Every time RuneScape receives an update, part of it dies. When this happens there's a chance that someone in the player base of hundreds of thousands mourns this particular loss. Before long, they start wishing that it had remained the same, a condition we've come to recognise as nostalgia.
But before we start longing for what was yesteryear's, there's a whole process that closely resembles the Kübler-Ross model, describing the five stages of grief.
What follows now is a description of each stage, using the Squeal as an example because many of you have or have had strong emotions about, including myself.
The plain refusal to accept the fact that Jagex were now indeed selling chances of winning an XP lamp, items, and cash prizes was short-lived. A simple examination of the facts showed even the most ardent Jagex supporter that they had crossed a line.
But don't forget that right up until that date, we were all in denial. All over the gaming world you'll find that extras to games are sold to raise a bit more revenue. MapleStory, owned by the same people that just invested heavily into Jagex, had seen very similar things happen to it long before you could buy the first spin.
On top of that, the Wilderness and Free Trade had to be closed down at one point because of the financial damage that bots and gold farmers caused to Jagex, only to be reinstated without any significant improvement to solve the problem. The signs were there.
You'd think that this was self-explanatory, but anger comes in many forms. Many people pointed directly at IVP for being the cause of this shift in policy, forgetting those who opened the door to them in the first place. More unjust blame landed on the people who simply took advantage of the opportunity and actually bought spins.
More passive forms of aggression rarely rise to the public eye, but I'm sure that some of you lost your passion for RuneScape, at least for a while. This cold shoulder probably heated up again when the first updates to the SoF were anything but the removal of it.
How many times did you read something like this: "I wouldn't mind the SoF if they did X or Y differently."? Did anyone really think that any of those suggestions offered were going to be considered as an alternative to the way the SoF and its buyable components worked?
Of course not. Jagex took their time to figure out how much money they needed, how to entice people to spend it, and how obtrusive their means could get without alienating everyone from the game altogether. To think of ourselves as a player at that particular negotiating table is ridiculous at best, and infantile at worst.
This is the stage where reality starts to sink in. RuneScape had become a game where you can buy your way to success and awesomeness, and the only question that remained was how far Jagex would actually take this thing. The answer to that came in the form of Solomon's Store and the numerous promotional updates to the Squeal itself.
People then finally came to realise that their beloved game would never be quite the same again, and that they'll have to let go of the past, one way or another. Either they get used to the new situation, or they quit the game altogether.
Here we finally come to terms with reality and adjust to not having a micro-transactions-free RuneScape anymore. We decide to partake in, or ignore the daily yelping popup, but leave it at that.
Judging from the amount of posts about the SoF, I can conclude that only a small minority still oppose it as violently as I once did. I can say with some confidence that the community has accepted the SoF as part of RuneScape reality, and has moved on.
As you can see, the pre-set definitions don't have to be stretched too far to fit how the community reacts to major changes, and how their reactions progress over time.
So what do you think will happen when the new combat system goes live? Let me walk you through these five stages again.
People have been in denial already by opting not to take part in the Beta. Others did fiddle around in it and are now trying to max out their combat levels so that they will never have to use the new system, even though many forms of skilling can be done more efficiently with it.
Jagex used this opportunity to rebalance some of the items to bring them back on par with items of a similar level, and as a result people are lashing out at them for making their Dragon Claws worthless. The attitude from the clan world towards the Single/Multiway toggle for the Wilderness is hostile to say the least.
People will come up with suggestions to make the proverbial medicine go down smoother, but the Momentum ability (designed to mimic the old combat system) might just be the only concession being done by Jagex. So far, the response to complaints about the aforementioned toggle has been nothing but an explanation of what it is.
The depression stage is the one where people will probably learn the most about the new combat system. Killing bosses and quest monsters might only be possible using your many abilities. Realising that this is the only way forward, people will start researching into those abilities themselves and start to get used to the system, finally coming to terms with it.
Almost seamlessly we then slide into the acceptance stage, from which there will be no turning back. Whether liked or not, the EoC encompasses large elements of the game and you'll HAVE to use some part of it eventually.
But we do forget that while people will still talk about the game that they used to know with rose-tinted glasses on, nostalgia is easily confused with refusal to accept the new reality.
So consider yourselves warned; we will see the exact same type of drama when the EoC is going live, although it will probably not be as pervasive as the reaction seen in response to the SoF. Then again, suppose you did take a leave of RuneScape in the year 2012, would you recognise your favourite game?