Saturday, 16 March 2013

3D Runes – and a return to 2D gaming...

I remember first playing Runescape around a year and a half to two years after its inception, and even at that time there were those players that complained about the 'old-fasioned 2D graphics' the game used.

But nowadays it seems the old Runscape game, now referred to as the 'original' version, is being reinstated due to popular public demand: in fact it was by an overwhelming player vote...
So it begs the question, are these the same players that were complaining about the 2D game in the first place? And if not, who or what has changed?

I remember there being some reticence and concern from a small percentage of the 'veteran' players when the 3D version was first announced, but on the whole it was very much greeted as a good thing by the community. Although even then, some players still complained that it looked 'too old.' I can only assume this was in comparison with the platform specific MMORPG programs of the time.

So what has changed? Runescape is now massively more popular than it was back then and has become something of an on-line browser-based gaming stalwart. But surely that means that the vast majority of its players are 'new' at leasty in terms of not being around when the original 2D version was at its peak. So why the overwhelming desire to see it return now? Perhaps with the proliferation of 'realistic' 3D games available now people don't see 3D as the 'magic games-playing formula' that they once did. Maybe the rose-tinted 3D glasses are beginning to slip. Is opinion maybe now becoming split or polarised between two camps, or is the playing-filed just settling down after the 3D explosion, and becoming wider and more encompassing again? Personally I think it may be a bit of both.

Look at the retro-gaming boom that started to take hold around ten years or so ago now.
At first people thought nothing of downloading ROM's for older consoles and playing these on public-domain or 'free-ware' emulators.

Ah yes, I can hear the collective 'that's pirating' gasp already, but back then this type of 'pirating' idea wasn't even in the public consciousness.

You have to remember that these were dead games, for dead and previously forgotten systems, so what harm was the retro-gaming hobbyist doing. And in a fairness the answer was probably none. After all you couldn't buy these old games any more. But as the retro boom got bigger the money men became interested, old IP's were suddenly gold-dust, and cease-and-desist orders were put on the up-front ROM's sites.

Then came the, now all too familiar, retro-compilations for the current generation systems... And these old game were suddenly back in big 'commercial' business, along with the 'ROMS are piracy' message.
I'm not saying they weren't legally entitled to do this, and businesses are in busines to make money. They saw a niche market becoming viable and jumped, they were able to take advantage of the situation and did.

So although they killed a hobby, it could be argued that this did spawn a whole new generations interest in older-style gaming, and even though I was one of those hobbyists, I'd say that was a pretty good trade off...
If the retro-revolution didn't happen we may never have had the Alternative, Art, and Indy gaming scenes that we see today. And I personally think that would be a very bad thing, because that takes us back to my original point: why the massive demand for the reinstatement of the original 2D Runescape game?

Of-course I do think that this is at lest in part due to the continuing efforts of a small group of die-hard fans, although it wouldn't make economical sense to run new servers to cater for this group alone.

But there can't be all that much of a percentage of players who want it back based on a sense of nostalgia, as most players today weren’t around to play the 2D version, so what or who does that leave? 

Well, what it leaves is a very large pool of people who now see the merits of 2D gaming, people who now look past flashy 3D graphics, perhaps because they are now so commonplace, to what works best for a game.
More and more people are now becoming 'games-savvied' and are starting to look back at the history of their favourite games series, something that seems to be especially prevalent in the RPG genre. Now, surely this widening of the, now mainstream, gaming public's interests and perceptions can only be seen as a good thing. Just maybe it means that big-time commercial gaming won't be generic FPS gamesforever... well I can only hope.


  1. 3D version was first announced, but on the whole it was very much greeted as a good thing by the community.

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