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The Real Issue Plaguing Runescape


Jan 2 2011, 12:43 PM (Post #1)
Well why can't we do the shuffle?!
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This is a discussion I posted on the Runescape forums. For any of you that would like to follow it, the quickfind code is: 247-248-256-62117064

<Begin>


This may take several posts to finish, but be patient and even if you do not agree with me, it will at least provide for an interesting read. I will be going over a list of problems as to what is plaguing this game, why it is dying, and what needs to be done to save it.

Problem #1 - Poor Decision Making

Over the years, as I have seen this game exist on this corner of the internet, I often wonder whether or not Jagex knows how to run its own game. The company's actions surrounding this game sometimes seem very impulsive and very influenced by the constant complaining of different groups of players.

Since I can remember, there has been a constant fear between Jagex and its elite players as to whether or not to add new items to an economy, for fear of the economy becoming unbalanced. It stands to reason that if the best item is worth 250k, and you release a newer, better item, the new item will be worth more than the old, and the old item's price drops like a rock because the demand for that item has fallen. That happens. That's how an economy works. I am here to tell you that this doesn't change the balance of the economy, but merely changes how the game is played. It's like in real life. For instance, when dvd players came out they were expensive. First the wealthy bought them, but over a few years the supply of the players outweighed the demand, and the prices of the players fell to the point where a person making an average income could buy them. At that point, they sold well again, but the prices did not rise for fear of excluding people making an average income again - since that was the new market that companies had to sell to. When the Blu-Ray player came out, the demand for those players was great, and the demand for the DVD player fell, so to did the prices fall even more than before. It's just how an economy works.

Continued...




Why on earth would a company that has created a game with an economic system based off of capitalism be afraid of a changing or evolving market? The answer is quite simple - because of its elite players. Why would the elite players be afraid of a changing or evolving market? The answer to that is also quite simple...

Imagine that you have been playing Runescape since the very beginning, and you've racked up a nice stack of GP selling swordfish for 1000 gp a piece to players who need to kill monsters or go PK'ing. Imagine now, if you will, that Jagex proposes to add shark to the game, which is better than swordfish because it heals for more. Wouldn't you be panicked? All of a sudden, you wouldn't be able to sell your swordfish for 1000 gp any longer, because the demand for your fish would fall simply based on the fact that buyers would start demanding shark instead. What if you had 20k swordfish stocked up as well? With the introduction of the shark, all of your time and efforts would go to waste. Imagine further still that, in order for you to be able to start selling anything again, you would have to work on your fishing level to be able to fish the new commodity, lest you sell your swordfish for a depreciated value. So what do you do? You immediately get on the forums and complain, hoping that Jagex will hear your pleas and change its mind. Say Runescape, at this time, had 5 million active players, and 1 million made up its rich or elite class, and all 1 million threatened to quit playing upon the release of this new commodity. Wouldn't that scare you if you owned Runescape? That's a lot of lost money. Because of this, Jagex caves to the demands of the elite, and makes no change, eventually bringing all progress to a standstill and causing stagnation. I'm not saying that Jagex does this in every case, but the decision making involved with Runescape is really influenced a lot more by its players than one would care to believe.

Continued...



Case in point - the end of Real World Trading. Sure, Jagex had several moral problems with Chinese sweatshops hiring children to sit down in front of a computer 23 hours a day and play Runescape in order to farm gold so their taskmasters could sell it for American Dollars on ebay. That's bad, and that unfortunately does happen. But can you honestly believe that was their only reason? No, it wasn't. The biggest reason behind the change was that its players started complaining about "unfairness". First off, there was the botting problem. Why should people benefit off of doing nothing? So, players complained about that. Then there were scams going on, since scammers often cheated people who were relatively new to the game by charging outrageous prices for common members goods that these new players had never even heard of before. These are the reasons why you saw Free Trade and the Wilderness end. Jagex put a trade cap up to stop people from being scammed, and cut out the Wilderness because people said it was too dangerous, and because RWT was possible to achieve there through PK'ing. Afterall, if you say that you imposed a trade cap to end RWT and for no other reason at all, then you have to take all of the steps that you have to in order to abolish it completely, lest make yourself look hypocritical.

Now that so many people have been complaining about the end of the Wilderness and the end of Free Trading, they've started staging a vote to see whether or not it should be brought back. Ta-da, player influence at its finest. No offense Jagex, but you can't cater to every whim and will of your players because you're always going to please one group and enrage another. It's no way to run a game, nor is it a way to run a business.

Problem #2 - The Death of Skills

Now, what on earth could I possibly mean by this? There are multiple examples of this, but in this case, I will only use one example. That example would be - Smithing.

Continued...


Smithing, by and large, has become an extremely useless skill. It was useful, at one point in time, however. It was when your ultimate goal was to buy full rune. Remember those days? Full rune was 250k, and it sold like hotcakes to higher leveled players. Runeite, since the beginning, was intended to be the best of metals, and therefore, the best thing that could be created. That's why, if you care to look, that you can create a Rune Plate Body at level 99 smithing. This used to work out fine, that is until the introduction of Dragon.

The introduction of Dragon threw everything off balance. Again, the demand for the new item lowered the demand of the old, and therefore lowered the price. Eventually, getting 99 smithing to be able to make Rune Plate Body's wasn't that big of a deal any longer. As newer and better items came out that you couldn't smith, the skill started becoming more and more useless.

I'm not sure why this wasn't changed, other than to satisfy the 99-level cap on skills. Since Jagex has already put the cap in place, and placed Rune Plate Body's at level 99 smithing, they were faced with three options. 1. Raise the cap, and allow players to smith the new items at levels 100-the new cap. 2. Keep the cap where it is, but shift the requirements down so the new items can fit in. 3. Keep the cap where it is and do not allow the players to make the new items, instead choosing to ignore the issue. They chose option #3, which was by far the worst option. Option #1 was the correct answer - there is nothing wrong with raising a level cap on an ever evolving game. MMO's like World of Warcraft, for instance, has its level cap changed all of the time in order to accommodate for new content. Want to save your skills from stagnation? Raise the level cap. This way players will also have something new to work towards, instead of doing everything possible and then quitting the game due to not having a new goal to work towards.

Continued...


Problem #3 - Dungeoneering

Now before you start thinking that I'm going to be spending my time writing this section just for the purpose of bashing this skill, I'm not. There is nothing wrong with this skill. There is nothing wrong with the dungeons. So, what's wrong then?

It's the pure fact that you can't take anything INTO the dungeon with you.

Essentially, what Jagex has managed to do by creating this skill is destroy Runescape's economy. But how? It's really simple - because of the point I made above. What happened was that you had a bunch of players that wanted to either try out or max out this brand new skill. However, you can't take anything into the dungeon with you, so essentially it's almost like a completely separate game in which the only requirements are that your character has high leveled skills, you have some friends, and you can use your brain. But because everyone has been migrating over to dungeoneering, no one is buying or selling anything in the ACTUAL game. Do you know what happens when no one buys or sells anything? Your economy dies. The people who don't want to do dungeoneering everyday and need to buy a weapon or some food find themselves at a complete loss because no one has any need for these things any longer since you obtain everything you need to do dungeoneering within the dungeons. Alternatively, anyone looking to make some cash by selling something will find themselves at a loss because no one is buying anything since you obtain everything you need to do dungeoneering within the dungeons. Do you see the problem here? If items were allowed to be taken into the dungeons, then there would still be a constant flow of people buying and selling on the GE. Pure and simple - you destroy the need to buy and sell, you destroy your economy. It's economics 101, and Jagex has missed the point.

I want to further elaborate on the fact that your favorite MMO is dying. Jagex knows this.

Continued...

However, it's clear that they don't know the reason behind why their economy is dying. Yes, player's complaints about Free Trade being banned had something to do with this recent vote to bring it back - but in the past as long as Jagex could prove that it had a positive outcome on the economy, then they could be satisfied with the fact that they not only did their product a service, but they also did the world a service by taking a stand against underage/underpaid/abused workers. But now that it no longer has that positive outcome on the economy, they're trying to keep their game alive by restoring it, hoping that restoring it will spark trade amongst players. But, I tell you with 100% certainty that it has nothing to do with Free Trade and everything to do with people just not needing anything but their skills, friends, and brains to do dungeoneering. Want to fix the Runescape economy? Allow people to bring potions, food, and weapons into the dungeon with them. It's as simple as that.

Problem #4 - Corruption in the Marketplace

By and large, I love the Grand Exchange. I've always thought that it was a great addition to Runescape, and it certainly beat out having to stand in a crowded Varrock West Bank, shouting out what you were buying and selling all day in hopes that someone would respond. However, as with all good things, it also brought in some bad things. The GE, if you hadn't noticed, is entirely based off of demand. It tracks how much of each item is being bought and sold. If the demand for an item goes up, as in more people buy it, the GE automatically adjusts the price. This means that increased demand means increased prices, and decreased demand means decreased prices. Understand? I always thought that this was an interesting way to do things on a video game. It was very realistic - an economy solely based off of Supply and Demand laws as opposed to hearsay.

Continued...

But therein lies the problem. Since it is realistic, that meant that realistic ways of corrupting it could be employed. Remember when the price of gasoline skyrocketed and kept going up for no reason at all? Well, there was a reason for it - a dirty, nasty, unfair reason. A bunch of wealthy people who owned stock in oil companies, and/or owned oil refineries, etc. decided they wanted to make an extra buck. So they got together and started buying up all of the stock. Once they controlled the stock, they could all resell it at any price that they wanted to. So say they bought the oil for $40/barrel, they could all now get together and sell it back for $100/barrel. The numbers are not exact, but you get my point. Who could stop them? Usually in a fair market, if you had a group of people selling something for $100, but one person consistently sold it for $50, that one person would be able to sell consistently and the people that overcharged would not, and would eventually have to come down in price to match the competition. But when you eliminate competition, you can charge anything you want for the item you're selling. That's why the United States has laws that prevent monopolies. In order for capitalism to be fair, in essence, you need competition.

So how does this apply to our game? Well, a group of players that knew a little something about economics said, "Gee, why don't we do the same thing?" And thus the merchant guilds were born. They would get together and select an item they wanted to boost the price of, buy it for cheap, and sell it for an outrageous amount of money. Since you couldn't find anyone else selling the item for less, you absolutely had to buy the item for the new price until the GE made the price adjustment because less people were buying the item. Once that happens, the guild picks a new item to do the same thing to.

Continued...


These guilds are raking in GP hand over fist while systematically cheating honest players out of their hard earned cash and destroying the Runescape economy. It is a huge problem plaguing Runescape, but one that can easily be solved. All Jagex has to do is put a cap on how much the price of an item can be raised. For instance, say a merchanting guild wanted to significantly raise the price of sweetcorn seed. Normally, they would buy it all up for cheap, and the GE would make the price adjustment so the price of the sweetcorn seed would skyrocket. Say the price per seed was 250 gp, and after the guild did its dirty deed, the price jumped to 500 gp. All Jagex has to do is put a cap on it so the price would only jump to 260 or 270 gp. That way these guilds would make little profit, but the item would still be affordable to the other players based upon what its base price was before the guild messed things up. After the cap has been met, all that needs to be done is this - if the demand for the item falls, so does the price, eventually stabilizing back to its base price. If, for some reason, the demand stays the same or rises after the cap has been met - and stays that way for at least 1 week, the price will rise by another 10 or 20 gp. That way the guilds can't keep buying and selling their way to riches, they would have to wait an entire week for a very minimal jump in price.

Problem #5 - Reintroduction of Free Trade = R.I.P. Runescape

Really, this is simple economics. Botting was curbed, but of course not stopped, by getting rid of Free Trade. If it is reintroduced, more people will bot because they will be able to gain real life profit off of it. That is, by and large, why most people botted. You'll also reintroduce the problem of sweat shops hiring children to grind the shops to fortunes. So, why will reintroducing Free Trade absolutely destroy this game? The answer is simple.

Continued...

When Free Trade was around before, you did not have the GE. Now you do. If you plan to keep the GE and allow Free Trade, it is a recipe for disaster. I will use the example of Pure Essence here. What will happen is you will have an influx of players and bots all grinding to try to earn some cash. A big way they used to do that was mining Pure Essence, or Rune Essence. Now, what will happen if these people decide to mine 30k+ essence, and then sell all of that on the GE? Economic collapse, that's what will happen. It's simple Supply and Demand. The GE is based off of it. If the GE suddenly gets an influx of hundreds of thousands of essence, and there isn't enough demand to meet the supply, the price of the item will drop very sharply. The botters will get frustrated because they can't sell their items, or have to sell it for depreciated values, same with the sweat shop owners. There isn't anything wrong with that, but where the problem comes in is when Joe Schmo attempts to sell his 1k essence that he mined fairly on the GE, and finds that the price has fallen dramatically in less than a week, and to his further dismay, finds that he can't sell any at all. Then, out of frustration of a whacked out economy, he quits. All the botters and sweat shop owners, however, will most likely move on to a different item that they can farm and sell easily.

So you say - Joe Schmo, Free Trade is back! Don't bother selling on the GE! Sure, this sounds good, but why on earth would anyone buy 1k essence from Joe for 100g each when they can buy as much as they want of it on the GE for 10g each. Bottom line - they wouldn't. Jagex, this is why I really stress the importance of thinking things through before you make such drastic changes to your game. These aren't just children you're dealing with - these are adults who are well studied in economics and how to manipulate economies. Chances are if I've thought of this, they have too.

Continued...


Problem #6 - It's a Browser Based Game

Having Runescape be a browser based game was never a problem years ago. Its high detail mode was rather easy to run in a browser - it really didn't require much processing power nor did it require much bandwidth. Anyone who found themselves stuck with dial up could still easily play it in low detail. However, things have changed. With the introduction of the new graphics system, this game just takes way too much bandwidth to play in a browser. For those of you confused as to why this might be, I will explain.

Take a game like WoW or Guild Wars. These games have much better graphics than Runescape. Yet, I can have two or more computers playing these games on my broadband network at home with a lot less lag than playing two games of Runescape, or a game of Runescape and a game of WoW/Guild Wars. Why? Because WoW/Guild Wars downloads the content to your machine. The only things about those games that require bandwidth are the player interactions. Say you're doing a dungeon on WoW - the dungeon doesn't take up any bandwidth because you've already downloaded it. The 3D models don't either, because it's already downloaded. The only things that take bandwidth are anything related to fighting or progress through the dungeon, and talking. These things cannot be downloaded, and have to be loaded "on-the-fly" since they're dynamic, and change constantly.

Now let's see the same scenario on Runescape. Runescape downloads a very minimal amount of content to your machine when you first load it - some core game files - basically enough to run it. Consequently, this means that 99% of Runescape is loaded "on-the-fly", so as you're walking - it's taking bandwidth to load the scenery, the npc's, on top of all the player and fighting related content. Even though its graphics aren't up to snuff with WoW's, it still takes a tremendous amount of bandwidth because nothing can be loaded from your machine.

Continued...


The solution to this is simple - make a downloadable client. That's it. Then it won't suck up people's bandwidth - and you can also update the graphics engine to be up to the standards of other popular MMO's - thus creating a larger customer base and helping your game. In my opinion, it's a rather small price to pay.


I hope that you have enjoyed reading this. I have put a lot of thought and effort into it and even if you don't agree with me, I hope that I was at least able to teach you something. Good day to you all and Godspeed.
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Jan 2 2011, 07:21 PM (Post #2)
Here for the cute boys ;)
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Interesting. As a non-player, I can see the issues present. How long have you played?
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Jan 2 2011, 09:07 PM (Post #3)
Well why can't we do the shuffle?!
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Let's see...I've played off and on for about 6 years. Last year was the least I had ever played, totaling about 4 months of play.

This post has been edited by Dancing Fool: Jan 2 2011, 09:08 PM
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Jan 2 2011, 10:54 PM (Post #4)
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Runescape's always had a cracked R&D department; I don't get half the decisions they make. Not everything they do is bad, though
I am a little perturbed by return of free trade. Otherwise, I'm admittedly a little ambivalent... I can't feel too bad for Jagex.
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Jan 2 2011, 11:00 PM (Post #5)
Well why can't we do the shuffle?!
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Yeah, as stated in my comments - bringing back free trade and still having the GE would be a bad thing.
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Jan 4 2011, 04:30 AM (Post #6)
Well why can't we do the shuffle?!
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Update:

I've been arguing with players on there who keep saying that my post is far too long and that they didn't bother to read it - but still argue that I have no clue as to what I'm talking about. FINALLY, however, I received two intelligible responses.

QUOTE
Baby In Oven -

I read the entire post (unlike most as I see) and you seem to know what you are talking about. I don't feel like spending a lot of my time writing about this but I'll throw in my two cents.

You say that when free trade comes back the sweat shop workers will come back. I'll assume this is probably true. You then assume that since the sweatshop workers are back there will be millions of essence going into the grand exchange and the prices will drop. What I'm not sure you understand is how many people use bots already. When players were faced with the fact that they couldn't real world trade for their cash anymore they started botting themselves. If you don't believe me take a quick stop at Aubrey's shop in Varrock on any server, p2p or f2p. You will see at least 20 bots on each server. This is essence botting ALONE. I can guarantee you that this is not the only place that people bot. Taking a quick check at a site that runs a bot client I see that there are 21032 members. Remember this is from just one site. My point is that there are as many bots today as there were before the end of free trade, but they aren't as easy to spot as the default level 3 goatee wearing bots of the past.

You also need to understand that Jagex is smarter than the bots. Remember a couple of years ago how rune essence botting became a real problem for the economy? Jagex worked their magic and introduced pure essence. The fix worked and for a while some people were angry that their runecrafting would become more expensive to train but the change worked out alright in the end. If the economy starts to seriously tank you can expect to see Jagex fight the problem.

My final point is that Jagex needs to keep their own interests in mind. Since the ditching of free trade and the wilderness they have been losing members and haven't been making as much money. If they make this change there is a chance they will make some massive comeback and be the super power of a site they once were.



QUOTE
Azulon -

^Agreed. I also read the entire post, actually. I fell more intelluctually advanced. I also appreciate to find another player who really looks at the big picture in runescape. Free Trade, I find it to be positive, but only by a 51/49 chance. Dungeoneering, Agreed. Smithing, Agreed. You are a truly wonder*us person.




QUOTE
kkchompchomp (me on my wife's account)

Firstly, I would like to start off by thanking the both of you for taking the time to read my post and giving me an intelligent, well thought, response.

Now, to the main point of my response -

"Baby In Oven" - I can obviously see that you've put some thought and observation into your response. However, I would like to point out a couple of things. The first thing is, I know that there are a lot of bots on Runescape and that you see them all over the place. These bots, unfortunately, are already effecting the economy of Runescape without Free Trade being in existence. Imagine what will happen to the economy once these players, other players, and sweat shop owners start to have real world incentive to bot again - as in, they can make real money. There will be far more bots on Runescape than there currently are with a much larger influx of items going into the GE.

That's a point you must also remember is that I only used Rune Essence or Pure Essence as an example, but bots will not be limited to these things. Jagex changed the rules on essence, so to maintain profits the bots moved onto other things like iron, coal, or even flax. Change one thing and they move onto another.

You also stated that Jagex lost a lot of customers after the big changes they made to free trade and the wilderness. That is very true, but only initially after they made the changes. Since then, Runescape has been operating like any other online game - getting an influx of new players (particularly players 13 and younger) and losing other players to other games, to college/work as their former player base got older and didn't have the free time to play, etc.

I'm still going to make that video that I mentioned, but once again I would like to thank the both of you for taking the time to read and respond.

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Jan 4 2011, 04:40 AM (Post #7)
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QUOTE (Simply Fabulous @ Jan 2 2011, 05:54 PM)
I am a little perturbed by return of free trade.
*



Commie.
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Jan 4 2011, 05:28 AM (Post #8)
Well why can't we do the shuffle?!
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Haha, exactly.
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Jan 6 2011, 12:27 AM (Post #9)
Well why can't we do the shuffle?!
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