With the recent release of "Pieces of Hate," the long-running MMO Runescape finishes up a quest line that's lasted for 13 years.
In 2005, Runescape started the Pirates series of quests with "Rum Deal." Pirates is the story of the villainous, tentacle-armed Rabid Jack laying siege to the pirate base of Mos Le'Harmless, whose rum has also been spiked with a zombifying agent. "It's your typical Lovecraftian pirate comedy," David Osborne, Runescape lead designer, told Kotaku over email.
"Pieces of Hate" is the seventh and final quest in the Pirates series, which the development team has been working on bit by bit for over a decade. The quest line got new quests every few years. Before "Pieces of Hate," the most recent quest was 2011's "A Clockwork Syringe." As part of the March 19th update, developer Jagex released "Pieces of Hate," giving players their final confrontation with Rabbid Jack to save the pirates of Mos Le'Harmless.
"While we'd love to say that we've planned the series to last 13 years, we'd be lying!" Osborne said. "We've been telling stories in the series for as long as we can get away with it, and our players have inexplicably let us."
Players have enjoyed the long-running quest series. "My favourite parts have just been the tone and humour - creepy sea based horror combined with some very silly stuff," said a Runescape player called Maridiem over Reddit private messages. He's been playing the game for 10 years.
Long term players like him are used to Runescape quest lines taking a long time to complete. The Elven quest took 12 years to complete, he said, and there's still one ongoing quest, the Desert series, that started in 2005. "While it's not unusual for a series to go on for a while, it's really lovely to get another 'finale' of sorts," he said.
"Five different designers have written quests in this series, and each has tried to one-up the other," Osborne said. "That's the secret to the series' longevity, but it's also the feel we want from it: increasingly overblown, farcical epics with adventure and humour in equal measure."
The development team and the players alike were fond of the Pirates series' humour. "[Players are] still finding jokes that we've hidden," Osborne said. "One of our characters was called 50% Luke, for example, because he's had so many injuries that he's half-wooden. Well, an explosion causes chunks of the wood to come off, so he's now become 66.6% Recurring Luke."
While "Pieces of Hate" is the finale for the Pirates series, Osborne isn't so sure the story is over. "I think [the development team] are all fully aware that the Pirates series will never truly be over," he said, "and some ridiculous contrivance will cause everything to kick off again."
According to Maridiem, there are some hints that it may continue. Jagex is currently transitioning the game from the "5th age" to the "6th age." The 5th age was the "Age of Man," where gods couldn't directly influence the world. In the 6th age, gods have a lot more direct impact — and it just so happens that there was a Lovecraftian god in the Pirates quest series who had been trying to influence events.
"It still wrapped up the main story and all," Maridiem said, "but intentionally left a lot open for future stories."
So if you're a fan of the Pirates quests, never fear - you'll probably see them again in the next 13 years.