As the decade wraps it’s time to reflect on where we’ve been and what’s to come. Our website has been around since 2004, the podcast 2005, and this journalistic endeavour since 2006. We’ve seen it all from the wilderness disappearing, it coming back, to the major changes from the Evolution of Combat to NXT. 2010-2019 was a period of amazing change for RuneScape. We’ve seen it grow from a game spearheaded by 3 brothers to one that can draw talent from the triple-A games industry. Patreon supporters will be greeted to an audio discussion of this article premiering soon.
2010 began with a transformational yet controversial update, the Dungeoneering skill. With the exception of the Gower Quest in 2016, this was the last game update that Andrew Gower worked on. It was a skill, but it felt like a mini game. It was completely split apart from the game world. For both of these, it was unique and is still unique today. 2010 also saw the first widespread RuneScape referendum, to bring back the wilderness and free trade. The wilderness and free trade was removed in 2007 and according to Gower, this was one decision he would have reversed much sooner. it was the right decision because an MMO isn’t an MMO without the ability to trade freely with one another.
2011 saw the beginning of accepting a real problem of bots in game. We saw the first bot nuke paving the way to the heuristics based bot detection we have today and this is one of the reasons I choose RuneScape 3 over Old School. 2011 also brought official support for clans in game, Clan Quest was one of the first incorporated, check them out! 2011 set the players on the path to completion with the launch of the max cape, completionist cape, and trimmed completionist cape. The game has not been the same since these updates touched it and were all for the better. Nex also arrived in 2011.
2012 was a huge year for combat and PvM. Most controversially at the start but accepted now by players, the Evolution of Combat launched changing the game from point and click combat to allowing for impressive combos and a greater depth of understanding. Aside from this, we got the Queen Black Dragon as the last pre-EOC boss which has aged gracefully into the EOC era. 2012 also saw the game’s first foray into micro-transactions to increase revenue with the launch of Squeal of Fortune and Solomon’s General Store. We know how the community felt then and now about the former. 2012 ended on a high note with Player Owned Ports.
2013 tipped RuneScape on its head. Kalphite King, Vorago, Rise of the Six, the Legios, and more for PvM. Also, Old School was launched with a poll and has since morphed into its own entity. 2013 also kicked off the Sixth Age and RuneScape’s epic story telling with the death of Guthix in The World Wakes and a world event where the players influenced the outcome of the story arc. 2013 also saw new technology including the new interface that has done wonders for accessibility and a trial balloon of running the game on HTML5 which was later abandoned for the NXT client.
Throughout this time period of change the company was struggling. The company went from £18m profit in 2010 to as low as £766k in 2014 while even amassing a loss of £9.8m in 2011 (Group of Companies’ Accounts). The company’s finances have improved greatly since then bringing in £46m profit for the year ending December 31, 2018. Why talk about this now? 2012 was Squeal of Fortune and Solomon’s General store. 2013 saw the release of Bonds which helped combat the gold trading epidemic and allowed players to pay for their membership with in-game funds. 2014 also saw the re-brand of Squeal of Fortune into Treasure Hunter.
2014 needs to be mentioned for the launch of the Player Power voting system. The first vote was Invention vs. Prifddinas. Prifddinas won bringing in with it the update many had waited a decade for, to finally enter the crystal city of Prifddinas, and cap off RuneScape’s oldest storyline, the Plague Series. 2014 also saw the company’s first GameBlast charity event, the launch of the spider boss Araxxor, and Ironman mode. All of these launches from 2014 are still revered today as we head into 2020. 2014 was as impactful as a hammer breaking glass.
2015 handed update templating to the players with RuneLabs. This brought us updates like waterfall fishing among others. 2015 also continued the live events motto with the Tuska event opening up Mazcab and RuneScape’s first ever raids. There are still those that would like to see more raids in RuneScape 3. At the end of 2015 they also did a little experiment with something called DarkScape. This was eventually shutdown but proved to be interesting for those interested in PvP.
2016 was a huge year for all of us. Invention was released, the game’s first and only elite skill, allowing us to augment our items and tailor them to our own specific play style. It took a few revisions and batches but Invention is a solid skill today. 2016 revolutionized the way we play RuneScape with the launch of the NXT client. Just weeks ago the Java client was finally sunset allowing NXT to reign supreme. NXT was a full client re-write moving away from Java enabling graphical effects that you see in triple-A game titles and more. 2016 also saw the launch of the Gower Quest, God Wars Dungeon 2, Telos, the vampire finale (River of Blood), The Arc, and Children of Mah. 2016 was epic.
2017 put RuneScape on the path to where it is today. We got the Achievements system and Shattered Worlds, both of which have evolved and continue to evolve, providing a new way to play RuneScape into the 2020s. 2017 also brought out the ‘E’ word, expansions. Menaphos was voted to be the large area that Jagex would work on by the players and it also wound up being the game’s first and only expansion. This resulted in update drought and a cry out from players to work on unfinished business and return to the game’s roots. 2017 was a big year for the PvM crowd as it brought Nex: Angel of Death as well. Halloween 2017 featured Dimension of the Damned which was for all intents and purposes, RuneScape’s Battle Royale before PUBG and Fortnite, had this only continued and been iterated on, who knows where PvP would be today! There are two smaller updates of 2017 that people may not realize; first, skyboxes which are one of the game’s most important accessibility updates; and secondly, a musical rework recorded at Abbey Road Studios.
2018 can be summed up in 4 words: This is RuneScape 3. Deep Sea Fishing, Safecracking, the Player Owned Farm, Elite Dungeons, and The Needle Skips! Solak, RuneScape’s toughest boss was released too! Deep Sea Fishing, Safecracking, and Player Owned Farms form the basis of what modern RuneScape updates look like. 2018 also saw remastered Clue Scrolls which still fosters engagement today. Each one of these updates listed here could warrant its own 1,000 word article. 2018 blew me away and set the tempo for 2019.
2019 was kicked off with the effective re-launch of two of the game’s oldest skills, Mining and Smithing. The Mining and Smithing rework changed the way we mine, making it enjoyable and a social event. Smithing was rebalanced so that Rune was no longer level 99 and had a more logical flow to it. Overall players engaged with this update more than Jagex had intended pushing ore prices down for months. If you say remaster, people think of the Mining and Smithing rework. 2020 remasters are going to be interesting. This summer we also got Anachronia, our version of Fossil Island (except set in the past), where the game’s story will unfold in 2020. It was also the most visually stunning area EVER released. A benchmark has been set. And finally, we end the decade with an update very near and dear to my heart, 120 Farming and 120 Herblore. These two skills are my favourite and have been a boon for those who engage in the Farming ecosystem that has now had Herblore attached to it in a much more meaningful way. They were evolutions rather than revolutions, but still take a spot in the decade’s top updates.
2020 is here and it’s time to look forward. If you combine 2018 and 2019 and put that onto a regular release cycle, what’s achievable is unimaginable. I have not been more excited for a year in RuneScape than I am for 2020. The decade for RuneScape has been a roller coaster and I would much rather live in 2020 RuneScape than 2010 RuneScape. This is RuneScape 3.