Singing in the Rain

posted by on 21st July 2008, at 2:32pm

What’s up with the title you ask?  Well, with the release of the stunning new “high-def” graphics on Runescape, everyone is staring in awe and shock at their monitors, drooling over the brilliant new landscape and the detailed new faces.  However, there are still a few things that could be implemented to make Runescape even better than it is now: better music (singing) and a realistic sky (rain).

Whats That Sound I Hear?

Having long awaited the HD full-screen mode ever since the first news post was made about it, I eagerly logged on and was washed away into the world of intense, eye-catching graphics.  I had taken a walk around a few towns before I noticed something was off.  It couldn’t be the graphics, as my eyes had been trained on them the whole time and would have easily noticed if something was wrong.  It was only after I sat there, unmoving for a little while until I realized what it was – the music.  Jagex has outdone themselves graphics-wise, not only the game but also the site and the login screen as well.  However, the music that they have is still the old midi sequences that remind us all of the bland old Runescape.

I realize that most people don’t play with the music on, but I’m one of the few who do and cares about it.  Being a rather musical person myself, I found myself nitpicking away at Runescape’s music.  It just didn’t seem to fit, since the graphics had advanced to the next level.  For example, as I was walking past the mountain containing the Dwarven Mines to get to Falador, I was very impressed with the new look on the mountain, the new shades on the trees, and even the new road/fencing.  However when I heard the music – the same, familiar MIDI melody I had heard there ever since I first started playing Runescape – the atmosphere changed rather quickly for me.  It felt as though I was walking around Paris while listening to the Mario NES soundtrack.

Runescape’s audio team outdid themselves back a few months ago when they completely redid the music to make it sound instrumental.  At that time, when Runescape was still the “low-def” game, the music completely surpassed the graphics with their new tones.  When I first heard the new music the game felt like a completely different experience for me simply because I was hearing things in a new way.  However now that I’m seeing things in a new way, the music seems boring and dull again as it once had.

Before writing this article I re-read the audio development diary that had been put out and brushed away my idea that Runescape could have MP3-type music instead of MIDI, since it stated that Jagex must try and make the music files as small as possible.  However that doesn’t mean that the quality must be as small as possible either.  I’ve heard many great song clips that are MIDI’s (example: click here), so it is possible for MIDI’s to sound close to MP3 quality.  If I had known about Runescape HD before the release of the audio revamp, I would have suggested that the audio team wait until after or a bit before the HD release to change the music so that they could get a feel for the new graphics and see what types of music would reflect the new environment best.  Since that’s out of the question now though, the only thing that seems possible would be to wait until the next audio rework.  I’m hoping that will be soon though, because now that the graphics are amazing the only thing that’s bringing the game slightly down is the music quality.

Still Lacking an Atmosphere

So now there’s no void of darkness looming above whenever you walk around.  There’s no more “end of the world” nothingness when you look ahead at the far east side of the wilderness.  There is now the endless fog that engulfs the far surroundings.  First things first, this “fog” is most definitely better than the blackness before.  However, it seems highly unlikely that Runescape will be covered in fog for all eternity.  With the current advancements Jagex has made to the game, there should be no reason they can add one more thing that would make Runescape even more realistic – a sky.

As it currently is it still looks rather dreary whenever you stare ahead to see only white.  It’s pretty much the same thing as when black was there, except now it’s a different color.  If instead you were to stare ahead and see a nice blue sky with birds flying (yes, in the actual sky and not what looks like five feet above water), it would make your game experience much more entertaining.

Inputting a sky also inputs many more game options.  One would be the sky changing colors depending on the time of day.  Jagex could simply look at your IP to determine where you’re connecting from and match the changing of sky colors to where your location is.  Okay, maybe that isn’t too simple but it’s an idea.  There could even be a sunrise and a sunset during a certain hour of the day.  This could also be incorporated with lighting effects, since they also have those now in HD.  The brightness of your surroundings could coincide with the brightness of the sky, adding in a completely new feel for the game.

A sky can also bring weather.  There could be random intervals where it’s rainy and sunny, and perhaps in winter even snow.  Perhaps even high winds could be possible, where it will slow down walking/running time.  This would all be dependent on the sky.  Weather could also be incorporated with music.  When it rains perhaps all the melodies could go to a different, darker key, and vice versa when it’s sunny.  Weather could also affect many skills, which was mentioned before in RSBANDB Update.  All this would make Runescape a much more practical world.

The game now looks about ten times better and more realistic with the new graphics.  However there are some things that it still lacks which would make it even better, which is to be expected.  After all, the more ideas that are thought of and used, the closer Jagex is to a state of perfection

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One Comment

  • tobylane Says:
    1st September 2008, at 3:16pm

    Surely the audio team would have seen most of RSHD when they were working on their stuff.

    There’s MidiHD soon or out.

    Atmosphere is about as far out as mp3 music. Good, but so far away from what it is now.