That was (not so) Random

posted by on 20th September 2011, at 3:17pm

Over this past bonus experience weekend I got to thinking about random events, and how predictable they are.

In Jagex’s article about random events it states:
“Random events will occur with a certain degree of regularity, but if you consistently complete events successfully, you will encounter them less frequently.”

The first odd thing I noticed is that the first third of the statement is an oxymoron (referring to the part that says that “random events will occur with a certain degree of regularity.”). How can something that’s random appear regularly? And if it appears regularly, how is it random?
Secondly, in the latter half of the statement it states that consistently completing them correctly will reduce your chances of getting them. Now I’m not sure about you, but I know I have not failed the past 500 or so random events I’ve gotten, yet I still consistently get at least one random event every time I log on (even if it is only for 30 minutes or less).

What I find strange is the fact that Random Events were originally added many, many years ago to combat bots (which in those days were mostly mouse movement recordings, not people), yet if you cut trees or fish or do any other activity which also has a bot doing it, you’ll probably find that you receive more random events than they do! There are two problems with this: a) if the bot receives less randoms than the player then according to Jagex the bot is actually completing the Random Events better than the player. b) If this is the case, than the Random Events are actually backfiring in that they do not stop the bots and they instead hinder the players!

Let’s look at bots through the years.

Mouse Movement Recording
These are the oldest bots and pretty much the first ones. Since there were originally no bot problems and thus no anti-bot devices in Runescape, these bots were fairly simple to make and operate. It involved a player simply recording their mouse movements with a Ghost mouse type program. This was often just clicking a certain resource (example, a tree) every minute or so and then after 5 to 10 minutes banking and returning to the tree. Then the recording would continue repeating those movements.
Versus Anti-bot Methods: This method is obsolete now primarily because of Random Events but also because of detection methods used by Jagex. Since this method was merely a recording of pre-determined movements, whenever a random event appeared for the bot they could not complete it and thus would get penalized by either dying (in the case of the old protective random events) or be teleported (in the case of the Mysterious old Man). Both randoms easily stopped this type of botting. Alternatively, the other reason why they don’t work today is because Jagex checks every character movement. Since every movement with this method always happens at the same interval, Jagex can easily tell that it’s a bot because humans cannot be that precise.

Semi-Intelligent Script
This method was widely used for quite awhile because it was able to recognize and solve a large portion of the simple random events. Things like if the bot was being attacked or if it had been teleported could be detected. But most times things like the Angry Ent or Exploding Rock could not as the item name in game did not actually change.
Versus Anti-bot Methods: As stated above, this bot could not defeat all random events. It also had consistent movement which was trackable by Jagex like the Mouse Movement Recording.

Intelligent Script
This script is able to identify and complete all the random events. Due to the removal of aggressive random events this bot is much more successful (previously is occasionally died to them). It can also open doors, something the previous two bots could not. It also has varying action times, making harder to track by Jagex, though not impossible.
Versus Anti-bot Methods: This bot is much harder to catch due to it being able to circumvent almost every random event and having alternating movements. It also wears different clothes, unlike the base starter clothes that the previous two used. They can sometimes be caught by wise players which put a placeable object (such as a cannon or marker vine) in front of them.

Sweat shop/Human Bots
Not automated bots, but like them. These dress in varying starter clothes and often have random gear on. They are not run by a script, but instead by a human. Usually one human will run 3-8 of these at a time, though they will be logged in on different worlds.
Versus Anti-bot Methods: Because they are a human they can solve all random events and almost any stumbling block placed in front of them (such as the above mentioned cannon or closing doors on them). They can occasionally be lured by dropping items on the ground which the human is supposed to be gathering. The human usually runs before any danger can happen though unless it is rapid and unexpected.

The most noticeable difference between the Intelligent Script and a Human Bot is the fact that the script will switch targets nearly instantly where as the human player will wait a few seconds because it is operating multiple characters.

So, with those statistics in mind, we see that all bots or human bots can complete the random events successfully, thus defeating the point of random events. This begs the question;

“Why leave random events in the game?”

Jagex has shown time and time again that they’ll remove something if they don’t think it’s good anymore (even though their choice is often against majority player’s opinion). In the case of random events, I think they should be removed because they are not doing what they were made to do and no matter how many or what kind of new random events they make they will still fail. This is because all random events must be able to be completed by all humans. And if it can be completed by a human it can be completed by a human bot.

You’re probably thinking, “Hey! I like my 700 prayer/Dungeoneering/[insert skill of choice here] xp every hour!”. Admittedly, I like that small boost too. However I’m sure you’ll agree with me that sometimes random events come at the worst times. We all especially experienced this during the bonus experience weekend.

So what can Jagex do to let us have a small experience reward but not annoy us with the random event? Well they could give us a lamp for every hour we’re logged into the game. That would be lovely. We could just AFK and be guaranteed experience, albeit not much. However, I don’t think Jagex will do that.
A better alternative would be to add an NPC (or add it to an existing NPC, such as the Doomsayer) which the player could go to be able to turn off certain random events. That way honest players could remove useless random events (such as the sandwich lady) or annoying ones (such as any evil bob one) or all of them. To further make this a more viable option, they could require you to be a member and have been a member for atleast 3 months. This would prevent human bots or macros, who frequently change accounts, from bypassing the random events.

In closing…
Random events are just too predictable to be random any more. That’s why people go to Soul Wars, which (for some strange reason) is a no random event area.

Do I, personally, want random events to be completely removed from Runescape? Hmmm…no. But I do dislike the frequency at which they bother legitimate, rule-abiding players. Jagex needs to allow them to come occasionally (as in, one per 10 hours of in-game time for legit players) or perhaps let them be player regulated (almost like letting the player have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign). If Jagex made them much rarer they could add exclusive gear to them like the camo, lederhosen, and mime used to be. This would make legit players actually want to get a random event. I remember when I first got the Mime or Gravedigger random. I was like, “Awesome! What will I get? Emote or clothing?” But now I’m like, “Aww man! The annoying gravedigger! Takes forever and forces me to bank-WHILE I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF A SLAYER RUN AND NEED ALL MY FOOD!”

It kind of reminds me of a commercial that played a couple months back who’s key line was, “Really?!“. That’s how random events feel nowadays. When we’ve just the left the bank and are far away from any teleport or ease-of-access area and have just started fighting a creature and then a random event pops up and grabs us.

Really, Jagex? Really?!

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