RuneScape: Not an Average MMORPG
September 18th 2012.
The Internet: the ultimate worldwide network that connects people in ways never before seen in the history of humanity, it has provided limitless benefits to mankind both in productivity and entertainment; the panicle of which comes in the form of the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or MMORPG. Due to the massive network that is the Internet the MMORPG genre of gaming has grown exponentially over the last twenty years, one of the most successful of such games is RuneScape. RuneScape has been a top contending MMORPG ever since its debut in 2001 under the publishing of Jagex Gaming Studios; boasting multiple Golden Joystick Awards, the title of number one free MMORPG on the market for several consecutive years, and over 11 years of constant updating are just a few of testaments to RuneScape’s success. Compared to other top contenders, such as Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft and Joymax’s Silk Road Online, RuneScape holds its own niche as its low specifications, low memory use, and price hold only a fraction of the reason for its continued success.
What makes RuneScape a unique MMORPG cannot be found solely in its low system requirements; RuneScape has much more to offer over the competition. RuneScape sets itself apart from its competition in that it is a browser based MMORPG that runs on cutting edge Java programming, very few programs can boast a Java coded game as a success but such feats have been accomplished solely by the Jagex staff whom continue to develop their Java programming skills to improve their game to ensure it stays top of the line. An added bonus to the Java based programming allows RuneScape to maintain a rather low cost for its optional membership content, which is updated almost every week; other MMORPGs severely limit the access to content from nonpaying members, be it restricted leveling, a flat cost for the game, or constant bombardment with ads, among other annoyances. Complementing its low cost RuneScape also boasts a large number of hours’ worth of unique content for a gamer to enjoy at their leisure, I have played RuneScape for over six years and still have a massive portion of the game to experience.
One of RuneScape’s most appealing aspects is its deep game lore, with over 150 unique quests that range from the story of Zanik, a curious cave-goblin whom is blessed to be the Chosen Commander of her race’s deity, to the mysteries of the Mahjarrat, Lich-like beings who are among the most powerful denizens of RuneScape; the variety and deep lore involved in each quest completely immerses the player. Complementing the detailed quests and lore surrounding them are the musical accompaniments that really set the mood for the quests; several technological advancements over the years have paved the way for the phenomenal musical pieces, an excellent example of the musical advancements can be found in the members’ only quest One Piercing Note, which was RuneScape’s first fully voiced quest. Other MMORPGs have a very limited soundtrack and poor ambiance around their lack luster questlines, RuneScape triumphs in this instance hands down as the programmers strive to improve the quality of their work constantly.
Another key difference between RuneScape and other MMORPGs is the skill-training aspect of the game. MMORPGs such as Silk Road and World of Warcraft limit characters to specific numbers of skills and class specific traits that create a problem for those who wish to collect their own materials, in addition training to higher levels in the non-combat aspects tend to yield poor results for the effort put into training the skills. RuneScape, however, offers 25 skills with unique aspects and benefits specific to each skill and does not limit the player to which skills they can train, allowing a much more diverse game experience as defined by each individual. A drawback to the 25 skills of RuneScape manifests in that each skill can take significant time to train to the maximum level of 99, barring the maximum level of 120 that the Dungeoneering skill has due to its unique training methods; however this time consuming work pays off for the player as higher skills are seen as a sign of prestige as well as handy methods of making in game money.
Consequently, RuneScape does have a downside that other MMORPGs triumph over: the combat aspect. Most MMORPGs work based on a hot-bar system where a player has a variety of specific abilities to damage their foes, this system has the benefit of creating a more in-depth and skill based combat experience at the cost of a drawn out fight. RuneScape on the other hand has a very basic “click and wait” style combat system with very few abilities which are usually weapon specific; however, as of July 2012 a new combat system has been revealed that will evolve into a slightly more condensed version of the hot-bar style system while retaining the simplicity of the “click and wait” style combat traditional to RuneScape.
Jagex have a final ace up their sleeve which ensures RuneScape’s differentiation and triumph over other MMORPG hosting companies: Jagex have been constantly at war with the illegal practice of “Gold Farming”, I.E. the illegal practice of using macro-programs to run a large number of characters at a time for the goal of collecting a massive amount of in-game money and items to sell illegally over the internet. This illegal practice manifests in the realm of RuneScape in the form of thousands of low-level accounts, known as “bots” due to their repeated and robotic actions, that capitalize on high-value resources in order to make a quick profit for the illegal company that runs the “bots”. In every case the practice of gold farming is illegal in that it ruins the game for legitimate players, allows lazy players to buy their way to success, and legally harms Jagex financially. Most MMORPG hosting companies will ignore the illegal practice in their games, Jagex have always kept the players in mind alongside their own causes and, as of August 2012, have launched their ultimate weapon against the illegal companies that parasite onto their game. (More information about the war against such illegal practices can be found here http://runescape.wikia.com/wiki/Real_world_trading.)
In spite of a few downsides, RuneScape has its advantages over the average MMORPG. With an ever expanding amount of content, a low cost, and promising changes for the better in the works RuneScape triumphs where others have failed in terms of adapting to the current state of the MMORPG. If you’ve ever written off RuneScape as a bad MMORPG or had bad experience with other MMORPGs you should give RuneScape another chance, much has changed over the years and Jagex are always looking for feedback on how to improve their game. In terms of average, RuneScape is anything but.