiday events that Runewaker has created, some are definitely harder than others. This event is also one of my favorites for the drink that creates a fire effect. This is the first half of possibly the most amazing buff combo in all of RoM. Combined with the little magic biscuit, you end up with eensy-weensy man on fire, which is hilarious to behold.
Several skills received tweaks, including the often-used holy strike, disarmament, and holy seal. They still scale, but they've received a bump in power as they scale. Holy strike's damage used to be static, but it now increases as the weapon is upgraded.
Elite skills were adjusted for Knight/Scout, Scout/Knight and Rogue/Knight. Each class combination saw one of its elite skills bumped up in power in a manner similar to the Knight's primary skills.
Runewaker did squeeze in a couple of changes for Warden/Druid and Warrior. Warden/Druid's natural spring scales better; it will heal a lot better as the skill is raised. Warrior's shield bash will now cost less TP to level up.
There were some nice increases in power to the Knight, but they didn't steal the show. Macros take home that award this patch.
Community Manager Swag apologized as he announced the removal of /cast and /UseAction() from macro functions. I suspect he knew this would make many players sad, but someone felt it was necessary. It was met with so much disapproval that the team has already announced a reversal -- full macro functionality will be restored. The initial nerf broke addons and many, many skill rotations that players were using. I never had the chance to witness the change firsthand. Apart from trying a few way back when my main was a Knight/Priest, I don't use macros. I haven't used them in nearly two years.
The main objection was that botters don't use macros, so the change only punished players. Nothing is ever perfect, and oftentimes any nerf is seen as a negative, even though I strongly believe that many class nerfs can improve quality.
My retort is that botters are not disembodied entities suitable for pointing at when some strict rules are enforced in an MMO. I won't get into the possible degrees to which this could have affected botters vs. cheating players, but RoM's macros do give players incredible freedom to create automated scripts.
Maybe it is a bit like performing surgery on a minor scratch. What else would you do to better RoM for everyone? Botters will always find a way, and players will too. But that's zooming the lens so far back that the statement becomes vague and meaningless when we need to zoom in and find specific ways to help the game. Removing this functionality would have curtailed players who exploited previous macro functions. Nothing is black and white. There is never an all or nothing dichotomy. Those who would seek to cheat and bot would find a way, but that's not a reason to say nothing should be done. If we say that, we may as well say we don't need security for anything anywhere -- because botters will find a way.
There was also a workaround discovered within the first 24 hours. Players had figured out a way to utilize DIYCE to still use the macros they were using before the patch. I'd like to think Runewaker foresaw this and gave conscience-minded players a way to still have what we want while making it one step harder for cheaters.
I honestly didn't think Frogster would hotfix the change. The reaction didn't seem nearly strong enough. I think a lot of players use macros, but I don't see them making up half of the total playerbase. In any case, it wasn't as large a retaliation from the players as the mana strike that affected all players regardless of playstyle.
I think there's a very humbling moral to this story. You can't bend over backwards and expect to please everyone all the time. People will still disagree and be mad at you, but if you stand your ground -- for right or wrong -- people will respect you.
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 email@example.com.
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