Examine text may seem like an ancillary feature to the overall game that is Runescape to a more casual onlooker. However, for those of us steeped in what has become a culture of its own, most recognize the fact that the ability to examine an object adds a good deal to the depth and uniqueness of the game experience. Recently, however, graphical updates and new quest/content areas added to the game have seemed to come with far fewer examinable objects. Players have begun to take notice, discussing the issue on all forms of social media, and has even been given recognition by Jagex staff.
Apparently, the reason that all this new content comes with little to no new examinable objects is the argument that translation and localization is too much of a hassle and takes time away from other development. To this I say, “really?”.
Rarely is the argument of “you used to do it this way so you should always do it this way” a valid one. For example, arguing that because the early years of the game saw several quests released each month is not a solid point to argue the stance that we should get more quests because quests have changed since then. They have a much higher graphical budget, include more branches in dialogue trees, have deeper lore implications, and a ton more. Examine text, on the other hand, has not changed at all since 2009, and that’s only counting the fact that German, French, and Portuguese language servers were added to the game 2007-2009. Other than that, examines are the same. Right-click, “Examine [object]”, [insert simple description and/or witty text here]. I understand that this is a vast over-simplification of the actual process of implementing examines for environmental objects, but if you’re telling me that it’s more complicated than adding the GE buy price to every tradable object upon examine, I’ll have a hard time believing you.
Now I know that it may sound like I’m whinging for my own pleasure right now, but I really feel there’s a point to this. Examine text is part of Runescape’s heritage. It’s the perfect spot to plant Easter eggs for observant players, to offer subtle hints and clarification during questing (especially during Haunted Mine), and to inject a bit of bright British humour into the everyday object. Examining an object to get a surprising or witty snippet of text is as synonymous to Runescape as the ol’ “Nothing interesting happens” line.
Not only that but making objects able to be examined prevents new areas from feeling so “flat”. If a building is constructed with a blacksmith’s sign out front, an anvil, bellows, a furnace, and some crates along the wall, yet none of these objects are able to be examined, what separates them and their function from a simple room that is empty. Nothing is capable of interaction in any way, and thus these seemingly pretty environment objects are nothing more than a mirage. Being given the option to examine each object (even if it isn’t overly creative or witty) makes the room feel more real. I know that bench is a bench because I can “Examine Bench”. The object bursts forth from the background and becomes a real object. Examine text adds depth, immersion, and so much more that makes an area more valuable than it’s initial “ooh, pretty!” value.
New areas without examine texts are like the blonde beauty queen with nothing going on in that pretty little head. Adding examine makes it more than just a beauty contest, adds meat to the sandwich, puts text on the pages between the pretty covers. If you’re not convinced by now that examine text is crucial to the game, and maybe worth taking that “extra time” from moving on to other content, here are my personal Top 10 Examine Texts in Runescape:
10. Upon examining any Camouflage clothing: “Examine what?”
9. Examining Horseshoes: “These would make fine shoes for… um… unicorns.”
8. Valve: “It releases when it’s ready”
7. Rock: “and roll.”
6. Wilderness Sign: “Stop examining signs! You’re in the wilderness now!”
5. A terribly bad pun when examining Huge Mushrooms: “These fat fungi take up so much room”
4. Gnome Ball Cheerleader: “Cheerleading is a real sport!”
3. Timbo’s Tree southeast of Yanille’s bank: “Never let Mod Timbo near a thing of beauty.”
2. Head Chef: “Despite his name, rarely actually cooks heads.”
1. The Examiner: “Upon examining the Examiner, you examine it is indeed an examiner!”
If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s the fact that it seems like examine texts are becoming increasingly rarer in new content because developers may not feel they are truly necessary. I would suggest that the opposite is true, and it’s our job as players of this game to support the idea that examine texts are a tradition to be preserved. I’m not saying we all have to spam the forums, Twitter, Reddit, what have you, but it’s important to keep in mind how important the small things can be in a game like Runescape. Like using objects on one another and cringingly cheesy puns, examine text options are part of Runescape’s history that’s worth protecting.