Shortly after the bot nuke, a forum post by Mod MMG gave us a glimpse of some of their other plans regarding goldfarming and bots, stating that "[They] are also looking at tackling some of the root causes for botting like grind". In addition to being possibly the first admission of the game's design being a cause of botting, it raises a number of questions. Most importantly, what do they plan to do?
Right away, I can think of two kinds of grinding to match two styles of botting: grinding for resources (for the goldfarmers that have caused all of the problems over the past few months, and those of four years ago), and grinding for levels (as normal players have done in almost every game since the dawn of time).
The following is completely fictional and speculative, as well as highly unlikely. Hopefully, it's also entertaining and/or thought-provoking. If not, well, there are other articles.
Fast forward to a few years from now. Though Jagex managed to seriously cripple bots in 2011, they were always one step behind goldfarmers, who, as they did in 2007, began using humans to collect resources. In the summer of 2012, the problem reached its peak, and Jagex realized that the only way to regain control of the game was to rebuild the way it was played. They chose to focus on the way players gathered resources.
It started simply, a new quest in the Miscellania series that allowed players to choose between gathering bones and charms or herblore and summoning secondary ingredients, and an achievement diary reward that gave a boss more generous drops, and noted a few that were used in training. Another update gave an experience bonus to other skills and enhanced the set bonuses that already existed. Jagex admitted that it did nothing about the grind except lessen the time that players had to spend on it, and in fact, many skills now had an over abundance of resources, causing prices to drop on virtually everything.
Of course, with more players reaching high levels in their skills, Jagex realized that there were not enough things to do with them. The first skill-based boss battle was released, more of a puzzle than a fight, and requiring level 80 as its lowest skill. Other bosses soon followed at all other levels, the lowest requiring skills in the low 20s and the highest requiring a team of skilled maxed players. Their rewards ranged from a large amount of resources to unique equipment for every purpose.
Naturally, this did nothing to stop players themselves from botting, and in March of 2016, Jagex released an official RuneScape bot, stating that they wanted to move the game away from requiring levels to requiring skill, and that they'd prefer that players use their bot than one that was potentially malicious. By this point, few people cared. New players embraced it, old players scoffed at the idea. Regardless of their reactions, the game had long since shifted away from levels symbolizing achievement. Players now respected players who wore the rarest equipment from the hardest bosses and quests.
If this happened, would we all still play?