Q&A Summary 12/1/2023

Q&A Summary 12/1/2023

This week's livestream focused on the newly released Secrets of the North! Topics included:

Thanks to Mod Ayiza (Lead Community Manager), Mod Arcane (Senior Content Developer), Mod Bruno (QA Analyst) and Mod Jerv (Concept Artist) for their insights!


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 live stream? Check out the transcript below!





Art Segment


Question #1


Love the teleport effect Hazeel and Khazard have! Will we be seeing more unique effects implemented? There are a bunch of teleport items that would benefit from having their own unique animations.




Mod Jerv


I agree with that a lot! That was Mod Ghost who played around with that - he had a lot of fun with smoke clouds, and it also used it for the Assassin. It looks really cool how it fades into one of the NPCs and then disappears. Weíve had a lot of time to play around with things in the art team, and we definitely have more fun spending more time on small things like this. Iím hoping we can put more of a budget into great teleport solutions.



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Question #2


What was your favourite part to design?




Mod Jerv


The Mahjarrat storyline has a lot of lore, and the most fun part was trying to get all of that lore into a design that had some subtlety to it and wasnít too on the nose. The challenge of trying to make a good design while keeping smaller elements in the design was the fun part of it, definitely.



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Q&A


Question #1


Mod Arcane, congratulations on such a successful release! This first one is for you. Talk us through your decisions when creating the new solo boss for Secrets of the North. Tell us about some of your favourite mechanics. Are there any which are totally new and unique, or are some of them taken from other encounters like a raid for example?




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Question #2


Mod Bruno, do you want to share any complicated or interesting bugs/problems that arose in testing the new boss?




Mod Bruno


There wasnít really a whole lot, aside from a few weird, nitpicky things. One interesting thing was initially that the thralls were able to do direct drain to the Muspahís shield phase. That alone would nearly kill the whole phase, which we decided was a bit too much. We nerfed it down and made thralls do nothing because itís not really prayer drain that theyíre attacking.


Aside from that, when it does the explosion attack, the first couple of tiles adjacent to the boss, including spikes, were being ignored. This was confusing to me because the spikes were there, but they werenít protecting me. So that had to be fixed as well! There werenít too many interesting bugs - aside from a few things like corruption not proccing correctly - it was pretty smooth!



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Question #3


Is there a hidden mechanic when it comes to the "Prayer Shield" phase of the fight? Even if you use Sapphire Bolts, Smite, Ancient mace, etc, you are still met with the chat message "The Phantom Muspah's prayer shield mitigates regular damage". You still do massively reduced damage with your weapon, so it's weird to assume that Sapphire bolts are the only way that you can deal high damage to this phase. Can this be explained?




Mod Bruno


There isnít any secret mechanics - itís not that deep. We did intend for sapphire bolts to be the meta for this; I specifically remember testing sapphire bolts to make sure they work. Other items like the ancient mace also worked, but it isnít that high a level - itís very weak and is never going to do as much as a sapphire bolt spec or even a smited bow hit or anything like that. Itís pretty simple, and how players are killing right now is exactly how we intended them to kill it.


Mod Arcane


I do think that the chat message is coming out a little too much. Itís intended to only be a message saying that the prayer shield mitigates regular damage. Itís only ever supposed to come out if your attack effectively did nothing. If you didnít have smite on, then you werenít using sapphire bolts or you didnít do an ancient mace attack, thatís when the message is supposed to show up.


If that feels like itís showing up too much, or when it shouldnít be, then it sounds like a bug. Functionally the boss is working, but maybe itís just the messages coming out too frequently.



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Question #4


Can you explain why the Saturated Heart is untradeable? If the Imbued Heart and Ancient Essence is tradeable, what is the reason for making this untradeable beyond making it unbaggable for UIM?




Mod Arcane


It wasnít the goal to just simply make it unbaggable for Ultimate Ironman - Iím not that petty! The general idea was that the main game mode requires a couple more untradeables to look for - there arenít very many things that main has that get locked to your account permanently.


I was looking to have more of those. I wanted to have that as a perk, and it was polled as such. I would like to think that some people agreed, but I do think that one of the unfortunate oversights was that some people like to trade Imbued Hearts.


Say youíre doing ToB with your friends. You can trade Imbued Hearts between you and use them, or even during the encounter itself you can drop it on the floor and trade it like that. That is nice, and we did just remove that, which is an unfortunate side effect. But we are going to be making it tradeable, so we donít need to worry about that going forward.


Mod Ayiza


With the update on the 18th, Saturated Hearts will be tradeable. This also helps out for Group Ironmen in addition to that, because you can put it into your group bank and trade it between players whenever theyíre doing tasks that require magic!



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Question #5


Todayís hotfixes addressed a bug with the Phantom Muspahís melee attack. The Ďstep backí method to mitigate damage from this phase was a fun mechanic to engage with, could the team explain why it was removed and whether or not theyíd consider reverting this change?




Mod Arcane


It was a bug. Every NPC has a core combat that it calls by default, and Muspah was weirdly alternating between calling its custom combat scripts and the core one. The core one defaults to ďmelee-prayer is always 100% damage reductionĒ. It was this really weird behaviour where if you stepped back, it was calling on core combat, but if it was next to you, it was calling the custom combat.


So it was a bug that needed to be fixed, but I do think it was a cool quirky mechanic, and I would be interested in bringing it back properly. How that would probably look is that we code it in a way where it would respect this behaviour, but it wouldnít show the hit-splats as I think itís weird how it hits a zero.


I like the idea of dodging the melee attack, but not that it hits you but your prayer reduction is higher. It doesnít make any sense that prayer reduction is higher just because you stepped back - it should just not hit you! Thatís how Iíd want to bring it back because if you step back, the boss just misses in a similar way to Nightmareís melee attack, where if you step back or to the side, it misses. Iíd rather just bring it back like that.



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Question #6


Does the Old School team plan on making Smite relevant for future PvM? It was awesome to see this mechanic for the new boss!




Mod Bruno


When it makes sense, yeah! For this boss it made a lot of sense because leading up to Desert Treasure II, weíve got curses and stuff like that.



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Question #7


Venator Bow was very good in Barbarian Assault. Can we get more insight for why this area is restricted?




Mod Arcane


We had talked to a couple of people in the BA community who had said that they didnít want it in there for various reasons. The biggest reason was reducing the skill gap and the skill required for the attack roll. At the time we were in this position of ďokay, this community really doesnít want this bow and this is the change that affects them the most. It doesnít affect very many people, and would only negatively affect these players, so weíll just make them happyĒ.


It seemed like a free win there, but obviously, the last 24 hours are showing otherwise. Weíve prepared our stance on that, we do agree that the game should evolve over time and things should change - Inferno has gotten a lot easier because of this bow, so why shouldnít other pieces of content?


I do think itís a shame for the people that really care about the prestigious nature of that, but I also think itís important that the entire game evolves and we shouldnít hold parts of it back artificially.


Mod Ayiza


Just in case it was lost in the details, this was hotfixed earlier today, so itís now useable within Barbarian Assault. Thatís a change that we have already made and reverted.



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Question #8


Mod Arcane, when designing the mechanics of the boss, did you feel limited knowing that there are meant to be four bosses in Desert Treasure II, so you had to keep some mechanics saved for those bosses rather than using them here?




Mod Arcane


Not really, it just means thereís more to talk about. There are always more ideas, we didnít particularly hold anything back!



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Question #9


What player stage do you think this boss most appeals to? Does this match what you envisioned when you first tested the boss?




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Question #10


What is your reasoning behind dropping the Venator Shards more often and needing 5 to create the bow than just making the bow a drop that's 5 times as rare?




Mod Arcane


I just wanted to try something different. Having a singular rare drop is more exciting - you have the high variants where you could complete the entire Bow in one kill. Thatís exciting; the potential, the idea that you can get a T-Bow from one KC.


Then you have the other side of it. The chance of going three times dry on something is a 1/20. If youíre thinking about it from the entire player base, or even your friend group - if youíve got 20 friends that play RuneScape, one of you is likely to go three times dry.


If youíre in the context of Lizardmen Shamans, for example, going 15k Shamans dry for a warhammer, itís depressing. I just wanted to try something different. If you give out smaller, more frequent quantities of an item, youíre statistically more likely to complete it in an average range. Youíre less likely to finish it early, but youíre less likely to finish it later. It averages out and decreases the variance.


Thatís good and bad - it means you canít go as dry, but you also canít be as spooned. I wanted to try it to see what players think; do they prefer this style of drop? Itís not dropping anything crazy. It seemed like a good chance to try it out and see what people think.


Iím looking for feedback on that, there probably wonít be much feedback until youíve gone dry on it, but maybe after a couple hundred KCs, give me a message. Iím genuinely curious. Weíll see how it goes. Maybe this is something we take forward to have a bit of a balance. You donít want an entire drop table thatís all shards - thatís not very exciting - but maybe some of the rarer drops should be broken up. Weíre doing an experiment, and weíll see how it goes.


Mod Ayiza


The initial reaction seems relatively positive. People are saying they like it and prefer it that way!



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Question #11


Regarding SOTN, will the boss be Slayer task eligible?




Mod Bruno


Yeah! You can get a Boss Slayer task of the Phantom Muspah, but you canít get a Muspah task because there are no Muspahs; just one boss. If you have the Boss Slayer task unlocked, you can get it as a Slayer task.



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Question #12


Right now in SOTN, killing the boss before the Smite phase causes it to bug out. Will this bug be addressed?




Mod Bruno


Weíve tried to fix this bug a few times, and I think weíve done it now! Please let us know if we havenít.


The way the boss works is that it goes from one phase to the next, to the next. If you try to skip one of those phases, it may not work properly and bug out in some way. Weíve tried to fix it by making it so that if the boss reaches zero HP whilst it's trying to transition to the next phase, it will regen a little HP and then carry on properly.



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Question #13


Damage is currently nulled between phase transitions near the end of the fight. Can this be fixed?




Mod Arcane


Damage nulling is really bad. It was really annoying at Vanguards and it was annoying at Nex - I donít know if this still happens at Nex; we went back and forth on that for ages. Generally, damage nulling is really bad, but for this, I feel it has to null it because itís going from regular hitpoints to Prayer hitpoints.


Itís a completely different health bar. These are completely different mechanics, so it has to null it here. You can just use that period where youíre transitioning or the explosion attack is just about to end to eat instead - you know exactly when itís going to happen so you can time it. Hopefully, itís not too frustrating - for here, it has to null the damage.



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Question #14


Can the devs give any insight into what goes into designing drop tables for bosses? Why so many skilling supplies?




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Question #15


Can we get a quick start option to instantly spawn the boss, similar to Vorkath? The 30-second respawn timer feels a bit too much since this is a solo boss.




Mod Arcane


We could, it depends on how we do it. Nightmare is really obvious; Nightmare goes back to sleep, you kill her and you wake her up again. Vorkath is really simple because he's an undead dragon and he constantly gets revived. Grotesque Guardians has a big bell in the arena that you can ring - some things are easier than that.


I don't really know what this one would be. We could just spawn a random item on the floor that you can just click on. That probably would suffice. I do think stuff like that is generally better so that the player can start the fight whenever they want.


We could look at reducing spawning time, but there was a lot of feedback in playtesting that it's a bit too quick. You have to pick up all your supplies since you kind of get quite a few things. You could get six summer pies drop and two Prayer potions and a ranging pot, thatís a lot to pick up. You have to manage your inventory, heal up and pre-prayer. It can take a lot of time, so we increased it, but the better that players get and the more comfortable they get in that whole gameplay loop, they just end up sitting around waiting.


You can just leave and re-enter if you want to go really quick, but it's not particularly nice either, especially if you want to leave stuff on the floor.


Mod Ayiza


That does remove the supplies you've saved and juggling, right? I'm just joking here, but maybe make everyone bring a spade and have to dig the ground up to bring it back out of the ground. That's where it comes from - it's an underground worm thing. That's my useful input of the day!



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Question #16


Could we get the possibility to break down Ancient Icons into Essence? Just like the Venator Shards.




Mod Bruno


I wouldnít be against it.


Mod Arcane


Iím not overly against it. I don't think it's necessary. - there will be more purpose for ancient icons in the future. So multiple is not useless yet.



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Question #17


Would the J-Mods be interested in adding more Item Clue steps and stashes? Maybe one with the upgraded Ancient Staff and another one where you have to equip a Sun Keris outside of ToA?




Mod Bruno


I won't mind but it would be a pain, so I'm not inclined to do it. Maybe if there was a new Clue Scroll expansion at some point, then it would make sense for us to add items that weren't out in the last Clue expansion.


Mod Arcane


I think it's a really good thing for us to do. I just don't know when or why we do it. Is it really random, or do we release a big update, and just add a bunch more clues and stashes? It would be good because it gives more demand for items.


Mod Ayiza


Thatís probably one thing that we need to think about because it always falls back to internal discussions that go Ďíyeah, we'll do a Clue expansion at some point and we'll bundle it up with themĒ. Then we never do a Clue expansion because everything else comes out instead. I think it's probably worth thinking about when new content comes out going forward, to work out how we might be able to incorporate it.



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Question #18


First of all, lovely work with the new boss and congratulations! However, after trying the boss, there was a missed opportunity for it to be a Tribrid fight, was this intentional, or discovered after players experimented a bit?




Mod Arcane


It was never intended to be a Tribrid. I don't think every boss should be a Tribrid - it's not like we have many of them, but it's a big ask for a lot of bosses to be a Tribrid because of how much gear you have to bring. It's not always particularly desirable. I think there is a time and a place for it, and it can be fun.



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Question #19


You once said that once we saw the boss, we would understand why the ranged weapon had to be a bow. Could you elaborate?




Mod Bruno


I think it makes sense that itís a bow, rather than a knife or a rune thrownaxe, because you also use arrows with this item.


Mod Arcane


I really liked the idea of an axe. I liked the idea of it being like a God of War throwing axe that came back to you and everything, but it's just a completely different design on that point.


Mod Ayiza


I wanted a boomerang! I remember being told that there's a reason why it's got to be a bow, but I can't remember the reason because Christmas happened!


You know, boomerangs are an ancient item used by Aboriginals, thousands of years old! How old is Gielinor? It's a fantasy game! It would have been cool to have a boomerang.



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Question #20


Can you mention if the pathing on the way to the boss can be fixed? A lot of us click the "Squeeze through fence" but get directed slightly differently.




Mod Arcane


I guess it's bugged in some weird form?


Mod Bruno


I imagine the pathing is trying to make it shorter for you, but not really doing its job properly. Usually the way we fix this is to move things out of the way or add things in the way, like at banks sometimes you'll click at the banker and you run to the back of the bank, because that's apparently what the game sees as the fastest way, but it doesn't really work out.


Mod Arcane


People could be misclicking the stairs.


Mod Bruno


I have seen a few people misclick on the stairs when they meant to click on the fence. So yeah, that could be as well.



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Question #21


Was the Muspahís orb phase intended to have a safe spot?




Mod Arcane


No.


Mod Ayiza


Are we going to change it? This wasnít in our feedback.


Mod Arcane


No, I think we're just gonna leave it. It's nice to be able to AFK that phase. It makes you feel like a God, dodging everything around you like Neo.


Mod Bruno


It's also not guaranteed that youíll have the safe spot, because what if you accidentally put a spike there and that safe spot is ruined?


Mod Arcane


Itís not a guaranteed safe spot, but most of the time it is.



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Question #22


Would you consider making the Phantom Muspah weak to Salve Amulet, or possibly even to ancient magicks?




Mod Bruno


I'm probably gonna say no on the salve because that does add quite a lot of DPS. It's just a slug, it's not ghostly or deadly or anything!


I'm guessing they mean to make it even weaker to Ancient Magicks. We already made it slightly weak to Ancient Magicks because catching a freeze is now a little bit easier if the boss isnít frozen. I donít think we're going to make it even weaker to Ancient Magicks, because it's already doing its job.


Mod Arcane


It's a weird lore thing. It's technically - at least in the quest - not a Muspah but Jhallan has turned himself into a representation of a Muspah. So you're actually attacking a Mahjarrat in the quest, you're not attacking Muspah, and Mahjarrat wouldn't be weak to Ancient Magick. That doesn't make any sense.


Post-quest, maybe we can stretch it a bit because technically itís not Jhallna at that point; itís a manifestation of energy but it's not really a Muspah at that point either.


Mod Bruno


People have said ĎPhantomí, I think it's just Phantom because of lore reasons, which have valid reasons to make it weak to salve. For gameplay reasons, I don't think they'll fly.



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Question #23


What is the point of the Frozen Cache? What does it do?




Mod Arcane


It has good loot!



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Question #24


Will this boss get Combat Achievements?




Mod Bruno


Yes, itís a boss! You'll get achievements eventually when everything's settled and we're ready to give achievements, much like Tombs of Amascut did in December, which was around a few months after the release. That was a raid, however, so I expect this will not take as long.



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Question #24


Can you explain Frozen Cache a bit further?




Mod Arcane


People are saying that it's bad - it doesn't roll on the regular drop table. It can give you uniques, so you can get Venator Shards out of it. It's like an additional role but itís heavily biased to be good since it eliminates a lot of the bad drops of the drop table. It's a very strong roll, and it does give good loot. You can still get fire runes out of it, sure, but it generally will give you good drops.


Mod Ayiza


It's like an extra drop from the boss that has a chance of getting better drops from the boss than a normal drop does.


Mod Arcane


Yeah, it's effectively extra rolling on the unique drop table, which you wouldn't normally get.



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