It's been a rough six months for a loyal 'Scaper. The lack of content in updates reached its climax with a month that amounts to two small fixes and the introduction of the largest overhaul since the shift to RuneScape 2, while the Squeal of Fortune reared its ugly head with several new discontinued cosmetic items, one of which is tradeable, and to top it all off we still haven't seen a real quest in months. Still, if you're an optimist, or even so jaded that you've come full circle back into optimism like I have, there have been some silver linings between all of the doom and gloom.
One of this forum's favorite hobbies is reminiscing about how much better things were back a year or so after they started playing (Usually 2004-2007). It's important to note that most of the time, this involves ignoring many of the game's flaws at the time; botting was as big an issue as it is today and affected the average player far more because of the limited amount of profitable resources to harvest, and combat was even less unbalanced than it is today, dominated by ice barrage and dragon daggers, and many of the same complaints as today.
Where am I going with this? RuneScape is like any other series: fans complain about the current state of the game and glorify its past, though in this case the game's current owners seem to be actively painting targets on themselves, based on how many old stances and policies that they've overturned since taking control. It's especially unfortunate since there's so much potential for them to make genuinely positive changes to the game by doing some things that Jagex under the Gowers would have been unwilling to do.
Let's take a look at something that many players have been curious about for a long time: what if, instead of the weekly updates that Jagex has become (in)famous for, they took a few months off to put out a large, well-polished update. It's easy enough to see that the "Evolution of Combat" is the answer to that question, and the introduction of a (nearly) open beta and plenty of pre-release information is a refreshing change from the secrecy of the past. If done well, this will allow players to have a say in the development of the game and its mechanics; a welcome change from updates in the past, where Jagex continually proved how little they understood of their own game. They still have a lot of respect to win back from the players that they've spent the last few months alienating, but this could be a step in the right direction.
Of course, the scale of such an update leads to another problem: players are still going to expect semi-weekly updates even if most of their developers are busy. This is where the Squeal of Fortune comes in as it's comparatively easy to make new items for it that will distract players for another week of minimal new content. More importantly for Jagex, it's profitable. Though there's no defending the horrendous way it was introduced, justified, and sprinkled with more updates than every other feature of the game, it can't be denied that it's working. More money going into the company could mean internal fixes, which could possibly mean an end to the terrible customer support system that we've had to endure for years. The recent gravestone glitch is a prime example of this in action. Though nothing came of it, the promise of an investigation and returning lost items is far more than we've ever received from them in the past.
Hopefully, this is the kind of thing that we see more of in the future. It's the kind of progress that a player five years ago could have only dreamed of, and though it's been a rough six months, there's a chance that it could get better as the game, and people running it, grow into their roles. It doesn't have to suck.
Wait! I shouldn't have said that!