cape at OSRS for something for me to work toward but that I wouldn’t want
Jagex addressed this matter and wanted to make the cape cosmetic only or try to create the capes only trigger particular kinds of high tier cape slot items but their was a huge backlash of people who awakened months getting these capes. It makes thematic sense having the maximum capes be the capes in Runescape, but becoming 99 in some abilities are more of a time sink a skill obstacle.
I would love a comp cape at OSRS for something for me to work toward but that I wouldn’t want it to have any special perks past the normal max cape stuff. No one uses maximum or comp. The kiln capes now outclassed it. They did nerf the stats on the comp and maximum capes, and today with the release of wars escape, there is no need for being max for the max guild. A good deal of perks (of comp, not skill cape perks) also got changed to perm fans that you unlock as you proceed, which means you don’t require comp anymore for that.
Skillcapes have been a problem for a very long time. Following their introduction in mid/late 2006 we saw a rise in RWT and botting in 2007. Correlation does not equal causation. Having lived it, I would be quite inclined to believe that the period between when capes were released and the spike in RWT and bot activity you mentioned was also one where Runescape saw a decent quantity of growth.
Beyond that, what you are proposing is that the act of getting individuals to play Runescape longer will worsen the botting and RWT issues. I remember the change in mindset the release of skillcapes caused. It really was a time before skillcapes. It looked like hardly anyone cared to get high stats, let alone get level 99 in useless or unenjoyable skills. Then after their release everyone seemed to abruptly care.
Now its much. The playerbase is obsessed with efficiency, its absurd. I genuinely believe its hurting Runescape. There’s a whole lot of dead material ingame, simply because it isn’t considered efficient. Same thing for new content, which needs to be equally effective or better. Every minor inconvenience has to be eliminated for the sake of efficiency. The new efficiency mindset the skillcapes caused definitely increased the demand for RWT and cheating. The perks are also a big part of the problem, like IVIorphinz said, but it all started with the debut of skillcapes in my personal opinion.