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,