Rhinos, Titans, and Unicorns, Oh My!

posted by on 10th August 2014, at 10:13pm | Discuss Article

*Peers over rock*
Are they gone? Oh good, they’re finally leaving. What am I talking about? Have a look for yourself!

38 rhinos

38 Rhinos, 1 Granite Lobster and 1 Clan Avatar. That’s a whole heap of followers. The scariest thing is that was only part of one stack.

This is a common occurrence all over Runescape these days, but specifically in the Living Rock Caverns. It has been made more visible with the recent Bonus XP Rhinos.
For those unfamiliar with this issue, I am talking about massive quantities of followers. With the Rhinos every player could have a Rhino pet out for an infinite amount of time. When this pet was out you would gain either 5 or 10% bonus xp depending on whether it was a white or black rhino respectively. Since there was literally no cost nor limit to this, there was no reason to NOT have your pet out. Thus most players had a follower 24/7 where ever they went.

The issue is not isolated to this recent Rhinofest, however. A quick trip to LRC will greet you with tons of Lava Titans and Granite Lobsters, some combat areas are littered with Pack Yaks and Unicorns, and even places with no specific use for followers but where people gather are often cluttered.

What are the ramifications and significance of this?

First and foremost it creates an insane amount of clutter. Years ago the most common (actually only) follower was a cat, and you only had that out when skilling, usually cooking or fishing. That was acceptable. Now, people have any one of a number of followers out simply because they can in many instances. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally fine for a player to have such and such out to give them a benefit or simply because they like it. However, when you have 100+ people in an area and half of them have a follower, that’s an additional 50 entities that have to be rendered by the client. This creates a lot of unnecessary strain for every viewing client. While higher end machines may not notice this as much (it is still there though), lower end machines notice it quite a bit and it can make certain places unplayable. In my case, I have a good computer that can play a fair number of high end games on max settings, yet large quantities of followers still create noticeable performance issues.

Another thing is the shear annoyance that all these followers create. For every follower in a stack of entities (‘entities’ being players, followers, npcs, items, objects, etc), there are at least 2 often 3 or more options added. This means even 10 followers in one stack creates 20-30+ additional options. This makes selecting a player or picking up an item a lot harder. Yes, after X amount of entities in one stack it drops the entries down to just the name for each and then a sub-menu, but this creates an additional annoyance of its own. Also when stacks get too big you can’t see all of them because there is no way to scroll them. This means if too many things are in one stack it eventually gets to a point where some things simply can’t be seen at all. This is evidenced well in my above picture. Those 40 entities are all that would fit in the menu, there were quite a few people under it and there may’ve been some items on the ground too.

What to do?
That’s a very good question.

The way I see it, if we can set our graphics options to always or selectively remove roofs and to show all, many, or few idle animations, why can’t we choose to selectively hide/show Followers?
Let’s be honest here, what purpose does seeing 50 rhinos serve to you and me?
What is the point of seeing that miner use a lava titan or that fisher use a lobster?
Why do I need to know that slayer is using a unicorn or that quester is using a yak?
I can’t think of a legitimate reason for any of those things. If you’re fighting a player who has a combat familiar out, sure, but if it’s not a PvP area, why should I care when a player has a combat familiar?

I think the best solution would be to add a graphics option:
‘Show followers?’

‘Always’ would make followers act like they do currently – always showing even if there are 100 of them in one spot.
‘Selectively’ means it will show friends’ followers and the closest followers.
‘Few’ means it will only show the closest 10 or so followers. Friends followers are shown first regardless of distance and count against the 10.
‘Never’ only your own follower is shown, other followers are never seen(except possibly in certain minigames or cutscenes which bypass this setting).

This would allow those who want to see every follower to still be able to do so while allowing those who wish to be free of the clutter, lag, and annoyance to also do so.

If that idea is not possible or not liked by the majority (I think it would be though, personally), then the next option would be to make non-owned followers simply right-click examine instead of left-click interact. As we already deduced, there’s no need for me to interact with another player’s unicorn because I can’t use it anyways. So why even show the options? Hide them. Make them only show for those who can use them and only be on the right-click menu.

What do y’all think? Is RuneScape overpopulated with followers? Is there a need for non-owners to see them and/or interact with them?

P.S. If the Ninja team changed this in the next few months I would consider them true ninjas 😉

A Word to the Wise

posted by on 23rd April 2013, at 12:07am | Discuss Article
As I mentioned in my February article, the gaming industry is progressing rapidly toward the future with many ideas on the table. From “what games will be popular in the next few years” to “what features do we want to add or take away,” there are many questions that will need to be answered. Given […]