The tick is the fundamental quantum of time used in RuneScape, a length of 0.6 seconds. All actions are a multiple of this basic tick time. This includes any instant where a message appears in the chat interface, any instant that experience is gained, any instant that a monster spawns, and any other actions a player performs, including animations (hence players being able to perform animations in sync with each other rather easily). Purely client sided occurrences are independent of the game tick (e.g. right-click menus).
Each action you register within one tick, will start to take place by the beginning of the next tick.
However, Jmods on the Runescape Forum have explicitly said in the Engine Q&A threads in the past that some activities run as fast as 50ms ticks.
"Q. As we know and stated by Andrew the game runs at 600ms intervals (one tick). Is there a reason for this exact number? Could the game benefit from lower interval, for example 300ms?
A. Some upcoming features in the server tick at a 50ms rate. The overall 600ms tick remains, as the content relies on having this time interval available as a base, but we’re not limited by it.
Length of a tick
Cannons are a great visual tick timer, as they rotate 45 degrees once every tick.
The length of a tick can be measured by timing a repeated action using a stopwatch. For example, lighting 25 logs without re-lighting a log takes 100 ticks. If the stopwatch can be stopped to within 0.1 seconds, the tick can be measured to within 0.001 seconds. Another method is to use summoning familiars. Each "minute" that a familiar lasts for is actually 100 ticks. If, for example, you start a timer when a familiar timer goes from 26:00 to 25:30 and stop the timer when it goes from 16:00 to 15:30, this will be exactly 1000 game ticks.
Ideally, without any lag, there should be exactly 100 ticks per minute, or 0.600 seconds per tick. However, the observed length of the tick is actually slightly more than this, due to connection speed and the server having to process all the players that are currently logged in. The observed length of the tick is between 0.606 and 0.618 seconds. The tick length is constant throughout a server for all players, which is due to the fact that player's actions are processed in the same order every time, so even if someone is processed last, they will still have the same tick as previously due to them being processed last every time. However, the tick length is not constant from server to server. The more players there are on a server, the longer the tick length; the fewer players are on a server, the shorter the tick length. While there seem to be other factors that affect tick length as well, the number of players on the server seems to be the largest factor. It is typical for ticks on World 2 (usually a full world) to be 0.616 to 0.618 seconds each, whereas ticks on less full worlds typically are 0.606 to 0.611 seconds each.
It is possible for a server to lag and "miss" a tick or multiple ticks from time to time. This seems to happen most often on worlds with the greatest number of players.
Length of selected actions
The length of the following actions are given in ticks.
- Building and removing a larder or door or table: 5 per item
- The Demon Butler spends 10 ticks to bank while the Butler needs 20 ticks.
- Cooking fish: 4 per food item using the cook-all option.
- Making wine: 1 per wine
- Attaching orbs to battlestaves: 2 per battlestaff
- Crafting d'hide bodies: 3 per body
- Cutting gems: 1 per gem
- Making jewellery: 3 ticks per item
- Glass blowing: 3 ticks per item
- In between dungeons, a timer counts down from 30. These are often assumed to be seconds, but really they are 30 time periods of 2 ticks each, so the timer runs a little over 36 seconds, not 30 seconds.
- Weeds grow every 500 ticks.
- Saplings grow every 500 ticks.
- Burning logs normally: 4 per log
- Adding logs to a bonfire: 6 per log
- Chance of catching a fish from any fishing spot: 5 per fish
- Chance of catching a fish from any fishing spot with a sacred clay harpoon: 8 per fish
- Cutting wood into unstrung bows: 3 per bow
- Stringing a bow: 2 per bow
- Fletching arrows: 2 per set of 15 arrows
- Fletching bolts: 1 per set of 10
- Cutting gems into bolt tips: 4 ticks per gem
- Putting a herb into a vial: 1 per herb
- Cleaning grimy herbs: 1 per herb
With a rune pickaxe or inferno adze, there is a chance to mine an ore every 3 ticks.
This does not apply to rune essence, which comes more frequently than this, or to using a dragon pickaxe, which can mine ores at varying rates.
- POH Altar Offerings: 3 per bone
- Burying bones: 1 per bone (used to be 2)
- Ectofuntus: 1 per bonemeal+slime
Prayer activation and deactivation is applied on the next game tick, and the drain rate of each prayer is measured by a number of ticks.
At fastest, there are 6 ticks between crafts at the Nature altar if 2 or 3 pouches are emptied, or 5 ticks if 1 pouch is emptied. At fastest, there are 5 ticks between crafts at the Ourania altar if 2 or 3 pouches are emptied, or 4 ticks if 1 pouch is emptied.
- Forging at an anvil: 4 per item smithed
- Making Cannonballs: 10 per steel bar
- Blackjacking: 6 per round
- A Pyramid Plunder activity is 500 ticks.
- Chance of cutting a log from any type of tree: 4 per chance
However, you are not guaranteed a log every 4 ticks; rather, every 4 ticks there is a chance to cut a log.