Story, graphics and interface all will be improved with the browser-based RuneScape 3.
The rest of the journalists had moved on and abandoned the bank of computers running the latest alpha build of RuneScape 3 after several hours of hands on time. I stayed behind, alone, so I could finish playing the correct notes on the pipe organ in a wizard's tower just to find out what happens next.
RuneScape has quietly been operating on the fringes of the game industry as one of the most successful videogames ever created. The fully featured MMO you play in a browser has more than 200 million registered accounts. Players have logged more than 450 billion minutes of gameplay since it launched in 2001. Jagex, the developer and publisher of RuneScape, pioneered the free to play model and the game makes enough money to support a large dedicated staff in Cambridge, England to produce weekly updates of story content and new features. For the last several years, Jagex has stayed relatively quiet, but this week the company flew press from all over the world to show off the next evolution of its browser game - RuneScape 3. The new game uses brand new technology to deliver a breathtaking number of features and the greatly improved graphics and sound will do a lot to convince you that you're playing as advanced an MMO as any AAA client could offer.
The title RuneScape 3 is a bit confusing. The game first launched in 2001, but it received a massive overhaul and relaunched in 2004 using Java. Even though this update was technically RuneScape 2, Jagex just referred to it as the single RuneScape without any pesky numbers attached to the title. RuneScape 3 uses all of the power of HTML 5 instead of Java, a full year before the new technology becomes standard all over the internet. "It's the future for most, but the present for us," quipped the Design Director Mark Ogilvie. That's not to say Jagex is abandoning its past, far from it. You can actually still play the old game as RuneScape Classic, a trend Jagex will continue when the newest game comes out by allowing players to continue using the Java RuneScape 2 interface if, for example, you're playing on an older machine.
RuneScape 3 is an instantly accessible F2P MMORPG set in a welcoming world of medieval fantasy. It is an empowering game full of opportunities for advancement and meaningful choices, where players are at liberty to build their wealth, master skills, rally friends and seek adventure as they please. In 2013 RuneScape is "made by you" more than ever before, with player choices driving an on-going story and shaping very fabric of the Gielinor
When you start up RuneScape 3, it's very easy to forget you haven't downloaded some 20gb client. "Much of the industry has dismissed browser games because of their limited graphical capability," Ogilvie admitted. "But we're about to turn that perception on its head and prove that browser games can compete with AAA titles."
He was boasting, of course, using the tools of a marketer in selling his game, but Ogilvie was certainly not wrong. RuneScape 3 looks amazing. Instead of the main isometric view the old game used, players inhabit a completely 3D world in RuneScape 3 with a fully moveable camera. The draw distance is extremely far; there's almost no perceptible fog even when you view the world from an elevated building or hill. The color palette is new too, accenting the different fantasy motifs and areas in the game. The world of RuneScape 3 is vibrant, and the characters inhabiting it as just as lively, with detailed armor models and varied visual styles that would look at home in anything wrought by EA or Activision.