How was RuneScape made?

DeviousMUD, the forerunner to RuneScape, was created in 1998 by Andrew Gower. The game, which was never publicly released, used isometric graphics. In 1999, Gower completely rewrote the game, albeit with no improvements to the graphics or several other aspects of the game. This version was released as a public beta version for approximately one week before it was withdrawn.

As a Cambridge University undergraduate, Gower worked on a complete rewrite of the game with the assistance of his brother, Paul Gower. The isometric view was replaced by a mixture of both 3D and 2D sprites. The game, renamed RuneScape, was released to the public as a beta version on 4 January 2001 and was originally operated from their parents' house in Nottingham. In December 2001, the Gower brothers and Constant Tedder formed Jagex to take over the business aspects of running RuneScape. By that time, there were over one million registered accounts.

On 27 February 2002, a membership service was created, allowing players to choose to pay a monthly fee to access a variety of additional features including new areas, quests, and items. This service significantly changed the focus of the game.

As RuneScape became more popular, Jagex began planning major changes. Although only a graphical update was initially planned, the developers opted instead to rewrite the game engine completely, introducing a version that consisted entirely of three-dimensional graphics, with other significant improvements. While in development, this version was known as RuneScape 2. A beta version of the new engine was made available to paying members on 1 December 2003. At that time, the game had 660,000 free players and 58,000 members. The finished version was launched on 29 March 2004. Upon release, RuneScape 2 was renamed RuneScape, and the older version of the game was kept online as RuneScape Classic. On 2 February, 2006, Jagex banned more than 5000 Classic accounts due to cheating. On 2 August, 2006, RuneScape Classic was closed to new accounts and restricted to paying members who had played Classic at least once in the prior six months.

On 16 May 2006, Jagex upgraded RuneScape's game engine, primarily as a back-end upgrade rather than a visible graphical boost. In particular, the amount of memory required to run RuneScape was significantly reduced, allowing the game to be expanded and improved without increasing the loading time for most players. As of March 2007, RuneScape had more than 9 million players. The engine was upgraded once again on 26 June 2007, to allow Jagex to add more complex content to RuneScape in the future.

On 5 July 2007, an article was released in which Andrew Gower told an interviewer he saw a release of RuneScape onto the seventh generation of gaming consoles (the Wii, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3) as "tempting"; however, he states that there are no current plans to do so.