Welcome to the May edition of the Gielinor Gazette! This month we’ll be updating you on everything the team’s been working on, (re)introducing you to the Old School team, shining some light on the Leagues design process and... talking a bit about death.
Darkmeyer: Darkmeyer arrives on Thursday June 4th with the Sins of the Father quest! Learn all about the next chapter in the Myreque series here.
HiScore Problems: We're aware that there have again been issues with HiScores recently, particularly during peak times. We believe this is related to high player numbers, and are looking into whether anything can be done.
Leagues: With Darkmeyer entering its final two weeks of development, The Wardens team is beginning development of the next League. There are initially some new engine systems to integrate and test - there's more on this below!
Soul Wars: With work continuing on Darkmeyer, not much has changed for Soul Wars at this point. We're still investigating what changes should be made to the minigame, as well as considering what rewards it should offer. Meanwhile, some encouraging progress has been made on animation backporting (animations were one of the few things we were unable to backport in the initial prototype). This should help ensure that Soul Wars looks as faithful as possible.
Early Game Improvements: We're now at the point of being able to start feeding some of our tutorial changes into the game, so will be keeping a close eye on what effect these have on new players' experience. We're also getting to work on the next phase of the Adventure Paths system, alongside a few small changes to early game content - such as the bronze-only anvil offered in Poll 71 that allows players to learn Smithing in one place.
Clans: Exciting progress is being made on the clans project! Content development work has now begun with the start of our fourth development team, The Juggernauts! There's a ton of back and forth between engine and content development as they begin integrating the new system.
Group Ironman: A new group HiScores system is integral to the Group Ironman project to allow for the various 99/max races to take place at launch. Mod Boko did a technical investigation to determine the best approach for the Group HiScores and is looking to get going on that, alongside remaining Clans engine work. Group Ironman would ultimately follow the Clans launch.
A Kingdom Divided: Work on A Kingdom Divided isn't set to begin until later in the year, so there's no news right now. In case anyone needs a refresh, A Kingdom Divided is the next quest in the Kourend storyline. It will offer some new Arceuus spells as a reward.
PvM Achievements: With focus on other projects, little has been done on this recently. Achievements remains a high-level concept with the idea of introducing various boss tasks and challenges. We've talked about creating a new interface, or 'Boss Hub', to house these changes.
Account Security and Login Issues: Late last year we explained that we'd like to make significant changes to the account security features that we offer. Whilst these security features remain high on the list of studio priorities, our tech teams are still focused on delivering long-term solutions to the effects of the sustained malicious attacks which have a clear noticeable impact on your ability to play. It's of the utmost importance to fully resolve the situation.
PvP: In March's edition of the Gazette, we outlined a possible direction for PvP within Old School RuneScape. We're still refining what that looks like mid-term and long-term, but in the meantime we've been busy with the return (and ongoing monitoring) of Bounty Hunter, the 1v1 Tournament and the DMM tournament. We're busy with the design of a new Wilderness hub which will host Clan Wars and Last Man Standing, as well as a Bank and new centre of activity.
Death: We're hoping to deliver the Death update in mid-June. You can learn more about these changes and the reason for the delay below.
The Next League
The team was very happy with Twisted League’s success and naturally we were excited to start working on a second League.
Player feedback told us that you wanted more Relics, an extended late game, and for tasks to feel fairer and more rewarding. These goals have shaped our key points of improvement for our next League. More Leagues are coming, and we remain very open to your feedback , so please keep on sending us your brilliant concepts and thoughts of what could make your experience better.
Thinking about what was next for Leagues, a lot of important questions needed answering, such as:
Leagues: Core design
The core part of Leagues is the combination of tasks, Relics and a unique rule-set.
In Twisted League the rule-set was inspired by the player-made Region-locked Ironman game mode. In our version this meant locking every player in Kourend and Kebos and then disabling teleports and other means of getting away. These rules created a bunch of new challenges for the player, forcing a move away from the established meta and encouraging creative thinking - it rewards adaptability. Players are forced to learn new ways of leveling their skills, to work with limited resources, and to re-think how their ideal end-game setup for gear and weapons would look like, plus how to acquire those items.
As the game-mode is temporary, the Relics are there to help you progress faster, as well as giving you new and different mechanics to play around with. Relics also bring a strategic choice, as you can choose between many combinations to personalize your experience.
Lastly, tasks gave players a purpose. As a system, tasks give us a way to guide new players through a League by presenting small challenges to complete, while also challenging experienced players with tough objectives that otherwise lack a sense of reward in the main game. Each task completed in Leagues gives a set of points based on the difficulty. These points act both as a way to measure performance and also as a currency for unlocking Relics. Some tasks in Twisted League were easy (such as reaching level 10 in woodcutting) while some tasks were so difficult that only a few players managed to complete them. Many tasks are closely tied to the theme of the League, such as the Chambers of Xeric tasks we saw in Twisted League, and players can expect the same in future Leagues.
One of the great things about Leagues is that it gives us the chance to try new concepts and ideas that would not normally fit into the main game. In Twisted League, for example, we gave you the option to unlock a Relic that would boost your attack speed with any weapon. While this is something we could obviously not implement to the main game, it was incredibly fun to play around with. The added bonus is it gives the developers a chance to see how new ideas pan out when put into players' hands. This does not necessarily mean you will see such things implemented to the main game, of course!
What is the next League?
We've encouraged the team to think outside of the box to ensure the next League feels fresh and exciting, and is a completely new experience.
Our first step was to spend two full design days brainstorming new concepts. This was followed by further meetings to polish our designs and squeeze the best out of our ideas. This was harder than expected - there were contrasting opinions on what was and was not crucial, and how to make our crazy ideas fit into the League-formula. Ideally the rule-set, tasks and Relics should work in harmony with each other, but this is difficult when some concepts naturally tend to give space for amazing Relic design, but no room for interesting tasks, or vice versa. Should a concept be dependent on the Relics, or should tasks and Relics adapt to a good concept? There's no right and wrong answer, and these discussions remain ongoing!
Here's a look at some of the ideas we've toyed with throughout the process:
Kingdoms and factions
Many of our ideas revolved around letting players join competing regions or factions in Gielinor.
One idea was for the West and East sides of Gielinor to face off. Players could either pick or be assigned to a side at the start of the League, and at specific times a portal would open in the center of the world allowing players to enter the other side. PvP would be enabled between the two regions, so you could attack any player entering your side of the world. This would mean players could acquire items, complete quests or kill monsters on the other side of the would but at the price of having to themselves survive. Another idea was to split the world into smaller regions that would collect resources for a huge PvP battle at the conclusion of the event. While we loved both ideas, we worry that it will be tough to ensure that a player's individual progress would remain interesting within the wider context. After all, personal goals are a big part of Old School RuneScape. However, we still believe in the core of the idea and hope to make it work in the future.
PvP oriented Leagues
The idea of a PvP-based League remains very appealing.
One possibility is a League containing elements from a previous RuneScape game mode called DarkScape, which split the world into different regions using separate Banks. This means players only have access to items collected in that region unless transferred across borders in your inventory, which becomes difficult when PvP is enabled everywhere. Another concept, 'Escalation League', gives boosted XP rates in dangerous zones that increase the longer you stay. Of course, if a player dies in such a zone, all experience gained during the session is lost, but you can secure your gained experience and reset the XP-boost multiplier by entering a safe zone.
Our design sessions ran into some problems designing non-abusable tasks. There was also the issue of ensuring things remained interesting for those less keen on PvP. DMM did a good job with this, as any player could still enjoy the increased experience rates and the thrill of surviving in a world with PvP enabled anywhere. This idea also throws up problems with Ironman, as a League with free trade and PvP presents new problems such as boosting for points, transferring items between accounts and more. However, we'd still love a future League along these lines - game modes like DMM could be even more interesting when you throw Relics into the mix!
A Seasonal League's goal is to split Gielinor into four weather seasons that would rotate over the course of one or a few days, meaning each area would have different weather at different times of the day. These conditions could have various effects such as making the player's run energy drain slower in winter, or making farming crops grow faster in spring and yield more in summer. Plus, monsters could stay idle in winter and all become aggressive when it's warm. The general idea is to force players to pick the most optimal region/season at any point according to the goals of their account.
In Scrambled League, all of your skills are mixed around. Through either pre-made pattern allowing you to compete on HiScores, or potentially through a casual random mode, each one of your skills' XP rates would be bound to another skill. Suddenly, when cutting a maple tree you're getting Fishing experience! When pickpocketing a guard you're gaining Runecraft XP! This scrambled way of experience rates forces you to rethink the meta we are all used to, and to plan your journey carefully. If you want to catch end-game fishes, you are going to have to cut trees... but your Woodcutting level is not getting higher as you are cutting the trees, because you now train Woodcutting through combat. Confusing at first glance, but enjoyable once you get to grips with it. This core of the concept works, but we would like some more depth to it before proceeding.
This League would split Gielinor into small map squares. To give you an idea, one square equates to Lumbridge castle and the area in front of it. Each player starts out being restricted to one of these map squares and as you progress by gaining League Points or completing tasks, you can unlock any adjacent map square. This way, the player can unfold the world to their liking and progress in any direction they want. We were considering this concept as a second League, but there are technical blockers we need to tackle first, such as being able to remember and store any possible number of map squares a player can be allowed to enter, and displaying those boundaries clearly.
Hello ________ League!
However... we have now actually decided on a final concept for our second League! We have finished most of the design and work is beginning. This time, we have added an extra layer of strategic choice - it should make for many very interesting player journeys. We are excited to hear your ideas and theories of what it could be, and we cannot wait to once again play and explore the new League together with you!
The Death Update
It's been a while since we updated you on the proposed update to death mechanics. Development began in early March, though we've since paused work on the project. A major reason for that was the pandemic. As well as disrupted availability of some QA staff, we also chose to prioritise more engaging activities while players were locked down, such as the recent 1v1 Tournament and the ongoing DMM competition. Also, we don't think it'd be appropriate to release this kind of change to death mechanics during the DMM competition. A mid-June release is now more likely.
The full design is detailed in the blog, but here's a brief overview:
When you die, most items will move to your gravestone, which appears roughly where you died. If you died in an 'instanced' area, such as a private kraken room, the gravestone will be placed outside of it. Likewise, a gravestone would appear outside the four GWD boss rooms.
The gravestone is available on every equivalent world, so you don't have to remember which one you died on.
It will remain in place for 15 minutes, counting down only while you're logged in. It also pauses if you become inactive, so that a player who's struggling with their connection won't be disadvantaged.
On arrival at your grave, you may be asked to pay a small fee, depending on the value of what it contains. Most items - especially newbie kit - don't accrue any fee at all. And there's a discount for Iron accounts.
You'll be able to loot a grave from a few tiles away, which may help in a dangerous area. Combat won't force its interface to close either.
Dying again while you already have a grave active will generally send your items to the existing grave, though any food or potions in the grave will be dropped to the ground beneath it and remain there for a long time, so that you can still make supply caches.
After a grave expires
Once your grave expires, it sends its contents to Death's Office.
You can take as long as you wish to visit Death's Office to retrieve items, but you can expect a somewhat higher fee (with another discount for Iron accounts). Entry to the Office is via suitably sepulchral scenery near each respawn point.
However, you don't have to pay for it all with cash. In the Office is Death's Coffer - items you sacrifice there will credit you with 105% of their GE value. This money can't be withdrawn as cash, though. as it's just used for paying gravestone fees.
Death won't accept cheap items in his Coffer either: each individual item has to be worth 10k coins, even if you've got a high quantity of them.
Reasons this may not apply
Firstly, none of this applies to Ultimate Iron accounts. While it may feel odd to exclude that mode while other players experience a change, due to their methods of holding items it would affect them disproportionately. We have no interest in changing that niche mode in such a way.
Aside from that, places with special death protection rules - such as the Theatre of Blood, Vorkath, the Volcanic Mine and (coming soon) the Hallowed Sepulchre - will be left alone. Their fixed fees and unlimited collection duration will still apply.
The one that will change, however, is Zulrah. This doesn't currently have a fee, nor the menu for choosing what to retrieve. It will get both as part of this update. However, the fee will only be charged once you've got a Zulrah kill-count of 50, so new players can continue learning as they always have. Also Ultimate Iron accounts will continue retrieving the items from the priestess as they currently do, with no menu or fee.
We originally said that the current mechanics would be temporary when we installed them, and while we're not offering to maintain the current (very patchy) state forever, the February survey showed a lot of interest in this approach. We'd also like to let graves persist over disconnections and reboots, which they currently don't do well at all.
Who's Who and Who's New?
Over the past year we've said goodbye to a few familiar faces and welcomed lots new friends. As the list of names at the bottom of our newsposts keeps growing, we thought it'd be a good opportunity to tell you who's who and what they do!
The Leadership Team
Goal: Provide guidance, direction, and coordination to the other teams and the product as a whole. You'll notice that there's a mix disciplines and expertise here - this ensures that all areas of the Old School team have a seat at the table and help guide the direction of the game.
Mod Bonsai (Executive Producer), Mod Jndr (Lead Producer), Mod Jalo (Project Manager), Mod MikeD (Product Director), Mod John C (Product Manager), Mod Onion (Head of Product Marketing), Mod Sween (Lead Community Manager), Mod Kieren (Lead Content Developer), Mod Deagle (Associate Art Director), Mod Fed (QA Manager), Mod Ash (Juggernauts Lead), Mod Roq (Operators Lead), Mod Lenny (Unknown Lead), Mod Ed (Wardens Lead), and Mod Vegard (Engine Lead).
Goal: Create larger pieces of content which help to retain and entertain our existing players, but might also attract new players. Some examples here include the upcoming Darkmeyer release and the recent Twisted League.
Mod Ed (Senior Content Developer), Mod Husky (Content Developer), Mod Flippy (Junior Content Developer), and Mod Bruno (Junior QA Analyst).
Goal: Refine the early game to better retain new players. Examples include the Adventure Paths system, though more recently they were responsible for delivering the DMM tournament!
Mod Lenny (Content Developer), Mod Tide (Junior Content Developer), and Mod Curse (QA Analyst).
Goal: Deliver quality of life updates and responding to what the players want to see! These are the updates you see in most polls, and that make up the regular weekly game update.
Mod Roq (Upload Manager), Mod Maylea (Content Developer), Mod Arcane (Content Developer), Mod Oasis (Junior Content Developer), and Mod Halo (QA Analyst).
Goal: Deliver large group-based game features, like Clans and Group Ironman. This is a brand-new team, expected to grow very soon!
Mod Ash (Principal Content Developer).
Goal: Provide all visuals for Old School RuneScape. The artists are also members of other development teams, moving based on project commitments.
Mod West (Artist), Mod Ry (Artist), and Mod Gee (Junior Character Artist).
Game Engine Tech
Goal: Let the content developers make great things! They're responsible for things like the Mobile release, and they're working on the work needed for Clans.
Mod Vegard (Lead Game Engine Developer), and Mod Boko (Senior Game Engine Developer).
Goal: Communicate with the players and act as the conduit for our game's releases. Similarly to the graphics team, they'll be working very closely with the development teams based on project commitments.
Mod Sween (Lead Community Manager), Mod Acorn (Senior Community Manager), Mod Impact (Junior Community Manager), Mod Lyric (Project Manager), Mod Weath (Anti Cheating Specialist), Mod Kandosii (Product Marketing Manager), Mod Gayns (Brand & Product Marketing Executive), Mod Banjo (Editorial Manager), Mod Errol (Junior Copywriter), Mod Archie (Video Producer), Mod SteveW (Customer Support Manager), Mod Lottie (Senior Product Analyst), and Mod Nasty (Product Analyst).
While the above represents the dedicated core team, this is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the number of people at Jagex working on Old School. There are plenty of teams and talented individuals who contribute to the game across the whole studio!
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!
In Other News
Twitch Prime Membership: Our Twitch Prime promotion is here, and with Darkmeyer coming soon and the DMM tournament ongoing. Make sure you don't forget to use it to claim your 14 days of free membership! Check the article for more information.
Poll 71: Yesterday we closed Poll 71 which offered 40 PvM and quality of life questions, including a lot of changes to things like Raids and bosses! The content that passes will be added over the coming weeks. Check the blog for more information.
DMM: We're about halfway through the DMM tournament, which culminates on Saturday May 30th. Head over to the DMM blog to learn about the massive XP rates, dangerous PvP, and tons of loot!
Annual Survey: On Friday May 15th we'll be opening up Old School RuneScape's biggest ever survey. This is your opportunity to have your say on the future of the game, and we need your help!
Livestreams: We're committed to bringing you more streams! Join us for the following livestreams, over at twitch.tv/oldschoolrs!
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, Ash, Banjo, Boko, Bonsai, Bruno, Curse, Deagle, Ed, Errol, Fed, Flippy, Gayns, Gee, Halo, Husky, Impact, Jndr, John C, Kandosii, Kieren, Lenny, Lottie, Lyric, Maylea, MikeD, Nasty, Oasis, Roq, Ry, Steve W, Sween, Tide, Vegard, Weath & West
The Old School Team