It is well known that macroers, as we call them, are becoming ever more prevalent in the free version of RuneScape. Jagex has taken heavy measures over the recent months to try to crack down on the scum who make these accounts. It does seem, however, that their latest plan was not made with the best judgement.
As was intended by this week's update, members typically are only wanting pure essence, and very few paying players really care about regular essence. Likewise, pure essence is members only, so macroers can no longer get them on free servers.
I ask you, then, why did Jagex not just make ALL existing essence into pure essence? Yes, some macroers would have had their last chance to sell illegally obtained items, but it would not have harmed players on free servers who were stocking up for whatever reasons. Free players who spent millions on rune essence are now stuck with a huge loss.
If members are the only players who can get pure essence, macroers would still be stopped. Letting free players own pure essence would have been comparable to letting them own maple logs. The problem would have been solved, and nobody would feel like Enron stock owners did the day the bottom fell out.
It is very understandable that Jagex needs to stop these illegitimate players, and this will definitely help, but I (and others) feel that beside the initial strike being devastating for free players, who often recruit paying members even if they do not pay themselves, that there definitely could have been better ways to fix this particular problem.
The problem with rune essence, as opposed to the iron, coal, or yew gathering macroers, is that rune essence takes next to nothing, in terms of skills, to acquire, and can easily be accessed on free servers. Also, other miners do not inhibit one's ability to acquire rune essence. The Rune Mysteries quest can be easily completed by any new level 3 account.
I am aware they may be unwanted, at least by Jagex, but I have a few ideas that I feel may have been better solutions. If you are Jagex staff and there is a reason you threw out an idea I mention (or even one I did not think of), I would be honored to hear why you discarded it in the forum topic about this article.
First solution: (note, some could work if they overlapped) One thing that would help is to require a much more difficult quest to mine pure essence. Perhaps one that requires at least 500 skill total to complete. This would allow free players to still mine pure essence for profits, while vastly eliminating the appeal of macroing it.
Second solution: Keep only one form of essence, but swarm the essence mine with (for example) level 25 aggressive monsters with range and mage capabilities. Just flood the whole mine so that it is only appealing to mine rune essence upon reaching 51 combat. Or if you split up the forms of essence, do this for the pure essence mines, which will not hinder lower levels from mining the basic essence. It would be imperative that the monsters were highly abundant and could not block each other, to ensure no macroer can find himself a safe spot to mine. It would also help to make the area multi combat, and give these creatures a very fast respawn time.
Third solution: Require something simple, but hard to make a macro for, in order to access the rune essence mine. Perhaps something like a bank pin, but with only 1 or 2 numbers, which you would be required to submit every time you mine. This combination could vary from each trip, randomly generated by the NPC who teleports you. If it has shown effective, perhaps something more like a mystery box which he asks you to solve in order to get in. Granted, this would make mining rune essence very annoying, so perhaps once a player is beyond a certain skill total, Jagex could no longer require this, based on what level they feel a player needs to no longer be likely to macro (or based on completion of the previously mentioned quest).
Ultimately, though, regardless how Jagex chose to deter macros for essence, their actions hurt many legitimate players financially. Even if only for a short time, allowing free players to sell the last of their pure essence would have prevented their bitter feelings about it. Also, with the split in rune essence, macroers can still make easy, undeserved money by mining normal essence. It may not be as profitable, but can still be done.
To finally stop rune essence macros, further measures will need to be taken. There will still be some market for regular rune essence, and considering how little it takes to mine it, there will not be serious drawbacks to doing it. Perhaps Jagex should consider an alternative to hinder the ability of level 3 accounts mining essence.
For the current plan they have taken, perhaps it would be beneficial to alter the experience in mining pure essence. Relatively few members will want to mine essence, as most of them can mine iron for faster experience and money. I would only imagine that players will be using pure essence much faster than miners are supplying it, which will drive up essence prices, which will drive up rune prices. This is something Jagex might want to consider, depending what outcomes they want, or do not want, to occur.
It is not too late to change all existing rune essence to pure essence, if they plan to keep the split, and just make pure essence only obtainable by members, but still a free item, at least for now. It would definitely help ease the bitter feelings many players are having, and produce the same effect. I also hope Jagex reads my alternatives, and can ultimately stop these essence-mining macroers, because we will find that this was not enough.
On one last note, I'd like to emphasize that, like all Tip.It Times articles, these opinions are my own, and I speak for nobody but myself.
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