As the years pass, a common complaint among Runescapers is that the game has become too easy. The recent releases of the Runespan and bonfires have sparked these comments once again.
Before I go any further I would like to look at what “easy” means in this context. Its definition becomes tricky when talking about Runescape because the game as a whole is fairly easy. Not to bash the game in any way, but aside from a few bosses, PVP and maybe a few other things, not much in Runescape is difficult to do. With a bit of practice and some clicking, most of Runescape comes down to a long grind for xp. That being said, when people say the game is getting “easier,” what are they referring to? I like to look at it from the general view that different 99s have different levels of respect within the Runescape community. Those factors of respect can essentially divided in to three categories: cost, speed, and amount of effort. I believe in this case that we case define “easy” and the last of those three. For example, Fishing would be a skill with minimal effort from the player, while Agility is one that requires quite a bit of attention.
Now that it is clear what is meant by the phrase “Runescape is becoming easier,” I’d like to look further in to some updates that have led people to believe that this statement is true. Most recent of these types of updates are bonfires and Runespan. These two skills in a way are very similar to train, but have always had very different levels of respect associated with them. Firemaking has always been lighting fires in a line, furiously clicking on a tinderbox and a log over and over again for the whole duration of training. Although this was a very tedious task, it was never considered a difficult skill because of the fast xp and relatively low cost. Runecrafting has always been one-dimensional in its training as well, just running back and forth between a bank and an altar crafting runes. Runecrafting has always been regarded as one of, if not the, hardest skills in the game, not only because it has extremely low xp rates even at higher levels, but because it requires constant attention that is unrivaled by few other skills. So how have bonfires and Runespan changed these? Instead of constantly having to click in order to train these two skills, you can now simply add logs to a pre-existing bonfire and your whole inventory will be added one by one automatically. Similarly at Runespan, instead of doing any running at all, after initially spending a few minutes collecting essence and runes, one can camp a single area and siphon esswraiths and nodes indefinitely. So in the past two game updates, Jagex has managed to make one of the easiest skills and one of the hardest skills and offer training methods for them that require little attention to achieve xp rates at or above previous methods.
It isn’t like these types of updates are new at all though. All skills have been updated to become easier to train since Runescape has been released, more dramatic ones like the Living Rock Caverns for mining and ivy for woodcutting come to mind, but the list goes on and on. Not only have skills been made easier over the years, but how players interact with the game has also become less demanding. Since its introduction, the “make-x” option has made it in to almost every artisan skill in some form or another. This has been said to be a bad thing by many people who played “back in the day” when all of these actions done automatically had to be done one by one by the player. Although I do agree that the game has gotten easier over the years, I for one do not thing this is a problem as many other players do. In my view it is simply the natural progression of the game and the way Jagex has to go with developing skills. If they were to release new content that was harder and took more effort than methods already in the game would people do them? The answer is simply no, and we have seen this with some game updates as well, where updates like the Flash Powder Factory or the artisans workshop are not any better than previous methods for training, so they become dead content shortly after release. So what is Jagex to do, make new content that is surpassed by already existing content, release updates that make the game easier that will actually be used by the majority of the player base, or just let the game be stagnant? I believe that if you think about it you can realize that updating the game to provide new better and easier content is the best way to keep people interested in playing the game, and attract new members as well.
The last thing I want to touch on is what types of players are really affected by the game getting easier. More specifically, who are the people claiming that the game becoming too easy is a problem and who doesn’t not mind it and uses any training method given to them. Naturally it would seem that players who are upset that the game is becoming too easy view the game as more of a competition with players around them. They view that because they trained a skill in an older, more difficult method, and that their achievements have lost value because new methods have come out that allow other players to more easily catch them. This is not an unreasonable way to feel, but I invite people who do feel this way to look at it from another perspective. As I mentioned before, it would be a poor move on Jagex’s part to sit around and not allow for new methods to train and level up. This would only discourage more people from training those skills, and eventually discourage them from not playing the game as a whole. Whether you’ve trained using an older more difficult method or a new easier method such as bonfires or Runespan, achieving a 99 is no easy feat, and requires many hours of work. But if you are someone that suffered through clicking all those logs or running back and forth at the ZMI altar, nobody will care that you could have easily gotten it recently with some newer method. If they do think less of you because you could have trained using a certain method, they are not worth your time. Most importantly, if these achievements mean enough to you, you shouldn’t need the high scores to feel better about your skills, simply take pride in what you have done and how much time and effort you put in to it.
Many updates to Runescape have made it easier and there is no doubt many more to come. This doesn’t mean that the work you have previously put in is any less important, because at the end of the day what you get out of this game, and any game for that matter, is self-satisfaction. Only you know exactly how much time and effort you have put in to your character, so you should be the only one who’s opinion matters when judging it.