Alex’s Analysis – Simple as it Sounds

posted by on 25th October 2014, at 2:42am

I enjoy the holidays like everyone else does. I am benefitted in some unique way, be it either I get presents, a day off from work, or enough candies to put me into cardiac arrest mid-bite. Some holidays even come with their own specially themed events that change the face of my favourite stores, my neighbourhood, and even my favourite games. Especially in games, because if there are updates in regards to and celebrating holidays, as they are only seasonal, they either only come once a year or only once and never to return.

Runescape’s one of the latter. Each holiday event differs from the last, as though it’s actually a progression of events. In some cases, like the Easter Bunny’s retirement and replacement a while ago… well, it is. The game has got Santa Claus, our main man Death, the Easter Bunny, giant combustable turkeys, and Saradomin, so they’re still abiding to themes that pretty much everyone who celebrates them is familiar with. But there’s also sometimes a unique spin that, more than often, involves the holiday being ruined unless an eager adventurer steps in and fixes things, resulting in earned rewards and mostly cosmetic benefits.

Let’s look at this year’s 2014 Halloween event. Death has got ghosts plaguing his house, and so you arm yourself with a dual-wield protoplasm flamethrower and blast ghosts back to oblivion. … that’s pretty much it. The more ghosts you school, the more stuff Death gives you. It’s simple. … in fact, it’s almost too simple. Heck, when you first jump that chain fence, that’s pretty much all there is to offer for the event. From there, it simply becomes a grind to earn enough points to obtain all the mini-game has to offer.

Now, an event that lasts only 2 or 3 weeks in-game, only to vanish pretty much forever, it’s got to be simple. It’s got to be something that doesn’t take much thought or effort. And best of all, it’s got to involve no existing skill from the player. Everybody is on equal ground for the holiday event because more a celebration than a competition (of course, even then how could you not want fair odds?). Notice that all players do the same kind of damage to ghosts and have a set amount of fear they can build up? Not related to skills whatsoever. Brilliant.

But why simple? Why not have a fantastic, fun blast of an event that lasts the entire holiday?

For one thing, you don’t put an insane amount of work into something that’s not expected to be permanent. Heck, I’ll bet it still took the folks at Jagex focused on the update a bit longer than the three weeks this event is going to last to storyboard, plan, model, compose, script, play-test, and finalize the whole thing. It just wouldn’t be benefitial to anybody to have such a grand piece of work go to waste. And why remove it in the first place? Why, to keep with the theme, of course. You don’t leave your Christmas decorations all over your front lawn up all year round, right? That’s just… well, slightly on the odd side.

Secondly, for such a limited amount of time, you don’t want it to be something that can take hours to complete, because who knows if we get players who will be away for that time, only to miss out on the entire experience? Many of the events in the past involved small, simple segments where you either had to solve a quick puzzle, fetch something, find something, or talk to someone. That’s all we need for a holiday event. That’s all that those who only have a few minutes to play the game need to celebrate the holiday in-game. Though for Death’s ghost-hunter event, despite being just as simple, it does take some time to build up enough points to unlock everything, so… I’m a little iffy about this one.

Thirdly… honestly, do you really want to spend your holiday playing a game just because it’s got unique content for it? Come on. I love that we get a full 2-3 weeks around the holiday to complete the event rather than the single day. Do the event, it’s done, everything’s unlocked, on with the real holiday. Then, after the holiday, I got somewhat unique stuff to show off for next holiday. Or a holiday event in the future! Exciting! Again, I’m a bit iffy that one of the unlockables in an entirely new skill in its own: cremation. But who knows; we may still have a means to unlock it after the event; this is just an early-bird version of it. Heck, I totally approve of that as being a holiday reward!

So, thank you Jagex, for a great start to this year’s halloween event. Yes, “start”. I’m looking very forward to the upcoming repeatable quest as well, which looks like it’s an entire second part to this year’s Halloween event. Remember to keep it simple, eh? Or don’t; you guys seem to know what you’re doing if I’ve been playing this long.

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!

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