With one of the last updates of 2012, came one of the most warmly received updates of the year: Player-Owned Ports. Jagex have not only managed to introduce a new way of acquiring high end armour and items outside of engaging in combat with boss NPC’s, but they have reassured players that they haven’t forgotten about the Eastern Lands. The fabled continent may not have been implemented in the way that many players imagined they would be though, and the release of ports with their extensive use of the mysterious islands has reminded me of something Jagex stated many moons ago.
“We don’t want to release a new continent / landmass until the current game world has been finished and filled out with content.”
I may be paraphrasing slightly, but it is a statement that was repeated recently by Jagex in a recent live stream regarding the future of RuneScape. Years ago, I understood this sentiment entirely; large parts of the game world still needed to be fleshed out, not just in terms of empty towns and cities but also in relation to unfinished or abandoned quest lines.
However, in the years since we first caught wind of the Eastern Lands, there has been a massive influx of small and large updates: adding new mini games, Distractions & Diversions, and area re-works that have added a multitude of new features to old areas.
I can still recall the early days of the Al-Kharid desert being almost entirely devoid of life except for a slave camp, an insect infested hive and a few, small quest related camps. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not viewing the game through rose tinted goggles, longing for the days when the game was noticeably absent of content, but there are no longer really any parts of the game world left that are simply there for skill training or gatherings; areas that aren’t littered with distractions or NPC’s designed to pull you away from what you are doing.
The repeatedly cited issue of being too familiar with the game world to really get lost in its many locales and not have the slightest inkling where you are is a definite contributor. With Menaphos and Prifddinas being the only two major landmasses left to be revealed (to our knowledge) on the continent, I can’t help but feel that the game is actually becoming too crowded, the result being that certain areas feel largely saturated with content.
Obviously there are still places like Yanille that have been largely neglected and feel like they exist for the sake of filling up space. At times, the imbalance between recently updated areas with content around every corner and older members’ areas that haven’t seen a front page mention in literally years make the contrast more startling as every week goes by.
Perhaps Jagex do have something planned for an expansion to the game, but I’m inclined to believe that if they did, it would be something they would jump at the chance to advertise for publicity like the Evolution of Combat or the upcoming ‘RuneScape 3’.
It is definitely an issue that Jagex will need to consider within the next few years if they wish to keep expanding their audience. The irritating inclusion of ‘portals’ to new areas like Soul Wars and even Ports is starting to make the world feel disjointed - and although they could certainly add these areas to the existing landmass of the game, I feel they are starting to run out of space for future content plans. There really aren't any blank canvas areas in the game left for them to introduce anything entirely new and refreshing, like ports, without hiding it away behind a magical doorway.