Elite Dungeons are made slightly less elite (for lore hunters), you can find out when you joined your clan, and legacy balloon follower pets can now be had from the party room. Also thoughts on RunePass, GameJam, and Nic the Trader returns!
I was introduced to RuneScape a long time ago. This was still in the time of what we've later come to know as RuneScape Classic. I had never heard of this game; I had never even thought it was possible to play games on the internet. For context, this is the time where internet wasn't as commonplace as it is today. At home we could plug the phone cable in the computer to maybe download some emails and simple websites, but it was slow, expensive, and you couldn't use your phone at the same time.
You can imagine my sense of wonder when I joined my friend at his home where he had ADSL, internet that was always on! Together we created my first account, and I would visit him regularly so we (well, mostly I) could play. I couldn't play at home, because not only did we not have ADSL, my parents wouldn't let me play on the "good computer" for more than an hour a week!
Several months after this, I moved away. This was before the time of Facebook and WhatsApp, so we knew we would have very little contact from that point onward. With the move something good came as well though: our own ADSL connection! RuneScape turned from a game I played at my friends' house to the way I stayed in contact. This shows one of RuneScape's core strengths: its social aspect. While we were miles apart, it was still together with my friend that I set my first steps in RuneScape 2.
Over time, our interest in the game faded, and we started to lose contact. However, one year later, I met new friends, and we started playing RuneScape again. After school we would race home and boot up this virtual world to play together. Still limited to using my parents' computer, they would often have to drag me outside to make sure I got my share of vitamin D at this time.
As it often is with RuneScape, during my teen years it become increasingly uncool to be associated with RuneScape, and I once again stopped playing. In the meantime, MSN Messenger and Skype were taking over as main communication methods, and with two sisters competing for computer time, more and more often I would play games on my own, on my computer without an internet cable plugged in.
It would be years later until I finally started up RuneScape again. Buying prepaid cards behind my parents' backs to pay for membership, and without telling any friends I was playing again, the experience was very different to before. I'm not talking about being a member, I am talking about the fact it become mostly a solo experience. This all changed when I decided one day to check out this clan called "Clan Quest".
Instead of playing with people I already knew, I was now making new friends online. This was not a new experience, as at that time I was strongly involved in Dutch game development communities, to the point where I would visit meet-ups. Among my clan, RuneScape was not a dirty secret of uncoolness, I could freely be myself. You know what they say: on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
This all is a long preamble to one of the biggest life lessons I have ever learned on the internet: while you can make real, strong friendships on the internet, it never feels real until you meet them in person. Where in my childhood I would meet up with my friends from real life on the internet, I now meet up with my friends from the internet in real life.
It is no secret that a lot of context gets lost while communicating digitally. Text is the most lossy form of communication: intonation, facial expression, it all gets lost. Voice chat adds an extra layer, and adding webcams brings communication as close as it gets with technology that is available nowadays. And yet, it is not the same.
Over the years, I have met dozens of people in real life that I had previously only communicated with online. There are no words to describe what the experience is like. The second you meet, everything feels the same old. When I met Shane, within five minutes we were discussing one topic or another. It is like making a new friend without the time required to build trust and understanding. It just... clicks.
The wondrous thing about meeting a person in real life, is that it will change future interactions forever. Over time, the effect of having met each other in person fades, but you cannot lose that feeling, that deep understanding that the person on the other side of the line is actually real. It is something you have to experience yourself, because there is no way I can accurately describe what happens when you first meet long-time friends in person.
Events such as RuneFest are important for that very reason. Meeting clan members in person has only strengthened my bond to them. I still get raised eyebrows when I say that some of my best friends I have (only ever) met on the internet, but I guarantee that every RuneFest attendee that met a friend will tell you that it is possible to create friendships for life within a game.
And thus my experience with RuneScape has come full circle. From sitting around a screen with my friend, to having it be the communication tool, to finally meeting an entire new group of people that I would never have met otherwise. If you have ever doubted whether your online friendship is as valuable as your real life friends, if you have ever considered whether travelling to meet an online friend in person is worth it, the answer to both questions is: yes. As we become more dependent on platforms such as social media, it is more and more important to consider that not even the best technology beats an actual hug from your friend.
RuneFest has come and gone but this year there’s a difference, I was there. We’ve discussed RuneFest extensively on the podcast both immediately after on episode 692 - RuneFest 2018 and last week on 693 - And One More Thing… where we gave a rundown and recap of the festivities. This time I want to discuss the RuneScape community. There is no better word to describe RuneFest than “community”. Cireon will be chatting with you soon about the effect RuneFest can have on meeting your dear online friends in real life. At RuneFest there is only one RuneScape community.
RuneScape has always been subject to different communities and chasms between them. Today it’s RuneScape 3 or Old School RuneScape. On the Friday night all attendees were invited to “RuneScape Live: Gielinor in Harmony.” The main feature was a performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra where an arrangement of RuneScape music was played. The performance told the story of two RuneScapers aiming to complete a quest! The two RuneScapers were able to get on and progress for a while through the quest but inevitably they needed to team up. We saw a merged game world as well as both the RuneScape 3 player and Old School player adapt to aspects of the other’s game. For someone such as myself who has witnessed the strife between both communities online this was really touching. It makes me wish for a day where we can once again both enjoy the same game of RuneScape. Could one of the future game updates or a new game entirely bring the player base together? We’ll see.
This general theme continued on to the next day. The food kiosks were set up in the wilderness (as you progressed further into the venue, you ventured more north) and many gathered in this area throughout the day for lunch. After acquiring lunch, Cireon and I found a seat, we were seated across the table from a couple. Upon sitting down one of the first questions were were asked, Old School or RS3? They jokingly said we couldn’t sit down as we were RS3 players but that was that, a joke. We chatted a bit and ate our lunch in peace. Players of two different games, seated at the same table in peace. One RuneScape community.
Not a week goes by without some Jagex Moderator being down talked to online. There’s the old adage that it’s a lot easier to say something online to someone than in person, this combined with the RuneFest atmosphere that could only be described as positive means that everyone is on their best behaviour. Talk to any JMod and you’ll be greeted with an immense helping of passion. We had illuminating talks with Mods Raven and Jack. As well as a couple from the art team and business development side too. If the online keyboard warriors had been to RuneFest or even had the slightest inkling of how much each and every JMod cares, the RuneScape community would be a lot more civil online. RSBANDBUpdate! has covered practically every major game shifting update, we do it to the best of our abilities, but at the end of the day there are humans on the other end who make the product. We are mindful of that and have been mindful of that and will be ever more mindful. Next time you’re angry at an update, remember that these people are creators, artists, programmers, and designers. They create something out of nothing, that’s big.
This is not to say that we should go easy on Jagex or give the game designers and developers a free pass. One of the most difficult things with producing RSBANDBUpdate! is measuring the placement of the community and Jagex and then reconciling the two. Whenever an update comes out one of the first questions I ask (aside from, how good is this?) is who needs to be led and where? Visiting with the creators and designers at RuneFest brings an invaluable insight to this process. I feel that RSBANDBUpdate! and the RSBANDB network already had an appropriate level of tact but a trip to RuneFest could prove invaluable for the larger RuneScape community.
RuneFest in a way is a lot like Christmas. It’s the one time of year where people can come together, celebrate each other, and celebrate the fantastic game of RuneScape. Under the roof of the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre where RuneFest was taking place, there was one RuneScape community. One RuneScape community talking about RuneScape 3, Old School, Skills, Combat, Lore, and more with friends, fellow players, community creators, and Jagex Moderators. That is what RuneFest is about.
'Til Death Do Us Part: A reflection on the Halloween event, the RuneScape 3 Mobile beta, some final thoughts on RuneFest including the Mining and Smithing beta, and one more thing...
Yay, holidays! The time of the year where we take some age-old tradition that, more often than we like, has a somewhat dark origin, and we celebrate it all the positive parts of it! Because it's neat and everyone's been doing it for a while and they caught on because nobody had anything better to do for those particular parts of the year! Seriously, when you start reading up on history and origin stories, a lot of things get ruined for you.
... I am, of course, talking about the Runescape holiday events. No idea what the story is about the real life ones. I think they celebrate this holiday where people eat lots of burgers? No idea.
Anyways, I come from the old days where Runescape holiday events were these one-off events. Well, before they just spam-dropped the rares on the ground and if you happened to be online in that twenty-minute span you got an inventory of free rares. But after that, they took on the form of these super-simple quests, usually confined within a small, specially made area, and you get your holiday reward in the form of an untradeable rare and emote after its completion. They had done this for each holiday for several years, rarely repeating things.
Most of the reasoning behind this was due to the limitations of the game. Quests were about the most the developers could do in a short amount of time. The act of being able to throw snowballs at each other without instigating a battle was mind-blowing.
But a large part of the whole "why holiday quests" was the expectation. The holiday events had always been short, themed quests with a couple cameos and a somewhat unique twist on the idea (an obstacle course at Death's house and a chocolate egg-making factory run by rabbits to name a few). It's a working formula that the public appreciated. When somebody reads Jagex talking about Christmas coming soon, they think from their past experience: "Ah, here comes another cheesy short quest and interesting holiday-themed rare and emote". No need to change what already works, right?
However, it is this sort of expectation that makes holidays what they are. No, not just holidays. Traditions. It's something familiar that we have enjoyed in the past, and the nostalgia and the uniqueness of it attracts us to do it again in the distant future. Not near future, though; otherwise it gets stale and annoying really fast and it doesn't last. That's why we don't have Christmas once a month. Seriously, can you imagine all the themed quests?
But Jagex have taken their themed holiday events one step further. While the holidays themselves are dynamically different, the method behind how they handle the holiday events is similar to one another, so we've got the problem of things getting stale. Enter the polls, where a bunch of players who probably are too new to remember all the old quests decided that they needed to change things.
Instead of a quick quest, you end up with a skilling-based minigame where you collect the rares after long bouts of skilling. Or multi-player bosses. Or there still are quests, but they span the course of several weeks at a time. Or sometimes there isn't even a quest at all, and instead some character appears in game, hands you a note, and has you do a whole bunch of quote-unquote achievements to unlock stuff or bypass via micro-transaction.
And now we've got this interesting Halloween event that, honestly, I don't even think I want to call it that. It's skilling, then looting, and you do that a couple times per day, and if you do it enough, there's promise of a story that looks like it'll just lead into another, bigger story.
Are they fun? Well, if you like skilling, sure. But holiday events used to just be these one-off things that you go in, you do them, and you're done. I'll use human Christmas as an example: you decorate a tree, you sleep, you wake up, you open all your presents, you have a big feast. That's Christmas. That's how we've always done it.
Expanding this out into a long drawn process is like hanging two ornaments onto the tree, sitting with your family for a game of scrabble, opening a single present, and eating half a turkey sandwich every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday for a month to celebrate the holiday.
Now despite my complaint against traditional methods, I don't doubt that this may actually sound appealing to you. In fact, you might want to do that instead of the annoying only-one-short-day holiday now that you've realized there is more than one way to celebrate something.
So why don't we do that? Again, expectation. Familiarity. We enjoy doing things a certain way and don't dare to change it. We do it rarely enough that it doesn't get boring, and it adds that extra little flair to our daily lives.
So props to Jagex for updating their holiday events to keep up with the times and keeping them interesting. But, if I may say, I did like the stories they told in those short quests. I hope to see them again soon And, by the sounds of things, they've got that sort of thing planned with the Valley of Snow this coming Christmas. Exciting!
Until next time,