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This article is about the game itself in general. For other uses, see RuneScape (disambiguation).
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RuneScape is a Java-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)[3] operated by British developer Jagex Ltd. With over 9.5 million active free accounts and more than 500 thousand paid member accounts[4], RuneScape is the second most-played MMORPG in the world,[5] and the most popular free MMORPG in the world for three years in a row.[6]

RuneScape offers both free and subscription content and is able to be played from any computer which is connected to the internet, and runs in any ordinary web browser without straining on/or expending system resources.[7] 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 ten million unique visitors,[8] and around ten million unique players access their accounts to play the game.[9]

Yahoo! recorded RuneScape as the fifth most popular overall search term for the year of 2008[10] - this makes it the only video game in the top ten, despite other big-name games being released in that year.[11] For the same year, it was the number one most popular search term for Canada specifically.

RuneScape homepage

Current RuneScape homepage

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RuneScape

History and development

Rsc stats

A screen shot of RuneScape Classic

DeviousMUD, the forerunner to RuneScape, was created in 1998 by Andrew, Paul, and Ian Gower. The game used isometric graphics. The original version was scrapped, and never publicly released. In 1999, Gower completely rewrote DeviousMUD, albeit with no improvements to the graphics or several other aspects of the game. This version was released as a public beta for approximately one week before it was again withdrawn.[12]

As Cambridge University undergraduates, the Gower brothers worked on a complete rewrite of the game. The isometric view was replaced by a mixture of both 3D and 2D sprites. The game, renamed RuneScape (created using a word combiner and randomiser program that Andrew had), was released to the general public as a beta version and for testing on 4 January 2001 and was originally operated from their parents' house in Nottingham.[3] In December 2001, the Gower brothers and Constant Tedder formed Jagex to take over the business aspects of running RuneScape.

On 27 February 2002, a membership service was created, 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.

Login server old2

The RuneScape login screen before RuneScape High Detail was released

As RuneScape became more popular, Jagex began planning major changes. Although only a graphical update was initially planned,[13] 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.[3] The finished version was launched on 29 March 2004.[14] 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.[15]

On 16 May 2006, Jagex upgraded RuneScape's game engine, primarily as a back-end upgrade rather than a visible graphical boost.[16] 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 nine million players.[17] The engine was upgraded once again on 26 June 2007, to allow Jagex to add more complex content to RuneScape in the future.[18]

On 5 July 2007, an article was released in which Andrew Gower told an interviewer he saw a release of RuneScape onto seventh-generation gaming consoles (such as the Wii, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3) as "tempting"; however, he states that there are currently no such plans to do so.[19]

On 10 December 2007, Jagex, faced with widespread real world trading rule violations, decided to remove several key areas of the game, especially player killing in an area called, "the wild". Many serious players believed that the game needed to keep several of these areas at least in part; 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 cancelled were macros themselves rather than legitimate players.

RSHD Login15

The Old RuneScape HD login screen

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 and the entire RuneScape community.

Jagex appointed current CEO, Mark Gerhard as of 1 February 2009[20] (a Sunday), though it was not announced on the RuneScape homepage until 9 February.[21] He promised to make the members version of RuneScape seem like an expansion, instead of simply becoming a "full version" of the free-to-play version/game. He also commented on opinions that RuneScape had been "dumbed down", promising players that it was not aimed extensively at a child-based consumer audience.

Jagex re-released RuneScape Classic on November 2009 and again on June 2010. They were going to re-release RuneScape Classic on January 2011, but did not end up doing so. In September 2011, however, RuneScape Classic was re-released again. It was the last time players were able to access it.

Servers

Main article: Server
RuneScape server location map

RuneScape servers are located in fifteen countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, India 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,[22] and they are located in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden.[23] 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.[24]

Each of the 200 RuneScape servers allow 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. Some servers are given suggested activity labels, allowing players performing tasks that require or are made easier by group participation, such as minigames, to more easily find each other.Themed Worlds. Jagex Ltd..

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

To support RuneScape's free content, advertisements are displayed above the playing screen for free players. On 13 July 2006, Jagex signed an exclusive marketing and distribution contract with WildTangent Games, 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, a distribution channel, reaching over 20 million PCs. 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. 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.

Jagex had introduced video adverts, which free players would have to wait to finish before they could play the game (usually a time span of 10 seconds or longer). However, these were found to be very unpopular, and Jagex removed them completely in February 2009 despite the fact that they generated "significantly more revenue than other adverts".[21]

Other languages

On 14 February 2007, Jagex released a German closed beta translation of RuneScape. Currently, there are six German language servers online: three that are for members only, and three that free players can also use.[25] The French version was released on 10 December 2008, but was announced on the 11th with many users looking forward to the update. After releasing FunOrb (another Jagex creation) in Brazilian Portuguese, RuneScape Brazil was released on 23 July 2009, though it was not on the news posts until 24 July.

Membership

Main article: Members
Gielinor map

RuneScape from above. The Unknown is covered by clouds.

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 more minigames 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 service, the ability to vote in most player polls, and the ability to post on the official forums at any level. Regular game updates are usually reserved for members; however, a few updates each year affect the free version of the game.

Monthly membership fees are set at £3.50, $5.95 USD, $5.00 CDN, €4.60, $9.50 AUD, $9,90 NZD 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 check or money order are typically for a set number of months.

On 18 August 2008, the membership fees increased by $0.95 USD for new subscribers. However, previous and already subscribing members would still only have to pay $5.00 USD if they have paid before 18 August, (for example, if one had paid on 17 August, then each subsequent payment, assuming there are no "pauses" between payments, would remain as $5.00 USD). Regional or international charges and billing fees still have to be taken into effect (if present), though. On 23 January 2012 it was announced that memberships fees would increase by $2.00 USD on 1 February 2012, any memberships created before 1 February would continue to charged for $5.95 USD until the membership was terminated. If one's $5.95 membership runs out after 1 February, they would have a 7 day grace period before the subscription cost would raise to $7.95 USD.

Members are granted access to members-only servers, which have no in-game advertisements displayed during play, disputably resorting in less lag and/or distraction. Although members can play RuneScape on free servers, all member-specific content and items are available only within members' servers. Also, note that members cannot access free servers while standing in a members-only area.

Membership benefits on the German, French and (Brazilian) Portuguese servers carry over to the English servers and vice-versa.

Gameplay

Tormented demon fight

A player and other non-player characters in combat with attackable monsters.

RuneScape takes place in the fantasy-themed realm of Gielinor, which is divided into several different kingdoms, regions, and areas. Players can travel throughout the gaming world on foot, by using magical teleportation spells or devices or mechanical means of transportation. 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.[26] Players interact with each other through trading, chatting, or playing combative or cooperative minigames.

New players begin their RuneScape adventure by following a tutorial, Troll Warzone. 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 Taverley and Burthorpe, or from an advisor button which can be accessed at any time. The advisor can give helpful information on different topics including money making, skills, and various items. Some stores and shops also provide free samples of low level equipment and the basic items needed for various skills.

Community

Main article: Community

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.[25] 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.[27]

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. 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.

Many fansites have been established by players, only a few of which are supported or recognised 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,[28] then called the Game Guide and eventually removed, which offers information on gameplay, the main RuneScape rules, and account security. However, at least one major fansite criticised Jagex for not recognising fansites' contributions to the development of its game. Soon after this criticism they re-introucted Fansite Support. Different fansites are rated from bronze to platinum, depending on a number of factors including the size of the fansite, how community orientated they are, and how much support they offer players. Platinum is the highest followed by gold, then silver and the lowest is bronze.[29]

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.[30]

Rules and cheating

Main article: Rules of RuneScape

Jagex has put in place a number of rules for player conduct, such as rules against offensive language, scamming, and bug abuse. 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.

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. 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, were one method Jagex employed to attempt to disrupt such programs. According to Jagex, many cheaters are now based in gold farming "sweatshops" in East Asia, making coins 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 10 December 2007, Jagex removed or changed several key elements of the game, making Real world trading almost impossible, but upsetting a huge number of players[31] An a poll set out by Jagex on 21 December 2010, 91% players voted yes for the Wilderness and free trade to come back. On the 17th of January of the following year, Jagex confirmed the return of both Free Trade and the Wilderness, which were reinstated on 1 February.

Reception

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.[3] The game is praised for its free play abilities. JustRPG gave it a score of 83%, and 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."[32]

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." [33]

A three-year study published by Brunel University in March 2006 claims that playing RuneScape can be beneficial to players. The study concluded that the nature of games like RuneScape can teach younger players (from ages 7–15) about vital skills that they will need as they enter the labor market, and working hard to achieve goals.[34] An article on Twitchguru in March 2007 claims the opposite, that the skills and lessons learned in RuneScape are not suitable for children.[35]

The Yahoo! Buzz Log stated in May 2006 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."[36]

In June 2009, RuneScape was named Best Desktop Game at the Seventh Annual Duke's Choice Awards, which recognise "the year's most influential Java technology-based applications" and "highlight the efforts of the Java developer community and the innovative applications they create".

See also

External links

Official sites
  • RuneScape — The official RuneScape website
  • RuneScape Germany — The official German translation of the RuneScape website and game
  • RuneScape France — The official French translation of the RuneScape website and game
  • RuneScape Portuguese — The official Portuguese (BR) translation of the RuneScape website and game
  • RuneScape Dutch - The site advertised by the Dutch commercials in the Netherlands.
  • Jagex site — The official Jagex site
Other sites
  • RuneScapeRuneScape on Wikipedia
  • RuneScape Commercial — Official Dutch RuneScape commercial on YouTube.
  • Jagex Twitter - The twitter account of Jagex Games Studio. Updates, happenings, and sneak peaks on Jagex products and company.
  • IMDb page - The Internet Movie Database page for RuneScape.

References

  1. ^ [1] on the main RuneScape website.
  2. ^ File:Safe mode select.png
  3. ^ a b c d Dodson, Sean. Rune to move. Technology news. The Guardian News and Media Limited. 19:45, January 2, 2011 (UTC). “RuneScape is an MMORPG ... RuneScape is the creation of Andrew Gower, who developed the game while Cambridge undergraduates. Just over two years ago, he operated RuneScape from a bedroom in his parents' house in Nottingham ... Outside South Korea, Sony's EverQuest is seen to be the market leader in the world of MMORPG, with a shade over 500,000 subscribers. RuneScape has nearly half that again ... But can RuneScape convert its masses of free players (around a high 660,000) into paying subscribers, of which there are only 58,000?”*
  4. ^ Best-kept secret in online virtual worlds gets a major overhaul. Yahoo! Games. May 7, 2013.*
  5. ^ MMO games on the rise. BBC News. 19:45, January 2, 2011 (UTC).*
  6. ^ Jagex. "RuneScape in Guinness World Records!". 22 August 2008. RuneScape News.
  7. ^ PlayStation Society. Game On! (Web). 15:07, January 15, 2011 (UTC).*
  8. ^ Jagex Software (Advertising). Jagex. “RuneScape.com has over 10 million unique users a month, according to Media Metrix.”*
  9. ^ Wagner James Au. RuneScape Moves to Come Out of the Shadows. GigaOM Network. “RuneScape is... a traditional fantasy role-playing game that boasts six million active monthly players”*
  10. ^ Top 10 Searches for 2008. 2008 Year in Review. Yahoo!. 15:07, January 15, 2011 (UTC).*
  11. ^ Rea, Jared. Runescape Tops Alba, Lohan and Jolie in Yahoo Searches. The Escapist magazine. 15:07, January 15, 2011 (UTC). “In a year that brought us heavyweight titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Gears of War 2 and Wii Fit, RuneScape managed to be the only video game to make Yahoo's top ten searches for 2008.”*
  12. ^ DeviousMUD. DeviousMUD.tripod.com.
  13. ^ The biggest update ever.... Jagex Ltd..
  14. ^ RS2 Launched!. Jagex Ltd..
  15. ^ Nearly 5000 RS-classic accounts banned. Jagex Ltd..
  16. ^ Game engine upgraded!. Jagex Ltd..
  17. ^ Kozierok, Charles. RuneScape Exposed Part 1: An Education Kids Don't Need pp. 1. Tom's Games, Bestofmedia Group. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. “RuneScape is arguably the biggest MMORPG in the world, with more than nine million players.”
  18. ^ Game Engine Update. Jagex Ltd..
  19. ^ "RuneScape on console "tempting", says MMO's creator". ComputerandVideoGames.com.
  20. ^ Jagex Appoints Mark Gerhard as Chief Executive Officer. Press Releases. Jagex. “Jagex today announced the appointment of Mark Gerhard as the new Chief Executive Officer following the resignation of Geoff Iddison earlier this month. Mark Gerhard, who currently serves as the Chief Technical Officer at Jagex, has been appointed to lead the company from 1st February.”
  21. ^ a b Gerhard, Mark. The Future of RuneScape. RuneScape News List. Jagex. “My name is Mark Gerhard and I am the new CEO of Jagex, the makers of RuneScape ... a lot of free players told us they found our video adverts before the game annoying to the point it was putting them off playing, so we've scrapped them with immediate effect ... the free game... isn't merely a demo for the members’ version. If anything, we see the members’ version as an expansion pack ... Another thing that has cropped up in recent times, which we'd like to clear up once and for all, is the common belief that RuneScape is a game aimed at kids. This is absolutely not the case. We can see how this view has fostered, however, thanks to our over-zealous chat filter, Quick Chat worlds, “dumbing down” of certain bits of humour and storylines”
  22. ^ Job Info Page. Jagex Ltd..
  23. ^ "Game-world locations renamed", "11 new worlds online", "5 new worlds in Stockholm, Sweden", "6 new Australian servers online!", "8 new worlds in Miami", and "New London servers". RuneScape Technical News (2005-04-26 through 2006-11-20). Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
  24. ^ Singapore server relocated. Jagex Ltd..
  25. ^ a b German Language Beta Launch – Some Information. Jagex Ltd..
  26. ^ Wingfield, Nick. The Knights of Networking; Online Fantasy Game RuneScape Has Dull Graphics, but It's Free, Luring Millions to Play, Mingle. Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc..
  27. ^ Code of Conduct. Jagex Ltd..
  28. ^ New Improved Game Guide Released!. Jagex Ltd..
  29. ^ So Who Needs Fansites Anyway?. Tip.it.
  30. ^ The Price is Right! Or is it?. Tip.It.
  31. ^ Bots and real-world trading. Jagex Ltd..
  32. ^ Gasperazzo, Wendy. Runescape. Just RPG.
  33. ^ Sutherns, Mark - PC Gamer UK, issue 129. Runescape 2: browser-based Goblin basher goes 3D. Future Publishing.
  34. ^ How gaming is all work and no play. BBC News.
  35. ^ RuneScape Exposed Part 1: An Education Kids Don't Need. TwitchGuru.
  36. ^ Hurd, Gordon. The Rundown on Runescape. Yahoo! Buzz Log.

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