Earlier this week, with the release of a new quest and some supporting content which really changes some facets of the game, I realized I was very much guilty of playing with a shortsightedness to which there is simply no good excuse. I found that a new quest was released, and rushed to finish it. And therein lies the rub.
Rush to finish. Get in, get out, get it over with.
I needed to fly by the new content as quickly as possible. I wanted to be able to don the same quest cape that I haven’t bothered to wear in well over a year. Not that I’d take the time to actually put the damned thing over my shoulders, but that little mental checklist box next to “quest complete” had to be ticked off. This is the same little checklist that has coerced me into racing through every achievement diary, as well as zipping through slayer tasks like noodles through a goose.
Somewhere during the week I realized I had flown through a new quest, not bothered to spend more than a nominal amount of time killing big, overcrowded dwogres, and raced back to finish my daily deeds in order to begin another personal goal, which includes running about eleventy thousand agility laps in order to get the new gear which will allow me to do treasure trails perhaps 1% faster, and hunt for penguins perhaps 2% faster.
Worse yet, I still haven’t been able to decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
The two sides of the argument aren’t all that easy to see. It’s very easy to see the downside, as it is the downside which will come back to haunt a player as they “achieve” some of the more difficult tasks in the game. Quite simply, in many cases, I’ve missed the boat. Quests with some funny dialogue, cut scenes, solid new music, and just a litany with generally enjoyable moments have been glanced over as I race towards my goal of finishing. While I may claim to believe that life is “the journey, and not the destination”, I certainly don’t play that way. More often than not, I choose to “work” skills, and it certainly feels like work. I routinely trade enjoyable ways to earn experience for more efficient ways, such as avoiding foot-travel whenever possible, using one slayer master instead of a solid variety (primarily for the ease of access to this master), and generally avoiding the abyss like the bubonic plague, as while I enjoy running it the experience is relatively lousy and I just want to get done and move on.
Historically, I have stopped here. I give myself a mental slap on the wrist, admonish the failure to enjoy the nuances of the game, and make a hollow vow I’ll never deliver on to “enjoy” the game instead of racing ahead to meet goals.
A small, dim, 5 watt light recently creaked on overhead, leaving me with a new thought. What if this is the way that I enjoy the game? What if, crazy as it may seem, I enjoy best seeking out difficult challenges and meeting them quickly? What if I prefer to test my will through arduous tasks, forcing my self to endure some brutally tedious tasks, at the expense of some of the lighter, more obviously enjoyable content. Is that so wrong?
Not only is it not wrong, but I’d hypothesize that this is the makeup of the average Runescape player. The goals are difficult: this is one of the most time-consuming games in the world to master. The process is tedious: many skills are simply mind numbing to train, whether it is the constant click and clack of firemaking, or the slow, slow churn of more varied (yet slow) skills such as slayer. The reward is almost purely laid out in self satisfaction: while we share achievements with the board, the pats on the back are certainly never going to surpass the amount of work needed to get them.
Looking back, perhaps the morbid perspective of our gameplay is unfair. Our RS avatar’s career –IS- about the journey rather than the destination. It just so happens that for many of us, that journey is pockmarked with hundreds of little (or few large) destinations along the way, and that the drive to reach those points is what ultimately keeps us coming back for more.