A New Year is always heralded as a time for fresh starts, for well-intentioned New Year's Resolutions, for hope in a brighter future. Putting it bluntly, that's been and gone. 2008 is well under way now. Perhaps some of those Resolutions have been kept - congratulations! - but, for many people, the New Year ends up being perceived as a disappointment. Anyway, how does all this relate to RuneScape?
Aside from bringing us one of the most impressive Christmas updates in the history of RuneScape, December was completely overshadowed by Jagex's response to the threat of Real-World Trading. But right in the middle of it all, Jagex broke its long tradition of silence and secrecy with the release of their series of Developer Diaries about the forthcoming Summoning skill.
Summoning was something that players had long clamoured for, and the Diaries made it look utterly amazing. In the middle of the wide-spread anger over December's RWT updates, Summoning was something to look forward to when the uproar died down (for members, anyway). For players who'd lost their favourite game features in 2007, Summoning looked a lot like a sign of hope for better times to come in the New Year. It's surely no coincidence that Jagex decided to make a big noise about Summoning right in the middle of the RWT controversy. (Not that this is a bad thing; it's perfectly good practice for a publisher to advertise its forthcoming products.)
After all the hype - including a Developer Diary about the hype, which seems excessive - Summoning finally arrived, and we got the chance to see whether or not it lived up to all the expectations. It's certainly brought us a vast new array of features and opportunities within the game, with more being discovered as players experiment with their familiars in different situations, and as the drop-rates of charms become better known. The skill has incredible potential to be useful in our everyday playing of the game.
On the other hand, Summoning has prompted a tirade of complaints, some focusing on the way monsters drop charms, some on the price of shards, others on the familiars not being as useful as had been hoped. For some players, the big hopes for the New Year and its incredible new Summoning skill were not met.
The last couple of months have seen a storm of controversy over the massive changes to trading and PVP combat, followed by the rants over aspects of Summoning, and that storm is being slow to die away. Among RuneScape's key strengths is its community, a community of people with whom we can chat, debate on forums, share experiences of the game, etc. Although troubled times can give a sense of community spirit, the game is so much fun when the atmosphere is happy, with people clearly enjoying themselves. For that, we need Jagex to resolve some unfinished business before we can reach the calm after the storm...
Jagex is clearly not done with the balancing of Summoning. Only recently they added charm drops to a range of Slayer monsters, an update that sparked many complaints, followed by yet more complaints when they undid it again hours later. Perhaps it's for the best that they've postponed the second wave of Summoning creatures - if they're still making that level of change to the first wave, it's probably better for the rest to wait until they've got it all ironed out!
Aside from that, there are a few outstanding matters from the RWT updates. Jagex posted a news article back in December proposing ideas including a wealth-sharing addition to the Loot Sharing system - which most GWD and KQ teams will gladly welcome - plus a single-way PVP combat area. We don't know when we can expect to see these updates. On a practical note, Jagex might do well to provide some reassurance that these features are on their way. There have also been numerous suggestions about ways to improve Clan Wars so that clans don't feel driven to hold their activities inside Bounty Hunter, which it would be nice to see Jagex act on.
All things considered, the last couple of months have not been as catastrophic as they could have been. Granted, some people did leave the game over the RWT changes, and there were dire predictions of large proportions of the player-base quitting, but the game is still here for those of us who didn't leave, and we've got the prospect of future updates that will improve things. Also granted, the Summoning skill has a fair few issues to iron out, but we've seen that Jagex is working on adjusting bits of it, even though they haven't got very far yet.
Over the next months, we need to hope that Jagex will be able to pull off these necessary changes, and let the community move towards the calm that needs to come after such a stormy period. This may sound like a long time, but the RuneScape career of a veteran player will span several years; the game isn't about to disappear, and nor is its community.
~ Armadyllo ~
Did You Know...
... in the Swan Song quest, when you and the Wise Old Man are fighting the trolls outside the Colony gate, you can use certain runes on him to make him do more damage to the trolls. He seems to accept runes that contribute to casting Saradomin Strike.
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