This week saw the release of the ability to automatically use bones on an altar in Player-Owned-Houses, saving a lot of clicking. This is the latest in what some players are saying is making the game easier, but is this really the case?
Those of you who played what is now known as RuneScape Classic should know about the differences between then and now, especially in the three main “gathering” skills: Mining, Fishing and Woodcutting. At the very start, you were required to click on the gathering tool and then click the thing you wished to use it on to gather resources. This didn’t last very long and Jagex was soon forced to make some slight improvements. Every time you wanted to fish, for example, you would have to click on the fishing spot, regardless if you caught a fish or not. This was even more of a problem for lobsters which were originally spots which required you to right click on them first to get to the option to fish lobsters before the spots in the Fishing guild and Brimhaven were added. The same applied to both Woodcutting and Mining. Each time you wanted to gather the resource, you had to click each time you attempted to collect it. Towards the end of RuneScape Classic, Jagex added in different types of pickaxes, varying from bronze up to rune. Each type of pickaxe had the exact same chances of acquiring the ore, however if you used a bronze pickaxe it would swing once whereas the rune pickaxe would swing twelve times per click or until you got the ore.
With the release of RuneScape 2, Jagex changed the way the three main gathering skills worked. With mining, you only had to click once on a rock and it would continue mining until you had the ore, no matter which type of pickaxe you were using. The type of pickaxe determined the chance of getting an ore, similar to how the type of woodcutting axe behaved in RSC. With woodcutting, one click on a tree would keep you chopping until your inventory was full or the tree fell down, which occurred after a random number of logs had been cut. The only exception was normal trees which collapsed after one log no matter what. Fishing required you to click only once on the fishing spot and you would continue fishing until the fishing spot moved elsewhere or your inventory became full, similar to how woodcutting was changed to work. This was the first major change Jagex made to the game which had some players thinking it was unfair. The amount of clicking required to train these skills was dramatically decreased.
Fletch-X and Cook-X were the first of the “do-x” updates to be added. With Cook-x it did not slow the skill down at all and stopped you from having to click over and over again while with fletching it slowed the skill down significantly as it was much quicker to make bows manually. It was, however, also a lot less effort involved in getting the skill up. These two skills are arguably the “easiest” skills in the game which is proven by the fact that a lot of people appear to get one or the other as their first skill to level 99 to obtain a skill cape.
Since then plenty of other skills, such as Smithing, Crafting, Herblore and most recently Prayer, have had similar updates made to them. The majority of these updates have actually slowed the skills down and simply reduced the amount of clicking required to level. Does this make the skills easier? In my opinion, no. Sure, it takes less “effort” to get, but that doesn’t make it easy.
Which brings up the question: what makes a skill “easy?” The time it takes to level? The amount of money required to level? How useful the skill is? Farming takes a long time to get level 99, but I wouldn’t say it is a hard skill. Herblore is a skill which is fairly quick to level but is generally regarded as quite a hard skill. Slayer is arguably the skill which takes the longest to get to level 99, but I wouldn’t say it is hard either. It is a fairly relaxing skill and by the time you have level 99 Slayer, you could have also acquired level 99 in the melee stats required to train slayer and have enough charms for level 99 Summoning from monster drops too. Construction is the most expensive skill to train to level 99, but once you have all the materials needed, it is fairly quick to level. But is it hard? Not in my opinion.
There seems to be no exact formula when it comes to what makes a skill easy. With the speed at which RuneScape changes with new training methods coming out, skills will always get “easier” over time and there will always be those who have already trained the skills who will think the updates will be unfair, but those people should know by now with such a dynamic game, nothing will be the same week in and week out. There is no point in complaining about it as it will change nothing. Those people picked to get their experience when they did.