We detail our favourite minigames for the minigame celebration. The Ninjas also strike the Player Owned Farm. The combat council admits power creep and the lore heavy hitters cover Mark’s reaction to killing Guthix and Raven’s Zodiac inspired ciphers.

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Hosts: Shane, Tanis, and Questcaping
Duration: 1:59:52

Everybody experiences RuneScape differently. The experience is a combination of our backgrounds, the people we encounter in-game, the state of the game when we first made our encounter, the choices we make along the way... I think it is fair to say that no RuneScape playthrough ever feels the same way. Of course this applies to myself as well: many things factored into how I have experienced RuneScape. At the same time, RuneScape has also played an influence in my life otherwise. Not just through the people I met, but also the things I learned.

It is hard to believe that a single game has been with me through more than half of my life. While my experiences may be unique, I wanted to single out one thing that has shaped my relationship with RuneScape: language.

My assumption is that the majority of the players, and the majority of you reading this article, speak English natively. This means that when you opened up RuneScape and spawned on Tutorial Island (or - Brassica forbid - in a random shady basement in Lumbridge), you should have had no problem following the instructions and explanations. How different was it for me! As anybody who has heard me on the RSBANDB podcast probably already figured out, English is not my native language. When I started playing, I was a mere 11 years old (please don't tell Jagex!). I had just started learning how to count to ten in English in school, so the only reason I managed to get my own account us because a friend of mine led me through the process.

Going through my first steps on Tutorial Island, in what we now know as RuneScape Classic, the game was not much more to me than my friend telling me exactly what to click and what to do. The text on the screen might as well have been random characters! For the first year, I wasn't able to play RuneScape at home - we only had a metered internet connection, so that couldn't be used to play games online. Every week, I would visit my friend, and we'd play together, him explaining to me what I could do.

At some point, I moved towns, and while RuneScape was a great way to stay in contact, I was also now on my own. Over time, I started learning the English terms in the game. I may not have known what they meant, but I could often figure out enough from context. Not that I always got it right, mind you. With people talking about owning "100k", I came to the conclusion that "k" must be the currency of RuneScape. When I proudly showed off my "600k", I got a bit of a laugh from my friend. That day I learned the meaning of "k".

For quests and minigames, I had to rely on guides written in Dutch to figure out how to complete them. Yet I still came to be a quester, and I think that is because I always had to learn about new systems by experimentation and word of mouth - that is, if the aggressive chat censoring didn't censor out half your Dutch sentences in-game. It took me several days in the RuneScape 2 beta to learn you could run instead of walk, and that the game now had sound effects and background music! I lost all my progress in the RuneScape 2 beta, because I didn't understand the news post about copying your RuneScape 2 progress back to RuneScape classic.

It is much harder playing a game if you have no idea what you're doing. At the same time, figuring out the game became a game by itself. Each time I figured out what something meant or what to do, it was a small victory. At the same time, I was learning English words left and right, and while I went on a RuneScape hiatus after a few years of playing, it had already helped me develop my English beyond that of my peers. In a sense, I still benefit from playing RuneScape at a young age all these years later.

Is this an argument then to put young children in front of a game in a foreign language and just let them figure things out? Perhaps. You'd be surprised at how well they'll manage and pick up the language. Yet I'd argue there is also a flip side to this story: the only reason I ended up deep inside the RuneScape rabbit hole is because I was handheld all the way through it by somebody else (whether that be a friend or a Dutch fansite), and because I persevered even when my lack of understanding led to loss or disappointment. That kind of game is not for everybody, and many a child would've moved on to other games. Translating your game in multiple languages is more inclusive to those people who'll struggle interpreting and learning a language they don't know, and allows everybody to experience your game to the fullest. I hope this shows all of you how easy it is to take for granted that you understand what's being said or written, because it surely is not that way for everybody.

Nevertheless, I am still around playing RuneScape, twenty years after the game first came out. It helped me get better at English, and my unique experience in trying to learn the game through different means than reading the in-game text is what has pushed me to see the game in a different way.


RuneScape's Leadership Over Time

posted by Shane on 15 January 2021 at 22:25 | Discuss on our Forums

Over its lifetime, RuneScape has seen strong leadership leading to periods of outstanding growth. At times it has also seen a lack of cohesive leadership leading to a stagnant or even muddled directive. One of the most important characteristics for a living game (as RuneScape is) is for there to be a consistent direction and guiding principle. RuneScape started off as a tiny project between three brothers and has grown to become a phenomenon spanning generations. After 20 years, it’s only fair to look at where we’ve been and where we’re going today.

Andrew Gower’s RuneScape era is one that spanned almost 10 years from 2001 through 2010. Andrew Gower’s RuneScape was one of small grab bag updates that would be wholesome content week to week that often wasn’t structured. Many including myself consider 2005 to 2007 to be one of the RuneScape golden ages. How was this done with very little structure?

To be fair, most of the early updates were world building. Content arriving was adding new landmasses, introducing characters, and forming the core of what we know as RuneScape today. Many of our core skills arrived during this time such as Runecrafting, Slayer, Farming, Construction, Summoning, and Hunter. There were also tiny updates like Tears of Guthix and the Achievement Diary that form key parts of today’s gameplay.

Andrew’s game design was simple and there’s an argument to be made that if you put this kind of content in front of players today with the game at its current maturity level, it wouldn’t work. The landmass is full of content in most areas, it’s just a question if that content is usable to you. Content released since 2013 has been getting grander and bigger, going backwards would indeed mean going back to 2007. While players ask for week to week headlining content updates, we need to be honest and realize that today’s level of production isn’t feasible with a week to week headline release schedule.

Put simply, Andrew’s leadership worked because the game was young and production was simpler and cheaper back in 2007. Today we would be questioning if we were being served by artificially limiting ourselves in order to have week to week content updates.

Near the end of Andrew's era the game suffered its first real shock. Longtime players will know that before Mod MMG came on the scene, Runescape was plagued with bots, and it was the number one issue at the time. In 2007, the Runescape leadership had enough, and took a drastic step to combat the bot epidemic that was chasing players away from the game. The solution was a controlled forest burn of sorts: The Grand Exchange and Wilderness Trade Removal. This bold move was necessary to combat the bot epidemic as the heuristics based bot technology did not yet exist.

It was in this environment that Runescape players were introduced to Mod MMG, Mark Gerhard, who presided over the game from 2009 to 2014. This era saw RuneScape’s introduction of micro transactions focusing on of course Squeal of Fortune and Bonds. It was also at this time that we saw the beginning of the Sixth Age, as well as the final nail in the coffin to the bot epidemic that had plagued the game for years. Without this being dealt with, there would be no game today.

This bold action taking also led to the game’s most controversial update, the Evolution of Combat. This ultimately raised a lot of questions in the community and eroded a great deal of trust that the players had in the leadership of Runescape. The player base bifurcated and we witnessed what felt like a significant lack of confidence on Jagex’s end, as a reaction to strong opinions from the player base on either side.

On the podcast we often discuss the natural reaction to this being the sudden increase in polls in 2013 and 2014. These polls were an example of weaker leadership as it left the decision making more towards the players rather than a central team with a guiding vision for the game. As it stands, these polls weren’t needed as 2017 and beyond would prove that there were other methods of recovery, like consistent quality!

The updates in the MMG era ushered in the Sixth Age, RuneScape 3, and ultimately set the path forward for the storyline of today. The updates were still packaged standalone with the overarching multi year Sixth Age Sliske storyline. While the Sliske arc took almost 4 years to resolve, the important takeaway from this era update wise is that the stakes were raised higher than ever before and players became accustomed to updates of epic proportions.

Rod Cousens, who took over the CEO mantle after the departure of Mod MMG can be seen as that of a caretaker. He continued much of the same policies and update styles. He and Mod MMG finished off the Sliske Arc and brought the game and community into the Sixth Age. The replacement for Rod Cousens was Phil Mansell, otherwise known as Mod Pips, who took over as CEO in January 2017. 2017 under Mod Pips looked largely like the previous two years, but a big change hit in 2018 for the better.

Mod Pips had a history at Jagex going back to 2011 starting as a designer and then executive producer. He’s actually played RuneScape and is responsible for where we are today. He captured lightning in 2018 with the hits including the Clue Scroll Rework, Deep Sea Fishing, and the Player Owned Farm. His team also brought the much desired Mining and Smithing rework to players in 2019. 2019 was a tad quiet, 2020 was amazing (for Runescape at least), and 2021 is promised to be one of our best years yet.

Mod Pips also engaged in a hiring spree hiring many senior managers, technical leads, and content developers. It was under Mod Pips that Jagex scored Mod Warden (Ryan Ward) of Lucas Arts, BioWare, and Blizzard fame. The RuneScape 3 team also picked up Mod Hooli formerly Community Manager for the Call of Duty franchise at Activision. The number of content developers has grown and Jagex seems to be consistently hiring even through the pandemic.

It’s the strong leadership of Mod Pips as CEO, hiring not only content developers but also managers and executives, that we are where we are at today. We’re back to weekly updates with monthly headliners and even weeks without a headliner are still substantive. Without Mod Pips as CEO there would be no filling out of the rest of the team and the game would still be stagnating.

20 years on I feel that we are on the cusp of another RuneScape golden age. Jagex has experienced a myriad of different leadership styles, some effective, some not, but something has to have gone right to have a little game dreamed up in a dining room at the turn of the millennium, thriving 20 years later.

To RuneScape’s leaders, past and present, thank you.


It’s combat week, filled with ironman inconsistencies on XP boosts, Elder Overloads, and more. We also jump on the retro cosmetic bandwagon and detail how to rework 4 or 5 skills at once. Then we deconstruct the Ninja PAG and talk about bias.

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Hosts: Shane and Tanis
Duration: 1:41:12

Runescape's 20 years old now. Started in 2001, and now it's 2021. That's 20 years of quests and lore and development and immersion into a vast populated game world. A world that is full of quests! And man, do I have stories to tell about the stories in this story-based game!

As a guy who's done all the quests and gotten my Quest Cape, the majority of them done the day of release, I will...

... wait, hang on one sec. I can't talk about quests looking like this. I need to make myself properly tangible! One sec while I get myself properly geared up...





Right. Anyways...

As a guy who's properly and legitimately earned his MASTER Quest Cape, I'm going to talk about the 20 year evolution of quests in Runescape! Because yup, the quests of Runescape have an evolutionary process beyond their story. It's not just the advancement of events and the game world, but also that of the storytelling capabilities of the folks at Jagex. I've been playing the game for 20 years, and I've watched the company grow from a simple Java-based garage-built game to an entire company that can afford their employees daily fresh fruit and health care.

And what a ride it was.

Let's go back to the days of Runescape Classic and the original few quests. Cook's Assistant, Sheep Shearer, Doric's Quest, and Romeo and Juliet. These are some of the most classic of quests the game's got. The years have seen many overhauls and updates to these quests; callbacks, reworkings, and even entire substitutions. But at their roots; they were the most simplest of quests.

Cook's Assistant involved you giving egg, flour, and milk to a cook. Sheep Shearer involved you giving 20 balls of wool to a farmer. Doric's Quest involved giving copper, tin, clay, and iron ore to a dwarf. Romeo and Juliet involved giving cadava berries to an apothecary. ... that was it.

Why so simple? Because that was the extent of the technology back then. We didn't have item banks, and each NPC could only interact with a single player at a time. This meant that players often had to wait for an NPC to become available to talk with, and more than often, there were multiple instances of the same NPC to help mitigate that limitation. It wasn't a lack of creativity; it was merely the most a quest could possibly possess.

Next up came some boss-styled quests like Vampire Slayer, Black Knight's Fortress, Demon Slayer, and the Restless Ghost. At the time, players had such low combat levels that city guards were a legitimate threat to most. They had to be; they were responsible for stopping players from PKing each other. Yeah, world-wide PKing was a thing back then too; the wilderness wasn't conceived. Fudge, I could talk about a lot of things in the RSC days...

Anyways, by introducing these quests where players had to fight a relatively difficult NPC, a drive to keep on playing and training welled up, and soon players started getting so strong that very few NPCs in the game posed any sort of threat to them. They became respected and prestigious, and thus were a great success in helping Runescape's popularity increase.

The Gowers didn't stop there, though. They continued adding quests both to give players something to do, as well as push their own limits on what's possible. They added Goblin Diplomacy to introduce the idea of using dyes and coloring to solve an item-based puzzle. They added Shield of Arrav to have players team up and cooperate with questing. As the economy started to blossom, they added Pirate's Treasure to help lower level players gain a fair bit of wealth to help them get properly started.

And then came Dragon Slayer. The ultimate quest (at the time). It had everything; item puzzles, skills, running around collecting things, and the toughest NPC the game's ever seen by far; Elvarg. A creature that you needed an item to kill, or it would annihilate you. Technically, the second-ever slayer monster alongside Delrith the Demon, whom you needed to use Silverlight to fight. ... that you could only kill once. And your reward was the ability to buy the runite platebody; the most expensive item in the game. If you went around and saw someone in full runite armor, they had respect. The same kind of respect as seeing someone in full blood-dyed sirenic.

Even still, compared to today, it was still a very generic fetch-and-kill quest, but it was still tricky. A lot of the danger of the quest relied on players being a generically low level and forcing them to go through some higher leveled enemies, which worked because players had to take 3 hits every time an NPC touched them, and running wasn't a thing. Moving around was strategic. Nowadays, you can double-surge/bladed dive through NPCs like they're not there.

From there came the members quests, and those were a lot of the same formula. With a much bigger and more diverse game world, law runes and teleportation became a more tangible method of getting around, and so the quests started to become themed to location, like the Watchtower Quest, Temple of Ikov, and Tourist Trap. The stories could be developed more because the place itself could aid the storytelling. The Underground Pass quest especially so, as it was an entire super-dangerous dungeon that players often died in without getting in a single fight.

That, and around this time NPC chatter became instanced, so everybody could talk to the same NPC at once. This allowed many of the duplicate NPCs to be removed, cleaning the place up a bit. There were still a lot of duplicate NPCs around for the sake of fighting if needed, but that couldn't be helped.

They remained simple. Sometimes there would be a slightly new mechanic, but a lot of the assets were reused and recolored, and many of the puzzles were relatively simple memory, order, and item matching puzzles. Nothing complicated like Sudoku or Puzzle Boxes. But there was an advantage to this simplicity. It allowed them to create new quests with relative ease. Sometimes they would release multiple new quests in a single week! We were at nearly three a month for a good while.

The final quest in Runescape Classic was the Legends Quest, which again combined all the things the development team had done prior. New environment, new landscape, new enemies and bosses, item-based puzzles, and skill levels beyond what most players could even dream of attaining. Herblore especially; level 45 herblore doesn't sound hard, but back then Chaos Druids were about the only way tangible to get herbs and ingredients at all. No Grand Exchange, no Farming, no compromise. Oh, and the boss? You had to fight them in a single go with drained prayer and no food, because you couldn't eat or drink in combat, and if you ran, he vanished and you had to start over. Three times. Fight to the death, baby!

And then came Runescape 2, and the whole formula changed. The Legends Quest suddenly became much easier with the ability to eat and drink potion during fights, and the whole formula changed. Areas weren't as dangerous anymore because players could just run through the mobs, who couldn't run themselves, runecrafting introduced much more readily available runes, and we saw a proper combat triangle appear rather than ranged and magic being supplementary to the main combat ability of melee.

So from there, we saw quests appear with a slightly different format. Namely, quests and battles with the environment playing a factor like Death Plateau, Nature Spirit, and Monkey Madness. Monkey Madness was especially difficult because of how merciless it was towards players; it was immensely easy to die, and we were forced into playing the game strategically like we used to do in Runescape Classic; avoiding detection, plotting out paths, and pacing ourselves with food, prayer, and healing. The age-old formula had all but returned.

As the Runescape world continued to advance, homage was paid to the massive scale by a tiny little quest called One Small Favour, which showed the player-base just how immense and epic a quest could really get, and that the folks at Jagex were not at all above pitting us with a quest that spanned the entire Runescape world, having us interact with so many familiar and possibly pivotal NPCs all over. This was the start of the great epics we would see in the form of While Guthix Sleeps, The World Wakes, and the World Events.

At this point, quests were no longer just fetch-and-kill. They weren't just about satisfying somewhat ungrateful or overly grateful NPCs. They were now changing the Runescape world itself. We advanced an age, we killed a King (regicide) and a Queen (slug), we grew the city of Prifddinas, we pried open the doors to Menaphos, and we saw the return of the Runescape Gods, whom until then were these omnipotent observers that were merely the subject of lore and player-asked God letters (check out letter 21; you might find a familiar face!). And these crazy events spawned a whole new series of quests and stories. They were not simply continuing with sequels; they were spawning a whole new series.

However, for a while, many of the quests spanned familiar areas, doing little more than create new characters and shove us into smaller dungeons now and then for the purpose of creating elaborate puzzles. This was because it was getting difficult to create new assets and many of the designers were already hard at work remaking existing areas. Falador alone saw at least two complete reworks, to name an example.

But then, something happened. They released the NXT engine. And this was the start of an absolute graphics explosion. The world became immersive with skyboxes and a much greater draw distance. Visual flexibility thanks to a dynamic camera and even free-roaming made the level of explorability so much more incredible that even a relatively simple fetch-and-kill quest like Death of Chivalry was an absolute visual masterpiece of a quest.

Since then, quests became scarce. Perhaps 4 new quests a year. So much work and effort were put into their design, story, and audio that they no longer had the same level and complexity as a quest like Sheep Shearer. In fact, some quests took so long to develop that they built up hype with some 2-week-prior preparation events to build up hype and remind players what was going on in the storyline because it had been so gosh darn long.

That's where we stand. Will it improve? Will we need a larger frequency of quests in the future? Honestly, I don't think we will because the formula for quests and the evolution of Runescape assets have made the standards for quests so high that they can no longer bring us quests with the same appeal as we used to have. There are still "miniquests" and "events" that give us something to do, and a whole bunch of post-quest content that takes a considerable amount of grinding to help us pass the time. But, with the economy seeing billions of coins as the high-level norm, skills like surge and home teleports to make getting around trivial, and an enormous number of options for combat, we're not going to get the same level of excitement in a cut-and-paste quest and we're gonna have to just live with it.

Such is the folly of progress. Of evolution. We get better. And we get slower. Fortunately, as we get slower, we also get more patient. And when the quests do eventually come out, they push boundaries once more and become absolute treats for us loyal, long-term Runescape players.

So I hope you guys have a happy 2021. I hope that the folks at Jagex will allow themselves to return to the cut-and-paste formula to help diversify the Runescape world with simple quests to kind of ease off our expectations and, in a word, de-evolve a little. Then perhaps we could see the return of weekly, or even bimonthly quests. Even if they are fetch-and-kill.

But that's always worked in the past. Because quests are fun! Because they're quests!

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!