Runescape today is a drastically different game than when it was released in 2001. It has gone from a tiny semi-cult game with only a few servers to the massive developmental institution it is today. According to a study done my mmogchart.com in April 2008, Runescape dominated the second largest share of the market pie, at approximately 7.5%, nothing compared to the massive 62.2% held by World of Warcraft. One does have to remember that the statistics are probably somewhat off nowadays, with “Farmville” probably dominating the current market.
Anyways, with Runescape now having over 1 million paying members and who knows how many active F2P account, the game, both figuratively and literally has changed. No longer are new players sent out into the world of Runescape knowing nothing but the most rudimentary of techniques. Now, due to the game’s popularity, the system leads them by the hand, so far as giving them almost effortless cash (albeit in small amounts) near the beginning. Hence, both the proliferation of froobs and the ironic death of the term for the most part.
In response to the great demand of players asking JAGeX to lead them by the hand, and the greater desire of obsessive fanboys (I myself am partly guilty of this, although I am not obsessive), JAGeX has become social. I guess you’re probably thinking “didn’t Brad v.1 write about JAGeX and its social aspects?”. The answer is “yes, he did.” but he covered it from the fansite point of view.
Runescape is truly doing what other companies have done for their MMOs, which is let the community in on what they’re doing. Dev blogs, the youtube, twitter, and facebook accounts were all the first steps toward getting in contact with the community. As JAGeX has pointed out, in the past, the community management “team” was practically nonexistent. Now, they have a team of 4 dedicated staffers to set up events, coordinate the different cups, lead the triumvirate, make videos, post to the yotube channel, tweet, etc.
They have gone from a secretive, almost shifty, content only company to one that actually interacts and is making an effort to support the community. I’m not trying to suck up to JAGeX, but the relationship between us (the players) and them (the developers) has improved greatly.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I did find Brad v.1’s occasional rants about JAGeX quite amusing. Now, instead of just complaining about this, that or some other thing to each other, we can finally send in our complaints, ask about decisions made by JAGeX in Q&A sessions and voice our concerns as players to ears that will actually try to listen.
I’m also not saying that the system is perfect, things still fall through the cracks. So to not just kiss a** or complain about them, I have a few suggestions that could make both the relationship and the game as a whole better.
1. Create normal player focus groups:
This would involve gathering a group of your normal, everyday Runscape players from all different backgrounds in gameplay, not to mention different countries and languages and have them play through some of the new content. Of course, those players that would see the new content would need to sign NDAs (Non-disclosure agreements) to keep control of any and all possible leaks. These special beta-testers would play advanced versions of the content to be released and respond to surveys afterwards, not to check for bugs, but to double verify that the content is solid, and the problems in gameplay can be weeded out before release. This makes sure that not just the developers think it’s well implemented and is a good addition to the game.
2. A revamp of the fan-site relationship system created by JAGeX:
See Brad v.1’s guest article. A whole rework is needed to truly acknowledge that most RS fan-sites cannot survive without ad revenue, and so, the rating needs to be adjusted.
3. A Continuation of RuneFest, with international events as well:
RuneFest, by all accounts, was a huge success. One problem, it was in the UK only. The Runescape population is for the most part in the americas, especially in the U.S.A. and Canada. I propose that regional RuneFests be held with the following distribution: North-America (English), South-America(Portuguese) and Europe (English).
4. Reinforced servers and crowd control for JAGeX Events:
I have been to JAGeX sponsored events before, and have noticed 2 things. The server ends up completely packed, so there’s a max of 2000 attendees, and there is no true control over said events. I imagine that it would be possible to reinforce and double or even triple capacity servers to accommodate more people and to lessen the epic lag that you get when there. The other problem that I hope someday is solved is the max people you can view in a single area be increased. It always slightly annoys me whenever there is a giant drop party, JAGeX event or just trading on worlds 1 and 2 that you can only see a max of not even 100 people. To try and find friends in such a crowd is nigh impossible because depending on the concentration, you can only see 50 squares around you, with that level of concentration extending through most of the area of Varrock. Crowd control in another problem that could be enforced by PMods and JMods so that whoever is in charge of said event can actually get their point across and have things run smoothly and without constant spam of “@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@”, “adjhflkahdpiqwekjdfliquwebzkcxvh”, “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, etc. to pollute what should be an otherwise enjoyable event.
All in all, JAGeX has been doing better, but there still is a ways to go. Hence we must remember that they are just as human as we are and can’t do everything, so there will always be failures.
I sincerely hope that some of the problems and suggestions that I have covered are at some point discussed and maybe solved, though i can’t expect that either all of them will be answered or that if they are answered, it is in the fashion I propose.