Gielinor Gazette - December 2020
It's another big one for you to sink your teeth into. We talk planning, budgeting, roadmaps and all that fun stuff in Mod MikeD's monthly article, there's more of our content pitches from our ideation days (how does 'Guardians of Gielinor' sound?) and we introduce you to five new(ish) J-Mods!
Don't forget that each month's Gazette is accompanied with a monthly leadership livestream. Join us at on www.twitch.tv/OldSchoolRS at 17:00 GMT on Monday December 7th. If you happen to be reading this in the future and the livestream has already happened, you can find the recording on our YouTube channel.
Message from MikeD
First off, I want to say sorry about the lack of Gazettes in October and November. We've been up to our ears in roadmap and budget planning, but that's finally wrapping up. As you may remember from a previous fireside chat, we spoke about 'Old School Everywhere' as our focus on the future. We've drilled down further into the idea and came up with this:
"Share the joy of the original RuneScape world with everyone."
The wording may continue to evolve, but the heart of it remains. The intent is there.
So then we set goals. These goals need to support our vision, so what are they? In an effort for continued roadmap planning transparency, I want you folk to come along for the ride. I'm going to be snipping straight from the Miro Board we've been using for all our planning.
Are these lofty goals? You're damn right they are. Will it take great courage and fortitude to accomplish them? Yes. Will it take time to get there? Absolutely. And that's all the more reason to forge ahead. It's harnessing the passion of this dev team, and the feedback of this devoted playerbase, to bring our world to the whole world.
Now, to achieve these lofty goals we need to come up with a strategy. Rooted in the historic past of RuneScape but focused on the future.
It seems simple, but it's important to point some things out:
- You are our players. We need to deliver value for our customers and those of you who support us with a subscription, and that's what we intend to do. More seasonal game modes, events, QOL and quests.
- An MMO is only as great as the sum of its parts, so we need to make more content that appeals to different segments of players, be it PvP, PvM, skillers, bossing, etc. We must also make more things for F2P players and show them all the cools things you can do when you become a member.
- More communication, surveys, polls, player councils, conversations... hell, let's have more heated debates! Be brave, take the feedback and do better. We can not only be better with communicating, we can be the best. Hands. Down.
- Get our player support tools in order - our authentication, our internal tech and tools. No more waiting. Forward momentum must happen.
- And last but not least, get this game in more people's hands. New places, different platforms and stores.
And how do we execute on this strategy in support of our vision? What are the actions we take to make sure we are delivering on what we say?
These are our tactics. I'll leave you to dig into the meaty bits but broadly, we need to beef up our roadmap, focus on F2P and new player experience, QOL, infrastructure and new platforms/channels. I'll even give you a veiled peek at how we translate this down into the team level initiatives. And some of those are new teams - the features and content they are going to be working on come directly from the brainstorming the team has done based on your surveys, feedback and posts.
All these kick-ass ideas form the bedrock of the 2021 roadmap. Bringing Old School to new audiences everywhere. That's what we mean when we say "Share the joy of the original RuneScape world with everyone".
In the August Gazette I spoke about partnerships and what it means to access new communities of players. We spoke about how adamant our players were about not doing cosmetics and such, and we heard you. We said our focus needed to be on seeing whether non-impactful events and experiences might work. To that end we ran an LMS event in conjunction with Prime Gaming. Technically, it worked well. By that, we mean that the final event played through smoothly without a hitch. It was a good proof of concept, but we know we can make it better. You've been very vocal about the fact that you expected better promotion, better prizing and better production. Running it at the same time as Leagues meant that some players had to make the decision to prioritise Trailblazer, and that our marketing focus was solely on pushing players to play Leagues, leaving the LMS event barely spoken of. There was also some unexpected internal issues meaning we had problems getting data on entrants and rankings, but those have since been fixed. If we do decide to test out more events and tournaments, we'll absolutely use the learnings from this experiment.
I also previously explained that there'd be four Prime Gaming drops in total, and at that time we had only confirmed three of them. With that in mind, we had to review our roadmap to see what we could have ready for December 15th that would attract people to click, claim and play (as well as not use up too much development time). We decided that a preview of sorts of the upcoming Soul Wars release would be a good way to go. It will get the word out to older RuneScape players who recognise Soul Wars and we think it's going to lend itself really well to streaming. Plus, it's going to give us the opportunity to spot any bugs nice and early, and we're hoping that you'll enjoy the early bit of gameplay!
So, to confirm:
From Tuesday December 15th until Tuesday January 5th you'll be able to try out Soul Wars in its current state. You'll need to claim with Prime Gaming, and it'll be on special Prime Gaming worlds. In order to get it in the game on-time we'll be launching it with this Wednesday's game update. That means you'll be able to see the Soul Wars portal and travel to Soul Wars island, but you won't be able to play yet. Rewards won't be available during this preview, and will only arrive when it's properly released in January. Prime Gaming worlds are like our tournament worlds in that they are no-save worlds. This means that there'll be no progress whatsoever carried from the game preview to the full release.
Before I move on, I just want to offer some reassurance. We know that the idea of a slippery slope is something weighing heavily on you, and all sorts of ideas might be racing through your mind right now. This type of event won't become commonplace. If you like it, and if it works, then we might try more of these - but only when it makes sense. Everything I said in August remains true. There'll never be any cosmetics or XP or any gameplay-negating features. It doesn't work for Old School and we don't want it. I'll add to that too - we will not ever do any type of event preview for types of game content that might offer a competitive advantage, like a new boss or a raid. Never.
It is in this way we can be creative with partnerships while protecting the core progression of OSRS. Partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. Look at our dev interview with Asmongold - he and Rich Campbell wanted an interview with devs and, since we do very much like to talk about the game, it was the perfect partnership. An authentic, no BS conversation about OSRS and what makes it so very special.
And finally, I did want to touch on esports, as it's come up a lot lately. I know for a fact that loads of devs on the team love competitive gaming, love PvP, and love esports - and we want to support player run tournaments and such. However, we've made the decision to steer clear of running our own competitive programs until we have the bandwidth to build a proper Elo system, game worlds, consistent lucrative prizing and more. This is so that we can deliver a great experience for the players that we're proud of and it's the reason you've seen a decline in the number of events we've put on this year.
Therefore, we want to take the current iteration of DMM, put in a good amount of effort bringing it to the next level, applying what we learned from Leagues and other game modes, so we can make Deadman into a true, seasonal event for OS. It's on our 2021 roadmap for a reason. That's alongside a third League too.
Until such a time comes that we can build a competitive program we want to take a step back and return to our roots with community-oriented events. These things don't need Elo systems or mega-bucks prizes. I'll give a couple of examples. Alongside the Clans update we're planning the return of the Old School Clan Cup competition. A few paragraphs above I discussed the LMS event. It had its flaws but as a dry run and proof of concept it worked well. We can do variations of this type of event separate from any partnerships.
Any esport that comes out of OSRS is the responsibility of the dev team but will be shaped by both the devs and the community. So please direct your suggestions and feedback to us. Let's build this together.
And now the pièce de résistance. Here's what Q1 of 2021 is shaping up to look like:
You'll know about most of the stuff here. You'll notice some new projects too. We give some more information about those in the Project Status section of the Gazette below. Everything will be blogged and polled. If things like Below Ice Mountain, A Kingdom Divided, or the Collection Log Upgrade don't pass then we'll replace it with something else. And a reminder - delays can occur and dates can move despite our best efforts. You'll notice that A Kingdom Divided and Clans continue past April, that means they'll remain in development during that time. At the bottom we have 'Wilderness changes and Wilderness Boss Rework'. Regular polls and weekly releases will also continue throughout the year.
And that's just the start. To allow us to do all this we've got new hires coming on throughout all of 2021. But it's not solely the Old School team that will be working on this - you'll be enlisted to help as well! If an MMO is greater than the sum of its parts, then we are truly stronger having a community as invested and committed as you are.
I think we can all agree that the history books will declare 2020 an incontrovertible dumpster fire.
Now 2021 - that's going to be a different story! I have hope in the world and what we can accomplish. It's about picking ourselves up, brushing ourselves off and never, ever ceasing to dream. That's what Old School is about, it's what beats at its heart, it's the continuation of a dream that the brothers Gower conceived of nearly 20 years ago and that we'll be celebrating in 2021. It's the culmination of the aspirations of so many of you, our players. It's the vision and the desire of a wholly dedicated dev team that works its collective ass off every day so that all of us have a place we can call home, Gielinor.
So kick back, relax and have a happy holiday because next year, we've got a lot of work to do together.
Project Status Update
This month we'll be sharing the usual status updates as well as offering a new sneak-peek at some of the behind-the-scenes development and concepts!
Active game content projects:
- Christmas Event 2020:This year's Christmas event will be arriving in just two days! See below for a look at one of the new rewards.
- Leagues II - Trailblazer: Unless you've been under a rock you'll know that Trailblazer is here and hundreds of thousands have you have already played it! We're seriously overwhelmed by the support and love you've shown for Trailblazer. A big thank you from all of us. You can play Leagues II until January 6th!
- Fishing Skill Boss: This has just been re-blogged! We'll continue to get your feedback and we'll poll it when it's ready to be polled.
- Combat Achievements:This content was polled and passed, along with a lot of rewards! As in MikeD's roadmap above, we're hoping to release this early next year.
- Soul Wars: Soul Wars (and a lot of other minigame QoL) was polled recently, and it passed! We expect to release Soul Wars in early January, but first we'll be collaborating with Prime Gaming to give an event preview in early December.
- Anniversary Event: RuneScape as a franchise turns 20 years old on January 4th, and we've got a very special in-game event planned to release on January 6th. See below for a look at a green Gnome Child.
- Other Minigame QoL: We polled updates to other minigames alongside Soul Wars. Some of these have already been implemented (like the Castle Wars changes), and others will come early next year. See below for a look at the new Mort'ton catacombs!
- Clans: Work is still ongoing and we expect to begin sharing more progress updates soon.
- Group Ironman:We've spoken at length about the fact that Group Ironman's release is dependent on the infrastructure offered by Clans. Group Ironman will be coming next year.
- A Kingdom Divided: Okay, this one isn't totally active just yet, but we'll be telling you more very soon!
- Collection Log Upgrade: This is another one that's not totally active, but it's on the roadmap image. We'd like to update the Collection Log. And we want your ideas and your feedback! This can include anything from UI and functionality to improving certain aspects of PvM or Clue scroll hunting or Minigames. Here's a look at some of our ideas: making the interface accessible without the item, adding a Jar of Spirits as a new drop to the Corporeal Beast, and adding a molepet recolour. Let us know what you'd like to see!
- Below Ice Mountain: And another one that's not totally active, but lives on the roadmap image. This a F2P quest that will see players unearth that which is buried deep in the cold heart of Asgarnia...
- Log-in Issues: Resolving ongoing log-in issues is our tech team's biggest priority. We know that there's a significant number of you reporting errors like "too many log-in attempts from your address". Most of the time this is a generic connection error and will quickly resolve itself on its own, but malicious log-in attacks are sometimes to blame. It's these attacks that our tech team are urgently trying to resolve. Progress is being made and a long-term solution is within sight. However, in the interim we're working on short-term aids. We're hopeful that the announcement of today's Steam Beta will offer affected players a short-term way of accessing the game by logging in using their Steam account. If you're affected by this issue then submit a ticket and we'll do our best to get you back in-game.
- Steam: Old School will be coming to Steam in early 2021! Earlier today we unveiled the Steam Beta, where we're working with you to test a new C++ game client to better welcome new Steam players. Learn more about this here: osrs.game/SteamBeta.
- Account Security: Security: Account Security still ranks highly on our list of priorities, but the ongoing log-in attacks mean that work is currently paused. We expect work on account security to resume as soon as the log-in attacks are mitigated and resolved.
- PvP: This isn't strictly all-encompassing project, but as this is an under-served area of the community, we want to make sure our plans are visible. Earlier in the blog we mentioned events like the Old School Clan Cup. We've been working on better processes internally to make sure that we can quickly react to ongoing mechanical niggles as well as being able to directly consult PvPers through targeted surveys to better learn what it is you actually want to see. Project-wise we'll be working on changes and fixes to the Wilderness as well as a rework to the Wilderness bosses later in the year, as (partially) seen in the roadmap image in MikeD's article.
Back in RS Classic, gnomes were green! So as we celebrate the 20 years of RuneScape’s history, let’s recreate that in today’s modern graphical environment. Prepare for a nostalgic walk down memory lane. The 20th Anniversary Event is due in early January.
This year for the Christmas Event we have made a new warm and cosy cabin style for your POH!
A concept for a new character from the upcoming A Kingdom Divided quest.
A much more shady set of catacombs beneath Mort'ton...
More Ideation Ideas
Something we're really hoping to start doing more of is sharing what's coming out of our team-wide ideation days. We've talked about Ideation before,but for those who don't remember; the Old School RuneScape team participate in Ideation for 2 days per month. The goal of which is solely to come up with new ideas for changes / additions to the game, sometimes this may even start with community ideas we build on. Often members of the team will get together game jam style to produce fully working prototypes of potential content and it produces exciting results! It all ends with a big showcase session where the team gathers, ideas are shown off and then discussed. It's always one of the meetings we look forward to most each month, so why should we keep you out of the fun?
Below, we're going to introduce a number of potential ideas and we'll even follow up with a survey so you can give us some thoughts! I will note this is very different to us presenting something in a full design blog ready for poll, these are very early pitches for projects There's no guarantee any of them go ahead. Getting your feedback might well help influence which projects get selected to go forward! Often prototypes will use temporary graphics or be a bit rudimentary, their purpose is to get across the idea. These are some of the ideas we've been most excited by across the past few months, so we cannot wait to see what you think.
Lastly we'd like to highlight a few projects to be released have already come from ideation:
- Soul Wars - which we're expecting in January.
- Getting Ahead - the first in the series of 'Twisted Tales' which has just been polled, passing at a whopping 90.4%!
- Chambers of Xeric Map Generation changes - polled with Poll 73 and recently released.
Right, here are some of the ideas!
What if you could access a world where you could play quests again and again, all against the clock? A sort of time trial if you will. Old School RuneScape already has a small speedrunning community, which this idea sets to build on by making it far more accessible.
So, what does it consist of:
- A separate world, which you'd log onto with a unique save profile.
- With a special interface, a quest to speedrun can be chosen, it'd show your best times to date.
- For each quest, we'll determine a set of items, levels and quest unlocks required - and then automatically set the player up for it starting the timer.
- If you screw up, quests could be reset at any time, instantly taking you back ready to start again,
- Your best times would be available on the interface, alongside the world record!
Image: Prototype UI showing available quests to choose from, displaying both personal & global bests and more.
We're excited by this and we hope an official system like this would help to give Old School RuneScape a stronger speedrunning scene!
Guardian of Gielinor
A little while ago, there was a discussion on our livestream Q&A around a new Runecrafting skilling feature that'd support making better money out of the skill. This is a potential project that does just that and more! Runecrafting is notorious for its slow progression, something we certainly need to consider carefully when adding anything to the skill, so we're excited to see what you think.
The concept is that the wizards of The Wizard Tower have such a demand on runes, they want greater access to the Runecrafting altars. They attempted to create a hub that'd let them access all of the altars, but something went horribly wrong. All of the abyssal creatures started pouring through the attempted portal; a rift in the fabric of the world. The wizards responded by conjuring a giant Portal Guardian to close the portal, as well as many smaller rift guardians to fight off the abyssal creatures - but they need help, which is where you come in.
Image: Player stood near the giant Portal Guardian, with a special essence in their inventory. The Guardian is putting out a debug message regarding the status of the power level & elemental/catalytic balance.
So, the question I'm sure your asking, what do you do? Let's explain with the core steps we expect the player to do:
- Mine the corpses of fallen rift guardians to receive guardian shards
- Combine these guardian shards with pure essence to create guardian essence
- Imbue the guardian essence at a Runecrafting altar to receive imbued guardian essence in addition to the normal runes
- Return to the Portal Guardian via the altar's portal and powering the guardian using the imbued guardian essence
- Bank or un-note for more pure essence and repeat.
Now, what's this 'balance' level mentioned in the image? For the guardian to power effectively, it'll require the proper balance of different types of runes - use the right type of runes and you'll be scoring more points. Once the guardian reaches full power, this round is complete!
Points as usual, will mean prizes which we have some ideas for:
- Blood Talisman - Access the real blood altar over in Morytania for faster blood rune crafting.
- Rune Packs - Containing a number of various runes, intended to help this activity be good money per hour.
- Colossal Pouch - A rune pouch which can contain up to 27 essence. It cannot be used alongside the other pouches, so essentially acts as all the other pouches in one.
- Runecrafting outfit - When wearing the outfit, it wouldn't give additional experience, instead, it'd offer additional runes.
We really hope this could be a fun and interactive way of training Runecrafting that can fit alongside the existing methods to offer something different. Let us know what you think!
Faction wars is our take on modes like World v World in Guild Wars 2, or Albion Online's Outlands. We believe this could be a really awesome addition to Old School RuneScape.
So if you're not familiar, here's a brief summary...
Faction wars would be a joint PVP & PVM minigame, taking place on a dedicated world. Players would be split into 3 separate factions and fight for territory and resources on a brand new map area with points scored for both the faction and the player. Personal points could unlock both external rewards and buffs within the minigame for the remainder of that war. Bringing us to the last point, the war would reset occasionally, for example, every two weeks.
Image: A quick map mock-up to demonstrate the concept. 3 factions are placed around the map, with many neutral camps found in between alongside sought after resources.
There are two main roles which must be fulfilled, defending and capturing.
Any faction owned camp must be defended. Imagine upgrading the walls around the camp to provide stronger defences, perhaps some barricades might help keep people out and what about a tower suitable for archers to shoot oncoming enemies?
Though why are we defending, what is there to defend? Well owning a territory should be very useful for the faction that owns it, here are some ideas:
- Range Building / Cook - Allows the faction to cook raw food. The higher the tier of Range built, the better food that can be cooked.
- Forge - Furnace & anvils to let people create new equipment, again, better tiers support better equipment.
- Barracks - Allows recruiting and upgrading of NPCs which can be used to assist in defending the camp.
- Faction Bank - Group storage the whole faction can use. Used for sharing food/equipment but also for storing obtained resources.
That's a small insight to the kind of ideas we're talking about.
Want to take down that opposing factions camp? Well this is the info for you. To capture a territory, players need to defeat the territory's commander boss found at the centre of it. This may well be quite difficult if the defending faction has done a good job.
To even have a chance of taking on the commander boss, you're going to have get past the main defence of the opposing faction, be it their recruited NPCs or PVP players.
Should you manage it though:
- A new commander boss would spawn for your faction.
- They would be invulnerable for a period of time.
- This time can be used to fortify defences before another faction attacks.
Lastly, all resources will be unique to Faction Wars and being victorious will require significant contribution not only from players on the PvP front-lines, but also the hunters, gatherers and crafters supporting advancement and upkeep. Along with scaling player stats & combat levels, this should provide a way for players of all types to meaningfully contribute regardless of their progress outside of the minigame.
There's a whole lot more we could talk about, but hopefully that offers a good insight into what we're thinking here. We really think this could offer something for everyone and provide a real community focused PVP feature.
Hmm, what if beyond there was an eyrie looking over Zeah's hunting grounds built into the back of the Woodcutting Guild? Those redwood trees have to be great for an eagles nest right?
This could be the home of a Hunting Guild.
Very early paint sketch to portray the concept!
The Hunting Guild is a Hunter Hub. Located not too far from one of Kharedst's memoir teleport points and the Land's end jetty to the south, it provides a pretty accessible way to access the Eagle network, making the most tedious part of Hunter (actually getting there) a bit more bearable.
Inside, you will find Irvin the Ranger. Keeping an eye on the most endangered species of fauna and flora of the planet, he will occasionally (in a similar fashion to Slayer) issue environmental missions such as culling contracts on certain species threatening to unbalance Gielinor's ecosystem.
- Some animals are overabundant, causing another species to shrink. Their population needs reining in.
- "The larupias have overbred and are threatening the carnivorous chinchompa population. We need someone to cull 15 of them."
- Some animals are affected by disease and need to be culled before they infect others.
- "The polar kebbits are started to be affected with mad kebbit disease and unwell animals need culling before they contaminate the rest of the population". On this contract, the fallen kebbits would drop fur and bones, but no meat.
- Relocation orders, where you catch X individuals, but catching them doesn't actually kill them. You not get bones, meats, furs/feathers as long as you're on the job, but would get the animal themselves which you'd then bring those back to the Guild for a reward. Alternatively, you may need to relocate them (moving copper longtails from the kourend area to the jungle area, for instance).
- Catching particularly large specimens (think elite mobs, but for Hunter) because they're causing trouble and need moving. In this instance you'd only be tasked with catching one creature, but one that only has a chance to appear when hunting animals of its kind.
These are just a few of the recent 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 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 Ins and Outs
We missed some Gazettes, and that means we've got five new J-Mods to introduce you to!
Mod Ayiza is our new Senior Community Manager:
Hello, I'm Mod Ayiza! You might remember me from my time as a Community Manager for Old School RuneScape back in 2018. Well I'm back again, this time as a Senior Community Manager! For those that don't know me, I've played RuneScape on and off for over 15 years... it's true what they say, you never do truly quit. I primarily play a HCIM (W342 is the best world btw) but I've been glued to the current Trailblazer League which is the most fun I've had in the game for a long time. I'm extremely passionate about OSRS and I will always try my best to do what is right for the amazing community we have, because if our players are happy then I'm happy! It was a childhood dream to work at Jagex and it's an absolute honour to be back :)
A lot of really positive changes have happened since I left Jagex and it's clear to me just how important OSRS is to everyone here. Alongside learning the names of all the fantastic Mods we now have in the team, I've been getting up to speed with new processes that are in place and I've just started planning the first projects I'll be working on which I can't wait to share with you all once I'm able to!
Mod Wolfy is our new Principal QA Analyst:
Hi everyone! I am Mod Wolfy and I'm thrilled to say I have just joined the Old School team as a Principal QA Analyst. I've been working in QA for the last eight-or-so years and I've always wanted to work with the Old School team! I have been playing RuneScape for about 15 years now, with a soft spot for questing in-game (I'm working on getting my cape back again!). I'm eager to get stuck in with the QA team and can't wait to help bring more content for you to enjoy.
Mod Zuko is our new Junior Content Developer:
Hi players! My name's Mod Zuko, and I just joined Jagex today as a Content Developer for Old School RuneScape! I have a bit of an unusual background for the role, having focused on hardware development and low level programming over the last five years (with a side of Windows/Linux software development). I started playing RuneScape in 2004, and used to love skilling, roleplaying, and spending my time chatting in game. I've been playing Old School since the 2013 launch, and have slowly moved from skilling into combat and faster paced content. I'm beyond excited to start working on a product I've spent my whole life following, with a team getting bigger by the minute! I hope I can help to provide more awesome stuff for you all. :)
Alongside the three awesome additions above, we'd like you to welcome Mod Gecko and Mod Katies, our new QA Analysts. Unfortunately they're both enjoying some time away from work at the moment, but we'll give them the opportunity to introduce themselves in the next 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 to see if you're well suited to a position!
Old School has a very special blood running through its veins – you, our fantastic players. And as with everything else, if you’ve got any ideas about the sorts of things you’d like to see in upcoming editions of the Gielinor Gazette, then please do let us know!
Mods Acorn, Arcane, Archie, Argo, Ash, Ayiza, Banjo, Boko, Bonsai, Brow, Bruno, Curse, Daizong, Deagle, Ditto, Ed, Elena, Errol, Fed, Flippy, Gayns, Gecko, Gee, Halo, Husky, Impact, Jndr, John C, Kandosii, Katies, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Lyric, Mack, Maylea, MikeD, Morty, Nasty, Nin, Oasis, Roq, Ry, Sarnie, Squid, Steve W, Sween, Tide, Vegard, West, Wolfy & Zuko
The Old School Team