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First Q&A Transcript

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Mod Sushi Pi

Mod Sushi Pi

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Hey everyone,
Here is the transcript of all questions asked and answered during the Q&A Live Stream session (09/09/12). Questions were asked by Paul M and answered by Mark Gerhard (CEO) and Daniel Clough (VP).
1. Please explain in depth how micro transactions are helping you guys at jagex to make the game better to the players, reassure us that you’re not just trying to line your own pockets and that you really care about the game and community.” (Kyle Vasconcelos – FaceBook)
Mark: I would like to open by saying that we really do care about the community and the game. We’re certainly not trying to line our pockets and I can give him and every other player reassurance that we’re reinvesting this into the game, the studio and the technology. Actions do speak louder than words; the team is now double the size. We have a strong slate of content lined up and it’s the first time in history that we’ve invested this much into our product.
2. Jagex has stated they have doubled the size of the RuneScape team, and that micro-payments help give us better content. If this is true, why does it seem this year is lacking content wise? 7/8 months have had updates that were either events or non-permanent content. Is this really the content we are now paying extra money to fund? (Trevor Radzewicz - Facebook)
Daniel: I think that when you look at the overall types of updates we’re doing, we tend to update about three times a month and take a week off. Some of those updates have fallen on the week off, so we can understand how it looks like (to the player). Some of them are replacing content updates, but in that example it’s not replacing an actual update, it’s just replacing a filler week.
It’s also not always about the frequency of updates either. Some of the projects we’ve been tackling this year have been some of our most ambitious and biggest projects ever, such as the evolution of combat. If you look at the last couple of years, you’ll see that we do tend to tackle about one big project a year such as clans, dungeoneering, etc. This year, it’s been the evolution of combat which actually had about twenty percent of our whole team working on it at one point. But we’re also doing things such as the botting initiatives and you’ll see the Challenge system coming out soon. So we are taking on bigger, more ambitious projects and a number of them at any one time, as well.
Mark: I’d like to add that there are only four content developers working on all of the micropayment updates. The core team is double the size of what it used to be and remains unaffected. It’s only a small team that is working on micropayments.
3. Why can’t XP lamps be removed from the SoF? Pendants serve as a nice alternative and still require work, thus only serving as a bonus and not a method of buying experience. Would you consider removing xp lamps in the future, if not, why? (Trevor Radzewicz - Facebook)
Mark: Those are a lot of questions to answer, so I’ll take them one by one. I expect there’s a player perception that there are hundreds of millions of players winning big XP lamps and the high scores are now dominated by the results of SoF. That’s simply not true. The odds, the rarity of winning something really meaningful at a high level, either gold or XP are actually quite low. That’s been a careful act of continuous balancing both when we first started it but also tuning it over time. There are just not that many people winning very big, game distorting rewards as players seem to perceive.
I’m hugely happy to hear that players like the other ways of generating XP and I think it’s a smart idea to consume the content as well, but it’s also about giving the players choice. At the end of the day it’s a random way of being rewarded either by resources or gold and it’s hard to abuse that system.
Paul: So XP lamps are not affecting the balance of the game?
Daniel: Before we launched the SoF, we spent months looking at the types of items, the probability of being able to win those items, the likelihood of the number of players using the SoF, which, by the way is almost all of our players. We did a lot of work before we launched the content to try and anticipate how players would use it. The way players have been using the SoF has been in line with our anticipations. In addition, every day we are looking at these types of stats to understand how many of these are being won, how many are being used and I think we just need to reassure players that we’re not seeing them being won at a level that some players believe that they’re being won and used at.
4. One of the subjects that came up a lot was about the marketing behind the SoF. One of the questions that was asked was “why does Jagex insist on having weekly promotions for the SoF/SgS? It continually upsets the already fragile community. Would you consider decreasing the frequency of these promotions, and if not, why? (Trevor Radzewicz - Facebook)
Daniel: I think first of all, promotions and feature updates to SoF and SgS are really important. They’re really important for keeping a piece of content fresh and to basically ensure they remain successful. I admit we went quite hard and fast on those promotions. As the player pointed out, we’ve literally been doing them almost every single week.
We are currently reviewing that and we’ve been experimenting with what feels right and taking on board feedback from players. We’ve actually been having some discussions in the last few weeks about potentially decreasing that. We are also looking into other ways of promoting those features. For example, one of the ideas we’re looking at is actually using some of the space within the SoF content itself to advertise these promotions. Ultimately, when a player is using SoF it’s the best place for them to see the promotion. If this could work, there won’t be a need to have it in quite so many other places. We definitely appreciate player feedback and we are talking about it. Hopefully, in the near future you will see the changes we implement as a result.
5. Updates, more than half of the updates in the past 3 months have been for micro-transactions. Is this your vision of the future? (Dave Jay – RSOF)
Mark: As Daniel touched on earlier, we continue to do a content update every week or every three weeks out of four. We were typically using the fourth week for micro-payment type content. We don’t see marketing as a substitute for content. Even when it comes to talking about the update of the week, we need to make sure we get the balance right where we talk about the quest first ahead of the SoF or SgS promotions for that week. Perhaps because we’ve put so much of a focus on that initially that its created a perception that content’s been diluted.
Daniel: Going back to the point that Mark made earlier, there are literally four developers working on those types of updates. For example, if over the period of two or three months you literally saw 70% game content updates and 30% microtransaction updates, it doesn’t necessarily mean that 30% of the team are working on it, particularly now that the SoF and SgS have now been released. Keeping the promotions going do not necessarily take the same amount of time invested in than the other content updates. I think there’s a bit of a misconception that where if it’s 50-50 then it’s 50-50 effort. It’s a really small percentage of the team working on those things.
6. How much influence has Insight Venture Partners (investors in Jagex) had on your recent decision to introduce and promote micro-transactions? (Nate Zerambo – FaceBook)
Mark: Absolutely none. IVP has been an investor since 2005, then as well as today, they’ve let the management team decide the strategy and run the business. That hasn’t changed and we don’t foresee it changing. It’s the same team making decisions. Daniel’s been in a key operational role in the last ten years and really, that hasn’t changed.
Daniel: The other thing is that we’ve been talking about micro transactions for probably three or four years. Even though it’s a new thing that we’ve released this year, we’ve been talking about them for a long time. The release of microtransactions just came down to when we as a management team felt it was the right time to release them into the game.
7. Another thing that we’ve seen a lot in RuneScape lately is advertising. With the Micro-Payments bringing more revenue to Jagex, will we see any attempts to bump up RuneScape's advertising campaign in order to bring in a flux of new players and potential new members? (Various)
Daniel: Yes. We have already, and it’s really important for us and a major focus for our team. We’ve probably done more in the last six months than we’ve done in the last two or three years related to that. Some of our players in the UK and USA may have actually seen TV adverts recently for RuneScape, and we think it’s really important in order for the game to grow and for RuneScape to be here for another ten years. It’s really important for new players to be attracted to the game and it’s something that our team is working really hard on.
8. Why do you keep promoting the Squeal of Fortune and Solomon's store instead of just raising membership prices? (Aaron Alman – FaceBook)
Mark: Members have been the backbone of the games studio since forever. We did do a price increase recently which we thought reflected the elements of production, the quality and the increased effort anyway. It seems unfair to me that it’s just the members who continue to fund the game going forward. We know that there are aspects of content that free players would be prepared to pay for. Perhaps the barrier of seven dollars ninety-five a month for all of those benefits is just too much, and they prefer to make a small payment for things that they really care about. I think this is a far more democratic way of sharing the cost of RuneScape going forward. Also, deliberately, we want to keep the value of RuneScape, and keep it as the most competitively priced game of its time and its quality in the industry. We also want to thank our members for their support to date and do our very best to put a cap on that price.
9. RuneFest 2012, what’s happening?
Daniel: We’re not going to be doing it this year, unfortunately. We really love RuneFest. In 2011, both me and Mark were there and I think it was great to interact with the players. The whole company had a really amazing time and it actually helped shape some of our content for the year as well. This year has been a really big focus on content for us. We’ve talked quite a bit about the content we’re producing, with more and better updates than we’ve ever done before. Our ambition was to do a real life event at some point, like in the form of RuneFest this year but with all of the effort we’ve been putting in to content this year it’s got a bit too late. We won’t be able to do one this year but we are definitely looking at what we can do next year. I don’t know whether it will be the same format, but we’re definitely looking to do something. News will be available on that soon.
Mark: Watch this space next year. It means a lot to us, and it means a lot to our team to do it. It was a very tough decision not to. We didn’t start the year thinking we wouldn’t, but when we looked at our commitments and priorities, it’s been really hard for us to have the team out for a month to be able to do it. We think we can make that space next year.
Daniel: We want to do it properly and have the best time. It is such a huge undertaking and unfortunately, we just couldn’t do it this year.
10. So the money from SoF isn’t going into Transformers Universe? (Lewis – Twitter)
Mark: No, it’s not. It’s very much going into RuneScape. Transformers has got it’s own dedicated studio, tech, the works and its own budget. That was all set out even before we introduced SoF or anything else like that to the game. We’re very much focused on building a bit of a war chest up for RuneScape. What is earned goes into tech, into talent and it’s the first time we’ve ever had one. It’s becoming quite significant and it’s allowing us to start thinking about the future of RuneScape and RuneScape 3, rather than just week by week, with a bit of content here and there. It’s allowing us to make bigger investments than we’ve ever been able to afford to do, and we’ve never had the people to be able to take on all of that. Nobody’s going to thank us if we stop doing content updates and come back nine months later and say RuneScape 3, how cool is that? These things have to happen in parallel. To answer the question directly, all the revenue is going right back into the product.
Daniel: Just to point out, the things that we are talking about today are only the things that we are actively working on and can talk about. There’s going to be a huge amount of ideas that we may be talking about literally next week or in the coming months that we will be able to do simply because we have something to reinvest back into the game.
11. You say that there are four content developers working on SoF and SgS. How many content developers are there in total? (Beware of War – Twitter)
Mark: 23.
Daniel: Just over twenty. We have about four content developers work on it just within RuneScape, and the RuneScape content development team as Mark says is about twenty people. We have a much bigger team than that overall. We do have graphics artists and QA people working on those projects. Across the whole board though, you’re looking at literally no more than 15% of the whole team working on those things. Our content development team create the heart of the content and many of those updates are content related.
Mark: Well, the whole team now is 130 strong without even going to player support. I’m trying to think five, six years back there were only 45-50.
Daniel: If you go back to the middle of last year, or about September last year, you’re looking at about 70-80 odd. That kind of shows really, just how we’ve taken the team from that period of time to where we are now, which is less than a year since.
12. The game has survived without micropayments for years. Why do we need them now? Less updates, no micropayments, It’s fine! (Pelutoo – Twitter)
Mark: The game does need it. If we want to continue to grow, if we want to continue to have the game around five years from now, it’s important that the game is able to reinvest in itself. Maybe a lot of players don’t know this but the hard reality is that RuneScape was in terminal decline from 2006. 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. It’s only with this sharp focus on elevating the content and evolving the gameplay that actually it started growing again. 2011 was the first year that we broke that downward trend, which was about 20% year on year. We had a good lift with that and starting this year, we’ve grown consistently since January this year. I put this down to the investments we started making in the content, in the team and in the technology that now is slowly starting to pay through. It’s also the case of us doing marketing exercises for the best part of a decade. That’s an obvious part but of course it takes resources to be able to do that, and those weren’t resources that we had.
Daniel: We don’t underestimate how big it is to put microtransactions into RuneScape. We spent a long time talking and thinking about it. We looked at many other ways to allow us to reinvest back into RuneScape, and even the previous question about whether we should increase membership prices was looked into. There were tons of other things we thought that we might have been able to do, but essentially we had to push forward with what we think is right for the game. We really felt that that was the right route for us to be able to reinvest into the game. The reality is that it is working and we are able to reinvest back into the game and it has been pretty successful. Somne of the things you’ve seen this year are already the results of us reinvesting back into the business.
Mark: I think the best is yet to come in terms of the really big investments that we are/will be making. Those are going to start playing through very quickly now and towards a tell at the end of the year. The player base has not yet seen all the content that we are now working on.
13. Can you keep promotion news on a separate feed to the actual news? Real updates are getting undermined. (RSFisherer – Twitter)

Daniel: We’re really thinking hard about how we promote these kinds of updates. I think particularly for the SoF, the more we can advertise on the SoF itself almost means that we don’t need to do those things. We know that most of our players, over 90% of members and 80% of our overall players are using the SoF so being able to advertise on that is the best way. The team are working on that at the moment to negate some of the need of doing the advertising on the website. SgS is a little bit tricky because you’re not using it every day unlike the SoF. As a result of the feedback from players in the last few weeks we’re looking at other ways to be able to advertise that effectively without it always needing to be on the front page with half the updates being microtransaction updates. It’s us trying to feel out what’s right and effective. Something mentioned in the past by players is the week we’re doing a big content update, sometimes that news post can even be below the update for a promotion. The team have taken that on board. I think we’ll be able to do some good things around that in the future and in not too long a period of time, people are going to be feeling better about how we advertise those things, particularly on the website. We’ll look for more elegant and less intrusive ways to advertise those promotions.
Mark: it is a learning process. The feedback and suggestions really help us refine and go forward.
14. Why are CEOs always called Mark and Steve?
Mark: I’ve never thought about that.
Paul: You didn’t get your name changed by deed-poll is anything like that?
Mark: Well apparently, my dad tells me I was to be a girl, so it would’ve been Michelle.
Paul: Okay, I’ve never heard of a CEO called Michelle.
Mark: Thank god I’m a boy. I don’t know what to say to that!
15. What do you plan on doing with the company if/when you retire?
Mark: Retirement is very far from my mind. I’d love to believe that the team and I are still here ten years from now and continue to grow this great game and being a big part of people’s lives and their entertainment for years to come.
Paul: So not golf then?
Mark: I don’t play golf. I’m not particularly good at it, I should say.
16. Why do you not consider selling spins as a form of selling XP and gold? Let’s face it, people don’t buy spins for cosmetic items, they buy it for lamps. Why do you say you’re not selling XP when you are? Basically, how is this not Real World Trading?
Mark: There’s a lot of questions within that. It’s not true to say people don’t buy spins for cosmetic items. The Squeal of Neptune promotion we did was one of the, if not the most successful promotion we’ve done to date. There’s quite clearly appreciation of that. I can see why a lot of players focus on the XP and the gold aspect of it, but the whole idea of Squeal was a democratised, random way of providing resources in-game. It was also to help players appreciate and try more content too. A lot of focus has been given to XP specifically, but XP is only a portion of that. My belief is that because it’s random and crucially, we give each player free spins and the opportunity to earn more free spins, with members getting more free spins, The probability that you could win 20 million gp on your first free spin versus me on my hundredth spin is pretty much the same. I can increase the odds and my chances but I can also get those free spins in game, so if I take my credit card and say I’ll just go and buy XP today, there’s no way that I can effectively do that. That is a big part of maintaining the balance, if not the integrity of the system.
Daniel: In the past, we’ve all had questions about selling XP and gold. We’ve really thought and talked about people directly being able to buy XP. We see that even outside of the game. We don’t like it, we know that it unbalances the game, etc. So as we’re sitting down and designing these pieces of content, We really looked hard at it and I don’t want to underestimate that. For months we were looking at spreadsheets, looking at how we anticipated it being used. As Mark said, the mechanic and the probability on the SoF really does mean that we can maintain the balance of the game. Since we’ve launched it we’ve been looking at those stats every day, looking at those numbers every day and seeing it play out how we expected it to play out. That sort of probability element means that it keeps the game balanced.
17. What’s the difference between selling GP (something you said we never do) and the convert to gold option on the SoF?
Daniel: The convert to gold option, we didn’t really think about it at all in terms of the way that question was asked. Wehnever we launch pieces of content and updates into the game, we monitor really closely how players are using it. One of the things we were seeing people gripe about was getting rewards that they didn’t like or didn’t want. Items that would either be dumped, or clog up their inventory or have to be sold. One of the first things we did was rebalance the wheel and change the rewards and we got rid of a lot of the lower levels of reward. That was done directly in relation to that feedback. We kind of came up with the idea of allowing players to convert them to GP as a quick and easy way to remove the items, and for convenience. That was the number one reason as to why we did that. If you were looking to buy gold directly, then it’s a really un-economical way to do it via that fashion. IT really isn’t what it was supposed to be used for at all and it’s not a particularly good way of doing it anyway.
Mark: If you were to sell those items on the GE you’d actually make more money. While we give you the convenience to convert to coin, you’re taxed for the convenience.
18. Recently, bank boosters were added to Solomon's shop. You promised Solomon's General Store would remain cosmetic-only, but you can see these bank boosters as gameplay enhancers. Will you be adding more things to Solomon's store like the bank boosters, and if yes, will they also become available at the Loyalty Shop? (Nicketix - RSOF)
Mark: For us, we see SgS as cosmetic and I think convenience, too. Again, i come to the point of what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to sell a hundred runecoins for x million gold or xp or anything like that. But, if there’s a way for us to allow you to appreciate other parts of the content or give you some sort of useability improvements then that might be an option. To one of my early points, this is an exact example of an aspect of content that free players are now paying for which was one of the small aspects of members benefits. The uptake of extra bank space has been hugely popular, we’ve seen a lot of free players buy it. Having said that, members have always got more bank space than free players, historically. This is a great example in which free players who have said they don’t want to subscribe for whatever reason get a bit more choice.
19. Can we have a way to gain Runecoins through gameplay along the same lines as random or free spin tickets?
Daniel: we’re not looking to allow runecoins to be earned within the game or via gameplay. That’s not something in our current plans. Linking back to the previous question, we have been looking at ways to make bank space and potentially other things available via the loyalty store, maybe even by converting loyalty points to runecoins. So we are looking at other things and seeing if we can make those happen. In terms of runecoins being generated in gameplay, we don’t envision that in our plans.
Mark: we’re very happy if its a benefit for long-standing membership or loyalty but less so in terms of gameplay. We’ve been trying to be as generous as we can, even with the SoF where we give a significant amount of free spins. If we were just commercially minded, we wouldn’t, nor allow other ways of earning it. I think with runecoins specifically, its either through a loyalty system, trade mechanism or straight cash to obtain them.
Daniel: We are looking at the forums and what players are suggesting so if players do have a suggestion around this topic or anything like that, we do look at those on a pretty regular basis. We’ll keep looking and see what we can implement.
20. In a recent newspost, Mark, you talked about 90% of RS members being in support of SoF. How did you come to that number? What’s the working out there? (yot yot5 – Forums)
Mark: an important point to make is rather than support SoF, its utilise. When we launched this service 90% of our members were using it every day by redeeming their free spins. That’s still the case today and slightly less than that, our free players. I took the measure that if people are using it to such an extent, its probably the most used content we’ve ever produced. It does have a place in game whether the definition is supporting or utilising the content. It’s open to interpretation.
Paul: so what you meant is that 90% of players utilise the SoF?
Mark: yes.
21. What is next for microtransactions? You’ve done SoF, you’ve done SgS. Do you plan to bring in more micropayment-based mechanisms?
Mark: No, I think we’ve got the mechanisms we need. We’re not looking at additional ways of introducing micropayments. We’ve got the mechanics we need and we’ll build on that. There will be Solomon promotions and similar things to Squeal of Neptune from time to time, but they’ll be building on existing mechanics rather than introducing new mechanics. I think we’ve got pretty much what we need. To the best of our knowledge, there’s nothing coming of the sort for the foreseeable future.

Daniel: There isn’t anything in our current plans.
22. How long/far do you look ahead when it comes to planning?
Daniel: Typically for the whole game we tend to look about a year out. I think, particularly about promotions and stuff (SoF, SgS) we probably have a three to four month outlook, but new microtransaction mechanics would fall under that year outlook. That’s what we tend to think about in terms of current plans.
Mark: Probably some of the aspects, or technology aspects can take years, depending on what they are.
23. What are your future plans for Solomon and will it remain a cosmetic only shop? (Dark Bark – RSOF)
Daniel: Well, you know, cosmetic and convenience, utilisation...sometimes we really try to express what we’re trying to say. Sometimes we don’t use a word that’s always right or one that is interpreted slightly differently and I think going forward for SGS, we’re looking to add more cosmetic items. We’ve got a lot of cool things in the pipeline, hairstyles, we’ll even have some stuff related to pets and some other really cool ideas as well, so its very much going to be cosmetic and convenience focused. I think probably where the question was coming from was ‘are we looking to add any game accelerating/advancing elements to the store’ and going back to the question we answered before, that would be a very direct way of being able to buy those things and that’s not something that we feel is right for the game and that it would unbalance the game so its pretty much going to be squarely cosmetic and convenience items only.
24. Can you reassure the players that you will never put the highest tier weapons/armour on the SOF or into the SGS? My concern is that a new max armour will be created just for that purpose, or a spell that is more powerful than anything available by training in game. I'm fairly certain you understand what a bad idea it would be, but would like to hear your thoughts on it. (Stellaboots – RSOF)
Mark: Absolutely not. We wouldn’t introduce anything that’s not in game. No new class of armour or uber spell that can only be got from the store or on the squeal. There were many meetings on this topic going back months if not a year or more where the team said that one of the guiding principles of this is that we’re not going to do that. I cant imagine that to change.
Daniel: The key point there is that we’re not going to put those types of things onto the SoF that you could only get from the SoF. Anything that goes in there you should be able to get naturally via gameplay.
25. Can we expect to see more player suggested microtransactions that provide exclusive items, clothing, hair, re-skins, etc? (Append_Miku – RSOF)
Daniel: I think that would be really cool. Obviously we’ve wanted to be a little sensitive with microtransactions and I think going in there and asking for suggestions is not something we’ve done particularly forcefully so far, but I think it’s a really cool idea and that we should do it.
Paul: Guaranteed content polls have gone down really well in the past, and we should do that. It’s a great suggestion.
26. Emotes and outfits are a popular part of the game, but it seems that you will only sell them to us now. Can we still expect these as part of normal updates? (Roddy Piper – RSOF)
Daniel: They’ve always been part of normal updates in the past. They’re obviously available via the members loyalty program, and theyre available through other areas as well e.g. through SGS. I guess the key thing there is that now that we have SGS, we don’t see ourselves exclusively releasing them through SGS. We expect them to be part of content updates, probably through the loyalty program and maybe even through other areas in the future.
27. Mark, what is your favorite outfit from Solomon? And what’s your favorite animation? (Post-O-Matic – RSOF)
Daniel: If he says anything other than breaking wind, he’s lying. Completely lying.
Mark: That’s true. That’s the only one I’ve bought. Can’t tell you why, I just think it’s cool. And as far as costumes, the female gothic outfit.
Paul: Well that’s just weird. Moving on quickly then!

14-Sep-2012 19:40:06 - Last edited on 17-Sep-2012 10:24:24 by Mod Sushi Pi

Mod Sushi Pi

Mod Sushi Pi

Jagex Moderator Forum Profile Posts by user
28. Why should I have to pay for extras on top of my membership price? (Brian H – FaceBook)
Mark: That’s a great question. My view is ideally you shouldn’t, and as Dan and I alluded to earlier, we’re going to be looking at potential ways of making the members loyalty program equal runecoins or some other systems where crucially we can thank our most supportive members to date.
29. I have one question about Solomon’s Store, is it possible for players to rest on thrones, levitate, or sit on a cloud?(Gabriel Lawson – Facebook)
Daniel: These are cool ideas we should think about! Though its probably a question more for Mod Mark.
30. If we’ve yet to see the cool stuff you’re working on, could you show us? There’s no need to keep secrecy so strictly. It would do a LOT to boost community satisfaction. You don’t have to keep the cards so close to your chest. (Dont Do the Dew – RSOF)
Mark: We’re not trying to be secretive about it. As we’ve touched on, some of these projects take months, if not years and the last thing we want to do is promise something and then underwhelm simply because it takes so long to deliver. On the forum post not so long ago, we showed some screenshots of the new engine with the current engine running against HTML5. Obviously that opens up a terrific roadmap for us in terms of tablets and other devices. I think we’ve shared a bit of that already. It was only a few days ago that we released JAG and some other tech projects we’ve got such as Botany Bay and some terrific anti-botting evolutions coming up and online soon. So, I think a lot of these come when the time is right. If we were talking about in detail what we we’re doing for botting and gold farming for good, we’d be giving people a heads up. We’ve actually had, thanks to a phenomenal team, the software up and running for quite some time and we’ve been tuning it and refining it against pretty much every bot in game. These things take time, and if we’d have said three months ago we’re now watching the behaviour of every bot, we may have changed their behaviour, whereas now we’re pretty sure we’ve got the right profile for them.
Paul: How about for quests and general game-type content?
Daniel: Typically we tend to talk about content that’s coming in the next month or so, behind the scenes etc. We’re starting to have some conversations on how and where its appropriate to talk in a bit more detail. So, we were even going to talk about some of the next big shifts in RuneScape, some of which are quite some time away, more than a month or so which is when we normally talk about content. We definitely want to be talking much more about content and we want to talk about it as far forward as we can. Sometimes, as Mark said, you don’t want to commit to something that could all of a sudden change in development, you know, because of something that you learn along the way or maybe it underwhelms, but we definitely want to talk about things beyond a month. I think the other thing that was quite cool to see us do this year for the first time ever was the beta content, which we can use in the future. We’re working with our players to shape that content, and its quite a good format to get content out quite early. So, we think as well as being able to talk about content coming into the future, I think we’re also going to be able to use systems like that to be able to trial content early on and let players know how it feels and let them feel the impact of how its released as well.
Paul: I guess for me, to a point, as I do the BTS videos I know there’s always so much content being made, we’re not going to shout about things weeks and weeks beforehand because there’s already stuff to shout about in that timeframe. If we did one big patch every six months we’d still be shouting about it four months down the line, but when there’s stuff coming every week, it doesn’t work that way.
Mark: But also it’s a case of not everything we make is launched. Sometimes we’ve pulled content because we’re unhappy with it, or in tech projects a certain implementation ends up being unviable and we have to change it to something else.
Daniel: The point is that we’re not trying to keep our cards close to our heart just to annoy or frustrate people. We actually think we can talk about content that’s coming further down the road. I’d really like to do that and expect us to do that.
Mark: The interesting thing about behind the scenes is something we introduced what, three years ago? We didn’t do that before and I would hope that people see what we’re trying to do, as much as we can and be transparent about all the cool things we’ve got planned.
Paul: I’ve been here a long time and I know its not the Jagex way to talk about something until its ready or done. Its habit.
Daniel: Well, we’re kind of changing that right now. Again, some of the things you’re going to see being talked about on video over the next few weeks are going to be further than a month out, so we’re definitely going to be able to do that.
31. Why do you think it’s fair that items will become limited and never available if you don’t spend dollars? (Summer Items) (xxHorseRiderxx – Twitter)
Mark: So again, we’re looking at even potentially having items that were one-time only, such as on a gamecard, a katana or flaming skull for example, being in SGS. Potentially even having members loyalty points as being a way to access that. It is very much an evolution. A lot of these strategies play out as we see stuff consumed and/or enjoyed. We don’t set out to lock away content. It’s made with a lot of love and a ton of effort and where possible, we want to keep it in the game as long as possible, so if it means finding other ways of keeping them in game as long as possible we would, but its also about balancing priorities and conflicting objectives.

Paul: I can appreciate that if you’re a completionist and want every item in the game, I can see how that could be something that could be a bit hard.
Mark: Sure, there will be some items are rare for exactly that reason. We could probably make more blue partyhats, or pink ones if we wanted to but that would undermine the value of them now. There’s a certain prestige to having them, and we’re very respectful of that. We’re not looking to put a blue tradeable party hat in SGS for just that reason.
32. Why were there so few updates over the summer? Was it really because of all the developers working on the EOC? Was the SoF or SGS effecting that as well? (Chillz)
Mark: The EOC took a lot of the team.
Daniel: Going back to the microtransaction updates, we expanded the team grew it almost double to what it was last year, and we still only have 15% of the people across the board working on microtransaction updates. It wasn’t that that stole time away from developing and producing content. We actually have more people working on content than we did last year. Our production values are higher. The evolution of combat update was a big, big update. Something really that big took a lot of effort and we’ve been doing it for several months, so that took a big chunk of time. And as I said earlier on, we were doing things like JAG, the bot stuff, we’re doing a lot of things at the same time. I think that we can appreciate that if you’re looking at it from a player’s perspective, we’ve got to fix this and talk about all of the things that we’re kind of doing around the side. This conversation is making us aware of the player perception as to how it looks sometimes. There’s so much going on internally that we’re talking about that we don’t go to great lengths to talk about the huge amount of effort we put into it. We’d rather talk about the piece of content. This is probably the first time we’ve said that the combat update took nearly a quarter of the content development team working on it at one point. We don’t think we’re seeing fewer updates. What we could probably do is talk more on the stuff we’re not talking about at the moment to fill in the whole picture, which we’ll work hard on.
Paul: The quests that have been coming out lately, they seem to be a whole lot deeper and richer, there seems to be a lot more going on and it takes a lot more to make them.
Daniel: For sure.
Mark: As I touched on before, the production quality values of all the content we’ve produced is elevated, deliberately so. We want to be making a game for 2013, 2014, 2015. Not just a game of 2005, thus we have to be more ambitious with our content. Its not as everyone suspects that SoF and SGS took all the talent. We doubled the size of the team and nevertheless, only 15% of that team worked on the micropayment type of content.
33. Members are the only players who wish to fund the game. Free players pay by advertising. Could you increase advertising on free worlds, for example more in-game, like the SoF in-game videos rather than making them pay with microtransactions? (Andy – FaceBook)
Mark: The revenue from advertising is barely single digit. Its such a small contribution. At the same time, we as a team don’t like it. I think it removes the immersion from the game. Clearly the only games people click on is because they visually stand out, and that obviously breaks the medieval fantasy world we’re trying to immerse you in. So, I would far rather we had no adverts at all, nevertheless their contribution is small. We are trying other ways of presenting advertising. Potentially, we’ll look at sponsored sessions and stuff, such as seeing a video before the game session itself. I don’t think its a binary decision of free is completely free and members must pick up the tab. We are one community, there shouldn’t be a them and us. If free players also want to interact with the content but through a far smaller and more manageable way then cool, let them. That means we won’t have to do another price increase for members. Ideally, I just wouldn’t and I’d just like to kind of grandfather than permanently, almost, but that’s only possible through the new micropayment system.
Daniel: It was the first point that you raised, really, that the revenue from advertising is pretty small compared to subscriptions and micropayments. They really wouldn’t let us invest at a level nearly as much as we are doing now. We wouldn’t have been able to double the size of the team and we definitely wouldn’t have been able to invest in the next big thing for runescape, which i’m going to avoid talking about.
34. When will there be horses in RuneScape? The jubilee doesn’t count – (John Cotbuck)
Daniel: Horses must be one of the most commonly asked-for updates in RuneScape’s history. We don’t have it in our current plans. There are technical elements to making them work the way we want them to, and there are some challenges that make it difficult. Who knows, in the future, but it’s not in our current plans, although it would be very cool.
Mark: It would be very cool and we’d love to do mounts but we’re not working on them at the moment.
And that wraps it up for the Q&A live stream this week. Next week we get stuck into the Battle of the Bots. If you’ve got a question you want to direct at Mark Gerhard and Daniel Clough let us know on the dedicated thread on our forums, by tweeting us or facebooking us.
Thanks to everyone who asked questions on the forum and of course thanks for checking out the stream. Hope to see you next week at 9pm again.

14-Sep-2012 19:40:45 - Last edited on 14-Sep-2012 20:14:43 by Mod Sushi Pi

Kentt
Dec Member 2021

Kentt

Posts: 12,115Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
First!
This was a really good idea to post the Q&A on the forums. Now we don't have to shift through over an hour of video looking for the answer to a question.
Viking Clan Founder

14-Sep-2012 20:19:54 - Last edited on 14-Sep-2012 20:21:59 by Kentt

Kurai Haruna

Kurai Haruna

Posts: 16,423Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Interesting. :)
It seems you really kept to your word when saying that you will keep in touch with the Community now, I respect that. :)
Divine embrace,
Haruna

14-Sep-2012 20:20:47 - Last edited on 14-Sep-2012 20:45:19 by Kurai Haruna

Miku Append
Nov Member 2010

Miku Append

Posts: 11,254Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
25. Can we expect to see more player suggested microtransactions that provide exclusive items, clothing, hair, re-skins, etc? (Append_Miku – RSOF)
Daniel: I think that would be really cool. Obviously we’ve wanted to be a little sensitive with microtransactions and I think going in there and asking for suggestions is not something we’ve done particularly forcefully so far, but I think it’s a really cool idea and that we should do it.
Paul: Guaranteed content polls have gone down really well in the past, and we should do that. It’s a great suggestion.
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Woooo! Glad you guys loved my question :3 Looking forward for that guaranteed content poll and I hope you guys will implement our suggestions soon.

14-Sep-2012 20:37:10 - Last edited on 14-Sep-2012 20:39:44 by Miku Append

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