I'll admit, I was never a fervent fan of JMod events. No, there isn't any grand principle or issue I have with the idea of one of the makers of the game holding an event for its players (hence, fans) to enjoy. In fact, I think the concept is rather appealing...or can be, at any rate. Earlier this month Jagex ran a Quick Poll asking why people chose not to attend such events. Although Jagex does not keep a public archive of previous Quick Polls, it is reasonable to assume that the results did not change much halfway through, so here are the results when I happened to capture a printscreen.
As you can see, the top reasons are a close contest between being too busy with xp to participate, the events themselves never being at a good time, and people simply lacking interest in playing with JMods. A good number of people indicated that they were not aware of when they were or that Jmods even ran events. Pursuant to that poll, Jagex advertised more vigorously for their events, starting with adding an information bubble to the clock for JMod events in the near future. They also used space in the lobby welcoming screen to add an advertisement for an event in celebration of Red nose day. You can click the link if you're interested in further info but I won't elaborate here.
The event was at 15:30 GMT on March 13th, which I in fact misconverted as 10:30am my time. Of course I had something else going on at that time, so I had anticipated not being able to make it. However, my calculations had been one hour off due to the recent time change, so to my surprise I arrived back momentarily before the event was set to start. I was drafted by my friends to come participate, so I logged on a P2P account and headed over to Varrock square W23.
The first thing I noticed was the crush of people. Naturally, one shouldn't be surprised to see a lot of people at a JMod event. Unfortunately, the one infamous effect of a highly populated area also tagged along for the ride: a massive amount of lag. This would turn out to be a persistent theme. Now, my computer has decent specs. I only bought it a year ago and for the first time I can run RS on full graphics easily when I want to, or run 20 different things in the background without lag. It's not an expensive gaming computer, but it's far from a toaster. The point is, my computer isn't just above the average RuneScaper's - it's well above. I say that not to brag but to press the point: do you think other people at the event are lagging more or less than me?
Anyway, Mod Jon, the host of the event spawned some zombies and monkeys, but thanks to the incredible lag it was impossible to click on them before someone else got them. The sheer number of people there was probably also a contributing factor. We were then directed to go to the well, then back to the fountain, and then I lost track of things. Communication was horrible. Even with cycling through public to filter out things, there was still the issue of finding the JMod to see his chat. Getting into the allocated friends chat was not an easy task either. It's not entirely the JMod's fault, though. What we need is a 72 point font scrolling across the screen to get our attention, not a tiny gold crown flying by in the chatbox. Many people just leave public on rather than set it to off because they want to see other people's chat in the box.
Eventually, we paraded into the Grand Exchange. This area of RuneScape is already one of the busy spots, particularly on the world they delegated for the event, and on top of that, flooding it with more people was just bound to cause more problems. And indeed it lagged pretty hard for a while until Mod Jon called out the next destination: safe Clan Wars. I still tagged along, hoping to get my chance to at least kill a few monkeys in the area.
I don't have a deathwish against PvP, but frankly, when we got there it was starting to get on my nerves. As you might know if you're familiar with Clan Wars, left clicking people causes you to attack, at least if you're higher level than your potential opponent. And what does spawning a few monkeys everyone is scrambling to kill entail? That's right, everyone frantically clicking for them and attacking each other in the process. I attacked no one, but between clamoring for monkeys and people just thinking it was fun to attack me, I died 10 times before killing a single monkey. After 22 deaths, the lag cleared up briefly, just long enough for me to manage a few more kills and get to 5 (which awarded a lamp). Finally.
It's not that I was dying for a lamp (pardon the irony). In fact, I think I ended up destroying it afterward. But I suppose you could call it a moment of victory in a valiant struggle. That was not quite the end of the event though - Mod Jon started a couple games of the Drop for fun. I tried to get in, asked patiently where/how to enter, and so forth, but by the time anyone answered me it was apparently too late. All the while I was dying trying to re-enter and hang out north of the line in Clan Wars, racking up over 40 deaths by the time I got some information. At that point it had been an hour, and I left.
Afterward, one of my friends declared in our clan chat that this had been the first and last JMod event he would attend. While I won't be quite as harsh, I would like to see Jagex improve a little before I check out future events. It's not like I didn't still enjoy myself somewhat, but as usual there is always room for improvement. Here are my suggestions, and maybe you can share yours on the discussion thread.
If you're going to Clan Wars, have people wear a cape. If everyone has a Team-## cape on, you don't have a left-click option to attack them. That will at least prevent people from accidentally killing each other when trying to click monkeys or Jads or whatever else Jmods spawn there. And it could go with the theme of wearing red, or whatever color in the future.
Timing can be everything. I understand that Jagex wants to do events at their convenience but try to consider your other timezones too. 8:30am-11:30am in the continental USA on a Friday is not a time when most people are free, for example. If you want to attract the maximum crowd, try 9 or 10 GMT - that translates to after school time for more people across the pond, including younger/newer players to the game. At the same time it would not be so late as to prevent people on GMT from attending.
Try to get reasonable size groups. There has to be happy medium between having so many people that the server is suffocating under the lag and having three people show up to an event. Yes, I've been to JMod events before that were that sparsely populated. Sometimes JMods didn't even show up themselves. On the other hand, if there is an excessive number of attendees, Jagex ought to have people standing by to break it into a couple different worlds or do something. I'm sure the Twitter queries can wait an hour.
Finally, Jagex must decide what its CM mission is. Do they want to invest resources (read: salaried workers) into things like hosting events or not? In my opinion they should be looking for people to work part-time, for example. If people running events still had time and played RuneScape as a player on a regular basis, they might be able to understand the perspective of an attendee a little better.