Flee while you still can! It's a feeling that must've crept up the spine of each and every RuneScape player at some point in their careers. And why shouldn't you quit RuneScape? Why shouldn't you get those final levels, screenshot your achievements, and log out for the last time?
Those achievements, the thing that the vast majority of the playerbase play for these days, are all that seem to matter these days. One need only look at the difference in participation in Holiday or Community events, Quests, Minigames, etc, and specifically look between situations where there are rewards to be had and where there are not.
And yet, none of your accomplishments mean much to anyone anymore. When was the last Level 99 party you attended? Even if you did attend, I doubt it was as crowded as they once were. This goes for pretty much all accomplishments in the game, save for 200m XP in a few skills.
Face it, with the constant devaluation of just about anything you can achieve (be it cheaters, the lessening of the grind, or simply more and more people doing the same thing), your conquests in RuneScape mean less and less to other people.
A logical result is that people turn ever more inward and play the game solely for themselves, and enjoy their accomplishments by themselves. The game, while still a multiplayer game, is becoming increasingly individualistic.
A symptom of this, for example, can be seen on Tip.it's very own forums, although it’s rife throughout RuneScape. You only need to compare the first page of replies to the last page to see how quickly a well thought-out idea can turn into a trollfest of "I'm right and you're wrong" -type comments, and, in the meanwhile, the original idea is lost almost completely.
But by allowing this type of attitude to flourish, you can clearly see that is the community that we have created all because we so desperately desire some recognition.
It is the same attitude that prompts people to jump to the defence of the army of automatons. Arguments like "they don't affect me" or "it makes my items cheaper" are hard to refute, because they are the truth. But would things be different if we could differentiate in the Highscores or Skillcapes between the hours fished by bots and by humans (see my article two months ago)?
Let me ask a different question. Would you set out today to get 99 Fletching if all you received in return was scorn and accusations that you must have botted those levels? No, you wouldn't. You wouldn't stand for the disrespect and the belittlement of your accomplishment, and would sooner get your fill somewhere else.
I can draw a close comparison with a recent string of events that happened to me in real life.
Nothing calms the mind more than a decision taken and I have recently decided to quit my job after 10 years of service. While I liked the work I was doing, the money and the hours weren't all that great (not enough of either), and on top of that, my boss wasn't the most pleasant to hang around with.
But I did like my co-workers. Some of you may have the luxury of having both, but when you like the work you're doing as well as the people you do it with, the bad money and bad attitude from your boss (he too belittled my hard work) don't bother you so much. Not actually hating to go to work is what kept me from quitting, even though it wasn't all that great. Eventually though, I quit when I got a much better offer at a rival company.
So how does this compare to RuneScape?
The same reason I did not quit my dead-end job is the same one that people don't quit RuneScape. It is their friends and clanmates. These are the people they talk, trade and play with every time they log on, even in times when there is less and less need to actually interact with other people.
And I think Jagex knows this and kept it in mind when they created Clan Support.
Clans are a lot less "fluid" than friends. Friends come and go, but a clan always retains some form of identity for as long as it remains active. Stability also comes from both having to be invited to join as well as automatically being in the chatroom the second you log in. This gives clans a much more prominent presence in your daily RuneScape life, and a much higher incentive to be a part of one.
I will join my new colleague Crocefisso in saying that this might actually be the saviour of RuneScape (or at least the start of a new era), even if it is for a different reason.
There are now more features still "under construction". The west of the Clan Camp features a building site that starts resembling something like a giant portal. If this is the long awaited Clanhall (a POH but made by an entire clan), then a group of friends can cooperate together to create their unique mark on the gameworld.
When you combine all current and possible future features of Clan Support (ranks, stats, unique capes), you can perhaps see how this starts to solve the problem I stated in the first half of my article.
Years of experience with clans has taught me that people who cannot be big themselves tend to join a group to be big with others. Joining a clan and being big with that clan (or even in that clan) will instil that same "achievement feeling" that you no longer get from a new Skillcape.
This might be the reason I do not have a single 99 just yet.