Before we start – I’d like to mention that this article isn’t based on the history inside Runescape itself, but rather its beginnings (as the title implies).
We all know everything has a beginning, and RuneScape is no exception. Originally, Andrew Gower had set up a one-man project in 1998 called ‘DeviousMUD’ (with the MUD part standing for: Multi-user dungeon). It was never released to the public and the only player of this version was Andrew himself. The game only had a small bandwidth requirement of 0.3KB a second! It, like its successor, is a psudeo-3D game in which isometric graphics were utilised to create the game world, as the screenshot below presents (one of the rare, but famous, screenshots of DeviousMUD).
A rare picture of RuneTek 1 - a.k.a. DeviousMUD
In 1999, Andrew completely scrapped the game and rewrote the code entirely. This time the game was released to the public in beta form for one week (which explains the very small amount of screenshots!). This version, known as DeviousMUD2, was a lot more updated than its predecessor. DM2 had objects, for example: Weapons and armours etc, it had a quest (note: ‘a quest’. It only had Sheep Shearer for a quest – and it wasn’t even finished!), and most importantly it was multiplayer – interactions, for example trading and talking, became a reality! According to sources, there were only four members of DM: Rab, Lightning, Gugge and Merlin.
Once again, in October 1999, the code was scrapped and Andrew started a rewrite –this time with the assistance of his two brothers: Paul and Ian. At this point, DeviousMUD was entirely scrapped and RuneScape was born. Of course, it wasn’t publically released until the 4th January 2001. This is what is known to us now as RuneScape Classic. Having improved graphics, it still followed the pseudo-3D rule but had been expanded hugely. There was a proper levelling system, armoury and weaponry, holiday events and – most importantly, banks! These updates drew in players from around the world, and a huge community of players took refuge in the online world of Gielinor. On the 27th February, 2002, Jagex introduced the member system in which an optional monthly fee could be paid for an expanded version of the Free game (more quests, areas and items etc.)
A picture of RuneTek 2 - a.k.a. RuneScape Classic
On the 1st December, 2003, a beta of RuneScape 2 was released. Three months later, on the 29th March, 2004, the final version of RuneScape 2 was released. At this point, RuneScape 1 was named ‘Runescape Classic’ and the current version of the game was just named ‘RuneScape’. Finally, RuneScape classic was closed off to new members as of 2th August, 2005, and only open to members who paid for membership and had logged on to RSC at least once (in the prior six months). For the next five years, huge RuneScape engine updates fell quiet – only coming in the form of upgrades that would boost the speed of servers etc.
A picture of RuneTek 3 - a.k.a. RuneScape2
However, on the 1st July 2008, RuneTek (the engine that RuneScape runs on) 4 was released (in the form of a beta). Known to players as RuneScape ‘High Detail’, the update brought a huge graphical upgrade to the entirety of the realm of Gielinor. Fullscreen mode was released; resizable windows – and most importantly; the graphical engine was boosted to an extremely high level. This did mean an increase of polygon count, but the game engine could handle it. This update was only for members. Thirteen days later, on the 14th June, the update was released to the entire RuneScape community.
A picture of RuneTek 4/5 - a.k.a. RuneScape HD
Finally, in 2009, RuneTek 5 – the current version of RuneScape, was released. This version incorporated all of the features – fullscreen, resizable windows, fogging and sky colours, path blending, particle effects and high-detailed water. But it doesn’t stop there – Jagex have promised a realistic bloom detail (intelligent rims around bright objects that create a realistic look), skyboxes (2D boxes in a noclip area that creates a realistic, bigger environment) and water effects - for example water ripples and reflections.
So, after a 12 year hike from DeviousMUD to RuneScape HD (RT5), you can see that RuneScape is, and has been growing, continuously in size and graphical levels. Like I mentioned earlier – everything has a beginning… and everything has an end. Where will RuneScape be in another twelve years?