Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Fall of Runescape / I'm Back

So, I realize now that it's been damn near 3 years since I last posted here, and my blog had a total of 2 posts up until today. Strangely enough, after running out of games to play, I found myself browsing Runescape's website. Glancing around to make sure no one was watching, I created a new account. I'm actually not terribly disappointed in what I've seen so far... but of course, that's a different topic for another time. As I detailed in my last post, this one will be about the downfall of the game I loved so dearly, chronicling eventually into exploring my other MMORPG adventures (SWTOR, WoW, Guild Wars 2, Runescape again). So, onward with the depressing story of Runescape's fall from glory, in my eyes, at least.

I would get home from school and immediately hop on Runescape. It was my first experience with an MMORPG, so it sucked me in and I was completely fine with that. However, like with many online games, once the vocal minority started to speak up, the company that created the game (in this case, Jagex), felt that it would be wise to listen to the fanbase.

What these companies have trouble realizing (I'm looking at YOU, Blizzard), is that the vocal part of their fanbase is typically the minority; many gamers don't have a presence on the forum, myself included. People tend to not praise the game either, typically they stay quiet until they get butthurt over some minute detail that wouldn't bother a respectable player. I'm going to try to avoid the angry rants and move on to exactly what Jagex did wrong.

Every year, Runescape gained more and more players. It's not uncommon for a game's following to increase over time, so I'm not entirely sure why they didn't anticipate more complaints. People would join the game, play around, and run out into the wilderness. The wilderness was in area in which players could freely attack one another, so new players running into the area were quickly killed and then they'd lose all of their items. These new players would then complain on the forums, rather than learning from the experience and not repeating their past mistakes. In response, Jagex put a trench by the wilderness, and when you tried to jump over said trench, you were given a warning message, saying something to the effect of:

"WARNING! The wilderness is dangerous, other players can attack you here!"

This, I was fine with. It didn't really hurt the experienced players, and it should have shut the newfags up... but here's where it gets ridiculous. People continued to complain about losing their items. After being warned, and catered to, they continued to scream at Jagex because they apparently just couldn't quite grasp the fact that this area was dangerous and if they didn't like it, they shouldn't go there.

I mean, I know it's so difficult to understand. It's very hard to figure out that maybe if you can die there, you shouldn't have all of your valuables with you. It's tough. You poor, poor idiots.

To follow this up, Jagex decided that they would remove the open wilderness entirely, and instead, they'd offer a minigame called "bounty hunter." This was around the end of 2007, and what was commonly referred to among Runescape's fanbase as "The Death of Runescape." This is what finally got the typically quiet players to rise up, and people literally started protesting the change (as seen in the picture). Never before have I seen a group of player in a game come together like that. Runescape lost a lot of subscribers at this point, including myself. Runescape's updates were already getting to be a bit, dare I say, 'casual.' The fans were already iffy. When this happened, everyone freaked out, and I don't blame them. The wilderness was an integral part of Runescape, and until this update, the only place where the free players could PvP. Jagex was quickly squeezing the life out of this game. The worst part was that, when you killed someone, they didn't drop their items. They dropped a little gravestone, and if they made it back to the gravestone before it disappeared (which was a long time), they got their stuff back. What was the point, now?

However, it doesn't end there. It gets worse. At the same time that Jagex wrecked the wilderness, they also catered to the players complaining about being scammed out of items. As in, old players charging ridiculously high prices for poor items, or switching out a rune scimitar for a mithril one when trading (see the picture). So, rather than telling these horribly stupid players to pay more attention, Jagex completely got rid of free trade. That's right. They began to set their own prices on items, and controlled the in-game economy by not letting you sell items outside of their set prices. You could trade for the item price, give or take 5,000 gold (which wasn't much). Now everyone had the best items in the game, because no one could take advantage of their craft. You couldn't smith a Rune Platebody and sell it for your own price; you sold it for Jagex's price.

Now, seeing as how I quit playing at this point (rightfully so), it wasn't until very recently that I saw the changes they had made. The players had lashed back after this, and Jagex quickly tried to console them with little insignificant updates. It didn't work. Eventually, in early 2011, the wilderness was returned to its former, open-PvP glory, when the players voted for the decision in a poll. Restoring the old wild won when 91% of the players voted for it... but that's something we can discuss later. This has been the fall of Runescape. Next time, I'll talk about my limited experience with Runescape after this happened, and then my current Runescape character. Thanks for reading.

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