December 11, 2022
It doesn't matter how long you play a game, it doesn't necessarily mean that you love it. You've probably seen the meme about someone who leaves a negative Steam review after playing for over 5,000 hours. Let's face it, this is not absurd.
I have spent hundreds of hours playing Fallout 4 and only five times did I enjoy it. I was enticed by the promise of enjoyment and that loopy 'kill loot return' gameplay loop, which tricked my brain into believing it was having fun. You've all spoken out about Skyrim, and I can see why you keep coming back to it again. It's all so sad.
But Old School RuneScape! I don't know. It is easy to spot these games. They consume your life and then you complain about it online. RuneScape, however, is a different game. Even though I am not playing, I don't have an opinion. I hear the music in my mind and feel a pull to return to it. It was a mistake to find out that it was on mobile. My family has not heard from me for days.
RuneScape was a pioneering game that focuses solely on engagement. This doesn't mean enjoyment has to be the only goal. It's not that the two are mutually exclusive. But it does mean there are ways to keep you entertained even if you aren't having fun.
RuneScape is also one of the most efficient at what they do. The RuneScape Historical Timeline 1998-2020 fan documentary has been fascinating to me. It really took over my life and I was shocked at the speed with which players were able to max out their stats. Top tier accounts were active for over ten hours per day, every single day. It's easy to see why, when I return in 2021. The atmospheric music is perfect for those who love fantasy music. Everything is so simple that you can fill in the gaps with your imagination. This is why I think we were so captivated as children. It's the ideal playground for creating your own adventures.
It feels like a second job, even though I am an adult. It's not a bad thing, I think. I will still be using the same computer I used for eight hours to do my job and I'll still be watching TV. I'll still be working on my magic level, because I decided that my character would make a great wizard. Maybe I will fulfill my childhood dream and get a complete set of black armor, so I am now a knight.
Dave Osborne (RuneScape's lead designer), mentioned this to me when I asked about its continued success in the 20th anniversary. In an earlier interview, he stated that there are no classes, no servers to separate players and no content that can be locked down to a particular player type. "Everyone can play anything in RuneScape. Because everyone understands what you're doing, they may also be aiming for it.
That's all. All the top-ranking players in Lumbridge could be you when you arrive. It's intoxicating.
"More than any game I've ever played, the avatar represents me. It's an accumulation from everything I've done in RuneScape and that's extremely valuable to our players."
There are many games that try to control your life. RuneScape, however, is the most open about it. It's not the quests or lore that appeal to you. People talk about the win state when they refer to getting all their stats up to level 99. It's not about getting all the settlements in Fallout 4 - it's more about the journey, the story. The numbers are not the end goal. They are all that it needs to be.
RuneScape is as flexible and customizable as you wish. It has adapted to my life in a completely different way than it did when I was seven. If you are a fan of Old School, I recommend it. Be prepared to experience conflicting emotions.