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2021 in review: Ruminating on 15 years of RuneScape

A look back at my personal history playing RuneScape.

Hello! We're still catching up with our memories and moments of 2021. Here's Lottie considering a long career in Runescape.

I like to joke about how, for me, RuneScape is less of a game and more of a lifestyle choice; though, after 15 years, I should probably admit to myself that this joke is bordering on the realm of fact.

Thanks to my 2006 diary, I can reliably say I walked my first steps in Gielinor - RuneScape's setting - on April 29th that year. Younger Lottie wrote about how RuneScape 'seemed pretty good with its cool map,' before going on a tirade about how she couldn't find the last episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion on what I assume was a perfectly legal website. I wonder what she would have written if she knew RuneScape would become a mainstay in her gaming library.

Flicking through those old diaries was an exploration into my personal RuneScape history; I recorded level achievements, new discoveries and misadventures, like my first visit to Varrock. Aware of my low combat level, and afraid of dying at the hands of monsters far more powerful than myself, I decided to stick to the paths - surely this would keep me safe from the beasts lurking in the unknown lands.

Cover image for YouTube videoRuneScape - From Port Tyras to Port Phasmatys

It was, in reality, a decision which backfired as I approached the city's southern gate and encountered the dark wizards who linger nearby. (Really makes you wonder how much those Varrock guards are being paid...) Once I had my fill of Varrock, I carefully plotted my departure with the hope of avoiding another murdery surprise, only to suffer a near death experience at the hands of a highwayman near Port Sarim.

Delving deeper I found Pest Control strategies and how I learned about RuneScape's infamous glitch, The Falador Massacre. It was June 5th 2006 and Cursed You was celebrating becoming the first player to reach Level 99 Construction with a party in his player-owned house. Lag, however, forced him to boot everyone out and, upon leaving, the players who had been inside the combat ring discovered they could, thanks to an unknown error in the Construction skill coding, attack anyone despite being outside of the dedicated PvP area. Since their victims couldn't retaliate, the near hour long carnage went down in RuneScape history.

There were even notes on my bow string running money making plans stapled to a page. To summarise, I spent months running between the flax field, spinning wheel and bank of Seers' Village far monotony, then continuing until I had successfully rewired my brain into having fun. The end result was a summer spent training my Construction skill - worth it.

Nice floors!

It's interesting to see the different playstyles I've indulged in over the years; from tearing through boss runs to running a roleplaying clan to hours of skills, so I could complete a specific achievement. Now I prefer to play slowly, rarely using anything which might increase my base XP yield, so I can enjoy the long journey to levelling up. I often read while doing so - it's oddly relaxing to have the clink of my pickaxe or mattock as background noise.

What keeps me coming back to RuneScape is how it feels like a living organism; constantly evolving with new challenges and locations. There are the skills, the interwoven tapestries which tie the different gameplay aspects together, which let me jump from crafting runestones to hunting dinosaurs. My personal favourite is Archaeology, because of how it marries lore exploration with excellent skill progression.

On the subject of RuneScape lore - never forget the questlines. Here I've experienced gothic horror, epic fantasy and one man's desire to bake a cake. I'll never forget the hours I spent in the Temple of Light, even if I sometimes wish I could. Then there's Old School RuneScape through which I can time travel back to the original game I fell in love with.

Nice rats!

I've taken breaks, often when I'm absorbed in a new game, from RuneScape over the years. The longest occurred when the Evolution of Combat (also known as EoC) was released - the abilities and action bars were at war with the RuneScape section of my brain. RuneScape, however, always finds a way to snare me and this time it was the Legacy Combat Mode, which revived the tick-based combat of old. EoC and I still have a rather turbulent relationship; mostly due to reluctance on my part, but I'm trying. Rarely.

My diaries still contain records about my latest RuneScape achievements, especially when I earn a new skilling pet, but it has to share the space with little meditations on the Indie games I've played and rants concerning my lack of Log Stool DIY recipes in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I'm currently creating a list of what I'd like to do in RuneScape in the coming year, like train my Dungeoneering skill (unlikely) and rework my money pit of a house. I might even finally get around to doing the Salt in the Wound quest; once upon a time I longed for this quest, until a friend told me about a certain pillar - if you know, you know. Since that day I've never worked up the energy to tackle it, but maybe 2022 is the year.

When you play an MMORPG for a long time - say 15 years - it truly becomes part of your life; whether you prefer to play solo or become an active member of the community. RuneScape celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and while there were highlights - the Elder God Wars dungeon and Azzanadra's Quest - there were also lows, such as the Login Lockout. Still, I believe RuneScape has the strength to reach its 30th anniversary considering how the mobile and Steam version have brought it to a new audience. I'll certainly be around for the new adventures, especially if they involve penguins or a Construction skill rework, and, if I need a rest, I can always visit Old School RuneScape.