Monday this week Jagex released their Christmas event for 2009. You've probably seen the rewards around by now if you've logged in over the past week, but I won't spoil the surprise. The event retells the festive story of A Christmas Carol with the central character a grumpy old man called Scrooge... I mean Scourge. Although you're probably familiar with the basic plot, I'll quickly explain it for those who aren't. There is a miserable, mean-spirited man called Scrooge who is greedy and hates Christmas. On Christmas Eve he is visited by three ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. These spirits make him evaluate his way of life and he becomes a better and kinder person. This is the familiar story that Jagex have chosen to play with this year for their Christmas event and in my opinion, it was quite well done.
One of the more interesting aspects of this event, perhaps it's just because I'm a bit of a nerd, is the first use of particle effects. With the introduction of the RuneTek 5 engine we were promised more exciting graphic aspects to be added to the game and the soft falling snow in the Land of Snow was our first real introduction to what they can do with this. I visited Waterbirth Island just this week and almost laughed at the supposed snow that fell there. It made me think back to the Christmas Event and appreciate how the snow there actually looked like snow, not large, oddly chunky shapes falling in front of my screen.
'A Christmas Warble' brought us some festive rewards, and with those festive rewards the people that complain that the rewards don't do anything. It's almost comfortingly familiar to hear the whines of players complaining that their free event item doesn't do anything useful. Well of course it doesn't! What were you expecting it to be? A replacement for your Abyssal Whip? Then, just as bad, are those who complain that they won't do the event because it's 'pointless' and that it is far below them to do something actually fun for once. Why enjoy yourself when you can be grinding? Of course, at least in my opinion, all these people are wrong. The whole point about holiday events, not just Christmas but Halloween, Easter or Thanksgiving too, is to just have fun. It's an update that isn't about real content or more methods of grinding, but just for the simple fun of indulging in the holiday.
A bit part of the fun of holiday events is the build up. Everyone knows that it's coming and there is a lot of anticipation in the air of Clan Chats and Forums as we wait to see what fun we'll be having this holiday. I think this is most connected with Christmas than any of the other holiday events. There is a great deal of excitement garnered as we approach Christmas in real life, and I think some of this is transferred into our excitement for the Christmas event. When the event does come around, it spurs on Christmas spirit inside us as we go through the event with our friends at our sides and a smile on our face. The Christmas event more than any other helps to unite the RuneScape community.
Yet, sometimes the holiday event leaves a bitter taste as we've spent the past half an hour battling through the sea of RuneScape players to complete it. The problem with everyone being anticipatory when it comes to the holiday event is that everyone wants to play it right when it comes out. This is a problem for all updates but one I find to be far more relevant when it comes to holiday events. Such as with this year's event, it becomes practically a nightmare to play. You spend ages standing around amidst swarms of RuneScape players and Imps shouting at your computer screen: "I ALREADY TALKED TO EVERYON- oh wait I didn't see him, those guys were standing on him..." The Christmas event doesn't always bring out the collaborative spirit in people, also. You can stand around asking for help and nobody will answer your questions because they're too busy doing it themselves. It seems that it's not only Scourge who has a lack of Christmas Cheer.
Of course, you can't really blame Jagex for this. They've crafted this beautifully designed and well thought out event and the RuneScape Community runs in like a bull in a China shop and tears through it all. This is pretty much what the community is. Unless it gives some sort of awesome reward then don't bother, and if you do bother rush through it as fast as you can so you can get back to grinding. It's not the best of perspectives on the community, yet I still hold some hope that we aren't at a total loss.
And just to end, I hope you all have a wonderful holidays and best wishes for 2010!