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Another interview: RuneScape records & costs + Mechscape


WhiteHorn

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Jagex's Runescape is one of the most popular MMOs in the world. And it is certainly the most popular browser-based MMO, with over 165 million subscribers signed up to date and in the region of 105 million active players currently spending (often inordinate amounts of) time on the game.

 

 

 

MechScape is currently the codename for the company's forthcoming game, another Java-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the company's proven, incredibly stable and secure proprietary technologies used by RuneScape.

 

 

 

Jagex has already said that MechScape will target a slightly older demographic to RuneScape and while concrete detail on the game is still thin on the ground fans are predicting real-world trading in an online and hugely in-depth space/sci-fi themed MMO.

 

 

 

TechRadar caught up with Jagex's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Gerhard, at this month's Develop Conference in Brighton, who gave us a fascinating insight into the background of this leading British games developer, in addition to a glimpse of where the company is aiming to go in the future.

 

 

 

Before joining Jagex as CTO in February 2008, Gerhard previously worked as the Principle Security Architect for the UK's National Lottery. His engineering background and IT security knowledge has clearly set him up for steering the hugely successful company into the future.

 

 

 

Principally a tech company

 

 

 

The company also recently hired Sensible Soccer developer Jon Hare as Publishing Director a clear indication that it plans to engage more with the (more traditional) games publishing sector in the future.

 

 

 

"I think of Jagex first and foremost as a tech company," Gerhard told TechRadar. "We have millions in our community and as a result there is always a subsection of any community that is 'unsavoury' and we are getting in the region of 200,000 denial of service (DoS) attacks a day," he reveals, clearly proud that Jagex's servers are among the most secure in the world.

 

 

 

"Jagex uses a secure system, built from the ground up. We've written all the code in-house. It has to work. The game has 105 million active subscribers. And of course, it is 24/7," Gerhard explains.

 

 

 

"Runescape has the second biggest public forum on the internet, with around 2.8 million posts a week," explains Gerhard. "Yet we host that [forum] on a machine with around 1GB of RAM which you probably couldn't even sell for £50... because our technology is that good."

 

 

 

The entire game of Runescape is server side, with the game running on machines with ultra-low bandwidth (down to 28k) and, as a good idea of the level of traffic Jagex is dealing with, the company receives around 85 BILLION page impressions a day.

 

 

 

"Bear in mind that we do this with running costs that are sub £1 million a year," says Gerhard. "Which, if you compare it to something like Age of Conan which has costs in the region of £250,000 or World of Warcraft with costs in the region of £500,000,000 per year, puts things in perspective Our running costs are effectively 1/500 that of WoW!

 

 

"It is because we use all of our own technology in house," he adds. "We don't use any standardised middleware."

 

 

 

So what's new? What's next on the horizon for Jagex?

 

 

 

Codename MechScape: public beta

 

 

 

The first major project already under way is the casual and free games over at funorb.com with more classic games promised along the lines of the aforementioned Sensible Soccer and "popular RTSs, strategies and other games featuring new mechanics," says the Jagex CEO. "FunOrb is something of an R&D bed for us."

 

 

 

 

 

The real news that the 100 million plus Runescape players out there are gagging to know more about is when they will finally be able to play 'codename MechScape'.

 

 

 

Gerhard remains resolutely quiet on detail at this point, merely reminding TechRadar that "Andrew [Gower Jagex Founder] has been writing games since he was seven! The initial public beta of Runescape was launched in 1999 and in 2001 Jagex was formed."

 

 

 

The Jagex team are clearly proud of the fact that they have had to do little active marketing or public relations since that time, purely because Gower's games have done the business themselves. The players have effectively done the marketing job for them so there was no real need for traditional publishers or PRs or any paid-for marketing because the word-of-mouth was that good.

 

 

 

As well as making (hugely) appealing fantasy MMOs, the company also appears to be doing something right about its staffing.

 

 

 

"For 95 per cent of our staff, Jagex is their first job," says Gerhard. "We have around 400 permanent members of staff right now, which can go up to around 450 around crunch time, with freelancers."

 

 

 

And hardly any of those staff ever leave, it would seem. The company also takes on around 80 work placements each year, offering twelve months of intensive training for the candidates to learn to work with its proprietary infrastructure.

 

 

 

So Jagex is clearly do a number of things right. And it will be exciting to watch as the company's latest MMO tears up the internet later in 2009 (on which note, watch out for news on the forthcoming closed beta test for Jagex's 'codename Mechscape' right here on TechRadar very soon indeed).

 

 

 

Or if you fancy a gander at Runescape head over to the site and sign up for a quick go on the world's leading browser-based MMO. (It's free, but beware, you might become VERY addicted...)

 

 

 

 

Found via Twitter as you may have noticed. It seems that RS is not as expensive as we used to think, and player advertising is enough for Mechscape to be recognized at the day of its release without even one pound/dollar spent :)

 

 

 

If there are 1000000+ members paying $6 a month and Runescape costs less than 1000000 pounds a YEAR... where are my 20 weekly updates, Jagex? :P

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Seems like a lot of fictional number to me.. Any person with even a little IT knowledge knows how wrong he is.

 

 

 

Yes.

 

 

 

Besides which,

 

 

 

in the region of 105 million active players currently spending (often inordinate amounts of) time on the game.

 

(May 2008) including 8.5m active accounts/month (5m every fortnight)

 

 

 

Source:http://www.develop-online.net/features/203/IP-profile-RuneScape

 

 

 

Yes, the develop-online article is from May 2008, but is it at all realistic that the game has gained around 90 million more players in a year? No.

 

 

 

Additionally,

 

 

 

with over 165 million subscribers signed up to date

 

around 1m premium subscriptions (paying roughly £3.20/$5 a month)

 

 

 

While I appreciate this was at this specific time, I think Gerhard has mixed up "subscribers" with "accounts".

 

 

 

2008: RuneScape reaches 120m total account registrations. Jagex launches casual games portal FunOrb

 

 

 

An extra 45 million accounts signed up in a year is a little more realistic.

'Tis I, 'tis Vindice, 'tis I!

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Additionally,

 

 

 

with over 165 million subscribers signed up to date

 

around 1m premium subscriptions (paying roughly £3.20/$5 a month)

 

 

 

While I appreciate this was at this specific time, I think Gerhard has mixed up "subscribers" with "accounts".

 

I just highlighted the key word you were missing. Nothing wrong in what he said.

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Additionally,

 

 

 

with over 165 million subscribers signed up to date

 

around 1m premium subscriptions (paying roughly £3.20/$5 a month)

 

 

 

While I appreciate this was at this specific time, I think Gerhard has mixed up "subscribers" with "accounts".

 

I just highlighted the key word you were missing. Nothing wrong in what he said.

 

 

 

 

 

Suscribers can just mean accounts that sign up to play the game. Premium suscribers pay for more content.

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[software Engineer] -

[Ability Bar Suggestion] - [Gaming Enthusiast]

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Seems like a lot of fictional number to me.. Any person with even a little IT knowledge knows how wrong he is.

 

 

 

Yes.

 

 

 

Besides which,

 

 

 

in the region of 105 million active players currently spending (often inordinate amounts of) time on the game.

 

(May 2008) including 8.5m active accounts/month (5m every fortnight)

 

 

 

Source:http://www.develop-online.net/features/203/IP-profile-RuneScape

 

 

 

Yes, the develop-online article is from May 2008, but is it at all realistic that the game has gained around 90 million more players in a year? No.

 

 

 

Additionally,

 

 

 

with over 165 million subscribers signed up to date

 

around 1m premium subscriptions (paying roughly £3.20/$5 a month)

 

 

 

While I appreciate this was at this specific time, I think Gerhard has mixed up "subscribers" with "accounts".

 

 

 

2008: RuneScape reaches 120m total account registrations. Jagex launches casual games portal FunOrb

 

 

 

An extra 45 million accounts signed up in a year is a little more realistic.

 

 

 

Liar Liar pants on fire!

 

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Barrows Drops:....................................................Dragon Drops:...............Other Drops:

Dharok: 2 Helms, 1 Top, 2 Legs, 4 Axes.......................2 Claws Split..................1 Bandos Tassets

Karil: 1 Coif, 1 Top, 2 Skirt, 2 Crossbows......................3 Plate legs...................4 Berserker Rings

Ahrim: 3 Hood, 2 Top, 3 Skirt, 1 Staff..........................2 Plate Skirts.................2 Warrior Rings

Verac: 1 Helm, 3 Tops, 2 Skirts, 1 Flail..........................1 Med........................1 Archer Ring

Guthan: 2 Helm, 5 Tops, 1 Skirt, 0 Spear.....................1 Shield Half.................1 Seers Ring

Torag: 2 Helms, 2 Tops, 5 Legs, 1 Hammer....................4 Hatchets..................1 Missed Divine Sigil (was at bank -,- fml)

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Im not really a very tech savy person but the fact the forums are hosted on 1GB of RAM is insane is it not?

 

 

 

Im pretty excited for Mechscape, It seems to be building up steam nicely.

Theres a fine line between not listening and not caring,

I like to think I walk this line every day.

Pinning blame on Jagex is like trying to put pants on an old man.

You both know he needs them, but he'll just keep dancing around, avoiding them at all costs.

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I read this already but it's still interesting.

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It'd be cool if mechscape was runescape in the future.

 

 

 

Like, what we're doing now is ancient lore in that game.

 

 

 

It could be set in an alternate future where Guthix reawakens to another God War, destroys the world (as in the edicts) and recreates it.

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I don't understand why MMG is so proud of the runescape forums. They don't even have a quote or report post function :thumbdown:

 

maybe that's just it - simplicity is the best weapon. A certain other simple, large and well visited messageboard comes to mind when I say that.

 

Because having to post on a special thread to notify a mod is so much better than simply clicking on a report button.

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