The End of an Era

posted by on 20th March 2020, at 3:54am

A lot is going on in the world today. Everywhere you look, life has changed dramatically in a small period of time. In these trying times, keeping a sense of normalcy is important. That is why this month instead of talking about the elephant in the room or the world for that matter, we are going to talk about double XP weekend. Double XP weekend has a rich tradition in RuneScape. It has always been very special to the players but has also changed over time. Double XP weekends went from a decaying experience timer to a flat out double experience weekend, to what we have now which is a double experience weekend extended. It is often said that when one door closes another one opens. That is the case with a double XP weekend. The days of trying to get as little sleep as possible are over, and with it the end of an era, however, every end is a new beginning and the era of double XP weekend extended has just begun.

When double XP weekend first started they weren’t called double XP weekends though all. They were referred to as bonus experience weekends. This meant you had a multiplier that would decay over time as you are logged in. You only had a certain amount of bonus experience available to you, and it usually didn’t last more than a day or so at best. With that being said, you did find the beginnings of strategies of what skills to train, and the best way to get the most out of the bonus experience you had, these weekends were extremely limited though. Many of the things we take for granted now were not eligible to be trained back during bonus experience weekends. These early forerunners of what we know to be double experience weekends were extremely restrictive. You could not train Prayer or Summoning and in many experiences boosting items did not work. This was a period before 2012 and there were much fewer items that would boost your experience. Overall the bonus experience weekends were pretty egalitarian. It didn’t matter if you were a hard-core player or a casual player. You had the same multiplier and the same amount of time. It was so short that most players were able to use it up with no problem.

Jagex took the gloves off in 2012. This was the first year we had a true double experience weekend. There was no multiplier just straight double XP. Double XP weekend would start on Friday morning and run until Monday. This gave players three days of double XP. Not only that, like a conservative politician, they also got rid of regulation and restrictions that had been in place in the past. You could now train Summoning and Prayer albeit not at your Gilded Altar. There were also a host of XP boosting items and gear that was no longer prohibited. This was the golden era of double XP weekend they became almost cultural events. Players would plan and save skilling supplies all through the year just to be able to train at these times. A wealth of guides, videos, and streams was born to help people in their endeavors. Many players with full-time jobs would request Friday off. Many more players would plan their meals ahead of time so as to reduce as much XP loss as possible, this was a time when players would push themselves as hard as they could, sleep as little as they could, and push themselves to the limits.

Double XP weekend was something all the players could rally behind. At a time when the community seems to be fracturing this was one thing that brought us all back together, it was wonderful to see your friends list light up from people that hadn’t been on in a long time. Voice chat servers would be full and it was a time to catch up with friends. Gone were the days of a trickle-down multiplier. The good times were here and we were gorging on XP. Hard-core players benefited the most from these double XP weekends. These are the players that push themselves, so they gave it all they had during these times.

By 2019, it wasn’t uncommon to see someone put up 300 million XP over a double XP weekend. That sounds incredible, however, the players that were doing this were pretty incredible to begin with, of course with the hard-core players giving all they had they gave the rest of us something as well, in many ways efficiency-scape was born out of these weekends. There were only three days after all, and it was a job want to maximize your efficiency and get as much experience as possible. This is where we learn how to stack refer-a-friend bonuses, avatars, skilling outfits, pulse cores, urns and anything else we could get our grubby little hands on to maximize our performance. This was the time of the high score chaser the hard-core player the quintessential no lifer reigned supreme. These were some of my favorite times in-game, and some of my favorite memories come from these weekends. All good things must come to an end, however, and after a seven-year run change was on the horizon.

In November 2019 Jagex held the first double XP weekend extended. This was a new twist on the traditional double XP weekend where players would have a certain amount of hours of double XP to be used over 10 days. Jagex had delved deep into their analytics to find the right number of hours to give everyone. The number they came up with was 36. They told the players that most of them used this amount of time, and it was only a very small percentage that went beyond 36 hours. The reaction from players was for the most part very positive. Most players loved having the flexibility to play as they saw fit. The fact that you could spread your double XP time over 10 days was pretty freeing. The one issue players had was the 36-hour number. Although many players didn’t dispute that the majority of them used that amount of time it still felt like they were losing something given that a two day weekend would have yielded 48 hours. All in all double XP weekend extended was a pretty big success. It was evident that the players were ready for a change. That’s not something RuneScape players are known for. Still, other players thought that this would be nothing more than an experiment and the traditional double XP weekend would be back in no time. That didn’t end up being the case. The fact was double XP extended was a success and improved upon in February 2020.

Jagex did learn and make improvements to the double XP weekend extended in February. One thing that was noticed the first time around was that players were reluctant to change what they were doing even when brand-new content was available to them during that time. Farming and Herblore were extended to 120; unfortunately, if you had stocked up and prepared to train something else during the double experience it prevented you from participating in the new content. So needless to say Jagex doesn’t release big updates during this time anymore. Another change that was made was to give players a full 48 hours of double experience. Whether this was needed or not didn’t matter. What mattered was it gave players the feeling of having a full weekend and it also gave Jagex the appearance of listening to player feedback. It was a win for everyone. That being said the most hard-core of our community were limited to 48 hours of double experience. This was in part an exercise in Jagex’s new duty of care strategy. This meant Jagex realized that some players were going overboard and pushing themselves too far. While this had always been a personal responsibility issue in the past, Jagex decided to be proactive with the care of their players. On one hand, this did put a damper on the celebratory nature of double XP weekend. Players didn’t feel compelled to have to play over those three days and could do it at their leisure, therefore we didn’t see the same kind of communal experience we once shared. However, the freedom and flexibility of double XP extended let the casual players shine. Now instead of doing a 12 to 18-hour marathon session, players could just put in a few hours a day and use up their double XP. This was perfect for the casual gamer who in many cases gained more experience from double XP extended than they ever did during traditional double XP weekend.

Double XP weekend has changed over time, and with the end of the traditional double XP weekend, it is the end of an era. Double XP weekend extended however has just begun. The time of the casual player is now, and we can expect going forward to see more changes in that direction. Along with that, we will also see more measures that will be in place protecting players from themselves. Whether you agree with that or not it is the way that it is going to be for the foreseeable future. I was hesitant at first about this new way of doing double XP weekend. However, I put in more time and received more experience this time around than I ever did before. While I miss seeing the voice chat servers full and my friend’s list of over three days I do appreciate the change that was made. Now Jagex will have to rely on quality content to bring players back to the game, and maybe that is as it should be. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping.

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