Recently, one of the most comprehensive, ground breaking updates to date has hit RuneScape with full force. Not only has the entire system of combat changed dramatically, this update remains pervasive in nearly every aspect of RuneScape including Skilling, Quests, Distractions and Diversions, and more. However, a game does not remain at the top of its industry by remaining static and lifeless. No, just as the species of this Earth must constantly adapt to their surroundings, games such as RuneScape must continually change in order to meet the shifting demands of their consumer base. The Evolution of Combat was an enormous change, but it certainly will not be the last of its kind. So, this begs the underlying question: What's next?
More obviously, we can see the basic ongoing shifts towards better gameplay. The graphics team is producing higher quality artwork with each passing update, and their graphical improvements to old areas of Gielinor are certainly appreciated. Hopefully, RuneScape will outgrow its outdated reputation of being "that game with terrible graphics". Also, Jagex has dutifully plugged up many gaps in skills from Overloads and Turmoil to Player Owned Ports. All of this leads to a more complete, fulfilling gameplay experience. Perhaps we will eventually see the day where every skill has content all the way until level 99.
Another system which potentially requires another drastic overhaul is the entire concept of Skilling. Nowadays, many gaming industries try to cater to the casual players with short attention spans, a trend which is at odds with RuneScape's entire core of grinding. Many of you may have noticed that the system of Tasks looks suspiciously similar to the Xbox's Achievement Unlocked! messages, and the Evolution of Combat itself represents a new direction for RuneScape towards modern models. In the future, will we see that experience is gained more rapidly to appease impatient newcomers? Will we see a greater number of "Achievements" and "Objectives" to accomplish? Will we see more interactive skills, such as a redesigned Fishing skill which is centered on a fish-catching minigame?
Maybe the entire premise of RuneScape will be affected profoundly by these changes. RuneScape has always had a certain type of appeal as an "open game"—a game where you are not limited to linear campaigns. You are free to explore whatever area of RuneScape you want, you are free to do quests in any order you choose (barring prerequisites). I am not suggesting that this will ever change, but I can envision a shift towards greater player guidance. For example, what if RuneScape had a system of "Ranks" ranging from Novice to Master? To achieve the next rank, you would have to achieve level X in skills A, B, C, as well as completing quests D through H and killing Y monsters. The benefits of such a system would be to facilitate the experiences of new players by giving them a clear guide, a path they can take so they do not feel so hopelessly lost.
RuneScape is certainly a changing game and many updates have aligned RuneScape with the modern trends of the gaming industry. I do not know what changes we will see in the future, but the Evolution of Combat is not the last major change we will see. The truth is that RuneScape is gradually moving away from the familiar, comfortable, and simple game we know. How will you adjust?