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RuneScape (commonly abbreviated as RS) is a free MMORPG released on January 4, 2001 by Jagex Ltd.. Since, over 200 million accounts have been created, making it the world's largest MMORPG in terms of free players. Jagex also brings in over $7 million a month; a lot, considering they only have roughly 500 employees.

Taking place in the standard swords and sorcery setting, RuneScape started as a Java applet where players connected to a single server in a relatively small world. The world was rendered in a very basic, jaggy 3D, while the people, weapons, items, and monsters were in pixelated 2D sprites.

First announced on October 4, 2001 and launched on February 28, 2002, a pay to play version of the game was released called "Membership". While the free servers remained open, they were rarely updated with new features, while the new members' servers were often given new lands, skills, items, and quests.

On March 29, 2004, Jagex released a new version of RuneScape, entitled "RuneScape 2", the biggest change being a transition to full 3D. Along with that, many core gameplay mechanics were changed; from the way overall level was determined, to the importance of certain stats.

Over the course of four years since the release of RuneScape 2, countless small updates changed the game very much by 2008. Though on July 14, 2008, RuneScape High Detail was released, which was mainly a major overhaul of the graphics.

On February 2nd 2008 Mark Gerhard was elected as CEO of Jagex and announced that they would now update the free servers and make it a game of its own instead of a trial for the pay to play option. Since then the company has headed in a whole new direction and announced 2009 the official RuneScape update year.

Gameplay

Combat

Main article RuneScape combat

Combat can be an important factor in the game. In the game's early life, player versus player combat could take place anywhere, except for the first town (to prevent spawn camping). It was restricted to an area called the "Wilderness" far in the north. Originally, the deeper you go in, the bigger the range of levels you can attack - and can attack you. If you are killed, you would have lost all but your 3 most valuable items. However, if you attack someone who has not attacked you, you will gain a skull over your characters head. If you die with this skull (which goes away after 20 minutes of non-aggression), you would have lost all your items.

Later, on December 12, 2007, the PvP element of the Wilderness was removed to stop real-world item trading. To help replace the removal, Jagex added three new mini-games: "Bounty Hunter", "Clan Wars" and "Fist of Guthix", with more on the way.

Combat is real-time, and doesn't require constant clicking. You click an enemy and then watch. Your character will attack your enemy until either one runs out of the other's area of reach, of one dies. Numbers will appear on each character showing the damage done. Blue shows that no damage has been done, red means that damage has been done, green shows poison damage (members only), and orange shows disease damage (members only). How much damage you take is determined by your and your opponent's stats, and by which fighting style you are choosing. Each fighting style is different for each weapon, and relies on a different stat. Poison and disease damage are only dealt on member worlds.

Several players can attack one target. Either by adding more melee attacks, or by attacking from afar with arrows or magic. Magic is mainly projectile attacks, but can also be stat boosters, stat protectors, stat lowering, and item creation.

Skills

Other than combat, there are two dozen different skills, including Woodcutting, Herblore, Fletching, Construction, and many more. Skills that aid in combat include Prayer, which can turn on certain combat effects for a short amount of time. The time is longer the higher your level is.

Most skills create items. Fletching creates bows and arrows, Cooking turns raw food into cooked food, Smithing creates metal items, Mining "creates" ore, etc.. The higher your level in each of these, the more you can create, and/or the faster they are created. For example, with Cooking, you will likely only be able to cook meat that heals a minor 3 HP. As you level up, soon you will be able to cook foods more useful at higher levels, such as sharks.

Membership

The pay to play aspect of RuneScape, called "Membership", is available for only $5.95 (with the exception of some people who have held memberships since before or slightly after the price increase, in which the price is $5 a month) for unlimited play in a month's time, which is relatively cheap compared to other MMORPGs. Bonuses for membership include:

  • Nine extra skills
  • Higher capabilities in other skills
  • Use of several transportation systems
  • Ten times as much explorable map area
  • More accessible servers (members can access free-to-play worlds and pay-to-play worlds, although they cannot access any members only features in free-to-play worlds)
  • Access to several more mini-games
  • Better equipment, such as Dragon, Barrows, and Crystal weapons and armour
  • More space to save items in the bank (Non-members have only 68 bank spaces while members have 496)
  • More space to buy and sell items on the Grand Exchange (Non-members have only 2 spaces while members have 6)
  • Many more items
  • Many more quests
  • More music and sound effects
  • More space on the Friend list and Ignore list (Members get 200 spaces while non-members get 100)
  • Use of the Forums on the RuneScape website (non-members with over 12,000,000 total experience may also access the forums)
  • Ability to vote in most polls on the RuneScape website (some available to free players)
  • The ability to make money various ways much quicker then non-members.
  • The ability to use Full-Screen Mode while playing the game.

Macro problems

For several years, RuneScape was plagued with hordes of automated bots at many non-combat training sites. Gold farmers were behind these, either repeatedly training the accounts themselves for the resources, or using automated programs doing the work for them. Once several million coins were summed up, they would then be illegally sold to players too lazy to make the money themselves, sometimes resulting in the buying player getting in enough trouble for them to get permanently banned nine times over.

Besides the macros being a pest to the players, some gold farmers would steal credit card numbers and use them to pay for membership for their bots, which got Jagex in some legal trouble.

With the removal of the PvP aspect of the Wilderness (as stated above) and many other changes, unnecessarily uneven trades (e.g.: buying a piece of thread for 50,000 coins; giving another player several million coins for nothing) could be impossible, thus stopping real-world item traders in their tracks, while many other popular MMORPGs are still plagued with bots.

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