The name Jiblix never used to have much significance. This changed on 15 August 2011, a date that will live on in RS infamy like 6 June 2006, when the former Player Mod posted a video on YouTube – ‘Is this the good deal?’ – that promptly saw him stripped of his crown. The video and its repercussions set the entire RS community alight with fury. The reaction on the RSOF was instant and furious; threads descended into trolling and were promptly shut. This only made Jagex the target of more criticism, as endless comparisons to dictatorships and complaints about ‘freedom of speech,’ Jiblix’s and the players,' were made. Jiblix has become the second RS player ever, after Durial321, to attain infamy for a single act. But whereas Durial321 become known for ruthless and opportunistic bug exploitation, Jiblix’s video has been portrayed as a brave stand for players against a ruthless and profiteering developer, and Jiblix’s subsequent dismissal has led to his martyrdom. From Jagex’s perspective, the entire incident is a PR disaster on an unprecedented scale. There have been spamming riots in Falador and the RSOF in protest. Inevitably, such wide-scale exposure and commentary leads to misrepresentation.
In his first interview, Jiblix speaks to the Tip.It Times about the truth behind the video, Jagex, botting, his new found status as a martyr, and even sheds some light on just who Jiblix, both the player and the person, really is.
Part I: On Jagex
Q: First and foremost, I think we’d all like to know for certain why you were de-modded.
A: I was told it was because I went out of my way to discourage players from voting for RuneScape in the Golden Joystick Awards with the "Is this the good deal?" video. They also mentioned that they want their mod teams moving in the same direction as them and that having a split within the team is damaging to mods and the community.
I could not appeal it because they recently changed the de-modding procedure. All decisions are now final. I guess the irony with all this is that the mod teams were already split up prior to these events and that wasn't my fault. When they removed my mod status, it actually united a lot of players. The number of players who actually had a problem with what I did was insignificant to the amount of players who actually supported me. A lot of that support actually came from the mod teams themselves.
Q: Many people believe your famous video was a brave stand against Jagex. Is this how you intended it to be, or were your ambitions a little less 'heroic?'
A: It was quite the opposite, actually. The video was intended to bring awareness of the game's fundamental problems to GJA voters so that they could cast an educated vote. Just about everyone who plays RuneScape is aware that botting is a significant issue. We see and hear about it all the time but we never really see it in action like this. While the video may have discouraged a lot of players to not vote for Jagex, the bottom line is that those who watched it, came to those conclusions on their own.
My ambitions were to show players how problematic botting really is in P2P, and especially F2P worlds. Members rarely visit the free worlds, and as a result are unaware of the current situation. To be honest, I thought I did a horrible job in doing so. What you saw in the video was actually a small fraction of the issue itself.
Yeah, It was a bold move for me to make this video, but I was willing to put it all on the line to do what I thought was in the best interest of the community and of the game. So I made a video in response to the announcement. I never told anyone what to vote. I merely gave my opinion and showed clips of their own game. It is what it is and if they, or anyone, had trouble believing what they were seeing, they could just check out the locations showed in the video and see for themselves - it is not like those bots just left and went away anyway.
Q: How do you feel about the masses of people who are martyring you and making threads and posts on the RSOF in your name?
A: It is important to remember that this is not about me or what happened with the moderator status on my account. This is about the frustrations many players share. There is nothing new in what I said that hadn't been mentioned a thousand times before by many other players. I think what made this situation different this time around is that a lot of players had reached their breaking point with Jagex.
Q: Do you feel particularly strongly that RS today is, on balance, any better or worse than it was prior to the reintroduction of free trade and PVP wilderness?
A: I feel RuneScape has become a lot worse since the reintroduction of FT/W. I was against the idea when it was first proposed by Mod MMG himself in his friends chat a week before the actual announcement. In a perfect game where you could have such a thing without any of the negatives that came with it, most of us would have no problem with FT/W returning. Unfortunately with a game like RuneScape, it isn't possible to have these things without the mass influx of cheaters.
Players voted for the return of FT/W under the basis that Jagex could handle these issues. They gave us their word and also mentioned that they had better technology to tackle bots and other cheaters. It's been well over 6 months since the reintroduction to FT/W and I have yet to see any real progress being made that indicates the bot problem is under control.
Q: Since the return of bots and real-world trading, how do you see the future of RS?
A: The future looks very bleak. There is a lot of dissent between the community and Jagex. It wouldn't phase me if a good chunk of veteran players simply quit because of the frustrations they hold. I know it's been something that I have considered doing as well.
Q: On the issue of bots, do you feel Jagex could be doing more or less than they currently are?
A: It’s not so much of an issue of doing more or less, the problem is actually not knowing what they are currently doing because ICU keeps it all under wraps. There is a lack of communication on their part and a lot of players are finding it difficult to trust them to be doing the right things.
I don't need to see them in-game banning bots (which by the way happens to be a very ineffective method) or to see what tools they have in place to combat bots. I want to see results. Every time I visit F2P or just play in P2P it honestly seems to be getting worse. I don't expect them to wave a magic wand and make this problem go away. I do on the other hand expect them to communicate with their players and let us know of the progress being made. You can't expect players to remain calm and not rant about the issue when we are mostly being kept in the dark.
After being told to blatantly misguide their players with that whole stat reset ordeal (we were told to tell players to flag this as a bug report), I really did find it hard to trust them. The community despises macros more than Jagex could ever fathom. If they truly hated them as much as us, for all intents and purposes they wouldn't have compromised their zero-tolerance policy for cutting loss of profits.
Q: Following on from that [the above q], what is your view on some of Jagex’s more controversial recent updates, e.g. the Refer a Friend Programme, Vanity Items?
A: These days it feels like all they really care about is money. I do understand the importance of marketing and the need for them to stay competitive but these updates are having an adverse affect on the community as a whole. The community is extremely frustrated with the way Jagex is commercializing RuneScape. Devaluing XP for the purpose of monetary gains is one of the most outrageous thing they have done. This wasn't the first time they've done it either. When these updates start chipping into the enjoyment of the game (and they have), it becomes a huge problem.
Those days of playing a great game and having fun were ruined by the marketing ploys, bots and empty promises that their CEO made to their players (referring to The Future of RuneScape news article).
Q: Though you’ve voted against Jagex’s receiving a third Golden Joystick and announced this very publicly, could you see any reasons why Jagex should get it?
A: Not this year, especially for this specific award. F2P is unplayable in its current state and a lot of players are finding it extremely difficult to have fun these days. Don't forget that Mod MMG said this in The Future of RuneScape article he wrote when he became the CEO, "If you can't enjoy the free game in its own right then we're not doing our jobs properly." A lot of players can't enjoy F2P at this moment in time.
Part II: On Moderating
Q: Some say great power comes with great responsibilities; how applicable do you feel that is to RS moderation?
A: Not very applicable, Uncle Ben. ;)
Q: In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of Jagex's current moderator system?
- Interacting with the community and trying to make it a better environment for everyone. Even though PMods have a limited positive influence on the game.
- Making new friends and being a part of a team with some really awesome players who care a lot for the players.
- Slightly improved communication with Jagex's Community Management team.
- Both mod teams [forum and player mods] don't have adequate support.
- Indirect association and assumed agreement with Jagex's stance on issues perceived as disappointing to the player base with almost no say on those decisions before or after they are stated.
- Treated as employees and largely expected to post in-line with what they say as a company.
- Lots of arguing and tension between other FMods and Mentors.
- FMods take a lot of the heat for Jagex.
- There is a huge split amongst the FMod team. I guess the easiest way to describe it is a smaller team within the 'team.'
Q: If you were in-charge of overhauling the moderator system, exactly what changes, if any, would you make to it?
A: I would remove them both and I'm not just saying that because I got de-modded. Player Mods no longer have the ability to protect the community to the same extent as they once were able to. Ad-bots, for example, are unstoppable in the sense that if a single PMod were to clear up the G.E, it would only be a matter of minutes before more came and took the muted ad-bots' place. This has a lot to do with Jagex actually removing the tutorial. It's now easier than ever for cheaters and botters to get right back into the game. There is also a limit on how many mutes a PMod can issue within a certain amount of time. So in essence, there is little sense in having the current system in place if it has no power to act on behalf of the community.
FMods should not be looked at in the same light as JMods. This expectation that they must behave in a similar manner because of the colour of their post is ridiculous. They are players first and foremost and above all volunteers, not Jagex employees. If Jagex feels their players look at FMod posts different from a normal user, they should make it clear that they shouldn't be viewed any differently.
I always thought there was more to being a mod than modding. I saw the role more as trying to improve and help move the community forward rather than sitting around in Forum Help, dealing with reports. The new head of CM expects more FMods to do more modding because apparently not many mods are actually modding and to them, it defeats the object of being a mod (was mentioned at a 'surgery').
For the past few months I had barely used my mod tools at all, yet I was actively posting on the forums. I felt used in a way (which is why I stopped). There were times (a long time ago) when struggling JMods with huge workloads would come into game or post in the hidden forums, asking for help with Forum Help because they were working alone. I was approached on several occasions in-game and literally pulled out of the game to go help them with that thread because it was part of their job (back then - now it's more of an FMod initiative). This happened quite a lot to be honest and I felt bad because I didn't like seeing friends struggle with their work. I spent hours upon hours managing that thread and not once did I ever complain. That's when it really started to feel more like a job rather than a volunteer role.
It shouldn't feel like a job when you're a volunteer. Some mods enjoy spending time in Forum Help and some don't. I really didn't like it after that - so I never went into that thread again or did much modding.
I enjoyed spending my time constructing threads. Some were written with the help of other mods. With respect to the forum rules, a lot of mods are capable of writing very constructive threads. The reason why you don't see it too often is because some of them are afraid of the repercussions of posting anything perceived as negative toward Jagex.
Q: Would you return to being a Player & Forum Moderator if Jagex were to ask you back?
A: I think what players have to understand is that moderating in itself has changed, not the people who moderate. The changes in their style of management are no longer the same. The small community management team can't work with a vast amount of moderators to manage. In short, no. I wouldn't because its not the same environment. That isn't to say that others wouldn't enjoy the challenge but they would know little of the old system and the amount of communication.
Q: How was your overall experience of being a Player/Forum Moderator? Did you feel like it was a good use of your time?
A: The experience was alright. It wasn't all bad. I was at one point given a big ticket (one of two mods) for being one of their most dedicated FMods/PMods back in 2010. The trip was great fun and I met some really awesome people while overseas. I probably wont ever have the opportunity to be in a Jagex boardroom with Andrew Gower and Mark Gerhard again. Shame no one really had any questions to ask when we went to visit, except for that one fansite guy with pages filled with questions ;)! I'm sure this year there will be more to talk about…
Initially yes, because the procedures we were implementing directly improved the game for many players. Once those rules became diluted, players became somewhat confused by our responsibilities. Then, with the mass moderating and self nominations (are you community focused), many players felt it was more of a trophy rather than a position of trust.
Part III: Personal Interests
Q: You’re 99 in pretty much every skill; do you have a particular favourite?
A: Fishing – I don’t really train it much these days though.
Q: Aside from this, what other things do you enjoy doing in-game?
A: Just chatting with friends these days.
Q: And outside of RS how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: What is this outside you speak of? ;) I’ve been a bit busy with Uni and school st00f lately. When I’m not in classes, I’m usually chillin’ with friends, improving my leet programming skillz, sleeping or eating pizza. :P
Q: This may sound trivial, but do you have any particular favourite films, books, games, etc?
A: Favorite film – Inception or The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan movies are FTW)
Favorite book – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Favorite game – Club Penguin. Loljk - I’m an avid fan of the Elder Scrolls series. I’m looking forward to Skyrim and also Battlefield 3.
Part IV: Closing Questions
Q: In regards to RS, do you intend to stick around in the community? If so, what are your plans?
A: I lost a lot of respect and trust for Jagex when they decided to put making as much money as possible before having fun. Mod MMG said (from The Future of RuneScape news announcement), "one of our fundamental philosophies is that having fun is more important to us than making as much money as possible." A lot of us aren't having fun anymore and it has to do with the new management behind Jagex.
I will never invest my money in any future products that Jagex either develops or publishes. I can't trust that company name anymore because it means nothing now. They don't provide quality services for their products or treat their players with the respect they truly deserve. Look at FunOrb for example and how they treated those players. That isn't right at all.
If you compare Jagex to their competitors and the services those guys offer, it really puts them to shame. Most other companies in this business would encourage and aggressively go after feedback to help improve their products or company. Those other companies actually have decent PR and take the time to communicate with their players. The problem with Jagex is that those who manage the company don't see this as the problem that it really is. They don't fully understand where the community stands either.
After playing RuneScape for so many years and investing so much time and money into the game, it really is a difficult decision to let go and move on. At the same time I don't support these radical changes to the game. It makes no sense continuing to voice my concerns and write in-depth constructive threads on these matters when Jagex continues to move in this direction regardless of the backlash from their players. I'll most likely unsubscribe and quit sooner or later (at this rate - a lot sooner than later).
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to say to people that hasn't been mentioned yet?
I'd like to take the time to thank all those who have supported me. The support has been overwhelming and it really does mean a lot to me that so many players do care and actually understand the issues on hand.
Many players that I have spoken to say Jagex has changed for the worst. In all of this it's worth remembering that the community is not one opinion but many. Also it is important to recognize that Jagex is not the same company it was when it first started out. The question is not about them changing for the worst. The question that needs to be asked is, can Jagex afford to continually change like this without large parts of their veteran community being engaged with its new direction? If Jagex seeks to only gain new membership and their veteran players become disillusioned, then it will continue to change for the worse.
They basically have a difficulty in focusing on the demographic and its diversity. Instead they leap from one area of perceived importance to another rather than allowing continuity in all areas of the game. So for example, in the early years they had a captive audience in that everyone was chasing and establishing themselves. Now you have an expansive top heavy maxed 130+ set who want more and dislike the focus on fast skilling feeling as it undermines the game against a set of a new player base who want fast skills and are not interested in the game grind.
They have developed but because they seem unable to focus on more than one area of their player demographic at a time, they have lost touch with their player base as a whole. They prefer only to listen to positive feedback and market themselves on this basis. They fail to see that for their veteran player base, this new direction is what makes players switch off to the game. It's perfectly fine to want new players but not at the expense of what their community expects of the game.
Like most people I know, I've spent a vast amount of time playing the game. I have asked myself the question: "Is it because I have outgrown the game as an individual?" I don't think so. Like many players, I would love another 10 years of being able to play RuneScape, to enjoy the updates, to interact with the community and to support Jagex. I would not follow them blindly though. There has to be a reestablishment of trust between Jagex and its player base. At present, they have lost their integrity and what they stood for as an independent games company.
Jagex can be proud because they did lay the foundation for this strong community that believes in very definite rights and wrongs. Although it has caused much discussion and debate, it shouldn't be seen as a community in crisis, but more so as a community that has grown up, evolved, and ultimately found its voice.
Thank you very much for your time, Jiblix.