When the Hunter skill was released in 2006 I had a goal: race RuneScape’s best skillers to level 99. I didn’t concern myself with anything but finding the shortest route and the quickest experience. On the first few days of Hunter it was a crowded mess. Imagine you need to mine coal, but there is only one spot and 5 rocks to mine from. Now imagine everybody who is logged on to your server in that exact same spot attempting to mine those only coal rocks in the game. After about two weeks, I reached level 90 and was ranked in the top 100, but the coveted first to 99 had already been achieved. I was feeling burned out and tired of fighting the crowds. I decided to take a break from hunter to resume other activities in the game. I planned to return to Hunter a few weeks later once the novelty of a new skill had worn off.
Weeks turned into a few months when I did decide to try my hand at Hunter again. As I expected, the crowds had left and I could train my skill in peace. A few hours into training I realized I had moved from one extreme to another.
I had gone from a pressing crowd to sheer isolation. The only company I had for hours on end were pudgy chinchompas and the occasional butterfly fluttering overhead. Constant clicking to set up my box traps were forcing me to keep private messages to a minimum. The hunting spots were far away from any towns or banks. Was there anybody out there? Had I survived an apocalyptic event in Gielinor? Can I really be this lonely in a video game?
After some time I realized I had confused loneliness with an even bigger killjoy—boredom. I was spending hours playing a game that I found boring. A shadow of a question loomed larger and larger in the back of my mind before I finally had to ask myself, “What’s the point in going on?”
A few more months passed before the irritation of being five levels away from my skillcape drove me back to the chinchompas to try again. This time I didn’t find myself alone. Rock concert crowds didn’t engulf me like on opening day, but I always had at least one other player to compete against. It didn’t take long to realize that this hunting spot wasn’t big enough for the both of us. Now I secretly prayed for an evil random event to whisk my competition away and give me a few free moments alone. Eventually, I just wished they would go away.
Aside from learning that I have no business competing with the top skillers, Hunter exposed some flaws in my personality. I’m never satisfied. I was unhappy when I was alone and I was unhappy when I had company. Visions of living in an isolated house with dozens of cats rose to the surface. This crazy skill beat me.
I also have a remarkable talent of assigning blame elsewhere whenever possible. I may be unsatisfied, but it’s certainly not my fault! Instead of embarking on a possibly enlightening journey inside myself, I decided to take on that big question: What’s the point?
Right out of the gates in 2006, I have to admit the skill always felt unpolished. Even the skillcape emote felt like a letdown. This was the first skillcape and emote released since their inception. I was anticipating an awe inspiring theatric performance. Maybe it could start out hiding in a bush, only a pair of eyes blinking and waiting patiently for my prey. A hapless unicorn strolls by in search of a lush patch of grass to graze on. Suddenly, I jump out from the bush armed with a buck knife and a loud war cry. I bring the unicorn down with a series of thrusts before slitting its throat. Blood spurts in a fountain over my naked body as I lift my hands in the air in a display of carnage and triumph. Now that’s an emote! Needless to say, I felt disappointed in the end.
There seemed to be no clear ability presented, nor did the skill compliment any of the other skills in the game. Fishing is to cooking what mining is to smithing, but Hunter just seemed to dangle out there by itself. The camouflaged wardrobe worked for hunting prey, but had no use outside of the skill. Imagine having the ability, even if only temporary, to move unseen past aggressive monsters. What if you could sneak up on your opponent and strike without warning in PVP? The gifted hunter should be a master of disguise, always silently stalking its prey, and under no circumstances should be carrying a butterfly net.
While sharks are a tasty diet, sometimes I prefer a four-legged snack. Where are the buffalo roaming the plains? The meat on their bones would have to make them desirable. I would’ve expected high-level food somewhere to be gained through a hunter skill. Why should the fishermen have all the fun? Without a necessary resource to collect it no longer is hunting and just becomes killing for sport.
I can already hear you chiming in about those chinchompas. I know all about them and have lined my gold purse with millions from selling these unstable little rodents to rangers. I’ve also squandered all my gold on frivolous items. I admit that the prospect of earning some extra money is tempting to return to the jungles, but the difficulty of finding an open patch of dirt to set up my traps and conduct my business discourages me. Even the thought of having a hunting spot to myself sounds as appealing as jumping out of a moving vehicle.
Now every time I log in I find a 97 in my hunter box mocking me. It has become a testament to a waste of time and my inability to follow through. I’ve done my best to ignore it, but it sits in the background and taunts me. Over the last two years I’ve gained hundreds of levels and millions of experience points, but that 97 has barely budged an inch. Occasionally I will suit up and grab my traps, but then a sulking look appears on my face. The same one I used to get when I was a little boy being told to go clean his room. You can’t make me do it!
Someday I will have to complete the skill. I feel that day has got to be soon. I know when I make my way to that hut to buy my skillcape it will be worth it. I’ll be able to hang up my snares and know that it’s finally finished. Maybe telling this story is an attempt to motivate me. In fact, I think I might log in and start!
…right after I pick my herbs. And after that I have a slayer task I could do instead. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.