We've had a couple of interesting updates lately that haven't made the front pages. Jagex has apparently decided that, although it's against the rules to deceive other players in order to get their items, luring someone into the Wilderness in order to get those items doesn't count as deception and is thus not illegal. Now most players are smart enough not to fall for that one – but the ones who aren't as knowledgeable about these kinds of things will be some of the most vulnerable players in the game – the younger, newer players. This rule change seems to run counter to Jagex's general policy which seems to be devoted to making the game as "safe" as possible – even when "safety" translates into dumbing the game down and making it less fun for those of us for whom high school is (ancient) history.
A second unannounced update has been yet another revision of Rule 7, part of which reads:
Third party software that displays pages/content from our website(s), and which has RuneScape specific features (i.e. RuneScape toolkits) must not be used to access our website unless that software conforms with all of the other rules, and the following additional rules:So now you know why your stat sigs on the forum aren't working any more.
It must not automatically make repeated page/content requests from our website or otherwise make excessively bandwidth intensive requests from our servers (each page/content request should only be in direct response to a user request each time).
Jagex has also reversed its earlier policy on world switchers – now, apparently any program or utility that allows a user to "bypass the normal navigation of our website to reach the game worlds" is illegal. Third party software "must not contain or acquire direct links to our "Select a world" page, or to our game world pages, or to the RuneScape applet." (Quotes taken from Jagex's Rule 7 on their website and current as of March 7, 2007).
While it is true that dynamic sigs do take up a lot of server bandwidth because they repeatedly access the high score server to update themselves, there are alternatives to banning them. Providing a feed for downloading stats for dynamic sigs, calculators, or other such goodies would have eased the traffic flow (and thus cost) to Jagex's servers while still enabling third parties to offer calculators and sigs for users. Instead of cooperating with the fansites and third-party developers, Jagex has once again apparently decided to go it alone.
I have no idea what's behind these rule changes, but I think there's some wrong-headed thinking going on at Jagex Towers. I suspect they saw the loss in revenue caused by the bandwidth demand of the dynamic sig servers, and the potential loss in revenue caused by third-party users not clicking on all the advertising-bearing pages and came up with a "solution" that covered all the bases. Personally I find it a little frustrating that what's legal one day is illegal the next, while some of the real problems that exist in game – such as autoers – continue unabated. I have no problems accepting a decision once it's made, but once it is, it should stay made. It's the waffling on the issues that is so annoying.
This week's updates weren't all bad though – finally I can mute the login music. Not that I dislike it, it's just that for reasons known only to Jagex, the volume of the login music on my computer was significantly louder than the in-game music or any other music program I use. I'd have been checking my email and listening to iTunes, or watching videos, or something at a comfortable volume, then start up RuneScape only to have my ears blown off by the volume of the login music. And let's face it...the login music isn't atrocious by any means, but to listen to it at a level meant only for heavy metal? Not for this Editor.
Logging in can be a tiresome experience. The way it's set up requires you to select all the parameters every time you start to play, or need to change worlds. Like many things in-game, it doesn't actually have to be that difficult. There's no real reason why the world and detail select screens have to either be so long-winded or require us to re-enter all the details every time – except it got set up that way and now no one's willing to change it. (I strongly suspect that it's set up the way it is because that was the easiest or quickest way to program it, rather than the way that is easiest or quickest for the users.) However, clicks translate into a measurable item that Jagex can use to sell advertising space with, so I don't think we'll see any useful changes to that until the long-promised Jagex client is released, and quite possibly not even then.
For the longest time I've been hoping that one day there'd be an update that would get rid of all the travel dialogues. They've fixed the boat to and from Brimhaven by offering a right-click option to "pay fare", but the really annoying dialogues still remain. I don't mind paying the 5GP to buy a pass from Shantay, but I really resent the fact that I have to go through the whole dialogue about how dangerous the desert is, do I really want to go there, and here's my disclaimer, every single time I go through there. Which has been fairly often of late. Similarly, I could live quite happily without chatting to the various sailors in Rellekka before boarding boats to Miscellania, Waterbirth Island and other such points North. Fair enough the first time, but these dialogues get old really quickly.
Maybe I'm just being a grumpy old you-know-what right now, but it seems to me that for every improvement in the game, we're getting at least as many "dis-improvements". Perhaps I need to find myself a game which functions as intended, because I can't see Jagex moving away from their current course. As time goes by, the game seems to be aimed more and more at younger players. This seems to me to be a rather short-sighted policy...after all, younger players will grow up, and if the game is too easy, they'll move on to other more challenging games. The flip side of the coin is, of course, that the more the game is aimed at younger players, the more Jagex will feel obliged to babysit them. The more protective the game is, the more the players are swaddled from the consequences of their actions, the less fun it is to play. Jagex seems to be determined to control every aspect of the game, which in my opinion, runs counter to the philosophy of RPGs, and that's starting to make for very sanitized and uninteresting gameplay.
Time to lighten up guys. Plant a big noticeboard at the entrance to the game that warns us all that, like life, RuneScape is uncertain. And yes, dangers can and do lurk around every corner. Then let us take our chances and play the game.
Did You Know...
...that you can travel from Shantay's Pass to Port Sarim for free? All you have to do is threaten to kill Shantay and he will imprison you. If you refuse to pay 5gp, he will then whisk you off to the Port Sarim prison, where you can just pick the lock and walk out free as a bird!
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