Got a quick one for y’all regarding Archaeology and the lore it offers. If you’re here for actual Runescape lore, then you’re in the wrong place. Instead, I’m here to talk to you guys about the act of “finding” the lore in Archaeology, and what these methods mean.
How Archaeology works is that you set your character onto a bunch of hotspots and gather materials and artifacts. Gradually, you get enough of both to restore collections of artifacts, and then proceed to trade them in for Chronotes or Tetracompasses in order to get more good stuff. It’s a fairly convoluted, but nevertheless straightforward gathering skill; perfectly AFKable and long-lasting.
Lore drops appear in multiple ways throughout the archaeology skill, which is pretty awesome considering how much of an AFK skill it was originally designed to be. Gotta have a little excitement and payoff, after all, or nobody would do it.
The first and primary way is a rare find during normal archaeology examination within specific piles of stuff. Usually takes about 20 minutes or so on average to get something, but being a luck-based thing, some folks get them right away and some folks don’t see them for days. Because these drops are spread across different sites, this helps to incite players to not just camp at a single site all the way up to level 120; they are made to move around and explore different areas, retrieve different artifacts, and in some cases, even backtrack to older and earlier areas to finish the lore book.
The second way is through investigating the environment (clicking on interactive bits around you). Oftentimes these are immediately accessible, but in some cases, they are unlocked by obtaining prior lore the first way. From there, you send your research team to figure out what’s going on, and while in most cases you only really get an artifact and a little history out of it, sometimes it paves the way to more lore either by an area unlock or a progression in lore drops. The reason for these is to sort of coax players to actually take a look around the Runescape world and see all the work put into the graphics and design of the sites. Often times, small and subtle clues in the scenery itself are missed because players are often accustomed to having the option to interact with something important.
The third way is going out of your way to follow a clue in the lore. A subtle hint that, when pursued, rewards the player with something neat. Talking to an NPC, or fighting a certain NPC, or doing some other task that often involves actually using some of the artifacts you restore. These little extras are what makes the skill itself seem less like a grind and more like an actual quest, as per the tried-and-true formula of Runescape quests being that out-of-the-way stuff from the usual daily grind. That’s my nickname for Archaeology; the quest skill, because that’s its entire premise in a nutshell. The entire skill itself is one big quest; one that you cannot complete until you actually make it to level 120. Which, being one such individual myself, I can say is a lot easier than it appears to be due to all the experience scaling and the amazing boosts you get for things, like the 75 Rex bones from a relatively cheap 4-piece Orthen collection all from the one area. Wicked fast XP, right there. You want those higher levels, just hang out at the watchtower laboratory dig-site on Anachronia.
This combination of methods used to obtain lore and effectively complete the quest known as Archaeology gives the skill itself substance. Balance, in fact. You are handed things for free to help get things started, and you work for other things once you figure out how things work, and gradually as you level up the skill and progress in the mysteries and storylines tied to each dig-site, you are rewarded with the next chapters… or I should say pages… of the story.
Why not just give all the story to the reader all at once, though? Pacing, my friend. If the reader is presented with all the information at once, they will forget a lot of it because it’s just too much information for their minds to biologically and physically hold.
Think about back in school, where you were given worksheets explaining a single topic with questions, despite having the whole textbook of stuff already front of you. Can you read the entire textbook and maintain all that immense information in a day? Of course not; it’s much more efficient and effective to just focus on one topic at a time, letting your mind settle as you think about it and practice with it.
Same idea with story-telling; if you read a single chapter at a time and let yourself sort of mentally digest it, asking yourself what-ifs and even theorizing about it, the power of your imagination will take over and you will make it more personal to yourself. Then, once that it’s been pored over, the next part of the story comes out, and the reader is hit with emotions of their own doing; either their theory was right and they are delighted at their genius, or they were way off and surprised by the unexpected outcome.
Archaeology does that. The delay from having to level up to advance is that digestion time, helping players really get into the lore, pull out theories and assumptions based on the bits of lore they are getting, the surroundings, the NPC interactions, etc. That’s also why research tasks take a while as well; to create that anticipation and let the player sort of ease themselves into the new information before it’s even presented.
This utilizes a storytelling technique used in a lot of games, like Destiny, where players get more of the story as time progresses and the company behind the game adds assets and updates. This is a piece-by-piece method that gives the reader/viewer a chunk of story, which leads off with either a cliffhanger or a satisfactory conclusion to tide them until the next part, which branches off this now-previous story to offer the reader/viewer some familiarity within that universe. That allows the writer of the story to both expand on a pre-existing and pre-developed universe, as well as hook the reader/viewer into their series through a bit of nostalgia to help keep them interested in their future work.
We’ve seen this happen a lot in books and movies, and even some games (think how many times you’ve seen the number 2 after a title), but very rarely do we see a single game continue to evolve to the point where its actual content changes over time. So much so that the original “part-1” story also updates and the reader can experience it all over again in some cases. In fact, Runescape’s been doing this sort of thing almost since day 1 of Runescape Classic, where folks were often-times pleasantly surprised with updates featuring new quests and continuations. You could almost say Runescape’s one of the earlier predecessors of this storytelling device.
It’s pretty awesome being a part of storytelling history in gaming, isn’t it?
Until next time,