Awesome April continues with Skilling Week delivering boosts to gathering skills. A major Elite Dungeons bug has been patched. How should the abusers be punished and what constitutes responsible disclosure? Then we look at the Live Event Endgame.
In Jagex’s own words as of April 12, 2021, “A number of exploits within the Elite Dungeons have now been fixed. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at actions we can take against the small minority of players who exploited these issues.” These bugs had been in place for months and allowed for a person to skip through portions of any Elite Dungeon to get to the final boss. This means being able to fight Seiryu, the Blackstone Dragon, or the Ambassador without killing the lead up trash mobs and prior bosses. The best drops of course come from the final bosses in each Elite Dungeon and this bug lent itself nicely to enabling the farming of these bosses. Today I want to talk about what the next steps going forward should look like.
The RuneScape rules are very clear that abusing bugs can result in a ban. Going back years over years, one can remember countless situations where someone abused a bug or even worse, used macro bots in RuneScape. These people were never sure that they would get banned or even if they should get banned. Here at our establishment we make it a priority to stay away from the shady side of the game. As a result, unlike some others, we didn’t raise awareness of the bug or talk about how it worked. We’re going to continue with that, but let’s be clear, if you wound up being caught by this bug there’s a very high chance that it didn’t happen by accident. If it happened more than once, it definitely didn’t happen by accident. Players in general but more so those who abuse bugs feel they have exclusive rights to do whatever they want in RuneScape, but at the end of the day, we’re all bound by an agreement that governs our actions.
What should be done in this case? All accounts that knowingly abused the bug should be banned and items earned removed from the game ecosystem in actual items or cash value. All accounts that tested the bug to see if it was real, once and only once, should have any progress earned rolled back. All accounts that abused the bug and transferred profits to their alt-accounts should be banned and their alt-accounts along with them. This is a bug that has been well known for months within the PvM community but only recently was addressed by Jagex prior to the Login Lockout. The fix was to be shipped the week after the Login Lockout occurred but was delayed by a month. In that time it’s only fair to assume bug abuse skyrocketed.
Why is a ban so important? An ever evolving game such as RuneScape lives and dies on its integrity, both in terms of how the players conduct themselves but also how the game studio conducts itself. A game where there’s fragrant disregard for rules, ethics, and integrity goes down in a spiral decline quickly. What can start with a few players showing off can spread outward; it can create a community where “because we can” is the driving impact, and should a bug become more widespread it could potentially impact the game's economy heavily. Any modern MMORPG needs to focus on integrity first and foremost. Jagex is known for this and must continue.
By banning players involved a precedent will be established that says, it is not alright for players to show off a bug or glitch just because they can and that others “need to know”. This is often rooted in in the whistle blower mentality triumphed many times in the real world in war zones. RuneScape is not a war zone and a bug with the Elite Dungeons system does not require a full tour to the war zone with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Others see an opportunity to go for an adrenaline rush on something that’s not sanctioned quite simply because it’s available. Nonetheless, everyone who engaged with this exploit “just because they can” has diminished the integrity of the living entity of RuneScape.
Others will say it’s only a game! If it’s only a game, the primary objective of anyone who’s playing should be fun, right? And if abusing the bug to earn, craft, or manipulate millions of GP will get your character ahead, why not? It’s only a game they say. It’s sad to say but the view of many of the players who abused this exploit to earn millions and billions of GP is that just because it’s in game and not patched means that it’s perfectly fine to use until something changes. No, every player who engaged with the exploit lowered the integrity of the Elite Dungeons system.
Finally, what about economic impact? While the bug has been on the public radar for at least a month, on Jagex’s radar for a little while longer, and on the radar of the exploiters for longer than that, what damage has been done to the economy? The primary effect of any banned player will be to remove any items from the game ecosystem as well. Items that have already been sold will have to have their GP value removed from the game’s economy. Items that have been consumed are sadly unable to be removed unless it’s decided the associated GP value should also be removed. The amount of money that was able to enter the game is no doubt substantial. The economic impact on the integrity of a live game with a GP focused exploit can not be understated.
Whether it was for showing off, or because it’s only a game, or because of the economic impact caused by the exploit, a precedent needs to be set. Other game franchises are known for their communities being inherently toxic (not naming any names) and it’s imperative that RuneScape not go down this path. Having interacted with the RuneScape community for almost 20 years at this point I can confidently say that it is one of the best. We need to keep it that way and that’s why all abusers surrounding the Elite Dungeons Exploit need to do the time.
Ever since we began our journey on Tutorial Island, we’ve been casting magic spells with these things called runes. During the tutorial, we were given some air and mind runes to Air Strike the chickens back to Lumbridge. Upon our arrival on Gielinor, we "borrowed" runes from the Magic tutor until eventually we were able to buy them from the Grand Exchange... unless you’re an ironman, then you actually had to use Runecrafting to get your runes. So, as a skill in the game, Runecrafting is our main source of obtaining runes. But lorewise, that wasn’t always the case. How did the human race actually obtain the power of using magic and runes?
As almost everything, it all began with the Elde… Guthix of course. As you all know, Guthix was the first god to visit Gielinor. Here he found some magical object called the Stone of Jas. Guthix felt like Gielinor was so beautiful, that he wanted other races to live here in peace. So, he brought the humans, dwarves, elves, fairies, gnomes and all the other races we all know and love. Okay, maybe some of the demons came a bit later with other gods. Upon their arrival, Guthix had a brilliant idea to use the Stone of Jas to create runes. He donated those runes to the humans and some of the other races. One can only wonder how much Runecrafting Guthix had done with the Stone of Jas, just to get enough runes for everyone. But as you can already guess, these runes eventually become scarce. Powerful mages fought each other over the runes, the winner taking all of the loser’s runes.
During the Second Age, the first runecrafter arrived. The Fremennik Seer V, or hero as he likes to call himself, found the Stone of Jas in the mines on Lunar Isle. He realised that the rocks close to the stone had become what we now call Rune Essence. After some studying, he learnt that these stones had the capability of absorbing magical elements. In order to create these runes, V and his followers created the runecrafting altars. These were positioned in places where the altar was most attuned to their corresponding element. An example of this is the Cosmic altar on Zanaris: since Zanaris is Gielinor’s moon, the cosmic energy on Zanaris is very present. As we know from the Lunar Diplomacy quest, the Fremennik didn’t like magic stuff, so V and his followers isolated themselves on Lunar Isle and created the Moon Clan. Thanks to this isolation, the craft of creating runes remained a secret to the outside world.
Fast forward to the God Wars in the Third Age. If you thought runes were scarce before, it was even worse at this point. The huge war that kept Gielinor busy drained all of the remaining runes from the people, until at the start of the Fourth Age, magic was lost to all those that required runes to perform magic, outside of the Moon Clan of course. At the start of the Fifth Age, new Rune Essence mines were found in the cold far north. The mines were very difficult to reach, so it was still hard to obtain Rune Essence. Still, when they realised how the altars spread around Gielinor worked, the Wizards' Tower was built. Here, four factions worked together to study the runes and their magic. Eventually, the Red Order apprentice figured out a way to teleport. Sadly for him, he wasn’t careful enough with his idea, and the Grey Order stole his idea. During the ritual required to unlock teleportation, the Blue Order found out that a Zamorakian demon was necessary as an anchor and that teleportation went through the Abyssal plane. The Saradominist Blue Order broke off the ritual and an oopsie occurred. The First Wizard Tower burned down and only the Blue and Red Order’s apprentices survived. The Blue Order’s apprentice Perien built a new tower and became its first Archmage. He blamed the First Tower’s destruction on the Red Order and banned them from entering the new tower. Perien and his followers worked on a new version of the teleportation spell, specifically one that would teleport to the Rune Essence mine. This spell was successful and very important, as the long and difficult trek to the Rune Essence mine in the north was no longer needed. Eventually, this knowledge became more public, and we’ve come to the point where anyone with a pickaxe can get the Rune Essence for themselves. This marked the beginning of the Runecrafting skill.
As the runes represent elements, it’s not weird that there’s a fire, air, water and earth rune. But as we all know, Runescape has plenty of different runes. For example, the nature rune altar found on Karamja seems to represent Guthix, the law rune altar found on the Saradominist island Entrana represents Saradomin, and finally the Chaos rune altar found in the devastated Wilderness represents Zamorak. Even Armadyl has his own rune, but weirdly enough, they're just called Armadyl runes. The other (non combination) runes represent the human body, cosmic energy, and astral energy.
So, there it is. The origin of runes again shows how greedy humans always have and will be when it comes to resources.
The next in the RuneScape 20th Anniversary quest miniseries came out this week, where we are chasing down Sliske... 's assistant, who is super envious of us being the hero and is doing everything she can to either sabotage it or make it into her own reality. In the previous quest, she fooled us into switching identities with her, making us appear as her and her appear as us. Which she in retrospect, she could've done so much more with then she actually did. She never touched my kingdom at Miscellania, my bank account remained intact, and I still have my Player Owned House dragon army. Instead, she saw fit to just hang out at the Blue Moon Inn the entire time and brag with poorly recalled stories of our past quest deeds and bask in false glory.
... so you can tell that she's really going to screw us over if we leave her to her devices.
The way the quests are structured, it feels like they are trying to bring back memories of old quests and their characters. We got to see and interact with some old favorites like Elvarg, Count Draynor, and Delrith from the times of RuneScape Classic, which also still exist as beginner quests to this day. To players who have been around for a long period of time, it feels like a pretty epic callback to the roots of their questing story, and to newer ones... well, maybe just a little reminder that there are two sides to every story. Elvarg has feelings too. Even if he ended an entire island community.
Now, we've got the second in the series called Flashback. Rather than steal your identity, Relomia has... technically... stolen the identities of a few other characters on Gielinor. Folks you are quite affiliated with, by the sounds of it. This was getting me a bit excited; would I get to see Hazelmere again? Maybe Zanik? How about Hannibus? Nah, I'm thinking too recent; it's gotta be characters like Hans, Bob the Axe Seller... maybe even some characters I barely interacted with that definitely need some extra dialog, like Ernest or Morgan le Feye.
... nah, we get Ozan, Merlin, and Ava. Did a couple quests with them. Good fun.
I mean, while I'll admit I was a little disappointed at this selection, I cannot fault the folks at Jagex. They did star in some pretty good quests, and I get what they were kinda going for. Merlin's Crystal was a classic in the days of RuneScape Classic, Ava's Accumulator quest was pretty memorable for its sheer absurdity in the RuneScape 2 days when we had to contend with the hardships, and Ozan's Quest really defined the break into NXT and 3D with its incredible parkour section.
It had something for everyone. Even if it was spread pretty thin.
The quest sees us replaying short, but pivotal moments in the quests themselves. The Assassin's Creed callback in Ozan's, the shattering of Merlin's crystal, and our... um... delivery of an undead chicken to Ava. I mean, that wouldn't have been my first pick for an RuneScape 2 quest; Rune Mysteries could've been a viable contender because of it redefining how magic, a core combat skill, worked in RuneScape.
For a quest itself, it's incredibly straightforward. There are no new assets; we do a little running around and confrontations, then the flashbacks in slightly tweaked areas with minimal extra graphical assets. Probably was made in a week due to how simply it played out.
And that's good. A quick little update to breathe in some life and get a story progressing. That's vital for RuneScape as a game because of how heavily story-oriented it is. We continue to play it because it's constantly updating with new content and new stories to justify said content. That keeps it so interesting. Even having to wait a month to hear Vicendithas offers that drive to want to know what happens next. A book whose pages turn when it wants to, but you know that eventually they will in the near future.
This questline is a celebration for RuneScape's 20th birthday party, and despite being a little bit on the weak side quest-wise, it's still a fantastic idea, and I'm looking very forward to seeing how the series concludes. I just hope that, at some point, the Champion's Guild gets involved, because all those ages ago, it was "the" guild to be in at one point.
Until next time,
Once Upon a Time continues with the next chapter, Flashback. We visit Ava, Ozan, and some Draziw’s on our way to a leads Q&A. Mods Warden and Liam take stock of where we’re at and where we’re going in April. Then, we answer your questions.