After writing over 85 articles in my 5 year stint on the Informer it can be quite a challenge sometimes to find a good topic to write about. I’m sure everyone has noticed this by now, as occasionally my articles might make you wonder what the heck I was even trying to say.
It’s an occupational hazard, I’m sorry.
This time, though, I think it will be pretty obvious what I’m talking about, and hopefully, what I’m trying to say.
Over the course of the past…year or two, Jagex has been adding activities which give experience and/or gold. There is nothing wrong with this in concept (who doesn’t like XP and gold?) the problem is in actuality.
Remember that Engineer’s saying, “Good in concept, bad in use”?
No? Oh bother.
Well, without analyzing and inspecting things before, during, and after making changes, you can’t know the repercussions. This appears to be a problem in Runescape.
Lately they have been giving out experience and gold quite liberally. Everyday each player has a decent chance at a few thousand free experience or gold, by way of the Squeal of Failtune. Now, let me repeat, a little bit of free stuff is fine. But Jagex hasn’t stopped there, that is the problem.
Just this week, Jagex added another way to get experience and gold: the Slayer Contracts update. Thankfully, you must earn it to some extent. Essentially, it’s a way to do your own, smaller, slayer assignments. You still have to fight things to get the reward, but you get to choose what you fight. This bypasses the normal way of training slayer, and it also introduces more free gold.
Well, it’s quite simple. If you give players experience for an activity, they accept it. If you don’t give enough experience for a different activity in the same skill, they won’t bother with it.
Point being, if you start giving players easy experience then they will get used to getting experience that way and will stop using the skill for its real purpose. For example, why cut trees with Woodcutting when I can get lamps or do mini-games for the experience? Why should I cook to gain cooking levels, why fish, why make potions, why do this, why do that.
Why should I bother using the skill to do what the skill was made for if I can get easier experience by not using the skill for what it was made for?
Prayer is one of the biggest examples. Point being, to bury bones and use the whole monster you just killed. It’s easier to leave the bones/ashes on the ground and get the same or better experience from random Squeal of Failtune lamps or from minigames or one of the many other experience sources. After all, each bone only gives 5-75 xp. Get a medium lamp on the Squeal of Failtune and BOOM, you get 5-7k(or more) experience easy. That’s nearly a hundred 75 experience bones – and you didn’t even have to bury anything!
The concept can, and is, applied to every skill. It is easier for most players to get a thing that gives some experience to a skill of their choice than to actually train the skill.
So, why train the skill if you’re not even using the skill for what it was meant for?
People like high skill numbers. It makes them feel important or accomplished. And it should! Sadly, though, very few skills (actually, I’m not sure if any) still give this prestige. This is because to get this feeling of accomplishment you must earn it. To get prestige you must have accomplished something that only a small quantity of people have done. That’s nearly impossible nowadays.
There are thousands of people with 99s in each skill(and thousands with 99s in every skill). Which, really, is no surprise at all. With all players receiving free experience, daily, it should come as no surprise that all players are gaining levels rapidly.
It used to be that having one 99 was pretty cool, and having multiple 99s was amazing. Certain 99s, like Herblore, Mining, Prayer, Hitpoints, Agility, Thieving, Farming, and Slayer gave extra prestige because it was hard and took a long time to get those skills to 99.
Not so today.
You have one 99? So what?
You have multiple 99s? That’s ‘nice’.
You have 99 Herblore? Really, how much did it cost you to buy it?
99 Prayer? Let me guess, Soul Wars.
None of these skills which used to give prestige do anymore. They don’t even give normal prestige now because so many people have them.
I have five 99s. None of them are very prestigious now. Two used to be.
I got 99 Fishing first. That was innumerable lobsters and sharks. Monkfish didn’t exist then.
When I first got 99 Defence, I had to spend countless hours killing jogres, fire giants, dust devils, and some slayer(this was mostly before slayer existed).
99 Thieving really wasn’t anything big. Pyramid Plunder made it easy.
92 of my 99 Attack levels were gained before and during the first days of Slayer. The latter days of Slayer gave the other 7 levels.
99 Hitpoints was a culmination of Defence, Attack, 93 Range, and some Genie lamps(they gave skill level times 10 in experience, which was at most 900, nothing compared to today’s lamps).
My first two 99s were pretty big when I got them. My last 3 are meaningless now, along with my first two.
I’m not complaining about that – there are far more accomplished people than me that could. The thing is, neither them nor I have anything special anymore.
A player could start playing Runescape tomorrow, and before the month is out they could have more 99s than me(that’s 15 days).
So, what does easy experience do? Degrade those who previously had to work for their experience.
Too much currency in an economy lowers its value. This is one of the simplest concepts in existence: High demand and low supply raises value, low demand and high supply lowers value.
If you have too much gold in an economy, the value will plummet. Items in demand will raise in price not because their value has changed, but because the currency’s value has changed. This is a hard problem to fix. Left alone, it will ruin an economy because a choice few items will rise to insane prices while others drop to lower than dirt due to people trying to sell them to gain money to buy the expensive item. The other extreme is that the economy will stagnate. No one will be willing to sell below their personal value of it and no one will be willing to pay more than their personal value of it, thus stopping any sales.
Money sinks, however some well intentioned, do not work very well, if at all. They are usually designed in such a way that players are encouraged to spend large amounts of money on something that gives a little return, thus requiring them to spend very large sums of gold to get any noticeable return of value. Construction was, is, and likely always will be wholly intentioned as a money sink. It’s obvious it was designed to be a money sink otherwise planks could be made for free via either Woodcutting, Fletching, or Crafting. The reason Construction does not work as a money sink and is merely a novelty skill is because it requires huge sums of gold and gives an extreme little return of real worth.
Chaotic Equipment is probably Jagex’s best attempt at curbing the growing quantities of gold. As we all probably know, once you buy a chaotic item for a few hundred thousand Dungeoneering Tokens, you can repair it for a few million gold. Expensive it seems, but those who have that many Dungeoneering tokens usually have lots of extra gold. This works well for moderating the gold of people who have spent the time to reach that level Dungeoneering.
Problem is, most of the free cash Jagex gives away doesn’t go to Dungeoneers, it goes to people who don’t use Chaotic equipment. If Jagex made items like the Chaotic items for lower levels, they may be able to moderate the gold of multiple levels of players better.
While free or easy experience and gold is nice on a personal level, it ultimately messes with the games atmosphere, economy, and climate. It changes unforeseen values in ways unintended and not desired.
If Jagex wants to fix the atmosphere of Runescape and fix the economy, they will re-evaluate their Halloween-style candy-giving rewards.