Kebos Lowlands: Progress Update

Kebos Lowlands: Progress Update
Kebos Lowlands: Progress Update

It's been two months since we announced the Kebos Lowlands and the team have been hard at work to have everything finished ready for its release on the January 10th!

On October 6th, as part of the Old School RuneScape reveals section during RuneFest, we announced the Kebos Lowlands - a new region to the west of Kourend that is home to the Farming Guild and Mount Karuulm, bringing with it many varieties of content such as; Aerial Fishing, a new Slayer master and Slayer creatures, two new quests and a whole new Achievement Diary!

Since then the team have been hard at work, ensuring Kebos is at its absolute best for when it releases. This blog will detail some of the work individual members of the team have been doing on the project.

Development Team

Mods Kieren, Munro and Ed are the main content developers for Kebos Lowlands. Kieren talked us through the content development work that he and the others have been doing...

What's your overall involvement in the project/what responsibilities do you have?

I essentially have two roles in this project. Firstly, I am one of the main developers working directly in the Kebos Lowlands Project team, meaning that I'm implementing many of the new features you'll be able to play soon. Secondly, I am the "Project Team Owner". This takes a fairly significant proportion of my time, but the role is vital to the project's success.

This project is complicated. It has many moving parts and a fairly large core team working on different things at the same time. We have; 3 main developers, 1 Quality Assurance Analyst, 4 Artists and 2 Audio Designers now working on the project. This is just the core development team - many people from within the Old School team itself and from elsewhere in the business are also integral parts of the project.

For the development of this project, the team operates using a framework called Scrum; ensuring that Scrum is adhered to is one of my core responsibilities. In layman's terms, we essentially work in 2-week work planning cycles. At the end of each cycle we look back on what we've done, take feedback on board, discuss what we can do better as a development team, and then we plan the work we wish to commit to for the next 2-week cycle. In Scrum, those set work cycles are called sprints - and we choose to do them every 2 weeks.

An area of Mount Karuulm, created by Mod Ry

How is progress coming along?

Overall, progress for the project is also a key part of my role as the Project Team Owner. With such a large update, hitting the release date is vital. We have a marketing team who are gearing up and planning campaigns, and any delay has a knock-on effect. By monitoring a score called "Velocity", we can make projections about when we expect to get through all of the work required for the project. This score, Velocity, is a measure of how much work is being completed each sprint. If we're completing 100 story points every 2 weeks on average, and we have 300 story points remaining, we would make the reasonable projection of saying we'll likely to be done in 3 sprints (or 6 weeks) time from now.

If the project is running behind the release date, by using this system we should be alerted to this fact ASAP, allowing us to make changes to those features to perhaps save time on code complexity or the graphical assets required for it.

The system seems to be working well, as we were able to identify in good time that we'd need an additional week in order to complete the project. Now that we've got that bit of extra time, we're able to commit to a release date and are very confident it will be ready for then!

What are you currently working on?

My main task right now is the Alchemical Hydra. It's been most of my workload for the past month or so, although I've been handling many of the new farming patches alongside it too. Given this is the highest-level slayer boss in game, I feel its super important we deliver something worthy of that title. There have been many ideas thrown back and forth, and even prototypes we've completely ditched, because it needs to be right.

The Alchemical Hydra's decapitation animation, created by Mod Ghost

I'm fairly experienced with writing bosses at this stage, so I'm well aware of the sort of problems I'm likely to face with developing them. Perhaps more than any other type of content, boss developers need to work incredibly closely with the artists to ensure the models and animations being used work as intended for the mechanic. An animation being too long can have a drastic effect on the play of the boss fight for example.

There are a few key rules I now follow when designing bosses:

  • The player should be able to improve their odds in the face of every challenge. This can include avoiding a mechanic altogether or trying to reduce the amount of incoming damage. The Player wants to feel satisfaction from doing something right.

  • Avoid screwing the player over. For example, spawning a deadly thing on the floor right next to the player and giving them no time to react. If the player receives a 'punishment' of any kind, it should be because they failed to do the action designed for in the above point.

  • A fight should generally not get easier as it goes on. It's very easy to fall into this trap. I'm sure you can all think of bosses in other games where this is the case.

  • The fight should be cohesive. Mechanics should work well together if presented together. Visually, the mechanics must make sense for the boss.

  • Limit downtime. The player doesn't want to be waiting around.

  • The player should never have to keep track of more than 3-4 things at once. If they do, it must be because they've messed up somehow.

  • It can be difficult to follow them all perfectly, and it doesn't quite cover everything, but I think it gives the solid core.

    What will you be working on next?

    The biggest challenge I've got coming up will be in the development of Redwood tree farming. They are massive. We didn't want to provide a lame Redwood much smaller than the ones found within the Woodcutting guild, so Mod Ry has put a huge amount of effort in to attempt to work out a way in which we can provide full size redwood trees in a farming patch. I cannot guarantee we're going to pull it off still at this stage but we're definitely trying! I think you're going to need more than 1 spade to just quickly dig these out of their patch...

    An area of the Farming Guild, created by Mod Ry

    What's the most enjoyable thing in the project you've worked on to date?

    Learning farming code for the first time! I personally have never worked much with new farming features at all, so this was my first chance to dive all the way into the Farming system. I've always really enjoyed working out how systems work and tying so many new things into Farming is just great. The satisfaction watching Snape Grass grow for the first time was epic.

    After closing things with Mod Kieren and his epic experiences with the project, we went to see what the rest of the team were up to...

    Mod Ed has had the main role of designer and developer on two new quests, The Forsaken Tower and The Ascent of Arceuus, both coming as part of the Kebos Lowlands update. Beyond that, he's responsible for; developing the Achievement Diary, helping with the development of a few smaller features across the new area, as well as assisting with the overall design of the content.

    Both of the quests are now finished from a development point of view, so all that is left for them is plugging in the graphics and audio, then it's on to QA for testing! With those quests now considered done, Ed has been able to move on to a few smaller jobs to do for the Farming Guild, after which he will move on to the Achievement Diary.

    The Ascent of Arceuus, developed by Mod Ed

    Mod Ed's approach often varies depending on the content he is developing. In general, he likes to create a rough framework for whatever it is he's working on before filling in the gaps later. For example, with the quests he made them playable from start to finish very quickly by using placeholder dialogue, then went back and properly wrote the dialogue at the end.

    With development finished on the quests, Ed has been working on the Achievement Diary and helping out with some sections of the Farming Guild, specifically the Farming Contracts and the Hespori patch. Once these are done, his role in the project will be pretty much finished, but he'll still be helping out with the odd bit of lore here and there. As you may have realised with the quests he's developed so far, Ed really does love his lore! He's even created a new naming convention and language inspired by that of the TzHaar for the new race introduced with the Kebos Lowlands, the Kahlith, found on Mount Karuulm.

    For Ed, the most satisfying thing in this project was having the chance to work on the two quests. Whilst it has sometimes been a challenge due to balancing work commitments, such as post-launch feedback for Old School Mobile, he actually designed both quests over a year ago when he created the Queen of Thieves and the Depths of Despair quests, so it's been great to finally be able to implement them!

    Art Team

    Mods Ghost, Gee, West and Ry have all worked on the graphics side of the Kebos Lowlands update.

    Mod Ry has been focusing heavily on the Farming Guild, which includes all of the new crops and the surrounding environment too, the new Slayer cave, the Alchemical Hydra environment and all assets that will be used for Aerial Fishing.

    The Farming Guild environment as seen in the map editor, created by Mod Ry

    Mod Ghost has created some beautiful looking NPCs, including the Alchemical Hydra, Hyrdas, Wyrms, Drakes, the Hespori, the new Kahlith race and even the TassaKaal!

    The Drake walk animation, created by Mod Ghost

    Mod Gee is new to the team but has hit the ground running, showcasing her skill by creating the wonderful looking Sulphur Lizards you may have seen on a weekly Q&A stream alongside Lord Arceuus!

    A wireframe of the Sulphur Lizard, created by Mod Gee

    The Sulphur Lizard walk animation, created by Mod Gee

    Mod West offered us some additional words, detailing what he's done during the project.

    What's your overall involvement in the project/what responsibilities do you have?

    Environments and Rewards! Mount Karuulm and the battlefront is where I've spent most of my time on this project. This involved creating a new look for volcanoes in Old School RuneScape (Have you ever seen blue lava before?!), based on the real phenomenon of Sulphur volcanoes, which was an incredibly tough thing to crack. Making sure it blended seamlessly with the limiting features of Old School's rather old terrain was perhaps the hardest part. The battlefront was great fun also as it gave me the opportunity to improve some mapping issues between Shayzien and Lovakengj, as well as polishing the rather boring looking Lizardman models.

    An area of Mount Karuulm, created by Mod West

    How is progress coming along?

    Let's just say that I might have spent too much time on iterating on the rewards, but as these will be BiS items (for the most part), they're certainly worth the time. I also tend to get carried away when it comes to mapping in-game areas, as it's probably the thing I enjoy most when it comes to creating things for the game (even more so when it's polishing areas I've worked on before that I didn't have the time to do)

    A work in progress of the rewards coming from various aspects of the Kebos Lowlands update, created by Mod West.

    How do you go about producing your work?

    I could say far too much about this, so instead I'll try to keep it short... If you've seen the various design streams I've participated in, they are literally me producing the work! I'd like to do more mapping streams, but as the program we use to do this works a lot better spread out over two monitors, it's fairly difficult to achieve (not to mention many parts of mapping can be fairly mundane to watch). You can watch Mod West's most recent Kebos Lowlands related design streams by clicking on the following links: OSRS Design Stream with Mod West - Kebos Lowlands Rewards and OSRS Design Stream with Mod West - Kebos Rewards (Dragonhunter lance and Ferocious gloves).

    What are you currently working on?

    Right this minute? The west coast of Shayzien and Lovakengj needed a lot of love for a natural transition to form so that the way into the Kebos region is as smooth as possible. After that, I'll probably be heading into the swamp to blend the area north of Mt Quidamortem into the new sections of the Kebos Lowlands.

    What's the most enjoyable thing in the project you've worked on to date?

    I enjoy it all! If I had to pick one thing though, I thoroughly enjoy the world building we get to do while mapping the environments, as it adds flavour to the world and it's the one place we generally get to go wild with creativity that won't be seen until release.

    The Mount Karuulm environment as seen in the map editor, created by Mod West

    What challenges have you faced that you weren't expecting during the project?

    Mount Karuulm was a struggle to begin with as the initial layout wasn't to my liking and starting from scratch (which I ended up doing) is always a little worrying when time is our most precious resource.

    Tell us one interesting fact about something you’ve contributed to the project?

    I've always disliked the monstrous size of the Lizardman Shamans (not to mention their silly little hat). I had the opportunity to create some smaller, more interesting, variants for the battlefront. However, as they were shrunk down that their jump animation didn't go quite so high. This meant they'd jump up and hang in the air awkwardly for a few seconds before landing so an adjustment to their animation making them fade out was necessary.

    QA Team

    Mod Curse has been the lead tester on the Kebos Lowlands and it's his job to ensure the content is enjoyable, bug free and balanced. He's also had the less exciting job of keeping all documentation, test cases and information regarding the project up to date. This allows others to quickly find information on a specific section of the project.

    For Curse and the QA work involved in the project, progress is coming along at a steady speed, though any hiccups in development can understandably hinder progress within QA. There have been a few incidents that have caused QA to play catch up, as multiple jobs can end up coming through at the same time, rather than in a steady flow. Fortunately, Curse says he is well equipped with good in-house tools that assist him in keeping up with the project management from a QA standpoint.

    A Wyrm's movement animation, created by Mod Ghost

    Whilst the QA team aren't developers, Curse has been able to assist with minor bug fixes and changes throughout his time spent on a project, due to having limited knowledge of Runescript and the codebase. His core work however has essentially been getting assigned a job from an artist or developer and finding ways to break it by utilising knowledge of the game and identifying anything that would cause irregularities with the job. He also executed test plans that are created specifically for certain pieces of content, whether it's an NPC, a combat NPC or an object.

    At the time of writing this post, Mod Curse is working on the destructive testing of both the Hespori and the Alchemical Hydra! I'm sure it's not as exciting as it sounds... Alongside this, he's tweaking numbers and beginning the balancing process to ensure the fights are exactly what we intend them to be. This requires a fair amount of tweaking, rebooting, re-fighting in the same gear setups at a few different base stats and gear sets until he feels it's perfect. After this, he's expected to be working on testing the environment of Molch, a few outstanding farming patches, and the farming contracts.

    Lord Arceuus, created by Mod Gee

    For the Kebos Lowlands update, the Project Team left the office for a few days to gather their thoughts and ideas for content, ready for the Old School RuneScape Reveals section of RuneFest. We called this "Design Week". Mod Curse contributed a huge amount during the design week and loved the freedom of being able to build the project design from scratch. Since then, it's been extremely exciting to see all of the environments become their own individual areas with personality, and the creatures and NPCs go from base models to their final forms to fit the environments they're found in.

    Aerial fishing initially began as a joke between some of the team, but it ended up turning into an actual content idea in Curse's sleep. When it was suggested at the design week people loved it, and it seems like the community did too! Curse wanted to make it very clear that he can't take responsibility for the Hench Tench though, that one was thanks to Mod Ry.

    Audio Team

    Mods Ian and Surma have been busy creating all of the music and sound effects featured throughout the Kebos Lowlands update. From NPCs (enemies and bosses), to atmospherics and even player actions, they do it all!

    They are progressing very well and keeping on track with the development. It's important for them to be synchronized with the rest of the team to ensure the overall targets of the project are met, but to also allow for their work to be reviewed in a timely manner.

    Before starting a project, a palette of musical examples is created to share amongst the team. This allows others to provide input and gather opinions and helps to define the direction we want to take. The audio team have to work very closely with the both the development and art teams, as this helps to guide the audio and gives them a clear direction to follow. This is especially important given that lots of inspiration for the audio found in-game comes from the environment, the characters and the lore.

    A Wyrm's transition animation, created by Mod Ghost

    The current priorities for Ian and Surma are the Farming Guild music tracks and the accompanying sound effects, as well as the surrounding areas. Once this is done, they'll be working on new music tracks and any relevant sound effects that will complement the new quests being added with the update.

    The Hespori Farming boss sound track has been particularly interesting. Writing music for boss battles is always quite satisfying because it needs to maintain a high degree of energy throughout. This is also an evil plant boss which we don't come across too often, so it's been a great opportunity to try out some new ideas.

    When adding atmospheric sounds for the new content, Ian and Surma found that there were large existing areas of the map that also required ambient sounds. This meant they had to factor in extra time to complete these tasks, so they could create a more immersive and consistent environment.

    The Hydra boss has over 23 individual sound effects, mostly due to its different states and attack styles.

    It's Competition Time!

    Every time we a competition, the Old School community blows us away with their creativity and talent. Once again, we want to see what you can conjure up, so this time we're running two competitions in the run up to Kebos Lowlands releasing on the 10th January!

    Login Screen Competition

    We are looking for a login screen which truly encompasses the Kebos Lowlands. If you are looking for inspiration, be sure to check out our recent Kebos design streams (1, 2, 3).

    The Old School login screen works by taking this image and mirroring it. The submission must be a .JPG like the linked image. It must also be the same size (545x671). The flames and other window boxes will be placed on top of it in the positions they currently adopt in game, they can't be shifted down or sideways. The image is automatically mirrored.

    Submissions should be sent to and must:
  • Include "Kebos Lowlands login screen" in the subject of the email
  • Have your design attached in .JPG format
  • Include your RuneScape display name in the body of the email

  • The deadline for the login screen competition is Thursday January 3rd 2019. The winner will be selected by the Old School Team and will be announced with the game update on Thursday 10th January. In addition to seeing your login screen in-game, there are some exciting prizes up for grabs:

  • 1st Prize: Login screen used in-game, a Wacom Tablet (Intuos Pro), Premier Club Gold on an account of your choice and a 12-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud
  • 2nd Prize: Premier Club Silver on an account of your choice and a 12-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud
  • 3rd Prize: Premier Club Bronze on an account of your choice and a 12-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Kourend "Story so far" Video Competition

    We want you to put together a video to tell the story of Kourend. The content of the video could be ambitious, telling of the entirety of Kourend, or it could focus on specific elements of content. If you think you know enough about Kourend to create a great summary of the story, this is the competition for you!

    Submissions should be sent to and must:
  • Include "Kebos Lowlands Zeah Video" in the subject of the email
  • Have a link to the video you're submitting on YouTube included in the body of the email
  • The video must be no longer than 6-minutes
  • Include your RuneScape display name in the body of the email

  • The deadline for the video competition is Thursday January 3rd 2019. The winner will be selected by the Old School team and will be announced with the game update on Thursday 10th January. As well as having your video showcased in the Kebos Lowlands release blog, there are some exciting prizes up for grabs:

  • 1st Prize: Video showcased in the Kebos Lowlands release blog, £1000 Amazon Voucher and Premier Club Gold on an account of your choice
  • 2nd Prize: £500 Amazon Voucher
  • 3rd Prize: £250 Amazon Voucher

  • Mods Archie, Ash, Ayiza, Bruno, Curse, Ed, Gambit, Ghost, Gee, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Mat K, Maz, Munro, Nasty, Roq, Ry, Stone, Sween, Weath, West & Wolf
    The Old School Team