I wanted to write this post kind of like a post-incident write-up and talk about where things started to fall apart. My friends and I were loving RuneScape... until we weren't. Then they left, and I kept going because I had some goals.
Then I met those goals. Now what?
Where It Started
I started playing Runescape back in 2005 or so. I was pretty young, but I enjoyed the game like crazy. Being embedded in a virtual world for hours on end, talking to random people, making friends, doing weird stuff, trying to get level 99 skills, it's a wild ride. Eventually I left to go play different games, Runescape is where it all started for me as far as fun RPG experiences.
Eventually, Oldschool Runescape came out, and it was like being in a time capsule. I was reluctant because I had poured so many hours into the original game that starting from scratch would suck, so I didn't jump in immediately. Much later however, my roommate and I started up accounts and didn't initially join the membership, but we kind of had some fun in the free-to-play area of Runescape hanging out and fishing most of our nights as we watched Netflix.
Eventually we grew. I wanted to do some crazy things like make insane amounts of money to acquire gear to get stronger and get experience faster, but my roommate played at his own pace and really really loved fishing to death. We had different paths in Runescape, similar to how we have our own paths in life (stupid, cheesey analogy, yes).
Eventually, another one of our friends decides to start his own account as my roommate and I are loving every second of it (despite all he does is fish). Around this time last year I'm working on trying to complete every quest in the game and acquire something called the Quest Cape, and me talking about it so much in person inspired him to also follow something of a similar vein. So we had a 3-man party and nightly Runescape jams. Life was good.
The Slayer Grind
Once every quest was beaten, I had only one thing left to do: tackle the biggest, baddest monsters in the game. As a kid, there wasn't a whole lot of big bad bosses you might see in other MMOs. In the old days, there were primarily only two bosses: King Black Dragon, and Kalphite Queen. Back then, those bosses were considered to be some of the hardest stuff out there. People would only do this in groups, there would be lots of death, and you'd be surprised if you got anything even remotely valuable as a reward for your efforts.
As the game grew older with it's release of the official Oldschool version, they started to add more difficult content for high level players to keep them around longer. Now we have things like Vorkath, Zulrah, Abyssal Sire, Cerberus, and most recently introduced was the Alchemical Hydra. All these bosses are quite unique and offer valuable drops, and I love treasure hunting as much as the next person.
Once my Quest Cape hunt finished, I looked to Slayer as something of an adventure. However that wasn't necessarily the first boss I was looking to conquer. Instead things got a little.... moley?
Defeating an oversized mole for many hours of many nights. I did this for weeks, spent countless nights defeating him all for a chance at a special friend.
My roommate and I were looking for things to do as a group, mostly bosses because we wanted something combat-related to be fun and engaging, as most co-op games are. We found the Giant Mole underneath Falador Park, another boss from my Runescape past, and took a few jabs at him.
Sadly, it wasn't really worth doing as a duo. He was underleveled for combat, and the mole had very little loot worth sharing. I kept going however because me, as a poor Runescape player, found him to be a decent source of income, and it was entertaining enough chasing a mole around a tunnel.
I really wanted the very rare pet, Baby Mole. After 751 kills, which was probably 40 or 50 hours at this point, I was shocked to finally receive him.
The 750 something Giant Mole kills I have now are nothing compared to what I've done with Vorkath (see first image linked), or even with Kraken.
From the official highscores. The right-most number is the number of kills I have for a certain boss or activity. I guess you could say my peak performances are with Vorkath, Kraken and Sarachnis.
Kraken and Vorkath are separate stories entirely with not a whole lot of special things going on there. Kraken is a level 87 Slayer boss, and Vorkath is a substitute enemy for certain Slayer tasks. Both are decent money makers, so I took every opportunity to fight them for more chances at the pet. Sadly... I still have neither of their pets.
In the old days of Runescape, 85 Slayer was the peak to fight Abyssal Demons. Since then they've added Abyssal Sire, a boss you can fight in place of Abyssal Demons. I did about two hundred or so of him before realizing he's very boring, but I got a lot of rare items from him (around 35 million gold or so in ~200 kills), which is a lot of money, but it wasn't very fast. It took over 3 days to finish.
Kraken was added as an 87 Slayer task, and while it was rewarding, the fight isn't very interesting, and the rare items are far below that of other bosses. The best thing you could get is a sub-million gold weapon. It drops frequently, but it's not exactly thrilling, it's just time consuming.
91 Slayer is where Cerberus is added, and I just did not enjoy this one at all. For Cerberus, he summons ghosts that attack with different styles of combat, and if you pray at the right times, you won't take damage, but you'll take a huge whack to your prayer points, and possibly lose prayer while fighting Cerberus, only to take more damage. I did this a few times before deciding it also wasn't really for me either. The rare drops are valuable, but the intensity was too much.
Lastly, 95 Slayer. I just want to say getting Slayer levels is a task in itself. Slayer is a slow skill because really, you could only ever get maybe 10k exp an hour. Going from 94 Slayer to 95, was over 800,000 experience to get. It took me over a week to get here. This was officially the end of the road for me as far as bosses went, and if I didn't like this next bit, then I would just give up.
At 95 Slayer, we get Alchemical Hydra. I did some research and learning for this, and saw that it didn't seem so bad and might actually be pretty fun to fight something that wasn't Kraken or Vorkath all my life. There's some extra steps I could take to maybe increase my DPS by about 0.3%, but that wasn't worth the time investment. I got my task, and I was in for a surprise.
This is the loot tracker from my Runelite plugin that tracks all drops. Nothing sticks out as being crazy valuable, but it was definitely worth fighting.
The surprise was, it was actually fun. A boss that I actually enjoyed doing for 2-3 days? Wild. The drops were decent, the fight is mildly amusing for both myself and my roommate to occasionally drop in and see what I was up to. I didn't get any rare items, no pet, but I'm not mad. I'm just glad that I got to a point where there's a boss I can fight that I actually like doing. The art style is cool, the location is cool, finally I hit some karmic balance here for the painstaking hours I placed into Slayer.
At this point, I'm contempt with no longer grinding Runescape.
A Dip in the Raids
Runescape has this end-game stuff meant for very very high level players. By high level, I mean people who have millions and millions, possibly billions, of gold invested in skills and certain pieces of equipment. I've been playing for what seems like maybe a year or so now, and I still don't think I'm ready for it, or at least one of the events.
I found a group of people willing to take on newcomers, so one night I adventured deep into what's called Chambers of Xeric, a multiple room dungeon where you fight multiple bosses and solve puzzles, leading up to fighting the final boss, Great Olm.
Olm is like nothing I've ever fought before. In fact I've never even had to fight a boss that required multiple people like this. He has two different attack styles that he likes to switch through, three or four different special attacks that require specific movement to reduce incoming damage, and then once you beat up his hands enough, he switches sides of the room and makes you do it again.
If you survive long enough, and shoot his head enough times, you win, and have a small chance at one of the rarest, most expensive items in the game, the Twisted Bow, clocking in at around 1.2 billion Runescape gold. It does very high damage, can obliterate most bosses in the game in seconds, and is very sought after for it's usage to acquire even more Twisted Bows (yup, you can use it on Great Olm!).
So one night, with my newly-acquired teammates, we did some attempts at Chambers of Xeric. With many deaths (the more deaths, the lower your chances at rare items) we were able to perservere and actually win with lots of help. I'm pretty proud of my first completion screen.
The loot was definitely not worth the amount of equipment and resources I had to buy, but it was an interesting experiment to try out.
I did another two completions with these teammates before signing off for that night. As much as I would love to spend more time doing it, I got the vibe of it being too much of a lottery ticket. I would love Runescape gold, but I wouldn't even know what to do with it anymore. I have plenty of gear, plenty of items, but I just couldn't picture a use for it as I didn't want to really grind anything in particular out.
The thing I was missing was my two friends. They stopped playing and I had to go on my Slayer grinds alone, occasionally sharing my loot pictures along the way. On the way to the top of the Slayer mountain, I feel like I had no one to share it with. No new bosses to fight, no real challenges that I cared about, nothing.
Wrapping Up Runescape
My experience is different from others. I really enjoyed my sense of adventure, but would I start over from scratch a third time by making some fancy Ironman account? No, definitely not. I can't commit another part of my life to another adventure I already played out twice. I only wish there were better ways to share that adventure with my friends in some co-op like manner like many online games do now. There's not much you could do together that would even feel like playing a popular game like Borderlands or Monster Hunter in Runescape, unless you all were really excited to farm King Black Dragon all day.
Maybe my friends come back when they feel like it, but maybe not. It's a shared experience that we all have, but me having tons of fun killing bosses and getting loot may have killed off any hopes for them ever growing to a similar point. I chip in with my own Runescape gold to keep them going in membership so they don't have to feel bad about wasting days (with 4 million gold you can buy 14 membership days, but not using all those days as much as possible can hurt you as a newer player). Maybe we all come back as a group and do some silly stuff together, or maybe we don't come back at all.
Today was effectively my last day. I got 80 Herblore, which is a pain in the butt skill to level up and I am glad to have rounded out my skills a bit more. I'm over 7000 boss kills dry of getting a new pet friend, which makes me sad, but I still have my Baby Mole.
What now? The way I look at it, I've been playing a game (semi) efficiently as much as possible, trying to do as much as I can in as little time as possible. I've played a lot of games over my life, and I usually try to find ways to be efficient in them as much as possible, because that's fun.
...But I am relatively tired of playing games for efficiency sake. I miss playing games for joy and fun and wandering around, which is why Yakuza Kiwami 2 has been such a blast for me and my roommate recently. I don't get joy out of Runescape much unless I get a rare item, and over time, rare drops start to become less cool over time because you just start getting used to it.
So the way I look at it, I could go back to a world where I play games kind of "for fun" and not so much for the mathematical optimization of it, but if I did that, then I would simply be wasting time, and who wants to waste that? As a programmer I know what goes into a game, and really it's just all about making integers go up in value over and over. Maybe it's a fun process, but most likely it's probably not.
No, I don't think I could. Games exist to serve a purpose of entertainment. If I want to go back to a world where I was bad at something, then it shouldn't be solely video games, it should be something different where I can fail a lot. And to this I think only of playing music; I am now looking towards my guitar as a primary activity (also coding).
I still want to play games like LaMulana, and beat my speedrun record of that. I still enjoy playing Dark Souls games since they're pretty fun. Yakuza has been an amazing game for both it's wacky over-the-top fighting and thrilling Japanese crime/drama/thriller stories. But where's Runescape in all this? Well... that's kind of over, I guess. I was able to beat the Hydra, beat Olm, and maybe one day I'll go back and beat up Verzik, but gosh darn she looks hard.
Runescape has kind of made me look at things very differently, and quite frankly there's no experience like it. It looks dumb to outsiders looking in, it looks grand once you get in, and getting out is definitely one of the hardest thing any Runescape player can ever hope to do. But I'm hoping I'm able to grow into something better than what I am now, and I'm able to change outside the game as much as my own character grew in the world of Gielinor.
So thanks Runescape for all the fish, and thank you for giving my roommate that Heron pet because it was about time. He's 95 Fishing, he really needed it.