RuneScape is one of the longest running and most popular free-to-play games in the world.
The fact you can have a good experience with it without spending a cent has meant it's proven particularly popular with teens and tweens over the years, and the UK-based developer Jagex has certainly been no slouch on ensuring that the game moves with the times. While it's never been the best looking, most impressive MMO on the market, it's clearly been doing something right, as its player population has only continued to grow as the years have passed. Its low system requirements and browser-based nature also mean that pretty much anyone -- even those with aged, low-spec computers -- can get in on the action.
Now, the RuneScape game has been updated to its third major version -- fifth incarnation overall -- since its launch back in 2001. RuneScape 3, as the new version is called, promises to provide not only enhancements to the overall look and feel of the game, but also to allow its players to enjoy an experience that they, in part, help to define.
Central to the new incarnation of the game is the ongoing dynamic event known as the Battle of Lumbridge. All players who aren't actively involved in the game's initial tutorial will find themselves transported to Lumbridge on their next login, and the battle will begin. Players may swear allegiance to one of two different factions, and are then able to collect special "Divine Tears" items through either PvP combat or levelling up their skills. These Tears support their faction's war effort, and paying members will be able to acquire more of them per day than free players. After ten weeks, a winner will be declared, and the ongoing plot of the RuneScape universe will continue accordingly.
Alongside the ongoing battle for the Divine Tears, the town of Lumbridge will also play host to its own special events. The Duke of Lumbridge has a war treasury of 160,000 coins to spend on various relief and war efforts over the course of the battle's ten weeks, and all players will have the opportunity to vote on the resolution of various issues. At present, for example, the vote regards whether or not the Duke should spend a significant proportion of that gold on restoring a house in the town to allow refugees from the war to be safe. Players will be able to claim experience point rewards for voting on these events, and new votes will start each week.
As well as all this, each faction has the opportunity to trigger random events around the map, which may either benefit themselves or hinder their opponents, and take votes on various buffs and special abilities that help out the faction as a whole. Individual players will also be able to exchange renown earned during the event for various beneficial items and equipment.
It's an interesting and ambitious event, and a fitting means of kicking off such a major upgrade to the game as a whole. While it's certainly not the first time dynamic events have been seen in an MMORPG, the team at Jagex seems very keen to encourage as much player participation in this particular battle as possible, rather than restricting the excitement to high-level players. It's presumably also only the first of many such events that the team at Jagex plans to incorporate into RuneScape going forward -- if so, it looks like a good means of keeping the game feeling fresh and interesting as it continues into its twelfth year of service.