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Page 1 of 2Runescape 3 gets HTML5 and community-controlled story


Runescape 3 gets HTML5 and community-controlled story


Runescape 3 gets HTML5 and community-controlled story


Huge overhaul in look and feel for Runescape 3

Runescape, the popular freemium, browser-based MMORPG, is poised to get an update that will completely redefine its gameplay, audio and graphics. We were on hand at the official launch of the game, dubbed Runescape 3, to find out what changes are in store.

First, although the new title is called Runescape 3, it doesn't do away with the existing game world and is more an evolution of the 12-year-old title. As the game's played in a browser, the new version will simply roll out to all players at the same time, without having to download a new client or gigabytes of updates.

"Our game world never shuts off," said Mark Ogilvie, design director at Jagex, Runescape's publisher. "We force no down time on our players."

Of all the changes, it's the move to HTML5 that's the most noticeable. The most important part about the change to HTML5, is support for WebGL, which is a 3D graphics API based on OpenGL. In short, it means that a computer's graphics card can be tapped to render and accelerate 3D graphics without the use of plug-ins.

Testing the game in Google Chrome on PCs running Nvidia graphics cards, the changes are obvious and immediate. With the current Java-based Runescape client, draw distances are rather poor, with constant feeling that your character is running through a foggy landscape. With Runescape 3's HTML5 engine, you get far superior draw distances that bring the game's world of Gielinor to life.

The improved draw distance really brings Gielinor to life

As you move around, cities and towers are visible on the horizon, while lush landscapes roll away from you. It stops Runescape from feeling so enclosed and really shows how massive the world is. HTML5 also means that you've got more control over the camera and you can move the viewpoint a full 360-degrees, zoom in and out, and even see the sky for the first time. WebGL means that softer shadows and reflective water can be used for the first time, too. You can see the differences in the game by comparing the two screenshots below.

The original Runescape (top) doesn't let you see far into the distance, there's no sky and the water looks rather flat; Runescape 3 (bottom) completely changes that

You can still produce better graphics with an actual downloadable client, but Runescape 3 looks vastly better than the previous version and, being browser-based, means that you can play it on practically any machine without having to worry about installing any software. Given that, we think it's a fair trade-off between quality and convenience.


Of course, web standards aren't always exactly, well, standard. HTML5 and WebGL support is no different, so we found out what you'd need to play the new version of Runescape 3. Unsurprisingly, the choice of browser is the key thing.

"Chrome has the best HTML5 support," said Phil Mansell, executive producer of Runescape. "On Firefox we've got a few bugs, which are close to being solved."

At the moment, Internet Explorer doesn't support WebGL. However, early beta versions of IE11, which is due out with Windows 8.1 (Blue) does have WebGL, although how good its support is remains to be seen.

Operating system support is also important. Mansell told us that Runescape 3 runs well under Windows and Mac OS using Chrome, but Linux WebGL support isn't as good. Finally, hardware support is vital for WebGL. Nvidia graphics cards offer the best support at the moment, with Jagex working on getting AMD hardware up to speed before the final launch. For older hardware that doesn't support WebGL, there's a legacy Java client still available.


With a move to HTML5, it should be easier for Jagex to convert Runescape 3 to run on other platforms, with tablets an obvious destination. Again, WebGL and proper HTML5 support is vital, but it's not the only hurdle to overcome.

"HTML5 can run on certain Android devices," said Mansell, "but it's not the tech, but the interfaces around it."

Currently Runescape 3 is designed around pointer clicks with a mouse, so the interface isn't optimised for touchscreen devices. However, the style of game is well suited to tablet gaming, so once the standard browser version is done, the tablet transition can be made. As the official release stated: "HTML5 technology is a stepping stone for RuneScape to appear on tablet devices."

Page 1 of 2Runescape 3 gets HTML5 and community-controlled story


Runescape 3 gets HTML5 and community-controlled story


Runescape 3 gets HTML5 and community-controlled story

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