I'm sitting here on a windy terrace with a smooth cup of coffee, enjoying my last Saturday off before I have to get back to regularly working on Saturdays. With a notebook and my thoughts alone, I'm going over what we've been through the past few months.
You guessed it, as storms are coming in on ever shorter days, and people have to return to work and school, it looks as though the "nightshift" is taking over as more people play after-hours instead of during the day. I thought it would be nice to evaluate one of RuneScape's busiest seasons.
So what have we seen?
We have a minigame designed to absorb a lot of the junk floating in the G.E. It's a shame that the good rewards take FAR too long to attain, but they have made excellent adjustments so far that one doesn't have to wait forever to actually mobilize one's army. I suppose it also gave us the "action-cursors" later on, as MA was clearly a test for this.
It gave us the perfect tools for any emergent game play thinkable (except for a whole deck of cards). With Faruq's tools you can pretty much design your own quests and minigames. They are not radically popular though, and I blame the lack of a thorough introduction for this. I believe Jagex left it up to us to figure out what to do with these items.
It gave us a couple of quests, one of which turned out to be yet another important thread in the storyline that leads up to the Mahjarrat Ritual, and gave us an important insight in many known beings from this race. In my opinion, this quest added another notch of difficulty to the Quest Cape. Fur'n'Seek (what a terrible pun) was not much of a quest in itself, but the follow up can be incredibly difficult to complete for the lower levels. Kill the undead Bork and you get some Pray and Slay XP.
PVP worlds were also updated. Not once, not twice, but three times, each change provoking a new barrage of protests. Recent trends suggest that they are close to getting it right this time, but this author is still of the opinion that it should not be possible to gain more value from a kill than the victim was able to lose at time of death.
It took a while, but we finally can put our pets in our house. We even have the ability to build a mini obelisk to recharge our summoning points. Not entirely sure what the purpose of that was, because close to every POH portal is either a mini or a grand obelisk. Along with this update we now have the ability to better control our familiars and butlers too, though.
I have yet to see the impact of the Personalized Shops, but already the effect of no longer being able to buy an Onyx at 260k TokKul is visible. A thread just started on the forums at the time of writing this, and it's not looking good. I'm hoping to touch on this more in my next article on the economy.
Fortunately, not all updates have been so-so or outright bad. The auto-casting option on all spells has made mages willing to invest the time in the special staves more powerful. And being able to auto-cast Ice Burst with a mere Staff of Water should make Magic training more interesting (or more powerful using Ahrim's Staff). We've also seen a new Slayer monster and extended courses for Agility, both good add-ons to the skills. Also the Gravestone update (but not the Drop Changes) has been welcomed with open arms.
But these are all a bunch of loosely related updates. There is no trend in them, other than almost every single one of these updates requiring at least one more system update to function without bugs. The one conclusion I can draw from all these good, bad and buggy updates is that perhaps RuneScape creeps ever closer to becoming too big to be updated.
I am keeping the faith though, we're only halfway through the year of updates, and it has been only a week since the new game engine came online. It's a shame that summer is over, it seems that the good stuff is only just starting to come in.
PS: I'd like to do some investigative reporting. If you got something big that you think needs more attention (whether it needs being looked at or a bigger platform to be published), or if you think you are incapable of writing it yourself, I'd be happy to co-author. Drop me a PM on the forums, and we'll talk.