I was recently conversing with a lurker on these forums about the conclusion I drew in an article I wrote back in November. In the article, I discussed how RuneScape 2, despite undergoing such drastic changes since its release, is still the same game. The user, who wishes to remain anonymous, applied Theseus' paradox to RuneScape 2 and I couldn’t help but agree with him.
For those unfamiliar with the paradox, a first century Greek philosopher by the name of Plutarch raised a question on whether a ship, which had all of its original wooden boards gradually replaced with new ones, was still the same ship. This is not dissimilar to the way RuneScape 2 has developed. Is a game that has gradually had all of its content replaced overtime still the same game? Looking at it from this perspective changed my view of the matter.
In reality, we are not still playing the game released in March of 2004. We are playing an entirely new game that resembles the original game in basically name alone (and whether this is a good thing or bad thing is a different issue addressed later on). Of course, RuneScape doesn’t fit the paradox exactly. More updates added new content that existed in no form in 2004, and then updates changed old content. Even some original quests, Tutorial Island, and certain NPCs have been removed. However, even ignoring the addition of new content and removal of original content, the game is really not the same anymore.
If graphics and animations were the only thing to change since the original release, I would be arguing the opposite view. However, everything has changed. Cities have different layouts and buildings, quests have slowly drifted from lore based to reward based, skills are trained for xp rather than profit, and even banking is entirely different. The list could go on. Now, not all of those changes can be attributed to Jagex, but they are the ones responsible for most of the changes.
Just this month we will see a new boss, a new achievement diary (an old concept that didn’t even exist upon RuneScape 2’s release), and demon flash mobs. Other highlights from the coming year include a new grandmaster quest, two brand new skills, upgradeable armor, and RuneScape: Next Gen. Needless to say, RuneScape 2 is not the same game anymore, but is this really a bad thing?
Let’s look at a few major changes from 2004 to 2013. The graphics will have changed from the quality of the Nintendo 64 to the quality of the Nintendo Wii (and we actually have faces). The game’s combat has finally progressed past the 90s. Trading no longer takes hours or even days to complete one transaction. Players no longer have to bury 3 million bones to reach 99 prayer. New methods of transportation besides spellbook teleporting and taking ships make it even quicker to reach one part of the map from another almost instantly. Runecrafting no longer takes days to achieve one level. Even magic has progressed from spamming high alch or Camelot teleport.
So to stay true to comparison with the original paradox, it would be like replacing all of the original boards of ship with news ones, removing the desk where everyone carved his name, and adding a new coat of paint, high-tech cannons, a milkshake machine, a minibar, a new stereo system, Wi-Fi, and a Jacuzzi. Why anyone would choose the original ship with only new boards over the maxed out upgraded one is beyond me, but to each his own, I suppose. People are stubborn, nostalgic, and resistant to new ideas and that will never change.