Gielinor Gazette: June 2020

Gielinor Gazette: June 2020

Hello and welcome to the June edition of the Gielinor Gazette! This month we'll be updating you on our PvP vision, sharing some insight into the Clans Update, talking about the art direction of Old School and the status of ongoing projects, and introducing you to two new members of the Old School team!

Project Update
  • Leagues: Leagues has officially started development! Detailed design work defining the list of relics and tasks is underway, and we're also trying something we've never done before - retaining some elements after resetting a save game (this functionality was provided by Mod Vegard).

  • Early Game Improvements: A number of minor changes to the tutorial are being tested. While we're keeping an eye on that, the next steps for Adventure Paths are in progress, and will hopefully be added into the game in the near future.

  • Clans: As you can read about in this very blog, good progress is being made! Interfaces for letting players play with rank permissions have been created, and work continues on integrating and testing new engine features. Being a very tech heavy project, there's currently a lot of back and forth between Engine and Content Development and this makes release dates difficult to determine for the time being.

  • 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.

  • 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 until after the second League has been launched. For anyone not aware, A Kingdom Divided is the next quest in the Kourend storyline and it is set to offer some new Arceuus spells as a reward.

  • PvP: You can read lots about PvP below. In July's Gazette we'll have even more to say about competitive gaming. The last few months have seen a lot of action courtesy of the 1v1 Tournament and the DMM Tournament - as we conduct our own internal retrospectives we'll share the outcomes, and what to expect next.

  • 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: Now that Darkmeyer has launched, the Wardens team are gradually moving on to development of the second League. The intention is for Soul Wars to follow after that. However, some work does continue on making animation backporting possible (animations were one of the few things we were unable to backport in the initial prototype).

  • Death: It's still being tested, which is a huge job in itself. If all goes well, we're expecting to release it later this month. Read last month's Gazette for more information about the upcoming changes.

Clans Update

We're really getting into the nitty gritty of this update now. Specifically, we've been drilling down on some guest joining issues and further refining the core Clan architecture.

The Foundations Of A Rank System

It's easier to see the progress made on the Rank System than on some of the other less player-facing systems we've been working on. Many of you have often complained about the inflexibility of the old chat channels. Clans will not only make some immediate improvements, but also allow more scope for future expansion.

We've now enabled 15 ranks (or 16 if you count the clan owner) and created a drag-and-drop menu letting you assign different titles to each rank. The usual military titles are offered, along with various other tier systems (RuneScape metals and gems, colour codes and much more) to cover a wider variety of tastes. These ranks will also receive icons, although this won't occur until later in development.

You can also customise what actions each rank is permitted to take. These options are currently basic, such as talking and kicking, but more are on the way.

Much of the work here focuses on making these systems expandable, so that the addition of new ranks and titles won't cause any disruption.

We also need the pop-up menu components to be usable with other in-development menus. Creating an expandable and flexible system is inevitably a bit slower than just making a one-off feature, but it will pay off in the long run. As always, we really do appreciate your patience!

PvP Vision Update

In March's Gielinor Gazette we presented a possible vision for the future of PvP in Old School. Here's an update on where all that's at.

Return of Bounty Hunter: We want to reiterate that we are aware of ongoing concerns around boosting since the return of Bounty Hunter. We're assessing what to do next and we'll update you once a decision has been made. When Bounty Hunter was removed earlier this year, we said that we'd re-consider Bounty Hunter's place in Old School if we're unable to deliver a quality experience. One solution being considered is the replacement of the Bounty Hunter minigame with worlds which have the target system active. It'd also be possible for us to implement a PJ timer on these worlds to further incentivise solo PKing activity. This would effectively make it a PKing task activity without any bespoke rewards (just the loot you'd get from killing your opponents). If we do explore this, we'd move the current rewards elsewhere (likely the Last Man Standing rewards shop) and we'd allow the Vesta's Longsword to be wieldable on the target worlds. We're also considering the idea of making Blighted stuff usable on PvP worlds.

Removal of PvP worlds: This was perhaps the most divisive of the proposed ideas, and we've decided against it. We maintain that this was a sensible proposal at the time, but we're now satisfied that the level of support and activity within PvP Worlds is enough to justify they remain.

Restrict Wilderness access to specific worlds: Another divisive one! With Old School's increased player count, we're seeing a lot of activity in the Wilderness across most worlds. We'll continue monitoring player numbers before making any decisions. We wouldn't expect any changes to happen until we make the other Wilderness alterations.

Remove High Risk worlds, replace with Very High Risk worlds: We'd still like to proceed with this. It's possible that it might happen alongside the release of the Wilderness Hub (see below).

Moving Clan Wars and Last Man Standing to the Wilderness: This will happen alongside the release of the Wilderness Hub (see below).

Resolve Last Man Standing quality issues: This is definitely something we're doing. Since March's blog, we've made changes to help combat boxing and also reduced the number of F2P activity worlds. Alongside the quality-of-life changes, we're also ideating new maps and game modes which we'll share in the future. Below is a sneak peak of a ruined Varrock map concept:

Redesigning Wilderness bosses: We're still keen on this. It makes sense to release all boss changes at one time, which means that it's still some way away from release. We'll share more at a later date.

W45 Deadman: We'll be polling the community on this world, although the poll options are yet to be determined and the team hasn't yet reached a consensus. We acknowledge that players have invested a lot of time and effort into their characters, and while a game-wide reset might offer a short boost in life, we aren't convinced that we won't be in a similar position again in a year's time.

Wilderness PJ timer: Another one we're unsure about as there are clear benefits and negatives either way. It remains a contested issue, and it's one we're going to have to make a decisive call on.

Last Man Standing queuing: This is a 'nice-to-have' but it's not key to our plans. We think the queuing changes we're making to Last Man Standing (described below) will help a lot.

Wilderness Safe Respawn Area: This is coming with the Wilderness Hub.

Ferox' Enclave (The Wilderness Hub)

We've mentioned a Wilderness Hub a few times, so you're probably wondering what it is! Here's Mod Oasis to walk you through Ferox' Enclave, which we hope to release next month.

The beginning of this update started with a simple idea: How can we unite the wide variety of PvP in Old School while also creating a new home for current and future content?

The idea found roots in the heart of the Wilderness, and within the decrepit ruins of a long forgotten civilisation, Ferox' Enclave was born. Ferox, an old Zamorakian acolyte, has given up his pursuit for knowledge of gods past and has turned the ruins of an ancient town into a final chance for Gielinor's most ruthless denizens.

Player vs Player Combat

We've designed the hub to offer a variety of PvP experiences.

To the north, you'll find the remnants of a long destroyed town square which branches off into the graveyard of shadows. These ruins sport a eerie similarity to the main square in Varrock.

Along to the east, we've placed a bridge over the a small body of water. This bridge opens out to the further reaches of the wilderness, creating a very tight PvP experiences which players will find similar to the gates of Lumbridge.

To the south, you'll find a grimly marked entrance to the enclave. Only a few tiles to the Enclave's Bank Master, there's an entrance based on the wildly popular Grand Exchange.

Finally, to the west you'll find little in the way of markers and scenery. The barren and open entrance may remind you of Camelot.

We've also placed Ferox' Enclave along the level 15 combat bracket of the Wilderness, allowing players to quickly match up with others in their bracket by going through any of the entrances.

To help keeps players safe and to avoid any unwanted deaths, we've implemented some safeguarding features. For each of the four entrances, we've added barriers that you'll need to click to enter or exit. They function similarly to the Wilderness ditch and will warn if you haven't disabled them. These barriers ensure players know when they're leaving the safety of the Enclave!

In addition, each exit also has a buffer zone of a few tiles, allowing you to move freely before hunting out a foe. There are also safe paths on the outside of the Enclave between the southern, western and northern exits. To help keep you in the heart of the action, Ferox will also offer players the chance to set the Enclave as their respawn location!

Clan Wars and Last Man Standing

The Enclave was from the start designed to be the new home for Clan Wars and Last Man Standing. With that in mind, we've given both of these mini games a Wilderness facelift.

Starting with Last Man Standing, we've created a new lobby area that splits into three waiting rooms across the multiple floors. Competitive will be easily accessible through the ground floor, casual on the first floor and high stakes on the top floor.

To help players easily identify which game mode is close to launching, we've added a new display when you enter the Last Man Standing building. It shows the current waiting players total, as well as how many more are needed before a round can begin. If the thought of climbing the stairs is too tiring, have no fear - Lisa will be on hand to quickly send you to the relevant lobby to save you the extra clicks!

Speaking of which, Lisa and Justine have had a slight update to better fit their new Wilderness aesthetic. On their way up from the desert, they made a short diversion to purchase a new coffer which can now be found in the hub. It even has a handy slot in the top to deposit your hard earned gold.

Clan Wars has also enjoyed a bit of a revamp. The area has been condensed and has an additional couple of floors for players to talk in private with their teams before entering the portals. Just north of the Clan Wars waiting area is a new church for battle weary players to rest and restore their stats. By praying at the pools in the church, you'll receive the benefits of entering and leaving the Clan Wars free-for-all portal, without the hassle and extra clicks.

Future of the Enclave

Ferox' Enclave is the foundation from which we hope to offer more PvP content. All of this is just the start of our plans for the Wilderness and we hope you're as excited as we are about the possibilities! Who knows, maybe you'll find some teases for our future plans as well...

Old School's Art Direction

Hey everyone!

It’s Mod Deagle (Associate Art Director, Old School RuneScape) here with an update on what the art team's been working on for the past couple of weeks during these very extraordinary times.

Old School has a very distinctive visual style that's endured its share of twists and turns over the past seven years. As the art director, I want to focus on bringing these disparate elements together in a more cohesive way. There a couple things we want to address before diving deeper:

  • We do not aspire to look anything like RuneScape, as much as we love RS3’s art style.

  • We want to identify the DNA of what makes Old School visually distinctive, and push that even further.

  • We are looking at ways to modernise the graphical features of the game.

  • The art team will never do anything that will harm your core game play experience.

  • Ultimately, we want to bring you, the players of Old School, along with us on that journey so the game's very iconic art style can be preserved, while also modernizing the visual experience.

I know what you’re thinking: “What does he mean when he says ‘modernizing’ the art style?"

There are lots of modern ways of showcasing games. Everything from light cast from the sun creating shadows to water reflections, or even just simple things like being able to see further. Obviously, many modern graphical features will not necessarily fit Old School, and our priority will always be to preserve its look and feel.

Let us look at some character examples:

As you can see, these different models lack visual consistency, mixing realism and stylism. Some have greater proportions or exaggerated anatomical features, while others are more lifelike.

So how do we make our art more consistent? Let's look at an example that we are working on today.

The Superior Hydra (from Poll 71)!

The first thing we need to understand is the core design of this feature. This involves everything from how the beast moves to what kind of attack it has. Does it use magic or physical weapons, for instance? We must also understand the background story of the Superior Hydra. Art and lore in this game are very much intertwined, with the former acting as a visual aid to the latter.

So, after receiving all the information about the Hydra from the designers, it is time for a little R&D.

Phase 1 - Brief

This research step goes through a creative process and applies visual direction. These could be words, imagery that support the words or anything that makes the intent clear to the artist. This is usually called a Creative Brief.

The direction for all 'living' species is as follows:

  • Anatomically correct (form follows function)

  • Realistic proportions

  • Support the lore

  • Grounded style

  • Keep the iconic features

For bestiary, there is additional direction:

  • Evolutionary progression

  • Clear distinction of different tiers

Phase 2 - Reference

A big part of the research phase involves reference gathering. References can be all kinds of imagery that supports the given direction. This phase is crucial and can rightfully take a lot of time, all of which precedes any actual production of an art asset.

Phase 3 - Moodboard

Once we are happy with the gathered imagery, we go through them all and select a few that we feel best represent the brief. Those are then put together on one single image which we call a 'moodboard'. This helps convey the goal of the art asset for designers and concept artists.

Phase 4 - Concept Art

This is when the fun begins and the concept artists can start working on a design! For the Superior Hydra, the lore dictates that when the Dragonkin in Karuulm created the hydras, despite being superb examples he saw them as failed experiments. How can we visualise the idea of 'failed experiments'? The concepting stage is a perfect place to answer these types of questions. As more questions arise, more iterations of the concept are created.

Phase 5 - Finalising Concept

All of the disciplines involved in the creation of the asset will align at this stage. The final concept is presented, and if there are no issues found it is off to the 2D/3D character artists to create the model!

As you can see, there is a whole lot of work that goes into making a single object like the Superior Hydra!

The same is true for all of the other slayer monsters. Keep in mind that this is just one creature. We are also undergoing a lot of R&D for things like props, terrain and entire environments.

That is all for now, but fear not as we have many new things in the works and will keep all of you updated!

- Mod Deagle

Old School's In's and Out's

We're delighted to announce that we've got two new faces joining the Old School team!

Mod Argo, a QA Analyst, is the first of our new faces.

Hi everyone! I have recently joined Jagex as a QA Analyst. I have years of experience testing video games and I could not be more excited to be working on my all-time favourite game. I was introduced to RuneScape about 15 years ago, when roaming through the Wilderness in full Addy gear was still a done thing, and wearing full Sara with a Blue Halloween mask was a symbol of godly status among free-to-play players. My friends would agree that I am a helpful and creative person who occasionally likes scoring afterlife points by sending virtual baddies to the realm of darkness!

Mod Mack, a Junior Content Developer, is up next.

I’m a Computer Science graduate. After University, I spent a year working as a Software Engineer until I recently joined the Old School team as a Junior Content Developer. So far, I’ve mostly been spending my time learning about the Old School development process as a new addition to the Unknown team. I have been playing RuneScape since around 2006, and I’m super excited to transfer my experience as a player into cool and engaging new content for the community!

In last month's Gazette we walked you through each of the core Old School teams and the J-Mods who comprise them. We mentioned that there's hundreds of other J-Mods around the studio who don't solely work on Old School but who all have a hand in helping make our game great. There was an appetite to learn more about the unseen J-Mods behind the scenes, so each month we'll be hearing from one J-Mod from around the studio.

This month we say hello to Mod Parrish!

Hi there! I have worked at Jagex for seven years and I currently head up the Creative Services department. Our team is made up of Graphic Designers, Illustrators, and UX Designers and work on both RuneScape games as well as other bespoke Jagex requests. I myself joined Jagex as a Graphic Designer and have progressed to my current 'Head of' role.

For OSRS, we work on key art pieces, logos and marketing assets for game updates. This means working with the Old School team to create engaging pieces of artwork that can help advertise new updates. Over my time at Jagex, there are several pieces of logo and branding work I have produced for Old School that stand out to me: PvP All Stars, Fossil Island, Deadman, Twisted League, Inferno and Theatre of Blood come to mind.

In the future I want to help shape Old School’s brand identity as it continues to grow, and establish consistency in its appearance outside of the game itself.

Finally, as well as being an avid gamer, I love representing Jagex in various sports teams. Many J-Mods and I, including Mod Sween, regularly enter football tournaments (sporting our Deadman tees) and we have done pretty well in the games industry football scene!

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 – 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, Banjo, Boko, Bonsai, Bruno, Curse, Deagle, Ed, Errol, Fed, Flippy, Gayns, Gee, Halo, Husky, Impact, Jndr, John C, Kandosii, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Lyric, Mack, Maylea, MikeD, Nasty, Oasis, Roq, Ry, Steve W, Sween, Tide, Vegard, Weath & West

The Old School Team