Long ago organising any sort of event was quite hard. To spread a message to a lot of people you needed the forums or word of mouth, neither of which are particularly fast or reliable. IRC, Teamspeak, or some other medium outside of RuneScape or its fansites are often chosen for fast communication, but will rarely, if ever, see strangers join in.
So when some sort of event was organised in RuneScape itself, it was a lot easier to get people to shut up for a minute, because paying attention was in their best interest to do so.
In a way, it was almost exactly like the days before everyone had a cellphone. I know I'm going to sound like an old fart here, because for most of you this will seem like it's from a long time ago. But back in those days, if you were, for example, to meet someone to do something at a pre-arranged time and location, you damn well made sure you were there, on time if not early, and ready for whatever was planned.
Today it's different. Not only is a set time seen as more of a guideline, but nobody will panic is somebody is more than half an hour late. After all, if something happened, he or she would've contacted you by now, so no news is no bad news.
Also, unless you are set out to go on an expedition to explore some mountains on the Antarctic continent, people tend to go ill-prepared. Going on holiday? Screw schlepping a load of luggage around, we'll buy a toothbrush and some clothes when we get there.
Sadly, this attitude, if you can call it that, has crept into RuneScape as well.
Since the introduction of Friendschat (then Clanchat), things have changed dramatically. Some activities have drastically improved, and yet others even depend on it.
Penguin hunting is a good example. While there are some well structured forum-based versions, the success of those is completely eclipsed by what's going on on world 60. All you need to do is pop in the chat, pay but a little attention, and act accordingly.
Other chats are similarly successful. There's no way that you can get a near perfect score flinging some fish and finding out all the stuff by yourself, so to get the most out of it, you need friends.
And this seems to be the glue that holds these successful chats together. You need other people to help you with certain stuff that requires communication—and the larger the group with which to do those tasks, the better. This certainly shows with the Warbands activity, for it requires some careful planning to not overpopulate the worlds.
But this has made a serious dent in one aspect that I always thought vital to a game like RuneScape: friendship.
Everyone wants to progress with their character, and wants to do it in the best ways possible. It has become a lot easier to take advantage of already existing groups as opposed to creating your own group of friends. The convenience of tagging along with an existing group far outweighs the benefits of making true friends.
On top of that, RuneScape has become too big and spread for you to run into the same people on multiple occasions, so making friends the original way just doesn't happen anymore. On the few spots that do see people passing through it's too often too crowded to strike up a conversation.
And finally, our standards of what qualities a friend or group of friends needs to have are ever increasing, especially when you include the level factor. Not only is playing in the same timezone with the same schedule an essential perk, progressing along similar paths through the game is just as much a requirement. It is rare to see a maxed person make friends with sub-quadruple digit total levels.
But I have hope.
Social slayer is, to borrow a phrase from Fight Club, one of the best methods to make at least single-serving friends with. The necessity of which becomes even more apparent in the dungeons of the Order of Ascension. Dungeoneering is even better at this, especially when the highest levels are scattered amongst all five members of the team.
This semi-forced cooperation is probably what we'll see more of in the future. I think Jagex have looked at what keeps people attached to their game, and found that people who are essentially done with the game, come back only for their friends. I know I would've quit long ago if it wasn't for a few people.
But while you cannot force people to stick together, I do think that being able to forge a friendship can start by helping people build a rapport. The Shield of Arrav and Heroes quests could've been an accidental first, but as interactive as today's society has become, I see little reason for RuneScape to be left out of it.