Alex’s Analysis – Communes of the Community

posted by on 22nd March 2010, at 1:19am

An X number of years ago, player interactivity on the Jagex site was confined merely to playing the game. Every so often, Andrew or Paul appeared and it would cause a rejoicing as though the messiahs have finally descended. Once, to prevent scandals regarding early-coming player owned houses, which involved players “pretending” to be Jagex and “selling” the houses, Andrew himself spawned his character in the unreachable area and strictly told everyone that they would announce its forthcoming officially on the Jagex site, and that we were all being scammed.

For a time, there used to be an old version of forums. Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, runite was actually a well-composed essay of an idea by a clever player, and I’m sure if you browse the internet enough, you will find the post hiding somewhere in cyberspace to prove it. Funnily enough, runite was “almost” purple, but Jagex decided to warrant the idea a little and turned it a nice cyan color. I read the post before it came out, so when it actually appeared in the legends guild after I completed my first set of adamantite, I was shocked beyond belief. They actually used a player’s idea to almost the full extent!

Suddenly, without warning, the forums vanished. I cannot remember the reason for it, but I have convinced myself that it was due to either inactivity or pointlessness, since there really wasn’t all that much to discuss.

Then came the God letters. An announcement was thrown out offering an e-mail address for players to send letters to their favourite God of Wisdom, Saradomin. This happened for about 6 times or so, and things got interesting when Zamorak “intercepted” Saradomin’s bag of letters and answered them in his own stylized way. Then, eventually, Guthix awoke momentarily from his slumber, and the three Gods traded them off with each other for a few more sets. You can find the letters on the website still, with particular notice to a specific cannon-themed question on letter 22. *Sly wink*

Then player moderators were created soon after the release of Runescape 2, which is pretty much what we play today. Back then, they were individually hand-picked by Jagex staff who “happened” to be there.

Then, out of nowhere, the forums returned! Better than ever and well-organized! They had been a popular demand since content was expanding at a rapid rate and players did miss them. To add to this, it became only partially rare to see a member of Jagex appear on a world, and player/forum moderator populations exploded. Not only that, but they set up the inquiry system, where patient players can send in their questions (or abuse appeals) and eventually a Jagex member would reply with an answer.

Then came the monthly Postbag from the Hedge. The God letters hadn’t been appearing for a while, and interactivity was back down, so in came the ability to ask any character in Runescape their thoughts and beliefs. Creative, in my opinion, because it not only allowed the unique points of view all around to come out, but it also helped the fiction immersion that the characters did, in fact, exist. Since the majority of the players are immature 13-year-olds (don’t try to deny it; when was the last time YOU helped around the house?), it went over so well that they didn’t stop there. The introduced the Players Gallery and the Polls some time later, and started throwing in hints to the game’s future updates rather than a monthly synopsis, which by now, seems to have stopped altogether.

In came mod events. In came scheduled games. And in came Mod MMG. Andrew transferring the reigns of progress over to him so he could have more fun improving Runescape than telling others how (don’t blame him, that’s what I like about programming too), and he steered it right into the community stream. They announced a clan submissions page, a fansite list and directory, their own Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, and even started inviting players over to their Headquarters through machinima competitions! Clans became encouraged through purposely-coded clan based events like Clan Wars and Stealing Creation, team capes, chat-rooms, player-owned house dungeons, and more.

Now, players hardly have to try to get a response from Jagex. Throw in an inquiry in a monthly (or even bi-monthly) questions and answers forum, and they will get a properly thought-out response! How cool is that?

Strangely, though, the players gallery had all but whittled away, making many pictures mysteriously vanish (including mine). The Postbag from the Hedge seems to now only come out every 2nd or 3rd month, and a Player Gallery update is a rare sighting. It almost seems like they are getting a little too involved, and are losing the ability to focus on newer and greater things. Sure, they are talking about their resolve – how they’re doing incredibly well, and are tremendously excited for the next updates to come. The Jagex Team had increased dramatically in size, and more in-game interactions through events and whatnot are commonplace. Heck, they’re more involved in their game than Bungie is with Halo.

But is that really true? Updates are being delayed or replaced with what I would call “filler”.

One of the main things I’m seeing a lack of that I really commended Jagex for are story-lines. Story-lines are becoming less and less grasping, even for an avid quester like myself. Yes, they have reasons for these things, but even I can come up with reasons for just about anything that happens and make them sound good.

Even in the last Mysteries of the Mahjarrat, where I got to meet Azzanadra again and help him out, all it really involved was a runaround gathering items through puzzles and whatnot. Perhaps if he had hired somebody with a little muscle – say an undead demon or two, he wouldn’t really have even needed me. Perhaps if I was required to actually use the spoonable tools on the table and actually bring up the pillars while Azzanadra preached about the things to come, it would’ve given me a little more focus as to the goings-on and, most importantly, the potential morality that I’m doing either the right or wrong thing. The only thing I really liked about the quest was that it resolved Devious Minds. About time, too.

The Chosen Commander series was good. The Fremmenik lands series was … all right, save for the end of it all. Come on, you guys! Surely one of you can tell an interesting story or two still. I don’t care if it takes you a full month to release a quest, just please make it a good, emotional, immersive one!

I appear to have sidetracked, haven’t I? I’m supposed to be talking about the community.

Believe it or not, I am. Why are Jagex pressured into keeping a somewhat rush-rush schedule and preventing them from taking their time? The more involved they become with the community, the more complaints they will receive from every trivial thing. Some imbecile will decide to rant about something 95% of the population supports, and there will be an all-out war breaking out. Riots, spammers, the like. They are discouraging! And being more involved with the community means they take those words to heart more.

Can’t really say I’ve hit a nail on the head here. More like I’m using a pillow to drive it down. Nevertheless, it’s something I’ve noticed.

Jagex, you guys make an awesome game. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, they may riot, but guess what? They must log onto YOUR game to do it! YOUR forums! If they were really upset about it, they wouldn’t even bother playing anymore! And yet, they’re still paying for membership just to be in the crowd. You know what this means? They don’t actually want to prove a point.

They want attention. You’re giving them attention. Now the ever-greedy newbies want even more. You gotta ease it a little. I enjoyed the monthly players gallery and postbag from the hedge, but because you are becoming more involved, you are instead allowing fansites to show us this incredible fanwork. With less of a need on your own, you eradicated much of your own players gallery and have hardly updated the postbag at all!

We all love Runescape for different reasons. I love it because it’s a game. An escape into a virtual, made-up world that spawns adventure and curiosity with every event. In comes the strange power event which lasts for 7 seconds, and already we have wikis and youtube videos holing up terabytes of space on the servers.

Don’t be discouraged, you guys! Take your time! Find a good story, and tell it to the best of your abilities. I’ll wait. Heck, the waiting in anticipation is sometimes a lot more fun than the quest itself. We can wait. Do your best, and you’ll be rewarded.

And please, if they speak in all capitals, they just want attention. Ignore them completely unless they have valid reasons that you can actually take to heart.

OK, I’m done. Call that a rant or not, it’s merely an analysis.

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One Comment

  • Spoc77 Says:
    24th March 2010, at 7:23am

    Hardly what I would call a rant, its far to structured 😉 Besides is the journey not the destination thats memorable. Its not the endings of quests most will think of but surely the “getting there”