This week's livestream focused on the New Skills Pitches Poll! Topics included:
Thanks to Mod Ayiza (Lead Community Manager), Mod Elena (Senior Content Developer), and Mod Husky (Content Developer) 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!
General Polling Q&A
Why didnít we poll Sailing and Shamanism against each other since theyíre so close? Why arenít we looking to refine both skills?
None of the Skills got to 70% in the ďWhich Concepts Do You Like?Ē question. What does this mean for the potential future of it being polled as a skill during ĎLock-Iní?
As I said before, they are very loose concepts and directions. I think that does come with the knock-on effect of not having as much backing and support from players, not to mention how we were pitting them against each other.
People who exclusively wanted Sailing might have been happy with Shamanism as the new skill, so I donít think this poll necessarily can be treated the same way as a poll that required a 70% threshold - thatís why we never framed it as such because thatís going to come later in the greenlight poll after refinement.
While it would have been nice if all three pitches had 80% approval when we were choosing between favourites, I think it would have been unrealistic, at least when it comes to the future of the skill in refinement.
I at least hope that players will work with us on that journey to make sure that Sailing is the best skill that it can be and that theyíll look at all the designs to help nitpick through the designs for what they like and donít like. Then, hopefully, with that full picture in mind months from now, we can then decide if itís something that we want to be in the game.
Hopefully, that makes sense! I would envision that a more fleshed-out proposal would get more votes.
The main takeaway is that there will be a question during lock-in that requires 70% yes for Sailing to be added to the game. When weíve finished refinement and we finally come out with the fully fleshed-out design, that question will be asked. If it doesnít hit 70% yes, then Sailing wonít be added at that point.
Thatís when weíve got options; we can either look at refinement again if we feel like we just missed the boat on a certain aspect of Sailing, or we can just completely ditch Sailing and move over to Shamanism or something completely new.
You will be eventually asked for a yes/no question that requires 70% before it will be added to the game.
Itís a traditional yes/no vote.
Iím excited for refinement; I was saying to Husky earlier today that so far a lot of what weíve been doing is not really traditional dev work where we design something and develop it immediately. This is a really long process of talking to the community in a lot of back and forth, doing a bit of design, presenting it and adjusting it according to feedback.
I feel like a majority of that time has been spent talking to the community rather than designing and developing, which weíre normally doing. This refinement stage is our opportunity to really dig a bit deeper into those skills. Obviously, that doesnít mean that weíre going to stop talking to you! Weíre still going to do that as well, and hopefully, we can come up with something awesome together.
Do you have a rough plan for how youíll be approaching the refinement stage? What level of community collaboration will you be looking for here?
Youíve mentioned before that this is the first of the new skills. Does this mean for future pitches, thereís a chance for Shamanism to be pitched again? If so, would you offer it in the next pitch, or would you prefer to offer three brand-new pitches instead?
Taming wasnít very popular compared to Shamanism and Sailing, but some of us did like this pitch! Could it be considered for an expansion of Hunter, instead of as an entirely new skill, like Forestry is for Woodcutting?
Iím so excited to talk about this; I saw this feedback a lot while I was on holiday and never got a chance to respond. Hereís my take on the whole expansion thing. I think that sometimes players donít like a pitch because they think, ďTaming isnít a skill, itís just an expansion of Hunter!Ē and, ďShamanism is just an expansion of Herblore.Ē and if you do it that way, you severely reduce and limit just what that content is.
Taming and Hunter specifically; theyíre very different definitions. Someone who is going out to Hunt a creature is doing something very different to someone who is Taming a creature. One is about using the creature as a resource and one is about working with a creature and utilising its skills.
I think that Hunter blurs the line because there are tamed NPCs that you can use to hunt, and thatís something I can definitely see as related. Throughout history, people have tamed dogs and used them for hunting. Thatís a very clear example.
To me, it says that these two skills have a lot of potential to work together in certain ways, but I think that it would feel weird for someone who used a bunch of bird snares or caught some salamanders to suddenly skip ahead to be able to tame a black dragon to use in a dungeon.
It feels like the journey of taming something small and working your way up to something big, is only captured by a skill - a nested progression system. If you take that away and just make it an expansion to Hunter, I think you lose a lot of the details of what was a skill pitch.
Itís the same with Shamanism. Itís a lot more than Herblore, and just because youíve made a bunch of ranging potions, youíre suddenly a master of the Spirit Realm? That just feels ridiculous to me! In this specific example, Hunter is quite a lacking skill; itís got some of the most diverse self-training methods. There are so many ways to train Hunter, but most of it is dead content, which really sucks. Thereís so much that people just donít do.
I think Hunter deserves love, I just donít think that Taming is the answer to that. Sometimes when people want to discredit an idea, they grab low-hanging fruit, and this felt very much like a, ďDonít vote Taming, itís just an expansion to Hunter!Ē itís a bit more complicated than that.
I think that people are excited for content, and loved specific aspects of Taming that they would want to see in the game sooner rather than later. With it being the last option, itís probably just clutching at straws to get it added as an expansion!
I didnít like all the hate that Taming got - while I did the Sailing video for the pitch, Taming was my favourite skill. It was the one that I wanted to be in the game the most. It is what it is; the whole point of putting things in front of the community is to move in the direction they want, and Iím happy weíre moving with Sailing.
How are we looking to unite the community around Sailing?
We talked earlier about how we have a big meeting to go over this; how weíre going to discuss our strategy for Sailing with you all. The poll just closed on Tuesday so weíre still figuring things out ourselves.
We have a lot of questions to answer, thanks to all your feedback about what you want to know about Sailing. We need to come up with proposals to take to you and ask if you like them.
We want to unite the community behind Sailing by making it awesome, and we want to work with you guys to do that!
Everything weíve been saying here has been trying to convince people not to make up their minds; to be open to Sailing. Iím really excited to be talking about Sailing!
We have a long time during refinement to work through so many different issues and concerns brought forward by the community. Weíre hopeful that during that time, just by following the process, weíll be able to unite the community. If weíre able to pull out an awesome skill that addresses the concerns that youíve raised with us, what more can we do to unite players?
At the end of the day, if you donít like Sailing because you hate the idea of it when weíve presented what I hope is going to be a decent design, then fair enough! Hopefully, that doesnít happen.
One of the biggest issues weíve seen players talk about in regard to Sailing is the core gameplay loop. With Shamanism it was a lot easier to highlight potential core-gameplay loops, whereas with Sailing it's not as easy. What are we doing about this?
I think this is a byproduct of how Shamanism was a production skill. Gathering and production skills, for the most part, work in much the same way - youíve got a repeatable process to gather materials and there are various nodes across the game.
People already understand how these work; they already understand where the XP drops are coming from, while utility skills are much more varied and unclear. This is definitely an area of Sailing that we discussed a lot before the pitches, and we felt it wasnít important to get hard-stuck on where exactly the XP comes from.
We had touched on the idea of doing activities at sea to get Sailing XP, but we had seen some criticism about that. This is something that we definitely need to have as a focus moving on for refinement.
Itís something that will help to cement Sailing as a skill to those who donít think it currently is because they canít see where youíre getting XP from. This is something that we need to focus on.
We also tended to overdesign Shamanism compared to Taming and Sailing, just because of their nature. Taming and Sailing are kind of intuitive in the sense that when you hear Taming, you think of animals. With Sailing, you think of the sea. With Shamanism, people have different associations.
The training loop is brand new with a mysterious nature about it, so we felt that we needed to go a step further and explain the training loop a bit better. In retrospect, maybe we should have done that with Taming and Sailing as well, but what we were really trying to convey was the thematic idea of it.
Our next steps now are to refine and dig deep, to figure out exactly how to do something.
That leads into the discussion about Shamanismís name. It was something we went into a ton, and I know you discussed it in the Discord chat. People saw the list of names for it - it definitely felt like something that needed to be explained because it wasnít clear, even if we felt it was the best name to be understood at the pitch stage.
It feels as if people are more excited about the parts of Sailing that arenít the actual Sailing parts but rather Islands and the potential for more area expansion. What are we going to do to convince players that itís fun to Sail?
This ties in a bit with the last question. We havenít focused that much on how you actually train it. Thatís on us - youíre just filling in the gaps of things that you donít know because we havenít said them yet. Thatís completely fine.
Our next goal is to fill in that gap and really dig deep into how you train it. We may still touch on rewards in refinement, but I think we should focus more on the training methods and really nail that down.
We talked about all the potential activities and focused on some things a little bit more to show you the fun side of Sailing as opposed to just navigating across the sea mindlessly without the ability to teleport - which doesnít sound fun at all! Itís definitely something that weíre really keen to focus on.
Is all new content going to be locked behind Sailing?
Locking content behind content is the literal game. When you start off at Lumbridge, itís just a web of things that you need to unlock other content. With something as big as a skill, it should probably add another web layer to that - if it makes sense!
If youíre out on an island; instead of having NPCs that take you there, maybe thereís a Sailing requirement. It doesnít need to be that hard and fast either. For the most part, it comes down to the target audience for that content.
Even when it comes to skilling requirements for the content, especially access to a quest or a boss, we tend to be on the lower side. ToA was the most ambitious so far with the number of quests that you needed to do, and the challenge of the combat encounters.
Sins of the Father has been quite bad for the level of difficulty, but itís Sepulchre and Vampyre tasks. Itís not massive content for a lot of people, and it made sense for the target audience. Hallowed Sepulchre is probably not content for people who are very fresh to the game.
Content locked behind content is fine. I think weíll decide moving forward what would be part of Sailing and what wouldnít be.
To reiterate; not every piece of content is going to be locked behind Sailing! Itís still a vast game with lots of other scope for content.
To touch on content being locked - some new content might be. There might be content thatís specific to Sailing. There might be a quest that comes out that has a Sailing requirement associated with it, but I donít believe that we would retroactively change any content to incorporate Sailing.
All of the requirements that exist as current would stay the same. We could probably do some cool things like add an alternate requirement. You could have a certain level of one skill, or a certain level in Sailing and still be able to achieve the same thing. Maybe you donít have to repair Nedís ship, you can just use your own but still have to get the map to get to Crandor as an alternate.
It wouldnít be a hard, fast change, and honestly, I donít see that as a priority for adding in the new skill. These would be things we could look at doing after itís been released to integrate it more into the world.
Going forward, some new content will be locked behind Sailing, but not everything.
Thatís a topic for refinement. We have that as a hard topic on how we can integrate it into the world and have it make sense. The world has existed without Sailing, so putting something new in - this happens with every piece of content we put in, to various scales - things need to make sense with it existing, or it just doesnít feel connected to the game world.
Thatís something weíre going to look at in refinement, and weíre going to discuss it with the community. We donít have answers to it, but there are solutions. Whether itís doing nothing, to alternatives, to explaining it by adding an extra line of dialogue about why you wouldnít be able to sail there yourself.
Are you concerned about the scope of Sailing?
One of the main issues players had with Taming was the potential for screen clutter. Do you have any ideas for how you would prevent this for ships out at sea?
This is an interesting question. I've seen the take that Sailing is going to be a solo activity where you never see or interact with anyone, apparently, and another player is concerned about the clutter at sea from too many ships.
It comes down to ďHow are the actual ships going to work?Ē. Can you have two ships that overlap with each other? If players are transformed into ships, they may be anywhere from one by one to five by five where you collide - players are used to that experience in MMOs where things overlap.
At that point, there could be clutter, but if ships can't occupy the same space, or they're bigger, or you're not the ship but you're on a ship, then we need to think about how that works.
We want to talk with the engine team to figure it out - that's what the meeting tomorrow is for. Itís for early discussions to go, ďYeah that seems possibleĒ and ď Yeah, that would be coolĒ.
Let us know what you like and what you want because that's something I don't know which direction to go into. When it comes down to gameplay loops, I've thought of a couple for each of them, but I don't actually know which direction to go in. Players seem to be split - I've seen both takes on this.
About the clutter at sea; at that point, just sail away if there's too much clutter. I think that generally blocking might be a bad idea. If youíre blocking and you can't sail through other people, then how does that work? Are you just going to have people make a wall of ships and require that you pay to get through?
Again it just comes down to one of those things that we need to figure out during refinement. In terms of ideas right now - it's more just that we know it's a problem and we need to figure out what solutions are possible.
As Elena said, we've got the engine team with us in our meeting tomorrow. Fingers crossed, we'll be able to figure out some initial ideas and proof of concepts that we can then explore further.
We can share them with you, and see how you feel about them. We can see if that's something that we should progress with, or whether we should change it entirely, This eventually leads to having an element to the design - there are so many of those areas that we need to really just nail and that's what refinementís meant to be for.
We keep saying that that's what refinement is for, but the tactile way that ships interact and exist in the game world is the most important part of sailing. It's the sort of thing we need to get right, and while we can say in refinement, ďThis is the direction we want to go in - players are happy, that's what they wantĒ, hopefully, they all vote yes and it's locked in - we wonít really know how it feels until itís implemented in the game and had devs and engine work and tweaks.
That particular aspect is something that we would expect to be heavily beta-tested to get feedback on. If players don't like how certain things work with ships at sea and how they are controlled, then that is something weíd want to review.
Itís the first thing we want to tackle with a skill - apart from all the obvious stuff; a skill guide, your total level goes up to 237 stakes.
I would expect players to be involved every step of the way, giving feedback on that because the worst thing for Sailing would be launching Sailing and the actual sailing of a ship feels really bad. It's not an enjoyable thing because we haven't lived up to what we're selling players on the scale. That's not what I want.
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