Update (09/08/21, 2:12 PM) – Jagex has announced that it will amend some of its decision made yesterday and is exploring options with 117 and Adam from RuneLite to allow for the use of the RuneLite HD plugin until its own proprietary version of an HD RuneScape plugin is ready for prime time.
"We perfectly understand that you all have a voice in Old School, and that voice, at times, can be one of frustration regarding the decisions we make," read a portion of the update from Jagex. "Be assured that we always welcome your feedback, whether good or bad. We don’t always get it right, we are only human, and now we are rectifying our approach."
Later in the post they discussed what they will be looking at going forward saying,
"We know we need to do better in providing a clearer vision for our own client, why we made this decision yesterday and what this means to the game and community in the longer term. We will start to do this over the coming days."
Our original story continues below.
Jagex has announced that it has blocked the release of RuneScape third-party HD clients, just one day after the RuneLite HD project was supposed to launch after two years of work.
RuneScape holds a special place in the heart of many PC gamers. This free-to-play fantasy MMORPG provided plenty of fun despite its simple graphics and people are still playing it today — it had 1.1 million paying subscribers in 2019. The game's developer Jagex subsequently launched a higher-res version of the game, but plenty of people still preferred "old school" RuneScape and continued to play it.
That passionate community also happened to have a few programmers in the mix, some of whom wanted to preserve the old aesthetic while bringing the interface into the modern era. They aimed to create third-party clients that would have made playing the older version of the game much easier. Unfortunately, Jagex has put the kibosh on these efforts — and in the case of RuneLite HD, this demand was made practically at the last minute.
Why Jagex Blocked the Launch of RuneScape Third-Party HD Clients
Jagex explained its reasons for blocking the launch of RuneScape third-party HD clients in a blog post on the game's official website which intended to "clarify [its] stance on third-party HD clients" and other similar projects.
"Yesterday we contacted the developers of known HD projects and we asked them to stop development of their projects, because this is a project we are directly investigating at Jagex," the blog post read. "We look forward to being able to share progress as our own in-house project with Old School's visuals unfolds."
"Next week we'll be updating the Third-Party Guidelines, published in 2019, to include reference to projects and features which seek to change the appearance of the game," it continued.
RuneLite HD was presumably working within the guidelines for unofficial game clients that were outlined by Jagex. The project's developer claims on Twitter that Jagex had not contacted him prior to this recent announcement despite RuneLite HD having been announced a year and a half ago.
"Yesterday, September 6, 2021, RuneLite HD would have been released," read a statement from the project's developer "117" on Twitter and Reddit. "The code had been reviewed and bugs had been fixed - it was ready to go. You would have been playing with it right now. Yet, at the eleventh hour, Jagex contacted me asking me to take it down in light of the reveal that they have a similarly-themed graphical improvement project that is 'relatively early in the exploration stages'."
According to 117's statement, he offered compromises to Jagex — he would remove his project from RuneLite once Jagex was ready to release its own version of an HD client. He even offered to give them "collaborative control over the visual direction of [his] project." He says that Jagex declined these offers outright, effectively putting an end to an effort that took an estimated 2,000 hours of development over two years.
"I am beyond disappointed and frustrated with Jagex, and I am so very sorry that, after this long journey, I'm not able to share this project with you." – 117, developer of RuneLite HD
As one might expect, the conversation on the old-school RuneScape focused subreddit /r/2007scape is siding with the developer of this RuneScape third-party HD client. Seven of the top ten submissions on the subreddit are discussing this event and most of the comments are upset with Jagex's decision on this topic. A RuneLite developer further explained the frustration of trying to find a solution so as not to waste all of 117's efforts.
"We've had the 117-HD plugin ready to be released on the plugin hub for a few weeks now," RuneLite developer /u/adam1210 explained in a Reddit comment. "Upon receiving this information, Jagex was very opposed to it, which I found rather confusing considering there are existing HD clients that are actually released and working, and noone seems to care. I've spent the last few weeks going back and forth with them privately in calls arguing the case for releasing it. but, ultimately they've decided to do this."
/u/adam1210 believes that HD clients would ultimately make the game more appealing to newer players and increase the player count overall. Unfortunately, he failed to convince Jagex and these community-led efforts appear to be dead in the water. The only remaining hope, it seems, is if Jagex takes notice of the massive backlash and decides to reverse course on this clearly unpopular decision — a wise move when one considers competing games such as Palia on the horizon.
What do you think of Jagex changing its guidelines to band RuneScape third-party HD clients? Do you think it will actually be able to launch its own HD client in a timely fashion? Let us know in the comments below!