John Hancock? Some of y’all might be wondering who that it is or more importantly what he’s doing in a Runescape Related article. To answer the first, John Hancock was one of the members of the Continental Congress and most notably the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Now, What’s he doing in this article? Well when he signed the Declaration of Independence he wrote large and clear so that “King George could read it without his spectacles”. His large signature on the Declaration has made his name synonymous with ‘signature’ in America. Though perhaps not quite as common as I may be making it out to be, you still occasionally have people ask for your ‘John Hancock‘ when they need your signature.
But I’ve rambled enough on that. If you don’t like John Hancock you can fill it in with whichever name you like such as Hogan’s Heroes or McHale’s Navy or…yeah, I’ll stop now.
Anyways, yes, today we’re talking about Runescape’s Signature Heroes. What are they you ask? (You might also ask why I always ask what you might ask but then you’d be asking exactly what I asked you might ask so I’d be right, no?)
Signature Heroes are heroes in a story which have a significant role or are always in it. This could be in the form of a hero who selflessly lets himself be killed while killing and stopping many of the enemy or it could be a hero who is in the story from the first chapter to the last. Legendary stories such as Lord of The Rings and Star Wars (yes, there are literally tons of other stories I could reference but these two are relevant to everyone) are filled with heroes and heroines and it’s easy to tell the signature ones from the plain ones. Of course for any character to receive the honor of the title of ‘Hero’ they must be far from plain and ordinary, but I think you understand what I’m saying.
Signature Heroes in Runescape are not like most Heroes. They have not been in the game or lore from the first chapter (i.e. Runescape Classic) and they have as yet not given up their life or made any such notable sacrifice or other great deed. So, why are they called Signature Heroes if they haven’t done anything signature or heroic? All heroes must start their heroic journey and for Runescape’s Heroes Jagex has done that. Instead of writing their history into playable content and slowly releasing lore about the characters (essentially building their reputation), Jagex decided to throw them out into the Runescape world and say, “Lookit! These are the leetest dudes in the game, they’re like totally awesome HEROES!”… Ok, so maybe Jagex didn’t QUITE say it like that, but you get the drift.
The problem with instantly throwing a hero, much less six heroes, into a game is that the players have no sense of trust nor camaraderie with the heroes. Yes, they’re just coding, but you still get a certain feeling when you’ve been through thick and thin with that character rather than instantly put side by side with them. It would be like me giving you my resume and saying, “Let’s go fight the Sith together” instead of your best friend who you grew up with saying, “Hey buddy, there’s some Sith attacking this planet and I need your help.” You know your buddy inside and out. You know how he fights and thinks and what he’ll do in certain situations. As for me, sure, my resume has some nice medals on it but it doesn’t tell you what I’ll do when I’m faced with the situation of saving you and risking myself or saving myself and letting you die. I hope you understand what I’m saying.
One game I’ve played, DragonFable, has built their heroes very well. In the beginning of the game (as in, the first few months of its launch) you only met a few characters. All of them were kind of like, “We don’t really know each other, but we’ve got to band together to survive.” Eventually you learned who everyone was and what they were good at and most importantly, why they were where they were and why they do what they do. They were not only involved in other story lines as a non-forced in character, but they also had story lines of their own. You also felt them become friends as they helped you with your own story line.
So why didn’t Jagex use this same approach to build their heroes instead of tossing them in fully clad? Well the answer to that is fairly debatable I think. I could easily write a positive or negative answer. I believe one of the truest reasons though is the simple fact that Runescape is too old to build a hero into. Think about it, Runescape is going on 11 years old. To start building a hero now would require the hope that the same players playing the game before will continue to play it for another 10 years. Truth be told, that’s unlikely. Most active players will tell you that there’s really not enough non-monotonous tasks in Runescape to keep it excited and ‘in’ for more than a couple years. Sure, you can easily be playing the game for more than 7 years and still not be anywhere near max, I have! But for those who play 5+ hours everyday I’m sure they’ll find that eventually it just gets monotonous. Many have, which is why occasionally you’ll hear your friend who is always on saying that he’s going to quit and go play another game for awhile(meaning a few months or years, not hours).
If you think about it, you were probably in the 10-14 range when you first found or were shown Runescape. That gave you a few years to play before you had anything that really limited you. Now, with most of the anchor generation of Runescapers either in college or having a job, most of them don’t have as much time to play any games. With Runescape’s graphics and game system not being the same as most other MMOs or console games, many players find those other games more appealing. Now, this isn’t to say Runescape’s graphics or systems are bad, merely that they’re different. I say this previous line because Jagex is unfortunately trying to compete with Client and Console games, something which is not healthy for them to do.
For this reason they had to make heroes that didn’t require a long quest line and lots of lore. They needed heroes who could be like, “What up? I’ve heard a lot about you, I like what I hear. Let’s go do this!” Instead of the player learning about the hero, the hero learns about the player. Since the hero is just coding they of course know everything about the player, even things the player forgot about themselves. This way you kind of get the same relationship, but it’s inverted and more rapid.
So what are your thoughts on Jagex’s Signature Heroes? Think they should have done a better job writing them in? Like the idea of a just-add-player Hero? Let me know below.