Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Runescape's Achilles heel: the community

It's often said of people that they want Winter when it's Summer, and want Summer when it's Winter. In short, people always want what they don't have. I'll get back to this in a moment as I delve into the paradox that is the average Runescape player's mind.

I've recently done the quest "Misthalin Mystery", one of the few quests available to beginners fresh out of the Tutorial Island. This is the only freeplay quest I had never done before, as it was added specifically to Old School Runescape, and it turned out to be a great example of a good quest

It involved sailing to an abandoned manor on a small island to the South of Misthalin, and tracking down an assassin. To sum it up, you started out in the main hall and had to find keys that unlocked one room after another. The assassin left riddles behind, and you had to figure out where the next key was hidden. I got stuck several times, particularly at the final clue, which took me quite a while to figure out. This was the final riddle:

After exploring the entire manor several times and clicking just about everywhere, I finally figured out what I had to do, and was able to finish the quest after two or three hours of investigation. 
I was very satisfied after this quest. I was given the adventure I wanted, I was given the brain teaser I so much complained about never having in other MMOs like Guild Wars 2 or pretty much any other MMO I can find out there. But does the community of Runescape think the same way?

"Guide", "guide", "guide", and not a single review of the quest's actual quality. Shameful.

No. The majority of Runescape's community does not care about solving riddles, or learning how to defeat tough bosses, or overcome any sort of challenge. It only cares about getting things done as quickly as possible with the least "exp waste". It's by far the most machine-like community I have ever seen in any online game. The same people who will tell you they have 9,000 hours of gameplay on their account, will also bullshit you with the "I don't have time" excuse about doing a mere clue scroll by themselves, which would only take an hour at most for an easy one.

Earlier I mentioned it being a paradox. The fact is, Runescape has some of the best quests out there when compared to any MMORPG, and it doesn't have all that much grinding in comparison to some other games of the same genre. It doesn't have the mind boggling RGN figures other MMOs have; the strongest weapons have a mere 1/250 chance of dropping from their respective bosses, which is nothing in comparison to the astronomical figures some GW2 drops have. The grind is extremely comfortable; I'm training Fishing as I write this entire blog post.

Yet, the community seeks the exact opposite of what it is given: it keeps demanding more grinding, and less questing. And even worse, it actively tries to impose its views on new players. Google up any Runescape quest and all you'll find are guides; not a single honest review to be found. The opposite is true in GW2: while the game is incredibly grindy past level 80 and has horrid storylines, players instead demand less grinding and more questing. Shouldn't people be switching games here?

Runescape is great, but if it has an Achilles heel, it is definitely its community. It has pretty much always been this way. It's difficult to find a decent group of people to chat with about something else than how to efficiently get from point A to point B in game. Worse than that, some will actually mock you for not playing the way they do. It's perfectly possible to enjoy the game on your own and go through all the quests at your own pace. But when it comes to multiplayer minigames or other activities, there's never anybody there with you, because nobody else wants to "waste time" doing anything that doesn't earn them in game gold.

I think Bhagpuss said this better than me before: "MMOs are not something do to, but somewhere to be." I'm not in this game to grind it out and be done with it. I'm only here to have fun for as long as it lasts.

1 comment:

  1. I am very much of the same mindset. Grinding for the sake of grinding is something I loathe in gaming. Much of the things you're saying also are true of the LOTRO community anno 2017. I wonder whether it has something to do with MMOs aging and a certain type of player being left behind that doesn't move on to newer games.