Within Runescape exists a strange duality rarely seen elsewhere in videogames. Thanks to the joint existence of both the modern and ‘old school’ versions of the game, the classic MMO’s family tree extends a branch over two almost entirely separate titles. I say “almost entirely,” because according to lead designer Dave Osborne, Old School Runescape serves as something of a drawing board for its younger brother.
In an interview with PCGamesN, Osborne said that “it’s probably rude to call it this, but I feel like Old School Runescape is a good creative beta” – a testing ground of ideas, if you will, for its more modern counterpart.
Osborne goes on to say that he’s sure the developers of Old School Runescape think of the relationship in the complete opposite way, and that his interpretation of the situation “sort of trivialises it and diminishes them, which is not how it’s meant to be.” But the benefit of that specific set-up is that Jagex “gets to see how players play [Old School] content and what sticks.”
It’s fair to say, however, that while modern Runescape is learning from its older counterpart, there’s a sense of give and take on offer. Osborne points out that OSRS is bringing out Elf City later this year – something that the new game did six years ago – “so there’s a nice symmetry where we’re both borrowing from one another.”
Later this summer, Runescape’s next major expansion, The Land out of Time, kicks off. As well as sending players off to explore a long-lost island, the update will introduce a bunch of ancient creatures – and it’ll be interesting to see whether the Old School team can bring those into their game one day.