We're so excited to see you discussing our skill pitches! Before the Poll on April 4th, we'd like to publish some short answers to the FAQ's that we've answered this week and seen pop up from community discussion. This isn't an exhaustive list of questions on the new skill pitches, but it's a start! The answers aren't polished as they're taken mainly from the Discord Stages discussion we had on Wednesday 29th March.
If you haven't already, make sure to check out our Pre-Recorded Q&A on the Skill Pitches which aired on Tuesday 28th March. This may answer some initial questions you've got about the Skill Pitches! It's 2.5 hours long - we'd definitely recommend giving the entire stream a listen but we've included timestamps in the description if you'd prefer to skip easily to specific parts of it.
Many thanks to u/hubatish on Reddit and @UIMHolo on Twitter for assisting by taking notes from our initial Discord 'Stages' call on Wednesday 29th March. We had a lot of fun speaking with you all yesterday, so thanks to those who turned out! We've used their notes as well as our own to provide this short-form summary with the wider community below.
What if I like all of the skills proposed? What if I don't like any of them?
You'll have the option to vote for all the skills you liked in our 'multiple choice' question. There will also be options to tell us if you didn't like any of them. We'd hope that after you've read through the blog and accompanying social materials that there would be at least one pitch you liked. It's important to remember that any skill can be changed or amended during Refinement, that's why we've kept some things quite vague. If there were elements of a pitch you really liked, and/or parts you didn't like, we can still change them. Remember, you're voting which top-level concept should enter Refinement, and not fully finished products at this stage!
Why don't the pitches have many details?
We're proposing ideas and concepts rather than fully fleshed out designs, because the community should be able to input heavily on the design throughout the journey of creating a new skill. When it came to Warding, we feel we gave too many details to the point where people really only remembered the initial design, despite multiple updates which fixed many of the initial problems to it. We also changed our approach to polling content recently, in that we committed to providing top-level concepts that we'd seek the community's approval on BEFORE sinking hours of development time into something that might simply have not been wanted. It's important to keep in mind that fleshing out full designs for each pitch would take an immense amount of time away from the team that could have been spent on other content that you wanted instead. With this approach, it means we can bring the players on the development journey with us, allowing for plenty of opportunity to input on design decisions and feedback throughout. A lot of the questions we're seeing crop up since sharing our pitches are suitable for Refinement, and they've already got us thinking of what we can be asking when we get to that stage!
When would you expect a full launch of a new skill?
The full launch of any new skill wouldn't be in 2023. We know that it's important to get this right, and we need to take the appropriate time to provide great content for players to enjoy on release. However, it's very possible we could have a playable Beta in 2023 if we managed to 'lock in' a Skill within the next 3-4 months. If we can 'lock in' a skill sooner, we'd be able to start development sooner and then work with the community on the much finer details as we go along. When a skill is released largely depends on what skill the community wants and how long it takes to refine. We will not be looking to release an unfinished skill, but we would leave room for content releases post-launch. As always, our main priority is ensuring we get it right! We know how important something like adding a new skill is to many of you.
Will it be open world or instanced? Do we have enough engine support to reach the dream of Sailing the Seas?
Instanced? No, it's an overworld expansion. Husky answered the question about engine support here. If you're walking in Lumbridge to Draynor, you'll see trees or Goblins. Similar to this, on the ocean we imagine you could see activities on the way or navigational challenges you can participate in, such as Coral Farming, Bounties, or Hidden Treasures. We love the idea of sailing up to the coast of real places, like people fishing on the coast of Catherby! We also love the idea you could flex on noobs fishing there because they don't have a boat and you do!
How can we make this not feel like a minigame? How has this changed since the original pitch?
It's awesome that 8 years ago we pitched Sailing as a skill and people still remember it from then. The pitch has since grown a lot from just building boats. Our vision is open world expansion - making sea tiles into playable content. We will not have it localized to one area. Sailing should be trained throughout the world. Looking at Mining as an example, it doesn't feel like a minigame because it's trained everywhere. You don't have mining rocks located in one specific area of the game. In a similar way, Sailing would not be trained in only one area of the game. We want to make it feel like you're sailing all over the world. The core gameplay loop has more detail now which includes lots of activities out on the ocean.
Can you pull off Sailing? It seems very technically difficult. How long will this take?
We don't have the tech right now but if it was locked in, we'd get a significant chunk of engine time and support to accommodate. We can't commit exact time/resource until we know what skill the community wants. We don't want to overpromise, but don't write it off completely because it seems too big of a dream. You're voting on the concept right now and we'll figure out more around what we can do during Refinement, as well as various beta testing after it's locked in. It's also good to keep in mind that all three skills have "sky-high" potential for them e.g, Taming with pet-based Dungeons, Spirit Realm expansions, etc.
What content COULD be available with Sailing and how are the navigational mechanics going to work? Is Group content going to be a thing?
There would be lot of things to discover out at sea and the dream is to explore populating the map with several activities and icons. We're keen to test out what works with steering, navigation at sea and we what happens on the inside of the boat. It comes down to what the community wants and we'd work closely with players throughout, especially during beta testing. Group content is absolutely a possibility since it's open world but that wouldn't be the only focus.
Raids 4 when?
Early designs actually got us thinking about the potential for an underwater Raid - it's such a fun idea!
Is there a possibility it could be re-named? The name doesn't roll off the tongue.
The name. By now you'll have probably seen our attempts at finding an alternative name during design. We even resorted to our handy friend ChatGPT to try and find alternative names... It turns out, even AI agrees it was the best name for what the skill actually was trying to do! Long story short, the name changes thematics of the skill significantly. The community consultation data told us that names for a skill must be short, straightforward and simple to understand from the word. We didn't want it to have "Crafting" in it because we were worried people would immediately write it off as a buyable production skill and existing ones don't have the best rep with players. The name has grown us and genuinely fits with the thematic of the skill. Druidism or Ritualism would also have been criticized. Druids are also too close to Herblore, and Shamans incorporate the spirit realm well. However, we're open to changing it if the community want us to - just keep in mind that changing a name significantly would effect the thematics, and people seem to like the Spirit Realm aspect to Shamanism.
What's up with item augments? Will you need 99 shamanism to be a top-tier PvMer? Are we definitely going with them?
We don't have to do it, but item augments are a significant and cool potential of the skill. Some players may be sold on the idea and others may be extremely cautious about it, which is understandable! It's important to keep in mind that we've kept it really open ended about how item augments could work and we'd want community input to steer this heavily. We'd like to emphasize that augments don't have to mean flat out combat power either, if players don't want that.
They could touch on skilling instead (or in addition to). When pitching Ruinous Powers, players said they'd like to see Skilling Prayers exist, but the majority of players felt after seeing the design that they just didn't really 'fit' within a Prayer book. We could use similar ideas to shape designs for skilling augments as a reward space from Shamanism instead, and that could work much better than a Prayer would have.
We're cogniscent of 'FOMO' content, and we don't want go down that path. Take Herblore as an example, we wouldn't make a 96 Herblore Potion a requirement in a Raid as that would require you have 96 Herblore to be the "best PvMer". We don't want that, but there's a middle-ground to be found where the skill feels rewarding. Maybe a tradeable, degradable version vs an untradeable permanent version to make this less of an issue.
Can Hunter tie into Shamanism as there are so many component crossovers? There's lots of support for it to do so to make Hunter a more fleshed out skill.
There's room to make tradeable items come from nature & untradeable from the Spirit Realm, but we're conscious of the fact that doing so means that we would then make Hunter a requirement to train the skill. We don't want the release of a new skill to be training other skills - can you imagine how boring that would be on day one! But we see a lot of value in making components come from other skills.
Is Shamanism forced Ironman Gameplay? How are you making this fun for main accounts?
At it's a core, it's a gathering and production skill which is a very traditional gameplay loop - something you're used to. In the survey an overwhelming amount of people said they didn't want a buyable skill which is why we want to include Gathering directly into Shamanism. The first 99 shouldn't be the person with the most money. There will be room to make some aspects of the skill tradeable, but we want the majority of resources to be untradeable right now. In order to make it fun we introduced the concept of the Spirit Realm to make this skill more enjoyable to train as there's a whole new area to explore. After all, simply standing at a Bank to train the skill wouldn't be a fun idea for Old School's first new skill.
Any ideas for lore at this stage?
We've kept things really open but we're glad players are excited about the potential to expand the lore. We're not overdesigning at this current stage. We've seen the suggestions to incorporate Guthix as he's Nature/Magic and we'll keep it in mind. Summer's End could also be cool to explore.
Spirit Realm: Instanced or in the world?
We definitely want it on the overworld so you can be with other players in the real world.
What content would exist outside of just taming animals? Any area expansions?
They'll have specific abilities, as well as go on adventures with you, or have activities, such as finding treasure. Companions will have different abilities that'll help through various gameplay. Taming could also include area expansions where you could find new creatures with new activities in those places. The use of taming as a transport mechanism to unlock a new area is a possibility, for example, a rare bird that flies you to a mountain top to explore. Not to be confused with mounts for existing areas, which we're not really looking to include at this stage unless there's widespread support for that during Refinement.
Is it going to trained in the same way Kittens are?
We don't want to time gate it, so no. We don't want Taming to be trained similarly to how kittens work in-game. With taming it'll be more interactive, based on effort. Kittens can be frustrating to grow because they're distracting you from what you're doing. Taming would have elements of active training involved which makes it less of a nuisance if they require you to do something.
How are we avoiding this being compared to Summoning? Is there an element of FOMO if you DON'T train it as a skill while you're skilling because you're potentially missing out on benefits?
We know the reward space of animal companions that have abilities is similar to Summoning. However, there's no Charm collecting as we saw mixed feedback on this in the survey. Taming is more focused on nature. The gameplay loop has been completely changed too. The key difference is the permanence of the companions. We know players are a bit fearful as to how powerful animal companion abilities might be, and the impact that could have on the wider game. We'd like animal companions to have interesting effects that may be a bit more niche, rather than impact entire skills. Rather than a flat out XP buff to everything in Fishing, perhaps your companion can help you with a specific fishing method. We are very cautious of FOMO too, and don't want you to feel like you have to train Taming in order to be efficient in other skilling.
How's the map going to look with everyone having companions on the overworld?
We've not had any concerns from engine when we asked the team about additional followers in regards to server load, so we're not concerned about that aspect. We will look into different options on how we could render the companions as it's very possible to have animal companions doing activities while you're doing something else. Companions might not be around all the time, or might only show up in specific areas. If they are following you they could have smart pathing so they're not constantly following you how a pet does right now. They may walk around you! For example, a Wolf may not necessarily have to follow you but might instead guard you, and sometimes walk a bit further away. We're unsure at this stage and we'd like the community to help input on this.
Can we reskin an existing pet? What happens to existing pets?
Ideally we'd have both companions and pets co-exist. Existing pets are cosmetic only, and shouldn't be forgotten about as they are impressive achievements. If Taming is voted into Refinement, we'll rely on the community to decide on which approach works best. One potential is having both the companion and pet out at the same time. Another idea is reskins which would help avoid clutter. As an example: A tamed bear cub could get a Callisto pet cosmetic override, if players want that. A prototype might be necessary to get this to feel right.
How will taming work with skilling?
In reference to the animal companions' abilities for skilling, we think flat XP rate buffs are a bit boring and bad design. We'd like more interesting and potentially niche or QOL abilities. One example to have it tie in would be training agility and having a monkey companion pick up the Marks of Grace - that's hardly an XP boost but a good QOL. We can talk about all the utility benefits and abilities during Refinement. The abilities would be niche but we're conscious it shouldn't be dead content! We've kept it intentionally vague at this stage because that's something we'll delve deeper into in Refinement, together with the community.
You can also discuss this update on our official forums, on the 2007Scape subreddit, the Steam forums, or the community-led OSRS Discord in the #gameupdate channel. For more info on the above content, check out the official Old School Wiki.
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