RuneScape depresses me sometimes, not because of the content or even the players, it depresses me because I can’t predict its future. I don’t know what is going to happen to this game over the next few years and I worry about its ‘death’ – sometimes I even wish for it. How long can a game drag its feet in the mud before someone says enough is enough and puts it out of its misery?
I haven’t been the only one worried about RuneScape this week. The ex-Player Mod & Forum Mod Jiblix made and posted a video on YouTube called ‘Is this the good deal?’ which simply illustrates the insane number of goldsellers and botters that plague our P2P & F2P game. The point behind this video was to make a stand as to why Jagex shouldn’t get the Golden Joystick award that they’ve been nominated for once more. Jiblix was then de-modded for making the video because of the way it was discouraging players to vote for Jagex in the award.
Whether or not you do think they deserve it is obviously your own opinion, I still enjoy the game despite the issues it has and I still (try to) support Jagex where I can, but the video is very powerful and one of the most poignant messages that it holds is what new F2P players see when they register for the first time. They’re dumped at Lumbridge Castle and all of a sudden there’s spam text everywhere advertising gold selling and bots… what sort of first impression is this? How can we be confident in RuneScape’s future when this goes on?
Well the matter of whether or not bots will ruin the game isn’t one I want to address, so let’s leave it aside, because when you do – I am pretty confident in RuneScape’s future. Remember when you started playing. It was most likely when you were a young teenager, maybe it’s because your friends were playing, and maybe you spent lunchtimes in the school library or computer room playing RuneScape with your mates. You were probably F2P for a long time, making money through the time honoured tradition of mining, smelting and smithing your own ores then selling them to the General Store or GE. Was that fun? Because it’s the same thing that new members now are doing and they’re finding it fun too, not all kids these days are solely interested in Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, the classic MMO still has its place in gaming somewhere – although it might not be quite as popular as it once was.
For example, my 11 year old brother recently started playing and every so often would come into my room and tell me excitedly that he got level 15 in mining and that he was going to get level 15 in fishing and cooking next. I showed him how to do magic and he spent all night training his way to get level 25 for Varrock Teleport. When I showed him the video and asked what he thought his only comment was that it was annoying how they spammed his chat box when he was at the GE and that he didn’t even know what they were for.
Of course, this is just one example, but I bet if you talked to a lot of newbie players you’d get a similar reaction. When you start a new game do you use cheats straight away? Or do you actually try to accomplish things by yourself? New players don’t need RWT just like they don’t need membership in their first few weeks. I don’t want to say much about the ‘Refer a Friend Programme’ other than it seems like Jagex has forgotten their own rules: ‘we don’t want you to be able to buy your way to success in RuneScape’ and ‘We feel your status in real-life shouldn’t affect your ability to be successful in RuneScape.’
Despite all the damage that bots & RWT do to the economy and higher level game, the fundamentals that govern your early days of the game simply haven’t changed, and I don’t want them to. Mining your way to your first 1k gp is like a rite of passage, having to carefully decide when you want to go the GE to sell your things because it’s a long walk from Lumbridge is a part of early gameplay which botters aren’t going to stop. There’s no profit in mining Tin & Copper. In fact, I guess the only problem they cause is that Cows & Chickens in Lumbridge, even on the least populated F2P worlds, are packed to the rafters.
When you get beyond your early formative weeks on RuneScape is when you start to grasp how big the game is and that it does have many flaws, and that’s when the problem of bots starts to become relevant. But as a new player it doesn’t matter to you that bots are devaluing the achievement of a 99 – even level 40 seems high to you!
So what this boils down to is that Jagex have failed to cater for the higher level player. I don’t mean with new content (we’ve had plenty of that over recent years - some of it more successful than others) I mean that they’ve failed to cater for us by not providing a balanced and stable game in many ways – how useful the different combat styles are, how processed items are worth less than their raw materials, how the economy falls victim to bots and manipulation.
This article is not about how Jagex have failed or how the game is doomed, because they haven’t completely failed and the game isn’t quite on the path to oblivion - it can be saved with the right things done by Jagex. This is just about how Jagex have failed some of us, and how we can be so caught up in our own problems that we forget not everyone is worried about the number of bots at boss monsters.
How do Jagex fix this? I wish I knew and more importantly, I wish they knew. I wish they knew how to fix their own game. I am hesitant to say they’re making it worse, sometimes they unintentionally do, but I like to think they’re trying. There is one, radical, solution that’s pretty easy to see. Turn back the clock, get rid of Free Trade & PvP again and next time you try to bring it back again, Jagex, actually have a strategy in place to deal with bots. One that works this time. Because if you keep this up, failing to get rid of bots and pushing out more and more ‘programmes’ and ‘offers’ bordering on microtransactions, nobody is going to be voting for you to get a Golden Joystick next year - I promise you.