This week saw the removal of Bounty Hunter. Bounty Hunter was a sort of minigame that was, essentially, a controlled version of Player VS Player. Players were assigned other players as targets, which sort of made the battlefield less chaotic and more direct, and included a fun bonus of dropping a random high-tiered weapon to effectively become a juggernaut with for those who decided they wanted to be really epic.
At the time of its release, though, it was sort of necessary.
We were on the early stages of the age of limited trade. Due to the influx of bots, Jagex invoked perhaps the most gutsiest move an MMORPG could make; limiting the freedom of trade, effectively turning every single player into a pseudo iron-man. This effectively destroyed real-world trading in game and cut down the player base by more than half (though the majority of that were people who benefitted from RWT, so no problems there), but it did very much limit the game's interactivity between players.
The big change there was that the wilderness lost its PVP capability entirely and instead became home of the ever-exciting revenants. Naturally, if players couldn't trade, they would instead carry the goods, let themselves be "killed" in the wilderness, and let the benefactor scoop up the "rewards". Nope, couldn't have that, so the wilderness was abolished.
However, the folks at Jagex simply could not remove PVP altogether, as it played a very critical aspect to the game. Minigames like the Duel Arena and Fight Cave became very popular, and Bounty Hunter was created to restore that sort of chaos without letting players take advantage of a loophole through limited trade. On killing one another, victims lost their stuff, and winners only got tokens towards other rewards in return (considerably valuable ones, mind). This maintained the PVP economy and prevented RWT.
Since then, advancements were made for detecting bots, cheaters, and RWT people, and eventually the wilderness and free trade was restored. Bounty Hunter remained for a while because it still held some very good rewards, and some players liked the option of being assigned targets and becoming juggernauts.
As the years went by, though, and more and more PVP based minigames arose (Soul Wars, Stealing Creation, Fist of Guthix, etc), Bounty Hunter became obsolete, and the rewards became lackluster. Eventually, it became as abandoned as the Temple of Mort'ton (those distraction dummies don't do squat...). It was no longer necessary because PVP was once again free and limitless, and the wilderness was a lot more fun to explore and interact with due to all the monsters and traps, and space, and environments, and opportunities, and skill locations...
And what do game companies do with obsolete content?
... not a whole lot, actually. If it's obsolete, it would be much more effort to remove it than just leave it in. You know, just in case newcomer folks want to give it a try. Not just that, but upon removing it and turning its original rewards into super-rare, sacred treasures, the economy would go crazy and the player base would rage. It would just be too risky.
But this is Jagex. These are the guys who took away a huge, fundamental part of Runescape just to spite real-world trading. These are the guys who invented the eight-barrel omni-directional dwarf multicannon! These are the guys who designed a fully-outlined theme park as a joke. These are the guys who turned a head of cabbage into a God! They don't do things by the book.
They removed Bounty Hunter. Straight-up removed it. Redistributed the rewards. Turned it into a PVM minigame in the more popular, more expansive wilderness. Took a full week (maybe more) to do it. To put it more bluntly, they spent time and effort to REMOVE perfectly good and stable game content! Which is sort of the opposite of what game companies do!
But that's exactly what should be done. Runescape is a land built up from content and updates over the past 15+ years. While the variety is most certainly welcome; unless you are expanding the landmass itself, things are going to get really really cluttered. And because the folks at Jagex already created proper poster art of the Gielinor island, they've inadvertently limited themselves to where content can be placed. As such, we end up with interdimensional rifts in a swamp, great fortresses overshadowing ice-capped mountains, and a mighty Armadylian tower, housing the great bird god himself, sitting next door to a local farmhouse.
These cleanups are necessary to keep the game in a balanced, simplistic, perhaps even believable state. MMORPGs are popular because of their immersion; making it so you actually become the character you are playing as and growing with them. As such, the environments they interact with have to be believable and make sense. And if something doesn't make sense, or is just there cluttering the world with a spent purpose, it's much better off being removed.
Sorry to the three people who are actually going to miss Bounty Hunter. Might I recommend playing cards?
Until next time,