Transcript of The RuneScape Documentary - 15 Years of Adventure

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[00:00] How would I sum RuneScape up in three words?
[00:03] Goodbye real life.
[00:06] No, okay, I would say, if you can count that as three words...
[00:11] Best MMO ever.
[00:13] Definitely.
[00:19] 15 YEARS OF ADVENTURE
[00:25] This is the story of a world created in a kitchen,
[00:30] of a community bonding as they kill chickens or fish for sharks.
[00:36] It's a sneaky peek behind the scenes of an online world,
[00:39] of its highs and lows and an attempt to solve something of a mistery.
[00:45] How a videogame can still be loved and relevant after 15 years?
[00:52] When I made this game I thought it was just like any other.
[00:55] It would go online, maybe a few people would play and that'll be it.
[00:59] Certainly didn't expect it to be running 15 years later and still be developed 15 years later.
[01:05] It is quite unbelievable how big the game became. I still can't quite believe it.
[01:11] But what is RuneScape?
[01:13] Many people won't even have heard of it.
[01:15] Yet it's a game that holds six Guinness World Records
[01:19] and seen more than 240 million accounts created.
[01:23] Quietly, it has become incredibly popular.
[01:26] Let's put in perspective.
[01:28] If RuneScape were a country, it would have the fifth largest population in the world.
[01:34] It would have 63% of the population of the USA.
[01:38] It would have 3.2 times the population of the UK
[01:42] and 8.9 times more than Australia.
[01:46] RuneScape could definitely take Australia.
[01:50] For me, RuneScape is the ultimate adventure.
[01:53] You have the opportunity to be a hero in a medieval fantasy world.
[01:57] Saving people's lives. Killing dragons.
[02:00] All sorts of really fantastical things.
[02:04] And it's an experience that you share with thousands of people at the same time.
[02:09] There's mystical magical properties to the world.
[02:12] There are goblins, orcs and elves, and things like that.
[02:16] We never take things too seriously.
[02:18] Yes, you might be battling against forces that are trying to blow up the planet,
[02:23] but you always get a bit of a nudge-nudge wink-wink joke that the players really enjoy.
[02:30] I'd help out myself, but I broke my hammer on a hiker last week.
[02:33] And we've got this core spine running through it all.
[02:35] Of gods that stomp about our game world claiming followers
[02:39] and then trying to become the single god entity of this entire universe.
[02:45] You can do whatever you like and that's the fun part of RuneScape
[02:48] that sets it apart from everything else.
[02:49] Weekly updates across 15 years.
[02:52] You always have something new that you can do the next day.
[02:55] Us, as players, we have the power to contribute to this ever-growing world.
[03:01] RuneScape represents exactly the type of virtual world that I prefer to live in.
[03:07] So much can happen in the fantasy world.
[03:09] Magic exists, treasures, adventures,
[03:13] monsters threatening to rip your face off.
[03:16] Exploration. All the things that we dreamed about and we read in fairy tales.
[03:21] It's a very social game. I like that.
[03:23] If I'm in the mood to chill out and talk to people, I play RuneScape.
[03:27] That sense of exploration and discovery is far more powerful in a game like RuneScape
[03:32] than most any other MMO.
[03:37] 8 billion fish are caught in RuneScape every year.
[03:41] And every minute, over 2,000 cows are slain,
[03:45] which would make more than 3.5 million burgers in that minute.
[03:50] But that doesn't begin to explain the very strange base that is RuneScape.
[03:55] Where did it come from?
[03:57] How has it become so popular?
[03:59] Well, to find out, you have to rewind back to the glorious 1980s.
[04:05] The 80s saw a lot of cliché coming up. Bedroom coders make their games.
[04:11] And that's very important.
[04:13] That sort of ability to, with a small team, in many cases brothers,
[04:19] there's a load of different brothers who started up games companies
[04:22] and the Gowers are one such set.
[04:24] I grew up in Nottingham with my family and my brothers Paul and Ian.
[04:29] We were always very a gaming family, played lots of board games and computer games growing up.
[04:35] Played lots of Dungeons and Dragons with my brothers and my dad.
[04:39] He was always the dungeon master and we were exploring the dungeons.
[04:42] And I think that gave a lot of inspiration for a lot of the computer games I did,
[04:47] particularly my love for roleplaying games and things like that.
[04:49] They got lots of imagination and were always playing imaginary games, acting out things.
[04:54] There's a very early fantasy game I played probably when I was about 5.
[04:58] That was an early fantasy game called Sorcerer's Cave,
[05:01] which is a game where you lay out big tiles on the floor
[05:05] and basically you explore the dungeons as a character.
[05:08] Probably gave me a little bit of what I'd do even then.
[05:13] Paul used to do really detailed pictures of castles and pirate ships
[05:19] and all sorts of inventions.
[05:22] That's one called "the battler".
[05:23] They told the others stories about inventing a whole range of characters.
[05:28] A lot is based on what we did. We used to go to castles and go to the seaside.
[05:34] They did a fantasy version of that.
[05:36] I first got into computer programming when I was 7 years old.
[05:40] My dad had a ZX Spectrum and he came with a book of the programs you can type in.
[05:45] The funny thing was I actually bought a book specifically for Paul and another one for Andrew.
[05:51] Paul was far too interested in writing all these fantasy stories
[05:55] and imaginative games to be bothered with tedious computer programming.
[06:02] So once Andrew whittled through his book in no time flat, he then got hold of Paul's book.
[06:08] I shouldn't have been astonished really.
[06:11] He then started spending virtually all his time on it.
[06:15] The first program I made myself was a little man that just walked across the screen.
[06:19] It was very simple. I was only 7.
[06:21] But I was excited by the fact that I could do that and it went from there really.
[06:45] It's very hard to prise Andrew away from the computer sometimes.
[06:48] Occasionally my parents would be like "Go out and go for a walk. Have some fresh air."
[06:53] And he was like "No, I'm sticking on the computer. I know there's a sunny day outside but I'm in the rhythm."
[07:01] I really did spend my whole teenage years just writing computer games.
[07:05] I absolutely loved making them.
[07:07] Most of them were my own takes on things that I couldn't afford initially
[07:11] or which we hadn't bought.
[07:13] But I always tried to put my own spin on things. Make it a bit original.
[07:17] One game I particularly remember making up.
[07:19] There was a very famous computer game called Lemmings which came out at that time.
[07:24] I really wanted to play it, but I didn't have enough money to be able to buy.
[07:27] I couldn't afford the 20 pounds it cost, so I decided to make my own copy.
[07:33] We had not played Lemmings at the time, so we didn't know how it worked,
[07:36] which was a good thing because it came out a bit different.
[07:38] It was a game where you had to make little ramps and stuff
[07:41] to move the ball bearing from the start path and there were obstacles to the exits.
[07:46] Andrew did the code and I did the level design for that.
[07:49] I was very proud of that game because it was the first game I made
[07:52] at which I looked and I thought "Wow. It actually doesn't look like it's been made by a kid."
[07:56] It's a reasonably playable game.
[07:58] I very much wanted to make one of everything. So I made a strategy game.
[08:03] Now I need to make an adventure game, so I made an adventure game, but I haven't made a shooting game yet.
[08:07] I wanted to see if I could make every type of game.
[08:12] After leaving school, Andrew moved away from his family home
[08:16] to study computer science at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge.
[08:21] When I got there, took my computer with me, desperately worried it was gonna get broken in the car
[08:25] because that's the one I had spent a whole year saving up for.
[08:29] Got it all set up and discovered that the rooms had an internet connection.
[08:33] I said to my friend "I've never lived in a house with internet. I don't think I'll use it."
[08:37] Obviously this turned out to be completely utterly false.
[08:41] And then a few weeks later I caved and got myself a network connection
[08:44] and I was immediately intrigued by the fact that there was online games you could play.
[08:49] Games played in a web browser were becoming increasingly popular
[08:53] and sites started popping up that hosted them.
[08:55] One such site, Games Domain, contacted Andrew
[08:58] and asked if he'd be interested in making games for them.
[09:01] The biggest game that I made for them was a thing called Castle GamesDomain.
[09:06] This was a multiplayer games parlour.
[09:09] And this was by far the most popular thing I made for them.
[09:12] It regularly had 200 to 300 people playing games.
[09:15] You could go in there and you could always get a game.
[09:17] I managed to get Ian to do some graphics for me
[09:20] for Castle GamesDomain and for quite a few other games I did.
[09:23] I absolutely jumped on that opportunity.
[09:25] So he would email me a list of requirements. I would email him the graphics back again
[09:31] and maybe get them into the game.
[09:32] The funny thing was the money I got from Games Domain far eclipsed the amount I got by paper round.
[09:37] When I saw it, I thought I had spent a whole year saving up for this.
[09:40] And I made it back in a couple of weeks. If only I could have taken a loan.
[09:46] I started thinking I want to make a game a bit more for myself.
[09:50] I wasn't gonna sell it to someone else. It was gonna be my game.
[09:53] And one of my favourite games online at the time was a text-based game called Nanvaent,
[09:57] which is a MUD you can play online,
[09:59] and I loved the fact that you could play it any time, day or night.
[10:02] It would always be someone there.
[10:03] You can log in at 3 o'clock in the morning and there'll be some person.
[10:06] Killing monsters and talking and chatting.
[10:09] There was loads of these out there.
[10:10] And trying to make one stand out from the crowd, it'd be very difficult.
[10:14] Because one of the key features of these games was that you didn't need to install any software,
[10:17] you could just connect to that server using telnet and play.
[10:21] And I wanted to get that same "play on any computer, carry on where you left off" aspect,
[10:25] but with graphics and, because I knew how to do Java games,
[10:28] I realised I could combine the two together.
[10:30] I made basically a graphical MUD with all the benefits a MUD would normally have.
[10:35] When my friend Pete heard that I was making a graphical MUD he said to me
[10:40] "I've got a game a bit like that. I've been playing on my computer."
[10:44] "It's called Ultima Online. Would you like to see it?"
[10:47] This Britannia is but one of many
[10:50] in the multiverse that is Ultima Online.
[10:56] And I played that and I said "that's exactly what I'm trying to make".
[10:59] But I didn't get to play the game, which is probably just as well, because then my game didn't come out too similar.
[11:03] Until now I never specifically heard that Ultima was an inspiration for RuneScape,
[11:09] but there's been these waves of people younger than me joining this industry throughout my career.
[11:14] And so, when you do the same thing for so long,
[11:17] it means that you get the opportunity to set a few standards
[11:22] for the younger group to come in and have a chance of look at it first.
[11:28] I finally got it to a point where it works
[11:30] and I decided to put it online as a little test that it worked.
[11:33] Didn't have any servers, so it just ran on my computer in my room and didn't switch it off.
[11:40] And probably only about a handful of people ever played DeviousMUD,
[11:44] just a few people that I knew at Games Domain who I invited to give it a go.
[11:47] And then after a week I got enough feedback and I shut it down and carried on working on it.
[11:53] Was the very early precursors of RuneScape.
[11:58] Andrew graduated and found himself in demand.
[12:02] He was offered two jobs. One with his friends in Games Domain
[12:06] and another by a guy called Constant Tedder, who ran a competitor Gameswire.
[12:11] But like a true entrepreneur, Andrew decided to strike it alone and remain self-employed.
[12:17] I decided the time was right to pick DeviousMUD back up and see if I could finish it off.
[12:23] Started it again. Took everything I learned from the previous year or two.
[12:28] And started to make an improved version of it which I decided to call RuneScape.
[12:32] RuneScape is a name we came up with by throwing ideas around between us.
[12:38] Found out lots of fragments of words and then trying to get them in different combinations
[12:44] and seeing what sounded good.
[12:47] Of course also checking that the domain name was actually free.
[12:51] Once we had RuneScape as a name, the original version of the logo was just the name RuneScape
[12:57] in a straight line on the stones,
[12:59] but all of our friends were joking around and they kept calling it "run escape".
[13:04] So at that point I split the line of stones in two and put the sword in the middle
[13:09] just to make sure there could be no ambiguity whatsoever.
[13:12] This was "rune scape" not "run escape".
[13:15] One of the things I've always been very keen to having from the start
[13:17] was the ability to make it quite easy to add content to the game.
[13:21] It was quite a common thing for text-based MUDs anyways.
[13:24] So I decided I could have my own scripting system, which I called RuneScript.
[13:27] I realised that with the scripting system up on to this point,
[13:29] Paul had always come up with a lot of the ideas and the level designs of my games
[13:32] but he wasn't a programmer and I always had to implement everything he came up with.
[13:37] I always found that he came up with the ideas far faster than I could actually implement them.
[13:42] So, by creating the scripting system, I realised he could implement the ideas himself
[13:46] and alleviate a little bit of that imbalance.
[13:50] The earlier experiments which I was doing to learn
[13:54] how to use Andrew's map editor and RuneScript ended up
[13:57] making it into the game in some form or another.
[13:59] So when I was learning how to use them, the RuneScape map editor that Andrew created,
[14:03] I made Lumbridge and Lumbridge Castle.
[14:07] It was quite fun making a great big castle. It ended up being the starting point for the game.
[14:13] The first character which I created
[14:15] just to make sure I could do character conversations was a character called Hans,
[14:20] which is a character who wanders around Lumbridge castle.
[14:24] We made the first quest very early on. That was Cook's Assistant.
[14:28] A lot of it was inspired by Lucas Arts style graphical adventures as well,
[14:32] especially Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle.
[14:35] A lot of the way the conversation system worked
[14:38] was based on those comical options
[14:43] for what sorts of things to say.
[14:44] This must be that Woodstock place mum and dad are always talking about.
[14:49] So, finally, in January 2001,
[14:52] I got RuneScape to the point where I thought I could actually launch it and give it to the public.
[14:57] We booted the servers for the first time and then we all logged on and picked our characters.
[15:03] And then Andrew went over to Castle GamesDomain because they knew that he was making RuneScape
[15:10] and told to the game players in there "hey guys, RuneScape is launched".
[15:14] A bunch of players came over from Games Domain and they were the first players of the game.
[15:20] It was far more popular than we could possibly imagine.
[15:23] Initially, we only had one game world and that filled up very quickly.
[15:27] We had to quickly set more game worlds to take on the extra people that are online.
[15:34] There was always someone playing the game.
[15:36] I was trying to do this against the clock because there were more players coming in every day
[15:40] and I was frantically trying to re-engineer it to keep up with the number of players.
[15:43] Didn't want to turn anybody away.
[15:45] RuneScape launched at a very interesting time
[15:48] because it was just as the internet was becoming a big thing.
[15:50] It was just following the giant dot com bubble, slightly after.
[15:53] But internet gaming in particular was still taking off.
[15:56] Online games were just becoming a thing.
[15:58] Back in the day that I used to play, in the 1970s, Dungeons and Dragons had a tremendous appeal
[16:04] and the internet was now allowing these people to join up together
[16:07] without having to sit at the same room with each other.
[16:10] Imagine choosing any name and personality you want to be
[16:13] and then playing other people from all over the country on your personal computer.
[16:17] The fact that broadband became faster and better in people's homes and cheaper really meant
[16:24] that online games and the internet transformed distribution mechanisms.
[16:28] It was an independent self-published game
[16:31] in the time when there wasn't independent self-published games.
[16:34] We were one of the few people who were able to publish our own game.
[16:36] The fact that you could play it without having to install any software,
[16:39] you could just play it in a web browser,
[16:40] it meant it got a big following in schools, people could play during their lunch breaks,
[16:44] and they could play when they got home, people could play in libraries.
[16:46] That really helped the spread.
[16:49] And then disaster stroke.
[16:53] Clicks and mortar firms have flourished
[16:55] but many pure internet companies have had problems this year.
[16:58] Back in March, four net-only firms entered the FTSE 100
[17:02] because their share prices ranked them as the top UK business.
[17:06] Since then, their valuations have tumbled over 70%.
[17:10] No wonder even casual investors are becoming fussier.
[17:14] The advertisers pulled the plug. They didn't want to buy adverts off me any more.
[17:17] I certainly got to the point where the amount of advertising revenue wasn't even enough to cover the hosting cost
[17:22] and I didn't have a lot in the way of savings. I was like "I can't afford to run this game".
[17:26] "It's costing me money to run it. I'm gonna have to shut it down."
[17:30] And I really didn't want to shut it down because I'd spent well over a year making it by this point.
[17:35] I put everything into it.
[17:37] It was really popular, probably about 600,000 people playing it by this point.
[17:41] I really didn't want to shut it down. A bit of an emergency.
[17:45] First thing I did was trying to save money. I moved back to my parents' house in Nottingham.
[17:51] We used half of my parents' kitchen.
[17:53] Mum put curtains and subdivided it in two separate bits, so the kitchen turned into an office.
[18:00] And then we spent about six months working from our parents' kitchen.
[18:04] They were terribly squashed in.
[18:07] I remember I couldn't get in to load the washing machine because the computers were all around it.
[18:11] We could all work together properly. We didn't have to rely on email.
[18:14] And of course we were playing board games again together as we always have done.
[18:17] They were going around the house with microphones looking for interesting sounds.
[18:21] I remember the cooking sound and my mom happened to be frying some bacon one day.
[18:25] I was standing there with the voice recorder, recording it.
[18:27] The sound of cooking in RuneScape classic is the sound of my mom frying some bacon.
[18:32] I was a primary school teacher, so it was a school holiday.
[18:36] So, I got the time and I've always loved drawing.
[18:39] So I said I'd have a go.
[18:41] I drew four animals for him.
[18:43] I had a camel, a bear, a spider and a bat.
[18:47] And they are all still on Classic.
[18:49] I did bits and pieces.
[18:52] I started on the RuneScape Classic cow.
[18:54] It was my proudest graphical achievement in RuneScape Classic.
[19:00] After six months of working from home, the game was still costing more than it was making.
[19:05] While anyone else would have thrown in the towel,
[19:07] the brothers looked at other options to keep the game running.
[19:11] We thought about making a members version and hope that enough people would want to subscribe.
[19:16] At this point I realised that if I was going to start charging the users
[19:18] for playing the game, it was going to become a much more commercial operation.
[19:22] We had to do things a bit more seriously.
[19:23] We couldn't ignore people's customer support emails.
[19:26] And I didn't really know anything about running this sort of business.
[19:29] I was a bit anxious about taking money off the users directly.
[19:33] And I thought to myself "well, there was that chap who contacted me".
[19:37] And I nearly set up a business with Constant Tedder.
[19:39] I wonder if he'd be interested in turning this into a proper business
[19:42] where we actually charge a subscription.
[19:44] Constant was still interested and took them up on their offer.
[19:48] He took on the position of CEO and they prepared RuneScape to accept paid members.
[19:54] We figured we need 3,000 people to subscribe
[19:58] out of 600,000 players to cover our hosting cost.
[20:02] Within the first couple of days we had 5,000 subscribers.
[20:05] I was like "We're saved. We've got enough. We're not gonna have to shut the game down."
[20:10] The community and the playerbase overwhelmed us in terms of the number of people we were taking
[20:15] even just in that first day.
[20:17] And I was in a real rush to get the business set up and recruit some staff.
[20:21] Started looking around for an office.
[20:23] Found a little incubator for start-up businesses called St John's Innovation Centre.
[20:27] Went to them and said "I need an office and I need it now".
[20:30] We've got people paying for the game. We haven't got any staff to answer their emails.
[20:35] How soon can you give me an office? And they were like "call me tomorrow".
[20:39] Office tomorrow. Signed the contract. Had a number of people coming in for an interview.
[20:43] We didn't have any furniture at this point.
[20:46] The interview was taking part in a completely empty office with nothing in it.
[20:50] Andrew was interviewing people while myself and Constant were wandering in and out of the little office
[20:56] with them desks and computers and setting them up behind them,
[20:58] which was probably quite distracting.
[21:02] I remember the night before I was frantically googling how you interview someone.
[21:07] What do you ask at an interview? What are you supposed to do?
[21:09] My interview was awesome because it was just a room.
[21:13] And there was just a table with a laptop on it.
[21:16] And Andrew.
[21:16] And that was it. And then I thought "what have I stepped into?"
[21:22] He said "can you type something?"
[21:24] I remember how he looked at me watching me type.
[21:27] And then he was like "great, all right".
[21:31] It was brilliant. It was the most amazing.
[21:34] To start off, the company was so small that people's first task on their first day
[21:39] was to build their desks and set up their computer.
[21:43] We didn't have any staff who did that sort of things.
[21:46] When I started, there was one other person and that was it.
[21:49] We didn't have any internet.
[21:52] What?
[21:53] No. RuneScape was running off servers, but we didn't have any internet in the office.
[21:57] And then later that week at some point we got dial-up.
[22:01] Just like we had grown fast in terms of number of players in the first year,
[22:05] in the second year it was very rapidly adding the number of people paying for the game.
[22:08] We moved office incredibly frequently.
[22:11] I like the fact that we just knock a hole in the wall and just expand, expand, expand.
[22:16] I remember Andrew's room, though.
[22:17] He used to have five monitors set up.
[22:20] I remember having this banging trance music.
[22:26] A screen of code here and this really thumping techno.
[22:30] I was blown away by that.
[22:32] I've grown up looking at things like MUDs, multiuser dungeons,
[22:36] and I have been a roleplayer all my life,
[22:38] running Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and things like that.
[22:42] And the first time I looked at RuneScape, it looked like a graphical MUD.
[22:46] And I was frustrated with a lot of online games that didn't take the storytelling very seriously.
[22:51] I was engaged in with this quest and there were nice little character dialogs.
[22:55] And, even though the graphics were incredibly simplistic
[22:58] compared to the games I was playing on my consoles at the time,
[23:01] there was something about it, something that really resonated with me as a storyteller.
[23:06] But also someone who wanted to explore the potentials that the internet had to offer.
[23:11] And it just grabbed me and I thought "yes, I'm gonna give this a go".
[23:15] As well as recruiting a lot of customer support,
[23:17] I was also spending an awful lot of time trying to code the systems to support them
[23:21] because it was all one thing having people in to answer emails,
[23:23] but initially there wasn't anything we could actually do for the people.
[23:26] People would say "I've lost my password" and there was nothing they could do about it.
[23:29] There was no way they could verify that they were the rightful owner. They couldn't even reset the password.
[23:33] Everything was done by emails,
[23:34] so you had all the reports from players
[23:40] saying "I lost my dragon helmet" and all the rest of that. And they would come to inbox.
[23:44] So, after a while, I had about a thousand emails in my inbox.
[23:48] And I didn't know how to answer these people.
[23:51] There was probably about 20 or 30 different systems that we actually ended up making in house,
[23:55] all of which had a different function just to support the game.
[23:58] I guess the weirdest thing was that people with outside experience would come in,
[24:03] used to things working in a certain way,
[24:06] and we did them completely differently.
[24:07] I think that's why for such a long time we actively did not look
[24:11] for people with proper industry experience.
[24:14] Because actually it wasn't any good to us.
[24:16] And it was good because if you needed the system to do something,
[24:20] you could just go and ask for it, which is pretty cool really.
[24:24] RuneScape's first incarnation was a little rough around the edges,
[24:28] but it was revolutionary for its time.
[24:31] It was an online world of adventure
[24:33] where players could slay dragons, hone skills and make friends.
[24:38] Best of all, it could be played on even the chunkiest PC.
[24:43] But nothing stays still in the tech world for long
[24:46] and it was time for RuneScape to get a makeover.
[24:49] Around about 2004 we started getting on top of things a little bit more.
[24:54] It was no longer quite such a breakneck day-to-day, just trying to keep up with whatever crisis,
[25:00] surge of growth or new things were happening.
[25:03] We were able to catch our breath and think "what next?".
[25:06] I decided to start making a new version called RuneScape 2.
[25:09] Totally rewrite the code base,
[25:11] fix all sorts of things that I didn't like about the original version.
[25:15] And I also took the opportunity to upgrade the graphics.
[25:18] He completely rewrote the whole scripting language and it was far more flexible
[25:22] but it meant we had to rewrite the entire game effectively from scratch.
[25:26] It was risky because we had a lot of people who were really dedicated to RuneScape
[25:32] and, whilst we as a bunch of developers thought that it was good to do certain things,
[25:38] the community didn't necessarily agree with us.
[25:40] So, when we first put the beta live, this new shiny version of RuneScape,
[25:45] there was a lot of fear from the community
[25:47] like "Is it gonna work like this? Is it gonna work like that?"
[25:49] "Is the value of my items gonna be affected?"
[25:51] It was quite a big deal for them.
[25:53] And we were desperately worried that if we upgraded the version of the game,
[25:57] we could lose a lot of players.
[25:58] So we thought "well, we just keep the old version online just in case".
[26:01] These people were playing a game 5, 10, 15 hours a day, every single day.
[26:06] It was one of the most important things in their lives.
[26:08] You have to be really mindful of that.
[26:10] As it actually happened when we finally managed to launch it for real,
[26:13] almost everyone moved to RuneScape 2 and there were a very small number of people stuck with RuneScape 1.
[26:18] So apparently we didn't need to worry as much as we did.
[26:20] Around at the same time that we launched RuneScape 2, we also signed a deal
[26:24] with a third-party website called miniclip.com, which is a portal.
[26:28] A lot of people go there to play free cool games.
[26:31] "Oh, look, what's this RuneScape thing? That looks cool."
[26:33] And we got a lot of traffic. A huge amount of traffic.
[26:38] We had so many players signing up at the same time
[26:40] that our account creation system couldn't handle the load and it was keeled over.
[26:45] This breakneck speed I was talking about up to this point was going about this
[26:48] and all of a sudden it turned a massive corner and went even faster.
[26:51] This meant the previous, what we thought wasn't gonna be faster suddenly looked very slow.
[26:55] I actually 100% could remember us having a conversation
[27:00] and thinking "we're having too many players".
[27:03] Because we couldn't hire staff quick enough, we couldn't build servers quick enough
[27:07] and Andrew, honest to God, was like "maybe we should stop account creation".
[27:11] Because we just couldn't deal with that rush of people.
[27:14] But it was great, right?
[27:18] It was a great time. Everyone was mucking in and doing bits of everything.
[27:23] You had to.
[27:24] By the time we came down to Cambridge to see them, they told us how many more players there were.
[27:27] The new number was always significantly bigger than the last time we had seen them.
[27:33] Quite impressive really.
[27:35] Once they got up to fifty people in the office, that was an impressive milestone.
[27:41] I thought "they found fifty people, wow".
[27:44] With the game beginning to take off, Andrew and Constant wanted to reward their staff.
[27:49] And they found a foolproof way of doing so.
[27:52] Constant devised a jolly system where we reward the staff
[27:57] when we hit certain milepoints in terms of numbers of subscribers.
[28:02] Go go-karting, go paintballing, drive a speed boat, all sorts of fun events.
[28:08] And he set it out with a number of subscribers as a target for each different one.
[28:13] It meant all the way up to 100,000 subscribers, a weekend in New York.
[28:17] I remember when he produced the list I was like "we never gonna hit 100,000 subscribers".
[28:21] "Yes, sure. We'll do that."
[28:23] At one point there was like 4 or 5 jollies stacked up.
[28:26] At least, yes.
[28:28] We hadn't been on a jolly for a couple of weeks. There was 4 or 5 still to take.
[28:33] They were like 25,000 apart or something like that.
[28:38] I remember in one week we hit two targets. Just in one week.
[28:42] When we originally wrote them we were expecting them to be 2, 3 months apart.
[28:46] It didn't really hit home until a member of the staff that we had recruited mentioned to me
[28:50] that he hadn't actually done a 5-day-week since starting for us.
[29:01] One thing that was always very nice about developing RuneScape was
[29:04] that you always got some feedback on everything you were doing,
[29:06] compared to when I made single-player games where you made it and you put it out
[29:09] and you couldn't really tell it if anyone liked it or not.
[29:11] You could look a magazine and see if the reviewers liked it
[29:13] but you couldn't tell if the actual users liked it.
[29:16] With RuneScape being online and having forums, you've got instant feedback.
[29:19] Some of our daily routines were just to log on to RuneScape during lunch or before we started work
[29:23] and just have a chat with some of the players.
[29:25] The people on our friends lists were actually our friends.
[29:27] I remember chatting to them and finding out what they were doing.
[29:29] There was definitely a lot of interaction between the people working at Jagex
[29:34] and the mods and the players in the older days.
[29:36] Felt like a very big warm community that was very passionate about what was going on in the game.
[29:43] As the number of players continued to grow,
[29:46] clans formed, friends lists filled up,
[29:49] and everyone got on swimmingly.
[29:51] For many, friendships formed in RuneScape were stronger than friendships they made outside of it.
[29:57] Those who started playing RuneScape at a young age were growing up in Gielinor.
[30:02] The RuneScape community is quite possibly the warmest community in gaming.
[30:07] A lot of players would actually just jump on and use RuneScape just to chat with other players.
[30:11] In fact, if it's anything, RuneScape was a glorified kind of chat system for them.
[30:14] A lot of people like ourselves grew up with RuneScape,
[30:17] so we've got good strong friendships that have come from playing RuneScape.
[30:22] You can meet all different kinds of people from all over the world
[30:24] and you never know who you're gonna meet and they can turn out to be your best friend.
[30:28] There used to be a stigma whereby to play a game like RuneScape was to abandon the real world,
[30:32] but I think the two realities feed really well into each other.
[30:36] In my job, working for a student union now,
[30:39] I use a lot of skills that I learned playing RuneScape.
[30:42] And I actually have RuneScape on my CV.
[30:46] And I'm very proud of it.
[30:49] One of my favourite stories that I read from customer support was just this kid
[30:53] who wrote in to say thanks for the fishing skill.
[30:56] That's a weird thing. But his parents were in the army.
[31:01] When he was in the UK, he used to go fishing with his grandad at a lake.
[31:05] And when they were suddenly moving away, he didn't have the opportunity to do that any more.
[31:11] But they found RuneScape. And in RuneScape they could fish together.
[31:14] They could log in to the same world, go up to the little lake or the river and just fish
[31:18] and chat to each other as though they were doing it in the real world.
[31:21] I genuinely goosebump when I'm talking about this.
[31:24] You read those kind of messages and you think about the impact that you're making on people's lives.
[31:29] So, actually, the social element was more important than the game.
[31:34] The community and the friends they had there were a bigger deal than the game itself.
[31:39] There was an academic study actually done
[31:41] by Brunel University that we reported on about how people use RuneScape.
[31:46] It wasn't necessarily because it was free play.
[31:49] It wasn't necessarily to play the game, same as Warcraft.
[31:51] No, it's basically to hang out and to socialise.
[31:54] There was one girl who used to sit and watch the river and watch the waterfall.
[31:59] There were nice places to hang out in
[32:02] compared to staring at a brick wall in the city of London perhaps.
[32:07] They were real places where people just liked to hang out.
[32:11] In the early days, it was independently thought-provokingly unique
[32:19] that people would not only meet online
[32:21] but they would care about each other online, fall in love online,
[32:24] get married and have children.
[32:25] And now, having lived through that for 15 years, we look at that and go "of course we get it".
[32:32] It doesn't happen once. It happens quite regularly.
[32:35] It's just a truth.
[32:38] It illustrates how powerful the connection is between people
[32:43] that can start with with an honest, shared experience in a virtual world
[32:47] that then translates back up in the physical world
[32:50] and flourishes well beyond the veil of the digital screen.
[32:59] RuneScape has changed my life in a way that a game shouldn't be able to.
[33:06] It was occasionally a way for me to escape life
[33:11] when I was tired or fed up or I just wanted to go somewhere else.
[33:15] Gielinor is where I go. I get out of this world and just be there.
[33:22] Obviously, at some point, because of Claire, it's merged into my real life.
[33:28] We met when I was training Thieving in Pyramid Plunder.
[33:32] I had just found this minigame.
[33:34] When you're in Pyramid Plunder, you let the mummy out and people just run off
[33:37] and leave this mummy and you get attacked by the mummy.
[33:40] And I was going too, but I noticed someone was in the cave, so I'd better kill it.
[33:43] I was killing the mummy and he messaged me after I left.
[33:47] He said "thanks for killing it" and I said "yeah, I only killed it because you were there".
[33:50] If you weren't there, I would have run off.
[33:53] We started talking and he was helping me figure out Thieving and best ways to do it.
[33:59] That was our meeting. That was our hello.
[34:02] I've had that in real life.
[34:04] How did you meet?
[34:06] She saved me from the mummy in an ancient pyramid.
[34:11] And then we used to chat all the time.
[34:14] And it didn't stop.
[34:16] We just talked all night long.
[34:18] We couldn't say "msn" in game in RuneScape. When you typed in "msn", it was starred out.
[34:25] So, you couldn't say it. So, we made up a word called "pineapple" instead.
[34:29] So when we wanted to talk to each other we said "going pineapple".
[34:32] That was our own codeword for it.
[34:35] When we actually met for the first time in real life, I met him at the train station
[34:39] and he had a bunch of flowers in one hand and a pineapple in the other hand.
[34:42] When we did meet in real life, we did all the things that you could only do in real life.
[34:48] We went on dates. We got married. We had kids. We moved houses.
[34:53] And all of the real life things, from an outside observer, happened quite quickly.
[34:58] But we had that background in the game world.
[35:04] When I introduced myself to Claire I was reserved and secretive and I was Zack.
[35:11] So, that was the name that we gave to our son.
[35:15] And then we were about to name Sophie we couldn't think of a name for a girl.
[35:19] We didn't have a girl name.
[35:21] And then it was my eldest daughter that said Sophie.
[35:24] And Sophie was the name that we gave to the penguin that goes to Sophanem
[35:28] because I can't spell Sophanem.
[35:31] We just used to call it Sophie, so it seemed fair.
[35:34] That's where we met. We met in Sophanem.
[35:36] In the hospital, I called the little baby Sophanem.
[35:39] You did.
[35:41] To imagine not having RuneScape would...
[35:45] I can't even imagine where I'd be.
[35:49] Because, how would I...
[35:51] No one wants to know where I'd be without you...
[35:53] How would I have met you?
[36:00] Early on, Jagex was focused on the game itself
[36:04] and knew virtually nothing about the players.
[36:06] But as the team worked on their backend support systems,
[36:10] they started to gain more and more insight into their community.
[36:15] So surprised to see how often and how regular some people were playing.
[36:20] Some of the top players were literally playing 16, 17 hours a day.
[36:24] It was mindblowing to us that people were playing the game that much.
[36:27] The highest possible level in a RuneScape skill
[36:30] such as woodcutting, mining or magic was 99.
[36:35] And reaching 99, particularly before your mates, was a mark of huge prestige.
[36:40] And also a sign that you were undeniably awesome.
[36:44] We never actually expected anybody to reach level 99 in any of the skills.
[36:47] When I designed the XP curve, originally it was designed,
[36:50] I worked out how many hours it takes you to get to level 20, level 30, level 40 and so on and so forth.
[36:55] And it went up to 99, fairly arbitrarily, but the actual content petered out around level 40 or 50,
[37:01] because I just didn't think anybody would possibly get past that
[37:04] because the number of hours to get past that was just so absurd.
[37:06] I've seen a number of skills come out over the year
[37:08] and as a new skill comes out, there's always the excitement of who's number one, who's top,
[37:13] who's at the top of the game and experienced in the new content for the first time.
[37:18] Around 2007 I started putting some major hours.
[37:24] It just never stops.
[37:27] At first it was tough.
[37:29] But really the motivation to keep going for a certain high rank got me into it
[37:35] and eventually it was just routine to me.
[37:39] Close to 2,100 days played now.
[37:43] If you spend so much time on the game, then it becomes a part of you.
[37:51] Part of me is... What should I say?
[37:54] RuneScape is part of me.
[37:56] High-ranked players attained a degree of celebrity within the community.
[38:01] People wanted to be them.
[38:02] They wanted their rank, their high scores, and they definitely wanted their wealth in their banks.
[38:07] But one stood head and shoulders above the rest.
[38:11] Every player had heard of him.
[38:13] Every player knew his name.
[38:15] That name was Zezima.
[38:17] If you've played RuneScape, any point in your career, you probably know of Zezima.
[38:23] When I first started in the company we used to get a lot of questions from the players
[38:27] about things to do with the game.
[38:29] And I was given a list of players that I could log in to the game and ask them those questions
[38:34] because, even in those early days, we knew the players knew more about the game than we did.
[38:38] And one of those names was Zezima.
[38:40] Zezima is the most famous player.
[38:43] He is just an absolute legend. He did everything when it was hard to do.
[38:46] He achieved the unthinkable.
[38:48] Zezima. He's a legend. Everyone knows Zezima.
[38:51] Back when he was on the top of the highscores,
[38:53] there were all sorts of accusations that he was maybe character-sharing.
[38:58] But we certainly investigated and found no sort of evidence pointing to that.
[39:03] You might not know Andrew and Paul but you know who Zezima is.
[39:14] In 2005, he was the top RuneScape player.
[39:18] But, for all his fame, his real identity was shrouded in mystery.
[39:24] Zezima is definitely better off not being revealed because that's what creates the enigma.
[39:29] That's what makes Zezima special.
[39:31] I think the longer we can keep his identity secret, the better.
[39:35] There's rumours and things,
[39:37] but there's no real clear answer
[39:42] to who he is or much about him.
[39:44] The mystery has gone on for so long.
[39:46] What does he look like? Who is it? And if we can find that out, that'll be truly cool.
[39:51] I like the mystery of it.
[39:53] The legends.
[39:55] Zezima is a legend, a myth.
[39:57] I think he doesn't exist.
[40:00] My name is Zezima and I've been playing since 2001.
[40:04] I've had continuous membership on RuneScape since 2003,
[40:07] so I've been around a long time.
[40:09] Kind of interesting to be seen as such a legend by so many people.
[40:15] That's really the only way I can describe it.
[40:18] I first discovered RuneScape because I was playing a different game,
[40:20] which was a Final Fantasy card game online,
[40:23] and someone I played that game with told me he knew a game that I would never be any good at,
[40:28] so he showed me RuneScape and that's how I started playing.
[40:32] When I first got number one it was pretty exciting.
[40:35] It was interesting. I wasn't exactly aiming for that, just going for maxing out
[40:40] but it was nice when it happened.
[40:42] That's putting in a lot of hours. More than ten hours a day for 5 or 6 years straight.
[40:48] It's a matter of just feeling you need to complete it.
[40:52] Being so well-known among runescapers made it a lot easier
[40:54] to tolerate comments from people. Negative comments don't affect me
[41:00] in the game or outside the game at all.
[41:05] It's helped me manage emotions pretty well.
[41:11] A lot better than I would be able to otherwise.
[41:13] I've heard a lot of things about myself that I never know were true.
[41:16] I found out that I'm a girl from Australia. I never knew that.
[41:21] I've never been to Australia.
[41:23] And apparently I'm also seven 80-year-old Chinese women
[41:27] rotating one day on the week each, playing on my account.
[41:31] I would love it though to start all over from scratch, everyone at the same time,
[41:35] and then compete for the rank one. That would be awesome.
[41:39] Give him a piece of my mind.
[41:42] It just never occured to us that people would spend that many hours playing the game.
[41:46] Although, funnily enough, my own dad spent an awful lot of hours playing the game.
[41:51] How much time do I spend on now? 4 or 5 hours a day?
[41:54] -Probably not.
-Something like that, yes.
[41:56] And himself got a far higher level than I thought anyone would get, so just goes to show.
[42:01] Much more addictive than I thought it was.
[42:04] Managing an online world was pretty complex and technical hitches were inevitable.
[42:10] Sometimes those hitches became rather spectacular.
[42:14] Bug abuse is a really difficult thing for me to talk about
[42:18] because actually you're glorifying someone who has broken the rules.
[42:24] One of the most extreme versions of bug abuse was the Falador Massacre.
[42:30] For years and years it stood out as a pinnacle event in RuneScape.
[42:38] Falador Massacre came about as a bug with the Player-Owned Houses.
[42:45] Somebody has discovered that they could kick people from the house
[42:50] whilst in combat mode and stroll around Falador killing innocent players.
[42:56] There were players running around absolutely everywhere
[43:00] saying "watch out, someone's gonna kill you, make sure you bank all your valuable stuff".
[43:04] And there were a lot of people going there just to see it happen.
[43:08] People were telling "don't go there, some player's killing people".
[43:10] And then I was like "I want to try this out so I want to go there".
[43:13] And I saw so many people. I lagged so badly.
[43:16] I do so remember that event. It was one of the biggest events that ever happened in RuneScape.
[43:22] I was called to be told "you know you were vaguely willing to do call out work for us".
[43:28] "Well we've decided to go ahead with that plan. Are you doing anything at the moment?"
[43:31] He probably killed quite a lot of players. Largely because people thought it was an exciting event.
[43:35] Someone was going around killing people outside the Wilderness,
[43:38] so they all came into Falador so that they could be killed by him.
[43:42] I was probably assassinated a bigillion times.
[43:45] It was chaos. It was absolute chaos.
[43:48] It also helps that, for many of our customers, that was a 6/6/2006.
[43:52] In Britain it was actually the 7th, but for the majority of players it was still the 6th.
[43:57] I think Durial321 will go down in history for sure
[44:02] as being one of the darkest days in RuneScape.
[44:07] Events like the Falador Massacre in 2006 will forever be a part of RuneScape history
[44:13] and still chattered about to this day.
[44:16] In 2007, a new method of communicating about the game became popular.
[44:21] YouTube.
[44:22] Over a thousand player-made videos were posted every day.
[44:27] Player numbers were rising.
[44:29] More and more people were talking about RuneScape
[44:32] and there was an undeniable buzz about the game.
[44:35] It seemed like it couldn't get any better.
[44:38] But this sucess was a double-edged godsword.
[44:41] The community was getting so big that Jagex systems couldn't handle the number of players
[44:46] and the company began to drift away from its community.
[44:49] With great power comes great responsibility.
[44:53] And the bigger we got, the more responsible we felt for this huge community.
[44:58] And I think we realised that we couldn't have that one-on-one relationship
[45:05] with all of our players because they were so many of them.
[45:08] So we stopped treating everyone with this personal touch.
[45:12] That day we realised that there were lots of things we weren't able to do.
[45:16] We were getting hundreds of thousands of reports each week,
[45:20] we were having thousands of tickets each week,
[45:23] we had 10,000 ban appeals each week, which we were doing ourselves
[45:27] because we were banning so many players and we didn't have a smart way of approaching that.
[45:32] It didn't feel so much like this little baby of us anymore, like it got its own life.
[45:37] And I think the players and the community were sort of,
[45:40] there were different sorts of groups and different sorts of players that we didn't relate to as well
[45:44] just because of the amount of them that there were.
[45:47] But one problem stood out among the rest.
[45:51] Gold farming and botting, the bane of any MMO economy.
[45:57] A bot is a program that a player would use to run their RuneScape character for them.
[46:03] So when they are away from their computer, at work or at college, the bot can gather gold for them
[46:09] or fish for them or fight monsters for them.
[46:11] All sorts of simplistic activities that the player would normally be doing themselves.
[46:17] A gold farmer group is an organized group of people who are paid
[46:22] to just get gold from a game and then sell that gold for real world cash.
[46:27] Some call them gold farmers, others call them cheats.
[46:31] They are exploiting the fast growing phenomena of online gaming.
[46:35] Quite often, those people would be running hundreds of accounts,
[46:39] hundreds of botted accounts which are getting all these resources
[46:42] and selling those resources to other players in the game and then getting RuneScape gold.
[46:47] And then actually creating websites, very official-looking websites, where you could enter your credit card details
[46:53] and then organize to buy that gold from one of these gold farmers in the game.
[46:58] For hours on end they sit in the gloom of an airless outhouse
[47:02] hunched over computers pitting their wits against opponents on another continent.
[47:07] They are working in a virtual world but this is a real life sweatshop.
[47:13] Really disturbingly for us, we discovered that there were all sorts of links
[47:16] between gold farming and other illegal activities
[47:19] and dodgy parts of their business going all over the world.
[47:23] And we were really fundamentally commited to stopping it from happening in our game.
[47:29] We had such a large playerbase that some of these companies were earning millions of dollars.
[47:34] I'm pretty sure that some of them may have been building a company
[47:38] with the same sort of revenue that Jagex actually had from just that.
[47:41] You may be thinking "who cares, just fake points in a make-believe world".
[47:45] But it costs 60 bucks a year to play, hours of time to gain power,
[47:49] and there are dozens of websites offering coins to use in RuneScape for a fee.
[47:55] It was really obvious to everybody that was playing the game that these accounts weren't real
[48:00] and they were being run by programs.
[48:02] And it really started to upset the fundamental balance of the game.
[48:06] When you walk up to four or five people and no one is saying anything,
[48:09] it was very obvious that they were doing the same pattern over and over again
[48:12] and were controlled by a piece of software.
[48:14] Cheating aside, that's just a pretty rubbish experience.
[48:17] It doesn't feel like a cool game with real people playing it, really.
[48:20] All this extra gold slushing around in the game means that the real gold that's been earned
[48:26] actually is devalued when buying stuff.
[48:28] So, something that may have cost you a million gold pieces is actually now only worth half a million.
[48:34] And this is really difficult for players to invest in their accounts
[48:38] because all of their hard work is undermined by gold farming.
[48:43] A lot of people left the game because of botting and gold farming.
[48:46] It really ruined the experience for gamers.
[48:48] It challenged the players to search inside themselves to value their own accomplishments
[48:53] and ignore what was going on around them because it was a very tough environment to play in
[48:57] when you were going for an achievement and so were 35 bots behind you.
[49:01] It really undermines the integrity of RuneScape.
[49:04] Another problem with this kind of illegal activity
[49:07] that the gold farmers were doing was stolen credit cards.
[49:10] And they were using those numbers to make accounts.
[49:14] And so when people realised that cards were being used illegally, they would contact their banks
[49:19] and they would get all of their illegal payments charged back to the accounts.
[49:23] It was getting into the stage where the credit card companies themselves
[49:28] were saying "we're not gonna accept your credit cards because you're getting so many people charging back"
[49:31] "because of the stolen credit cards".
[49:33] "We think you are too dodgy a person to actually accept a credit card if you don't do something about it."
[49:41] At that point we were like "if we can’t accept credit card payments, we really are screwed".
[49:48] We got to the point where we were like "there are only two ways we can possibly tackle this".
[49:51] We could either start selling the items ourselves
[49:55] because that would basically dry up their market
[49:58] and they won't have any financial incentive to keep breaking our countermeasures.
[50:02] Or we could do something really radical.
[50:04] We had one idea for how we could completely break it, which is by restricting the trades.
[50:10] After so many meetings and lots of discussions, we made a decision, which we didn't take lightly,
[50:15] to remove free trade from the game, which meant a lot of players couldn't pass items to each other,
[50:20] they couldn't give gifts or presents to each other. That was pretty huge.
[50:23] But it did also mean that for these bots that were passing to their mules, they couldn't do that anymore.
[50:28] Those mules passing it to players for real world cash, they couldn't do that anymore.
[50:33] It also meant that we'd affected player-versus-player killing
[50:35] because people were going into the Wilderness to gain at each other's weapons or gain each other's gold.
[50:40] This was done in the Wilderness and that obviously made the Wilderness a vastly different place.
[50:45] Before the change, the Wilderness was probably the busiest place in RuneScape.
[50:50] Overnight that changed and all of a sudden no one was going there. There was no point.
[50:55] All of a sudden the most popular place became the least popular.
[50:59] You could still go into the Wilderness, but it was dead.
[51:02] I mean, it was supposed to be dead, right?
[51:04] There were bones, skeletons, demons, lava
[51:07] and all that kind of stuff all over the place.
[51:09] But there weren't any players anymore.
[51:11] It was a really disturbing experience walking around an area of the game world
[51:17] where previously it was full of carnage and then it wasn't really full of anything at all.
[51:24] The removal of the Wilderness was the biggest most dramatic event in RuneScape history
[51:29] and it was unique in that it united the community against Jagex.
[51:34] I don't know if a game could riot any harder
[51:37] than I remember those world 66 riots that were going on
[51:40] for an entire week or so after that update happened.
[51:44] The relationship between players and Jagex was never quite the same again after that.
[51:48] I don't think, at least for a very long time. It was not quite good.
[51:54] We made a change that they didn't like. And they couldn't really understand why we made it.
[51:59] We tried to explain but all of it sounded like excuses.
[52:02] A lot of people thought we were making it up.
[52:05] So, it didn't help things at all.
[52:08] That almost insular approach of "look, it is what it is, get on with it"
[52:13] meant that the company didn't engage.
[52:16] If there's one thing I could change going back now, it'll be that decision,
[52:19] in 2007 when we decided to get rid of the real world trading.
[52:24] With free trade removed, gold farmers initially disappeared.
[52:28] Bots were on a manageable scale again.
[52:31] But the cost had been high.
[52:33] It looked like, to a lot of players, we had killed the game.
[52:36] Because the areas were less busy,
[52:38] all these people complaining and saying that they were gonna quit.
[52:42] It was a really bad time.
[52:44] Remember we thought we had done the right thing and it just didn't look good.
[52:50] Over the next three years, RuneScape faced something it had never faced before.
[52:55] A decline.
[52:56] Player numbers dwindled.
[52:58] And the relationship between Jagex and its players hit rock bottom.
[53:02] It was time to make a big gesture for the company to come down from its ivory tower
[53:07] and meet its players face to face.
[53:10] And more importantly, this was an opportunity to explain why it had made these dramatic decisions.
[53:19] Good afternoon!
[53:20] How ya'll doing?
[53:23] We decided to do RuneFest because we wanted to do the ultimate community event.
[53:28] We had done a few small things here and there
[53:30] but we wanted to have an opportunity to meet players en masse.
[53:33] And also, to have a platform to tell players about what we wanted to do in the future
[53:38] and to share with them the things that we were most excited about.
[53:41] Look around the office. It's a pretty cool company with some pretty cool people.
[53:46] We're not trying to manufacture anything here.
[53:49] We have to give the world the lens into this business.
[53:51] So, we have to do a fan celebration.
[53:57] Good morning, Gielinor!
[54:01] We were worried that people were gonna be horrifically disappointed,
[54:04] that what we would put on wasn't gonna be good enough.
[54:06] And we were so worried about it that we made the decision
[54:09] to refund everybody's ticket price for the first RuneFest.
[54:13] All the people who went to the original RuneFest got their money back.
[54:16] They went for free because we didn't want to let anyone down and we still put the event on
[54:20] but we thought that just in case it wasn't gonna be any good.
[54:22] And it was still good. It was brilliant. Everyone who went was like "I'm so going to the next one".
[54:26] Everyone loved it.
[54:27] And then we were like "Why did we do that? Why did we do that to ourselves?"
[54:31] I don't think we realised how important RuneFest was gonna be really
[54:36] until we had done it.
[54:39] And, once we'd done it, we knew that there was a real need
[54:44] for runescapers to come together.
[54:47] There's nothing better than meeting the people you've been playing RuneScape with for years
[54:51] to suddenly meet them in person and everyone's in cosplay
[54:55] and if that wasn't your thing, you might wanna come and meet the developers behind the games.
[55:01] You had 70-year-old grandmas with 17-year-old teenagers.
[55:07] It showed the breadth of our community. It was fantastic.
[55:11] Everyone was so happy to meet one another and finally put a face to a name.
[55:18] - How long did this costume take to make?
- About 200 hours.
[55:21] - 200 hours!
- Yes.
[55:23] - Are you coming a long way today?
- From Canada.
[55:25] To get to find out what they love about the game, to get to see that in their faces.
[55:29] And that changes every update.
[55:30] You're no longer thinking about what the forums are gonna say,
[55:33] you're thinking about individual people,
[55:34] you're thinking about the looks on their faces as they play something.
[55:37] You want to surprise them.
[55:38] It just goes to show that the game goes beyond the barriers of a virtual world.
[55:46] It spills into real life, which is amazing.
[55:49] RuneFest!
[55:50] RuneFest gave everyone at Jagex a spring in their step.
[55:54] But Andrew was beginning to feel distanced from the game he had created.
[55:59] I wanted to get myself in a position where I could still advise Jagex.
[56:05] I love RuneScape. I absolutely wanted to keep working on it, but I didn't want the responsibility
[56:10] and the stress of being in charge of something so big and so important.
[56:14] So I started looking at selling my remaining stake in Jagex,
[56:18] but it wasn't meant to be a radical shift.
[56:20] It just meant that it would be a way that I didn't have to be a director of a huge company.
[56:25] He wouldn't have chosen to be the leader
[56:27] and the reason I even got the job in the first place was because Andrew didn't want to be that guy.
[56:32] He didn't want to be in charge.
[56:34] He wanted to write more code and hang around with other guys.
[56:38] He didn't even want the visibility of people knowing he was a meaningful shareholder or co-founder.
[56:44] When Andrew came to sell the company, I wasn't enjoying it quite so much anyway,
[56:50] so I was reasonably happy to go along with that.
[56:55] Whilst I had been quite stressed being in charge,
[56:57] I suddenly realised that, when I wasn't in charge,
[56:59] all of a sudden, what I had to say didn't matter so much.
[57:02] People would be doing things not the way I wanted them to do them.
[57:05] That was the whole point of course.
[57:07] The whole point was I didn't want to be responsible and I just wanted to be out to advise and help
[57:13] and nurture the game I made without having to be so responsible.
[57:17] But, as soon as that responsibility was taken away, I realised "oh dear".
[57:22] You can't have it both ways. Without responsibility you don't have the authority.
[57:26] You can't have one without the other.
[57:30] By trying to make myself less stressed and reduce the responsibility, I also reduced the authority.
[57:35] And all of a sudden I found that I didn't have the final say on things.
[57:41] Other people had the final say on things. And I made a mistake, quite frankly.
[57:47] Eventually reached the point where I wasn't doing anything for Jagex anymore
[57:50] but there was no sort of date where I left.
[57:52] I didn't have a leaving do or anything like that.
[57:54] It just faded away.
[57:56] I never got the chance to hug him and say thanks.
[58:01] And that was really sad.
[58:06] After Andrew left, Paul continued to work on RuneScape.
[58:10] But things were changing. It seemed like everyone was producing their own MMO.
[58:14] And mobile gaming was looking like it might be the next big thing.
[58:18] The company knew they had to keep up and plan their next move.
[58:22] The challenge was "how can we level this out?"
[58:25] and "how can we go and build RuneScape and grow again?"
[58:28] I remember one day we came into the office
[58:31] and someone said that they got a new way of dealing with bots.
[58:34] And that maybe there was a way that we could bring back the Wilderness.
[58:39] For me it was clear that this was one of the things that we had to fix.
[58:42] We had to go back and say mea culpa. We didn't get it right. Let's sort this out.
[58:47] We decided to do a poll online where people could vote
[58:50] on whether we would or wouldn't bring back the Wilderness.
[58:53] And we made it very clear the pros and the cons of that approach.
[58:56] We had an overwhelming amount of players voting in that poll.
[59:00] Over a million. Like 1.2 million players.
[59:03] And I think it was 95% "yes, please bring it back".
[59:07] And then the question was "would bots increase?"
[59:11] Sure, it would. Were we bot-free at that time? No.
[59:14] As with everything in RuneScape, it was always a trade-off.
[59:17] And we could have probably continued to keep building things out and delaying putting the Wilderness back.
[59:23] But we decided to go for it, put it back, put in place what we had,
[59:26] which was pretty reasonable when you continue to build more ways to stop the bots.
[59:37] I believe Bot Nuke Day was October 25th 2011.
[59:40] This was the day that we released something called ClusterFlutterer,
[59:45] which is this program that attacked the bots systematically
[59:48] and it did a fantastic job. It knocked out 98% of the bots.
[59:52] I think it removed 7 million accounts in that day, which is fantastic.
[59:58] That really cleaned the decks. Going into the game felt like RuneScape again.
[01:00:03] The biggest problem we had was that all of a sudden it seemed that our player numbers had just dropped.
[01:00:08] Some players were saying "oh, RuneScape is not popular anymore".
[01:00:11] What they didn't realise was there was so many thousands of bots in the game at the same time
[01:00:16] that it looked like we lost a third of our playerbase in one go.
[01:00:20] But actually it was because these bots had been in the game
[01:00:24] and it's taken so much time and space.
[01:00:29] In 2012 Jagex made a fundamental change to their business model.
[01:00:34] The addition of microtransactions.
[01:00:37] Microtransactions allow players to buy cosmetic items and benefits with real world money.
[01:00:43] Something that was always going to be divisive.
[01:00:46] The problem we were facing was,
[01:00:49] as we increased our production value for our content,
[01:00:53] everything cost more.
[01:00:54] It took more people, it took more graphics, all of it together meant
[01:00:59] that a piece of content that we used to make in 2003 cost 3 times as now
[01:01:04] and we had to work out how do we do.
[01:01:06] Do we not do the content? Or do we find more players to cover the costs?
[01:01:12] You can't keep up with the Ozan.
[01:01:14] The difficulty for me and for many of us at that point in time
[01:01:18] was that subscribers had always got everything.
[01:01:22] Anything new we added to the game, they paid the membership every month and they got it.
[01:01:26] And all of a sudden there was a bunch of stuff that they had to be lucky and win on a little wheel.
[01:01:34] Or they had to pay a little bit of money for special bits of costume and things like that.
[01:01:38] And the players didn't really like that.
[01:01:40] And, to be honest, there was a real division in the office as well because we are gamers.
[01:01:46] I think I actually left the company when they started introducing microtransactions
[01:01:52] to the Squeal of Fortune.
[01:01:54] Because one thing I've always said to the players
[01:01:57] was that we wouldn't start selling microtransactions.
[01:02:02] So, by them doing that, if I was still involved in the company,
[01:02:06] it felt like it made me into a liar.
[01:02:08] I said that we would never do that and then we did.
[01:02:10] It may not be popular but it was very necessary
[01:02:13] for, fundamentally, the financial viability of Jagex.
[01:02:18] People may not think that that's important,
[01:02:21] but if Jagex is not around, RuneScape is not around.
[01:02:23] It's as simple as that.
[01:02:25] Although the game had a large group of loyal players,
[01:02:28] large parts of RuneScape were beginning to show their age.
[01:02:31] And new players were turned off by outdated graphics and mechanics.
[01:02:36] One area in particular was targeted by Jagex
[01:02:39] as the most in need of improvement.
[01:02:41] The combat system.
[01:02:43] It was towards the end of 2012 when Daniel left and I was promoted to Head of RuneScape.
[01:02:48] That was just on the cusp of the release of Evolution of Combat.
[01:02:51] That meant I had a front row seat for the launch of the new combat system.
[01:02:55] A lot of content in RuneScape is very simple.
[01:02:59] Even combat, even fighting a big dragon
[01:03:01] is like "Have I got the right armour? Have I got the right shield?"
[01:03:04] Then, I go and I click on the dragon.
[01:03:06] And I hit the dragon, the dragon hits me.
[01:03:09] I hit the dragon, the dragon hits me.
[01:03:12] When we talked to the players that were quitting the game,
[01:03:15] number one reason was combat is boring.
[01:03:19] A couple of developers came up with an idea to make combat more interesting
[01:03:25] by offering different moves, basic moves, and then you can build up adrenaline
[01:03:30] and then do things like ultimate moves
[01:03:32] which are massive great big graphically impressive moves,
[01:03:36] all sorts of swishes and cool little effects that are going on.
[01:03:40] New death animations and all sorts of stuff like that
[01:03:43] where combat felt like a more engaging, more immersive experience.
[01:03:48] And it was great. And it really worked.
[01:03:51] And actually combat was a lot more exciting.
[01:03:54] We were worried a little bit about whether or not that was too much of a move.
[01:03:58] In hindsight, what we should have been worried about
[01:04:00] was that players were becoming Chuck Norrises of the old combat system.
[01:04:04] They had become amazing at specialising and working its intricacies.
[01:04:08] And that move to the new system meant that they lost all that knowledge.
[01:04:11] I think that's what should have been our biggest concern.
[01:04:14] It was really polarised between lovers and haters. A really strong divide.
[01:04:20] I thought we needed that necessary change. It added a different element to the game.
[01:04:24] We could fight bosses with different mechanics and different styles.
[01:04:26] The bosses can fight us with different styles and attacks.
[01:04:29] It was a big change. I tried my best to get into it, but it just wasn't the same game.
[01:04:33] I did struggle to it because I'm stubborn when you have something
[01:04:38] that you're so accostumed to and all of a sudden it's changed. It was difficult.
[01:04:41] It felt like "we've made this update, we can't scrap it, so it's gotta happen".
[01:04:46] By that time, we had got really locked in
[01:04:48] because we had six months worth of content to use with the new combat system on its way.
[01:04:53] We hoped that players would give it a chance
[01:04:56] and see that it was pretty good and they learn and they stick with it.
[01:04:59] And some people did. Some people liked it on release.
[01:05:02] Some people tolerated it and learned it and stuck with it.
[01:05:05] But some of them didn't like it.
[01:05:07] For them it was too big of a change.
[01:05:10] You could log in the game now and you could talk to players
[01:05:12] and you would have probably a 50-50 split of players saying
[01:05:15] "That's the best thing you ever did. I love the new combat system."
[01:05:18] And players going "I don't get it. You ruined the game for me."
[01:05:22] I wish I could go back and change that.
[01:05:27] Evolution of Combat hadn't brought the growth that Jagex hoped for.
[01:05:31] Far from it.
[01:05:32] But it did give them the push they needed to really start talking to their community.
[01:05:37] The thing that we really forgot was what really made us special.
[01:05:42] The things that we did in the early days that the players really loved.
[01:05:46] And one of those key things was that communication.
[01:05:49] With community management we've done it badly as a company
[01:05:55] and we've done it really well. And we found that happy medium.
[01:05:59] So we took to Twitter, which was a new thing.
[01:06:02] I signed up a Twitter account. A couple others set up Twitter accounts.
[01:06:06] It was a whole new area that we hadn't actually explored
[01:06:10] and, seeing the success of that, we started creating this ripple effect.
[01:06:14] And before you knew it, we had the CEO on Twitter,
[01:06:18] we had artists, developers, audio, everybody was on Twitter
[01:06:24] chatting to the players. It's as simple as that, really.
[01:06:27] It was turning the community around with just basically talking to them,
[01:06:32] something that we had lost somewhere along the way.
[01:06:35] We started doing stupid stuff as well to show the community
[01:06:39] that we weren't the big bad meanies that they thought that we were.
[01:06:44] We started making Player Owned Ports videos and building a ship at the back of the office.
[01:06:51] Mark and the team made a song.
[01:06:53] And the audio team made a song for the cow.
[01:06:59] We did all these things to try to show that we were humans and have a laugh doing it.
[01:07:04] You can expect the team to be approachable and to listen to when something happens.
[01:07:12] I've been painted blue, in a tutu, as an elf and even as a fish in various points in videos.
[01:07:18] We're just being a bit more fun trying out new things
[01:07:21] as we chat away and give information about what we were doing.
[01:07:24] Jagex has one of the communities where employees work more with the players
[01:07:29] than most other companies that I know of at least, which I think is a really good thing
[01:07:33] because it really strengthens their bonds rather than being an employee-customer.
[01:07:37] It's more like interacting friends making something great together,
[01:07:41] which I really think is pretty great.
[01:07:43] They don't shy away from speaking to people.
[01:07:46] They were openly answering questions in Twitter. That's very nice.
[01:07:50] Players started noticing that we were caring a little bit more again.
[01:07:55] And we stopped focusing our attention on recalibrating the game for a new audience
[01:08:00] and focusing our attention on making sure that the game was right for the audience that we had.
[01:08:06] We had reengaged with the community but it was really clear
[01:08:10] that they wanted one thing, which was an old version of RuneScape.
[01:08:14] We didn't know if it was even possible
[01:08:16] but we felt that we had to do it because we had this huge community that was still enjoying the game,
[01:08:22] but we knew that there was this old lapsed audience that had left
[01:08:27] that we could win back if we were able to provide them with an old version.
[01:08:30] I went to one of my favourite people, Phil Bielby, mod Philip,
[01:08:36] and I said "Phil, can we get an old school server backup?"
[01:08:41] Eventually I found at the back of a safe a tape
[01:08:46] that had a number written on the back, which was 1989.
[01:08:54] I guessed correctly that that was the runeday
[01:08:57] that the code was from. That turned out to be August 2007,
[01:09:02] which was precisely when we wanted to go back to.
[01:09:05] He said "it's all back, it's all working".
[01:09:06] "A lot of the tech is not compatible with our current tech but it's there, it's running".
[01:09:10] We were really excited about that of course,
[01:09:12] so we decided to put it out for players and see what they would make of it.
[01:09:15] Depended on how many votes, depended on the support we'd give it.
[01:09:18] I think 450,000 people voted on it. That was just short of giving it a proper dev team,
[01:09:23] but because that was so close, it was only 50,000 short,
[01:09:26] we decided "let's give it a dev team, let's give it some proper support and see what goes from there".
[01:09:30] That was my ideal time when RuneScape was played. It was 2007.
[01:09:33] I was absolutely ecstatic for it.
[01:09:35] It just felt right. Everything was perfect.
[01:09:38] Oh, my god!
[01:09:41] That soundtrack, mate!
[01:09:43] The fact that we'd fundamentally gone to the heart of giving people what they want meant it was a success.
[01:09:48] It was gonna be a race for the high scores.
[01:09:50] Being a brand new game, everyone's gonna be going for the top levels.
[01:09:53] This was everyone from the bottom. Go!
[01:09:56] The team behind it was a very small team initially,
[01:10:00] but they were the truest of the true old school guys,
[01:10:05] both from a program standpoint and a community standpoint.
[01:10:08] The head of content came over to my desk
[01:10:09] to say "Ash, would you be willing to go to it as content developer for a while?"
[01:10:13] And when he got to my desk, he found out I was in the middle of writing him an email begging to be a content developer.
[01:10:18] So we decided we were on the same page and I got my wish.
[01:10:21] Beautiful.
[01:10:22] It was very much like a business start-up.
[01:10:25] We got left for six months to do whatever we wanted to do.
[01:10:28] The Old School team in my opinion is one of the best development teams that ever is in any sort of videogame at all.
[01:10:33] The fact that they take polls for the community to say "Should we do this? Should we do that?"
[01:10:36] and the community basically decides what they want in it.
[01:10:38] And it's voted upon where time and resources can be spent. It's genious.
[01:10:43] The fact that we can talk to the players that directly harkens back to those early days
[01:10:48] when me and Andrew would go in game and would see exactly what was happening
[01:10:52] and what kind of issues people were encountering.
[01:10:54] That reignited all of what we did, what the early Jagex was, and what the early RuneScape was
[01:11:00] when it was a family company because it was a little family of three, then grew to five.
[01:11:05] Those who really wanted that original experience, got it.
[01:11:09] And the people making it were those same people that made that experience for them.
[01:11:14] When Old School first came out, most people looked at it and thought "this is gonna be a flash in the pan".
[01:11:18] "People are gonna get their bit of nostalgia and they're gonna leave after six months."
[01:11:21] "It was a bit of work, a bit of fun. Everyone's happy."
[01:11:24] Three years later, the game is huge.
[01:11:27] There's hundreds of thousands of people playing everyday. So I think that was the right call.
[01:11:39] We had RuneScape, or RuneScape 3 as we were calling it then.
[01:11:42] We had Old School and we had two healthy communities that looked like they had real longevity in them.
[01:11:48] So, though we had some turbulent years, actually I think overall,
[01:11:51] through 2012 and 2013, we came out even stronger.
[01:11:55] The community was more positive than it had been for a long time.
[01:11:58] But there was still one main thing that was still holding us back.
[01:12:01] And that was gold farming.
[01:12:03] While Bot Nuke Day had really cleared out the bots,
[01:12:06] it hadn't been able to completely get rid of the gold farming problem.
[01:12:12] We had to think of new ways to stop this. And we came up with Bonds.
[01:12:18] One day, I came in to work and someone in customer support had pinged me an email
[01:12:23] giving a really interesting idea that was based on another game that they were playing.
[01:12:27] And that was the simple idea that membership could exist as an in-game item.
[01:12:33] Someone would buy a membership package and then,
[01:12:37] rather than consuming it and getting a couple months of membership,
[01:12:40] they would actually put that item in the game
[01:12:43] as something that they can then swap for in-game wealth.
[01:12:46] So, effectively, I'm buying a couple of months of membership
[01:12:50] and I'm swapping it with someone else for a bunch of in-game wealth.
[01:12:53] We were quite worried because we had been through some difficult times
[01:12:57] adding microtransactions into the game and that was another monetary thing
[01:13:03] that we were doing with the game.
[01:13:05] We had to be very cautious with how we launched Bonds.
[01:13:07] We took a lot of care in talking to the players and explaining why we were doing it.
[01:13:12] But I'm really glad that it went really well.
[01:13:14] We got a lot of players who paid for their membership with bonds.
[01:13:17] We've significantly cut down the amount of gold farming in the game
[01:13:20] and I think, both from the player and the economy point of view, it's much healthier overall.
[01:13:27] For the first time in years, RuneScape began to see an increase to its playerbase.
[01:13:33] Listening to the community has proven to be successful for us.
[01:13:37] And we're not gonna stop.
[01:13:39] In fact, the more feedback we can get, the better.
[01:13:42] We started polling the players on the content that they wanted.
[01:13:45] We had player visits in our studio.
[01:13:47] We looked to really improve the combat system.
[01:13:50] We added Legacy Mode and we pushed RuneFest further and further.
[01:13:54] I really look forward to what we've got coming next for RuneScape.
[01:13:59] We've gone through some tough years and we've now come out the other side
[01:14:03] and we're now ready to really push on.
[01:14:06] And I want to make sure that we're here celebrating 25 years,
[01:14:13] celebrating 50 years.
[01:14:15] When I think back to all the different eras of RuneScape, I can see something timeless in there,
[01:14:19] something that's really special, that no other game has.
[01:14:22] And that's what makes me really confident that RuneScape could be around for a hell of a long time yet.
[01:14:27] Getting back to our grassroots and dealing with our community again.
[01:14:32] Getting more of that indie vibe back in the studio.
[01:14:35] I think one of the best things about that is that we've been reconnecting with old members of the staff.
[01:14:39] And even this documentary is giving us the opportunity to do that.
[01:14:43] And of course the highlight for me is working with Andrew and Paul.
[01:14:47] They are genuinely inspirational people.
[01:14:50] And being in a brainstorming meeting with Andrew and Paul talking about this cool quest that we're gonna do,
[01:14:56] putting them in the game as characters, is a real highlight of the year for me.
[01:15:01] It really reminded me why this place is such a cool place to work.
[01:15:06] And of course we managed to get them to RuneFest. The players love them.
[01:15:12] It doesn't matter how much time goes by, they're always gonna be the people that they want the autographs for.
[01:15:19] I think the highlight for RuneFest was giving Andrew and Paul the lifetime achievement award.
[01:15:24] They didn't have any idea of what was going on.
[01:15:27] It was the last presentation for us to make them.
[01:15:30] We managed to get them, we snuck them in, in front of the crowd somehow. They still didn't really twig.
[01:15:35] Giving them that award, that was my chance to say goodbye. And I'm really happy about that.
[01:15:41] They made the damn game, people! Come on!
[01:15:47] It's hard to believe that a little game that I started as a hobby has turned into this.
[01:15:51] This big convention with all these people coming from all over the world has come from that.
[01:15:56] Actually, we made that, didn't we? Yes.
[01:15:59] It's just completely overwhelming.
[01:16:02] The last 15 years of RuneScape have been an adventure to rival any of its quests.
[01:16:08] From humble beginnings in the Gowers kitchen
[01:16:11] to a global experience that's become such a huge part of people's lives,
[01:16:15] RuneScape has brought people together both online and in the real world.
[01:16:20] It's given people a place to escape,
[01:16:22] a place to meet and, for Jagex, a place to work.
[01:16:26] And, whether you're a runescaper or and Old School runescaper, it's been a home to us all.
[01:16:32] Isn't that lovely?
[01:16:34] The depth of the world, the functionality of the world
[01:16:37] and the history people have as a shared experience in that world gets deeper and better over time.
[01:16:43] And that's where a virtual world that is grown and built over 15 years
[01:16:48] continues to have such amazing power.
[01:16:50] I spend hours and hours and hours playing RuneScape.
[01:16:54] I was in clans. I made friends. I still make friends,
[01:16:58] especially off with the Twitch community for RuneScape.
[01:17:01] I get to travel and hang out with them in the real life now,
[01:17:04] so it's crazy but it's really an awesome thing.
[01:17:07] For me, personally, it was a great way to get addicted to a game but not only that.
[01:17:13] To meet some really amazing people through common interest in the game itself.
[01:17:18] A number of people you run into and they go "oh, yes, my kids play RuneScape".
[01:17:22] It's just ridiculous.
[01:17:25] The thing that RuneScape was the driving factor that brought me to college,
[01:17:29] that inspired my career and then eventually hired me
[01:17:32] is something that I'll always be grateful for.
[01:17:34] Blue p owns!
[01:17:36] I've been earning revenue online since 2012.
[01:17:39] That let me buy an apartment and I basically owe all that to the game.
[01:17:44] You never quit RuneScape. You're only ever AFK.
[01:17:48] You play for the game. You stay for the community.
[01:17:51] This is like a lifestyle. I don't know how to describe it.
[01:17:55] It's part of you. It's grown up with you.
[01:17:58] It has evolved. It has developed.
[01:18:01] It's crazy trying to think what my life would be without it because it would be so vastly different.
[01:18:06] It's a game but I'm proud of every single second of it.
[01:18:10] It means that I have a fantastic wife and two beautiful children.
[01:18:14] It means I have a family.
[01:18:18] RuneScape means so much more than just Java on a screen.
[01:18:24] It's now part of our history.
[01:18:26] It's part of our beginning, where we came from.
[01:18:29] I play a lot of games but RuneScape is right at the top of that list.
[01:18:35] I've been spending so much time on it that it proves that.
[01:18:39] I think it will always be a part of me.
[01:18:42] RuneScape and Jagex will always be a special part of my heart.
[01:18:52] Essentially, games is what this family is all about.
[01:18:55] You don't have a day without RuneScape, do you?
[01:18:58] No. If RuneScape goes down, that's a disaster.
[01:19:02] It's absolutely mindblowing to see how big RuneScape has become, to be honest.
[01:19:07] I think it's almost too much to take in.
[01:19:09] The amount of lives that it has touched is unbelievable.
[01:19:13] It's actually quite daunting to imagine to achieve something so big
[01:19:17] because it means that anything I do now,
[01:19:19] I've got a massive bar to compare against.
[01:19:24] Anything less than absolutely colossal would seem small.
[01:19:29] I certainly hope that with my new project I'll achieve something this massive again.
[01:19:34] But it's quite daunting to live up to that legacy.
[01:19:38] All we can do is try to write a fantasy story
[01:19:43] and find another way to build a world and eventually give it to the world.
[01:19:47] In the game, you play as the world guardians.
[01:19:49] They defend RuneScape from all these evil forces that are trying to take it over.
[01:19:54] I get to do that in real life.
[01:19:56] This is a baby that we gave birth to.
[01:20:01] And it's grown up. It's matured over the years.
[01:20:05] And I get to look after it. I get to make sure it's ok.
[01:20:09] I patch up its grazed knees when it's fallen over in the playground.
[01:20:13] Or tell it off when it's doing something a little bit wrong.
[01:20:16] It is its own self. And it grows in ways that we could never ever have predicted.
[01:20:23] And that influence on my life is a really strange thing.
[01:20:27] It means that I never think too much about the future.
[01:20:30] Just focus on the now and the people around me that really make a difference.
[01:20:36] Because that is RuneScape. And that's a life lesson for everybody really.