Words On Wednesday

2016-01-27 Return to Runescape

After a long break from the MMORPG Runescape, I’ve returned to play again

A Brief Summary

My history with Runescape (referred to as RS for the remainder of this post) goes back a long time, to early 2006 when I was in high school. A classmate who played got me to try it out, since any MMO is much better when you play with people you actually know. I started soon after the 2006 Easter event ended and played consistently for a good few years.

Soon after I started, during the summer of 2006 if memory serves me correctly, I went p2p for the first time. I had already exhausted all the f2p quests and explored most of the free world. Though I could have stayed f2p for much longer (as many players do), I figured I had played enough of the free game to justify broadening my horizons and signing up for p2p.

I paid for membership for… several years, at least. I don’t recall exactly how long I played, and I’m pretty sure I’ve cancelled and restarted my membership at least once or twice since 2006, but I remained a p2p Runescape player for collectively a good while. Though the amount of time I invested in the game fluctuated month to month, I never left the game for long enough to justify cancelling my membership.

As I discussed way back in September 2014, introduction of the Evolution of Combat really killed the game for me. I was used to a click-and-wait combat style, and EoC was exactly the opposite. On September 8, 2013, I finally cancelled my membership for currently the final time. Though EoC was the straw that broke the camel’s back, I’d grown undeniably tired of the game after so many years. Paying for a game monthly rather than a one time purchase instills a sort of… obligation to play the game. If I’m paying $5 or $8 per month to play, I want to get my money’s worth. Eventually, that pushes the game away from a pleasurable pastime and into the territory of chore or routine.

I played for some amount of time around the release of that post, but stopped playing again sometime thereafter. Not that I didn’t enjoy playing, but it’s hard to justify investing that much time in a game when I have a huge backlog of PS3 games I should be taking care of. Plus, f2p excludes a large chunk of the game and it was hard to stomach that after being a paying member for so long. My bank was stuffed with member’s only gear and items, I had relics of my p2p adventures with no way to use them.

Runescape Hiscores

Modern Day

Fast forward to sometime around Thanksgiving 2015, when I began contemplating the idea of playing RS again. I won’t lie, I missed the game. It may not be a shining example of gaming, it may be tedious and grindy at times, I may have sunk far more money than I care to admit in it, but I really missed playing. I wanted to go on slayer tasks and kill monsters, I wanted to catch up on all the quests I never got around to playing, I wanted to dive into a world I spent thousands of hours exploring.

To satiate the drive to play again, I began remoting into my home PC from my phone to chop and burn maple logs. Woodcutting and Firemaking are both low-maintenance skills, especially with the release of bonfires, and it’s something I can do basically equally well on f2p and p2p. Obviously, this isn’t experiencing RS in its full capacity, but it’s exposure to my old account, all my skills, claiming items from Treasure Hunter, and all that jazz.

After a few days or weeks of that, I started paying attention to the daily tasks that pop up. Though I couldn’t easily do them from my phone, I could use my Chromebook to remote in and actually have a physical mouse and keyboard for more traditional input. I started remoting in for a few minutes most afternoons to take care of any daily tasks and maybe run a dungeon or two.

I also noticed within the bank that there were separate values for f2p and p2p items. Previously, f2p bank space included p2p items as well, and I had thrown far more into my bank than I’d be able to realistically sort through and free up space to actually use my bank on f2p. Anything I’d deposited as a placeholder was bankable, but everything else took up too much space. When I spent loyalty points I had previously accrued on bank boosters, I was put well above the f2p bank limit and could deposit items again even without a placeholder. With a decent remote setup and the ability to bank items again, I was primed to play RS in much the same way as before.

The annual Christmas event opened up, and I decided to run through it for the holiday items. Traditionally, holiday items are non-tradeable and show off how long players have been in the game. I used to do every event without fail, but trailed off several years ago and hadn’t touched them in forever. It was nice to celebrate the holidays on RS and pick up a few items that won’t be available again. Plus, the event offered an easy 1-click source for free crafting experience, which I spammed up until the event ended on January 11th. It may have been slow, but it got me from 75 or so crafting, up to 83 without spending a dime or clicking through crafting menus.

Runescape Hero Summary

To Mem, or Not to Mem

Having picked up playing so much lately, I had to entertain the question of whether I would restart my membership again. Obviously, the f2p game is fine for kicks and giggles, but p2p offers so much more. It has more skills, more quests, more cities, more everything. If I’m playing the game regularly, it’s worth considering that I might enjoy paying for membership and reaping all the benefits members have.

To further encourage my possible membership, I received a Chaotic Claw from Treasure Hunter, a relatively rare and expensive item, one of the better p2p weapons. Luckily I could bank it for the time being, but I wouldn’t be able to use it without a membership. Every time I open my bank, it’s there, waiting on me to equip it as a member and deal tons more damage than I’m currently capable of.

Thinking realistically membership costs money and I don’t want to waste any more money than I have to. If I’m going to restart my membership, I need to decide a few things, namely what I want to accomplish before I pay for a month and what I want to accomplish as a member during that month. I refuse to set up autopay and get caught in the cycle of paying for membership month after month without really playing or enjoying the game. Furthermore, I’m not dropping 15M or so in-game coins to buy a bond worth 14 days of membership, when I couldn’t possibly make that much in-game money back during the membership span.

The first question, what to do before going p2p, must be considered from a lot of facets. Being a dedicated quester, one possible requirement could be getting all f2p skills up to the quest cape required levels so that I could focus solely on p2p skills and quests. No need to waste membership working on mining, crafting, and all those skills that I can train at any point as f2p. Another possible requirement would be getting 99 woodcutting before restarting my membership. I already have 98 wc (and may already have 99 by the time this post is published), so why not max that out? The list of things I could possible strive to do in the f2p game goes on and on, but I don’t want to pay for membership without adequately taking care of things I can do for free.

Edit: I did get 99 Woodcutting before this post was published, and it’s on YouTube.

My other big concern is what I want to do with a membership should I choose to reactivate it. Undoubtedly, I want to work on my slayer skill some, at least hitting level 80. One thing I really hate about f2p is the lack of strong or rewarding monsters available to fight. Sure, dungeoneering offers some fairly powerful bosses, but I want something I get good rewards for. Give me charms, give me high level weapons, give me stuff I can sell for a ton of gold.

Another big draw with p2p is the divination skill. I’ve trained it to the f2p limit of level 5, but I want to experience divination as a member. Plus, the new invention skill requires 80 divination to even start, and I’ll inevitably want to experience it (likely a ways down the road as I don’t want to spend my entire membership grinding 80 div).

Finally, I want to explore the elf city of Prifddinas. Again, as a huge quester, I was heavily invested in the Elf quest series and completed everything up to Within the Light, Catapult Construction, and Making History. With a few more skills trained to 75, I could start Plague’s End and get into the city. However, I have to consider if it’s worth my membership time to train Agility, Construction, Herblore, and Summoning, some very expensive and very time consuming skills. That remains to be seen, and hence has a bearing on Prifddinas being the last of my membership goals. I’d love to get in, but that may be something that takes more than 1 month of membership.

Runescape Skills

Resist the Temptation

Again, probably my biggest concern is making sure I don’t get sucked into paying for membership month after month the way I was several years ago. That adds up to a lot of money I could go without spending, especially when I already have a backlog of games I own. Plus, RS is supposed to be a game that I enjoy playing, not a chore I feel like I have to take care of. That’s why I’m determined to only pay for a single month and then go back to f2p for at least some time.

Does this mean I’ll miss out on the benefit of extra loyalty points? Sure, but I’m not really concerned about those. I got some bank boosters, which is basically the only thing I’d use the loyalty points for anyway. Am I going to miss being p2p once my membership lapses? Absolutely, but I think missing the game some helps me better appreciate p2p when I do resume membership.

Considering other MMORPG’s and how some of them offer a permanent membership with a one time fee, I really think I’d get that if Jagex offered it. Star Wars: The Old Republic does that, Tera Online does that, Elder Scrolls Online does that, and Guild Wars 2 did offer such an option before it went fully free to play (if I remember correctly). Obviously, allowing players to flat out buy a game kills an otherwise constant revenue stream for the owning company.

Games like Star Wars and Elder Scrolls are owned by companies with plenty of other revenue streams, and enough wealth already that they probably don’t even need the MMO income. Jagex basically just has Runescape, and they need to ensure constant income to pay for ongoing development and maintenance. Unless they can bring in enough new players to supplement that revenue stream, a one time purchase option would bankrupt the company.

As for what I personally would pay for a permanent purchase, it’s hard to say. With membership currently hovering around $10 per month, a year costs $120 and they’d certainly have to charge more than one year’s membership. Is RS membership really worth that much more than $120 for me? It would be nice to avoid that obligation to play, though. I could hop on when I want to, work on f2p skills without the feeling that I’m wasting time, and not have to worry about getting the most bang for my buck. With the current situation, there’s really no need in even considering how much I would pay, since Jagex has voiced no interest in offering the option and might never.

For the time being, I’ll continue to play as a nonmember and enjoy what the game has to offer. At some point in the near future, I may decide that p2p access is worth the cost and restart my membership. However, I refuse to do that without adequate consideration and making sure I do it at the right time. No matter if I do pay for membership in the coming months or stay f2p for a quite a while longer, I’m not leaving RS permanently. This game is a huge part of my adolescence, and continues to be a fun way to kill time. I may not be as active in the game as I once was, but it’s great to be back in Gielinor.

Meta:

Words: 2187 | Characters: 11873 | Sentences: 100

Paragraphs: 29 | Reading Level: College Student

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