Welcome Mark Gerhard, the new Chief Executive Officer of Jagex to your new seat! What a seat though, the hot seat of Jagex where players require so much in such little time. Before going much further it would be beneficial for everyone to read “The Future of RuneScape” (9th February 2009) as this is in direct response. This article may not represent the feelings of the entire Tip.It community, but hopes to convey some thoughts that RuneScape (RS) players as a whole find important. This is because players can have the fervor to play a game, but the designers themselves must have the flame to really make the game something amazing!
The word choice, “passionately”, is interesting. Few people can say they are passionate when it comes to their job, and for the RS population to honestly feel that you mean what you say speaks volumes. That emotion, that flame, lets this author know that RS has a bright future! You want to make RS a better and brighter? Let's do it together. Being more open and attentive to the players sounds very audacious. While some may disagree, Jagex has not been “a secretive and closed-off company” in the past. They have always striven to get player input on future updates and existing content as well as changing if the game as a whole can accept that change. Looking at the thread receiving questions for Mark Gerald makes one slam their head against a brick wall, as many useless and, to be upfront, unneeded posts filled the thread in scores by the first day. If you think Jagex does not have customer service, they pay a salary of £15.000-16.000 (around $20.000) a year, with opportunities to earn more, to each customer support staff. In fact, the customer support team makes up over half the employees at Jagex. Yes, they miss things, but looking at the RuneScape Official Forums(RSOF), they do a fantastic job. A while back Jagex removed the 'Contact Us' feature from the site. Imagine the spam received through that, where RSOF moderators could not assist them to find decent ideas and feedback!
One past way of communication was through the Behind the Scenes (BTS), which is to be discontinued and replaced with the Development Diaries (DD). Good job! For anyone in the position of working on a project, you well know that being asked to tell others every step you are going to make often times takes more time than just doing it in the first place. With an active player audience of over 5.4 million, saying an update is going to happen a certain way and then making needed changes often times lead to catastrophes both in game, on the RSOF and fan sites alike. So what a change! Thank you for not limiting yourselves. Besides, seeing the progress bars in the DD was and will be always fun, as is waiting for the release and the surprises within!
Removing video adverts seems like a fantastic way to gain the approval of Free to Play (F2P) right off the bat. Many know how annoying these adverts can be and they really did detract from the F2P game play, but at the same time, this could be a hindrance. As stated “to be completely candid..., video adverts generate significantly more revenue than other adverts.“ Revenue loss from F2P advertising seems to be of large concern. Stating that fun is the “fundamental philosophy” is all fine and dandy until the bills come, and hopefully the F2P community did not receive a curse disguised as a blessing.
The F2P content is literally industry leading, as few games offer a regularly updated MMO for free. Having the stats of the content shown was an eyebrow raising figure of “over 2,000 hours worth to get all your skills up to 99 and complete all the quests.” Thats over 83 days, or almost 3 months of around the clock hardcore playing, something only three people in the world have managed to do purely without using the Pay to Play (P2P) expansion. Quite mindblowing to any new player first stepping into Lumbridge!
Seeing long term goals towards improving all aspects of them same was an expected statement from a new CEO. However, with a strong leader, one can only look forward to these promises of “overall graphical enhancements to new gameplay mechanics” come to life. Lets just hope going through the BTS telling us this doesn't hamper it actually getting done.
Jagex admitted several years ago that most of their players are under 15, which relates to large amount being under 18. However, “we'd [Jagex] like to clear up once and for all, ...the common belief that RuneScape is a game aimed at kids. This is absolutely not the case.” Guys, of course it isn't! On the opposite end of this argument, the game is not fully aimed at an older audience either. The draw of RS that it attracts all audiences! Parents can feel confident that their kids will be playing a game that doesn't fully involve them in violence and immoral actions. Jagex has a niche market here. RuneScape is an affordable game that parents are willing to shell out for because it's reasonable compared to the garbage chat you will find on other competing “adult” oriented games. Does fighting dragons have to involve blood and sex? No.
Having an updated chat filter that allows new words however is fantastic, the old one insulted the vocabulary of middle school students. Having more complex and deeper humour in story lines is a definite plus and will greatly improve gameplay and make it more enjoyable. An example of this humour has already been shown with the release of the Soul Wars mini game and the Abyssal Minion giving its reviver a free Abyssal Whip without bothering to tell them that its fake! This author laughed out loud when reading about it. What a prime example of age-appropriate and sophisticated humour. By the way, Mark, did anyone ask when you turn 22? :)
Seeing promises of “working with fans” brings a smile to the face but can it really happen? This is just one of those, “wait and see” moments. The belief that this will happen is an enjoyable sentiment itself. “We will be running community events, tournaments and JMod participation in-game to provide more support to you and make RuneScape an even better place to be.” This in itself is one of the most challenging things stated in the entire news post. Knowing that you have observed and learned from the best is comforting. It was, and still is, needed to help the community thrive. That does raise a heated question: will this impact fansite events teams? Without going into too much detail, the initial shock may be disheartening but the sheer mass that these events will pull may only deter players who have been pampered by fansite events teams. Many will see the true value of what fansite events teams have to offer and will enjoy them all the more. With more players attending Jagex hosted events, they may find they enjoy events and want to go to more or more personal ones, thus leading for a bright future for fansite events teams. To the Tip.It Events Team and all those out there, thanks for being prime examples and leaders in the community and strive to keep it by doing your best! Nothing can replace that!
Mark Gerhard (or should I refer to you as Mod MMG?), a bright future lays ahead. There are many expectations and promises at the table. The question is, will you follow through, or is this just an acceptance speech? Are you a player or politician? While I only speak for myself, with you at the helm, asking for advice from the people who matter most, the players, not much can stop you as you continue to be “a first and foremost a games developer!”. Thus making RuneScape a game we all love and enjoy for years to come!