I have to say that on the 3rd March I was hit by quite a bit of update fever. For about four hours I was almost constantly checking the thread on the forums in which people were posting their theories and discoveries of the update. We only had a Twitter tweet from Jagex to go on: “Next week in RuneScape: A smorgasbord of updates for you & your friends to chat about” and the fact that Jagex were having to shut down the servers and restart them, adding approximately another 20 minutes of downtime after the system update was done . Jagex staff worked into the evening to deliver us the large update (which certainly had warranted my obsessive update fever earlier), the main thing being the Hitpoints... I mean, Constitution update, and new login page. But behind all this came the update that I was most excited about: Shattered Heart.
There was a Devblog on the 12th February about this new update – a distraction and diversion which would favour those who "take an even-handed approach to training skills". Being an avid skiller, I had been eagerly awaiting Shattered Heart and to be honest, I’ve not been disappointed. Shattered Heart is pretty much what the Devblog described. Whenever you’re training skills you’ll randomly come across a strange rock. If you take this to the Varrock Museum they’ll tell you about how the second age wizard, Dahmaroc, was turned to stone and that the strange rocks you find are him. Each of the non-combat skills has two rocks to give. The two rocks make a pair which you can add to a plinth to re-create Dahmaroc in the Varrock Museum. You then get an experience reward for doing this. When you complete the statue you have the option to complete it again, once a week, to get a replica piece which forms a replica statue in your player owned house.
So far this all seems lovely and grand, at least until you reach the creation of the replica statue. The statue in the Museum can only be completed once a week, and that yields just one replica piece. The statue in the PoH requires 30 pieces, therefore meaning it will take at the very minimum 30 weeks to complete this.
At first my reaction was "Whoa! Isn’t that a bit... long?" but on reflection I’ve changed my mind. Many updates are designed for people to do straight away, providing they have the levels. There aren’t many aspects of Runescape that are ongoing. Shattered Heart wasn’t made to be powered through by the ones with levels and money. It wasn’t meant to be grinded continually by people who want to burn through experience like a wildfire does a forest.
It’s something that rewards those who can stick at something for a long period of time, and not just grinding either. I think having to get stones from every skill is a way of trying to get people to have a more wholesome gaming experience. A lot of players just stick to a few skills, be it combat or non-combat. Once they reach 99 they move onto a different skill. There’s nothing wrong with that way of playing, but there’s also nothing wrong with taking it slowly, meandering around the skills and finding the parts of each that you like the most. Who’s to say that someone with 99 in one skill is better than someone with 70-80 in all of them?
Another aspect of Shattered Heart that has people talking is how only certain activities seem to produce rocks and how often these rocks are produced. From personal experience I’ve gotten some rocks as soon as I start training in some skills, and others I’ve spent hours training and still not managed to obtain even a single one. It’s frustrating, but I can’t say it’s any more frustrating than waiting for a lucky drop when doing combat. It’s random chance. Perhaps this is a poor gameplay method, but it’s nothing new to Runescape. To me, Shattered Heart rocks can be seen as ‘drops’ for skillers.
I don’t think that this update is for everyone. If you want instant gratification then this is probably not for you, but if you want something to take your time with and maybe to encourage you to train skills that you usually don’t bother very much with then I think that Shattered Heart will be a big success.
How many people will complete the PoH statue is a complete mystery at this point. But even if the PoH statue is just a cosmetic reward, it would be silly to say that people don’t want things just for show; look at Partyhats and other such rare items that are greatly sought after even though pretty much all you can do is show them off. Just very recently, the Mod Maz revealed on the Runescape Official Forums that the statue will remain cosmetic. There won’t be an end reward other than completing the statue and gaining quite substantial amounts of experience along the way.
I think that maybe this is the right way to go. One thing that I often see is people complaining about having to do things they don’t want to and when I suggest that they just don’t do it, the response is always that they have to, to get some item or similar. Giving a reward at the end would just push people into doing Shattered Heart when they don’t want to, but having just a cosmetic reward, of the statue, would probably be enough. It shows the dedication and determination that you’ve put into gaining it. Perhaps it’s worth even more than something like a Partyhat. It’s something that you can’t buy with money, and something you have to have real long term dedication to complete.
To conclude I think that it’s fair to say Shattered Heart met my expectations. It’s not something that people will be forced to grind through to get some sort of reward that will eventually become an expected thing for people to own. It’s something unique, but not an entirely new and alienating concept. It fits quite nicely into the world we have now, and while we can debate over things like the drop rates of rocks, I think on whole Shattered Heart is quite a wonderful little update that we will still be doing for many months to come.