This week's livestream focused on answering some general Q&A! We answered a range of questions about the game, including:
- Content we'd love to see
- Shopscape and its current status
- Bad Luck Protection
- Possible updates for Slayer
- Struggles as a Developer
Thanks to Mod Light (Community Manager), Mod Kieren (Associate Design Director), Mod Ash (Product Manager), Mod Bruno (QA Analyst) and Mod Kirby (Junior Content Developer) for their insight!
DISCLAIMER: Livestreams are a glimpse into the ongoing creative process at Jagex. JMods are speaking off-the-cuff and their comments are not intended to be read in the same way as prepared updates from the company. Please keep this in mind when discussing the Q&A!
Missed the livestream? Check out the full transcript below!
Now that Raids 3 has been released, when will we find out about future updates? We’d love to see what the roadmap has in store next!
I would like to let you know that you'll find out more about our future updates at the next summit.
I can't tell you a date yet, but it will be happening in winter. We're planning to give a presentation-style stream similar to how we handled the Summer Summit. When we're ready to share that with you, more news will be coming officially on that.
When can we start storing multiple accounts on Jagex Launcher?
I’ve talked with Ayiza about this question. You can expect more news on this relatively soon. Ayiza has said you can expect it to come in the upcoming weeks. I know that he was in a meeting about the Jagex launcher today, so all I can assume is that there is movement on it. We'll share more information when we're ready to, in the next coming weeks.
Can you tell us a bit more about the projects which were presented in your last Game Jam? We’d love to know which if any were green-lighted to go further. Also, were there any that didn’t get a response you had hoped for, but you think would be a significant contribution to the main game?
Can the Jar of Darkness drop rate be looked at again? The previous poll failed by 3%, presumably partly because the 1/500 rate that was polled was still too rare for some voters. Also, when is the next content Poll coming out?
We have good news! This particular topic is going to be brought up in Poll 77, and it’s coming up relatively soon. So, adjustments will be made to the rate that the Jar of Darkness drops. It will be polled. No adjustments will be made until it passes the poll, as well as the stale baguette, which we know is something that has come up a lot in player feedback.
More information is going to be in the Poll 77 blog. I don't have an ETA for you on that. We expect it to come as soon as the team has finished giving feedback on it, and it's gone through all our usual processes.
I think it's an awkward one because it's tradable. It has a price associated with it. There's some prestige with players who have got it. These ones are always difficult, because we feel like we probably made a mistake. We made the Jar of Darkness too rare, given how you interact with Skotizo getting the totems.
Similar to the stale baguette, you have to get the right random event and then get lucky on top of that. The odds stack means it is a hard item to get. Because they're tradable, it can be quite difficult to change them and for players to be happy on both sides. So I'd be interested in what the community thinks. If they are untradable, it'd be a lot easier!
We were maybe a bit too harsh when we released them. I wouldn't mind rebalancing that as long as the community is happy with it.
What new ideas or pieces of content would you love to see in the game, or what changes would you love to see implemented for existing content?
There has been a lot of concern from the PvP community about the way that PvP rewards get polled. Players are worried that perfectly legitimate items will fail the poll due to spite voting. What are your thoughts on this in light of the recent Wildy Boss Rewards? Can we restrict all PvP questions in the future, or even put them into the game without pulling them at all? You already have a PvP discord for legit feedback.
Conveniently, I believe that Ayiza gave some prerequisites in the WBR blog. One: we can still balance the bosses themselves to have good GP per hour with or without the bonus rewards. Two: while the current rewards are good, if these fail, we can just rework them and come back to them at a later time, as we did with the current Revenant weapons as they exist in the game.
Also, these Revenant weapons aren’t just PvP weapons - we’re putting a Tier 75 beatstick in there! That will be good for all players, regardless of what you’re actually doing in terms of actual activity in the game. Restricting it to a PvP poll isn’t exactly appropriate, and as we've seen in the past, just restricting is no guarantee it's going to pass either. The PvP Arena rewards failed, despite being restricted and having a lot of feedback go through the PvP Discord as well.
In this instance, it's nice that there's not too much negativity towards the rewards themselves. So, I'm confident that rewards are in a good space overall, even with the open polling, but I don't think restricting them or forcing them through unpolled is a healthy way to go about things.
Are there any plans to address Phosani's Nightmare? It's one of the toughest bosses in the game, but GP/hr is now lower than far easier content. Why would mains kill this boss rather than the Giant Mole?
Any chance the team would revisit the idea of changing Shopscape for irons? One of the most tedious and pointless things in the game is having to hop a 100 worlds so you can stock up on runes.
Will the ToA design philosophy be used for most/all future content? That is, the concept of having a boss that is easy at its core, but which can be made more difficult by turning on optional mechanics? Will we ever see something like the inferno or ToB again?
That can certainly work with replayable content, and I do expect there'll be more use for it. We're very much aware of the interest in seeing Chambers of Xeric and ToB get some kind of scaling feature. You know how painful it is to customise your CoX grades with alts and scouts, etc. So a feature for customising it via a coin sink is well worth offering.
In the few discussions I've had with players, it seems like something people would be willing to get behind even for quite a lot of coins, so that could be worth pursuing. Now that said, I also think there'll be a need for truly elite content in the game, and there's something about an Infernal Cape rather than ToA on a particular setting. While it may be as difficult and as great an achievement, it doesn’t have the same ring to it because there are so many other versions available. So, I think there will be a need for truly elite content, so the best of the best can get their flex off.
On the other hand, a project like ToA took nearly a year from quite a large chunk of the team. If we're going to put in that much time on something, and therefore they’re not available to make other things for other players, we want the thing they're producing at the end of all that time to be something a lot of you can engage in. That means making it in a way that mid-level and above can plausibly have some fun with, and invocations and scaling options seem like a good way of offering that. This doesn't mean there can't be really elite stuff, but that might be more the size of the Inferno than a raiding dungeon. I doubt we do another thing on the scale of ToB that was so inaccessible to the casual player.
The only thing I wanted to expand on a bit other than scaling was that ToB’s death system was so harsh. It made it hard to get into the content and learn it because you think that you have to fight so many bosses, and then finally do Verzik. To practice Verzick was actually quite hard. So, you can do the first four in any order in the new raid, but you also have better ways to get to grips with it.
Anybody who is familiar with high-end raids, and not just Old School, and not just Runescape, but other titles as well know that finding teams is hard. You have this vicious circle of teams requesting only people who've done 50 kill counts, etc. How do you get your first kill count if you can't get a team because all the teams require you to already know it? That is a big problem games face. We want to make that a better journey and provide a journey that you can actually learn the content by and get into it and get to a higher level.
Ash covered it really well - raids are expensive to make. It’s not only invocations - they aren't the only way to scale up content, and that might well be something we experiment more with in the future and offer it in different systems. Some content that Runescape has done boss-wise; there are enrage systems that scale up the more you defeat it, and you unlock higher enrage options. That essentially ends up being sort of a difficulty slider rather than a completely customizable ‘’choose your invocation’’ feature.
We could experiment with a lot, and we've learned already from doing invocations. Balancing them is really quite hard and takes a lot of effort, and I wouldn’t say it’s perfect by any means. So, we'll see what happens in future content.
I think it's been very well made for the Tombs of Amascut. I definitely don't think we're gonna be doing it for everything, but we'll do it when it makes sense, like with a bigger raid or a bigger piece of content. Say we add a new boss, I wouldn't expect it to come out with one of those, though you might get one of the twists. I'm not going to say definitely because that's a strong word, but I think we’ll most likely get something big like Theatre of Blood or the Inferno at some point in the future.
I feel like having the scaling stuff is slowly going to become a requirement for group content, because we're going to get players with different proficiencies and experience levels with the game. For them to play together, you need to reliably have it at the lowest sort of denominator of who can actually access it. Obviously, that's gonna be different for different groups of people.
You want your sweaty group to be able to go, “okay, we’d like to have all the invocations and die in two seconds to everything”, but for getting Mod Light into a party, I think I'd like to turn the difficulty down a little bit - no shade.
I love accessibility and for what it's worth, I think games thrive with both accessible content, but also flashy content that your top-level players can flip. I'm just glad that players received it so well. There was a bit of concern that our high-level players wouldn't accept it as much because it's something new, but actually, high-level players are seemingly really enjoying the new invocation system and having a lot of fun with it.
When are the ToA Combat Achievements expected to come out?
They were all going through testing as part of development. I'd expect to see them out for Christmas if all goes well. I don't know the exact date.
What Ash said - it’s being developed so expect them this year hopefully, as long as nothing goes terribly wrong.
I just quickly want to expand that we’re looking to see if we can do a Rewards Pass with these new combat achievements and see if we can bulk of the rewards, especially of the lower tiers which feel quite lacking. But that's all being discussed, and might well come with this.
There has been a somewhat unwelcome trend creeping in new content releases where untradeable random drops are mandatory for doing the activity efficiently. Going dry on these items feels terrible and there is literally nothing that a player can do to control it. Would you be open to adding “bad luck protection” to these items, or better yet making obtaining them guaranteed by some alternative means?
I see where they're coming from, and bad luck protection is an interesting area. We've done a little bit - we have it currently at Vorkath’s head; you’re currently guaranteed it off 50 kills at Vorkath. You also guaranteed it with the Kalphite Queen in the diary task.
In essence, it feels anti-Old School. This is part of the game, but I also don't like it because it can be very unfair when you know one person gets the big benefit straightaway and others go stupidly dry on it. You can use other examples - it’s much more present in Ironman because something like the Dragon Warhammer is 1/5000. You hear of people who got 20,000 kills and don't get it, and other people who get it up kill count 200.
So it's a huge swing on some people who are really happy, and some people are sinking hundreds of hours to get the drop. I think an alternative way you could do this is instead of offering it as one item, that's 1/5000, for example - you have to get like 100 shards that are all 1/50. In that sense, your variability would drastically decrease because even if you were really unlucky, you're probably not going to go 20,000 if you run the maths on it at all.
There are alternative ways to look at this. It just doesn't feel as satisfying when you get that major drop - you lose that drop hype of, “Oh my god, that Dragon Warhammer is on the floor!”. Maybe this can work well in smaller doses with things like the thread from your rune pouch upgrade or your Vorkath’s head, something where it makes a little bit more sense to be fairer with them. I don't know all the answers, just interesting thoughts.
For what it's worth, we can distinguish between generally useful items and items that are just for that one activity, for example, the tablet for teleporting to Slepe. That really makes a difference if you're doing it efficiently. We can treat them differently from the big-ticket items.
Now you want the hype of getting the big-ticket item as a rare drop. We made a dungeon like that long ago in RS3 that gave almost everything via the shards approach that Kieren was describing - the Polypore Dungeon. Anyway, almost everything in there came via the shards approach, and therefore it wasn’t very interesting because you are trickling your way towards the rewards the entire time.
But while we can still have the big exciting uber rare drops for the prestigious rewards, they don't have to be the ones that are utilities for doing the activity efficiently. When we’ve got something that's gonna be like the Slepe tablet, maybe we don't make it a random drop at all; maybe after you've killed the thing X amount of times, an NPC becomes willing to sell it to you.
If it's a mini-game that's got points, we put it in the reward shop and trade points for it - it depends on what the contents gonna be, but maybe that will be how we treat utility items.
Now, they'll still be an entire community of Iron players out there saying, “but my Dragon Warhammer is essential for all this content, too.” - honestly, taking away all the RNG from loot tables across Old School Runescape might be a bit much even for that precious mode. But for the utility within a feature, we could move away from using RNG at all.
I definitely think that would help ease sentiment concerns around the utility feature and going dry on it and you don't get it, and you're trying to do it for the mini-game. It happens, so I definitely see the value in that.
It's something we probably have to look at on a piecemeal basis. Unfortunately, we can't just sit here and go, yes, we can do this globally, because there are way too many niche features in this game!
I'm a fan of bad luck protection in certain places. So things like the Vorkath’s head and even the Kalphite Queen’s head - I think that's fine. Untradeable drops that make an impact on how you do the content, I think, would be fine as well, but I wouldn’t be happy with a Dragon Warhammer, for example - which is tradeable - and is kind of the point of the item.
We do have one thing in-game that strikes me as similar, on the lines of the shards idea, and that's the abyssal bludgeon, in that it comes in three pieces. When you roll it, you always get a piece you need. So from that sense, it may as well be three abyssal shards, for instance, that combined during the bludgeon. Then it’s about 1/200 or something for a bludgeon piece - 1/100 for the inside and then about 1/200 for the bludgeon piece.
On average, that’s about 1/600 Abyssal Sires to get a bludgeon, but if it was just a 1/600 drop, you could easily be unlucky and do 2000 kills without one, though you probably don't hear of that many people are going to 2000 kills of Sire without one because we've got it split up into three pieces. Maybe that's a lighter mid-ground where it’s okay, but I think there are other trade-offs.
You feel bound as soon as you get that first piece; you must keep returning to Sire because you've got none of the benefits until you get the other two! There are trade-offs here that are awkward to work out. What if three of the Sires on one side dropped them in pieces, and the three Sires on the other dropped as a bludgeon in one go - which one would people choose? Even if mathematically, on average, is the same?
When will the diversity and inclusion changes be made? June’s Gazette predicted it would be the end of September, yet many (if not all) have not been made.
As an update on that, we’re still working on these changes. We are sorry that it's taking so long to release! We just made a few shifts in the release schedule, so we pushed it forward a little more. We want to allow many of the changes to go out in bulk - we don't want to drip them over the next few updates.
What I can tell you is next week's update is Quest Speedrunning, and the next one after that is Fresh Start Worlds because we've already announced that. After that, it is the last week of October, so that's going to be reserved for Halloween.
I imagine D&I will go out after that period, but I can't tell you exactly when. It’s still something we're committed to doing; it just shifts around depending on how production is going and our release schedule.
How does the drop rate/items get chosen for new content? Some newer bosses have hideously long grinds.
It depends on what we're giving out from this item, what the boss is, and what it aligns with. For something like a raid, you're expecting it to be probably no more than 1/20. You'd expect something like that from a raid. That's in line with the previous raids we've had.
Whereas for something like a new mid-level boss, it depends on how many drops the boss itself has. Gargoyles have a few drops, so the items are a little bit more common - but if you look at God Wars, for example, the bosses are pretty hard, and there aren’t that many drops. So around 1/500 of a specific seems fair. We look at what we're trying to add and what we are trying to compare it to and then go off of that.
Another thing that’s good to think about is how long an item takes to obtain. That is a lot more quantifiable, and you can work on that early on in design before you know the specifics of, “Okay, how long does the boss take to kill?”.
If you have an idea of how long it should take to get an item, you can more reliably go, “Okay, if a boss dies in four minutes and I want them to get this on average in 100 hours.”, that is hard, 1/1500 - whatever the numbers work out to for that - you can get a rough estimate of what the drop rate should be, based off the expected time to get it.
It depends on how good the item is, and it depends on how niche the item is. What's the demand gonna look like? Ultimately it ought to have a good price, and it needs to be desirable for the effort it will take to get it.
We often look at the example of God Wars. You don't get that much profit while just getting regular drops, but it's awesome when you get the big drop! The thing is, the drop rates at God Wars are pretty common. The biggest thing you have with that is that you don't have to do God Wars for that many hours before you start seeing drops. It's just so universally in demand!
Everybody needs Bando's Tassets because until Torva came out, it was the best-in-slot, the go-to item, and you need it for Torva too. It’s so universally in demand, but not every player wants one. Not every player needs one. You’re not wearing it every time you do melee content. So when it’s got that demand, you can afford the tassets to be dropped in 1/512, or whatever the rate is.
Obviously, it’s not just the tassets; it’s the chest plate as well. Same for Aramdyl from Kree. You could afford it to be quite common. If something is quite niche, and we wanted it to have a good price representing how powerful the item is, it must be quite rare. It’s this difficult approach of getting that right and fitting the content, as Kirby said - you don’t want it to take too many hours.
That’s one of the pressures, and this feedback is about - it takes too long to get the drop. On the other hand, if we make it faster to get, you’ll probably get more people wanting to do the content, and more of the drops will come in, so the price will be much lower. Then you’ll also get complaints that “this is just way too cheap for how good it is!”. These are factors we really have to consider when balancing it so that both the content and the item are good.
Are there plans for more updates to Slayer? I’m itching for new monsters to fight!
I don't think we do enough new monsters! It's usually a pretty simple update - it's a new monster with something interesting about it. Maybe it has a unique drop.
The problem with it is the balancing of Slayer. As we've seen when we've added new monsters over time; whether it's drake's or the wyverns on Fossil Island, you get a lot of people asking to be able to toggle them off because it's a task that's not efficient to do! It stops them from doing the tasks they want to be doing.
Equally, on the other hand, it could be a really good task, and something else gets removed from your rotation, and you're suddenly going to start skipping something you weren't previously skipping. I feel like that sucks, and I don't know how to solve that from an interesting perspective.
Maybe these monsters will be worth doing for their drops and so on. The other thing is how Slayer XP is balanced, which just puts all of the emphasis on aspects such as if it has low defence and high health or if it's in Multi.
You can use ancient spells or cannons, so it's just an interesting space where if somebody's got a mechanic and it's hard to deal with, then it's just not worth doing. It’s a pain in the bum compared to bursting Smoke Devils or anything like that.
I would look to see how we can fix that. Perhaps we can artificially make certain monsters give different amounts of Slayer XP based on a bigger, more complex formula based on their other stats. Maybe we could add some modifiers, for example, “Oh, it's got mechanics; let's buff the XP that you get for Slayer from it so that it's worthwhile!”.
This isn’t exactly what was asked in terms of adding new monsters, but there are things Slayer needs that aren't new monsters - I'd like to see the partnership system, in particular, being made available again. There could be a lot of benefits to the game from people having some variety of content to do with a friend in the game.
Apart from that, yeah, there are many monsters where getting a hold of one can be tricky - Vyrewatch springs to mind - I will be glad to see more areas for some of these things. We could give it something that players unlocked through the skill so that the skill remains valuable as a means of getting these things.
Overall, I'd say there's a lot of scope for updates to Slayer. Our team in the player suggestion reviews thought that the Vyrewatch task-only room was quite a reasonable thing to have too. But it wasn't just about new monsters.
Newer skilling activities like Foundry, Guardians of the Rift, and Sepulchre are really engaging, but they're usually smaller in scope. If you made a skilling activity that was larger and more comprehensive, like raids, what might it look like?
Anything you can imagine could be there! Personally, I hope to see a lot more content like Volcanic Mine or Guardians of the Rift. If it was in a raiding dungeon where you're going through challenge rooms like those, rather than challenge rooms with combat bosses in.
I'd like to see situations where you're performing skill actions to survive or trying to perform them at an adequate rate to harm an antagonist. I'd also like there'd be a lot of moving around and some risk in the kinds of activity we're looking at here so that you don't end up with lots of challenges like the Thieving chest room in Chambers of Xeric. You probably wouldn't thank us for a lot more content like that.
What's the rationale for what items can and can't be added to the costume room storage in the POH? Obviously you don't want it to just be a bank replacement and have every useful armor, but what is the distinction between Dagganoth armor and Granite armor for example?
There's never been a fixed policy on that we've added more player requests from time to time, and I expect we'll keep doing so. We could set a rule that tries to distinguish between Dagannoth armour and Granite armour, but on the other hand, I would be perfectly happy to see both of those in there myself.
Rewards could be ongoing because people have a lot of interest in storing the actual kit item itself rather than the Ornamented version of the armour. At that point, we're pushing what a costume is for the costume room, but it would help with their storage. We don't have a pressing reason not to, either.
What made you decide to put the Dragon Pickaxe source to a vote?
This is something that I chased Mod Goblin about. He said that we felt there were a handful of skilling sources already in-game where it might make sense. We couldn’t decide which of them should be favoured over another, so we wanted to put that decision in players' hands to increase player involvement as much as we could within the blog and polling process.
We probably would have put the Pickaxe in some of those pieces of content at the time if we’d had the option to. Retrofitting it, they all have small problems - some larger than others - so I figured we might as well get the community involved and have them go, “Actually, we would prefer it like this”. This helps to get the players involved a little more, which is a nice little thing we can do when we’re not certain.
Question # 18:
Are any mini-games that aren’t as active anymore being revived with new ideas, content or rewards? What are your thoughts on reviving some mini-games that aren’t as active anymore?
As you saw from my Game Jam pitch, I chose to try and revive a mini-game with new content in the form of the LMS update. Our leads are very keen on getting more like that! We would be able to do a lot more with older games like Castle Wars - maybe an alternate castle. The game engine is much more developed than it was when Old School launched. We'd be able to instance mini-games like Castle Wars so that the alternate castle wasn't limited to one game per world at a time.
I saw an interesting pitch for a higher-tier Pest Control that would take you to a tougher island where you would confront a Pest boss in addition to the usual Pests coming through! Maybe you’d go through the portals yourself to beat this Pest boss. That would be quite a lot of fun - and also a nice higher-tier way of introducing more rewards; maybe pets after all this time.
Then there’s Trouble Brewing. It’s been dead for as long as I can remember. It needs more incentive to play it, and it needs a very significant usability overhaul. For example, letting you take your Pieces of Eight rather than having to deposit them will be rather helpful for you Ultimates out there. It needs more than just a little love, that one. It needs a purpose.
The items there might be a very helpful way of giving it some love if that became its unique selling point - if they were worth having. That might be the route to making people want to play the mini-game.
What are the main struggles for OSRS developers? The devs’ perspective on opportunities, struggles, priorities etc.
The number one problem I have seen developers deal with is online toxicity. Our development team wants the best for its game and the player base, and toxicity is the number one reason developers are less engaged with the community and less willing to engage on social media. That affects the products because they appear less frequently on streams and engage less with social media, where players leave feedback.
That’s the number one struggle, in my opinion, as a CM. Players are always able to voice constructive criticism and feedback; we need this a lot of the time. It’s when it gets personal that it becomes a struggle.
The vast majority of players are absolutely wonderful! I’ve experienced so much positivity myself! It’s the small amount of toxicity that can affect developers.
All it takes is one comment out of every 100. You get 99 positive comments and 1 that’s digging at you for something. It does hurt. I’ll echo that toxicity; attacks online, they’re not okay.
We’re a team, and we stand up for each other. Everyone is doing everything they can for the benefit of Old School and want to make it the best game it can be for you!
There’s a desire to speak to players because that insight is so useful, and I believe most people on the team feel better when they’re active and talking to the community to get those insights. But it can be difficult to do if you load up Twitter and see a bunch of attacks. I know many of the player base already know this - but it does need saying sometimes.
On a completely different note, everyone who joins - it doesn’t matter how great your programming background is, you’ve got to learn RuneScript, you’ve got to learn a proprietary language. There’s a pretty decent learning curve for the first few months as you pick up the new language, and that’s certainly a challenge for us. You can’t just recruit someone and have them immediately make an impact.
A second point - this game is so big! The amount of content over 20 years of RuneScape; how many systems could you unintentionally impact with changes you do? Game knowledge is a genuine challenge. You bring in people who know some areas well, but it’s colossal! It does take a lot of teamwork, discussing with others and speaking to experts on the team who know certain things inside out.
That is a challenge, especially when it comes to balancing and making sure rewards work and don’t have some sort of negative impact. But equally, you can also break other things in the codebase because so many things touch other parts of the game, and unless you’re aware of it all in advance, it can be quite hard to realise that!
I definitely agree with the toxicity side of things. It’s very important to provide constructive criticism. Aside from that, I feel one of the hardest things for us is to match the players’ expectations of the content. This is something that is hard to reach, but I like to think we usually do a decent job, especially with content like Tombs of Amascut, which has gone out really well.
On the same line, Theatre of Blood was a little too hard, making it difficult for players to get into it. But people who liked it stuck to it, so that’s cool.