The Game Archaeologist is a lazy adventurer-slash-professor who dons his trademark cap for a weekly expedition through some of the most famous MMOs of the past few decades. Each month he chooses a different title to examine its highlights, talk with its developers, and invite its fans to share their experiences.

They come from all over the world just for one shot to be the elite of the elite. After a rigorous selection process, the survivors undergo months of hardcore training. Fingers aching from the strain and eyes itchy with sleep deprivation, these ripped warriors emerge to battle evil wherever it rears its ugly head. Budapest, probably. Or Easter Island. They loot with wild abandon, they craft with purpose, and they aren't afraid to jam on the caps lock button to make their voices heard.

So if you need their help -- and if you can afford them -- maybe you can hire the R-Team.

As we continue our month-long RuneScape safari, it's high past time that we hear from the R-Team members themselves. Four past and present RuneScape players graciously laid out the case as to why this MMO rocks socks off. To make a good thing even better, Jagex sent in five new screenshots for your enjoyment.

So what are you waiting for? Hit that jump like you mean it!

Wulfmeister: Money makes the man


I haven't played the game in a while, but I remember the time when I made like six accounts, did the 10,000 gold quest where you run through the caves under the barbarian village, and then traded it all to one character. Needless to say it was time-consuming, because you had to make a new character each time and go through the newb island, etc. I thought it was the fastest way to make money, but I had a lot to learn.

Tim Wilder: The player-killer

I played it for a few years when I was younger and still follow news on the game. Here's a random story that sheds light on one of the more unique aspects of the game.

One of the more interesting things about RuneScape is its PvP system and the resulting communities that have grown around it. Dying and killing other players is a relatively high-risk proposition, since depending on the server and conditions of a fight, most or all of a player's items are lost on death, and his victorious opponent gets substantial loot. Many communities have sprung up to work together in hunting other players in the game's PvP zones, or to "player kill" (PK as it is usually called in-game). Since a large group can easily defeat someone alone, small bands hunt individuals, and since a larger group can easily defeat that band, very large PKing parties are commonplace. The aforementioned game communities -- typically PK clans -- are responsible for the largest groups, and it is fairly common to see them skirmishing in fights with hundreds of players involved on the weekends.

Winin: Libraries are a good place to learn

My one RuneScape encounter happened when I was with my kid in the children's section of the library. I saw two kids playing it on the library computers. They must have been about eight years old. Well, one was playing and the other was searching Google for "how to hack a RuneScape account." I guess it's good that they knew to hack from a public terminal instead of from home.

Kyle "Efithor" Connor: Better questing than WoW

I played RuneScape for about two years, from November 2004 to sometime in 2006, and enjoyed your article. For me, RuneScape gave solid goals to work toward with the various skills in the game, while preventing any "Rerollitis" that I encountered in my two years of World of Warcraft.

While you could not really mix-and-match combat styles (as Jagex went out of its way to ensure it would only be practical to stick with one for the duration of combat), the fact that you could switch between melee, magic and archery whenever you felt like it proved a considerable boon.

It should also be mentioned that the quests in RuneScape are often not combat-centric. I don't think I was ever told to kill X 10 times, but rather each quest had a distinct and (while not always sane) logical story attached to it. Many quests never had any violence that was required. Combat in quests, if there was any, was generally relegated to a difficult fight at the end, as opposed to the generic model of nothing but combat quests.

These quests were enjoyable to play out, not because of the "phat lewts" but because there was a story to progress. I didn't infiltrate the cult that was trying to summon the demon Agrith Naar because of the 10,000 exp in any combat skill reward -- I did it because they were trying to summon the demon Agrith Naar! These quests were always entertaining, sometimes dramatic, and occasionally downright hilarious. I never got a single laugh out of a quest in my two years of WoW, yet many quests in RuneScape had me howling in my chair.

If I had a choice between RuneScape's 100+ quests, with their strong writing, immense variety (there are quests from mediating between a pair of goblin factions, to being forced to sneak around an island populated by a tribe of civilized monkeys) and excellent sense of humor, and the standard 10000+ quests of "Kill 10 X and I'll give you this trinket of godslaying I had laying around," I know which I would choose.

When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at justin@massively.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.

This article was originally published on Massively.