-- If you're a seasoned computer gamer, you're probably well aware of "RuneScape," a fantasy-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that initially debuted in 2001.
Developed and published by UK's Jagex Games Studio, "RuneScape" has just hit a new milestone: the 200 millionth account has been created (though "active" users stand at about 10 million).
To help commemorate the world's largest free MMORPG - as recognized by Guinness World Records - USA TODAY caught up with Mark Ogilvie, lead designer on the game, to reveal 5 things you likely didn't know about the game.
Jagex Games Studio currently employs more than 500 staff to develop new content for the millions of players who play "RuneScape." However, back in 2001, it was a very different story. The original team consisted of just two brothers, Andrew and Paul Gower, who created the game as a hobby and a creative outlet while in college.
After graduating, the brothers set about developing "RuneScape" further from their parent's house. With only a limited amount of time and money to invest, they were quick to rope in their friends to act as game testers and graphics artists. They even drafted in their family to help record sound effects for the game, spending hours dropping things into their mother's sink to mimic the sound of fishing and capturing bacon frying on the stove to use for players cooking in the game.
"RuneScape" currently has players in more than 150 countries. In 2008, Guinness World Records crowned the game with the title of "World's Most Popular Free MMORPG," but this isn't the only world record that "RuneScape" has won. The game also holds the Guinness World Record for the most updated game, as well. With content releases nearly every week, the game is constantly changing and evolving, meaning that there is always a new adventure every time players login to the game.
What's more, the number of minutes "RuneScape" players has invested in the game has also been calculated: more than 443 billion, to date.
RuneScape players love to lol
Long before the release of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of thousands of "RuneScape" players would login every day just to chat and hang out with their friends.
A recent analysis of the chat in "RuneScape" showed that the most popular word spoken within the game was LOL (which means "laugh out loud"), with a staggering 6,048,000 "lols" per week, perhaps suggesting "RuneScape" players on the whole are an exceptionally happy bunch.
Speaking of chatting, instead of starring offensive words out, the chat filter originally turned any offensive language into the word "cabbage" automatically. This was because the Gower brothers hated cabbages so much that they felt that they were just as bad as the word they were hiding. Although this has now been changed, you can't miss the subtle cabbage references hidden around the game.
RuneScape has penguins with a plan
When the game was first launched, one of the original quests players encountered asked you to go to a farm and shear sheep. In order to give a reason why the farmer couldn't just do it for himself, "The Thing" was created - something so scary a farmer wouldn't dare go at the sheep-shearing task alone. At the time, the developers had no idea what this could be and it wasn't until a number of years later that "The Thing" took form in the shape of penguins dressed as sheep. What exactly the penguins were up to was still a matter of debate both among the game's developers and the wider community.
The penguin situation wasn't fully explained until 2007, which revealed the penguin's diabolical plan to take over Gielinor, the world that "RuneScape" is set in.
Playable on almost any computer
"RuneScape" is considered one of the most accessible games as it can run on almost any Windows, Mac or Linux setup that has access to the Internet. One of the key reasons for the game's instant popularity was that it was "cloud"-based long before any one had ever thought of the term.
The game has been developed using Jagex's own "thin client," which is so small it would fit onto a floppy disc and runs in the background so players won't even realize it's there. This also means there is no download time when players enter the game. What's more, the game is completely scalable and is automatically optimized to run on anything from a 10 year-old PC to a top-of-the-line gaming computer.
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