It is written by Mod Nexus and is dated 15 September 2011.
Mod Nexus: How long did it take to write RuneScape Classic?
Andrew: It depends how you measure it really. Including the pre-cursors like DeviousMUD and things like that it took years, although I didn't really start RuneScape Classic itself until I'd finished university and had some time. So I started it properly in August 2000 and I launched the beta (whatever you want to call it) in January 2001. So it wasn't that long, but I was building on a lot of previous multiplayer games so it's always easier to write something, even if you're doing it from scratch, when you know exactly what it is you've got to do before you start.
Mod Nexus: Was it just you at the time or was Paul involved as well?
Andrew: It was Paul as well; the figure we talked about was two years in the making when we launched it because we were including all the previous failed attempts. RuneScape Classic was actually about the third attempt at making an MMOG; I just kept starting again until I got it right. Paul was working from Nottingham and I was in Cambridge so we weren't in the same room and we were communicating entirely over ICQ. By the time we launched, we were both working full time and in the December of 2000, just before we launched, I went back to Nottingham for Christmas and I was in the same room as Paul and development sped up considerably. Things like the Mining skill and the Smithing skill were all written in a matter of days in rapid succession and I just wanted to launch it. There was a real rush to add content and up to that point we'd been focusing on the quests and making the game work, being able to walk around, talk and do things. There were no skills so there was no actual meat to the game so you'd do all the quests, which would have probably taken you about 20 minutes, and then there was nothing to do so we added all the skills in a matter of a few weeks.
Mod Nexus: Which quests were there to start with?
Andrew: There were four or five. Shield of Arrav was definitely a launch quest. Demon Slayer was, Cook's Assistant of course, and Sheep Shearer. That was it in terms of launch quests, there might have been one or two others. Mod Nexus: How long did it take to get to the point where lots of people were playing and you thought that 'we could make a go of this'? Andrew: It hit the critical mass with enough people playing to make it work on the first day, which was a massive relief. I think on the first day we had about 30 simultaneous players which wasn't bad for one game world which was quite small at the time. That rapidly increased to 100, 200 over the course of about the first week.
Mod Nexus: How did news of RuneScape spread?
Andrew: It was purely word of mouth. There were quite a lot of people who knew me from my previous games I'd done for other websites, and I had a runescape.com website up saying 'coming soon' for several months beforehand. It was amazing and there was very little else on the internet at the time, so if you found a game worth playing you told people.
Mod Nexus: Can you believe that it's been going for 10 years?
Andrew: Certainly not. If you'd have told me at the start that I'd be doing it 10 years later I wouldn't have believed you! I thought it'd be like every other game I'd written, do it for a few months and that would be it. The fact that 10 years down the line it's still being developed is a first.
Mod Nexus: Did it occur to you to have constant updates from the start?
Andrew: There was no business plan that this would be regularly updated. I think, originally, it was more that I launched it before I'd finished and wanted to keep improving it. Every game previous to that I'd finished it, done it, launched it and then not touched it. I'd been writing RuneScape for so long I just wanted to launch it, and improve it afterwards. I kept thinking of more ideas and for a long time I thought I'd got about 6 months of ideas then I'll be out of all the things I wanted to do. And 6 months later I had another 6 month's worth of ideas, and so on. It just seemed there was always one more thing I wanted to add to the game and after a while it became apparent that this is what people wanted. People were playing for the updates and it became deliberate.
Mod Nexus: Do you have a favourite memory or funny moment in Classic?
Andrew: Well most of the funny moments involved the chat filter. I'd had a number of different attempts at this, and it had a habit of breaking in entertaining ways. For example, as an experiment we tried a white-list of allowed words rather than blacklist of disallowed words, but the list was inadequate and it didn't help if you couldn't spell so it tried to correct them and you couldn't work out what people were saying. People were very upset about it but they couldn't tell you... 'This update is Ship!'
There was another rather infamous bug where if it [the chat filter] crashed, it replaced your text with the word cabbage because it had to do something. Somehow we launched a version of this with the chat filter broken and all people could say was cabbage.
Mod Nexus: What's your favourite skill?
Andrew: It's probably the Cooking skill. In RuneScape Classic it was the most sophisticated skill. It had ingredients that you had to mix together in different combinations. We actually put considerably more work into Cooking compared to the other skills. Mining was trivial, you hit a rock you get ore there was nothing more to it. The same goes for Woodcutting, Fishing, Smithing, so Cooking was a little more in depth due to all the different recipes.
Mod Nexus: Anything you'd want to move from Classic to RuneScape that you haven't, perhaps sleeping bags!
Andrew: Definitely not sleeping bags! I think if I did, I'd have moved it into RuneScape already. I still like the retro feel and simplicity of it but you can't move that.
Mod Nexus: Is there anything you'd do differently if you started again?
Andrew: All the things I would do differently I did with RuneScape 2. I'd do the combat differently and I did; I'd do the PKing mechanic differently but, again, I did. In fact that changed several times throughout the history of RuneScape Classic anyway. Originally everybody was a PKer and you could kill anyone, anywhere, except Lumbridge. Then we introduced a system where you had a flag to engage in PKing or not, which worked quite well. Then we introduced the area based PVP in the Wilderness.
Mod Nexus: Was the XP curve in Classic the same as RS2?
Andrew: Yes, it was! The number of XP you need to gain a level I'm actually quite pleased with. It was funny because that was an equation that originally sat down and worked out that it should be relatively possible to get to level 30; 40 was a bit of work; 50 if you're really playing; 60 and 70 were just insane and it went all the way to 99. And no one's ever going to get to that, but I didn't want them running out. It wasn't supposed to be possible, I didn't anticipate just how much people would play, though levelling up is a bit easier these days. Go back and play RuneScape Classic and you'd be stunned how hard it is to get 99.
Mod Nexus: How did you update the game back in the day?
Andrew: Updating the game was a pain, it was all done manually. I had to compare each change to every file by hand, compiling it all separately and it generally took about a day to update!
Mod Nexus: Is there anything else you'd like to say about RuneScape Classic?
Andrew: We had 3 servers originally, but once the servers hit 1000 players the entire server died and needed physically rebooting. All three servers did this so we thought it must be something wrong with the software, but try as we might we couldn't work out what was wrong. This was a bit of a problem because Classic was full and we needed all the capacity we could get. A few years later, we wanted to upgrade the memory in the servers, but they were in the US and we got a strange phone call from the company doing the work saying there was melted plastic all over the computer and they'd forgotten to take the plastic covers off the heat sinks! They scraped the plastic off, put the heat sinks back on the right way around and they worked fine after that!
We also never put anvils next to furnaces even though it was logical for a smithy but it made the skill far too quick and in those days you couldn't bank your resources (only coins) so you had to run across the map.
Mod Nexus: Are you looking forward to RuneFest
Andrew: Yes, absolutely, going to meet all the players again but it'll be a little more free-form this year and I'll try to have a good time, chat to people and play the game. I expect to spend more time interacting with players.
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