Gielinor Gazette: April 2020

Gielinor Gazette: April 2020
Gielinor Gazette: April 2020

Welcome to the April edition of the Gielinor Gazette! This month we’ll be updating you on everything the team’s been working on, including The Hallowed Sepulchre and changes to the Settings menu. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin!

Project Updates

Here’s a look at some of the projects that’ve been keeping us busy:
  • Darkmeyer: The sudden shift to working from home has unsurprisingly had an impact on development, but work continues to progress on the vampyre citadel of Darkmeyer and the accompanying quest, Sins of the Father. The team has been coping brilliantly, and we are confident that we will be able to deliver the update sometime this summer.

  • HiScores Hijinks: The load time of the HiScores system has been drastically improved. To do this we had to increase the minimum requirement to get onto a Boss HiScore table. We’re still monitoring the situation, and we’d like to decrease the killcount requirement over time – particularly for TzKal-Zuk.

  • Leagues: We've already made great progress on the design for the second League, which is something the team are all super excited about! We learned a lot from Twisted League last year, and we feel that the second League will address a lot of the pain points we heard about in feedback.

  • Early Game Improvements: We recently released the Gatherer Path into the wild and can now reflect on its impact on the early game experience. We're expecting to run a test with some Tutorial Island changes soon – but the team is currently focusing on a top-secret project which we hope will give players something awesome to engage with while we’re all in lockdown.

  • Clans: Mod Boko has just about finished up on the work to port the core of the Clans System to Old School - a major milestone for the project! Once the work is completed on Bounty Hunter and the Death Rework, we can start developing Clan content in earnest. We're also in the process of figuring out which cool features we’ll have time to work on before release so that we can deliver a really polished Clans System for launch.

  • Group Ironman:Group Ironman will be built on the same infrastructure as Clans, so unfortunately we can’t move the project forward until Clans is further down the line. The good news is that although there’s still some refinement to do, we’ve established the core elements of the design. We’ve also started to work on the HiScores support that Group Ironman will require.

  • A Kingdom Divided: The next quest in the Kourend storyline is still in the very early stages of design. Right now, we’re coming up with rewards, which will include a new selection of powerful Arceuus spells.

  • Achievements (PvM): We’ve started concepting a way in which high-level players can challenge themselves with fiendishly tough restrictions on boss fights and track those challenges in a way they can show off to others. Achievements would be a great medium for this, although they’re still very much in the concepting stage. We hope to move into development sometime after League 2. Achievements would run the gamut of difficulty, from ‘Kill the Giant Mole without taking any damage’ to ‘Complete The Inferno in under 70 minutes’.

  • Account Security and Log-in Issues: Ongoing service attacks and log-in issues are impacting other projects, including the Account Security work. We’re coming up with long-time solutions to these problems and reviewing what we can do to help players in the short-term. Stay tuned!

  • PvP: We're working through the tons of feedback you gave us in response to the proposals in last month's Gazette. We've made changes to our Bounty Hunter proposal, which you can find here.

  • Soul Wars: Last month we talked about our initial prototype for bringing Soul Wars to Old School. The community response was hugely positive, so we're currently working on turning that prototype into a playable chunk of content. We're currently investigating what changes should be made, if any, from the original Soul Wars. As always, if you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them!
Settings Menu Overhaul

As Old School RuneScape has grown over the years we’ve added more and more features to the game, and as this list grows players want the ability to toggle each on and off. Each time a toggle is added to the game's current Settings menu, it becomes a little more bloated. We often end up putting options in weird places just because that’s the only place with space! We’ve also noticed that the categories aren’t really that intuitive – for example, the option to turn unlock messages on and off is included in the Audio menu.

The solution? To completely overhaul the Settings menu, tidy it up, and make it so that newer players can find the setting they’re looking for in the place they’d expect to find it

Step one is to create more space by changing the menu from a side-panel to a modal interface that will pop-up in the middle of the screen. This menu will be sliced into clear, understandable categories that accurately describe the settings within them – Display, Audio, Chat, and Controls. At the top of the panel will be a search bar which you can use to jump straight to the setting you’re interested in.

Of course the most important options, like attack styles, will stay on the side-panel where you’re accustomed to finding them.

The above image is a rough mock-up of what the menu may look like and is not final.

Before going ahead and changing such a key part of the game, we wanted to gather some feedback. What would make or break the settings menu for you? What can we do to help make it more intuitive? Which settings do you use most often?

Let us know your thoughts on the official forums, Discord, Twitter or Reddit. We’ll keep you updated as we continue to refine the design in the coming months.

Dev Insight: Hallowed Sepulchre

The Hallowed Sepulchre is a brand-new Agility minigame, where you’ll use your wits to clamber over obstacles and dodge traps as you seek the treasures of an ancient Saradominist crypt in the heart of Morytania. It’s a super cool idea – but how did we bring it to life? Expand the sections below to find out!

Step One: Inception
Like most great ideas, the Hallowed Sepulchre concept came from discovering a problem and then trying to think of a solution. For Mod Husky, the problem was with the lack of fun, engaging ways to train Agility:

"It’s no secret that Agility is widely considered to be one of the least liked skills in the game and this likely stems from the fact that it requires a lot of attention, but isn’t actually that engaging – there’s no decisions to make."

The game needed a more interactive training method that gave enough XP to be worth it. As a huge fan of platform games like Crash Bandicoot, he gravitated towards the idea of timing-based traps where the player has to spot and learn a pattern to move past a dangerous obstacle, and react quickly to changes in the environment.

We built a simple prototype where the player would avoid a fire trap that activated in a specific pattern. The team loved it, and gave the go-ahead to create what would eventually become the Hallowed Sepulchre.

Step Two: It’s a Trap!
Trap Design
Every trap in the Hallowed Sepulchre has its own identity, even though they’re all thematically similar. Several traps were discarded for being too similar, or for being too off-theme. For example, one early trap featured a lightning bolt that would shoot down a column towards the player – but it was too much like another trap, which used the same mechanics but with arrows. Eventually the arrow trap was chosen to better fit the ‘tomb raiding’ theme – and hilariously, the prototype featured ‘bots’ that would attack the player.

Fire Trap WIP

Projectile Trap WIP

Another trap originally featured an Indiana Jones-style rolling boulder, which has been transformed into a sword thrown by a statue which returns like a boomerang. This design might seem simple, but it allows us to layer these concepts to create interesting combinations later on.

Sword Trap WIP

Here’s a sneak peek at two other ‘secondary traps’, that won’t cause you to fail the obstacle but might just hurt in other ways… let the wild speculation begin!

Secondary Traps WIP

Trap Development
Now that we’d decided on which traps to use, they needed to be turned into playable prototypes for testing. To do this, we used placeholder objects and animations from other parts of the game. They aren’t very pretty – but they get the job done!

Fire Trap Prototype

We wanted the traps to be modular so we could plug them in and combine them however we liked without using custom code every time. To achieve this, we used a generic system, and simply changed parameters to create new traps. For example, here’s how we configured the code for a projectile trap:

Sample code of Projectile Trap Configuration

Combination Traps
One of the main ways we’ve increased the complexity of the obstacles in the Hallowed Sepulchre is to combine them to create trickier traps, forcing the player to deal with two familiar mechanics at the same time.

Setting the Difficulty
Each floor of the Hallowed Sepulchre is harder than the last and has Agility requirements to match. The first floor requires 52 Agility, and the last requires 92.

The idea of this is that as you progress, you’ll become more familiar with the different trap types – but new, harder mechanics will constantly be introduced. Here’s how that progression will look:

  • Floor 1: Three simple primary traps.
  • Floor 2: The first secondary trap.
  • Floor 3: Introducing combination trap, and increasing the difficulty.
  • Floor 4: Introducing the final secondary trap.
  • Floor 5: Use everything you’ve learned and take the prize!

Learning from Mistakes
The most important thing for us was that no traps are actually impossible to beat. Ultimately, this update is intended to make Agility fun again – and if beating a floor is dependent on random factors, that’s just frustrating. With enough time and patience, any combination of traps can be mastered and overcome.

Step Three: Creating the Sepulchre
The basic concept of the Hallowed Sepulchre could have fit in anywhere – there are plenty of locations in-game where you might be required to dodge traps. When we decided that one of this year’s focuses would be the Darkmeyer expansion, Mod Ed concepted the Hallowed Sepulchre as a long-forgotten tomb where the followers of Saradomin were buried before the vpampyre invasion. Since the vampyres cannot enter the crypt, its treasures are yours to plunder.

Mod West designed a suitably spooky environment: four floors carved into the natural rock below the city of Darkmeyer, all leading to a sacred burial chamber. Here’s the concept art he came up with:

The first concept artwork of the Hallowed Sepulchre drawn by Mod West

After that Mod Neil, one of our concept artists, hit on the idea of enchanted statues set up as traps by the fleeing Saradominists in order to protect the treasures within the Sepulchre. Using existing Saradominist symbology, he created a list of props and assets that Mod West could subtly weave into the environment.

Concept of one of the final floors of the Hallowed Sepulchre

Prop Sheet of potential Assets

The final chamber of the Hallowed Sepulchre

Step Four: Rewards!
Risk Vs. Reward
One of our favourite things in a minigame is the concept of risk vs reward, and this is played out wonderfully in the Hallowed Sepulchre. When you complete a floor you will have a choice: continue to the next floor, and risk losing the XP you’ve earned so far? Or do you take your prizes, and miss out on the chance to get more? The better you get at bypassing the traps, the more time you’ll have to complete each floor, and the more risks you’ll be able to take.

Treasure Opportunities
To add to the risk, you’ll also encounter challenges that will require you to use different skills – using Construction to build a bridge, or Magic to enchant a portal to carry you across a gap. Getting past these extra obstacles will let you loot coffins for a chance to get Hallowed Marks, which you can spend in the reward shop. On the other hand, skipping these challenges will give you more Agility XP per hour – so it’s a tough choice to make! Alternatively, you can use your Hallowed Marks to reduce the failure rate of these Treasure Opportunities, thereby lessening the gap between treasure and XP.

Mod Flippy has been responsible for developing these Treasure Opportunities and, like the traps, writing them as modular obstacles that can be plugged in to each floor.

Treasure Opportunities might also drop a Strange Old Lockpick, which will allow you to bypass the Barrows puzzle. We know this is a controversial mechanic, but locking it behind other content should ensure it isn’t abused.

Reward Shop
You’ll be able to spend your Hallowed Marks in the reward shop once you leave the Sepulchre.

The star of the store is undoubtedly the Hallowed Dye, which you can use to create a Dark Graceful set. There’s also a Dark Acorn, which will recolour your Giant Squirrel to match.

Here’s the full list of rewards for your viewing pleasure:

Reward Image Description
Hallowed Token This token, when consumed within the Hallowed Sepulchre, will add an extra minute to the remaining time.
Hallowed Grapple This new grapple, when equipped in the ammo slot, will half the failure rate when attempting a ranged related treasure challenge in the Hallowed Sepulchre. This grapple cannot be used anywhere outside of the crypt.
Hallowed Focus This focus, when equipped in the off-hand slot, will half the failure rate of the magic treasure challenges in the Hallowed Sepulchre.
Hallowed Symbol This symbol, when equipped in the necklace slot, will half the number of sacrifices required to get past the prayer treasure challenges in the Hallowed Sepulchre.
Hallowed Hammer This hammer will half the failure rate of breaking nails during construction challenges in the Hallowed Sepulchre. It cannot be equipped.
Hallowed Ring This ring, when equipped in the ring slot, will prevent the user from losing time when they fail an obstacle. It will "teleport them in the nick of time" and send them back to the start of the obstacle avoiding the time penalty.
Dark Dye This dye can be used on any piece of graceful armour to recolour it into a dark graceful piece of armour.
Dark Acorn This acorn, when used on the Giant Squirrel pet, will turn it into a black and red version to match the dark graceful set. It is a permanent unlock and can be toggled back to its original colour at any time.

Tomb Raiding
Last but definitely not least, when looting the coffin in the heart of the Hallowed Sepulchre, there’s a rare chance to get yourself a Ring of Endurance, which will allow you to store Stamina Potion doses in a ring, thereby doubling their effect and saving you precious Inventory space. It’s a niche item, but we think you’ll find it all kinds of different uses.

Reward Image Description
Ring of Endurance This ring requires 70 Agility to equip. You charge it with up to 1000 doses of Stamina potion (1 dose = 1 charge). A charge is consumed when you drink a Stamina potion, making the effects of the potion last twice as long. If the ring is removed while under the effects of a Stamina potion, the remaining duration is cut in half.

Also, while the ring is charged, with at least 500 charges and you are not under the effect of a stamina potion, your run energy drain rate is reduced by 15%. For example, at 0kg this would be 0.57 energy per 2 tiles run instead of 0.67 and at 64kg this would be 1.14 energy instead of 1.34.

The charged ring is untradeable, and reverting the ring to make it tradeable will lose any stored charges.
Strange Old Lockpick This lockpick, when placed in your inventory, will allow you to bypass all Barrows doors. It is tradeable when it has its full 50 charges. A charge is consumed when you use the lockpick to open a door which was previously un-passable to you. Once a charge has been lost, it becomes untradeable.

Step Five: Preparing for Release
So, we have the traps, we have the environment and we have the treasure – are we done yet?

Not quite! Mod Flippy has been hard at work tying the all-important minigame system together. We’ve made it all sound very simple here, but there are lots more important things to do before release day, including:
  • Generating the instances and capping the players who can enter them.
  • Ensuring that the player can transition from one floor to the next floor or leave the floor if they decide they don't have enough time to complete the next one.
  • Providing XP and a chance at the Giant Squirrel pet upon completion of the minigame.
  • Making a timer overlay so that the player knows how long they have left in the Hallowed Sepulchre and ensuring that when it runs out the player is sent back to the lobby with no experience.
  • Developing the effects of the Strange Old Lockpick and Ring of Endurance.
  • Blocking teleports within the Hallowed Sepulchre.
  • And much, much more!

On the graphics side of things, Mods West, Gee, and Ry are hard at work giving the Hallowed Sepulchre the polish you expect from an Old School content release. They want it to really feel as though you’re descending into a deep, dark tomb. Scary stuff!

QA are also busy balancing the mechanics on each floor to get the difficulty just right. After that, the rest of the team will be invited for internal playtests to collect even more feedback. For example, we’ve got this great idea where we’ll combine the sword trap with the – oh, wait! We can’t give everything away just yet. You’ll just have to wait until the update goes live later this year.

That's it!
Hopefully this has provided some insight into the development process here at Jagex. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and we’ll see you again next month for even more behind-the-scenes news!

Discuss this gazette on our official forums, the community-led 2007Scape Reddit, or the community-led OSRS Discord in the #gameupdate channel. For reference on the above content, check out the official Wiki.

Mods Acorn, Archie, Ash, Banjo, Boko, Bonsai, Bruno, Curse, Deagle, Ed, Errol, Fed, Flippy, Gee, Husky, John C, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Maylea, MikeD, Nasty, Oasis, Roq, Ry, Steve W, Sween, Tide, Vegard, Weath & West
The Old School Team