Welcome to Part 1 of ‘How Runescape Did Vanilla First’ – a two part series about an MMO that dominated for 10 years, fell hard, and then was revived due to a release of the old game and a team that gives a crap about user experience.
Forever you say? Why would one play games after Classic is released on August 27th? Just give me sweet oblivion until I can log into Mulgore with my old character name.
This is going to be one beast of a series, but today you’ll learn about why this browser game will sustain you until August 27th, 2019.
We have a release date, but it seems so far away. Three months? Do you know how much progress I could make in my personal life until then? I don’t want to risk becoming a better human and be brainwashed to believe I don’t need video games.
What if I told you there is a game that released their vanilla version and hired a team to avoid the mistakes that erased their original legacy? I’m not talking about a money-mongering remaster, but a game that went back to its roots because they murdered retail.
It’s Old School Runescape. And you should start playing it today if you want those sweet dopamine hits and a sense of accomplishment similar to Vanilla Wow.
Most importantly: You do NOT need to choose a class.
A Brief History of Runescape
1. November 1998– Three brothers create Devious MUD, a multi-user dungeon game.
2. October 1998 – A public version of Devious MUD is released. Vladimir Putin declines an invite for early-access and begins his rise to power in the Russian Federation.
3. January 2001 – Runescape “Classic” is released. A user named Rab makes the first account.
4. March 2004 – Runescape 2 is released. Despite launching in the same year as World of Warcraft, this is the game that became famous due to it’s simplicity and ability to play in a browser.
5. July 2008 – “High Detail” is released for Runescape 2
6. July 2013 – Runescape 3 is released., bringing the “Evolution of Combat” to the previous game.
This appears to be a solid timeline. Each release brought new aspects to the current game and there were weekly updates – new content, quests, skills, and multi-player initiatives. The Gower brothers had made a game that didn’t require a decent computer (unlike WoW). People loved the Runescape experience for three major reasons: Choice, Economy, and Player-Killing.
1. Choice. Every game has it, but Runescape blew it wide open. School is done for the day and feel like being engaged with the game? Go kill some stronger NPCs and get some loot. Need to get an assignment done but still want to play? Level a skill like fishing and check the screen every once in a while while. The fish you caught could be sold to buy weapons and armor, or used for your own healing. You set your own goals and your own pace. You could be a pvp hero, pve hunter, a skiller who enjoyed having high non-combat stats, or a well-rounded account like most. Warcraft has professions, but Runescape WAS professions. Old School has 24 right now, each of them having a major impact on the game.
If you liked one but hated another, usually your profits from the former could cover you in other skills.
2. Economy. Most MMO’s have a player-driven system, and Runescape had the most iconic one.
Gold was the currency, trading was the game. You originally had to go to market and find what you wanted, or stand there hocking your wares and competing with other sellers n price. Some people made money “flipping” items like idiots try to do with houses nowadays. Many credit their typing speed due to the fact you had to continually type your sale over and over to be seen. It was an organized system created by the players, but this free trade system would eventually be overhauled by developers.
3. Player-Killing. Lots of games have PvP scenarios, but Runescape had the Wilderness. Dominating the northern part of the world, the “wildy” had one rule: players could attack you in this designated area. Dying was a constant fear anywhere in the game because players would lose almost all of the armor and items they were carrying (some of my fondest memories were when another player perished and I raced to pick up what they had lost). The wilderness created a whole new emotion. If you saw someone with a skull above their head, that meant they had attacked another player and were probably hunting people like you. There were areas in the shallows where players could fight other “PKers” 1v1. There were honor duels, backstabbing, and well-known players making [some of the earliest youtube videos]. Skilled players made a living out of this, and others just did it for the thrill. Massive clans formed with multiple tiers of leadership and battled for supremacy. Battles of the top clans wars would last for hours until one side was worn down and hunted to the last man. If you died in the fight you were expected to re-equip more armor and return as soon as possible. It was seen as dishonorable to return without the best gear. The wilderness was fiercely competitive, but was a main driver of the community back in the day.
Jagex had their magic. Other companies were clamoring to release the “WoW killer” and dying on the hill. However, 2007 was the year when our childhood game started to implode and we insert the “dark” timeline.