So we're over half way through 2009, the year Jagex has designated as the year of upgrades. I decided to take a look back at how Runescape has changed in such a short time and how amazing it is that updates, barely a few months old, are almost completely forgotten by us and now feel like part of the normal routine of our Runescape lives, as though they have always been there.
One of the biggest things that come to mind when I think of updates is the route finder update; also known as the backwards running fix. I almost forget now, that running used to be such a tiresome thing; taking one step forwards then two steps back. That little lag was annoying to say the least. But (with a lot of work from Jagex), that is no longer a problem for us. We can run with ease and get from point A to B without getting half way to B, running back to A, and then again running to B. I often forget to appreciate what it's like to be able to run in the right direction.
Also, being an avid Woodcutter, I think one of the top upgrades for me has to be the removal of most random events and the extension of how long the game lets you stay logged in whilst inactive. If you were being charitable, you might say that random events used to just be a nice diversion from the normal grind. If you were feeling uncharitable, you might call them nothing more than a constant pain in the neck that only ever hinder game play and give pitiful rewards that are only fit for level 3 newbs around Lumbridge. Before the update to randoms, I leaned a little more to the idea that randoms were just awkward and annoying, my main quarrel being with the almighty Ent that would snap my axe far... far too often. It was annoying to say the least, having to teleport to Lumbridge to fork out money to repair my axe then teleport back to Seers Village or wherever I happened to be woodcutting. Ents combined with the 1 minute and 30 seconds you had of inactivity before being logged off made for a very unhappy woodcutter. I would check my email, be Instant Messaging a friend or even just waiting for the tree I was cutting to be felled, only to be logged off. Often when I wasn't paying enough attention and found myself logged off, when I logged back on, I'd find myself with a broken axe. Wonderful. But nowadays there is no longer the constant staring at a tree to check that it didn't become an Ent. (Even that didn't work from time to time, it was too easy to not notice the waving branches and face the tree had developed). I also no longer live in constant fear that if I don't obsessively click in the game regularly then I'll find myself listening to the tune of the Runescape login page.
Another update, that I forget quite often, would be the ability for high level free to play players having access to the Runescape Official Forums. At the time, I remember people shouting that the end of the RSOF was nigh and that there was no hope left for the place. Months later, the RSOF has not crashed and burned thanks to the small number of F2P players. In fact, it can be easily forgotten that they are even there! A further update that had the reaction of 'oh no the world is going to end!' was the Offer X option at player owned altars. Many people seemed to believe that by removing the number of clicks needed to offer bones to an altar, it somehow would mean that 99 prayer would be less of an achievement. Apparently many players thought that getting repetitive strain injuries was a sign of being awesome, since that was all the update really prevented. Now though, using the 'Offer X' option at an altar seems no more peculiar than using 'Cook X' at a range.
I think that how some updates and upgrades to the game can be forgotten so easily is a mark of how well Jagex does their job. Of course you could say that updates to graphics or game mechanics which we can forget even happened only mean that they are useless. So that leads us to the question, are updates that blend into the game well and can be forgotten easily, better than those that we are constantly reminded of?