When Updates Cause Uproar

By Mangleman

There have always been updates in RuneScape that make some, most, or all players mad. This month Jagex got deadly serious about real world trading (people buying RuneScape items or gold for real world currency). Many players feel that Jagex has gone too far or that they have ruined Runescape. The term collateral damage refers to accidental or unintentional damage caused by a military action.

The Anecdotal History of Collateral Damage
Many people do not remember fatigue or the end of the 3-hit rule. All of these were necessary parts of the evolution of RuneScape as we all know it today and all were heralded by many players as “The End of RuneScape”. I myself quit playing for 3 years because of fatigue. Some updates have collateral damage, some are revised, and some are eventually accepted by players, but the uproar is often worse than the final result. There are more examples, but these two help me to get my point across.

• Fatigue – Players would gain “fatigue” every time they gained experience points. Once your fatigue got up to 100% you would stop gaining experience until you sleep. To sleep you had to find a bed, and type a word that was drawn on the screen. This was highly disruptive to every single skill in the entire game, as you might imagine. It made training 10 times more tedious and made it difficult to do simple things. Fatigue did exactly what it was supposed to though; fatigue was a drastic solution to the problem of bots. Before fatigue, even the most simple of macro programs could train you for hours and hours to high levels. Since fatigue was obviously not an agreeable solution, Jagex racked their brains and came up with a much less offensive replacement. You know them as “Random Events”

• 3 Hit Run Rule – In the original version of RuneScape, combat took place in “rounds” where the player and opponent would trade off hitting each other in even intervals. During the first 3 “rounds” you were not allowed to run away. This would not have been significant except for the fact that you could not eat while in combat. This was the basis for the original “Pure” builds. If you could kill someone in 3 hits, there was no way to defend against it – as you could not run or eat food. This was called a “3 hit kill” or “3 hit”. When Jagex revised the combat system the “3 hit” became obsolete, and many people said “This is the end of PKing in RuneScape”. Of course without the new system we would not have weapon speed, special attacks or the combat tri-angle, RuneScape would not be what it is today for sure.

The war on real world trading had a lot of collateral damage.

Unbalanced Trade
This seems like a simple and fair thing to eliminate on the surface. But the player trade system in RuneScape is not just for trade currently. Loans, gifts, scams, and real world trading all typically go through the RuneScape Trade window. I believe this is just something we will all get used to. Jagex has already stated that they are trying to fix loot share so that drops can actually be split, I think this fix was needed long before the unbalanced trade limit. Loot share was an abysmal failure in my opinion because large drops are not automatically split, loot share is supposed to remove dishonesty in groups, and it did nothing of the sort. Loans are a nice bonus, because I don’t believe they need to exist. But still I feel like with the new fixes in place the unbalanced trade rule will eventually become just as accepted as the new combat system.

Player Death Drops
On the surface it seems very harsh to remove most of the motivation for PKing. But consider this. RuneScape is not a PK only game, in fact a very small portion of the map and the skill tree is dedicated to things that can even be used for PK. Combine that with the evolution of the game as we know it. Rune items used to be more expensive, that’s true but a Rune plate has always been 65k or less because you can buy it from a vendor, same with rune legs, chain, etc. Now, compare that with a Dragon Chain, of Guthans Spear, or Berserker ring, or 3rd Age plate… As more and more cool items are released, the penalty for death in RuneScape has reached astronomical proportions. In almost all MMO games the penalty for death is minimal… you have to wait for a res, or you have to run to your body as a ghost, or sometimes no real penalty at all. Basically the game has evolved because of really cool and interesting updates over the year. We are very far from the time when full combat gear cost 250k for the best money could buy, yet the death system remained unchanged. I submit that the death system became too harsh, and even without the real world traders, it was the right thing to do to revise it. I predict we will see a lot more people using nice, expensive gear instead of saving it for safe mini-games, and that just makes the game better. PKing as we know it has died once more, but in my opinion PK had become too harsh over the years. Of course many people don’t believe a 3k ceiling is the correct one, but I believe Jagex will, in time, correct this in a way that keeps real world trading fair. Imagine how nice it will be to actually be able to fight the chaos elemental with good gear on, or to recover your gear when you use the wrong protection prayer, or to actually work as a team with lootshare.

RuneScape is Forever Changed
Most people will not dispute this fact. Many people are up-at-arms about this fact. I would like to submit that this is the re-birth of RuneScape, not the death. The current RuneScape community sucks. There is no getting around it. There are pockets of nice people, and there are great community websites, but the general in-game community is one of isolation, competition, and hate. I believe that the Grand Exchange has already and will continue to remove a large portion of the hurtful competition in the game. You get some herbs, you instantly sell them to a faceless buyer for the market price, and you go on your way. This seems like less social interaction, but I think the reality is that it does 2 positive things for the community at large… It removes the 1000 people trying to fleece you out of your herbs for a low price, and who will insult and make fun of you if you do not know market prices, and it removes the frustrating half-hour it takes the average non-merchant player to find a buyer, freeing them up to actually play the game.

Now we come to gravestones and lootshare. Their drastic effect on the player community is that for the first time in RuneScape history it will be worthwhile to team up with players that you do not know. There is no reason for distrust, which was almost a requirement before. With an actual effective lootshare, and with player deaths (accidental, as well as intentional) being harmful to the team instead of beneficial to the ones that didn’t die (equipment scrounging) it makes much more sense to play in a team now. Honestly there was no RuneScape community in-game before, because the game rewarded people for backstabbing, watching each other die, and not sharing. We lost a lot of what RuneScape used to be with these last updates, but I am not so sure that is a bad thing. But I think we gained a whole lot more than we realize.

Last update: 23-Dec-2007
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