Warning: This article is quite lengthy, but I would greatly appreciate it if you read through the entire thing.
There exists a specific concern that nearly all of us RuneScapers can keenly relate to. No, I am not referring to outrageous controversies such as Jagex's recent capitalist trend. I want to step back from all that drama for a moment and focus on the actual game itself.
In fact, the issue is quite simple: Boredom. I find that many of my fellow RuneScapers are simply bored of the game itself. Of course, schemes such as the infamous Squeal of Fortune certainly play a part in deterring people from the game (see: Zarfot), but those flagrant fiascos are not the only thing keeping potential customers away. Indeed, many people simply tire of the game over time and lose their enjoyment. I would even argue that this is the core of the players who quit - disliked updates are just the tipping point that push the hesitating player who is already on the brink.
This is nothing new, for humans have a notoriously low attention span. We eventually tire of everything, and RuneScape would be considered borderline magical if it never lost its fun. However, I would like to examine the specific phenomenon of boredom in RuneScape simply because it seems to be taken to an extreme. Notably, RuneScape seems to be on the especially boring side - the PvP system is lacking, the skills are mostly repetitive and mindless, and quests can only get you so far. I've heard many complaints about needing to train Runecrafting or Agility, although he/she vehemently despises that skill. It's almost a self-imposed chore.
Okay, so I've made my point: RuneScape is boring for many people. Obviously, this statement is far from the truth - you and I, my friend, we're on a RuneScape fansite! If RuneScape wasn't fun in the slightest, we would not be here at all. No, whether we would like to admit it or not, RuneScape was an awesome, fun game for every single one of us at one point. So, this begs the question: what exactly happened?
To answer this question, I had to delve into my own, personal RuneScape experience. The answer I received is but one of many, and keep in mind that it may differ drastically from your own answer. Today, I will talk about a crucial element which made RuneScape fun for me: Gameplay Immersion.
Think back to the time when you first started your character. Judging by what people seem to say, this time of innocent enjoyment is one that multitudes of RuneScapers long for. I don't know about you, but I highly enjoyed this era of my RuneScape life. Saving up for full steel and killing Delrith? Hell yeah, that was the best! It is said that this age of innocuous exposure to the world of RuneScape is enjoyable because of the simple, carefree nature of it. Though this plays a part as well, I would like to point to a different explanation: it was the Gameplay Immersion.
What does this mean? It means that I wasn't that nerdy boy clicking away at his computer. No, I was the fierce knight, donning my armor and exploring a vast world in search of adventure. With a flourish, my sword pierces the foul creature and it leaves behind a shiny pair of platelegs for me to use! This is the Gameplay Immersion, this is when RuneScape lives up to its MMORPG title (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).
Does this mean that you have to enjoy role-playing in order to enjoy RuneScape? Absolutely not. I am not particularly fond of role-playing myself, but I had a childhood filled with childlike antics. In other words, I had fantastic visions of knights or, perhaps, dreams of powerful magical spells. I had an imagination and I used it often. RuneScape is simply a medium of sorts; a medium through which I can express these pent-up fantasies.
Did you enjoy that classic quest, Monkey Madness? I certainly did, and I enjoyed it more than any other quest. While I was playing through that quest, I was transported off to a distant island with strange, furry inhabitants. Danger was present around every corner, and I truly felt like I was on a perilous, daring mission. Turn up your in-game music (when was the last time you did that?), close all other tabs and windows, remove outside distractions, and give it a go - lose yourself among the devious primates.
How about Dungeoneering? The diverse skill received numerous criticisms at its controversial release: Dungeoneering is a minigame, the rewards are too expensive, I'm anti-social and don't want to be forced into a group, free players get an unfair XP cut. I understand all of these criticisms, but let's focus on the actual game for a second. On the first day, I let myself ignore everything and I certainly did not consult a guide. I grabbed my friend and off we went, figuring out everything as we went along.
Wow, it was a blast! We lost ourselves for hours, trying out the new experience. Granted, Dungeoneering is a rather enjoyable skill (Kudos to Jagex), but something tells me that it was more than just the well-planned design of the skill. I suddenly felt all my old, childhood urges of adventure come back, for nothing triggers them better than exploring uncharted territory, fighting through those mysterious, underground dungeons… Stuck with one of my closest friends in an underground dungeon filled with hostile monsters, having no supplies except the ones we earned ourselves - it was truly my childhood fantasy brought to existence (or as close to existence as feasible).
This is what I conclude: my enjoyment of the game (and perhaps yours too, maybe we share the same view point) has waned because I no longer feel the Gameplay Immersion. I'm a quest junkie, and quests do have some of that immersion. However, looking at quest guides, for example, adds an impersonal feel to quests which deteriorates this immersion. Also, simply playing the game and becoming used to what was once new and unexplored slowly detracts from the immersion which this game can offer you.
I believe that Jagex should consciously try to add content that can achieve this feeling. It's certainly no easy task, but there are a few elements which should help: a completely new region, preferably cut off from the main RuneScape world (hello Eastern Lands?), a sense of mystery or danger for the added sense of thrill, and relatively simple gameplay. Why is simple gameplay needed? The idea of simple gameplay is to encourage people to try things for themselves, without the additional help of Internet resources or other hints or guides which can cheapen the experience. Voice acting is also another step towards this end.
Overall, the goal of this article was to analyze a potential factor which leads to enjoyable gameplay. It may not be the same for all of us, but it was certainly a significant portion of enjoyment for me. This has applications as well: if you're bored and can relate with what I have written, try doing something completely new and fresh. You may find the experience of immersion entirely worth it. We become bored of our games in time, but we do not easily tire of our vividly exciting imaginations.