The Problem With GraphicsEdit This Entity
With the storm from the recent graphical updates winding down, I figured now would be as good a time as any to re-open this wound and talk about graphics in RuneScape. The MMO genre of games tends to be very picky when it comes to the topic of graphics and graphic updates, but why? Why do we as players get so upset when armour designs are modernized, or weapons get new coats of paint?
The first and most apparent reason is straight up nostalgia. When the base metal armors got a graphical touch-up this summer many players went into a frenzy, rioting in World 66 and raving about how these graphics were bad and JaGEx should feel bad. Why? Combing through the RuneScape Official Forums on the day of release, this was the only complaint that I ever saw. You’d get the occasional female saying how it made them too butch or revealed too much (I will address this later), but the vast majority of the player base seemed to only despise these updates based on their nostalgic infatuations.The problem with this line is that it highlights no real problems. Just because Player X thinks that old Rune armor looked better doesn’t mean every player agrees; nostalgic arguments are based solely on opinion. The stats of the items did not change for better or worse, JaGEx did not suddenly flood the market with thousands of duplicates to crash prices; they simply changed how they looked.
Speaking of changing how things look, A friend of mine is highly obsessed with creating outfits in-game and after the upheaval he was upset because it ruined some of the ones he had created. Here's the problem, though, smart outfits are not essential to the actual gameplay. Yes, some pieces of clothing look good with others, but unless a set is designed to be aesthetic (Loyalty Store costumes, Naval gear from Trouble Brewing, etc.) this argument is also based in opinion. If Bandos tassets were suddenly changed to be bright purple with orange polka dots, saying that the old model was better would be just that - an opinion. However if JaGEx made them invisible, then I guess the argument's got a leg to stand on.
Now for the ladies’ perspective on all this. As I am not female, I had to get a female’s perspective on armor in video games before writing this section. The industry has always had a long, geeky, male-dominated culture stemming in particular from the birth of high-end graphics in the mid-1990s. This made things like scantily-clad femme fatale heroines OK to the player base because what do most teenage guys like? Scantily clad women, of course. Fortunately though, gaming has become such an important aspect of our society today that there are now, thankfully, a large number of female gamers out there. I would never expect them to accept the concept that more revealing armor on females offers the same levels of protection as those more generously-built counterparts males have at their own disposal.
I feel that female gamers (not men pretending to be women!) have a right to voice contempt for armor that makes them feel objectified. This trend is not one easily stamped out though, and will more than likely plague the game industry for a long time.
The only argument that I have seen about graphics that actually has a leg to stand on is that drastic changes to the armors and weapons makes RuneScape lose the uniqueness that it once had. Many games are recognized for their unique art style, probably the most prominent being The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. That game is defined by it's art style almost as much as how annoyingly long it takes to go from dungeon to dungeon on the boat.
However, did RuneScape ever have a uniqueness factor or was it simply old art that we had grown used to? I'm not sure I know the answer to that, because both camps have legitimate reasons. I'm inclined to believe that the art style was not unique, simply old and limited by the Java engine that RuneScape is built on. Whatever the case, what's done is done.
With all that said, changes to graphics in games do not ruin their gameplay. While they might be criticized for them, at the end of the day if you take a game and give it a new lick of paint, believe it or not but it's still the same game. Why? Because nothing underneath, none of its fundamental essences, have been dabbled with. Like I said at the beginning of this article, the storm has died down. People have since gotten used to the new armors and stopped complaining about them. So next time you think an update is bad, give it some time to sink in. Who knows, it might not actually be that important to you.