From the point we first realise that “now” is preceded by “before”, we become aware that we are on a timescale that is both personal and unique, and yet is intertwined with the big flow of history. If we are unaware of that history and the actions behind it, then we know only its mythology, where fact merges into fiction.
The game as it now stands represents the ever-evolving outcome of many years of passionate work; of days, weeks and months of trial and error. It should be self-evident that Runescape has not always been as it is packaged today and that it has passed through many transitions and phases, many of which share apparently little to no resemblance of its current state.
Did you know there were actually 2 versions of DeviousMUD and that only one of them was put online for a short time?
While the current game is the offspring of Runescape Classic, DeviousMUD was the prequel to classic itself. Created and run by Andrew Gower in 1998, (rewritten and revamped entirely in 1999) it turned into Runescape Classic between 1999 and 2000. DeviousMUD was originally intended to be a game in its own right, following in the path of what was then the popular “Multi User Dungeon” genre.
The game itself never really took off and fell short of the expectations it was set out to meet. Although It did contain a trading system, means of talking to other players, some skills, and customisation of one's appearance, you could not level any of the skills, it did not have any playable quests, and there was no way to restore your health.
After a series of tedious and constant tweaks, fixes and additions during past months, on March 28, 1998, Andrew Gower posted the following on his website:
"Fixed some more bugs. I've not got as much done as i would have liked but i'm putting it online anyway..."
A beta-version was thereafter released and remained available to players for about one week via Andrew Gower's personal website. Shortly after, the link to the game was removed, with the vague promise that it would again be made available in a few months time. This never happened and as a result only 6 people are known to have played during the beta period--Andrew and Paul Gower being two of them.
It is because of this, its limited availability, and the fact that it is generally perceived as a precursor to Runescape, that some are keen on playing the game today despite it having been inaccessible for the past thirteen years. Furthermore, only three pictures of DeviousMUD were known to exist for over ten of those thirteen years. It was only during Runefest 2010 that a video of the game running was shown to those who participated.
While completely different the version of Runescape that exists today, several features identify it as a source of inspiration for the future Runescape. The most notable of these was that Varrock, Al Kharid and Port Sarim were all put on the 'to-do' list, yet failed to be included before development of the game ceased.
Here we have, in Andrew Gower's own words, "a map of the world as it will hopefully eventually be".
Click the image for full-size.
RUNESCAPE CLASSIC BEGINS
Did you know that 'Sheep Shearer' is the oldest quest in Runescape? It existed in DeviousMUD aswell, but was only half-complete.
After major changes in every aspect of the game throughout 1999 and 2000, a new version emerged that was completely different from its predecessor. While DeviousMUD had taken seven months of development, this new game had been in the making for two years and built upon the lessons of the past.
Some DeviousMUD features were re-used, some were not. The game boasted close-range and projectile combat, a fully working player chat system and an inventory screen among many other new features. The matter of a name was also an important issue. Exactly how the current name came to be is subject to some speculation. However, one version of the story goes as follows:
Before RuneScape was created, Andrew wanted it to be related to fantasy, so he started writing down a multitude of simple words, such as "magic" and "stone", that could have something to do with fantasy. After he had finished searching for all those words they were inserted into a program which combined all words together in all possible combinations of maximum 2 words. Of course a lot of new words popped up, so he started "the process of elimination" until he only had a few words left. "RuneScape" was one of them.
It was around February of 2000 that several people were invited to test a very early version of what was to become what we know as Runescape Classic. It was a closed beta in which only Lumbridge Castle, a sheep and Bob existed. The Wizard's Tower, Varrock and other NPC's were gradually added, while at the same time, efforts were being made to remedy any flaws and setbacks in the game code itself.
On 5 December 2000, the headline on JAGeX’s website stated "Coming Soon - Runescape - Our massive 3d RPG Game". Mining and Smithing were added as final pre-release features, and roughly one month after the announcement, on January 4th 2001, the game saw its public release. This meant no more stat resets and the game commenced the open-beta phase.
EARLY SKILLS AND INTERFACE
Did you know that Necromancy was the very first name for the Prayer skill?
Upon its release, the backbone of the game consisted of six quests and a little over ten skills. From its inception and continuing throughout 2001, the interface was littered with skills for which there was no possible way of training. Among these, Thieving and Herblaw (now called Herblore) would ultimately find their way back into the game as regular skills.
Quests shared the same interface as the skills and completing them increased one's 'Influence' level. The vast majority of quests released in 2001 were relatively straightforward by today's standards, but the lack of any help system meant even early quests, such as Vampire Slayer, were a real challenge and the first players to complete them were highly regarded. In total, eight new quests were released during the first year.
As you can see in the picture above, there was a feature called 'Hiding'. Its purpose was to make normally aggressive monsters unaggressive, although it was later discarded.
Combat techniques stretched from close-quarter fighting (melee) to a projectile confrontation system (ranged and magic). Melee and ranged combat worked in a very similar fashion to what is known today, albeit with much simpler graphics and animations. A strong contrast existed in terms of Magic and Prayer
Very early on, Magic consisted of two separate skills: GoodMagic and EvilMagic. Each included five unique spells, although none of them was distinctly 'good' or 'evil'. It was possible to fail to cast a spell, upon which no experience would be gained but also no runes used. This was due to the scarcity and relative difficulty of obtaining runes. Additionally, magic and melee could not be used at the same time in a fight which eliminates what we know today as ‘hybriding’.
The first major change in the skill took effect on 24 May 2001, effectively assimilating GoodMagic and EvilMagic into a single skill named 'Magic'. Additional spells were added and players were given the ability to use it during the first three rounds of a melee fight. Interestingly enough, one of the spells added after the 24 May update was 'Bones to Bread', which was later transformed into the current 'Bones to Bananas'.
Another significant spell in the early magic system was called 'Fear'. This was a widely used kill-stealing technique. It was cast on an NPC someone was fighting causing it to flee so that the person who casted the spell would finish off the kill and receive all the experience and spoils.
In its earliest form, it was known simply as 'Necromancy'. To avoid confusion with the Necromancer class, the name was changed and the skill was also divided into PrayGood and PrayEvil, similar to the early divisions in the Magic skill. It lacked any prayers and as a result, any functionality. However, it was trainable by burying regular bones, the only type available at this point.
On 24 May 2001, PrayGood and PrayEvil were united under a single 'Prayer' skill that now enabled players to temporarily cast various effects on their characters. Some of the actual prayers, such as Thick skin and Burst of Strength, were drawn upon from the previous Good and Evil Magic spellbooks.
Crafting and Tailoring
Tailoring existed in the initial layout of skills, yet there was no possibility of leveling it. As the name implies, it was meant to deal with leatherworking and was relatively hard to level because only Gloves, Boots and Chest armour could be crafted--all from regular leather.
It eventually became available to level but was phased out in favour of Crafting. As this new skill was expanded to accommodate jewelry-making on 8 May 2001, it was decided that tailoring abilities should also be assimilated into the Crafting skill. The addition of silver ore in July made it possible to incorporate this as a totally new branch of crafting.
Woodcutting and Firemaking
In the very beginning, woodcutting was done by clicking on the axe and then on the tree you wanted to chop. This was a tedious process as there was also a chance one could fail to cut it, upon which the clicking process had to be repeated (sometimes this needed to be done 10 times for 1 log). The slow rate of obtaining logs was somewhat compensated by a higher experience rate.
A higher level implied a lower chance of failing and more experience per log cut, as there was only one type of wood and axe to work with. Trees came in approximately six graphical variations despite all giving the same type logs when chopped down.
Firemaking shared similarities in that the experience gained also depended on one's level in the skill. The sole purpose of this activity was to light fires on which food could be cooked and to raise one's overall level.
Smithing and Mining
Bronze, iron and steel were the only alloys available and requirements to forge these were 96 smithing for a steel platebody, and 64 smithing for an iron platebody. Mithril and Adamantite were progressively added and new smithing tables to accommodate them were made available on 8 May 2001.
The armour produced from smithing could be wielded by anyone regardless of their level, as there were no requirements to begin with. Defence level became a prerequisite to equipping certain types of armour only after an 8 December 2001 update.
Prior to the 8 May change, Smithing was widely considered as a skill in dire need of change. Evidence of this can be seen from a poll taken just one month earlier on the Tip.it website, in which it was singled out by a landslide of player votes.
Mining was a complementary skill to smithing and, generally speaking, mining the ores was possible before the actual armour sets were released. Mithril and Adamantite minerals have been available since day one, however months passed until the first pieces of those armours came.
Similar to woodcutting, miners had to work with only one type of pickaxe at first, called simply 'pickaxe'. Every single mineable rock had the same color at first, regardless of the ore it held, and as a result it needed to be prospected in order to find out what type of mineral it contained.
Constant feedback from players shaped the mechanics of many skills throughout 2001 and as the underlying concepts and ideas changed, the coming of a new year bore testimony that only a few stones had remained unturned in Runescape’s first year of existence.
Acknowledgements for their direct or indirect contribution go to:
Meili, Everyonedies, Rarez, Djpailo, Hohto, M, Oldfield, Saradomin Mage, Tip.it Archives