Most games in existence have some sort of risk involved. In most cases, it’s this risk that makes the games rewarding, challenging, and fun. If there’s no risk, what’s the point of playing anything? What’s Monopoly without a hotel-loaded Boardwalk? How fun would Operation be if all the procedures were the shapes of squares and the sides didn’t make the man’s nose turn red? Runescape, and all games online for that matter, come with certain risks – some that we can control and some we cannot. You wander the wildy and you might just get PKed. You might lose wifi signal while fighting Nomad or start to lag just as you get to Jad. You could compromise your account without having a pin or JAG in place. Risks in all their forms are rampant and accepted all the time on RS as they are inherent to the experience. Sometimes luck gives us the losing side of the coin. Sometimes we roll the die and land on Boardwalk. Whether it’s by chance or by our own negligence, that dance with fate will have an outcome and we have to accept what we get. At least that’s how it should be – but for a lucky few RS players they got a reprieve.
You see, for the past few months, Jagex had been experimenting with a service to return lost items to players’ accounts. Their system, so called the ‘Lost Item Restoration Tool’, was in the trial phase and it was being used to return items to players who had their accounts hacked and items stolen. Though not specifically stated, it can be assumed that this system could also return items lost during server issues, like the well-known Vorago server crash that caused many players to lose top tier gear the first day of the monster’s release, or other uses where returning items could be useful. During this three month trial, 700 accounts had items restored. Its use is now being suspended due to being “unsustainable,” which one can assume that means that they are receiving more requests, most of which are probably bogus, than the team can handle.
Let me just say, as someone who has had their account compromised a few times, there’s no one to blame but oneself for such a breach. I understand things beyond our own control may cause our password to become known, but there are now a multitude of security checks on RS that should at least limit the damage that could be done if not completely prevent any harm coming to you if you act quickly. It’s with all of these security measures in place that makes me wonder why Jagex felt a system to return lost items needed to be implemented. Strong interest may have been present, but there will always be those who go begging to Jagex to get their items back that they lost due to their own negligence.
Now, if it wasn’t obvious by now, I don’t like the idea of spawning items back into the game because someone got hacked. If it was by a server issue, then sure, but again, there is a risk to playing games online and the possibility of server crashes is definitely one of them. MMOs aren’t special in this regard. If I sit down and play a disc ran game and I get a few hours in and my game crashes I don’t get to complain to the manufacturer to get my progress back. Online games shouldn’t be any different. It happens. It happens a lot. So much so that if Jagex started doing this regularly they would probably get requests to restore items lost every time someone died! It’s just not a logical use of company time where money could be better spent developing the game or keeping tabs on server hiccups.
There’s issues that can arise from just spawning items from thin air as well. One of which actually took place recently. In March, there was an error in which an account that was getting items restored received millions of Archer’s Rings on accident. Millions! Like…lots of extra zeros worth. Rather than reporting the error the player then turned around and sold them all at dirt cheap. Didn’t even try to slow play it for a bit. Geez. While Jagex came out and said this was supposedly a human error, I can’t imagine a situation where this would happen and someone wouldn’t catch the mistake and just go “Yeah, that looks right…”. I have no evidence to support this, but I’d imagine there was some sort of effort to make this an automated process and it dun goofed. The result of the error caused Archers Rings to crash in price. Even though Jagex was able to trace the sales and remove a majority of the rings from in game the price still hasn’t recovered.
You can see where this sort of policy could destroy not only the economy, but also integrity of the game. Imagine a coordinated “hack” where a player was robbed of 100M gp – something like money I would assume is much more difficult to track. Bounce the money around enough times till it’s not traceable and the player and his hacking counterpart could manipulate the system to get free money. Multiply that plus the plain erroneous reports of hacking that might be fulfilled, and you have an unnatural flow of items and money entering the game.
I will say again, this is a whole lot of speculation on my part as to some of the issues that could arise from such a system. Truth be told, there’s security features in place that should prevent any damage being done to a highjacked account, so this system really doesn’t need to exist. Any demand for it is from players who didn’t follow warnings and used the tools like JAG and pins to protect themselves and had to learn the lesson a hard way. Remember – risks, right? They landed on Boardwalk and unfortunately now have to pay. There’s just no place for replacing lost items in any game as the workload and opportunity for fraud far outweigh the gesture of kindness on the developer’s part. I am glad this system was discontinued so more free stuff doesn’t plummet prices for things even more.