Gielinor Gazette: July 2020

Gielinor Gazette: July 2020

Hello and welcome to the July edition of the Gielinor Gazette! This month we'll be updating you on a prospective rework to the Costume Room and sharing some insight into potential projects from our team Ideation Days. Plus, this month also marks the beginning of a new regular feature from Old School's Product Director, Mod MikeD!

Message from Mod MikeD

Hey, I'm Mod MikeD. I introduced myself in February's Gazette and I appeared on a livestream back in April, but you may still not know who I am, so a brief introduction - I'm the Product Director, and help the team with the game's long-term planning. That doesn't mean I'm here to shake things up and do things differently. Old School was thriving long before I joined. I want to help the team stay true to its mission, with the community and polling at its core. I've been in the MMO industry for a long time. I've been involved in Dark Age of Camelot, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and WildStar, and I love MMOs. And you can expect to see me on regular leadership livestreams. Alright, enough about me!

This will be a regular feature in each edition of the Gazette, giving you a greater insight into what we're up to.

At the beginning of the year we created a roadmap that covered a number of tentpole updates like The Nightmare of Ashihama, Darkmeyer, the next League, Clans, Group Ironman, A Kingdom Divided and some smaller but no less important ones like Combat Achievements, the Death Rework and regular QoL updates. We were confident with our plan and had expected to hire new developers to support it.

Then COVID-19 happened. Now we are living in precarious times, where just shaking someoneís hand can prove dangerous or even deadly. We have sheltered to protect our loved ones, and when out and about weíve socially distanced and worn masks. And we have come together to help one another even when we are forced to be apart.

Itís in this spirit that weíve revisited our roadmap. We're in the fortunate position where we've seen a whole ton of players, old and new, flock to Old School RuneScape and we want to make sure we're taking care of everyone. With that in mind, we are adding several medium and small updates to our schedule for the second half of 2020. These updates target different level brackets, player types and experience levels. All of this done in an effort to provide meaningful content to as many players as we can. You can still expect to see our usual weekly updates, but we want to be more consistent with notable content releases beyond that.

This is what we're aiming for:

  • A small update each month (e.g. Ferox Enclave or Halloween Event)
  • A medium update every two months (e.g. Wintertodt or Treasure Trail Expansion)
  • A large update three times a year (e.g. Nightmare of Ashihama or Dragon Slayer II)
  • Plus occasional event style content (e.g. Leagues or Deadman)
  • We're not there yet, but talking about it is the first step in our journey. To that end, you can expect to see quite a few blogs and polls in the coming months such as†the Costume Room Rework.

    This is what that could look like over a 12 month span. Note that this isn't actually reflective of the months particularly releases would happen in. Click image to expand it.

    To accommodate these new, small and medium updates we are going to have to delay some of the content we had on our original plan.

    Our next larger quest, A Kingdom Divided, will be pushed into the first half of 2021. Clans and Group Iron Man will still remain in ongoing development, but they won't be coming this year either - you can expect them to be released in the first half of 2021, too. That ultimately gives us time to make sure we get them right. The ongoing technical work for Clans makes a completion date difficult to predict.

    Even though we're all working remote and that it has affected the speed in which we can develop content, thatís not to say that weíve been resting on our laurels. During lockdown weíve been able to welcome six new content developers, a new member of QA and a new game engine developer . We've also got a new artist and community manager joining very soon. Some of these new recruits have even been working remotely from other countries as they're not yet able to easily move to the UK! The hires aren't stopping there, either. 2020 has been a busy one for us, but 2021 is going to be chock full content that will appeal to all manner of players.

    My vision for OSRS is simple: We have a great game and we need to get it in front of more players. We need to ramp up our ability to create the amount and type of content that players rightfully expect. With this level of support in the team, we can start making OSRS appeal to more people all around the world.

    Iíd like to finish by saying that the Old School team cares deeply about this game, about its players and about each other. And even though Iíve only been a part of this team for a short time, that is a fact I can honestly attest to. We are in this together and I believe together we can chart a course that leads to a years of continued success for OSRS.

    In next month's Gazette we'll be in a position to talk about the rest of the year's content in much more detail, and in future months I expect to be talking about exciting things happening outside of game content, with a focus on tech work and other projects.

    - Mod MikeD

    Project Status Update
    • Boss Slayer Master: We published a poll blog last week convening the Boss Slayer Master update. We have been keenly observing your feedback and adapting the design based on your suggestions. After much discussion, we have decided not to poll the update in its current form. We've identified that, in order for it to provide a tangible improvement to Slayer whilst also creating something you can all be excited by, a comprehensive overhaul - rather than a series of tweaks - is needed. So, we'll be going back to the drawing board and hope to present something different to you in the future with a new design. Itís unlikely at this stage that would be this year, however. What this does mean is that thereís an opportunity for us to share a different idea for upcoming skilling content that we'll be working on instead. We'll be giving you a sneak-peek in the coming weeks - but suffice to say, we hope it'll nail it.

    • Leagues: Development on Leagues II is now well underway in the Wardens team. We'll be sharing a lot more news on the project very soon, including the full name! Current work is focused on the new League relics, as well as an exciting new system that will form the backbone of the League. No spoilers yet, however...

    • Early Game Improvements: We're just wrapping up a couple of last tests, for both the tutorial and the Adventure Path system, before taking a step back from the early game to make some time for work on a new project!

    • Clans: Clan work is continuing between Engine and Content Development. A system to allow clan owners to abdicate their ownership to another player, or have it removed after a period of inactivity, is being worked on, with kinks being solving as they arise. This kind of feature is invaluable should a clan owner quit or take a long break. See the roadmap discussion above for more.

    • Group Ironman: Work on Group Ironman will fully kick off once Clans has released, as it's dependent on the features used in that project. It'll also require a group HiScores system supporting both Clans and Group Ironman. Mod Boko will be working on this, alongside other Clans work. See the roadmap discussion above for more information on release.

    • PvP: Last week we released Ferox Enclave, an attempt at creating some infrastructure to support Wilderness activity. In last week's game update post we shared our plans to resolve issues with Bounty Hunter and the Revenant Caves, but we should have been clearer with explaining when the content is actually going to change. We expect to make these changes on August 6th. The reason it isn't sooner is because we need time to develop and test the changes. Note that we also anticipate a week without any updates as we undergo internal maintenance which will affect our ability to upload content.

    • Achievements (PvM): This still remains only a very high level concept, and work is currently focused on other projects.

    • Account Security and Login Issues: Last year we explained that we'd like to make significant changes to the account security features that we offer. These remain high on the list of studio priorities, but our tech teams are currently focused on delivering long-term solutions to the sustained malicious attacks that at times render the game unplayable.

    • HiScores Problems: We're aware that HiScores is still slow at peak times. We've not yet been able to prioritise this, although investigations about what might be done remain ongoing.

    • Soul Wars: Soul Wars is set to be the next big project for the Wardens once they've finished work on Leagues II. As such, not too much is happening with this right now. However, the team are currently brainstorming ideas for new rewards (the old Summoning ones unsurprisingly don't really work for Old School). Be sure to send your own thoughts our way as well. On another note, we're pleased to confirm that the animation backporting work we discussed last time looks to have been successful. This means that we'll be able to make the Soul Wars Avatars animate just like they did in the original release.

    • A Kingdom Divided: As with last month, there's no new progress to report on A Kingdom Divided right now. Work isn't set to begin on the project for some time, as discussed in the roadmap above. For anyone not aware, A Kingdom Divided is the next quest in the Kourend storyline and will offer some new Arceuus spells as rewards.

    Costume Room Rework

    The costume rooms in Player-Owned Houses have been a sore point for a long time. This is how they currently look:

    The original implementation has served RuneScape for a long time, was very efficient for data-storage and was suitable in 2006. However, these days we can do things we couldn't do then.

    The data storage has always been the main hurdle for this project. Writing something new from scratch is pretty easy, but converting everyone's existing items into the new format is considerably harder. As you can imagine, an error here would lose your items or give you the wrong ones. We've needed some help from Mod Morty, a new engine developer, to let the game handle the new data storage.

    Here's our design for the updated version:

    The 'Search' button can help you track down an individual bit of kit from any stored set:

    Original version New version
    Didn't show many sets at a time, and made you click through multiple pages to browse them in whatever order they'd been added. Shows as many sets as it can, sorted alphabetically, without splitting them across multiple pages.
    Didn't tell you which items were missing if a set was incomplete. Shows the missing items greyed out so you know what to collect.
    Storing items is done by 'using' them on the furniture, which is particularly awkward for mobile users. Comes with a side-panel for left-click depositing of items. Hopefully no more accidents with items being dropped instead of deposited!
    Store does not allow incomplete sets to be stored, so a player must keep all incomplete sets in the bank. Accepts incomplete sets, while indicating what items are needed to complete it.
    Costumes with alternate parts can only store one version, e.g. plateskirt instead of platelegs, the 'trouver' version instead of the original item. This is especially restrictive for the max cape, since there are so many versions of it. Accepts both forms of such items simultaneously. The set will draw itself as 'complete' if either version is stored, so you aren't expected to get both versions.
    Does not allow spare pieces to be stored, so a player must keep spare items in the Bank. Accepts spare pieces.

    This should make storing items across the game much easier, and free up some of your precious Bank space! Now, that's an especially big deal for Ultimate Iron accounts, and we know that some feel it to be too big a change to the difficulty of that mode. Realistically we're not going to be able to keep the old system running forever just for those players while everyone else uses the new one, so we'll instead have to look at restrictions we could apply to the new design. Here are some of the possible approaches that have been suggested for UIM under the new system:

  • UIM can only deposit a complete set at a time, and only withdraw a complete set, and cannot store duplicates. This would be fairly similar to the existing behaviour, whereby they're forced to obtain complete sets, including Treasure Trail items, before they can use the costume room at all.
  • UIM can store partial sets and duplicates, but can only withdraw a complete set. This would allow them to acquire parts of a set gradually, storing them as they go, but not withdraw it for use unless they had enough inventory space, although they could then deposit unwanted pieces back into the store.
  • UIM have restrictions on some furniture pieces, but not on others. This would allow the treasure trail chest to be treated differently to the armour case and magic wardrobe. The behaviour may feel extremely arbitrary and confusing.
  • UIM can use the new system like everyone else. As this is not a Bank, the no-Banks rule need not be applied! However, some UIM have felt that it's too much like a bank to be permitted.
  • Along with the suggestions for improving the interfaces, we're sure you've got many more items you'd like to see stored in here. Realistically, this is already a very big job without trying to feature-creep into it every item anyone ever wanted to store, so we'd appreciate your patience when we can't accommodate all your requests! However, the new system should be easier to expand for future updates..

    We'd like to offer this Costume Room rework in Poll 72, with the aim of launching it in August if it's accepted.

    Introduction to Ideation

    Back in the March edition of the Gielinor Gazette, we talked about Ideation Days and an exciting project to emerged from them - Soul Wars. Since then, you've all had plenty of questions about what else Ideation Days have produced, and this month we'd like to answer some.

    Ideation Days were born out of an old initiative called TAPP that saw employees all around Jagex setting time aside to focus on personal projects. Due to various shortcomings, TAPP was discontinued in mid-2018. In its place, Ideation Days were born.

    At the end of each month, every member of the Old School team (including team members in non-development roles) has the opportunity to take an Ideation Day, during which all non essential meetings are cancelled.

    The team takes this time to focus on designing and prototyping potential future updates for Old School RuneScape. This can cover all sorts of things - in the past it has produced ideas for huge updates such as new Raiding Dungeons or Grandmaster quests. However, they're often also used to focus on smaller things such as interface improvements and other quality of life fixes. In many cases, the ideas just come in the form of a design document. Sometimes though, actual working prototypes will also be produced.

    The initial Soul Wars prototype (with placeholder cow boss) was born during ideation.

    Quite often, individual members of the team will work together on a design or prototype. It's important that we're flexible so that different work styles can be catered to. If people find themselves struggling for ideas, they can instead look to the optional theme that is provided each month. Previous themes have included things like PvP, new Leagues and beginner updates.

    Regardless of how team members choose to use their ideation time, the end results will be demonstrated at a presentation. The wider team asks questions and offers feedback, and then has the chance to vote on whether the idea should be pursued further. Don't worry, there's no 75% here!

    In some cases, the team decide that an idea just isn't meant to be. Some things may sound good initially, but further work proves them to be impractical or inappropriate. Other ideas may pop up again in future months once they've been developed further. And some will be selected for the release schedule, eventually finding their way into the game itself!

    Here's a selection of proposals that have cropped up during Ideation Days. Note that these are not announcements of new projects - some ideas have already been rejected, and many of the others may never end up going any further:

    What's Come Out of Ideation?

    First up, let's talk about a few of the projects we've already released. Did you know that our two biggest updates so far this year, The Nightmare of Ashihama and Darkmeyer, started life in ideation? Originally, both were pitched as part of the same update, with the boss being located in the Darkmeyer Arboretum. Following feedback, the boss was moved out of the city and became a separate update. In its place, a different idea from Mod Husky was combined with the Darkmeyer content to create the Hallowed Sepulchre. Ideation has also produced other big updates like Leagues, as well as smaller features like the ability to vote in polls through the account management side panel.

    As mentioned before, however, not everything that comes out of ideation is quite so successful. In some cases the idea just doesn't fit. In others, they have too much overlap with already existing content. Sometimes a proposal just doesn't work with the tech used in Old School. Of particular note was a nice idea to create a 'Loc Hunt' minigame where players try and hide as a piece of scenery. Although this seemed fun at first, it soon became clear that the minigame wasn't a suitable fit for our game.

    The Hallowed Sepulchre was originally proposed as a standalone minigame during ideation.

    As well as projects that the team have decided against, and those that you've already heard about or even played, there are plenty more ongoing suggestions that we've all rallied behind. Below, we'll share a bit more about just a few of these. Just remember, these are NOT announcements! Just because they haven't been rejected initially, it doesn't mean they're necessarily destined for development.

    So... quests! Old School quests are quite unique when compared to other MMORPGs and are hugely popular with players. Since Old School launched, we've seen some epic quests released - you've taken down some deadly Dragonkin creations and you've foiled Glough's plot against gnome and humankind. But many quests are much smaller in scale. Think back to Witch's House, Fishing Contest and Prince Ali Rescue. While lacking the grandiose scale of a Grandmaster, these smaller quests add a little life and character to the lands.

    With the above in mind, Mod Ed came up with the idea of Twisted Tales. These are short standalone quests set within the regions of Great Kourend and Kebos, the aim being to make the regions feel like they could have been a part of the game since the very beginning. One example is Getting Ahead, a short quest in which you are tasked with bringing back the head of a deadly beast. Things get a bit complicated, however, when the beast turns out to be headless. Since the first pitch, other members of the team like Mod West and Mod Roq have got involved, coming up with other ideas for Twisted Tales. From murder mysteries to ancient religions, there's all sorts of subjects these could explore.

    There's also a big desire, both internally and among the community, to deliver more sequels to older iconic quests. Mod Sween recently pitched a followup to Throne of Miscellenia and Royal Trouble. This suggestion came with a proposed expansion to kingdom management, allowing you to send some of the kingdom's workers a little further afield in the search for new rewards. As well as this, Mods Lenny, Ed and Mack have recently been working on some puzzle prototypes for a possible continuation of the Elemental Workshop questline. Maybe it's finally time to see what's behind those Body Doors!

    The Elemental Workshop may yet hold more secrets (or maybe it just holds placeholder blocks).

    But maybe you're not so big on quests. Plenty of minigames have also been pitched during ideation. For instance, Nightfall is a never-ending wave based challenge from Mods Ry, Ed and Lenny in which you need to fight off hordes of enemies while trying to survive as long as possible. As you progress, you'll earn better gear and more supplies to help fight off the hordes. As well as this, last year Mod Kieren pitched an expansion to Pest Control. This would see the addition of an Elite Lander that takes you to a different island with new pests to fight, including the deadly Pest Queen. Away from combat, Mod Flippy recently came up with an idea for a Player-Owned Restaurant minigame. As the name suggests, you set up your own restaurant and then train your Cooking skill by serving customers as quickly as you can.

    Can you survive the nightfall?

    Lastly, we have skilling! Guilds are very nostalgic parts of the game but, let's be honest, most of them are not actually very good. The solution to this came in the form of a big team up. Mods Acorn, West, Ry, Tide, Curse and Lenny all joined forces to propose a set of updates they called the Great Guilds of Gielinor. These come in two main parts. First, a selection of improvements to older Guilds such as the Cooking Guild, Rangers Guild and the Crafting Guild - these include new skilling methods, new rewards and new items (soup anyone?). Second, a number of proposed brand new guilds. In the Smithing Guild you'll be able to train Smithing through new Smithing Contracts. There's also the Construction Guild, which comes with a communal area for producing flatpacks. Other ideas include a Runecrafting Guild and a Herblore Guild.

    These are just a few of the ideas we've come up with during Ideation Days. With so many good suggestions, it's tough choosing the right ones! With that said, which of the above ideas jump out to you the most? Are there some you think we should go forward with, or would you prefer we focus elsewhere? As always, let us know your thoughts.

    Old School's In's and Out's

    We're delighted to announce that three new faces have joined the Old School team!

    Mod Elena, Junior Content Developer:

    Hello! I am Mod Elena, and Iím from Norway (not Ardougne, as you might think). I finished my software engineering degree last year, and I have now joined the OldSchool team as a junior content developer. OSRS has been a huge part of my life, and I can safely say I feel privileged to be able to do my dream job for a living.

    Since I started I have been training with Mod Lenny, as well as accompanying him in meetings with the Unknown team to learn about the development process. There is a lot to learn but I've quite enjoyed it so far. Seeing how the team works is very interesting, and I canít wait to be done with training so that I can start contributing as well.

    I have played OSRS since its release, and I would say I am a very passionate player. I aim to bring that passion with me into the office, and make something that Iíll be proud to present and hopefully for you all to love playing!

    Mod Squid, Content Developer:

    Hey everyone, I'm Mod Squid and I'm super excited to be part of the Old School team as a content developer! I've been in the industry as both a designer and programmer for about three years, and it's always been a dream of mine to work on Old School.

    I started playing RuneScape around 2004 for a few years, then jumped back in as soon as Old School launched and have been playing ever since. I particularly love the skilling and non-combat aspects of the game, and can't wait to expand on existing content, as well as create brand new experiences for you all to enjoy!

    Mod Nin, Game Engine Developer:

    Hey! I'm joining the Old School team as an engine developer, having already spent the past couple of years on the RuneScape engine. It's been about 15 years since I first played RuneScape, with fond memories of selling lobsters with my older sister outside of Varrock West Bank. For some reason the smell of liquorice reminds me of Castle Wars. I look forward to helping the team continue to bring you quality updates! UIM btw.

    We're not done growing just yet! More fresh blood will be joining us in August - expect an introduction in next month's Gazette.

    As always, we always want to hand out more gold Mod crowns! If you've ever dreamed of building your favourite game and seeing your name at the bottom of our blogs, then head to the Jagex careers listings and take a look at the RS Old School section!

    Old School has a very special blood running through its veins Ė you, our fantastic players. And as with everything else, if youíve got any ideas about the sorts of things youíd like to see in upcoming editions of the Gielinor Gazette, then please do let us know!

    Mods Acorn, Arcane, Archie, Argo, Ash, Banjo, Boko, Bonsai, Bruno, Curse, Deagle, Ed, Elena, Errol, Fed, Flippy, Gayns, Gee, Halo, Husky, Impact, Jndr, John C, Kandosii, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Lyric, Mack, Maylea, MikeD, Nasty, Nin, Oasis, Roq, Ry, Squid, Steve W, Sween, Tide, Vegard, Weath & West

    The Old School Team