June 9th, 2009: Jagex announces the release of the brand-new Rest system, which allows Agility to have stronger dictation on run length, run recovery, and implements stations located throughout the world for characters to sit, listen to music, and quickly recover. Immediately, there are opinions voiced, both positive and negative, and while this adds depth to a shallow skill (Agility), it potentially lowers profitability of super energy potions.
It comes as no surprise that the update upsets some people, and pleases others. Over time, it has become obvious that each update will have both champions and detractors; there are virtually no new-content additions that will be universally espoused or loathed. The diversity of players and playing styles causes an impetus for such upheaval, but why does every update seem to change the game?
The answer is simple; change is the lone constant in any successful MMORPG. In order for a game to survive, and players to actively engage themselves, Jagex needs to allow room for improvement. The leveling system is exponentially based, creating an environment where there is both immediate payout for leveling, long-term goals, and difficult achievements. New armours, weapons, spells, familiars, and prayers need to be introduced to give people something to shoot for. Monsters must become more difficult to kill, obstacles tougher to climb, and quests more devilish to complete.
Without these constant tweaks and adjustments, there are two risks: players will become complacent or indifferent, and people will “finish” the game. These are the two easiest routes to stop playing, and thus the fastest way for Jagex to allow its revenue stream to run dry. The indifference comes with a lack of any stimulating new content. If there is no new minigame, be it the next castle wars, soul wars, stealing creation, trouble brewing, or pyramid plunder, then there is no new “hobby” event to hold the interest of players. If it becomes easy for players to max out their skills and acquire the most prestigious items, the achievement then loses its luster and people walk away.
Instead of having a game that is finite, players are left shooting at moving targets. The new “best” items are constantly cycling, with new additions to both combat and noncombat skills continuing to raise the bar of expectations. The possibility of true “completion” is impossible, as new skills are constantly in development. While often change comes in the form of fun new quests and games, some releases are shown a more lukewarm acceptance. As Jagex chooses a subset of players to cater to, other customers outside that niche will always be upset with the failure of the game to meet their current demands.
Is this a good thing? Constant change keeps the game fresh, making new habits form, and adding flexibility to the game. Is this a bad thing? Perpetual erosion of value of items and skills as more components come to the forefront ensure that only gold coins themselves will ever hold strong to their value.
I submit that these changes that we love or hate are neither bad nor good, but simply the way it must be. For the game to survive and continue, everyone must taste some sourness along with the sweets.