World switching, also known as world hopping (or simply, hopping) exploits a side effect of the duplicate worlds within the RuneScape game. It is not against any of RuneScape's rules. Due to an update made by Jagex, switching into full worlds requires a wait on the queue, preventing fast hops into full worlds.
Each RuneScape world is hosted on its own computer, known as a server. Servers are continuously connected to the internet, and receive tie-ins from connections of players all over the world. The servers host these players (up to 2000 on a single server) while they play RuneScape. To ease strain on the servers running RuneScape, Jagex created many different servers as to not overload a single server with too many players. Unlike many other MMORPGs, a single character can visit any of the worlds, if the player is a member; free-to-play characters can't go on members worlds (marked with gold stars in the image to the right), but still can go on any of the free-to-play worlds.
Players log into that server and are able to interact with all of the elements—monsters, buildings, and items—found on that world. These worlds, each located on its own server, are nearly identical in form (except for world-specific features, and differences between Free-to-play and Pay-to-play worlds), and yet independent of each other. Actions taken on world 1 will not affect the building, monsters, or items on world 2. For example, mining all of the gold ore found at the Rimmington mine in world 1 will not reduce the amount of ore available at the same mine in world 2.
The side effect of these semi-duplicate worlds is that, for example, if a mine is too busy or empty, players can return to the world select screen and try a different world. For example, world hopping is often used to effectively mine runite ore, which, given the small number of rocks per world and a long respawn time, is very difficult to obtain at a decent rate without world switching. Players may also switch worlds to avoid competition for monster spawns or another certain spawn. Before the shop improvement update, world switching was also used when selling to overstocked stores, or buying from a store which ran out of stock.
Players log out and return to the world select screen and simply select a new world. When world switching, the servers typically make players wait 30 seconds before switching over to prevent advantage from using third party world switcher programs, such as SwiftSwitch. The timer was suggested by a SwiftSwitch user as an alternative of making SwiftSwitch and other world switchers completely against the rules. However, since Jagex added an official world switcher and originally infinite shop stocks (Shop stocks more recently made finite) into the game, the timer has become obsolete.
Because of this delay, in some cases it is faster to wait for an item respawn than it is to switch.
Previous game effects Edit
World switching used to be very important in merchanting as prices often varied between worlds when shops had limited stock. This was noticeable in the fishing shop in Port Sarim, particularly with the prices of lobster and swordfish. Another world-switching money making method was "vial hopping," which consisted of buying out the stock of Herblore potion vials in a particular shop then switching worlds and repeating the process. With the shop improvement update, this also became obsolete.
"Join" friend (Quickhop) Edit
In early 2013, an update was released which allowed players to instantaneously switch worlds.
This is done by accessing the friends list, right-clicking a player's name and selecting the "Join" option (the player must appear online to the user.) This will instantly transfer the player to the server that the other is on.
There are certain friends chats for this purpose, in which everyone has their private chat set to "on". One may add anyone in the chat as a friend to facilitate easy world switching. This is useful when mining rune ores or the Living Rock Caverns, for example.