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2009 Highlights, Part 3

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I bet you thought I was done after the Top 10 Updates of 2009. Nope, there's more! It's time for the Bottom 5 Updates of 2009, the five updates I thought were the worst from the past year. Remember, this is based on my opinion, so if you don't like it, go make your own list. Or comment. Or both.

Troacctid's Bottom 5 Updates of 2009


5. In Pyre Need



What is it?

In April of 2008, players voted in a Guaranteed Content Poll on a new type of summoning familiar to add to the game. The winner of the poll was a phoenix. Eight months later, Jagex unveiled In Pyre Need as the first update of 2009. In this quest, the player is asked to aid a dying phoenix in a ritual to restore its power. As a reward, we gained access to a new Distraction and Diversion in the Phoenix's lair: every day, we can revisit the phoenix to spar with it for the chance to earn some of its feathers, which can be used to create summoning pouches for summoning a phoenix. On rare occasions, a phoenix egg can be found in the lair on the way out, granting the player a new pet phoenix.


Why does it suck?

It just doesn't really do anything. Sure, we can visit once a day, but the rewards aren't very good for the time it takes. Sure, we can summon a phoenix, but it's not that big an improvement over other familiars of the same level. The pets are cute, but there's not really anything to do with them besides show them off. And the quest itself was stupid. Why was it a quest? The daily event has you fight your way through the cave and battle the phoenix at the end; the quest has you run through the cave without fighting and talk to the phoenix. What's the point? Why not just skip straight to the Distraction/Diversion?


Pretty much, I don't like this update because it didn't add anything of value to the game. Other updates can get away with that, but I'm taking off extra points because this was a Guaranteed Content Poll result that could have been cool and wasn't.



4. Display Names



What is it?

In October, members were given the ability to change the visible name of their account up to once a month. That's pretty much it, I guess.


Why does it suck?

It's annoying. Initially I praised the update, saying, "While it's not a hugely significant change, and things are a little hectic the first week as everyone is changing names at once, there's really nothing to complain about, and I think it improves the game." As time passed, however, it became clear that it would be hectic every week. Players who changed their names had a little icon showing their previous names, but the icon can only be seen if the player in question is on your friends list, and it goes away after a month. Pretty soon I would be looking at a list of names in my clan chat and recognize none of them. The intent of the update was to let players with lame names change them to something different, but due to wishy-washiness and whims, it ended up being a nuisance to me.



3. Mobilizing Armies



What is it?

Mobilising Armies is a minigame. It was released in July after an unusually long time in development (release was postponed seven months!) due to technical issues; it does things that the game engine had never done before, such as completely changing the interface during gameplay. The game has the player control squads of elves, dwarves, and goblins to battle other players in a real-time strategy setting. Alternate gameplay modes include assaulting a castle in Siege mode, stealing treasure in Hoard mode, and rescuing TzHaar in Rescue mode.


Why does it suck?

"But wait!" I hear you cry. "You already put Mobilizing Armies as one of your best updates of 2009! What's up?" Yeah, I put Mobilizing Armies on both lists. That's because part of it was great, but the other part was stupid. The real-time strategy minigame itself is boring. You don't get any experience for playing it, and unless you spend excessive amounts of time building up your rank, you can only access the crappy, useless low-level rewards, so the only incentive to play would be if it was fun, except for two problems: first, it isn't all that fun; and second, there are good rewards--once you reach rank 300, you can access the most powerful rings in the game. So now if I want those nice items, I have to slog through a minimum of 25 hours of a lame RTS. The interface, which they probably spent months programming, is still clunky--you can only select one squad at a time, your camera control is poor, and you can only use quickchat to communicate with the other players. I consider the minigame a failure. It probably would have been better as a Funorb game.



2. PvP Drop Change



What is it?

In June, PvP worlds were changed. The drop tables were drastically altered, with items such as abyssal whips, barrows items, dragonfire shields, and dragon full helms being removed from the tables because of complaints that such items previously only available as rare drops from certain monsters were being devalued and little reason remained to battle mithril dragons, abyssal demons, and so on. In their place, a variety of ancient artefacts--essentially large sums of pure cash--were added to the drop tables.


Why does it suck?

The ancient artefacts solved the problem with whips and dragon full helms and stuff, but it created a new problem: massive inflation. With huge amounts of new gold entering the game from PvP drops, just about every item starting rising in price. Take a look at Runescape Wiki's Common Trade Index:




Notice the spike between June and July? That's this update. It caused turmoil in the economy.


To make matters worse, the artefacts are far more common drops than their more expensive predecessors were. With more consistent payouts, it became even more profitable to abuse the system by trading kills with friends, so much so that other moneymakers paled in comparison. This led to even more massive amounts of pure cash entering the economy, further compounding the problem. While Jagex made more patches to the system to fight such abuse, and the economy is much stabler half a year later, it's hard to deny that this update really [cabbage]d things up big time.



And the #1 worst update of 2009:

[hide]1. Woodcutting Rebalance



What is it?

On September 23, the woodcutting skill was overhauled, with several new training methods being added. Arctic pine and hollow trees were improved to give better experience, new special logs were added to teak and mahogany trees, ivy crept up Runescape's walls, and the sawmill opened its doors to part-time labor, paying woodcutting experience as wages. These new methods vastly improved experience rates.


Why does it suck?

Woodcutting needed an update, but this was not the kind of update it needed. For a long time, woodcutting has been a poor moneymaker without much reason to train it. The ideal fix for woodcutting would focus on high-level incentives for training with decent experience as a bonus, like the previous week's Living Rock Caverns, which was essentially perfect. Instead, what we got was faster experience and no incentives, making this a stellar update for...well, nobody! Nobody benefited from the woodcutting rebalance except for people looking for an easy skillcape. It's not as if woodcutting was ever a difficult skill to train...it's one of the simplest in the game. You get a hatchet, you click on a tree, you get logs. Repeat. And it wasn't as if the experience was slow to begin with--sure, it wasn't the fastest skill, but it wasn't exactly the slowest either.


I'm not the type to complain that woodcutting is "meaningless" or something because of this update. It was just as meaningless before the update. And that's the problem. Here we have this long-awaited high-level woodcutting update, and it changes NOTHING. Oh wait, I'm sorry, it makes it easier for even more players to get to a high woodcutting level so that they too can wait for a real high-level woodcutting update to come along. At least the extended agility courses gave some nifty weight-reducing clothing; the woodcutting rebalance didn't even pretend to give some sort of reward.


I thought Jagex had things down after the Living Rock Caverns, but then the next week came around. Apparently they got lucky the first time, because if the woodcutting rebalance is any indication, the development team responsible completely missed the point and have no idea why people want high-level content in the first place. Jagex: if you're going to obsolete my woodcutting guide, I don't mind, but could you at least do it with a good update? Please don't give us any more crap like this!



That's my Bottom 5 Updates of 2009. As a bonus, allow me to offer a short list of the best minor updates of the year, in no particular order:


  • Menageries
  • Pathfinding bug fix
  • Price checker
  • Chatbox spam filter
  • Extended logout timer
  • Separation of f2p and p2p bankspace
  • Summoning interface upgrade
  • Special bar percentage display
  • Grand Exchange mine cart
  • Removal of doors in Edgeville Furnace and the Blast Furnace
  • Remembering clan chat on logout
  • Remembering run status on logout
  • Ability to queue high alchemies and other spells
  • Adventurer's Log
  • Allowing familiars on balloons and canoes
  • Adding the Ava's Accumulator effect to Castle Wars and Soul Wars
  • Fishing Trawler activity bar
  • Lumbridge fishing shop
  • Access to the forums for high-level free players
  • And of course, numerous bug fixes.

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Congratulations on getting this mentioned on Jagex's twitter.


5. I did it once and didn't like the whole concept, sure its a slightly different way of getting a little exp. But its in a silly location, is awkward to negotiate and requires a weird selection of items.

Phoenix's are terrible combat familiars imo as you have to use the scrolls every few minutes as they die so easily.

4. Everytime I log in I have to double check the friends lists as their names change every few days.

3. Your completely right. Its a horrible system, boring and requires a stupid amount of time for any decent rewards.

2. The source of all evil. Completely screwed up the economy and proved that less effort = more gp.

1. I was hoping for so much more. They could have added so many different things and yet they added an AFK method with updates to the areas of the game no-one uses anyway.

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I completely agree with the woodcutting update and the PvP Drop update.


Also, I liked most of the things mentioned in your "best minor updates" part.


Overall, nice read! :D

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