Recently Mod Mark, lead designer of RuneScape, has been talking about some way to give something to the many people who complain about the EOC and other updates. There is talk about, among other things, making separate servers for those who do not like a certain update. I say: DO NOT DO IT, do not split the community of RuneScape players.
There are several reasons for my stance on this, the main one being that doing so would separate players into different communities. RuneScape has always changed, and there have always been some players who did not like that change, some who lost out. This inevitably led to some of us quitting, for a little bit, or less frequently forever. Most times the mayhem died down soon and we went back to playing. Only when combat is involved, especially if PKing is affected, does the noise stay active for a long time. PKers seem to have a harder time adjusting than, let’s say, runecrafters… Look at how little complaining there has been about Runespan ruining the accomplishment of these players and of course, there are more avid PKers then those who love runecrafting.
In my opinion 'the community' of RuneScape is all of us, PKers, bossers, skillers, and everyone else. There is a lot of difference between these groups, but we have one thing in common, all of us together play the same game, on the same servers. We interact, are in the same clans, and are friends. If Jagex makes special servers for separate groups this ends.
In the 500+ days that have I played I have seen many people leave, come back, buck against changes, stamp their feet in anger, but most times they all returned to playing and having fun. My clan has been around for 6+ years and after EOC we, as usual after a controversial update, lost about a quarter, only to see half of them already return and with them some people who had quit earlier, maybe years ago. A lot of these who 'quit' were already bored with RS and just going through the motions. EOC was often the last straw and/or the excuse, but most of these people will also be back. People who 'hate' EOC start seeing how, for example, ranged works a lot better than before, or how abilities can be used well.
The best PKers of my clan had a bit of a problem adjusting, but are running around Wildy owning others again and the boss hunting experts can already kill the Dominion Tower pest queen in a matter of minutes.. Adjusting to change takes time and the willingness to try. We NEED Jagex to tell all those who are still bucking the change that they have no chance that it will go away, for them to finally give in and give it a try, because as long as there is hope, a large number of players who are resistant to change will not even try. And yes, some will leave forever, but that is o.k., that is also part of the natural evolution of this game. This game needs enthusiastic noobs more than bored dinosaurs!
Besides this there is a practical problem with separate servers.
First of all there is very little agreement on what those servers should offer, with the main requests at the moment being for pre-EOC and 2006 servers. There are also a lot of us who want a bot-free server, which means no PKing and free trade, and many people are asking for the return of some parts of Bounty Hunter that we do not have any more. This also shows that complaining is forever, but the subjects are not; when Bounty Hunter came it was a poor replacement for wilderness, and now it is something that is missed.
The conclusion is that there have to be several types of servers, maybe as many as five.
Will Jagex have to split its developers up in several groups and offer updates in all, or will all but one be dead content that does not evolve anymore?
Let’s assume Jagex makes 2 server types, one with and one without EOC, and develops both, with updates; how long will it be until a new update annoys a large group creating the need for another split?
Let’s assume Jagex makes several different types—realise that players will not be able to play on all types! The whole balance is different; values of items will be different, drop-rates, how hard monsters are, XP gain, etc… This means Jagex cannot in good conscience allow us to hop from one type to the other. The community will splinter into small groups who, because the accounts are not compatible anymore, cannot even do a dungeon together, or barbarian assault, or whatever group activity you want to think of.
Let’s assume Jagex makes pre-EOC and maybe 2006 servers and lets us use a separate, new account on those, how long will it be until most players on it get bored without the regular updates?
Jagex is to blame for part of this problem; it seems they underestimated the effect and complexity of EOC, offering a lot of fuel for the fires. In an article I wrote, that is not published, I complained about Jagex's beta testing, quality assurance, and bug testing. However, to me this does not mean they should throw away the new, imperfect content; it means Jagex needs to focus on making this work for all groups, be it skillers or killers. Splitting up the player-base would also, at least to some extent, mean dividing the resources Jagex has to make this game work.
It takes a huge effort for Jagex to do this, but also some effort by us to learn and adapt and suggest positive changes towards the future.
So my message to Mod Mark and all others at Jagex is: do not talk about separate servers—about going backwards. Instead, listen to what it is the people with legitimate complaints miss and work towards giving them some good replacements. Do not go backwards and make another Classic…
My message to the players is: play the game and master the changes instead of letting them be your master!