A RuneScape Riot; One Spicy Meatball

(Time of writing – 16th of May)
A source on the ground in RuneScape’s capital city of Falador in the World 2 server, whom wishes to remain anonymous (being in their mid-twenties and understandably not wishing to be associated with online browser based MMO games) has reported mass protests and civil unrest on the streets. This news comes after an unpopular decision taken by the games developer Jagex was announced and players are clearly and visibly not happy with it.
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Yet another riot in a long lineage of this gaming communities’ digital civil unrest, in favour of the little people and if you ask me, personally, one of RuneScape’s only redeeming factors that I can find. Beyond providing work for ‘farmers’ in less economically developed nations or allowing those who play a monetary means to justify the many months lost to this game over the course of their life. Jagex will find out once more that when provoked those little people can become one giant and infuriated people when they stand together. I kid.

Reportedly there are some ‘absolute scenes going down.’ As can be corroborated by our anonymous tipper who has been amongst those protesting, first as an observer then as a participant. They sent in some fresh from the front-line footage which you can view below to give you a better idea of the sheer scope of the matter. The video was captured earlier this afternoon and e-mailed over to us using the pseudonym, buying-gf-for-100-gold-but-not-renewing-my-subs@[Redacted].com, and it clearly shows that the tension is so thick it could be cut with even a bronze dagger. Players can be seen shouting slogans such as ‘We pay we play, save RuneLite, Jagex don’t let us down’ and ‘RuneLite or nothing.’

 

 

So what exactly is the decision making gaffe behind the grumbling gamers at Jagex’s gates this time? If you’re not in the know and haven’t guessed what the issue is already, let me be the first to sadly inform you that a well-liked client named RuneLite has been banned by the developers.

 

A Brief History

So how did we get to this moment?

OSRS (Old-School RuneScape) is the original 2007 version of the game that was re-released in 2013 by Jagex owing to popular demand. After, in the words of the game’s fans – they ‘fucked their game up.’ It was reportedly ruined over a number of years by worse decision after bad decision, such as an imposition of a trade limit as well as removing the wilderness where players could go to engage in PvP combat. These two reasons alone were huge controversies and the cause of past riots in and of themselves.

Fast forward to the current day, there are a number of different third-party clients that people use to play the OSRS version of the game, OSBuddy being the most popular. It has a few plug-ins which make the game easier and more user-friendly, for example, XP trackers as well as mini-games to add to the fun. The PRO version (paid for by subscription) has a few more of those plug-ins such as NPC markers and a health regeneration overlay.

A group of people from the community came together and decided to create an open-source client which included all of the paid features of the aforementioned OSBuddy and more … on top of all this it was completely and most importantly free, the absolute madfolks! Causing OSBuddy to lose popularity/patrons and therefore profits (RuneLite you MONSTERS.)

 

 

The Spice Coating This Meatball

Jagex have just this very day decided that by being open-source, RuneLite are infringing on their intellectual property. As the open-source nature of the client allows people who code bots free access to their code. Here’s where the spicy shady things start to come into frame.

When approached by Jagex with the request to remove their client, the owner of RuneLite said they would make the client code closed-source to abate the cited worries. This was not enough and Jagex said ‘No’ and has even reportedly threatened legal action if the project is not entirely shut down. It has always been speculated amongst the community that there has been dodgy dealings between Jagex and OSBuddy and here we are, faced with what seems to be pretty blatant concrete evidence if you do even just a little digging into the current matter.

Check out this statement from Adam, the owner of RuneLite;

 

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A statement which clearly shows intentions to meet the worries of Jagex and work with them. Jagex are yet to respond to it directly and have specifically stated they’re not interested in airing their dirty laundry of deeds and grievances in the angry eye of the public sphere. Couldn’t imagine why, could you?
The Sauce Of The Heat

Check out the developers of OSRS at Jagex try to brush it off and dance around the resentment and anger in the chat bar in their scheduled monthly Twitch streamed Q&A. A chat bar that is absolutely off the hook with unbridled rage of a fan-base scorned, a fan-base who they are currently blatantly condescending to. Those present immediately call it for what it is, bullshit, considering the offers from Adam at RuneLite to make it closed-source being met with legal threats.

Say what you like about RuneScape fans but they call it like they sees it.  Something fishy smelling is afoot and I’m only LVL 1 fishing so it sure as heck ain’t me! Especially considering OSBuddy made a few of their pro plugins free shortly after this whole debacle was set in motion;
OS BUDDY MAKES THINGS FREE

 

After the statement made by Adam surfaced about going partially closed-source and using RuneLites own API OSBuddy go right ahead with announcing this;

 

JAMES

 

Looks like they could do with a lesson in timing or at the very least better PR people. It seems, to this unbiased and critically thinking eye that mayhaps a certain 3rd party and a certain Jagex are in cahoots. You rub my back with money I rub your back with wiping out the competition kinda deal? A corrupt conspiracy with money at the centre? Surely not? (haha)

Well here’s something to add a little more fuel onto the raging dumpster fire that is Jagex and OSBuddy’s handling of the situation, a representative of OSBuddy admitting they have a non-disclosure agreement in place and that their client is safe as houses for one reason or another – undisclosed of course;

 

OSBUDDY IS GONNA BE FINE NDA

 

This is a developing story but from what has transpired I feel pretty comfortable in pointing my cursor at this conclusion following some cursory research. What do you think, spicy or nah?

 

For what it is worth, I would just like to personally congratulate everyone in the RuneScape community as well as the wider world of video games who have been involved in ‘riots’ for just causes. Not only for standing up for themselves but their peers and other consumers too. After all, games and gaming should be for the enjoyment of those who play them, not solely the company’s profit. Or at the very most, exist for each other in an entirely symbiotic nature. I hope Jagex listens to the people who make them successful and that their humble and just demands are met. Developers would do well to listen more to their respective gaming communities that pay for the profits they take home. As some have learnt the hard way, that is, if they ever learn at all.

[UPDATE: Since time of writing there has been a full u-turn by Jagex and now RuneLite lives on!  As can be confirmed by the screenshot below from a discord post by its owner in which he refers to Mod Mat K, who instigated the conversation regarding the shutdown. Thanks to the efforts of all those involved in the community riot, in the game and on the web they had no choice but to listen.]

 

ADAM 2

Special thanks goes out to; Thomas Calvert of Essex age 23 and a ½.

 

Mavericks: Proving Grounds; A 400 Player Battle Royale Mode Set To Enter The Arena

Battle royale games, so called owing to their inspiration coming from the plot of their namesakes’ 2000 cult classic movie and novel, are a hot topic right now. These multiplayer games combine last man standing gameplay with elements from survival games, to create a genre that is both challenging and highly enjoyable.

Players are dropped into a map typically by parachute, with little to no resources. Then must scavenge at their chosen drop zone, praying that they made the right decision and the loot gods are good to them. After all no one wants to bring a frying pan to a gunfight, even if they can stop bullets.

The battle then ensues whether you are prepared or not and you must survive using your wits, skill and whatever kit is at your disposal. Whether you’re a hunter or a hider matters little, as you will be both by the end one way or another. In this game type the safe play zone is restricted, slowly getting smaller and smaller to bring players together until there’s only one team or person left after the final showdown. This ensures the gameplay flows when numbers drop, as well as making sure it actually comes to an end and isn’t just a glorified game of hide and seek.

A Brief History

Brendan Greene, more commonly known by his handle PlayerUnknown was the creator of the ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale. A mod which Daybreak Game Company obviously liked the look of, taking him on as a consultant in the development of their game H1Z1.

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This was the first standalone of this type that I know of and where for me it all began. H1Z1s’ King of the Kill game mode released in 2016 and quickly enamoured me to the struggle of becoming the last one standing on the body heap, even with all its early access woes. The game type was just too fun for those woes to have mattered. Seemingly, I wasn’t alone in my love for this type of game, as in the following years they grew in popularity as well as numbers. After his contract with Daybreak ended PlayerUnknown was picked up as creative director by Korean owned Bluehole games studio. Through that partnership PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds was born, being so well received (hitting 30 million sales by February this year) that it’s looking to becoming an eSport.

Since then the titles have begun to snowball, with the recent 2017 addition of Epic Games’ go at the genre, Fortnite. This offering brought the elements of fortification building and destructible environments to the field. Evidently it is so fun that it has quickly shot into the ranks in terms of popularity, becoming a worthy competitor to PUBG and its ilk. As well as becoming a freshly baked meme in the process, which is probably now stale considering their usual shelf life – but who’s to judge. One things for certain, PUBG and Fortnite are currently doing battle as the two compete for top dog in the markets own version of the 2001 film.

Enter Mavericks: Proving Grounds, set to be the next instalment in what I can only imagine will be a long line considering the swift rise in popularity of this genre.

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A Maverick? It’ll Need Proving!

Originally known simply as Project X, the ambitious endeavour of self-proclaimed innovation oriented Automaton studios to create a 1000 player tactical shooter MMO has been named after more than a year. Set on an island in the near future, the now named Mavericks: Proving Grounds was revealed at the recent PC Gamer Weekender in London on February the 17th.

Before the wider MMO world is released in 2019 a BR game mode is to be unveiled sometime later in 2018. A game which will seek to fix what the team at Automaton think is wrong with similar games like PUBG, poor connection and bugginess owing to the connection and performance issues that arise with 100 players connected in large scale maps. Limitations they say other similar games infrastructure are incapable of escaping. So what was their answer? Seemingly it was to quadruple the number of players in the server.

Actually and probably quite obviously, there’s a little more to it than that. To avoid falling into similar traps that they feel make other BR and MMO games stale they will be relying upon Improbables’ SpatialOS cloud platform combined with a client created through Cryteks’ CryEngine. Having their vast and interactive map uploaded to the cloud and relying on the real-time visual rendering of CryEngine, Automaton feel they are able to really push the envelope. Looking to create a large and interactive world with a great many players in it, that has the potential to be a massive playing experience. The reason they are so confident in achieving this is because what’s powering the game behind the scenes is designed and built to deliver this. A pre-contained world that renders in real-time that the end-users PC simply acts as a viewing portal to, allowing for higher performance. In an interview with Polygon Lawrence Barnett of Automaton said;

“Everything [the user sees on their screen] is basically computed on the fly, and what that enables us to do is simulate a massive world on the server. Then, as the player moves through that world, you swap in and swap out the necessary information that they have to see. … There’s no way your computer could handle all this by itself.”

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Some players are rightly sceptical as to whether gameplay will live up to what’s been promised.

Wildlife that actually reacts intelligently and dynamically to players. The ability to track the path of others as they indent on their surroundings through footsteps or paths taken through displaced foliage. Wildfire that spreads, as well as destructive environments are all parts of this interactive map. Automaton want it to be more than just a stage, they want players to be able to use it as an interactive tool to aid them. In Barnetts words, they want to ‘create a living breathing world.’ Not only on a massive scale, but in a logical way that will influence play style depending on where you drop. They’re looking to do this bit by bit like a quilt of set-piece patches, to avoid the map sprawling willy-nilly in a way that doesn’t impact on the experience positively.

The gigantic interactive and dynamic well designed map, coupled with the heavy focus on providing players with a top notch FPS gaming experience shows that clearly Automaton have massive ambitions for the game they’ve envisioned. Trying to improve upon what they and many players perceive to be the issues with similar games. Will it live up to its ambition as planned? One can hope even if sceptical, as quadrupling a BR games player size in a bigger and better than ever map, as well as creating such a large scale immersive MMO world will make for much fun and an all-round tasty experience.

Undoubtedly developers are looking to get their slice of the BR pie and luckily for them when it comes to the market, there can be more than one winner. With such fanatic customers with a thirst for this relatively fresh genre, who can really blame them. But can this game bring more to the table? Or will it be just another copycat jumping on the bandwagon of BR games success, with a view to sell yet another MMO in an over saturated market?

I for one am more than looking forward to finding out and reporting back.