First reported by GamesRadar (opens in new tab), an Old School RuneScape player with the handle NC State (presumably not an official representative of the Raleigh-based university) finally sought his reward for grinding an infamous minigame, the Brimhaven obstacle course, for eight years. As outlined by a friend, user h0dgep0dge (opens in new tab) on Reddit, NC State finally brought his journey home, turning in all of his banked rewards at once and gaining 178 million XP in RuneScape's suboptimal Agility skill in less than a minute. This was such a rapid influx that the game's built-in experience per hour tracker couldn't keep up: it tapped out at 2.147 billion even though NC State was progressing at a rate of 10.8 billion per hour.
Agility in RuneScape is not exactly the long-running MMO's sexiest skill: It's associated with cool rogue stuff like the Graceful Outfit (opens in new tab) in-game, but mechanically it just gives you more stamina and lets you access assorted shortcuts throughout the map. One of the primary ways you can level it up is the Brimhaven Agility Arena, a kind of skill vendor minigame.
My experience with RuneScape was limited to trying to make a middle school bully like me in 2004, failing, and going back to playing Paper Mario instead, so I never got here myself. But from what I can tell from assorted YouTube guides like this one (opens in new tab), it involves clicking around a grid-based arena to highlighted pillars and watching cute little skill check cutscenes of your character walking a tightrope or avoiding bladed traps. It seems like an ok thing to do precisely once. NC State has put in thousands of hours doing it since 2015. This project has spanned three American presidencies.
To hear NC State describe it, it actually doesn't sound as bad as all that. "I do want to add that Brimhaven is a leisurely place or at least it can be if you don't do obstacles while you wait," he explained (opens in new tab) in response to user ElMico, who had estimated that this project required a ballpark 4,800 hours. "Many times you're watching YouTube, reading news, browsing the web, etc. I almost never was on my computer for the sole purpose of doing agility but I almost always had Runescape up whenever I was on."
So less a question of raw will and endurance, more patience and commitment. Like tending a garden. After all those years of work, What benefits can NC State expect from a godly 200 million agility XP, then? Stamina that never drains? Forbidden über-secret shortcuts? Well, for all practical purposes RuneScape's skills cap out at level 99 or only 13 million XP, so this was all for the bit. Fair enough NC State, though I do gotta wonder what he's gonna have on in the background while watching YouTube now.