With the release of the Rise of the Six barrows expansion, we see the rounding out of level 90 gear within the game. Within a few short weeks of each other, we’ve seen a release of Sirenic, Tectonic, and Malevolent armours. This completes Jagex’s goal of filling out upper combat levels with very powerful (and expensive!) gear for those who are maxed in those areas. This is great to see. What is even greater to see is that they have incorporated skilling into the creation of each of these. Jagex has moved away from simply going to a boss and having it spit out end product high level gear, instead opting for the monsters to drop energy or materials, which have to be paired with other purchased materials in order to create the armour. Players have suggested this method of resource produced high end gear for a long time, and it’s great to see that we are actually seeing it in game.
Since the release of the God Wars, and probably even before then, boss fighting has been the method of getting top tier armour and weapons in this game. Shoot, even with the release of the whip way back in 2005, we saw for the first time where slayers could go out and just get their best weapon themselves without having to rely on any other skills. This created a divide, a rift between skillers and monster killers that has widened and disconnected their spheres of the game from each other. They didn’t need to interact because they could co-exist on their own. This is a dangerous way to exist, because one or the other loses appeal with each update, and eventually one will become preferred over the other. This is the most potent reason why PKers no longer exist – they were disconnected from the game in a way where they could no longer exist on their own. When you have top tier monsters and skilling areas outside the wilderness, you get less players going out in the wild. Thus the extinction of playing killing in large. It is great to see that this hopefully will not happen to other playing styles. The relationship between the two dominant playing styles are stronger than ever.
To explore their relationship we have to look at why things were broken in the first place. Finishing skills have always been flawed in such a way that in order to raise them, a player has to produce a ton of junk. When you have to flood thousands of steel plates into the game to raise Smithing, which will never be used by players because the time they are actually the best thing you can wear spans just a few days. The rewards for finishing skills is getting to make the better stuff and make money. This of course has always been broken, and it was awesome to hear Jmods acknowledge this at Runefest. They are trying to fix this by having bosses drop resources rather than end product armour. We are seeing boss slaying players having to work with skillers, which is an interaction we haven’t had much of before.
Look at boss killers and what happened with the release of the God Wars dungeon. This allowed bossers to farm items for other bossers. No trading, no middle man style exchange needed. Where with original Barrows equipment at least had armour decay and a money sink that basically taxed the PvMers’ drops, God Wars had nothing like this. Besides God Sword shards needing to be combined, there was just the body count to entertain bossers. Things ultimately got boring, and as better equipment came out, it made God Wars even easier and faster, releasing their end products out in mass, doing the same thing as grinding smithing does. They are one in the same, really. They both were destroying the economy and separating each other by never having to interact. RS was being destroyed.
Jagex realized what was happening. With the success of Player Owned Ports I think they saw that the use of resources to make end products could be done without being able to flood the market. You have to put restrictions on trade of items that don’t decay and you have to have resources dropped in order to get skillers or at least other aspects of the game involved to make things work. Even Chaotics see decay for otherwise free items and for top end items like Drygore equipment that IS dropped by monsters, it has to decay and cost resources to fix up. They learned from the mistake of God Wars, and even fixed that by making instances cost money – a tax up front to lessen the impact of items flooding the market.
Perhaps the most encouraging update that will take these steps even further is the Inventor skill that will come out next year. Mod Mark announced that this will combine those unused ‘junk’ items into a truly useful item. This will have a hugely positive impact on the economy by taking all the excess items out of the game while making top end personalized gear that will hopefully be able to be built to suit your needs in any situation. There’s a whole lot we don’t know about the Inventor skill yet, but what was explained at Runefest bodes well to make the economy more stable and will take extra items out of the game.
So we’re seeing lots of great steps in the right direction with integration of different aspects of the game coming together and making things more balanced and reliant on other skills. Jagex has heard our pleas and are finally making things more interactive and reliant on players that specialize in different areas of the game. It’s almost like an assembly line, where PvMers get the resources from drops, then skillers take that and create an end product, and then sells that off to PvMers and PKers and in this process everyone benefits from it. How things need to work to keep sustainable has finally been put in place with our highest tier gear, and hopefully with the Inventor skill and rebalancing of the finishing skills, we’ll see this trickle into lower end items as well. It will be an actual functioning economy and skilling system, which we haven’t had for a long time in Runescape.