Particles are used to simulate fuzzy phenomena, which are very hard to reproduce with three-dimensional rendering. Hundreds and thousands of particles can be generated, using relatively little processing power, to create effects that would have been too costly and demanding using existing polygon techniques.
Particles were first mentioned in a Developer's Blog in August 2009. Mod Chris E stated that particle effects would be introduced into the game, along with sky boxes, bloom lighting effects, and water reflections.
Particle effects made their first appearance in the 2009 Christmas event. The first glimpse of particles was the snow coming out of the wardrobes through which players entered to get to the Land of Snow. The snow blowing out of the wardrobes gave the effect of cold winds coming out from the Land of Snow. Upon entering the Land of Snow, snowflakes would fall from the sky if the Particle effects option was on. Flakes that were far away appeared smaller than the ones closer to the screen, giving a three dimensional perspective of the scenery. After a few months, practically every update released used particles.
- On 8 February 2010, Strykewyrms were released, all three of which were the first monsters to incorporate particle effects.
- On 15 March 2010, Corpse mages, Corpse archers, and Dragith Nurn lurking in Lumbridge Catacombs have a 2D sprite core, and all of the Undead in the catacombs have 2D sprite eyes.
- On 12 April 2010, the barriers and level end doors in the Dungeoneering skill were released using particle effect. Also, the official Dungeoneering trailer on Jagex' YouTube account, contained more realistic water splashing, snow, and fires with particles that will be released in the feature.
- At some point in May, the Mort Myre Swamp received particles.
- On 25 May 2010, Skillcape animations were updated with the use of particle effects and were also tweened.
- On 27 May 2010, The first items with particle effects were released. These include the Zamorak, Saradomin and Guthix halo and the Faithful shield. When igniting a flare, it produces particle smoke.
- On 24 June 2010, all strike, bolt, blast, wave, and surge spells from the standard spellbook now have particle effects, as well as a new animation. Instead of a coloured ball, they represent their element more and have tweened animations.
- On 22 August 2010, it was revealed that the Dungeoneering Master cape is a new item with particle effects when Telmomarques achieved 120 Dungeoneering.
- As of 12 October 2010, the Albino Rat now uses particles for it's eyes, along with the new ability to blink.
- On 20 December 2010, NPCs from random events and clue scrolls, e.g. Zamorak wizard, now use particles when they pop up.
- On 1 March 2011, particles and bloom lighting effects are used in the fire pits in the Cosmic and Chaos portion of the Elemental Workshop.
- As of 15 March 2011, particle effects are now used in the snowy areas, like in the 2009 and 2010 Christmas events.
- On 15 April 2011, the 2011 Easter event was released, in which the river and cloud spirit's chatheads use particles.
- On 1 November 2011, three new gloves were released which used particles. They are the goliath gloves, spellcaster gloves and the swift gloves.
- On 20 December 2011, the Christmas wand was released as a reward for completing the 2011 Christmas event, A Towering Feast.
Particle use in the future
Mod Woody has stated in the forums that magic spells (partly done now), hair, smoke (partly done now), and fog will all benefit from particle effects. He has also mentioned that particles might be used in upcoming quests and places, such as Zanaris and the Fairy Tale III quest, the final quest in the Fairy Tale quest series (which has happened).
|“||There are all sorts of things we would like to enhance with particles, and we will be adding particle effects to certain areas and animations soon. This Christmas update is just a glimpse of what we have planned, as we didn't want to hold it back any longer. In the future, you could be seeing particles used for all sorts, from fountains and chimneys to fires and magic effects. We'll also be giving other snowy areas a similar treatment in the near future.||”|
— Mod Woody
- Contrary to popular belief, the Dramatic Point emote does not use particles. It actually uses polygons as snowflakes.
- Previously, medium and high level particle effects were not available on Macintosh operating systems running the latest java, this is now fixed.