A cool mist rolls over an empty plane. Only a single figure stands on this field of battle. They are the champion, the one that fought the hardest, and gained victory in this harsh land. This land is the wilderness. Scenes like this have only been in the memories of players for a long time, but only on the 1st of February, Jagex is re-releasing the old wilderness along with “free trade” back into the game.
On the 10th of December in 2007, Jagex made the decision to remove the player vs. player aspect from the wilderness. Much of the layout stayed the same, but the attraction of the wilderness was gone. The draw of the old wilderness was that the player could attack any other player or monster in the wilderness, and they would receive whatever the player was carrying if they killed them. Unfortunately this made it easier for gold farmers to sell their in-game gold for real-world money. For this same reason, the “free trade” in the game was removed.
Before the wilderness and trade update, players used to be able to give any amount of money or items to another player. Gold farmers used this to also sell their gold for money. The update caused players to only be able to trade within 30k gp of how much they are offering, which means they could only receive 30k gp for free at a time. Then they would have to wait another 15 minutes to be able to receive 30k again. Free players could only trade within 3k gp. These updates got rid of most all of the real-world trading and macroing at the time. These results were followed by many negative results though.
The economy went haywire when this happened. Prices fluctuated very much on many items, and many people began to profit off of manipulating the grand exchange. Several updates were made to try to offer the substitute of player-killing, but these lacked the feel that the old wilderness provided: lack of restrictions. Many debates have raged since the update, some arguing in favour of the update, and some against it. The topic is one of the most controversial updates ever on Runescape. However, Jagex mostly stayed silent about their plans with the wilderness. They battled the controlled economy the best they could, but that was a losing war as well. In December of 2010, Jagex released a poll about bringing back the old wilderness and free trade, where all the user had to do was input a valid user-name. After an overwhelming amount of results, Jagex re-released the poll with the option to vote against the proposed update. In about a month’s time, the new version of the poll had almost as many votes for it as the first one, but still slightly less. A news announcement followed a few days later announcing the re-introduction of the old wilderness and free trade. There were many details that had to be worked out in both areas.
The wilderness was to be changed in many ways. The old revenants were to be re-located, and players were be able to attack other players. One change in particular is the cause of much debate, and will not be decided for at least a few weeks after the update that would bring it back. This change is that extreme potions and the overload potion are not allowed to be used in the wilderness. They are deemed to powerful, and unfair to any players who would not know that they were using the potions. The arguments on both sides of the issue are strong, and have good points on both side. Jagex has so far stated that these potions were not being let in the wilderness, but there is much consideration about tweaking the restrictions.
One might ask if real-world traders and botters would come back now that free trade is coming back. One would think that would be so. Jagex has said they have made advanced methods for tracking real-world traders, as well as macro detection systems for botters. They did not give any details upon how they work, they just have them. Another change to be made to the economy is that the limits on the items on the grand exchange will be removed so that the prices will be free to fluctuate according to the demand of the market. This may make the economy return to a more favorable state, and hopefully balance it.
The next few weeks will prove very crucial in Runescape. The clash of new methods, items, and skills in this old arena will most definitely produce many unexpected results. It could be the greatest or worst update the game has ever seen, the hype over it cannot even be stated. The only thing that can be hoped is that everything will work out and that players will be able to kill and trade to their heart’s content.