This guest article is courtesy of Uncle Dano. This article initially started out as a speech for RSBANDBUpdate! 339 in which we asked listeners to pick their favourite RuneScape update of the year. The update described here was Uncle Dano’s favourite update. We hope you enjoy this piece.
On October 25, 2011, Jagex released an update code named the ClusterFlutterer, also known as “Bot Nuking Day”. In my opinion this update is not only the best update for 2011, but of all time for this game that we all love playing. The reason being is that it returns the game environment to what I call, a PURER state. And, this goes far beyond the basic ramifications to game mechanics and economics, to really forcing a sense of fairness and value that was truly lost when bots were rampant. To me, it’s a morality issue. It’s about purity of the game environment and purity of your in-game character.
Firstly, we have to look at the type of game RuneScape is.
Number 1: Intrinsically, RS is a game that is all about achievements and levels. So there is this internal, personal competition driving yourself to achieve higher and higher levels in the various skills. Imagine the game as a stand alone PC or console game without any online interaction and you still have this inherent foundation of goal achievement. Psychologically, you are personally driven to do better for your own self gratification.
Number 2: It’s NOT a stand alone game. It’s an MMO. So you are not only motivated to achieve higher levels for just self satisfaction, but put into a competitive environment playing against other players, to see how you measure up. A dynamic that plays a huge role in the worldwide success of this game.
Now, let’s look at this from the standpoint of the genuine player. RuneScape is a very complex game. When you first start playing you can be literally overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of all that you can do and accomplish. At first, a single 99 seems like an almost impossible task, let alone getting a Completionist’s Cape. And, I think this quickly discourages many players once they get into the game and try and work towards raising their levels. It’s hard. It’s tedious. There’s a lot of boring grinding sometimes which could take a lot of the fun away from the game. This I think is especially true for those younger players who have grown up with the internet, cable T.V. and cellphones. They are so used to instant gratification, whereby you can get anything you want instantly nowadays in this digital age, simply by clicking a button. However, RuneScape is not designed to give you that, so the gameplay foundation of dedication, patience and endurance is probably very foreign to this “Now Generation”.
You know the old axiom “patience is a virtue”. Jagex really taxes that virtue with the design of this game. You’ve got 25 skills (16 of which are free to play skills) and 99 levels in each skill (with the exception of Dungeoneering which has 120 levels). So, you can potentially get a total level of 2496 when you are maxed out, but each level you attain on your long journey to attain skill mastery becomes ever increasingly harder to get. Level 92 in a skill is only half way to 99! So, it’s really no wonder why some people have become discouraged and have resorted to downloading macros to automate their skill training. But that decision comes at a price. A big price. The price is loss of respect, a devaluing of the entire game, and loss of the purity of your in-game character.
The most obvious impact of cheating, in any form (botting, bug abuse, real world trading) is that you are giving yourself an unfair advantage over other players. You are not playing the game by the same rules as everyone else. This is in fact amounts to an act of total disrespect to all of the honest players in the game. You completely devalue the achievements of those players that rightfully acquired their skillcapes through diligent, honest, hard work. You also contaminate the game itself, especially the hiscores. While the hiscores aren’t important to many people, for those that really like the inherent competitive nature of the game, keeping the hiscores “pure” is extremely important. No one wants to know how they rank against a macro, or against someone who cheated to get their levels, they want to compete against real people, on a level playing field.
Okay, so let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you really don’t care about how your actions might affect other people. Cheating by way of botting, or any other means, affects you in a very negative way, it destroys the opportunity to maintain the purity of your character, and even maintain your own self respect. The levels that you achieve are not as a result of your own efforts when you cheat. You’ve devalued your own achievements. Sure, you can equip your 99 woodcutting cape and go around bragging, but if you got that cape by botting ivy, you’ve completely cheapened it for yourself. Deep down inside you will feel that you’ve contaminated the purity of what that achievement could have represented. You’ve completely destroyed your chance at feeling genuine pride in its purest form. Pride in what you have accomplished, all by yourself. The botted skillcape becomes merely a facade, a false representation and there can be no genuine satisfaction or any self respect in that. Your in-game character now represents something other than your own efforts. And, once your character is contaminated, there is no going back. (of course unless Jagex catches you and rolls you back entirely, erasing all effects of the cheating, which is almost impossible to do). Also, once you’ve contaminated yourself in one skill, it effects all your other achievements as well. For example, let’s say you decide to train strength by botting yaks. If later you obtain some valuable item in combat (because of your ill-gotten high strength level) which when sold, allows you to buy supplies for prayer, or construction, or whatever… you’ve contaminated the subsequent achievements in those skills as well. What I’m trying to say is that the purity of your character, as a reflection of your own efforts, in a game such as this, is one of the most important considerations you should have. Otherwise, what is the point in playing? Without cheating, playing honestly by the rules, skillcapes and hiscores retain their value as an accurate reflection of the efforts of the players. Your bragging rights are genuine and the honor that you achieve is rightfully deserved. That’s where the true sense of satisfaction comes from. Don’t cheapen the game for yourself. You’ll get much more out of the game if you keep your character pure.
Now, let’s just quickly touch on the issue of the effect on the RuneScape economy. Many people have the opinion that bots were good for the economy because they provided for an increase in the supply of goods. This keeps prices low. But, in fact, that is an artificial economy. It’s not an economy based on the influx of supplies generated by real players. Therefore, the value of many items doesn’t reflect their real value, based on real player interactions with the game. By removing bots, the economy will eventually adjust to a point that reflects real supply and demand. Gathering and production skills become a viable money maker once again. That in itself is a huge benefit, especially to skillers. And, it reinstates the integrated nature of the skills working together, a training regime I like to call integrated training and something that I wholeheartedly endorse. That’s the way the game was designed to be played: gathering materials to produce the items that you need, giving you self sufficiency. Production skills and the economy are huge valid parts of this game as well as combat, and they need to reflect the pure nature of real player efforts. Also, the money that you make in game should always be earned honestly. Nobody should support real world trading and buy runescape gold. Gold farmers need to know that there is no customer base in the world of Gielinor. The economy needs to be kept pure, so that players can adapt to a stable situation, not one whereby supply is artificially (and I might add unreliably) supplemented by illegitimate players or real world traders.
Now lastly, you know me, I can’t resist bringing in the medieval aspect of the game, reminding everyone that number 3: RuneScape was also designed as an RPG – a medieval fantasy game whereby, for the most part (especially in quests) you get to play the hero, a gallant knight saving the day, all for the sake of honour and glory! Huzzah! I know that not everyone gets into the role playing aspect of the game, but I just want to make a final point here, especially for those that do enjoy it.
If you look back upon the middle ages, they were in fact one of the most brutal times in history. Full of crime, violence, social disorder and immorality. But, at the same time, there did exist knightly morality, a fact that cannot be denied. Not only was a knight expected to be brave and courageous in battle, but the knight who was most generous in dispensing his wealth enjoyed the most prestige. Also, over the course of time from the 11th to the 14th century, knights had to swear to 26 articles. Some of these included:
– not maliciously injuring anyone, or stealing from anyone
– that they would fight for the greater good of everyone
– that they would be bound by and obey the orders of their generals and captains who had a right to command them
– that they would avoid all trickery
– that having undertaken to carry out any enterprise, they would devote to it night and day
– be faithful keepers of their word, and that above all things they would be faithful, courteous, and humble.
Now, knighthood, with its ceremonies and adventures, were the substance from which medieval poets drew their inspiration from. I invite you to read the following ancient ballad written by Eustache Deschamps who was a poet of the 14th century, and reflect on the knightly morals being described here.
Amend your lives, ye who would fain The order of the knights attain; Devoutly watch, devoutly pray; From pride and sin, O, turn away! Shun all that’s base; the Church defend; Be the widow’s and the orphan’s friend; Be good and Leal; take nought by might; Be bold and guard the people’s right;– This is the rule for the gallant knight.
Be meek of heart; work day by day; Tread, ever tread, the knightly way; Make lawful war; long travel dare; Tourney and joust for lady fair; To everlasting honor cling, That none the barbs of blame may fling; Be never slack in work or fight; Be ever least in self’s own sight;– This is the rule for the gallant knight.
Love the liege lord; with might and main His rights above all else maintain; Be open-handed, just, and true; The paths of upright men pursue; No deaf ear to their precepts turn; The prowess of the valiant learn; That ye may do things great and bright, As did great Alexander hight;– This is the rule for the gallant knight.
Translating this and adapting this to our gameplay it would simply say:
Be honest, work hard, play fair, be respectful of others, follow the rules, respect Jagex in the decisions they make, and heed the advice from honorable players. Do this and you will not only succeed, but you will be truly respected. Most of all, keep your character pure.
Thank you, Jagex, for redeeming RuneScape.