As many players assuredly remember, last weekend saw Jagex's (not-entirely) surprise bonus XP weekend. Despite the promise of free bonuses for all (recall F2P had a 20% bonus), some players had reservations about it. Primarily, there was the issue in fundamental changes to the mechanics. During previous weekends, one would start with a higher multiplier at the beginning, which would dissipate after around seven hours. However, this weekend members could get double experience the whole time, up to forty-eight hours. I'm not endorsing it, but a friend of a friend went to sleep after forty-one hours straight awake.
Beyond the increased duration, there were other changes, such as letting Summoning have a double XP bonus, where it was effectively excluded in the past. One might ponder the significance of such a change. After all, it's just one skill. The answer lies in how Summoning is trained, or rather, how it's not trained. Think of a skill like Attack. One buys a weapon, some food, swigs a few doses of potions and kills to one's heart's content. Sure, they might cost a bit more, but obtaining them is not untenable. If one has the cash, one can purchase thousands of pieces of food in an instant.
On the other hand, Summoning requires an untradeable component: charms. All the money in the world can't buy charms. The only way to get them is by killing NPCs in members' worlds. One must either kill them oneself or obtain them via loot share, but by no method do they come raining down from the sky. In fact, they are usually obtained one by one. Furthermore, the act of actually using the charms and extracting XP is nearly instantaneous in comparison. From this perspective one can see that many hours normally used to collect charms can be saved, and one still has time left over for other skills. In terms of Summoning alone as a skill, this is unprecedented and arguably as broken as introducing bonus XP in the first place.
Perhaps related to this issue was the fact that the servers were not running at full performance. I was on a free-to-play world the entire time and am happy to report that I personally experienced no degradation in performance. However, for many of my P2P friends, the story of the weekend was one step forward, two steps lag. In fact, even the passage of in-game time slowed down-for example, trees from farming that were supposed to take 15 hours of game time to grow may have taken a few extra hours to be ready. Note that the in-game passage of time for most events is not synced to a real world clock. Every game tick (every .6 seconds) a whole bunch of computations are carried out, and one tick of game time is added. Presumably there was some delay, causing each tick to expand a little. The irony is that Jagex released a video a day prior with a few tips, one of which advised to time Farming runs properly to maximize XP over the weekend.
Jagex did not offer much of a solution in terms of lag, nor did it improve much over the course of the weekend. Had I been a paying player, I would have been rather unhappy with this response. Admittedly, there was probably nothing Jagex could have done over the weekend to improve it, but some affirmation of the problem earlier in the forums would have calmed people down. After a while, a stickied thread from an FMod appeared, either from their own volition (FMods can and do sticky threads subject to some approval process) or delegated by Jagex. The advice it contained was mainly a couple of technical fixes, as well as the suggestion to train in a citadel world for less lag. It was a nice effort but mainly rehashing of what players had discovered on their own.
However, I do give Jagex credit for admitting the problem Monday, albeit with a very positive spin, and for their promise to upgrade their servers. Everyone can make a mistake — the distinction is how the relevant party attempts to fix them.
As a matter of fact, there was one more hang-up. Jagex posted a forum thread in recent updates an hour early stating that bonus XP had started. Allegedly there were even e-mails sent out that the bonus XP had started. Yet to many people's disappointment, it had not. One might ask what the big deal about waiting an extra hour is. Recall I mentioned trees earlier: it takes many hours for them to grow, and harvesting them an hour early negates the hours one waited for them, nerfing potential extra XP. Instead of posting clarification, Jagex not only hid the thread from public view, but subsequently un-hid it with all of the responses intact at the proper time. Maybe this was supposed to be the scary part of scary bonus XP weekend.
Aside from a couple of hiccups, bonus XP weekend was rather enjoyable. It marked one of the few times Jagex has extended an olive branch to F2P in recent memory. I saw a lot of friends online a little more, their only motivation was the extra experience. Will Jagex do this again? Time will tell, but remember: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. And if you were disappointed by this weekend, cheer up and have some of my leftover Halloween candy.