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Besides the fact that the community reeks a stench unimaginable, why all the Runescape hate? It brought a lot to the table. Open PvP, skill-based gameplay, extensive crafting, a sandbox environment, one of the first of the F2P MMOs, and such like that.
Despite a more streamiined, casual setup, it's not a kids MMO. The setting simply is about as child friendly as the original Le Morte De Arthur. Kinda looks a bit friendly on the outside, but on the inside it can be grueling.
It simply amazes me that the under 13 audience (which apparently is about 4% of the population***) can actually handle this game. It's a game where you can craft near anything you can use. This usually means it's either a grind to get the cash to buy it from a shop or a grind to get the materials to make what you need.
If I'm not mistaken, it was also the first viable modern browser-based MMORPG, the first Java MMORPG and the first 3D game that could be played through a browser.
I understand, however, that a lot of changes have been made. I tried to play again today after what I think it 3 years since the last time I played and I simply do not like the starter area. I rather liked the tutorial that covered everything by leading you around the area until you finally were thrust into the world. Now, it has a basic skills tutorial focusing on the badassery of dropping a roof on a dragon and then thrusts you into the "Starter Area" where you learn everything through "Random Objectives." Just doesn't seem to work as well.
I simply do not understand (other than the community) why it is despised by so many people. It may not be your cup of tea, but it certainly shouldn't be considered terrible. I also don't understand what Jagex means when they say that Stellar Dawn will be more "mature"...I'm not sure what makes Runescape so "immature." Guess I'll have to wait and see, no?
***Source: Interesting interview... http://mmohub.org/news/interview-runescape-past-present-and-future/296/