Tuesday, 31 July 2012

I Have Nothing To Say About Runescape

There was a discussion over at Spinksville the other day in the course of which I rashly mentioned Runescape. Spinks suggested that if I had something to say about the game maybe I'd like to say it instead of pointing out that no-one else was saying anything.

I've never played Runescape. No, that's not strictly true. I did play it a handful of times, for a few hours in total. The first time was November 2011 which is spectacularly late to the party for a game that started in 2001. I really have no explanation for why it took me ten years to get around giving it a try. I'd known about it for years and back in the pre-WoW era there weren't so many English language MMORPGs going around that you could afford to ignore one. I bought and played all the other big names of that generation - UO, EQ, AO, AC, DAOC, the whole alphabet soup. I even jumped on lesser-knowns like Rubies of Eventide and Endless Ages and played the heck out of them for a while.

I've been racking my brains over why I wouldn't have given Runescape a run and I can't come up with a good answer. For some reason it literally never occurred to me. I had nothing against it, indeed I knew very little about it. Still don't, which is particularly surprising since Runescape isn't just any old MMO, it's a Guinness Record holder: the world's largest free MMORPG with over 200 million accounts created. And more than that, it's British.

I don't have any pictures of Runescape.
That's why I used it as an example in Spinks's discussion when I was commenting on how many MMOs there are that never get written about on any of the blogs I read. Spinks and I are both based in Britain and this game is British, far and away the biggest MMO ever made in this country and the biggest F2P MMORPG in the world and neither of us has played it to any degree nor considered writing about it.

Well, as  Spinks points out, she's only one person. So am I, one who complains constantly that I don't have time to play all the MMOs I'm interested in let alone write about them all. It really makes no sense for any of us to start writing about ones we don't play. But someone must. All those players, there must be blogs. So I went to look for them.

Runescape blogs seem to operate entirely differently from the MMO blogs I'm used to reading. No-one seems to use Blogger or Wordpress. Most of the google results took me to Sal's Realm of Runescape which appears to host blogs through a forum. As far as I can tell, this precludes adding them to a blog reader although maybe someone reading this knows how that can be made to happen. The other excellent, extremely informative blog I found was on something called Wizzley, another blog-hosting service I've never heard of. It's no wonder I never ran across any of these. It's like a mirror world.

All these are from Wingnut's Steam Fair
So, what's hot in the Runescape blogosphere? Pay-to-win. It's a dirty word almost anywhere (alright, three dirty words) but the dust is really flying over there. Apparently veteran players are leaving in droves and all the active Runescape blogs I tracked down seemed to be talking mostly about the death of the game as they'd known and loved it.

In the extensive, heated discussions on cash shops and microtransactions that I've read and taken part in over the years Runescape has rarely if ever come up. I couldn't have told you if it had a cash shop or not. Apparently it didn't but now it does and this is a very big deal indeed to the Runescape community.

Until this year Jagex, creators and publishers of Runescape, funded the game through a combination of premium accounts (subs) and advertising. In February this year they introduced something appealingly called the Squeal of Fortune, a form of roulette where players can win items including some that give xp. A mere two months after that a microtransaction currency was added, allowing players to buy turns on the Squeal for real money. This month they added a full Cash Shop.

EQ2, Freeport server, Medium Homes. Go visit it. It's free!
That's a decision at least on a par with SOE selling Europe to PSS1 in terms of controversy and ethics. Oh come on now, Bhagpuss? Ethics? Bit strong, what? Well, I didn't bring the word into the discussion. Jagex's Chief Executive Mark Gerhard did in an interview he gave to The Guardian. After soundly rubbishing the entire concept of funding an MMO via microtransactions he finished by saying "Ethically you can say it devalues the product".

That leaves disgruntled Runescape players in the place disgruntled SOE players know so well. Get used to it or get out. One response of Everquest players to a never-ending sequence of changes they didn't like was Project 1999. Runescape has RS2006 for which almost 125,000 people have signed up.

All this happening in my own country, in my main hobby, right now and yet I didn't know about any of it. You don't find if you don't look. I still can't tell you why I never played Runescape but it doesn't look like this is a good time to start.

5 comments:

  1. Hiya,

    Yes, you can get Sal's Blogs into a reader. Select the blog you like (top page, not a blog entry) and the RSS feed is beside the person's name.

    For example, here's my good friend Teacuptime's blog: http://runescape.salmoneus.net/forums/blog/570-sals-realm-of-teabreak/ Can you see the RSS logo there? All Sal's blogs have them.

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  2. Ah thanks. The RSS logo is waaaaaay down the very bottom of the page and really tiny!

    I'll definitely be adding a couple of the blogs I browsed - some good stuff there.

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  3. Runescape was my very first MMO, so it has a special place in my heart. But I actually had no idea about it's own blogosphere.

    The blogosphere runs deep. There are whole worlds out there that I am blissfully unaware of. Points to you for going out of your way to explore one.

    Perhaps I'll try and discover what the Japanese MMO blogosphere is all about. Adventure, here I come!

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  4. I'll mention that to Sal for you. <3

    I should have also told you that a whole Runescape blogosphere does exist. The best place to find them all is Runescape Reader's Digest: http://runescapereader.blogspot.co.uk/

    The person who runs it has encountered a severe case of real life this year. Hence it's not updated every day, as it used to be. But the archives are full of RS bloggers. :)

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  5. I play Runescape, I actually have for the most part actively since 2004. It has it's ups and downs. I'd prefer it without the microtransactions, but it doesn't break the game, at least not to me. I still play it's older version, still provided by through some servers from Jagex. I'm not talking about the 2007 style game of Old School Runescape Jagex runs, but Runescape 1 (or Classic as they call it). I've never noticed a blogosphere for Runescape. Well I knew what Sal's realm was, but I haven't used it in years, and I only did for Quest Guides back in the day.

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