March 28, 1999 (as DeviousMUD) January 29, 2001 (as RuneScape, later RuneScape Classic) March 29, 2004 (RuneScape 2, later Old School RuneScape) July 22, 2013 (RuneScape 3)
RuneScape is a fantasy massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) created by brothers Andrew and Paul Gower, cofounders of the British studio Jagex. Players embark on quests in the fictional world of Gielinor and can train to gain experience in 28 different combative and non-combative skills to unlock quests and increase the variety of features they can access.
Why It Rocks
It is one of the oldest and most successful MMORPGs of all time and a pioneer of the modern concept of the fantasy MMO with over 200 million accounts. Guinness World Records recognizes it as the world's largest and most updated free MMORPG.
It's a "fantasy kitchen sink" combining the Medieval/Renaissance European fantasy genre with elements of other fiction genres such as ancient Egypt, the historical Middle East, the historical Far East, pirates, classic horror fiction, steampunk, and even prehistoric times with the introduction of the dinosaur island Fossil Island in Old School RuneScape in 2017 (later added to RuneScape 3 as Anachronia in 2019).
It has a huge open world with over two decades' worth of content to explore.
It has over 40 unique minigames that players can enjoy by themselves or with friends.
Its simple point-and-click controls are very intuitive.
NPC dialogue and place names are full of too many puns and humorous high culture and popular culture references to mention. Although quest stories have grown darker and edgier with time, the writers haven't lost their sense of humor in this way or in others.
It boasts a beautiful and deep lore involving a colorful pantheon of fictional gods like Saradomin, god of order and wisdom; Zamorak, god of chaos and destruction; and Guthix, god of nature and balance.
It has an impressive musical score that has improved with every new song released, especially once it began using more songs with live recorded instruments rather than computerized instruments.
While a number of popular MMO games today have extremely long lists of quests, many of which involve a rather routine mechanic of fetching or collecting similar things, RuneScape has less than 300 quests and miniquests total, each centered on narrative worldbuilding, solving puzzles and problems, and/or thrilling enemy and boss fights. This makes it truly feel like players are going on beloved classic storybook-quality quests.
Cosmetic overrides allow players to customize their own outfits, which they can wear to disguise whatever clothing or armor they're currently wearing.
The introduction of the Grand Exchange in 2013 allows users to sell many items for much more gold than they would sell for in regular stores.
Although a great deal of the game's content requires paying microtransactions for membership before it can be accessed, there is no "wait time" for any features of the free game, unlike many freemium idle smartphone games of today. This makes the game that much more engaging.
Even in free-to-play mode, it creates the feeling that players can do pretty much anything their hearts desire at any time.
As of 2019, players can now purchase bonds with in-game gold. These bonds can be used to buy free membership, name changes, or RuneCoins, which are used for premium features. Depending on the moneymaking method used, it may take time to earn the gold needed to purchase the bonds on the Grand Exchange, but it can save real-world money.
It has spawned some popular Internet memes such as "Buying gf [girlfriend]", "Oh dear, you're dead!", "and "Nothing interesting happens", the last of these a reference to the chatbox text that displays in the game's general chat window when a player tries to use one object on another player, an NPC, or another object but causes no effect.
Its blockbuster status led to T.S. Church writing three game-inspired novels: Betrayal at Falador, Return to Canafis, and Legacy of Blood.
The full experience requires paying microtransactions for membership before it can be accessed.
The graphics, the animations, and the sounds are inconsistent in a lot of places, as they are a mixture of older and newer content from 2004 to the present.
Player names can only be 12 characters long.
Cosmetic overrides are disabled whenever players enter player vs. player (PvP) areas such as the Wilderness. This feature is understandable, though, because it allows players to get a better impression of how tough other players are if they choose to player-kill.