My Childhood: Oldschool Runescape Retrospective
Oldschool Runescape (originally just Runescape) is a game I grew up with. I spent many a lunchtime at secondary school playing with friends. I even went over to a friend’s house often to play it with him and his brother. The shenanigans we used to get up to. Ranging from simple things like levelling skills together or running away from people in the Wilderness were always just a fun time and one that will stick with me for as long as I live. I would phone in to gain membership due to lack of bank cards at the time.
So what did I love about Oldschool Runescape? What made me play it day in and day out for years? That’s what I am going to dive into with this blog post.
What is Runescape?
Runescape is an MMORPG that is developed and run by Jagex, a UK-based company. In 2001 it was released in beta form. This version would later become known as Runescape: Classic. What we now know as Oldschool Runescape, or Runescape 2 was released in beta form in 2003. This version would be the most played and would be running until Runescape 3, which is the current version, released in 2013.
In this blog post, I will be keeping my remarks to mostly Runescape 2 and Oldschool Runescape. This is because I have played this version the most and continue to play it to this day. I am literally fishing right now in Oldschool while writing this part of the script.
Oldschool Runescape’s gameplay is simplistic, and I think that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with it and continue to enjoy it. It’s a great way to unwind after a stressful day and it doesn’t always require my full attention. It’s an MMO but I can play entirely on my own with very little interaction with other players, outside of seeing one walk past occasionally or making use of Grand Exchange to trade. There is an Ironman mode which means you need to be completely self-sufficient which sounds like a really fun idea and I might do a separate blog post on Ironman mode if I get around to trying it out.
Players can level up many skills and each of those skills allow you to perform different actions. Woodcutting allows you to get wood which can then be used for the fire-making skill, which can be used to then cook on meaning you can level up your cooking skill. But the logs you cut can also be used in the fletching skill which allows you to make things like bows and arrows which can then be used on the ranged skill in combat.
Speaking of combat there are three types: Melee, Ranged and Magic. Melee combat is better suited for heavily armoured characters using armour like Bronze and Iron all the way up to Dragon (side note, dragon gear is Membership only). Weapons follow the same sort of structure, Bronze, iron etc. Ranged uses lighter armour to be more effective so the likes of leather and ranged weapons such as Bows and Arrows or throwing knives. Magic makes use of staves and runes to cast offensive and defensive spells and generally wearing armour makes your spell casting less effective.
Combat between the three types plays much like a rock paper scissors game. Melee is strong against ranged fighters because leather armour is weaker against melee weapons, whereas ranged fighters are strong against magic users but then magic users are strong against melee fighters.
This is the form of combat I have used the most when playing Runescape over the years. Gearing up in my heavy armour with a shield and scimitar or longsword ready for the adventures ahead.
You can change your fighting style to determine what skill you are levelling, whether that is strength, attack or defence. Hit points level up slightly with all combat skills. When training with melee I always try to have an inventory full of cooked food which heals your hit points, higher level foods such as lobster will heal more hit points per use.
It was always good fun going into caves and dungeons fighting enemies and training combat levels. Admittedly I never did too many dungeons which seem to be all over the map, so I won’t be going into detail about those in this blog post.
Wearing all heavy armour does come with downsides. You will be well defended against melee and ranged damage but you will be weak against magical attacks. Melee armour does make your movement slower and causes your stamina bar to drain quicker.
Ranged combat is one form of combat I did not play with too much back in the day. For this blog post, I decided to do some ranged combat to give a better overview of how it works. Funnily enough, I enjoyed my time playing with range as a skill. I made my own bow and arrows, donned my leather armour, and culled some of the local cow population.
You can pick up some of the arrows you use during combat, meaning that it’s not too easy to run out of them. I used 18 arrows to kill one cow and gained back 11, which is pretty good. Your mileage may vary on that front, though. It does make my 3000 starting arrows seem a little excessive, though.
Wearing my lighter armour does make me more susceptible to damage however, does also make my ranged attacks more damaging and effective. As shown in the footage you’re looking at now, I equip, unequip, and then re-equip my rune boots to show the difference in ranged attack effectiveness at the cost of defence. I opted to keep my rune boots on for the vastly superior defence at the cost of a single ranged attack point.
Advantage of Ranged
Of course, one advantage of ranged is being able to attack enemies from far away without them being able to attack you unless they also have ranged capabilities. In the case of the cows, they do not. While doing this, I took my boots off as the defence was not needed as the cows could not damage me at all.
Overall I found ranged combat to be fun and exciting; it allows for some additional layers of tactics in dealing with certain enemies. If you don’t want to be up close, try and fight them from afar in a place they cannot get into close quarters combat with you. It might be cheesy, but if it works for you, why not?
Magical combat is not a type of combat I have used very much. I have about 40 levels of magic on my character in RS3, but I mostly used Magic so I could teleport to places quicker and needed the magic levels to use those spells. Aside from requiring runes to cast spells, which could be seen as similar to using arrows for ranged. Arguably though, the magic skill is more expensive to level up and use.
You can circumvent some of the rune costs using elemental battlestaffs. For example, equipping a fire battle staff means you do not need any fire runes in your inventory. This helps cheapen the burden of using magics as a regular combat tool.
Similar to ranged, you can use your range against melee enemies. As well as this, magic seems to be one of the easier ways of doing high damage, especially an enemy that is heavily armoured as they are weaker to magic. As well as this, you can cheese the game using certain aspects like being in a gated area that the melee enemy cannot reach you from, but as I was writing this part of the script and getting some footage, I found an amusing way of using the dog in Varrock to be a barrier between a melee enemy and myself.
Of course, while this is about magical combat, it would be remiss of me not to mention the utility spells, such as being able to turn items into gold and enchanting jewellery, as well as the aforementioned teleportation spells.
As I mentioned earlier in the blog post, there are many stats to level in Oldschool Runescape. From strength to defence to magic and ranged. Cooking, woodcutting, fire making and fletching. One of my favourite pairs of skills is Mining and Smithing. I have spent a lot of my playtime both on the original Runescape back in the day and Oldschool Runescape too.
I think what makes me enjoy Mining is how laid back it is; I go get the ores I need and run back to the bank to store. After repeating a bunch, I can smelt the ores into the bars I need to create weapons and armour. This is a cheaper way of getting the armour I need as I level up my combat skills, at least in terms of money.
Prayer is another fun skill. It serves as a means of buffing your character in combat situations, whether in defence or attack. You can also use prayer to boost your hitpoint regeneration speed. How do you level this skill up, though? Ah.. well, you bury the bones of your enemies. Yes, you heard me correctly, to level your prayer, you bury bones you can pick up from fallen enemies, seen here as I murder the helpless men and women of Lumbridge.
My main issue with prayer is that it is a slow skill to level up. The standard bones only give 4.5xp per bury, so relatively quickly, it becomes slow; a whole inventory of normal bones would only net you 126xp. You can boost the normal bones up to 18xp using various methods. Big bones offer a base of 15xp per bury and up to 60xp each depending on usage of the same factors mentioned before. As far as I am aware, Dragon bones are the best for base XP gain at 72xp each.
Early levelling is quick and easy, but when you hit a certain level, the XP gains needed per level grow at quite a significant rate. This is, of course, not too dissimilar to other RPGs, but for some reason, it feels just that bit more grindy in this game, probably down to its age. Then again, it does mean the amount of time I can spend fishing or mining while doing other tasks (such as writing this script) feels better utilised.
Runescape also has some minigames and events that can come to you randomly throughout your time playing. These can be anything from simply being given an item to a full-on minigame with rewards for its completion. You never used to be able to dismiss these mini-games or events, so I am happy to see the option now exists within the game to dismiss them, especially if I am busy doing something else and would instead not be taken away from it. The change makes sense as the events were originally an anti-bot system to help fight bots, but current-day macroing techniques or bots are a lot more sophisticated, so the events no longer serve a purpose other than for some rewards for completion of an annoyance.
One such random event is when a Genie NPC appears calling out to you; upon talking to him, he gives you an EXP lamp. You can then use this lamp on one of your many skills and gain a small amount of EXP. At early levels, this is pretty awesome, so I prefer to use my lamp on a skill that I have not levelled before. Otherwise, the EXP gained is not worth noting, but something is better than nothing.
While playing and recording, I got this footage of one of the minigames when an NPC called Freaky Forester asked for your help with some Pheasants. This is one of the simple mini games which requires you to kill a pheasant with X number of tails that the NPC asks for and then take the item back to him; you then leave and are rewarded with either an item from the Lederhosen clothes set or 500 gold if you already own all the clothing items for the Lederhosen set.
Oldschool Runescape’s quests are split into free and member’s only quests. They vary from very easy quests which involve something as simple as shearing sheep in the aptly named “Sheep Shearer” quest to slaying a dragon and having to build a shield which resists the dragon’s breath.
I remember fondly doing the Dragon slayer quest. The first time I ever completed it, I did so with my friend who had already done it and was helping me through it every step of the way, and it was such a fun adventure. Beating the dragon at the quest’s end was one of the best feelings I ever experienced in this game.
The two quests I mentioned above are simply 2 of the free-to-play quests you can do. In total, there are 22 quests that free-to-play players can complete, 4 of these quests are new to Oldschool only and were added after 2017. I have completed all 18 of the original quests twice now, once on Runescape and once again on Oldschool Runescape. I have set to play the four new quests, but I intend to do so.
17 of the 22 free-to-play quests are novice difficulty, four are intermediate, and one quest, Dragon Slayer, is in the Experienced difficulty rating. Generally, the free-to-play quests are to get people into the game and see what it has to offer. All free-to-play quests are very short to short in length, except Dragon Slayer, which is medium in length.
In terms of member-only quests, there are a further 123 quests. These quests are more difficult and a lot longer in some cases and generally harder, with only a few quests being novice or intermediate in difficulty.
Who doesn’t love MIDI music? Oldschool Runescape is full of excellent MIDI music tracks. I remember being awestruck as I opened the game on my internet explorer browser (rest in peace) for the first time as this music played. Runescape, as it is today, has a fully orchestral soundtrack which does justice to the original MIDi soundtrack. However, there is something about the nostalgia that the Oldschool Runescape soundtrack instils in me that makes me prefer it.
I remember going to Port Sarim for the first time as the Sea Shanty 2 track plays. This track is a bit of a meme these days, but you cannot deny it’s catchy! It’s so good that it found its way into one of my D&D DM’s fight music playlists which was always a laugh if it happened.
Runescape does not have general combat music, opting instead to continue the area’s ambience tracks. Although the game does have a music selector tab in the UI so you can set your own ambience and, if you want to, even select a piece of music for your own combat adventures.
I have some annoyances with the game that I might have had back in the day, too, although I cannot be sure. Either way, even if they annoyed me back when I was younger, they definitely annoy me more now as a supposed adult.
When levelling up a skill, it stops my character from doing whatever I have ordered him to do. So in one case, when fletching a load of arrows, every time I levelled the skill, he stopped fletching, so I had to redo the command.
Another annoyance on the same sort of system is how if I was turning logs into arrow shafts, I could select the option to turn all the logs in my inventory into the arrow shafts, which is excellent (well.. until I level up mid-way through and I have to select the option again) but when I then want to merge the arrow shaft with feathers to start the creation of an arrow I can only do a maximum of 10 sets of 15 at a time.
The game can also feel a little sluggish and shows its age at times, this is particularly bad if the servers are having a bad day, which in my experience at least was not too often.
While playing the game again and writing this script, I also tried out the mobile version of Oldschool Runescape on my iPad Pro. It works the same as its desktop counterpart. It does, however have some minor changes to make it work for touch devices.
While Oldschool Runescape runs fine on my device as one would expect, it does seem to crash an awful lot and does not seem stable. I am unsure what might be causing this issue, whether it’s the hardware or the game not being fully compatible with the M1 chip, but the M1 chip is based on ARM it shouldn’t make too much of a difference if it’s able to run on other mobile devices just fine.
Crashing aside, my limited experience with the mobile version is that it’s useful for a person who might want to log in while lying in bed or on their sofa because it allows you to log in anywhere with a network connection and play. I used it one night to cook the lobster I had caught before selling on the grand exchange.
Other than that, due to the crashing, I do not have a lot to say about the mobile version.
I noticed the client downloaded from Jagex was missing some of the features that the Steam version had to offer. This was when I decided to download Runelite. Runelite is a 3rd party client which adds various features.
Now I have used Runelite I do recommend its use if you are playing Oldschool Runescape. It adds a lot of quality of life tweaks without anything that just feels like or allows cheating. As of quite recently, it has become a client approved for usage by Jagex, alongside HDOS and OSBuddy. Playing with any other client (not including Jagex’s own, of course) will mean a ban.
Features such as a loot tracker, exp tracker, skill calculator, grand exchange tracker, and a grand exchange price checker are very useful. The Grand Exchange tools allow me to check item prices on the fly. This means I do not need to go to the grand exchange itself, saving time. Runelite also has plugins which can enhance the player experience. If you’re just not into the old graphics, you can give them a HD makeover with the HD plugin. For the purposes of this blog post, I did not use the HD plugin.
This concludes my look at Oldschool Runescape. This blog is a bit of a deeper dive into the game than I originally planned it to be. With a text document spanning seven pages, this became a much bigger project. I am looking to write more deep dives on games I enjoy or have enjoyed in the past.
This blog is over 3000 words, and I wrote most of it while playing Runescape levelling up skills etc. I found the game helped me stay focussed while writing this blog post. Some of this write up was even done while I was grinding! Thanks for all the years of fun, Runescape. I look forward to more years.
With that, all that remains is for me to say:
Thanks for reading this blog post. Leave a reply telling me your favourite memories from your time playing Runescape over the years. Or what you enjoyed about the blog post. You can follow me on Twitter or Mastodon.
You can play Oldschool Runescape by visiting its website. Runelite can be downloaded from its own website.
I have been Burridge, see you next time!