There are few people around who still remember when cooking meant more than just using a fish on the nearest fire or range. Players would spend their evenings baking loaves of bread, cooking a pie to perfection or fermenting their wine the old fashioned way, up and down the ladders in the Cooking Guild.
With the introduction of the fishing skill on 06/11/2001, cooking as we knew it essentially died. No longer would players slave over a hot range, cooking delicious meals in the lands of RuneScape. Instead, they traded in their aprons and chefs' hats for harpoons and lobster pots, and began to camp out at Karamja catching and cooking fish. With the aid of their trusty hatchet and tinderbox, they would sell their goods to the local general store, essentially never having to leave if they chose not to.
The addition of the item bank shortly thereafter helped expand the popularity of the new fishing skill. People could catch a load of lobsters and swordfish, and run back to Falador to store their catch in the bank for use later on. The ability to store food in your bank meant players would no longer have to resort to breaks between rounds of fishing.
Cooking went from being a unique skill to little more than a secondary skill used with fishing. Attempts have been made by Jagex to find ways to rectify the situation, by trying to encourage its players to cook more than just fish. Attempts included increasing the experience for certain foods, decreasing the number of clicks to eat others, adding more spawns for cooking ingredients, and even having baked goods cure various amounts of fatigue, which was added later. Did any of this work? Not really.
It was by far quicker and faster to just cook fish, and players were fully aware of that fact. If you fish and cook together, you get to work on two skills at the same time rather than one. Getting their hitpoints restored as soon as possible became even more impotant with the addition of new weapons, armour and monsters, especially in a life threatening scenario.
Add to all this the launch of members, where players could now access a new town called Catherby. A town which has fishing spots, a fishing shop and a bank all nearby could not be anything other than a success story. Add to that new fish like shark and new fishing spots like the fishing guild, and well…. How can baking pies and bread compete with fishing, when players can sit in the fishing guild for hours on end catching and cooking their fish, then banking them or selling to the on-site shop?
So what can be done to change this? Well, to start with, I think we really need to separate the cooking of fish and meats from the cooking of items such as pastries and drinks, making them into separate skills. How would that have any effect, you ask? Because by being a separate skill, people could then cook those items for nothing else other than the sake of raising the skill. I have to wonder if Slayer would be nearly as popular if it wasn't a separate skill and didn't offer unique rewards. When you think about it, the Slayer skill is little more than a addition to combat.
Considering the bulk of experience points and levels players have gained came from cooking fish, I personally think it would probably be best if the current cooking experience be transferred to the fish and meat cooking skill, so that a "new" cooking skill can be allowed a fresh start.
Incentives to make these items would still need to be added as well, so players would be encouraged to actually make them. Stat boosts, such as those you see in some of the newly added pies would be an example of such incentives. Although, I do think we would need to find a proper incentive that could be applied to all foods. Perhaps energy restoration that would vary depending on the type of food prepared?
Getting into the Cooking Guild should also mean something, and have some use. The entire Guild needs an overhaul and expansion, making way for many additions and changes that should accompany the new cooking abilities. It could also use a higher entrance level, I mean, really. 32? That's a bit low compared to other Guilds. At least raise it up a bit, or add a new area for those who have higher levels.
The possibilities are endless, provided that they are explored and tried, rather than just simply being disregarded. I think it's about time the cooking skill stop being neglected, and put to use for more than just fish.
Do you have any thoughts or comments about what you've just read? Want to discuss this article with your fellow Runescapers? We invite you to discuss the article in this forum topic.