Many of us have at some point lost interest in the game. A few quit, others just drastically drop their involvement in the game as a result. Either way, the ones reading this haven't quit yet, obviously, but each of us is at risk of doing that at some point.
So why is it that we lose interest? The game is updated with new content on a regular-ish basis, so there should always be something for us on the horizon. Jagex have made this even more prevalent with the polls in the game itself, the updates on the projects that are still in progress of being developed, and the in-depth Behind the Scenes videos.
Having played as long as I have, I can imagine that at some point much of the content starts to blend together. Even new updates are going to look like a repeat of old content (hello Divination-Span!), and only truly new content is what keeps me levelling.
But at some point, the leveling is done. We've yet to see many requirements upward of 90 for content beyond weapons, armour and equipment. To add insult to injury, the gaps between the levels grow wider while there are no better or faster methods left to discover.
So what do you do to keep going? Sometimes it can be frustrating to chase after a moving goalpost, but what do you do when you finally catch up to it? Without any new goals it's hard to apply the traditional techniques of dividing up a large task into many smaller ones. But it could be worse.
It could be that all you have left to do is to max your account out. And I can imagine that you just don't want to do that. Even when all you have to look forward to is the endless void between level 99, or 120 in the case of Dungeoneering, and 200m XP after maxing out, you just don't want to actually max out. All because you want to keep something to play for.
So if the new content on the horizon doesn't interest you, and there are no new levels or goalposts to reach, what is it that keeps you going?
Some would argue that it is their friends or clan members that keep them invested in the game. It's obvious why this is, as any activity undertaken together is more fun. This goes double for the ones where you actually need one another, and triple where you actually have to build something with each other over time and maintain it as well.
But you can keep in touch with your friends outside of the game. Back when RuneScape was first unleashed, you had some chat rooms, some chat programs and some forums. These days with smartphones, chat-apps, and WiFi freely available in most public places, you can still keep in touch with your friends for as long as your battery lasts while you are actually *gasp* outside!
Does this mean that RuneScape, as part of its formula, just happens to have a particularly chore-like attitude towards unlocking certain achievements? Are the people that play RuneScape the particularly patient ones of the litter, willing to put up with it?
I personally doubt it. I think, at its inception, RuneScape's players were never really meant to make it to level 99 and beyond. But the XP values of the levels were decided on and chiseled in stone from then on.
Since then we've then had a good 8 or 9 years to fill up and saturate the lowest levels of content. A wise decision if you want to attract new players and keep them busy for a while, but at some point, some resources have to be devoted to high level content. You make that high level content as awesome as can be, and it will give the new players something to aim for.
Nowadays, the patient and hardworking gamers are gone. In the words of Dara O'Briain: "I believe I unlocked it when I swiped my credit card." What it comes down to is that most people already have a tedious job and are turning to RuneScape to relax and enjoy themselves, and not to continue working.
And it shows. The amount of Bonus XP and other multipliers you can earn throughout the game are ridiculous. Not to mention that you can level skills without doing any actual skilling by logging in once a day and doing the dailies. But that is what you get if you want your players to reach the desired content as soon as possible.
Sometimes I catch myself wanting to take a look inside the heads of the developers and designers, having asked them first what they think RuneScape would be like if they had to do a complete redesign from scratch. I think the only glimpses similar to a redesign that we've actually seen materialise are called Dungeoneering, since it's almost a standalone game, and the Evolution of Combat, since that was an actual redesign.
So my question to you is simple. In this day and age of fast satisfaction and saturation, of short attention spans, of instant and omnipresent communication, and of ever evolving technology; what would your RuneScape look like, had you have to redesign it from scratch?