Runescape is one of the few games on the market which has gone through a complete overhaul, essentially creating a sequel with which players could transfer current characters without starting over. The transition of moving everyone from Runescape (now referred to as Runescape Classic) to this new version of the game allowed for many improvements; graphic upgrades, changes to interface, and the elimination of certain in-game requirements (such as sleeping). The original version of Runescape is still accessible, for any players seeking a nostalgic escape. In a sense, the death of Guthix mirrors Jagex’s own withdrawal as the game’s primary creative power. “We have ten years of history of this amazing place,” says Ogilvie, “and we’re giving [the community] the power to decide what happens to it.”
I asked Mark if the parallel between the new player-driven content system and the game’s history of protest was deliberate. He tells me they want to encourage players “to riot about a positive thing. Rather than rioting about their resistance to a mechanical change, encourage them to riot about a change that’s actually going on in the game world – and use community power to change it. They have this energy, this desire to say ‘I believe this and you will listen’ – why wouldn’t you use that?” As an RPG game a large portion of the game is naturally dedicated to training your skills and with that comes grinding. Grinding used to be a large part of Runescape and, to a certain degree, still is today so plenty of people pride themselves on their skills due to the amount of hard work and time put into it.
Nowadays, a lot of the grinding aspect of leveling up in RuneScape has been removed with the addition of bonus experience opportunities, mini-games, alternate and more varied training methods and social training. For free players the grind is still very apparent as many of the updated methods are aimed at paying members. Despite this, little additions like the ability to “make all” rather than individually clicking items is universal and common for all activities so free players are able to reduce the amount of repetitive strain injury endured. Overall, the simplicity and sheer length of the game both attract people and shoo them away. Because of this, RuneScape is more of a hit or miss game, that?s popularity is due in large part to people that enjoy playing the game like a hobby.
Finally, although there are a few paid levels and professions, RuneScape is free, which is one of the reasons it continues to grow its user base. In the world of MMOG reporting, there is a constant focus on games developed for the “premium” marketplace; games that feature a stand-alone client, a fully realized graphics engine, and have marketing employees promoting in-store retail versions of their games. Titles like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and Age of Conan dominate the vision of much of the industry, making it seem as if they are the biggest fish in a small sea.
The tutorial is very well done. It does its job and shows you everything you need to know for basic survival in the game. You learn about all the assortment of buttons and icons on the screen, which are quite numerous, and you are instructed in how they are used with each other. Making fire, catching fish, and cooking are the first things you’ll do and by that time you also have a feel for the way the game moves. After you have those rudimentary skills learned, you then get to learn the art of combat, but only after learning how to make yourself a weapon to fight with. Prospecting and mining ore so that you can make a dagger comprises the task before being allowed to kill a monster. Then, you learn and practice both melee and ranged skills before going outside to learn the art of magic. After you have finished the tutorial, you are set loose; but you do still have guides to talk to should you get stumped.
However, if you are willing to look over these problems, then you will have what is undoubtedly a truly unique MMORPG; one that offers a fantastic array of content, charm and style, managing to break several monotonous MMO cliches in the process. If you can pop in the ￡4.50 a month premium membership fee too, then that’s all the better.