Beta Perspective: RuneScape Death Mechanics

JagexLauncher 2015-05-06 09-22-17-78

Now that Jagex has joined the rest of the MMO industry with the launch of a test server for major updates, I figured I’d use the opportunity to take a quick look at the upcoming new death mechanic as it currently stands. RuneScape’s death system has been a hot topic for years, as it started out with the player dropping everything except for their three most valuable items before moving on to a gravestone system that would eventually expire and make the player’s loot available for everyone.

It strikes of casual-izing, but it has more to do with the player base itself. Those who play RuneScape likely are aware that death for most has become a trivial affair, it’s rare to actually lose something when you have a half hour to get your stuff. Jagex realized that the only people who are losing things are people dying unfairly, whether it be from bugs, shoddy servers, or if someone hits your car backing out of the apartment parking lot while you’re fighting a boss and you have to go take down the license plate number before they drive off. But I digress.

RuneScape’s death changes have been a long time coming, and I say this as someone who never dies in the game.

JagexLauncher 2015-05-06 09-24-30-71

For the purpose of seeing the new death interface, I made an exception.

I immediately grabbed my better gear and threw myself at the fires of one of RuneScape’s bosses. Death now teleports you to Death himself, who keeps hold of your items for 24 hours or until you can pay him off. My set of Bandos armor (the three cheapest pieces) plus an amulet of fury wound up costing me just over a hundred grand to replace, with my food and grand potions cutting a rather small fraction of the cost.

JagexLauncher 2015-05-06 09-24-55-53

You can sacrifice some of the stuff you don’t want to cut a bit of the cost off, but by my figures it won’t do much. The addition of the 24 hour timer gives you the chance to hit the bank in case you don’t have any cash on you, or to go farm some stuff to sell if you don’t have the cash at all. The timer also allows players ample time to get their goods back, god forbid either your internet go down or the servers are unstable for multiple hours at a time.

The actual economic impact will have to be seen when the update goes live, but the goal is to introduce an item and gold sink through the cost of retaining items and the loss of those sacrificed or unable to retain. As someone who rarely dies, I don’t expect to see much of an impact from this update, but the knowledge that server disconnections are easier to deal with goes a long way to changing attitude while playing.

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