Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Communal Push

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Have you heard the latest? Old School Servers will be dead by the end of the summer (or winter for you Aussies). At least that’s what they say on the forums in their half-hearted passive-aggressive rants. Oddly enough, this time around the community is doing so much more to ensure the longevity of the (Old School) game.

If we believed the rumours about the game dying, wouldn't that have happened in 2005? If not, then how about 2007? 2009? And more recently, 2012 with the reveal of the Evolution of Combat. What I find to be upsetting is that even the players who are pushing forth their ideas and contributions find the need to go with the flow and agree with their counterparts about the longevity of the game. Like it or not, both the live game and Old School servers are here to stay. I see no reason for the game in either form to come to a grinding halt. Granted, membership will probably decline over time but the amount of cyclical change in membership for games such as RuneScape is daunting. Even more so it seems because of the nature of MMORPGs, in the sense that they have regular updates, patches, changes, and in RuneScape’s case, nerfs alongside polled content additions. So far the only stand-out reasons I have come across, in terms of legitimate concerns about the longevity of the Old School game are as follows; no F2P worlds to attract new players, an aging community and a lack of support from JaGEx mainly in terms of poorly protected servers and general latency. All of these are legitimate concerns, spanning across three key areas of concern. However I will show that they some of them may have just been exaggerations and blown out of proportion.The first issue - the lack of actual F2P worlds - is both an advertising and marketing issue. The hope as expressed by current players is that new players who have the opportunity to try out the Old School game before committing to membership are more likely to build an account on the Old School servers rather than the live game – which they are permitted to play freely on. While I completely agree with this hypothesis, I’m just not sure if Old School servers are ready for this. The drawbacks to the implementation of free worlds would be an increase of bots, and a very significant chance that without proper advertising more players would rather cancel their membership and just enjoy the free game, then the amount of whom would try out the free game and convert into subscriptions for JaGEx. Personally, I just don’t think Old School RuneScape is ready for F2P servers. Obviously the favourable reason to implement Old School F2P servers would be a demand from players who want to try out the game and possibly purchase membership once they get a feel for it, but that’s incredibly unlikely to happen because not enough people are in the category of people who have not played RuneScape prior to – let’s say, 2009 – and those who have heard of the Old School Servers and want to give them a test run.The second reason as to why the Old School servers might not last is an aging community. This one’s been around for awhile and can somewhat be connected with the first issue. The concern should be obvious, more players are growing up and moving on from the game, this concern seems even more valid since the very nature of the game insists that it is outdated. The connection with the first issue would be that there is a decreasing amount of new subscriptions, especially on the Old School servers and there isn’t enough being done to lure in new players to bridge the gap between now and what we can only hope will be the next generation of players. Personally, I’m going to have to rule this is as a non-issue for a few reasons. First of all, like I previously mentioned this concern has been around for ages. And look - we’re still here! Some people say Old School RuneScape might suffer the same fate as RuneScape Classic; however RuneScape Classic did not receive content polls, the same amount of publicity, nor did it procure exclusive content. This is a completely different situation and I don’t think RuneScape Classic sets a fair precedent. I’m not saying Old School RuneScape will last forever, but I’m guessing it’ll have a much longer lifespan than some of cynics suggest on these forums.The last point for the case of Old School Server’s impending doom is the lack of support from JaGEx, specifically towards the notion of players being able to DDoS the servers, allowing them to auto-cast against their enemies in the wilderness and get a free kill, or cause annoyance usually towards larger groups of players and their events. I’m not an expert on this, so I will not pretend to be. However I do see the need for this issue to be addressed, and I very much so would like to see this resolved in one way or another. I do not think this will bring down the Old School servers on its own however it certainly does infuriate some players and it is a serious issue therefore it should be treated as such. Not only is this harmful to players, both directly targeted and those caught in the cross-fire but it is illegal in just about every country with respectable cyber legislation and it is punishable by jail time in most of those places.

When I started this article, I had set out to give the community a pat on the back, and I plan on doing just that. The community for Old School RuneScape is just as strong as it was on day one in my opinion. In-game you can find players helping the less experienced whilst training, trading and so on. Indeed the good continues to prevail as lasting friendships are formed even by ordinary conversations. On the forums you can find players asking for future poll questions, and expressing their thoughts towards past and present poll outcomes. You can also find players answering questions, producing guides, and sharing their achievements. This is the most important aspect contributing to Old School RuneScape’s longevity; the community. If we want Old School RuneScape to last we have to act like we want it, and in my eyes most of us are doing just that. So give yourself a pat on the back and keep it up Scapers’. I hope this can inspire maybe one or two more players to keep their head up and help out a noob next time they see one.As a closing note, I don’t know about the other players of Old School RuneScape, but I would rather spend my time enjoying the game while it’s here. As opposed to worrying about when it will be gone and watching it slip from my grasp. I agree the marketing could use some buffing up, but it’s such a tricky and unique situation it will take some fines. I’m not going to try and pass myself off as a marketing guru when I’m sure JaGEx already has some of those people in their employ. We must ask ourselves, is it really the players who should be thinking of ideas to increase membership for Old School RuneScape? Or should they be... y’know playing the game?
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