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Q&A Summary 21/07/2022

Written by developer on . Posted in OSRS News

This week's live stream featured a sneak peak of the Clue Scroll Solver, the release of the Activity Adviser and a small Q&A! Topics included:

Thanks to Mod Kieren (Associate Design Director), Mod Squid (Content Developer), Mod Light (Community Manager) and Mod Diazong (Content Developer) for their insight!

Missed the live stream? Check out the transcript below!

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!

Clue Scroll Solver

Mod Sova

Hello! We’ve been working recently on the Clue Scroll Helper, which, if you’ve used RuneLite at all, you might be familiar with. It’s a feature for the enhanced client on Mobile and our own in-house client.

One of the features of the Clue Scroll Helper is information on the clues you will be doing on-screen. A few other features on there are the map highlights, in-world highlights and general direction without having to go onto a third-party website and ask, “how do I solve this anagram clue that I’ve done 500 times but can’t remember?”.

This will highlight the people you need to talk to, places where you need to dig, and all kinds of stuff! I’ll come back for the livestream next week and go into more detail on the features and answer your questions on it.

New Mod Questions with Mod Daizong

Question #1:

What do you currently work on at Jagex?

Mod Daizong

I’m currently working with Mod Squid on the Activity Adviser, so I want to use this channel to say thanks for the great feedback we’ve got so far! We’re working hard to go through them in order to improve the Activity Adviser.

Question #2:

What has been the favourite piece of content that you’ve worked on so far?

Mod Daizong

I think it would be the Activity Adviser! This is an idea we’ve had in mind for a long time. Sometimes when playing the game, I wondered what I should do next, and it’ll be great to have a tool to help me decide what to do. It’s really exciting to see that we’ve finally released Phase One of it now.

Tombs of Amascut Teasers

Mod Light

As we are in the buildup to mid-August, we thought we would share an update on the highly anticipated Masori Armour! So here’s a sneak peek for you!

Masori Armour is the Best-in-Slot ranged gear that can be earned from participating in Tombs of Amascut. For those of you wondering about the release date, it won’t be too long now! We’ve finalised the dates, and we’ll be sharing that with you on our official channels.

This concept of the Masori Armour is by the lovely Mod Jerv, and I’ve got some text as well to go with it:

“During the Kharidian–Zarosian War, a group of rangers known as the Masori were established. While they did their fair share of fighting in the war, their primary role was to defend people from the thieves and murders who would look to take advantage of the war's chaos.”

You can see that Mod Jerv utilised Egyptian shapes, materials and bird motifs for that ranged feel to tie with this raid. I think it looks absolutely amazing. What do you guys think?

Mod Daizong

It looks amazing!

Mod Squid

It is super cool. The art team just keep raising the bar on what’s possible in Old School. It continues to amaze me!

Mod Light

We also have the in-game renders as well - credit to Mod Soffan.

I just think it looks epic! I’ve seen a bunch of people wanting to see this on socials, so I’m really glad we can finally preview it for you. Make sure you send feedback to us. Personally, I love it, and I hope you guys love it as much as we all do!

Mod Kieren

I think that for everything in terms of Amascut, the art team has absolutely blown it all out of the water, and I can’t wait for you all to see all the other bits and pieces that we’ve got going on. It’s been a thrill playtesting it the last few weeks!

Activity Adviser

Mod Daizong

The Activity Adviser is a system that will read a player’s skill level, quest status, recent activities and other essential stats and use them to pick suitable game content from the content list to display to them in the Activity Adviser.

We’d like it to be used as a support tool that is similar to the Wiki but can give more customised suggestions based on each player’s profile. It’s to help players, especially new and returning players, when they are unsure what to do next.

Mod Squid

There’s a lot of content in RuneScape, and it can be overwhelming and difficult to find what’s relevant to you. Sometimes it’s not even a case of finding what you should do but what you can do; there’s just so much!

We know that exploration and goal-setting are a core part of the game, so we don’t want to undermine that; we don’t want to make linear guides or task lists when there are no rewards on this. We’re trying to avoid undermining that.

Instead, we’re focusing more on surfacing content, making it easier to be aware of things you can do that will be useful to you. For example, travel is a good one, because that’s a pain point that becomes difficult to find how you can move around the world easier.

With fairy rings, how do you find out about fairy rings unless you stumble across that quest or read through the Wiki? Hopefully, this adviser will help surface those things and just be a tool to aid your own goal-setting.

Mod Daizong

Currently, we have done the system for all the quests in the game as Phase One of it. As we all know, quests are a very important part of the game!

There are two types of quests that you can find in the Activity Adviser: Available Quests and Target Quests. Available Quests are the quests that the player can take right now. Target Quests are the quests that will give important rewards to the player, but their character has not yet met all of the quest requirements. It will also display the missing requirements that the player needs to reach for these quests.

Mod Squid

It’s been fun to work on, although it has been challenging! Design-wise, just creating the quest rating system has been tricky. Finding out categories that represent each quest relative to each other and making that scale with your character’s levelling experience has been an interesting challenge. Especially dialling in those numbers, that’s been a team effort! A big shout-out to Husky and Kieren for helping finalise the numbers.

On the tech side of things, dynamic systems like this in Rune Script are difficult, to say the least. This is doing some funky stuff with arrays that I feel are pushing Rune Script to the limits, but it works, and that’s the main thing! It’s been fun.

Mod Daizong

So we’re currently releasing it during an initial test period. The main reason for this is that we want to make sure the current Activity Adviser can give enough help to the players, especially for the new and returning players.

I’ve seen some concern from the community about if this tool will ruin the sense of exploration for players, and that’s also something we’d like to find out from this A/B test period.

We already have a few plans in mind about the direction of the Activity Adviser in the future, and I think players and especially community feedback are very important for us. We’d like to hear what players think of the current Phase One and use the feedback we get to improve it and think about how we can carry out more in future.

Question #1:

Mod Daizong, you worked on Leagues, and a player mentioned that the Activity Adviser looks similar to the Leagues tasklist. Is that where you found inspiration for this system?

Mod Daizong

That’s an interesting question! To be honest, when we had the idea for making the Activity Adviser, it was before I was working on Leagues. When we were designing the UI of the Activity Adviser, we had to think about how we can make sure the information is clear and easy for a player to pick up, so I think the Leagues Task UI is one of the systems we looked at as a reference, as it’s a system that works well, and players are very familiar with the format of it.

Mod Kieren

I’d just like to say on the A/B testing that players have a really good read on why we’re doing this. This is really helpful for introducing those new people into the game. The depth of the game is so vast that you want to get to grips with it.

That is one of the key reasons why we really need to run an A/B test because we could see your feedback through social channels and such, but we also want to get data on how this performs. Does this actually help people? Where do these people quit, or where do they drop out?

It also helps get a lot of insight into “how do they use it? What elements do they use of this system? Do they use it at all when it’s presented to them?”. We need to get it right to make sure that we are helping new people and not making it worse for them.

Question #1:

For players who have not gotten into the A/B testing period, is there a way that they can get in? When do you expect them to be able to try using it?

Mod Daizong

The current A/B test is open to Returning Players who have not played the game for 30 days or more. We’re expecting to run the test for around three to four weeks, depending on the feedback we get.

For players who have not been picked, they just need to wait a few more weeks for this to be released to everyone. Like always, we’re listening to player feedback, and if the A/B test goes very well and we get more and more players who would like to join it, then we could stop it early and release it to everyone earlier.

Question #2:

Can the Activity Adviser be toggled OFF, especially as it is close to the Special Action button, which is clicked many times?

Mod Daizong

Yes, we have added a setting to allow players to hide the Activity Adviser if they want to! And if the Store button is hidden, then the Activity Adviser button will be placed in the position of the Store Button, so we have more space for the gameplay area!

Question #3:

Why did we decide to put the Activity Adviser underneath the Special Action button, and are we open to feedback about changing the location if players prefer it to be somewhere else?

Mod Daizong

I think this is a very good question! We actually have explored several possible locations for the Activity Adviser. For example, we had thought about putting it in the Manual Tab, maybe next to the Quest List, or inside the Character Summary. However, we think the tabs in the menu are all about the game progress for the player. Putting the Activity Adviser there doesn’t seem to fit very well because we think it is more similar to the Wiki or the World Map as supporting tools for the player to use. So, we decided to put it around the minimap.

Unfortunately, there is already a lot of information that needs to be displayed around the minimap, like wilderness level, and the gravestone counting down, so the current position is the one we think most appropriate.

But we are always open to player feedback to improve the system, which is part of the reason why we’re doing this A/B test. If a lot of players prefer it to be somewhere else, we’ll definitely take it into consideration!

Question #4:

Can returning players who have completed all of the Quests expect to see more Activities recommended to them? Players are curious to know whether we would develop the Activity Adviser to Bosses, or money-making, equipment, achievement diaries, etc. What are your thoughts on this?

Mod Squid

Yeah, we’d love to do that! The initial concept for this had multiple modules, which is what we’re calling them, and right now, the Quest module is available. The other ones we were thinking about were a Skills one, which would show milestones and things for upcoming levels, like wearing a new armour set and being able to catch a new type of fish, as well as Utility, which can address travel options in a dedicated space, and Miscellaneous options like minigames and new bosses that you can do.

All of these would be awesome and would fit really well, so depending on how the feedback goes, we might be able to. We just need to wait and see at this point.

Mod Kieren

I’d love to extend it to cover all the other core systems of the game, like Squid mentioned. These are big pieces of work, hence why we really tried to get it finished for quests first.

They are a big backbone of the game, especially when you’re just starting out. There are so many quests available, so that seemed like a reasonable place to start. Let’s test that; let’s see how it goes. Does this work? Does this improve the experience for players? Do people get use out of it? This can give us reassurance, give us confidence before we go in and spend a lot more time doing the other work for the other systems.

For example, with skilling methods, how are you going to train Fishing to that goal level? In code, we basically would need to start to properly define different methods with all the associated information. With fly fishing in Shilo Village, how much XP per hour is that? Let’s get some figures in-game, get some facts and requirements in-game. A lot of this has to be able to tell you on that screen that you can do this.

None of this is very centralised in a data-driven fashion that would allow us to do that at the minute. So I just want to highlight that they are big pieces of work, and we don’t want to spend 6+ months doing that kind of work unless we first verify that “yes, this is a good thing to do!”. Let’s not do 6 months of work if it’s not going to help anybody.

But also, beyond that, we feel the systems themselves need to be improved. In the quest list, you’ll notice recently; that we released a bunch of new options. You can sort it and filter it via different means. It’s a lot better than it used to be when it was just alphabetical and Free-to-Play / Members split, and that’s it! It didn’t really give any indication about which quest is good for you and which quest isn’t.

The Skill Journals are really quite outdated. When you click on the Fishing Skill Journal, it doesn’t tell you anything about how to train it. It merely is a list of unlocks, and it gives you very little information.

Those UIs are very outdated. This is something that we would like to tackle alongside this because we see this as a tool that should teach you how and help you interact with the actual game. So maybe one day, after you’ve used the Activity Adviser for a while, you’d decide, “I don’t need it anymore because I’m now familiar with the Skill Journals, and I can fend for myself”.

That’s what we want to do because we know the game is deep. We know the game is complex; we can’t change that, but let’s try and provide the players with the tools to help them get to grips with it so they can get to that point where they understand how to set a goal for themselves!

Mod Daizong

One reason that we’re doing this is that we don’t want this to replace any existing system. We want this to build in the connection to the existing system like the Quest List was.

Question #5:

Many players like to set their own goals in their gameplay. Will the Activity Adviser include the ability to create specific tasks or add a ‘reverse feature’ which allows a player to set their own goal so they can be advised on how to achieve it?

Mod Squid

As mentioned, the overarching goal is to support goal-setting; it’s to get players to set their own goals again. When thinking about potential features for this, another idea we had was a content planner which would effectively let you choose a goal, such as “I want to wield the Dragon Scimitar” or “I want to complete Dragon Slayer”, and it would then provide the details of the requirements, and the ways to get there. Then the player can plan out their journey to that point. I’m sure we’ve all done this in Excel or Notepad, but this is a more in-game integrated way to do that. That’d be really cool.

It’s not planned for the Activity Adviser itself at the moment, and I see them as slightly separate things that can work together. You could open the Adviser, click a recommendation, add it to your content planner, and then create that journey to get there. But there are currently no plans to do that.

Question #6:

Can Activities be queued up, or can only one activity be advised at a time? Can players expect to see a running list of tasks, or do they disappear depending on what new activity the player is doing?

Mod Daizong

So as you can see in the screenshot, the setting we have is that there are three Available Quests and two Target Quests that are displayed in the Activity Adviser. We think that one future improvement would be to let a player manually pin a quest in the system, so it will not be replaced by other quests, or alternatively filter a quest out of the system so it will not be selected anymore if you don’t want this to be seen.

These are just some early thoughts we have. If we got enough feedback on this from the community, it could be the next improvement we work on.

Question #7:

Can the Activity Adviser be customisable per account type? So, for example, a 10 HP account or Skiller.

Mod Squid

Not manually at the moment; it won’t recommend anything you can’t do. If you keep 10HP, and anything requires a high combat level, and you haven’t got it, then it’s not going to recommend those things

It could recommend something you don’t want to do, but then there’s the argument that if you’re doing these account types, you’re probably more of an advanced player anyway! So the question is, how useful is the Adviser to you?

Either way, one of the things we would like to add, as Daizong mentioned, is a Block List, so you could disable certain recommendations from showing up at all, which would help in that situation.

Question #8:

Will there be an option for grouping involved? For example, having an option to find a group before embarking on a minigame or quest.

Mod Squid

It’s an interesting idea. There’s nothing at the moment, but how would you do grouping for quests? I guess Shield of Arrav is one, but other than that, it’s a bit more tricky. If we added the other modules with minigames and bosses, it could point to the grouping tab. That’s an interesting one to consider. We can make it a bit more social and support grouping for these things.

Mod Light

Just imagine a group of people with their Activity Advisers grouping together; maybe you meet your GF because she was doing the same task as you? It seems like something that could be considered. It’s just a case of how prevalent it is in terms of feedback. I saw it come up in feedback and thought it was cool.

It seems as well that many of the existing players - not new, not returning, the existing players - think this could be a fun activity to do with friends.

Mod Squid

I imagine it could be useful if you’ve got a friend who has joined the game, and you ask, “oh, show me what your Activity Adviser is saying, and we can go do some of those quests”, to take a bit of that legwork out of trying to figure out how to get your friends into the game.

Question #9:

Will the Activity Adviser differ in F2P? If so, how?

Mod Squid

There’s no difference; it’ll give you the same recommendations! There is a Free Quests Only tab, so you can look at that to only get recommended Free-to-Play quests, but there’s no distinction between the two, just the two different tabs.

Question #10:

Will the Activity Adviser be linked to the existing Adventure Path interface/NPC?

Mod Squid

No, there are no plans to. It’s a standalone tool. It’s slightly different because this is less of a guide or a task list to do. It’s non-linear; it will just recommend goals based on your account rather than a path to follow, so it’s a separate thing. I’d be careful about getting them interlinked, so no, at the moment, they are separate.

Mod Kieren

My current thinking might well differ from what we originally intended. Originally we envisioned it running a bit deeper into the game, having longer paths that get you to grips with things.

I think now, what we’ve learned really is that it’s better to be a helpful tool to help get you to grips with the basics because what we’ve settled on, and why the Activity Adviser makes so much sense, is that we need players to be able to set a goal.

If you think about it, as a knowledgeable player, you’re always thinking about goals and what you’re trying to achieve. You’re trying to complete Monkey Madness to get that Dragon Scimitar. But if you’re a new player, how on Earth do you know that’s even a sensible thing to do? How do you know that Monkey Madness is what unlocks the Dragon Scimitar?

There are so many questions that suddenly are really hard if you don’t have that knowledge to hand. The Wiki is great once you know what you want to do because it will give you all the advice about the activity!

The adventure paths, that’s something they don’t do very well. They just give you a task list, and you go through it, but you don’t really get quite to the level of understanding why it’s a good thing to do. It might be a useful tool to teach you the basics of “I fish something, I go to the bank and put it in the bank. Okay, I get to grips with how those basic mechanics work”. But I see the Activity Adviser as being the thing that can really help you set goals and essentially be the part that runs deeper into the game.

To be honest, we probably need to pay more attention to what we’re doing with Adventure Paths and tutorials, that side of the game as well. It’s just something that we’ve not gotten around to yet.

Question #11:

Have we looked into adding rewards to the Activity Adviser to encourage more retention?

Mod Squid

I feel quite strongly about this; that we shouldn’t add rewards.

In psychology, there’s a type of reward known as “controlling reward”, which are rewards that are not intrinsically linked to the task you’re doing, and that would be the case here. Sure, in the short term, that does increase retention and engagement, but in the long term, it undermines intrinsic motivation.

That’s the kind of motivation we want to cultivate; that’s the one where you have the most fun and keeps you playing the longest. That’s what we wanted to have, so by undermining that; you actually get more dropoff in the later game. Especially when the rewards become less fun, useful, or interesting to you, or the recommendations stop or become more difficult.

Overall, you’ll have less fun during the tasks if there are controlling rewards involved because you’ll put all the emphasis on the reward and not the fun of doing the task. It’s the same with linear guides and checklists.

If you follow a linear track, the game’s telling you to do things in a certain order, and even without rewards, that has an undermining effect. This is why we’re trying very hard to avoid doing that with the Activity Adviser and are focusing on the goals and unlocks as you’d naturally do as a player, not forcing you down a path that you don’t want to do or aren’t sure about. So no rewards, please.

Mod Kieren

You can look at it like, “we actually want people to stop using it”! Yeah, we want people to use it to get to the point where they’ve learned, but we actually want them to move off it because it shouldn’t be necessary all through the game. I 100% agree with what you said, Squid. Inevitably we’ll see “my Activity Advisor locked Ironman accounts” and all that, which should be fun down the line.

Mod Daizong

We don’t want it to feel like a daily task or weekly task, feeling like it’s pushing the player to keep doing that or catch up in progress. It should be that when a player wants to do something, they can. If they don’t know what to do next, they can check there to find more useful advice that has been customised for their character.

Question #12:

With the feedback seen about the Activity Adviser, is there anything extra that you wanted to add in?

Mod Squid

Just thank you, everyone, for all the feedback! It’s been really encouraging to see people on Reddit and on Twitter being in support of it. We weren’t sure how it would go down with active players and whether you’d see the value, so it’s awesome to see all the comments and feedback on it!

Keep that coming in. I can’t wait till everyone gets their hands on it, and then we can really start digging into some gritty feedback.

Question #13:

Lots of players are asking us about any plans to revitalise F2P following this update. Is there any thought of potentially opening up some of the achievement diary tasks to F2P, or adding a F2P Boss such as a Giant Rat or a Giant Goblin (which would perhaps fill a gap in having early to mid-game group content)? What are the panel’s thoughts on this?

Mod Kieren

I think there’s value in some Free-to-Play content! But I want to say that so many of us have lived the story of back in 2007 when we started playing RuneScape at school, didn’t have access to our parent's credit cards, and played Free-to-Play. Most of us played until we got to Dragon Slayer until, eventually, we either phoned up while they weren’t in the room to pay for a membership or managed to persuade them to pay.

Today, most people joining Old School are young adults, 18+ or in their 20s. People have much more access to money to pay for membership. But what I’m getting to is that people spend much less time in Free-to-Play than they did 15 years ago. Many people will subscribe very quickly instead, so there’s less value in putting stuff in Free-to-Play because not many people will get too deep into the Free-to-Play game.

We’ve tried some of this. We’ve done Below Ice Mountain, and the quest there had some Free-to-Play content, so it’s not to say there’s no reason to do Free-to-Play content. We should do this, but generally, I’m thinking about early game content.

I think an early game route boss would be great, but moreover, I’m getting to the point where you want to explain to the player what the game is about as early as possible, such that the player inherently understands what this game is because if this game is made for you, you probably want to find out as fast as possible. Let’s respect your time, so you can get out of the way if the game isn’t for you!

Let’s not fool ourselves into retaining people who will quit after an hour or a day. We want people who are interested in this game to find out that it is for them as fast as possible and get to grips with it.

TLDR: people don’t spend as much time in Free-to-Play before they become a member as they used to. I also want to start highlighting why this game is awesome as soon as possible and give people the tools to be able to understand it and get to grips with it.

Mod Squid

It is kind of the point we’ve been talking about with the Adviser, which is surfacing content and making people aware of the depth and breadth of the content beyond Free-to-Play in the game in general. Travel options are a big one there.

Looking at pain points that are in play, potentially making sure that players are subscribing because they’re having fun and they want to have more fun, not because they’re frustrated that their run energy is so damn low, and they think they might enjoy it if it was a little bit more!

Also, with group content, I would be in favour of more lower-level content. I think a big reason people stick around in MMOs is for the social factor, even if you’re not directly engaging with clans. Just having people around when doing content, or being able to do content with your friends even at a low level, would be super beneficial and help people have more fun.

I think Free-to-Play, and low-level group content like that could definitely be improved upon and potentially tied in better with member’s content because sometimes it can feel like Free-to-Play is its own standalone thing. It’s there, but then you subscribe, and then there’s all this new stuff, and you don’t know where to begin! If we had more ties into some of those areas, more introductions and things like that in Free-to-Play, that might provide a nice stepping point for members.

Question #14:

What considerations would we need to keep in mind if we made changes to F2P?

Question #15:

What made you subscribe to OSRS?

Mod Kieren

For some reason, I got it into my head that you had to buy runes from the shop. You had to buy equipment from the actual stores, the armour shops - obviously, this was pre-Grand Exchange. So it didn’t really click for me as a kid that I could just find a player who’s got it and buy it off them!

Particularly, you got the defence level for black equipment, and you think, “gosh, I can get an upgrade, but how and where do I get this from?”. I would look at the World Map and think, “oh, look at all those armour shops in the rest of the game world that I can’t go to. I want to go to those armour ships and see if they sell the equipment that I want!”. That’s a distinct memory in my head. I think I subscribed around the time I had just beaten Dragon Slayer.

Mod Squid

I don’t remember at what point I subscribed. It was quite early, and it was definitely not after Dragon Slayer; it was before that! I just wanted membership, but what I do remember is the first thing I did after getting membership was go get the pirate outfit and then go to a free world on Varrock and show my friends this cool new pirate outfit that I got because it’s members only, and I’m super cool now because I’ve got this member’s pirate outfit!

Mod Light

I remember doing that too with my Fashionscape! It was just such a flex; you go to Free-to-Play with the gear on!

Question #16:

How do we go about getting feedback from newer players, particularly from those who might not be interacting with the community on places like Reddit and Twitter?

Question #17:

How do we encourage new players to care enough about the world of Gielinor to stick around?

Mod Daizong

I think one of the main issues we have with new players is that they don’t know where to start after they’ve done the tutorial and been teleported to Lumbridge. I don’t think it’s because they don’t have enough information about the game, but the opposite; they are overwhelmed with the information they get.

There are so many different guides and walkthroughs you can find on the Internet. You can find almost everything about the game on the Wiki. For example, after the player has been teleported to Lumbridge, you might open the World Map to find something to do, but instead, find many different activity icons around Lumbridge and don’t know which one suits you the best. You don’t know where to start!

That’s one of the main reasons that we are working on this Activity Adviser. We want this to be a handy tool that can give customised suggestions that can help the new player filter out all of this information and only pick the one that is most useful to them. Then hopefully, the new player will know what to do next.

Question #18:

A lot of new players struggle with getting around as they are not as familiar with teleports and may not have access to Agility. What are the panel’s thoughts on this? Do you think Agility would ever become F2P?

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