RuneScape is a popular web-based MMORPG. It was developed and supported by Jagex, Inc., and based in Cambridge, England. RuneScape is offered in a free version or a actively updated subscription version.
Control of one's character in the game is mostly done by mouse, including character movement in the game world, purchasing items, selling, picking up or dropping items and changing a character's attire. The graphics interface is intuitive to most players.
Character development is another strong element of the game. A character begins with low skill levels and raises a skill by performing it. Several skills with weapons, armor and magic are used in combat and are raised by performing them. Monsters (dragons, demons, skeletons, etc.) are found in various game locations and respawn a few seconds after they are killed. Player characters can fight each other in designated game's areas. A further strong point the game has is the players ability to create and personalize their own account.
Non-combat skills are also a major aspect of the game. Players use skills such as fishing, mining, and woodcutting to collect raw materials. Secondary skills like cooking or crafting are used to convert these materials into useful items. Again, paying members have an upper hand as they have access to skills unavailable to non-paying members. Some examples of player-produced items are lobsters for restoring lifepoints and "runes" for casting spells.
In addition to skills, there are a variety of quests and minigames which offer useful rewards like skill experience or new items. RuneScape is updated frequently with new content, often on a weekly basis; although the developers have begun to stray from this schedule as they larger updates.
RuneScape takes place in the fictional world of Gielinor, which is based off medieval Europe and the folk lore of the time period. It is divided into the three major human kingdoms of Misthalin in the east, Asgarnia in the center and Kandarin in the west. Alongside these are the vampyric kingdom of Morytania in the eastern swamps, once under the control of the forces of saradomin, the divided communities of the southern desert and the tribal villages of Karamja, the viking based Fremennik in the northwest and the elvish clans in the far west beyond an impassable mountain range, amongst other races and their cities.
The world was molded (not created) by the god Guthix at the start of the First age, from which it created various species and through other means brought humans from what is heavily implied to be earth. Around the same time the God Seren, a giant crystal like being, arrived with her elves. At the time guthix had direct contact with It's world, giving them the basics for what they needed to survive, and then, at the end of the first age went into a deep slumber, leaving the world in a state of peace.
Soon after however, other gods would find Gielinor and begin to carve out empires, the primary deities being Armadyl in the west, the desert pantheon in the south, saradomin in the far east and center, and zaros in the north and east. Most were hostile to each other, and a stale mate existed in that no god could get a advantage over the others without the others uniting in opposition and defeating the aggressor, usually zaros against the rest. This went on for a while until one of Zaros's generals, the Mahjarrat Zamorak came into possession a weapon of of the god Armadyl, and with it lead an Coup d'état against zaros, in the process accidentally gaining some of his powers and becoming a god, for which he was banished. The other gods, seeing zaros no longer there to protect his own empire or keep the others where they were, set in on his realms. Zamorak would return a few years later and take control of the collapsing remnants of the empire, with few zarosians remaining loyal to their god.
This began the third age, a four thousand year period more known as the God Wars that included numerous major conflicts, such as the zamorakian/Saradomist genocide of the remaining zarosians, the fall of Hallowland (morytania) into vampyric hands and the general destruction that would come from a constant state of war for four thousand years. Many species were wiped out or went into hiding and many others became more aggressive due to the small amount of cities for culture to develop. This period ended after the wars became so harsh that the planet itself began to die, causing guthix to reawaken, from where it proceeded to return to the surface and order all fighting to end immediately. It then declared that should another conflict on the scale of the wars begin again, it would destroy all of Gielinor and remold it anew, and that all gods (besides the Desert pantheon as they are only a powerful threat when united) do not directly interfere with Gielinor.
So began the fourth age, a period of rebuilding. At the start few cities existed, the once prosperous region in the north had become a barren scar known as the wilderness, and most intelligent species were tribal. The existence of humans as a race was threatened wherever they were, with this being the age of great hero's; such as avvarocka who defeated the goblin tribes and secured what would become misthalin's border with them. As time passed and humans became more civilized, other species such as the gnomes would reemerge, having spent the previous age in hiding. At this time the only major human state would be misthalin, in constant conflict with the vampyre to the east and the horrors of the wilderness to the north. What would become asgarnia and Kandarin were currently either still tribal or under the rule of a soon to collapse elven empire.
All this would change with the rediscovery of how to create runes by a tribe of Fremennik; with which humanity was able to establish itself as the dominate race on the planet, wuickly establishing the other two kingdoms at the expense of the other races. The current year is 169, fifth age and puts the world on the edge of major change again as the god zaros begins to return to the world, war between misthalin and morytania threatens due to the vampyres need for blood and The Myreque, a liberation group, amongst other problems.
The game has also been criticized by some for its portrayal of religion. Various deities, cults and organized religions are heavily involved in both RuneScape lore and in-game. The three most well-known and popular ones are Guthix, Zamorak and Saradomin,
Guthix, the god of balance, is portrayed as an being beyond human understanding. He has no definite form, appearance or gender. His followers include druids and other kinds of pagans. Like most of the game's gods, he is very uncaring, stating he has no interest in his worshippers unless the balance of the world is threatened
Zamorak, the god of chaos, is an obvious parody of Satan, particularity in that his back-story involves him leading a rebellion against his god to get to his current position. He enjoys bloodshed, violence and death. His followers are mostly deluded sects, such as the Dagon'hai, as well as a multitude of demons and other forms of beasts. Game content involving him often includes variants of demonic rituals and witchcraft. Strangely enough, he is very popular among the game's players.
Saradomin, the god of order is portrayed in a way very similar to that of to God the Father, both in appearance and characteristics. He is worshipped by a majority of the game's humans, primarily in a pseudo-Catholic way. However, all is not well - He is arrogant, uncaring (although of the three he maintains the most public interest in the well being of his followers) and deceitful. His followers include H.A.M., an extremist group very similar to the Ku Klux Klan and a knights Templar/chivalric order like group named the Temple Knights which many players and characters ingame feel are only using his name as a reason to control the masses.
Among other deities are mysterious jungle deities closely linked to an in-game version of voodoo, a desert pantheon loosely based on Egyptian mythology, as well as many others that play a role in the backstory of the game more then the current game world.
The most common criticisms of RuneScape's gameplay are its repetitive nature and relatively low quality of graphics (compared to other MMORPGs). However Jagex recently did an extreme overhaul of the graphics, and introduced "RuneScape HD," which quieted the majority of complaints about its graphics. Common positive criticisms are that it is browser-based (enabling it to be played from anywhere) and that it is free to play indefinitely.
Along with other RPGs, Runescape has come under criticism over its addictive nature with players sometimes using the game for days on end.
It has also been criticized for the amount of botters (people using an automated program to perform tasks ingame) and scammers/hackers; amongst other rule breaking problems and the apparent little action Jagex seems to be taking to combat them.