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RuneScape creators' new MMO has an unorthodox solution for the inevitable waves of bots: Giving you a 'legitimate way' to bot the game yourself

 Brighter Shores.
Brighter Shores.

23 years after creating RuneScape, Andrew and Paul Gower are back with a new MMO. Brighter Shores, which has been in development for 10 years at the Gowers' studio Fen Research, looks like an attempt to reimagine RuneScape for the year of our Lord 2024, and in a way that avoids some of the flaws and pitfalls that have marked their original game over the decades. Such as bots, which have long been legion in RuneScape.

"Obviously, you're never going to completely eliminate bots," Andrew Gower told PCG in a recent interview, "so our approach has been more to make it so that they don't negatively impact the game." That means all sorts of things, of course: Gower says the studio has "designed the economy of the game so it's not gonna be broken if lots of people bot," and that "the whole way that instancing works [means] you're not gonna be standing in a chunk and there's tonnes and tonnes of bots all around you."

But it also means something a bit more unorthodox: a "legitimate way" of botting the game.

Gower says one of the ways Brighter Shores is trying to minimise "grindy gameplay" is with a feature that lets you "set your character to carry on doing [activities] even whilst you're logged out." That means you shouldn't have to spend "hours and hours and hours to get your level up." Instead, you can set your character to get on with the grind while you're away. "You might be doing combat while every night [your character] is doing fishing," or vice versa.

"A lot of the reason people, in my opinion, use things like bots is sheer frustration about the grind," he says. It makes a degree of sense: RuneScape is notorious for its grind, to the extent that there are stories on this very website of players spending 8 months (or 2,500 hours) killing particular bosses to acquire this or that rare drop.

At some point, says Gower, players think "'I just cannot face chopping down this tree for another 10 hours,' and then end up resorting to bots out of desperation." By providing those players with a legitimate in-game alternative, Brighter Shores hopes to strike at the root of the problem. "We're hoping that massively disincentivizes people from breaking the rules, there's a safe way that isn't gonna get you banned."

I'll be intrigued to see how the theory bears out in practice. To keep things fair, and to not accidentally create a game that you don't actually have to play, Gower says the automated system in Brighter Shores "doesn't give you XP as fast as if you do it yourself," which I suspect may incline more than a few people to try botting the game the illegitimate way.

Likewise, although I don't doubt there are plenty of people botting RuneScape to get out of grinding it personally, many bots are run by shady players who make real-world money selling their ill-gotten gains online. If Brighter Shores takes off, I struggle to imagine the legal way to bot the game will have much of an impact, but I suppose we'll only know for sure after the game hits Steam in Q3 this year.