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RuneScape
RuneScapeLogo
Developer Jagex Ltd.
Publisher Jagex Ltd.
Release dates RuneScape Classic:
4 January 2001
RuneScape 2:
29 March 2004
RuneScape HD:
14 July 2008
Genre Fantasy MMORPG
Mode Multiplayer
Platforms Java Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X
Media Web interface
System requirements RuneScape: 128 MB RAM, 500 MHz CPU
RuneScape HD: 256 MB RAM, 1.5 GHz CPU, Nvidia GeForce 3 or equivelant[1]
Input Keyboard, mouse
Head image phoenix

The current head banner.

RuneScape is a Java-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG, pronounced "em-mor-a-peg"[2]) operated by British developer Jagex Ltd. With over fifteen million active free accounts and more than three million paid member accounts[source needed], RuneScape has achieved second place of the most played MMORPG games in the world[3], and the most popular free MMORPG in the world for two years in a row[4].

RuneScape offers both free and subscription content and is designed to be accessible from any location with an Internet connection, and to run in an ordinary web browser without straining system resources[5]. Since its release, the game has been praised for its free-playing abilities and its availability on a web browser. Each month, the website has around 10 million unique visitors[6], and 6 million unique players access their accounts to play the game[7].

Yahoo! recorded "RuneScape" as the fifth most popular search term overall for 2008[8] - this makes it the only video game in the top ten, despite other big-name games being released in that year[9]. For the same year, it was the number one most popular search term for Canada specifically[10].

History and developmentEdit

DeviousMUD2

DeviousMUD was the forerunner to RuneScape, but was never released to the public.

Rsc stats

A screenshot of RuneScape Classic.

Runescape-login1

The RuneScape login screen before RuneScape High Detail was released

RS HD Login Screen

The "RuneScape HD" login screen.

DeviousMUD, the forerunner to RuneScape, was created in 1998 by Andrew Gower. The game, which was never publicly released, used isometric graphics. In 1999, Gower completely rewrote the game, albeit with no improvements to the graphics or several other aspects of the game. This version was released as a public beta version for approximately one week before it was withdrawn.[11]

As a Cambridge University undergraduate, Gower worked on a complete rewrite of the game with the assistance of his brother, Paul Gower. The isometric view was replaced by a mixture of both 3D and 2D sprites. The game, renamed RuneScape, was released to the public as a beta version on 4 January 2001[12] and was originally operated from their parents' house in Nottingham.[2] In December 2001, the Gower brothers and Constant Tedder formed Jagex to take over the business aspects of running RuneScape[12]. By that time, there were over one million registered accounts[13].

On 27 February 2002, a membership service was created[13], allowing players to choose to pay a monthly fee to access a variety of additional features including new areas, quests, and items. This service significantly changed the focus of the game.

As RuneScape became more popular, Jagex began planning major changes. Although only a graphical update was initially planned,[14] the developers opted instead to rewrite the game engine completely, introducing a version that consisted entirely of three-dimensional graphics, with other significant improvements. While in development, this version was known as RuneScape 2. A beta version of the new engine was made available to paying members on 1 December 2003. At that time, the game had 660,000 free players and 58,000 members[2]. The finished version was launched on 29 March 2004.[15] Upon release, RuneScape 2 was renamed RuneScape, and the older version of the game was kept online as RuneScape Classic. On 2 February, 2006, Jagex banned more than 5000 Classic accounts due to cheating. On 2 August, 2006, RuneScape Classic was closed to new accounts and restricted to paying members who had played Classic at least once in the prior six months.[16]

On 16 May 2006, Jagex upgraded RuneScape's game engine, primarily as a back-end upgrade rather than a visible graphical boost.[17] In particular, the amount of memory required to run RuneScape was significantly reduced, allowing the game to be expanded and improved without increasing the loading time for most players. As of March 2007, RuneScape had more than 9 million players[18]. The engine was upgraded once again on 26 June 2007, to allow Jagex to add more complex content to RuneScape in the future.[19]

On 5 July 2007, an article was released in which Andrew Gower told an interviewer he saw a release of RuneScape onto the seventh generation of gaming consoles (the Wii, the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3) as "tempting"; however, he states that there are no current plans to do so.[20]

On 10 December 2007, Jagex, faced with widespread real world trading rule violations, decided to remove several key areas of the game. Some anti-Jagex players believe that the game was ruined due to this decision; the update prompted a record number of users in the rants forum, and it is estimated that over 60,000 membership subscriptions were cancelled. However, many of these memberships canceled were macros themselves rather than legitimate players. Despite this, growth has resumed since.

On 1 July 2008, RuneScape High Detail, also known as RuneScape HD or RSHD by some, which was a major overhaul of RuneScape's graphics and the single largest update of RuneScape 2 to date was released to members as a beta. On 14 July 2008, this update became available to non-members.

Jagex had Mark Gerhard as its new CEO as of 1 February 2009[21] (a Sunday), though it was not announced on the RuneScape homepage until 9 February[22]. He promised to make the members version of RuneScape seem like an expansion, instead of the full version of the free play version. He also commented on the his opinion that RuneScape had been "dumbed down", promising players that it was not aimed at children.

Servers Edit

RuneScape server location map

RuneScape servers are located in fourteen countries; USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden.

RuneScape servers are located throughout the world, which are numbered and referred to as worlds by players and Jagex. The servers use Unix, Debian GNU/Linux, and Cisco IOS software,[23] and they are located in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden.[24] Historically, servers have been located in areas where they will provide the best connection for players in a cost-effective manner. Servers are moved or added as the need arises.[25]

Gielinor map

RuneScape from above.

Each of the RuneScape servers allows 2,000 players to connect simultaneously. The servers are divided into free servers, accessible to all players, and Member servers, accessible only by those players who choose to pay a monthly fee for additional content. Unlike many other MMORPGs, RuneScape characters are not bound to a particular server, but rather can switch freely among the servers each time they access the game.[26] Some servers are given suggested activity labels, allowing players performing tasks that require or are made easier by group participation, such as mini-games, to more easily find each other.[27]

In addition to the RuneScape servers, there are two members-only servers for RuneScape Classic, both located in the United Kingdom. Each of these is limited to 1,250 players, allowing a total number of 2,500 simultaneous RuneScape Classic players. Only players who played RuneScape Classic in the six months prior to the banning of about 5,000 accounts are able to use these.

Advertising Edit

To support RuneScape's free content, Free-to-play advertisements are displayed above the playing screen on the player servers. On 13 July 2006, Jagex signed an exclusive marketing and distribution contract with WildTangent Games,[28] which granted WildTangent the right to handle advertising in and around RuneScape in the United States. The deal also allowed WildTangent to distribute RuneScape through the WildTangent Games Network,[28] a distribution channel, reaching over 20 million PCs.[29] WildTangent has stressed that this agreement will not change the way RuneScape is presented and that they plan to make the presence of the advertisements, vital to RuneScape, as non-invasive as possible.

Jagex moderators have stated that there will be no in-game advertisements.[28] Since computer users may use advertisement blockers which may discourage advertisers, Jagex introduced a rule that prohibits players from blocking the advertisements in the free game.[30]

Jagex had introduced video adverts, which free players would have to wait to finish before they could play the game. However, these were found to be very unpopular, and Jagex scrapped them in February 2009 despite the fact that they generated "significantly more revenue than other adverts"[22].

Other languages Edit

On 14 February 2007, Jagex released a German closed beta translation of RuneScape. It is now in open beta. Currently, there are six German language servers online: three that are for members only, and three that free players can also use.[31][32] The French version was released on 10 December 2008, but was announced on the English site on the 11th with many users looking forward to the update. Jagex is also currently in the process of translating the game into a Brazilian Portuguese version[33].

Membership Edit

The members form of RuneScape is an optional service that provides extensive additional content and extra features when compared to the free-to-play version of the game. Most quests and several skills, as well as three-quarters of the world map, are reserved for members. Members can play mini-games with unique rewards, use additional items, and have access to improvements for nearly all skills. Paying users also receive considerably more storage space for their items, priority Customer customer service, the ability to vote in most player polls, and the ability to post on the official forums. Regular game updates are usually reserved for members; however, a few updates each year affect the free version of the game.[34]

Monthly membership fees are set at £3.50, $5.95 USD, $5.00 CDN, €4.60, $8.20 AUD, or $8.90 SGD, if paid with a monthly subscription using a credit or debit card. Monthly subscriptions can be cancelled at any time without losing the days for which the player has paid; however, refunds are not available for unused days if a player cancels or is banned due to rule infractions. Other payment methods are available, including PayPal, check or money order, and telephone providers in certain countries; however, these payment methods generally charge a fee added by the payment provider. Payments made by cheque or money order are typically for a set number of months.[34]

On 18 August 2008, the membership increased by $0.95 USD for new subscribers. Already subscribing members will still only pay $5.00 USD if they have paid before 18 August, (for example, if one had paid on 17 August, then each payment after would still only be $5.00).

Members are granted access to members-only servers, which have no advertisements displayed during play, notably causing less lag. Although members can play RuneScape on free servers, members-only content and items are available only on member servers, and members cannot access free servers while standing in a members-only area.

Membership benefits on the German and French servers carry over to the English servers and vice-versa.[32]

Gameplay Edit

Darklightspecial

A player and an NPC engage in combat.

RuneScape takes place in the fantasy-themed realm of Gielinor,[35] which is divided into several different kingdoms, regions, and areas.[36] Players can travel throughout the gaming world on foot, by using magical Teleportation spells or devices or mechanical means of transportation.[37] Each region offers different types of monsters, materials, and quests to challenge players.

Players are shown on the screen as customisable avatars. They set their own goals and objectives, deciding which of the available activities to pursue. There is no linear path that must be followed. Players can engage in combat with other players or with computer controlled monsters (NPCs), complete quests, or increase their experience in any of the available skills.[38] Players interact with each other through trading, chatting, or playing combative or cooperative mini-games.

New players begin by playing a tutorial quest, Learning the Ropes.[26] They are led on a set path where they learn most of the non-member skills needed to succeed in Gielinor, the realm of RuneScape. After completing the tutorial, players can access information from tutors located in the towns they explore. These non-player characters (NPCs) can replace some basic equipment items if necessary, as well as giving new players and advanced players appropriate information about their respective skills.

Community Edit

RuneScape players represent a wide range of nationalities and ages. Most players speak English to some extent. Players who speak languages other than English tend to gravitate to servers populated by other players who speak the same language; some worlds have larger numbers of players who speak Spanish, Dutch, French, German, or other languages. It is not uncommon, however, to see many languages on the chat screen throughout RuneScape. A German translation of RuneScape has been released as an open beta.[31][32]

A set of official RuneScape Forums created entirely by Jagex programmers is available to players on the RuneScape website. On the forums, players are able to participate in game discussions, play player-made forum games, make arrangements to buy or sell items, and interact with the community. Free players can read the forums, but posting on them is reserved for paying members. The RuneScape forums are quite diverse, allowing thousands of players to access them at any given time. Each forum has its own specific list of rules enforced by forum moderators.[39]

Players can submit questions via an e-mail address listed on the website to any NPC in the game. Selected letters are answered in an update called Postbag from the Hedge, typically at the end of each month. This feature began on 26 September 2005, and has since become one of the most accessed pages of the site. Beginning 24 September 2002, players could submit questions to the Gods of RuneScape; however, this feature was discontinued on 9 December 2004.[40] Players can also submit original RuneScape related artwork, some of which is displayed in a gallery on the RuneScape website. Media featured have included sculpture, comics, drawings, and paintings.[41]

Many fansites have been established by players, none of which are supported or recognized by Jagex. In order to provide players with an alternative, official site to get the information they want or need, Jagex introduced the Knowledge Base,[42] (now called the Game Guide) which offers information on gameplay, the main RuneScape rules, and account security.[43] However, at least one major fansite has criticised Jagex for not recognising fansites' contributions to the development of its game.[44]

RuneScape has a player economy based largely around items produced using skills. Raw materials are collected using the extracting skills, such as Fishing, and are processed into more advanced materials with processing skills, such as Cooking. The products produced by processing skills, such as armour or food, are often sold and used by players in combat. Some players engage in arbitrage, commonly referred to as merchanting, in order to turn a profit in game by buying and selling items. Historically, inflation has caused some instability in the game economy. Inflation is caused by a variety of factors, including the large number of resources put into the game by macroing.[45] and the release of new skills such as Construction.

Rules and cheating Edit

Jagex has put in place a number of rules for player conduct, such as rules against offensive language, scamming, and bug abuse.[46] To enforce the rules, RuneScape uses three types of moderators: Jagex moderators, who are actual Jagex employees; player moderators, who are trusted ordinary players who enforce the rules in the game; and forum moderators, who are trusted players who police the game forums. On the forums, Jagex moderators are identified by gold crowns and backgrounds on their posts while forum moderators have green crowns and backgrounds; in game, Jagex moderators have gold crowns next to their names in chat while player moderators have silver crowns. In addition, any player has the ability to report rule-breaking using a report abuse feature; misuse of this feature can result in action being taken against the reporter.[47] The effectiveness of Jagex's hunt on abusers has been debated in an article posted on Twitchguru.[48]

There are also rules prohibiting the use of third-party software to play the game, known as macroing, and the sale of game items for real money, known as real-world trading.[46] In the early days of the game, most cheaters were individual players using special programs that exploited weaknesses in the game's client-server communications by sending false data to the server. In response, Jagex made direct interaction with the client very difficult. Players then began using macro programs to automate mouse clicks for repetitive tasks. Random events, requiring human reaction and decision making, are one method Jagex employs to attempt to disrupt such programs. According to Jagex, many cheaters are now based in game sweatshops in East Asia, making gold to sell to players for real-world money, an issue in many other MMORPGs. In response, Jagex issued a statement condemning real-world trading, which had already been against the rules. In the statement, they also claimed that they were seizing billions of gold and banning thousands of accounts every week for cheating. On December 10, 2007, Jagex removed or changed several key elements of the game, making Real world trading almost impossible, but upsetting a huge number of players. [49][50]

Reception Edit

A study by Brunel University claims that playing RuneScape can be beneficial to players. The study concluded that the nature of games like RuneScape can teach teenagers vital skills that they will need as they enter the labour market, including working hard to achieve goals.[51] An article on Twitchguru claims the opposite, that the skills and lessons learned in RuneScape are not suitable for children.[52] As of December 2003, RuneScape was one of the fastest growing out of all of the MMORPGs, having a userbase fifty percent larger than that of EverQuest[2]. The game is praised for its free play abilities. JustRPG summarised the game with, "In short, the game of Runescape is a fun, addictive game, and while the graphics may not be perfect (this review was done before the RuneScape HD update), for a game written in Java, they aren't bad. The skills are varied, the community is alright, and it'll eat up your time if you aren't careful," giving it a score of 83%.[53] The Yahoo! Buzz Log states that, "while it may not be as easy on the eyes as some other popular online RPG games, like World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, or EverQuest, RuneScape is still a lot better way to kill time than pushing around cells in a spreadsheet."[54] PC Gamer UK in December 2003 states that while the "traditional RPG values of questing, slaying monsters and developing your character in a familiar medieval setting" won't "have the big boys trembling in their +2 Boots of Subscriber Gathering," this is offset by the game's accessibility through a web browser, "compounded by a version of the game that allows free adventuring before players upgrade to a members account," describing the game as "an unsurprising success." [55]

A reasonable portion of the gaming community mocks or makes fun of RuneScape because of its graphics, which are not state of the art. But this happens for many other popular games as well.


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